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BookTalk: Without Purpose of Evasion

April 27, 2017 | 1 p.m. ET

Since early mankind first sat around open fires, tribes used storytelling to pass along their lore and wisdom. Educators understand that the faster pace and evocative voice of fiction can be effective in cementing the lessons from traditional curriculum. There are 10.7 million people now working in local government, the level that is closest, most responsive and, arguably, has the most impact on people’s quality of life. But students of public administration who may have an interest in managing a local government agency outside law enforcement or the fire service don’t have many fictional accounts from which to learn.

Without Purpose of Evasion is a new novel that provides an insider’s look at city management. Written by a career city manager, the story follows City Manager Brad Jacks’ struggle as he guides his small California city’s review of a large, controversial development project. He is accustomed to navigating in troubled waters in his role as the pivot point between the community’s politics, represented by the elected City Council, and the interests of the municipal organization. As he learns little known, factual incidents of government deceit—past and present—and mostly involving state and local water policies, Brad reassesses his role and personal values while being mindful of his family’s security.

Students of public administration and policy who read the book will come away with an excellent summary of typical city management duties, issues and conflicts along with the more personal challenges related to being an appointed public official and having to reconcile political forces with one’s sense of ethics. 

Audience members for this webinar will learn:
  • The value of using fiction to supplement class materials
  • Typical issues, tasks and skills a city manager must possess
  • Pros and cons to the persona side of being a city manager
  • Models for how an appointed public official reconciles political and organizational imperatives and the public interest

Book author John Thompson and professor Rod Gould will discuss the book, student take-aways and how Gould's class benefited from it. Join us for this excellent event as we explore using fiction in the classroom to re-inforce city managers' roles and responsibilities.

John Thompson, Retired and Former City Manager
Author John P. Thompson had a 30-year career in local government, including 20 years as city manager of two California cities, before becoming a partner on commercial development projects. Throughout his career he was active with several professional organizations and was honored by his peers to serve as president of the League of California City Manager’s Department. He is a lifetime member of the International City/County Management Association. He holds a B.A. from the University of California—Santa Barbara, an M.A. from Occidental College, and is a graduate Fellow of the Coro Public Affairs program. He cares deeply about effective local government and balanced public policy. Thompson has founded and served on numerous nonprofit community based organizations and is the current president of a local social service nonprofit. He lives in Northern California with his wife of 40 years, and they enjoy travel, friends and family and especially their four grandchildren.

Rod Gould, University of Southern California

Bradley Chilton, Moderator, University of Texas—El Paso

BookTalk: Partisans and Partners: The Politics of the Post-Keynesian Society

June 20, 2017 | 1 p.m. ET

There’s no question that Americans are bitterly divided by politics. But in Partisans and Partners, Josh Pacewicz finds that our traditional understanding of red/blue, right/left, urban/rural division is too simplistic.

Wheels-down in Iowa—that most important of primary states—Pacewicz looks to two cities, one traditionally Democratic, the other traditionally Republican, and finds that younger voters are rejecting older-timers’ strict political affiliations. A paradox is emerging as the dividing lines between America’s political parties have sharpened, Americans are at the same time growing distrustful of traditional party politics in favor of becoming apolitical or embracing outside-the-beltway candidates. Pacewicz sees this change coming not from politicians and voters, but from the fundamental reorganization of the community institutions in which political parties have traditionally been rooted. Weaving together major themes in American political history—including globalization, the decline of organized labor, loss of locally owned industries, uneven economic development, and the emergence of grassroots populist movements—Partisans and Partners is a timely and comprehensive analysis of American politics as it happens on the ground.

Josh Pacewicz, Professor, Brown University