5/28/17: Laugh, Cry, Think

Posted on May 3, 2017

ELGL co-founder Kent Wyatt (LinkedIn & Twitter) is straight bloggin’ about #ELGL17. For breaking news, follow #ELGL17 on Twitter.

Sunday, May 28

It was a white wine night in Sunriver. I am beginning to think that I am the only male who drinks white wine. I am secure in my manhood so I will not let my love Chardonnay die.

Today’s mission is to get this guy sipping the Chardonnay.


Police departments are bringing the heat on Twitter this weekend.


A City of Portland employee sacrificed his life during a brutal hate crime on Friday.

‘Brave and selfless’ Oregon stabbing victims hailed as heroes for standing up to racist rants

The mayor on Saturday identified Best as a father, an Army veteran and a city employee.

“He was an Army veteran killed on Memorial Day weekend,” Wheeler said at a news conference, his voice breaking.

Kareen Perkins, Best’s supervisor at the Bureau of Development Services, told the Oregonian that Best was known for his readiness to help and for his love of his wife and four children.

“He was always the first person you would go to for help,” Perkins told the newspaper Saturday. “I’ve talked to most of his co-workers today, and several of them said it’s just like Rick to step in and help somebody out.”

The Oregonian highlighted the life of Rick Best – Stabbing victim Rick Best was Portland employee, Army veteran.


My favorite Allman Brothers song? Glad you asked. I’d go with….

Here’s one ranking of famous Allman Brothers – Allman Brothers Band: all their classic-era songs ranked


Tenny, tiny cameras….

Ohio looks at banning tiny towns’ traffic cams

While awaiting a court ruling that could decide the fate of automated red-light and speed cameras in Toledo and other large cities, state lawmakers now have such programs in tiny towns on their radar.

A series of bills would attempt different approaches with the goal of shuttering the digital cameras in small suburbs.

Omaha cyclists use toilet plungers to create a DIY bike lane

When cyclists in Wichita, Kansas deployed plungers in February, it led to city officials installing protective posts along a stretch of a bike lane. And in Providence, Rhode Island, a similar display of plungers last week has prompted the city to consider doing the same.

 In Omaha, city workers removed the plungers four hours after they were installed. The Omaha Public Works director said that the city had no plans to add protected bike lanes.

Omaha’s DIY plungers are the latest example of cyclists asking for safer streets. Just recently in San Francisco, protesters—all clad in yellow—formed a human barrier along city bike lanes to ask for more protected bike lanes and better bike infrastructure.


Three ELGL members are responsible for the most popular selfie in GFOA Conference history.


Saturday, May 27

“A tradition like no other.”…for the 4th or 5th year (still researching the answer), we’re in Sunriver with Randy Ealy’s family. We spent opening night discussing the merits of the strong mayor form of government and listening to Chris Cornell’s version of “Nothing Compares to You.”

Since you asked, here’s one of my favorite Chris Cornell songs.

Yes, I can detect that your jealous of my weekend. Hold onto your seats for tonight’s discussion.


The dream of creating the Town of ELGL has died, at least for now. Think about how great it would be to have an ELGL town – council-manager form of government, 90’s rap blaring through the town square, human-like communication with citizens, and the latest technology making services more effective. Beautiful!

So, we didn’t actually bid on Tiller, Oregon. The $3.5 million price tag was a little high. A group from California purchased the town which I am sure makes Oregonians thrilled as Californians are held responsible for any problems in Oregon.

Still unknown are the names or intentions of the buyers, who are funded by money from California. They were the first to sign a contract on March 12. Soon afterward, two back-up offers at full price came in. Inquiries and requests for tours haven’t stopped.

What will become of Tiller? The two men in line to take possession of the town this summer have a grand plan they want to introduce in a town meeting, perhaps in August, says Zoller.

We’ll await word if they launch a nationwide search for a city administrator or senior management analyst.


Hillary Clinton is back. You may have heard about her graduation speech at Wellesley College, but a more informative take what Hillary’s been doing for the last six months can be found in this New York article – Inside Hillary Clinton’s Surreal Post-Election Life

 In some ways, Clinton herself is one of these awakened women; she is much more comfortable talking about gender in the aftermath of her historic run than she ever was during it. Recently, she has even declared herself a member of “the resistance.” “There’s always been this rearguard movement against expanding the circle of opportunity,” she says. “And I believe that a lot of what’s happening now is a resurgence of the anxiety, the fear, the bias that still affects people who are worried that change is coming even faster, that it will have even more consequences.” The unwillingness to acknowledge this backlash, says Clinton, is “part of the reason we are, if not going backward, certainly stalled.”


