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September 22, 2011

Re:  NLC Governance and Civic Engagement Resources

Dear Mayor:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

So said a great leader at a time of great National crisis.

Rarely has politics been more bitterly contentious than it is today. Rabid partisanship and the demonizing of political adversaries make rational debate and reasoned compromise more difficult than ever. Fueled by the strident voices of media personalities vying for market share, citizen distrust of public officials has degenerated into citizen disdain. In such an environment, public officials find it increasingly difficult to enact or implement any policy improvements.

The National League of Cities’ (NLC) Center for Research & Innovation has studied this phenomenon. As noted on its Governance & Civic Engagement webpage (

A growing disconnect between citizens and government – complicated by the challenges of financial strains, demographic changes, diminishing social capital, and increasing demands from citizens – has renewed the need for local leaders to revisit issues of democracy and governance. NLC is contributing to a national effort to strengthen democracy and governance at the local level by involving residents in government and public life and by focusing on developing an inclusive, collaborative, and effective relationship built on trust between citizens and government. Through these relationships, communities can work together to arrive at solutions to pressing problems. 

On that webpage, you will find a number of resources, including publications and links to other valuable sites, which might help you to promote civility in public discourse and to engage your residents in their public concerns.

We hope you find this a useful resource. If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director




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