The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today the City of Glendale’s “Work Boot Tuesday” as a Semifinalist in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition. “Work Boot Tuesday” will compete to be named a Finalist in the competition and have the chance to be awarded the $100,000 grand prize in Cambridge this spring.
“Work Boot Tuesday” advanced from a pool of more than 500 applications from all 50 states, and was selected by the Innovations Award evaluators as examples of novel and effective action whose work has had significant impact, and who they believe can be replicated across the country and the world.
The Glendale City Council began “Work Boot Tuesdays” (WBT) in February 2015 as an outgrowth of the Mayor’s effort to conduct more outreach to the community, as well as educate the City Council team about significant public service and infrastructure efforts underway. WBT occurs on a monthly basis in lieu of the City Council’s customary afternoon session. The sessions are technically special City Council meetings, with roll call and public comment, with the purpose of putting boots on the ground and allowing Council Members and residents to familiarize themselves with the people and operations that deliver services to Glendale residents and businesses. The idea is to provide the City Council and the community with a better understanding of operations in a relevant and timely manner, prior to Council making a decision regarding that operation. This allows Council to make well-informed policy decisions, and allows the public to better understand both the operation and the decisions made by their elected officials. The idea of “Work Boot Tuesday” is not to cover the entirety of departmental operations in one session, but rather to allow policymakers and residents to work alongside one another and delve into the details through tours, live demonstrations, and in-person interactions.
The first WBT was held on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, at the Glendale Water & Power (GWP) Department’s Grayson Power Plant. The Council and public were briefed by power plant personnel about its various operations, and toured the facility. The Grayson site visit was important to the Council’s consideration of the GWP Integrated Resource Plan, which outlines the future options for the Council as they pertain to potentially repowering the plant – an undertaking that would comprise the largest single public works project in the City’s history. Other sessions have since included tours of the Police and Fire Departments, the Public Works Department, the Community Services and Parks Department, and the Community Development Department's Transit Division.
“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, “small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”
The Semifinalist programs represent a cross-section of jurisdictions and policy areas, and embody one of the most diverse and sophisticated groups that have advanced to this stage in the competition’s 30-year history. They were invited to complete a supplementary application last fall, answering in-depth questions about their work, the process of creating and sustaining their programs, and how they believe they can teach others to do what they do. The Ash Center expects to announce 10 programs that will be named Finalists and be invited to Cambridge to present to the Innovation Awards Program’s National Selection Committee in March, with the grand prize winners to be named in June.
Please visit the Government Innovators Network at innovations.harvard.edu for the full list of Semifinalists, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.
If you are interested in upcoming “Work Boot Tuesday” meetings, visit the Glendale community calendar to see all the latest events and happenings in the City of Glendale.