The most inspiring story that you’ll read this weekend centers around former Seahawk RB Curt Warner.

After 20 years of heartache with his autistic twins, a Seahawks legend finds some peace

Curt Warner still believes that some day a medical breakthrough will allow Austin and Christian to enjoy what most would consider to be a more typical life. Ana is convinced that the dramatic growth in the incidence rate will lead to increased awareness and greater funding for autism research.

So, yes, they’re still waiting for a miracle. But after 20 years, they have a different perspective on what that means.

My favorite part of the article comes at the end and are words to live by.

“People ask, ‘How do you do it?’ ” Curt said. “Well, you just do it. You can’t just wait for a miracle, you have to get busy finding a way to live, one day after the other. And at some point you realize that maybe that was the miracle itself.”

Before your child asks you for a fidget spinner, you should learn the story behind the creation of the new hit toy that is tormenting teachers nationwide.

How the Fidget Spinner Origin Story Spun Out of Control

Several publications credited Catherine Hettinger as the inventor of the fidget spinner. She isn’t.

The fidget spinner is a toy that sits like a propeller on a person’s finger, with blades that spin around a bearing. Depending on your personal taste, watching the spinning motion is either mesmerizing or irritating. But even for those who don’t want to play with the spinners themselves, the gizmo’s story provides a classic parable of the small-time inventor with the big idea who got cut out when the time came to cash in. This kind of narrative is reliably compelling even when—as in this case—it’s not really true.


Award-winning member Leigh Tami has picked up another award. Leigh was recognized by GovTech as one of the top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers of 2017.

“Full disclosure, I am a lawyer. Data is my language by trade,” said Tami, who studied public finance and education law in law school.

Check out the great work of CincyStat and follow Leigh on Twitter.

Thursday, May 25

Let’s do this. It’s pre-Memorial Day week. You have to be inspired by this clip.


Next time you’re having a difficult time with that Excel spreadsheet just remember dinosaurs believe in you.


I am a sucker for the word “whimsical.” I have never regretted reading an article with a whimsical drop. Today is no different. I followed the whimsical rabbit hole into an Oregonian article which turned out to be less whimsical and more “lack of resources prevents city from maintaining park.” Not nearly the same ring as whimsical.

Unfortunately, that whimsy runs in stark contrast to the less appealing elements of the park: the trash, the inoperative fountains, runoff from local farms.

I appreciate this article because it could have just as easily been written by a city’s communications staff. When I finished reading the article, I was upset about the lack of funding for McMinnville parks. I don’t live in McMinnville.


ELGL members Brandi Leos and Bridget Doyle (I can’t spell Bridget’s new last name) both recommended this interview with Julie Foudy, US soccer player.

Now that was a complete shock to me — the diversity of leadership styles — because I had always thought leadership was positional. I’d always thought leadership was a CEO or president or person in a position of power. And honestly, to me that meant a man — because that’s what I was reading about in history books growing up.

If I couldn’t work in local government or as a groundskeeper for a major league baseball team, then I would want to be a newspaper reporter. I am mesmerized by breaking news. I saw the “Breaking News” banner pop on the screen this morning and I immediately stopped what I was doing. I would love to be a reporter that could break a scoop that makes a 39-year old father of two stop his morning routine.

My reporter dreams lived vicariously (it took me a couple tries to spell this word close enough to get a spell check recommendation) through the “I Have to Ask” podcast interview with Ashley Parker, Washington Post reporter. Ashley is covering the Trump White House which has resulted in working so much that she forgets the day of the week.

Obama is back. The Obama Foundation is illustrating civic participation at home and abroad.

Civic commitment, at both a community and personal level, are key to tackling the challenges we face. It’s important to remember that empathy, tolerance, and civic spirit are not burdensome virtues needed in extraordinary moments — they are pillars of everything that is worth celebrating about modern life. Art has a similar function. Like music and literature, it’s not decoration or distraction from bigger issues — it is a fundamental part of what it means to be human.


It’s National Public Works Week! We’re revisiting our favorite public works related content on ELGL. MeghanMarie Fowler-Finn, Performance Analyst at DC Department of Public Works, shared her perspective on the m-word in public works.

Check. It. Out. The Unique Appeal of Public Works

Sunday, May 21

Good Day! (I say that in my best-worst Australian accent.) It’s #SundayFunday! This means we’re spending our day following the GFOA Conference via #GFOA2017, and in our opinion, the conference is off to a great start.

In between following the action on Twitter, I’ll be gardening, watching episodes of “Southern Charm”, and reading Fear City. Hold onto your seats.


