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National Association of Counties Civility Guide

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The National Association of Counties has a useful guide on promoting civility in public discourse.  The piece is a useful contribution to local agency official thinking in this area and summarizes others’ work in this area (including ILG’s).

One interesting quote is from John Gillespie’s paper entitled “The Need for Civility in Local Government Dialogue,” published by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, which includes Ten Commandments of Public Civility at the end of his paper. Among these are:

1. Thou shalt not rudely interrupt a colleague midsentence; nor “speak over” a colleague while she/he is speaking;

2. Thou shalt not assume that shrillness of tone is a substitute for substantive dialogue;

3. Thou shalt not resort to “zingers” designed solely to embarrass your target;

4. Thou shalt not allow legitimate critique of policy and practice to become a personal attack aimed at the person who devised the policy or implements the practice;

5. Thou shalt always recognize that your colleagues were also elected, just as your were, and deserve the same level of respect for having run and won;

6. Thou shalt not ridicule or belittle a colleague, or a member of the public, simply because he or she disagrees with you on an issue.

See pods at right for link to the NACo website to access the publication, In Search of Civility, as well as link to New Jersey Municipal League paper.

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