[INSIGHTS] Do Republicans Avoid Public Participation?

MetroQuest > [INSIGHTS]  > [INSIGHTS] Do Republicans Avoid Public Participation?
Dave Biggs

Dave is the Chief Engagement Officer of MetroQuest and an internationally-recognized author and public engagement strategist focusing on the use of software tools to enhance community participation for planning projects.

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    Suspect Number One
    Posted at 11:15 am, October 7, 2015

    Republicans, whether justified or not, may have an interest in having public policy decisions controlled by a smaller group, giving them more power.

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    Posted at 11:41 am, October 7, 2015

    My first thought (before I read your comment at the end of the article) was that population density definitely plays a part in the difference. There are other explanations such as – they could be using a different vendor who is local to their area to do their public involvement; they may be doing their public involvement in-house; funding in less populated areas may be an issue, since urban areas tend to receive more funding and have more projects. If you compare a population density map of Texas to your public involvement projects map, your projects pretty much correlate with the higher density population areas.

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    Posted at 11:46 am, October 7, 2015

    Dave, instead of “Republicans” I would use the term “conservatives” when describing this group who staunchly believe in individual freedom, small government, and property rights. In general, they see the public planning process as an example of central planning where a government entity (along with a group of special interests) imposes collective values onto individual land owners, through land use planning process and zoning codes, instead of letting the free market and the concept of “highest and best use” play out on a case-by-case basis. That is why you’ll see, in many strongly conservative parts of the USA like Texas, no zoning codes and more of a laissez-faire approach to land use. Most planners by definition believe in a top-down approach where the collective needs of the community are more important than those of an individual property owner, whereas conservatives would rather do as they wish with their own property.

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    Posted at 11:56 am, October 7, 2015

    I think there’s a perception that the less information the government has about a community, the less money the government will spend on that community — often a goal for fiscal conservatives. This has been reiterated by multiple attempts to defund the Census, ACS, AHS, and other survey instruments. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/sunday-review/the-debate-over-the-american-community-survey.html

    In practice, I believe that the just because decisionmakers are lacking information doesn’t mean they won’t make spending decisions; it just means they might not make the best decisions.

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    Posted at 12:07 pm, October 7, 2015

    I think it is “conservatives” for a reason and as such there might be preference for good old way of meeting in person, town halls meetings, etc. rather than the virtual aspect of it.

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    Posted at 4:56 pm, October 7, 2015

    Is it really necessary to politicize this? Is there anyone in the planning field that can refrain from bashing “Republicans?”

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    Posted at 6:59 pm, October 7, 2015

    My past experience in Canada and overseas in over 40 countries was that the introduction of Public Participation was often met with indifference and even hostility. The Alberta Government was a trailblazers in the `70s on Environmental Assessmt hearings, as industry chafed at the requirement. Quebec was always strong in this regard. B.C. was officially unenthusiastic in my opinion, opting for land use planning models. African and Asian staes were slow, often because of tradiitional consultative methods (the sheik and is people, the Panchayat system in Nepal, and Communist methods elsewhere).

    The National Environmental Policu Act (1971) brought in by the Nixon government was ten years in the making. It brought forward public consultation as a requirement on project reviews in a process that was copied by over 80 countries world wide
    including Canada. However the public information and consultation activity was an unpopular activity for many governments, and it still is.

    Keep up the good work, Dave.

    Patrick Duffy, Vancouver

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