We can agree that GovLove is the best podcast ever created; however, we occasionally listen to award-winning episodes of other podcasts. This happened yesterday on my run/walk. The Ringer podcast by Bill Simmons interviewed Aziz Ansari. I know what you’re thinking, you couldn’t care less about sports and you wish sports were never created. You are in lucky because Aziz talks for more than an hour about a wide-range of topics – death, work, Parks and Rec, Kayne, Master of None – basically every topic but sports. Somewhat of sidenote: Aziz shares my dislike of baseball and how painfully slow the game moves.

You’ll be surprised about Aziz’s front row seat for some of the biggest moments in rap history.

ELGL Sconnie loves rompers and so does the Spurs mascot.

What is a romper? Only the hottest trend in summer fashion – Men are buying $125 patriotic rompers for the Indy 500


Deee-troit! The articles continue to be written about Detroit. Some are encouraging, some are discouraging, and some are inspiring.

DNR statement: Trail mileage more than any other state

The Michigan Fitness Foundation, with the DNR, MDOT, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance and local community groups, are campaigning to raise $168 million in private funding to leverage the Iron Belle investment already made by state, federal and local government agencies, the statement said.

Connection and spurs-in-progress are also part of the effort, like the 70-mile Border-to-Border Trail in southern Michigan, and Karen’s Trail, named for Karen McKeachie, who was struck by a car and killed while biking on the road in 2016.

Detroit’s DIY Cure for Urban Blight

Recovering from bankruptcy, the city created the country’s largest land bank to transform a surplus of abandoned properties into livable, tax-paying homes.

Detroit Is Trying Really Hard to Woo Young Workers

What Detroit has going for it is the ability to get innovative cars on the road relatively quickly. That can be appealing for young auto-techies bent on changing the world. Then there’s the cost of living, dirt cheap in Detroit compared with the Valley, along with modern urban lofts sprouting among the gritty downtown streets.


We have been doing business in Detroit for more than 80 years and believe in its future. Three years ago, JPMorgan Chase made a $100 million, five-year investment in its economic recovery. The collaboration and the pace of progress throughout the city have allowed us to accelerate our initial investment and deploy resources more quickly than expected.

We have exceeded our $100 million investment in just three years. And now we expect to invest $150 million in Detroit by 2019. We know there is much work to be done, but we’re as committed as ever to Detroit’s success.


Woe is me. There has been a lot of chatter this week about the state of local government – employees are disengaged, cities face a dwindling applicant pool for jobs, and local government resources from the federal government are disappearing.

Another “think piece” comes from Governing –  Fewer People Are Getting Degrees in Public Service.

Public administration and policy programs enjoyed strong growth in recent decades. Following the recession, adults returning to school, coupled with an interest in public service among young people, propelled degree completions to new highs.

But since the 2012-2013 school year, numbers of graduates have dipped slightly. Part of that could just be a result of the economic recovery and improving job prospects for those who might otherwise return to school. It’s also possible that reductions to the public workforce, which still hasn’t recovered from deep cuts in many places, have led some to leave the sector rather than advance their careers.

Data further indicates that more master’s of public administration students are women, accounting for nearly 60 percent of graduates in 2015.

After graduation, students are increasingly taking their skills to the private or nonprofit sectors. “It’s not necessarily universities adding degrees, but expanding how far their degree is reaching,” says Stacy Drudy of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration. The latest NASPAA survey found just under half of employed master’s graduates worked in government six months after graduation.

On Twitter, Ben McCready wants your take on the above article.

An answer to improving local government is more leadership by example. An example of this is the City Council aide who’s become the ‘Superman’ of cleaning up illegal dumping.

But Luis Hurtado, 30, an aide to City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, is a familiar presence in the 6th District in the northeast San Fernando Valley. His sole job is to pick up trash in Martinez’s district, which takes in the neighborhoods of Arleta, Van Nuys and Sun Valley.

Five days a week, Hurtado drives a small pickup truck along the boulevards and streets, sweeping up cigarette butts and empty cans, carting off abandoned couches and bagging piles of discarded clothes.

Residents in the district recognize Hurtado, he said, and wave to him when they drive by. Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation drivers pull over and let him empty his trash bags into their trucks.


ELGL is representin’ at #GFOA2017. Dan Weinheimer, Routt County, CO, is presenting on behalf of ELGL at the GFOA Conference. Let’s learn more about Dan – #ELGLWorkLife: Recruitment On My Mind1984 with Dan Weinheimer, and Mixin’ It Up with Dan Weinheimer.

Friday, May 19

It’s been quite a week for ELGL members. We’ll highlight some of their accomplishments in today’s entry. It’s also been an incredible week for ELGL.

On a personal note, since the Tigard assistant city manager gig didn’t work out, I am looking for opportunities to advance my career. If you can be of help, slide into my email or DMs. Thanks to those who have already provided leads.


