Around the World: Stereotyping Local Government

Posted on August 21, 2014

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Around the World in Local Government – August 2014


Tell us the stereotypes you’ve heard about the other regions.

Brian H. – San Antonio, TX

You hear a lot about California and how unfriendly it is to business and how much fiscal stress the cities are under there.  A lot of that gets placed on the shoulders of “over rich benefits for public employees.”  You hear some of the same sort of things about Michigan and in some cases New York.

Brian S. – Elk Grove Village, IL

Northwest – Besides being up-to-date on the documentary Portlandia, I have spent some time in Oregon, about 7 hours to be exact.  From all of this I have gathered that everyone in the area eats only locally grown food and washes every meal down with a craft beer.



Southwest – Sadly this is one region of the United States I have never really visited and thus I will base my assumptions on pop culture.  My understanding is that the every male in the state of Texas is required by his father to play high school football. This eventually leads to turmoil in the household and a kid proclaiming to his father “I don’t want your life”.

downloadSoutheast – I don’t have any stereotypes about this region that comes to mind besides how the area ruins perfectly good iced tea.  My take away is that iced tea in this region is made with 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of iced tea.

United Kingdom – I am pretty sure that the entire area is covered in a dense fog 70% of the time and the other 30% of the time it is raining. Except for when I watched the London Summer Olympics on TV a few years back, it seemed nice then.

Marc – Roanoke, VA

Pacific Northwest: Expensive; socially liberal; sustainability conscious; outdoor enthusiasts.

imagesNortheast (Full disclosure, I am a Long Island native whose educational and professional experiences have all been garnered below the Mason-Dixon Line): Crowded; cold; expensive; supportive of organized labor; amazing cities and cultural amenities; pro sports fanatics; fiercely loyal to their roots, even when relocating to another region of the country.

Midwest: Proud of their value systems; loyal to their roots, but with a willingness to embrace local terms and traditions when relocating to another region of the country.

Southwest: Immigration issues; socially conservative; retirement haven.

Stephen – Canada

download (1)US – Our neighbour to the south. Big…as in the Big Apple, Everything is Bigger in Texas, the Big Superpower.

In all seriousness, a good stereotype I’ve heard relates to the differences across the various parts of the country. The Southwest is distinct from the Northwest which is wholly different from the East Coast. My wife and I have travelled in many parts of the US and we’ve found stereotypes exist in many places and those stereotypes are generally good stereotypes! Great food in Chicago, spectacular diversity in San Francisco, history (and accents) in Boston, and sun/sand and friendly people in Florida.

images (1)As a sports fan, I love that the US is so passionate about their sporting traditions! Passion and attachment to one’s alma mater through athletics (think big college football rivalries) and the history of MLB ball parks are great stereotypes. The stereotype of these being America’s passions is true…and it is great!

Australia – The land down under. Fellow “commonwealth-er.” The biggest stereotypes I’ve heard about Australia relate to the accent, the “coastal” culture (think surf, sand and diving) and the untamed wilderness. I haven’t ever travelled to Australia so these are truly stereotypes and probably horribly incorrect. That being said, I understand that Aussies are a friendly bunch and fiercely proud of where they call home. I like the sounds of that and think that is a great stereotype to have!

images (6)UK – The land across the “pond.” Tea, Big Ben, the Tube, her Majesty and classic “Pub Grub.” I have family in the UK and have visited many spots. I love the history, the food and the TEA! I’m a big tea drinker. My Mum raised me on the stuff and my wife and I enjoy a good Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe or English Breakfast tea any time!

Give us three projects that you are working on.

Brian – San Antonio, TX

Quality of Life Strategic Plan – This is a long term plan being developed with local government, outside agency, and community stakeholders to reduce issues related to key quality of life indicators such as panhandling, graffiti, and vehicle burglary.

images (4)Transportation Network Company Ordinance Changes – This is a project regarding changes to the transportation code for the City that governs vehicles for hire (taxis and the like) to govern new platforms such as Lyft and Uber.

Mobile Body Cameras for Police – This is a pilot program to test and evaluate several types of body cameras for police officers and determine whether they have an impact on citizen/police relations (among other things).

Brian S. – Elk Grove Village, IL

Just recently starting a new job, I can group the projects I was given to start with into three areas.

images (3)Safety – Working for a Public Works Department, safety is a huge concern.  With numerous large scale infrastructure projects, emergency water main repairs, tree removals and more the Department has a number of individuals working in tough conditions and environments.  I have been tasked with updating a number of safety related issues including crafting a new basic safety equipment requirement policy, ensuring MSDS books are up-to-date and creating policies for secure work zone areas that should help keep pedestrians in the area of worksites safe.

Technology – I am in charge of updating the Department’s webpage (Vision Internet CMS and I am always open to any resources anyone may have concerning tricks I can use to spruce up the visuals of our webpage) and helping to create a new intranet page.  The past municipality I worked for did not use the intranet and as a result I am quickly trying to come up to speed on what should be offered by our Department’s page.

images (5)Streamlining – There are a few areas I have been tasked with attempting to streamline the past process that was in place.  I am attempting to find an easier way for residents to apply for and pick up new water meters.  Our current process involves residents making a trip to two separate locations and dealing with multiple representatives of our local government.  I would also like to make our bid process smoother on the Department’s end once a project has been awarded to a bidder.  On this front I would like to create a set of excel worksheets that will allow for project managers to easily manage an awarded project, keep accurate records and make complex calculations without having to burden the project managers with too much information.

Marc – Roanoke, VA

Most of my projects are designed and built by private sector entities, most of which enter into performance agreements with the City. I manage those agreements. Here are the top three:

The Bridges: A 22-acre mixed use development being constructed on a former brownfield site. Intended to be an extension of Roanoke’s downtown, this project is also located directly across from Virginia Tech’s medical school and research institute. Full build out is expected to take at least ten years and will include residential, commercial and retail space. The developer and City entered into an eight year, $10 million performance agreement that includes costs associated with public infrastructure and green space.



Old YMCA Rehabilitation: This adaptive reuse project involves the rehabilitation of a 52,000 square foot building into approximately 50 apartments and 6,000 square feet of commercial space. In exchange for a nominal purchase price, the developer has agreed to invest $500,000 of structural improvements within the first year and to complete the project within three years.

Old Transportation Museum Sale and Rehabilitation: This project includes the sale and rehabilitation of a one-story, 3,900 square foot building that has been vacant since 1985. Located in the rapidly gentrifying Wasena Neighborhood, the finished product will provide space for a brewery tasting room and an outdoor outfitter.

Stephen – Canada

images (7)The biggest project for us in the Clerks world in Ontario is the 2014 municipal elections. Lots of moving pieces and machinery to coordinate (voting locations, staffing, technology and engagement/communications). Other projects include continual review of our meeting management processes with a lens to making things as open, transparent and accountable to the citizens and residents.

Supplemental Reading

The Bridges developer talks about vision for Roanoke

San Antonio officials could soon decide fate of Uber, Lyft

Apartments to spring from Roanoke renovations

Ontario municipal elections, 2014


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