The City of Bishop has been chosen by the League of California Cities to join a new and unique program aimed at trying to help state municipalities share success stories as they weather the current financial crisis.
Bishop is one of the first two dozen out of more than 450 cities to be included in the program, a joint effort of the California City Management Foundation and League of California Cities known as “Strong Cities, Strong State.”
A response to the current economic crisis in the state and nation, the program will be centered around a wealth of information about cities and their approach to governing in the face of financial challenges.
This information will be made available at websites accessible through links on both participating cities’ and the main program website.
The program is a way for cities in the state to highlight accomplishments, financially and in collaborations with other municipal entities, and a potential tool for promoting themselves in general, according to City Administrator Keith Caldwell.
“It’s a way for cities to share their stories,” Caldwell explained. He said the idea will be to share profiles of how cities have survived and succeeded in providing improved services despite the difficult economy.
Caldwell said the cities are being asked to highlight four or five successful collaborative programs the city has accomplished in the past four or five years.
According to Caldwell, some of Bishop’s success stories include: the Bishop Police Department K-9 project; community gardens at both the City Park and Sunrise Mobile Home Park; more than $7 million dollars’ worth of street and water projects, nearly all funded with state and federal dollars; and the first-time homebuyer assistance program.
The “Strong Cities, Strong State” program will also provide another level of local government transparency by providing success stories and highlights of community leaders.
Caldwell said cities with blatantly corrupt city officials, as the case in Bell City Council, have further chipped away at the public’s already eroding trust of government officials.
The city manager of Bell, Robert Rizzo, for example, was racking in an annual salary of $800,000, more than double what the President of the Untied States makes. At the same time, the city officials were reducing services. The Los Angeles Times reported that city council members were pulling down $100,000 salaries for part-time jobs. Rizzo was charged with 53 different felony and misdemeanor counts in 2010.
The league is asking cities to provide information on seven different categories including the success stories. One is a profile of city council members, city staff and department heads. The categories also include a description of the city, quotes from various community members, a media outreach campaign and community photos.
Caldwell explained there are two objectives of the program he hopes for: one, that other cities will see what Bishop is all about; and two, Bishop can use the program as tool for outreach to lure more folks and their dollars to town.
Caldwell said the program will launch in Bishop at the beginning of November.
Strong Cities says the goal is to highlight every city in California in the next year and a half. There are already 20 or so cities in the program.
The first cities listed can be found at http://www.strongcitiesstrongstate.com .