#ELGLSconnie is for real as you might have observed at #ELGL17 and as you might have noticed through their new Twitter account. ViewPoint Cloud gave the crew a shout out in their #ELGL17 recap

“Whether they’re from the infamous #ELGLSconnie crew or made famous via one of Angela Wedell’s flattering selfies, this crew of forward-thinking and innovative people will be the ones leading the charge for change across the country in the coming years.”

Humble Brag: I am officially #ELGLSconnie member. I was inducted in a secret ceremony involved cheese fudge, cheese curds, and a block of cheese resembling Aaron Rodgers. Apologies, I can’t release anymore details.


This week wasn’t all roses and unicorns. The belief that local government does it better than other levels are government was shattered.

Most City Employees in US Not Engaged

The problem is, only 29% of full-time local — as well as state — government workers are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s 2016 “State of Local and State Government Workers’ Engagement in the U.S.” report. This mirrors engagement for government workers at the federal level. (Among the U.S. workforce overall, 33% of employees are currently engaged in their jobs.) As a result, 71% of full-time state and local government workers are unhappy or disengaged with their jobs, and this creates a missed opportunity for city administrators to drive innovation and move their communities forward.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We have antiquated hiring process; we value years of experience not the quality of those years; we recruit and hire from the same aging candidate pool; we place an arbitrary number for years of supervisory or management experience in job advertisements; and we insist that we desire innovation and organizational change but we take a top down approach.

This example out of Tacoma highlights the need to think outside the traditional.

Council chooses insider for city manager job after national search

It was a different scenario in 2011 when Broadnax was chosen: At that time, interim city manager Ray Arellano was a finalist after former manager Eric Anderson was pushed out by the council. Broadnax was chosen even though he had never been a city manager before.

“I think the message here is you don’t have to come through the traditional (International City Manager’s Association) school to be a competent person who can run a city, so I’m glad we picked Elizabeth,” Strickland said.


The coolest thing that I saw today (beside another episode of Southern Charm) is this tweet and graph.

@Kwyatt23 and @kowyatt are battling neck and neck.


Bobbi Nance is “on a roll, time to go solo.” Just a little Vanilla Ice drop for you. Check out Bobbi’s work at Recreation Results – Better Questions Are the Answer.

You can learn more about Bobbi in this GovLove episode – In Defense of Special Districts with Bobbi Nance

Washington County Administrator Josh Schoemann has been named one of 24 leaders in county government from across the country to participate in the 14th Annual County Leadership Institute, a rigorous program developed by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and Cambridge Leadership Associates. This article points out that ELGL named Josh “the new face of local government.”

I can’t help but wonder who will be President when Josh lands in Washington, DC.

Housekeeping Item: This post will be open to the masses until tomorrow. Only ELGL members will have access to this incredible content after that. So, instead of trolling the website, support our effort to humanize and advance local government by joining ELGL as an individual or organization. Do it, it’ll be fun.

Second Housekeeping Item: I will be typing fast for the next few days which means you should be comfortable with grammar and spelling mistakes.

Sunday, May 14

Back in West Linn! I hope everyone had an easy trip home. Ours was made easier by N. Zach Ratkai who had Gatorade waiting for us when we boarded the plane just in time. Gatorade has never tasted so good.

So, you’re asking yourself what makes Kent happy? I am here to answer that question with these series of tweets.


Loose ends….

Hot takes are everywhere but fresh takes are less common. #ELGL17 attendee Josh Dukelow is committed to changing that. He is the host of “Fresh Takes” which broadcasts out of Appleton, WI. Thanks to the wonderous World Wide Web you can get your daily intake of fresh takes.

Link: Fresh Takes with Josh Dukelow

Before you catch up on the recent episodes of “Fresh Take”, check out our GovLove interview with Josh, who was a candidate for Appleton mayor.

GovLove: The Candidates with Jon Stehle and Josh Dukelow

Let’s tie up a few loose ends from #ELGL17.

Nick Smith posted a link to the video that had everyone talking. Take a look at DC Water’s recruitment video for a new social media employee.

Sam Taylor passes along this book recommendation from Rick Cole, City of Santa Monica.

First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its revolutionary study of more than 80,000 managers in First, Break All the Rules, revealing what the world’s greatest managers do differently. With vital performance and career lessons and ideas for how to apply them, it is a must-read for managers at every level.

The hottest fashion trend in local government, the #ELGL17 shirt.

Alberto Garcia, City of Westminster, Colorado

RosannaVioli Hoelzle‏, Village of Swanson, OH 

Mark Vanderpool, City of Sterling Heights, MI, was in the house for #ELGL17. Didn’t get a chance to connect? Listen to the GovLove interview with Mark.

