Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When the going gets tough...

"When the going gets tough" is the theme of this year's Salute to Local Government, an event held annually by the Public Policy Forum since 1992 to recognize outstanding and innovative government performance in southeast Wisconsin.

This year's theme recognizes that as bad as the historic economic downturn has been for all sectors of our economy, the local government sector has been among the hardest hit. Indeed, plunging property values and sales tax revenues, coupled with growing demand for a variety of local government services, have created severe challenges for even the most property-rich and prudently managed local governments. Those that have weathered the storm - and perhaps emerged even stronger from their innovative efforts - certainly are worthy of recognition this year.

The 2010 award winners - described in this media release - represent a diverse group of governments, programs and individuals throughout the region. Government honorees, for example, include our biggest city, two villages and a special authority, while honored programs encompass functions ranging from watershed management to a library to a zoo. The individual award winners, meanwhile, come from the region's second-smallest county, a small city and a consolidated fire department.

So what's the overall takeaway from this year's slate of winners? Perhaps it's that examples of good government permeate all levels of government in our region, as well as a wide variety of programs that ordinary citizens may not realize are linked to the public sector or even think about as being managed in creative and effective ways.

That's not to say that examples of wasteful and ineffective government don't exist, but it is to say that such examples - while constantly and justifiably in the news - cannot be allowed to overshadow the good work being performed by thousands of local government and school district professionals in our region every day.

This year's Salute will take place on June 17 at the Italian Conference Center - to find out more and sign up, click here.

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