21 June 2010

Last call for film - and a reminder about Building One PA

The screening for "The New Metropolis" is 7 p.m. tomorrow (June 22) at HACC's York Campus. It's free, and there should be plenty of seats in the Glatfelter Community Room. And don't forget to register for Building One Pennsylvania, the statewide summit on economic opportunity happening July 16 at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster.

Here's a blog post by Bill Dodge at citiwire.net that gets to the heart of several issues that will be examined in the film and at the summit. Dodge writes about the regional future of local governments, making a couple of key points along the way.

First, he says now is the time for innovation, as local governments face the most challenging fiscal environment in decades.
"Local governments have hit financial ceilings, limiting their responses to any tough challenge. They have reached the limit of their capacity to sustain their services, maintain their facilities, and finance employee health care and retirement. Even if individual local governments want to continue to be independent of their neighbors, they can no longer deny the need to work cooperatively to address their toughest challenges."
Then he points out that local governments have started working together in a variety of ways, but it all remains "piecemeal."
"Local governments have been reluctant to invest in creating sufficient ongoing capacity to take advantage of crosscutting opportunities and brunt common threats. Witness, for example, the response to the American Recovery and Revitalization Act. Some regions had already invested in cooperative plans and programs for transportation, emergency preparedness, weatherization, or broadband communications, and were prepared to take advantage of the largest infusion of federal funds in this and probably many decades to come. Yet many others had to play catch up and will probably not be as successful in securing adequate funds to address common challenges."
His advice: Orient local government around regional charters.
"... regional charter councils (would need) adequate staff and resources to address the tough challenges. (They) would also have access to predictable funding streams for implementing critical actions, including the ability to submit funding options to the public in regional referenda. They would engage regional stakeholders, from all sectors and the general public, but be controlled, or heavily influenced, by local governments. Most importantly, they would be held accountable by the public, such as through annual reports on their activities and periodic citizen reviews of their charters."
How does that approach sound? Anybody see any problems with it? Could there be a more effective and efficient way to operate local government in York County?

- Dan Fink

17 June 2010

Child abuse next steps

Here's a quick update on the child abuse town hall from last week. We had more than 250 people come to the York Jewish Community Center to explore the challenges we face in confronting child abuse and to explore possible solutions. It was by all accounts a productive conversation.

YorkCounts emphasized going in that we didn't want the discussion to end at the meeting; we asked for a commitment from the stakeholder group to meet again to flesh out plans for next steps and goals.

That's happening.

YorkCounts is working with Bev Mackereth, director of York County Human Services Department, to bring the stakeholders back together for a meeting in late July or early August. The purpose of that meeting will be to identify one or two next steps that can be undertaken right now and to discuss who else should be at the table for any kind of broad community conversation about child abuse. The group will also explore which organization might be best suited to serve as the clearly identified "face" of child abuse prevention and education for the county. And finally, and maybe most importantly, folks will also be asked to participate in a planning retreat that will be used to develop a structured, coordinated plan for reducing child abuse in York County.

We were pleased at the response to the town hall; it seemed like a community conversation that had been waiting to happen. And now we're energized by the stakeholders and their willingness to take the next steps.

We'll help them in whatever ways we can. And we wish them luck. There's a lot of important work happening in York County, but I'm not sure anything could be more important than protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

- Dan Fink

10 June 2010

A film screening and a call to act

Our child abuse town hall is tonight, but we've already been thinking about the next event.

In the past 10 years, YorkCounts has worked to address, among other things, declining urban centers and struggling schools. We have advocated for fairer tax policies and more regional collaboration. We’re teaming up with organizations across the state to convene a statewide summit on issues such as declining urban centers, struggling schools, fairer tax policies and regional collaboration. The Building One Pennsylvania summit will be July 16 at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster.

To raise awareness of the event, YorkCounts and the York Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College will host a screening of "The New Metropolis." You might remember we showed portions of this film at our community summit in March and invited Lynn Cummings, whose work was featured in part of the film, to be our keynote speaker. On June 22, we'll show both parts of the documentary - "Cracks in the Pavement" and "The New Neighbors" - and have a Q&A session afterward. The film will start at 7 p.m. in HACC'S Glatfelter Community Room in the Cytec Building, 2161 Pennsylvania Ave., York. Admission is free.

The issues raised in the film are critical to all of York County. And the statewide summit has two goals: to give visibility during this critical election year to the common challenges faced by our communities and to launch an organizing structure for advancing the state and federal policy agenda that will revitalize and strengthen Pennsylvania.

BOPA has a modest registration fee of $15, which includes lunch, and the day will feature national experts on regional equity, land use, and municipal and school governance. Our partner organizations for this event include 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, Good Schools Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches and the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project. Advance registration is requested; here’s how to do it:

1. Go to http://tinyurl.com/BuildingOnePA and use the secure server to pay online by credit card;
2. Or download the PDF of the registration form at http://www.yorkcounts.org/ and follow the instructions to register by mail.

More information is available on Facebook by searching for the Building One Pennsylvania event. For any other questions, call 866-720-4086 or e-mail buildingonepa@gmail.com.

Remember: June 22 is the screening at HACC in York; July 16 is Building One Pennsylvania in Lancaster.

- Dan Fink