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Politics & Government
Keystone Crossroads: Rust or Revival? explores the urgent challenges pressing upon Pennsylvania's cities. Four public media newsrooms are collaborating to report in depth on the root causes of our state's urban crisis -- and on possible solutions. Keystone Crossroads offers reports on radio, web, social media, television and newspapers, and through public events.Our partner stations are WHYY in Philadelphia, WPSU in State College and witf in Harrisburg. Read all of the partner stories here.Pittsburgh’s WQED joins the collaboration as an associate partner. Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Gridlock And Grudges: Toxic Relationships In Pennsylvania Cities

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Lindsay Lazarski
/
WHYY
The 500 block of Cherry Street in downtown Reading, Pa. The city is one of 20 municipalities in the state's Act 47 program to help financially distressed local governments.

The Commonwealth’s Act 47 program to help cash-strapped local governments doesn’t address how elected officials might get along better, despite how critical relationships are to their financial well-being.

Local officials who have trouble getting along have some options for mending their relationships.
The League of Minnesota Cities has a dedicated task force and website focusing on civility in government.

California’s Institute for Local Government suggests codes of conduct or ethics, and posts some examples. They include obvious -- if not always observed -- stuff like complying with the law, and subtler things that are, in fact, vital, such as sharing information.

New Jersey, Michigan and Tennessee also have guidelines for good government behavior.

The Pennsylvania Municipal League addresses civility in part of an hour-long video,  and offers related training sessions.

But although discord among local officials risks financial instability, even though distressed municipalities have no room for error and cannot afford for anything to delay or derail government initiatives, Pennsylvania’s Act 47 program to help them sticks to strictly fiscal matters.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner Keystone Crossroads.