With a fanfare that seems overplayed, Mayor Fulop just released the 155 page report prepared by his transition team. The magnitude of the effort has to be commended, but is this really a blueprint for change or just, and mainly, a set of recommendations to improve what is already there? If the new Mayor wants to reinvent government in Jersey City – a much needed project! – He and his team should have paid close attention to the guru of the field, David Osborne. Mr. Osborne’s three seminal books, “Reinventing Government’ (1992), “Banishing Bureaucracy” (1997) and “The Price of Government” (2004) offer prescriptions that, if attended, would have lent a much more robust flavor to the stew of recommendations presented in the report. Proposals like injecting competition into service delivery, funding outcomes, not inputs, meeting the needs of the customer, not the bureaucracy, earning rather than spending, prevention rather than cure, leveraging change thru the market place, empowering rather than serving, etc. have to be part of any plan for real change. Hopefully, the books will be mandatory reading for the members of the new administration.
Regarding the (rosy) aspirations of turning Jersey City into a tourist destination, good luck. With the exception of Newport, nothing changed much here in decades, the bones and breath of the city being yet a product of its modest industrial past. “This is really one of the most pitiful things about Jersey City. There isn’t anything that if someone came here from a far place, that I could say, “Oh, I want you to see this, this is so beautiful.”, was the typical comment of a resident in the book by Kevin Lynch, “The Image of the City” (the book, published in 1960 by the MIT Press, looks at three American cities, Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles, and how they are perceived by residents). Liberty State Park or the Lowes aren’t enough to bring in the tourists; the city needs water sports, a vigorous and commercially successful art scene (performance and plastic), public squares full of color and vibrancy, and so on and on.