City hall isn’t so much a public policy factory as a switching yard, where ideas come in from the outside and are acted on. So where do big public policy ideas originate in your city? And what happens to them as they move along the tracks? This could be a rich source for your reporting, and an eye-opening series of stories for your readers.
Local governments aren’t the kid brothers of state and national governments. They are grounded in something different: people and places, and the interactions of the two. If you’re going to cover city hall, then, you can’t cover it the way you’d write about Congress or a state legislature. This is the first in a series of articles about how reporters and bloggers can write about city hall in smarter, more satisfying ways.
When you’re trying to create change in a city, you have only so much energy and attention. What should you pay attention to? That’s where the three Ps–the three big questions every major change has to answer–comes in handy.
As we’ve grown in recent decades in our knowledge of how cities work, we’ve lost our understanding of how city politics works. As a result, we have a greater storehouse of what ought to be done, but less and less knowledge of how to do it.
In the past, we’ve depended on the few to lead us. Now we must depend on the many. The key to making broad-based community leadership work is to teach more people the skills of small-p politics.