By Paul Gilk and David Kast.
In November 2010, Republican Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin, and in early 2011, he announced a budget repair bill that gutted collective bargaining rights for public sector unions. Citizens occupied the state capital in an outpouring of opposition. Various recall elections were held in regard to the state senate, but Walker regained his governorship in the 2012 election. Many were shocked by the Democrats’ failure to oust Walker. The essays contained within “A Whole Which is Greater” examine this failure, offering the unique perspectives of both private and public sector officials on why the Wisconsin uprising was a bust.
By E.C. Hanes.
William Bowater III, the title character of Hanes’ debut novel, begins his career in politics as the Chief Administrative Assistant for Wiley Hoots, the senior senator of North Carolina. Despite hopes of securing a legacy for himself, Bowater instead becomes embroiled in backroom dealings and ethical dilemmas centered around a controversial art exhibit. A fictionalized version of actual events in the author’s life (think the National Endowment of the Arts and Jesse Helms), “Billy Bowater” explores the role of the arts, religion and ethics in American politics. “I wanted to write a book that would put into perspective the tendency in politics to use whatever might upset an anxious public in order to win at any cost,” says Hanes.
By Robert Bell, John Jung and Louis Zacharilla.
Written by members of the Intelligent Community Forum, “Brain Gain” serves as a survival manual for communities looking to overcome economic challenges in innovative ways. With the rapid growth of technology, the prevalence of the Internet and the growing trend of globalization, many local economies are in states of upheaval. Examining globe-spanning examples from the U.K.’s cosmopolitan Birmingham to the rural town of Mitchell, S.D., “Brain Gain” argues communities cannot wait for national governments to deal with pressing economic issues. Municipalities must create their own destinies and seize the opportunities quickly shifting economies and technologies have to offer.
By Tim Hutzel and Dave Lippert.
In this thought-provoking work, Lippert, president of Hamilton Caster, and Tim Hutzel, industry veteran, expose the hidden threats of outsourcing the country’s jobs. Citing the interests of business and the American way of life, the book tells the stories of companies that outsourced and experienced negative consequences with regard to the quality of these companies’ products, services, employees and communities. The authors examine the motives for such actions and the errors of omission made by not understanding the true costs of outsourcing. Exposing these costs, they then offer concrete processes to guide business leaders in making offshoring and reshoring decisions.
By Steven O. Ludd.
Ludd, a professor emeritus of constitutional law, dissects, examines and explains exactly what the Constitution says and stands for while pointing out the numerous ways the document is being manipulated for political gain. His work analyzes the Founding Fathers’ fears and aspirations as they laid the groundwork for the American government – particularly as they relate to the ideas of liberty and public welfare. Focusing on the observations and writings of Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and Hamilton, Ludd echoes the founders’ warning that without an engaged, enlightened citizenry, the American way of life will be unsustainable.
By Benjamin Barber.
Many of the world’s pressing problems – climate change, terrorism, economic inequality – are universal in scope but, when handled by federal governments, are not approached with a universal plan. In “If Mayors Ruled the World,” Barber suggests cities, through a global “Parliament of Mayors,” should take the lead on solving global problems. He argues that cities already hold the most economic power, are home to more than half the world’s population and are the primary incubators of cultural, social and political change. Most importantly, Barber contends, cities are free of sovereignty and border issues that often hamstring nations’ abilities to work with one another.
By Chris Mead.
In “The Magicians of Main Street,” Mead examines how voluntary groups of business people changed both local economies and society as a whole. Going back to before the American Revolution, Mead demonstrates, in detail, how Chambers of Commerce affected all realms of American life from local government, transportation, public health, education, public works and cultural life. Chambers’ influences can be seen in Washington’s Cherry Blossom Festival, New York City’s subways, Chicago’s Board of Trade and the Las Vegas gaming industry. Even the iconic stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Mead says, were touched by local Chambers of Commerce.
By Richard J. Riordan.
Riordan is one of only a handful of Republicans to have been elected mayor of Los Angeles in modern history. A politician, philanthropist and businessman, Riordan sought to empower Los Angeles residents with clearly defined yet compassionate pragmatism. From 1993 to 2001, Riordan worked closely with then-president Bill Clinton to rebuild Los Angeles, both figuratively and literally, amid a devastating natural disaster, dangerous civil unrest, skyrocketing crime rates, a plummeting economy and race relations that were tumultuous at best. Riordan’s memoir examines his administration’s difficulties and triumphs during one of the most trying times in Los Angeles’ history.
By Peter Van Buren.
Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, spent a year in Iraq leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team on one of the most extensive (and expensive) hearts-and-minds campaigns since the Marshall Plan. In his eyewitness account, Van Buren retells the stories of Iraqi civilians and the sometimes surreal attempts of American forces to rebuild the world they had just destroyed. Using razor-sharp irony and wit, Van Buren details his quixotic journey involving pointless projects, fumbling bureaucrats, oblivious administrators and exhausted soldiers. A tragic comedy of sorts, “We Meant Well” is a master class in the pitfalls nation-building
The holidays are here, and if curling up by the fire with a good read sounds like your kind of celebration, Derek Prall of American City & County has some civic-minded recommendations for you.
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