What does it take to handle winter weather? From pre-treatment to salting and plowing the City Manager of Sterling Heights, MI talks about all the preparation and work that goes into keeping roads clear in even the harshest of winters. Mark talked about best practices and loving winter so much he has trouble sleeping before a big snowstorm.

As I continue to process Alexandra Petri’s closing speech, I am considering purchasing her book and you can do the same.

A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri shares her stories of awkwardness in this insightful and supremely funny debut.

Most twentysomethings avoid awkwardness.
Not Alexandra Petri.

She auditioned for America’s Next Top Model. She lost Jeopardy! by answering “Who is that dude?” One time, she let some cult members baptize her, just to be polite. Alexandra Petri is a connoisseur of the kind of awkwardness most people spend lifetimes avoiding. If John Hodgman and Amy Sedaris had a baby. . .they would never let Petri babysit it.

Here, the Washington Post columnist turns her satirical eye on her own life—with hilarious results. And she’s here to tell you that interesting things start to happen when you stop caring what people think.

Interested in joining #ELGLSconnie? ELGL member Phil Smith-Hanes sent along job openings in the area.

Check. It. Out. Current Positions

We heard from James Anderson, Bloomberg Cities and now, we hear more….

Big benefits from one tiny house

Boston faces a huge housing crisis: between 2010 and 2030 alone the city’s number of households is projected to increase by nearly 13 percent. What’s more, the current housing shortage is worst for the people who need it the most; while nearly 66 percent of all households in Boston are composed of single people or couples, only 17 percent of the city’s housing stock includes studios or one-bedroom units.

To respond to this affordability challenge, Boston’s Innovation Team (i-team) hopes to turn to a trend more common in style magazines than in affordable housing strategies – the tiny house movement. The movement promotes living in spaces about 400 square feet or less for reasons of energy efficiency, cost, and simple living. But before the city undertook the costly process of building smaller units to address their affordable housing crisis, city leaders needed to know: would people like them?

The marching band announced the opening of the Q-Line in Detroit and the media has followed up with numerous articles on the opening.

QLINE streetcar next step forward in the reinvention of Detroit

Jim Anderson is next up at #ELGL17. Here’s a recent interview with him.

Q&A: What Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Jim Anderson has learned from ‘What Works Cities’

“We believe that all of this positions a government to produce better impact in citizens’ lives,” Jim Anderson, the organization’s director of government innovation programs, told StateScoop at South by Southwest Interactive. “That’s the starting point and the end point.”

#PoopSuit was all the rage in Topeka, KS. The media and I agree.

Downtown Topeka flush with poop … emojis

Removing the taboo on poo (with images, tweets)

WIBW – Yep, that was a walking poop Emoji strolling

Double Down… Here’s a great article from #ELGL17 presenter about Roanoke’s social media.

The City that Incorporated Social Media into Everything Just Doubled Down

In 2015, GOVERNING wrote an article on Roanoke titled “The City That Incorporated Social Media Into Everything.” Two years later, Roanoke became one of the first local governments in the country to create an Office of Citizen Engagement. But before we talk about where we’re going, it’s important to touch on where we’ve been.

In early 2008, the city launched its first Facebook page. By 2013, the city had more than 30 social media accounts. But during the initial growth, there was little coordination between departments about what to post and how to post it. The city’s main Facebook page was mainly a source for posting news releases. While it had gained more than 15,000 followers, there was little interaction. When I came onboard in late 2013 and looked at the numbers, I quickly realized Roanoke had something special. We had a community that was ready to engage with its government.

Now it’s time to learn about Wendy. DC Water is working wonders via social media. Check out these videos.

I conducted a survey of one (myself) and George Hawkins delivered the best keynote speech at an ELGL event that I’ve heard. A mixture of humor, leadership tips, and inspiration.

Here’s a sampling of the feedback.

Cole Word

Rick Cole and Lee Feldman take center stage this afternoon. Allow me to provide a pre-session preview.

Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole Is “Distinctly Different”

It isn’t often that a city manager takes his mic on the dais to liken those he is unhappy with to Stalinists and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un — not even in Santa Monica, a city well-known for its outspoken ways.

So, when Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole let loose with that fiery blast during a recent City Council meeting, the reaction was a moment of seemingly stunned silence.

Cole stopped himself mid-rant, and the meeting moved along.

But it was a telling moment, and not just because Cole was attacking the powerful California Coastal Commission — a panel the City needs as an ally on many matters.

As city manager, Cole is essentially an administrator. Verbal outbursts and political tirades are not normally in the job description.

