By: Francis Koster, Ed.D.
If you are not already persuaded about the need for these alternatives, please read the discussion below. If you already think that a problem exists, and are searching for solutions, you can skip the material below.
We don’t do a good job of measuring change over time at a state and local level in many important areas of our civic environment. While any political entity can tell you if their tax income exceeds their current and forecast expenses, they cannot tell you the same kind of trended information about many other aspects of life. Because of agreed upon rules of accounting, Business can tell shareholders the cost of raw materials, overhead, marketing expenses, insurance costs, pension escrow, and many other details for many years back, and forecasts for time periods in the future. Very few cities can tell you the same kinds of trends about per capita use of parks, quality of air or water, teen aged pregnancy rates, number of battered women, and so forth. If the police department has various kinds of arrest records, and the humane society knows about abandon pets, they are seldom pulled together in an “Annual Report to Shareholders of the City of Yourtown”. The “bottom line” is that if there is no financial record keeping requirement for such things as bond issues or tax assessment, management (and owners – that would be you) at all levels are in the dark about trends. There is no social “bottom line” report.
The purpose of this section is to show you how various parts of the country track their own civic space so they can intervene to create the quality of society they wish to live in.