Chicago learns from Waipa

Cambridge Edition - - CONVERSATIONS - MIKE BAIN

The ini­tia­tives of how Waipa District Coun­cil en­gages with its ratepay­ers may be used as a blue­print for the Amer­i­can city of Chicago.

Waipa coun­cil hosted two Illi­nois county ad­min­is­tra­tors as part of an ex­change pro­gramme by the In­ter­na­tional City and County Man­agers As­so­ci­a­tion.

The re­cip­ro­cal ar­range­ment al­lowed two high ranked lo­cal gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tors to visit other coun­cils in or­der to gain an un­der­stand­ing of how each op­er­ates.

Vis­it­ing Waipa was Stephanie Hawkins who is the county ad­min­is­tra­tor for Geneva, pop­u­la­tion about 22,000, and hus­band Bob Palmer holds a sim­i­lar po­si­tion in the town­ship of South Bar­ring­ton in Cook County, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 4600.

Both coun­ties are part of seven dis­tricts which make up the city of Chicago.

Palmer was sur­prised by the sim­i­lar­i­ties in gov­er­nance be­tween both coun­tries.

‘‘Struc­turally in the United States we have a lot of tiers of gov­ern­ment and they dif­fer in each state,’’ he said.

In New Zealand it ap­pears to work seam­lessly and in­spired by what the district of­fered.

‘‘How the coun­cil’s district wide brand­ing (Home of Cham­pi­ons) is a foun­da­tion pil­lar to work from was great.

‘‘This is re­flected in the way the as­sets like the velo­drome and the row­ing cen­tre are both cen­trally lo­cated.’’

He said Chicago had sim­i­lar is­sues to New Zealand such as clean wa­ter, af­ford­able hous­ing and immigration. Hous­ing was es­pe­cially a hot topic. ‘‘One of the ma­jor is­sues we face is build­ing enough hous­ing for the el­derly.

‘‘When we had the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing about it, it brought out so much op­po­si­tion from oth­ers who didn’t want to see high den­sity clus­ter hous­ing.’’

Hawkins was im­pressed with the Waipa coun­cil’s vi­sion.

‘‘Waipa is very vi­sion­ary, and looks be­yond to­day and to­mor­row.

‘‘Some of the things noted was the coun­cils ten-year plan is al­ways re­ferred to when mak­ing de­ci­sions.

‘‘In the states no one cares or even knows what the county pro­vides so I am tak­ing back the ideas from Waipa and am hop­ing we can use their en­gage­ment mod­els in our county.

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