By George

Turning sewage into energy, in Congress’ backyard
How George Hawkins, a Harvard-educated water obsessive, took DC Water from scandal to a model system.

When George Hawkins took over Washington, D.C.’s water authority in 2009, the agency was still reeling from a Flint-style scandal eight years earlier, when its drinking water was revealed to have lead levels 5 to 20 times the EPA limit. There were charges of a coverup; a study later determined that 42,000 kids had been put at risk of health problems. For one of the nation’s largest water systems, a piece of urban infrastructure serving more than half a million people, it was a profound embarrassment whose effects lingered through the decade.

Today, Washington is widely considered to have one of the most advanced public water and wastewater systems in the world. Lead levels have consistently been below the federal limit, and DC Water is seen as a technological pioneer.

Previewing George Hawkins, DC Water CEO

George Hawkins serves as Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of DC Water. Mr. Hawkins is transforming DC Water into an innovative, customer-oriented enterprise. DC Water is implementing the $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project to nearly eliminate combined sewer overflows, investing $950 million to reduce nutrients for the Chesapeake Bay, and finishing a $470 million waste-to-energy program to produce a marketable nutrient and generate 13 megawatts of green power. George has also tripled the program to replace water infrastructure.

Not at #ELGL17? Listen to our podcast with George Hawkins. Podcast: Water Wise with George Hawkins, DC Water

Just because….This is a great tweet. Love the fun being had by attendees.

Most walkable city in the NW

The City of Tigard’s journey to becoming a more walkable city is being discussed by State of Place. You can learn more about those efforts on the City’s website. This webpage is updated weekly with projects that are helping implement the vision.

Deeeeee-troit Pistons

Here’s the report referenced by our morning speaker.

Pistons Practice Facility – City of Detroit

A word from our speaker – Joe Biden picks close adviser — and cancer survivor — to oversee ‘moonshot’

Much of his work, though, has been on other economic and business issues, with a frequent focus on community development.

As part of the Detroit assignment, Graves also had to bring federal officials, city officials, and local community leaders together to help the city make the best possible use of available federal grant money to help it rebound from bankruptcy.

“When you have a lot of people at the table and lots of different opinions, and they all want to be part of the solution but sometimes can’t get out of their own way, you need someone who can get them to step back and focus on the end goal,” said Gina Metrakas, a former Department of Housing and Urban Development official who worked with Graves in Detroit. “He has strong enough diplomatic skills to be able to do that.”

We. Are. Live. Perfect video to kickoff the day.

This will make you smile.

Data Collection Effort Aims to Shed More Light on Local Government’s ‘13 Percent’ Challenge

While those figures might make many feel like giving up, for Engaging Local Government Leaders, that data was merely the starting point. While ICMA can provide a good baseline, their membership database misses 90 percent of the counties in the country. So, with the principal of “what gets measured, gets improved” in mind, ELGL set out to find out the full story of gender representation in local government and the “13 Percent” challenge.

To that end, ELGL partnered with four students in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Those students, Rosemary Stump, Toney Thompson, Libby Sequin and Sarah Ross Dickson, spent this past semester poring through information on leadership in North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Early nominee for tweet of the day

Meet the Governor…

At #ELGL17, we meet the Governor of course.

For those of you playing at home, you can still win big by showing love to our speakers. James Anderson, Bloomberg Cities, is speaking today. Let’s give him some Twitter love and questions to answer.

Another way to win #ELGL17 is to leave a 5-star GovLove on iTunes. Let’s take GovLove to the number 1 spot by the end of the day.

Batting lead off at #ELGL17 is Gina Metrakas, Director, ‎Executive Vice President, Quicken Loans and the Family of Companies. What does her title mean? Here’s a little knowledge drop on Gina.

Gina Metrakas, Director of Urban Revitalization for Rock Ventures, focuses on efforts to spark development and revitalization in Detroit. She is responsible for building effective programs with public and private stakeholders to support city-wide housing and economic development. Prior to joining Rock Ventures, Ms. Metrakas held positions as Senior Advisor for both the White House Detroit Team and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In these roles she coordinated and implemented efforts to support Detroit’s recovery. Ms. Metrakas graduated from Villanova University and Catholic University Columbus School of Law. She is a member of the Massachusetts bar.

Narrative about Detroit takes a U-turn

Joe Biden picks close adviser — and cancer survivor

I will ask her if she’s thankful that UNC let Villanova win the 2016 NCAA National Championship.




It’s #ELGL Day!

Since I brought up wrestling, we have to watch my favorite wrestling clip of all-time.

Thursday, May 11

Largest Local Government Selfie Ever

Win! Win! Win!

