Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Viewpoints: Governments must combine competition, collaboration - Sacramento Bee

The Olympics are over, but our athletes can still inspire us â€" and teach us about competition and cooperation.

Within the greater Sacramento region, our cities compete with one other. Battling for individual wins, West Sacramento and Sacramento share a rivalry just as spirited and determined as the one between Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. Folsom and Roseville compete against each other no less intensely than Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Healthy competition creates a sense of urgency and innovation that makes us better. This innovation in turn spurs the private sector investment and civic engagement that enhance our quality of life from the foothills to the Delta.

Individual medals matter, but it is the national team that always stirs our souls. Like the U.S. Olympic teams in swimming, gymnastics, and track and field, our region is competing with the regions of other nations and states. And this time it is about much more than bragging rights. Global economic competition occurs at the regional scale. Quality of life, and amenities like the arts, sports, entertainment and great food, happens regionally. We have to act like a team if the people of the Sacramento region are to win the gold.

The Sacramento region's local government brings together 22 cities and six counties, a mix of all-around stars and specialists, working together to advance a common agenda. This common agenda must benefit our individual communities' residents and businesses, as well as the region in total. Regional governance is how we work cooperatively with governmental agencies, educational institutions, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector in addressing our regional needs. It requires us as a region to strive to understand the needs of our individual communities within a shared experience. Learning how to work cooperatively through regional collaboration formed through local determination defines those regions that are seeing greater success. Regions that have a highly developed collaborative process have greater success in taking on issues that must be solved at the regional level.

From Sept. 11 to Sept. 14, we will be traveling to Denver on the Sacramento Metro Chamber's annual Study Mission program. Civic, governmental, not-for-profit, educational, media and business leaders are returning to Denver to learn from their leaders how they address issues from education to workforce development and how policies impact a business's ability to benefit their community. In particular, we are looking forward to seeing how the Denver region works through issues that impact their communities on a regional scale.

To address issues on the regional level, Denver leaders formed the Metro Mayors Caucus in 1993. The Metro Mayors Caucus is a voluntary and collaborative membership organization for mayors in the Denver region. This collaborative process addresses issues at the regional level and provides a much needed place for communities within the Denver region to work through issues that they agree upon, but also on those that they do not.

The Sacramento region has a history of working cooperatively. From the Water Forum agreement to the Blueprint project integrating land use with transportation, housing and air quality planning, our region has a history and an unparalleled national reputation to be proud of and to build upon. Our hope is that we will see another way to bring about regional dialogue that will help us to collectively improve our economy and strengthen the places we live.

Our region through the efforts of the Next Economy project will be transforming our economy from an overwhelming dependence on public sector jobs, to a more diversified economy. How we build on our history of agriculture and the promise of private sector jobs in emerging technologies will determine our future economic success. Companies in these sectors won't care which government provides them the service, just that it is done efficiently and cost effectively.

Talented workers might see a play in Woodland, worship in Rocklin, grab their coffee in Winters, shop in Folsom, visit grandma in Rancho Cordova, cheer a sports team in West Sacramento and work in downtown Sacramento after getting a degree at UC Davis. Our internal borders enliven, not divide our sense of place.

Marrying competition and collaboration isn't easy. Denver's Missy Franklin and her women's swimming teammates may have won the team gold and almost all the individual golds, but that's the exception. Because we know this: creating and sustaining a winning team of rivals takes work, patience, focus and intention. Denver may have something to teach, and we are ready to learn.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Christopher Cabaldon is the mayor of West Sacramento. Andy Morin is a member of the Folsom City Council. Both are honorary vice chairmen of the Study Mission.

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