I have prizes. PayIt was unable to attend #ELGL17 but they sent a box of swag – shirts, cozies, stickers, and more. The first two people who tweet a “thank you” to @Rachel4Detroit will win their choose of PayIt swag. Make sure to use #ELGL17. Must be attending #ELGL17 to win.

We’re #1, We’re #1, We’re #1

#ELGL17 is at the top of Detroit Twitter trends. #ELGLSconnie is also creeping up the charts. Tweet! Tweet!

Field Trips

#ELGL17 attendees have spread out throughout Detroit. Here’s a few of the top tweets from the trips.

Takeaways from the Opening Session

We highlighted a number of the good works in the opening session. Here’s follow up information

Christian Williams was awarded the Knope of the Week for his efforts – Knope of the Week: Christian Williams, City of Goodyear, AZ.

Laura Savage and Josh Schoemann are doing incredible work on veterans’ issues.

Making local government fun! Stacy Peterson and the Peoria folks were behind their march to the #ELGLCityHall trophy.

The official #ELGL17 t-shirt.

Just because….this interview occurred at a Michigan football game so it’s somewhat relative to #ELGL17.

Full disclosure: I woke at 7:00 a.m PST. This happens to be 10:00 a.m Detroit time. So, it turns out the blog does sleep but we’re back at it.

You can relive the Happy Hour from last night on #ELGL17 and #ELGL17 photos.

For those ELGL members following along at home, you can enter to win #ELGL17 swag by tweeting about the conference and asking questions for our speakers.

Today is the official beginning of #ELGL17. Props to Amanda for leading a group on a walking tour of Detroit this morning. Here’s a semi-live look-in.

Follow Amanda on Twitter for more breaking news from the tour.

Route Fifty in the House

Michael Grass, Route Fifty, published this informative piece on Detroit and previewing the sights of #ELGL17. Check. It. Out.

ELGL’s gathering in Detroit is happening as the city has been on an upswing in recent years, coming out of what was the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy. The conference is a great opportunity for civic stakeholders to showcase the innovation and bright ideas driving transformation in Michigan’s largest city (check out the agenda). The QLine, the new streetcar route along Woodward Avenue built as a public-private partnership, is kicking off service on Friday, which will be a sweet moment for both Detroit and ELGL.

Right back at you, Route Fifty. Here’s our piece from a few years ago on the launch of Route Fifty.

Let’s Meet Councilor Raquel Castañeda-López

What a perfect way to kick off #ELGL17. Councilor Castaneda-Lopez will deliver opening remarks. Here’s the 4-1-1 on her background.

Raquel Castañeda-López, a lifelong Detroiter, grew up in Southwest Detroit. Castañeda-López made history by becoming the first Latina elected to the Detroit City Council in November 2013, her first attempt at an elected position. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Budget, Audit and Finance committee and as a member of the Public, Health and Safety committee. She was appointed to the Eastern Market Board, serves as an alternate for Council on SEMCOG and is Council’s official liaison to Detroit Public Schools.

Thanks to Erik Fabian for arranging the Councilor’s appearance. After the Councilor’s remarks, we’re touring Detroit and bowling Detroit.

Wednesday, May 10

Tonight, Tonight….

ResourceX is hosting tonight’s Happy Hour at the Ghost Bar. ELGL swag and local government banter are on the menu. Special thanks to Chris and Erik Fabian.








A Room with a View…

of major league football and baseball stadiums. Life is complete.


Let Me Take a Selfie, Selfie…

The #ELGL17 pictures are rollin’ in. Here’s the official unofficial photo album.


A car full of cheese and bags of dirt from Lambeau Field, the #ELGLSconnie is headed to Detroit and are not messing around.


Your Reading List

Before you can attend #ELGL17, you must read these Detroit articles from Bridget Doyle Koz, John McCarter, and Amanda Thomas Opalewski.

I will not continue this blog unless you can honestly say that you’ve read these articles. Don’t lie to me!

We’re good now, right? I fly into Detroit with an open mind. I am conflicted on whether all of Detroit is back, parts of Detroit are back, or Detroit isn’t back at all. The only thing that I am sure of is people have strong opinions about Detroit – one way or the other. Similar to the polarization of political parties, there aren’t many people who fall in the middle about Detroit.


Whether you’re attending #ELGL17 or following along on Twitter, you have Bridget Doyle and her powerhouse team to thank for putting together the most diverse conference agenda in local government. Say thanks by buying a drink or simply saying “thanks” to the #ELGL17 planning team. You’ll get to know the planning team as the week progresses.

Fun Fact: Bridget first connected with ELGL after we were mentioned in American City/County magazine. She reached out to me because Bridget was commit to changing local government. Five years or so later, Bridget is a #BigLocalGovBaller who has attracted 200 people to #ELGL17 Detroit.

(Confused about #BigLocalGovBaller? It seems from the #BigBallerBrand of sneakers which are being sold for $495. According to the Big Baller Brand founder, you’re not a big baller unless you are wearing the sneakers.)

Democracy Dies in the Darkness

There are so many great speakers on the #ELGL17 that we have failed to properly introduce you to Alexander Petri, Washington Post. For old school ELGL fans, you’ll remember Emily Badger, Washington Post, was a conference speaker at #ELGL14. A little behind the scenes information – Washington Post reporters are able to present at ELGL events and other engagements because Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and Washington Post owner, allows and encourages these engagements.

Back to Alexandra Petri:

Alexandra Petri is an American humorist and newspaper columnist. In 2010 she became the youngest person to have a column in The Washington Post; she also runs the ComPost blog on the paper’s website, on which she formerly worked with Dana Milbank.

Saturday, May 6

It’s #ELGL17 Week!!! Less than seven days until the finest affair in local government. Bridget’s Twitter account is spittin’ fire about what to expect. Basically, it’s the Kentucky Derby of local government minus the big hats, horses, and Tom Brady.


Jokes from Michael Jordan (the basketball player, not the dog).


All is (still) not well in Flint, MI.

Flint threatens to take away 8,000 families’ homes for failure to pay bills for poisoned water

The city of Flint, Michigan notoriously poisoned a generation of its children with lead in the water supply, having ignored and covered up reports from whistleblowers and denied complaints from residents.

Flint is an overwhelmingly poor town and a majority black town. The poor, black people who were poisoned by the corporate executive that Governor Rick Snyder replaced their elected mayor with are having a hard time paying their water bills, and have understandably de-prioritized these payments since the water is, in fact, poisoned.


Who knew that Brandi Carlile was a big enough star to warrant an album of other famous musicians playing her songs. This has happened. The upside is we get a new Pearl Jam song and a cover version of “Josephine” which may or may not have inspired the name of our second daughter. I’ll leave you guessing.

My takeaway from this album is the importance of asking. Brandi Carlile must have thought there was no way these musicians would cover songs that she wrote ten years ago, and were semi-popular but not huge hits. I’ll now dust off some songs that I wrote in elementary school and see if Macklemore is interested in acquiring my elegant lyrics.

Sell out! Despite continuing to produce the exact same product, people hate Wicked Weed.

Are you a Big Baller? Only if you buy the shoes which retail for $495. ELGL may bump up membership dues to the same price in order to only attract Big Local Government Ballers.

The road goes on forever, and the party never ends. Will Hurd is the future of the GOP.


More awards for award-winning members….Ben DeClue is the latest to take home the hardware.

Wednesday, May 3

May Day! May Day! We’re back for another month of “Laugh, Cry, Think.” It’s #ELGL17 month so this blog post will be hijacked (temporarily) by myself to chronicle the action from Detroit.

Bonus: May is also birthday month for Michael Jordan. The greatest dog of all-time.


Sock of the day….Mike Ekey tweeted out this beauty.

I try to teach my children the importance of saying “please” and “thank you”. My groundbreaking parenting tip is spreading to restaurants.


“It seems like you should know if there’s running water before you put on a festival on your site.”

I want more Fyre Festival coverage. I demand more Fyre Festival coverage. What a train wreck engineered by my favorite 90’s rapper Ja-Rule. The people who bought tickets to the festival are the same ones who will fall for a Ponzi scheme later in their life. I’ve lost a little hope in humanity after this event.

If investors are willing to fund the Fyre Festival, there has to be investors who want to fund the future of ELGL. For the big investors reading this post, let’s connect so I can help redirect your investment to ELGL. Go ahead…slide into my DMs.


My childhood is dead along with J. Crew’s vision of a preppy America.

When the Las Vegas Raiders play their first home game, a new city manager will be in charge.

Familiar names land on the list of finalists for Tacoma city manager. Click to see if your boss is one of the four finalists. Whoever lands the gig will face a growing homeless problem.

I’m out! Milton City Council members walk out — again


Rebecca Olson. Assistant city manager. These two now go together. An ELGL member and Pearl Jam fan Rebecca is now the #2 for the City of Roseville, MN. Don’t believe me? Here’s the official word –  Olson is New Assistant City Manager. Before landing this gig, Rebecca was an assistant to the city manager. She chronicled her experience in the “Assistant to” series – What is an Assistant To: Rebecca Olson, City of Shoreview, MN.

More props….

Blaise Caudill has landed his first job out of graduate school.

Hot take: Blaise is a top five first name.


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