The Good Government Show – Season One Preview
“County governments are incredibly consequential in our lives and really do play a role in making our communities better places to live, work and play.” Brian Namey, National Association of Counties
Co-hosts David Martin and Carol D’Auria discuss the upcoming first season of The Good Government Show. The hosts discuss the idea behind the podcast and talk with two guests. Scott Thomsen President of the National Association of Government Communicators who discusses the importance of telling listeners why these stories matter. Brian Namey, chief spokesman for the National Association of Counties talks about why these stories matter and why they tell important stories that will help listeners have a little faith restored in the ability of government. Listen for a lively preview of the podcast.
Transcript of Good Government Show Season One Preview
Carol: This is a good government show.
Brian Namey: County governments are incredibly consequential in our lives and really do play a role in making our communities better places to live, work and play.
Carol: I’m Carol D’Auria, and we’re going to be talking about a program called Good Government and the host of the show. David Martin, he’s with me. What do you mean by good government?
David:Well, first of all, I’m the co-host. We’re hosting this together, the good government show. Don’t throw this all at me because you would be where we’re in this. So the idea is, you know, there was a joke. The scariest words in the world are, I’m from the government. I’m here to help you when in fact, every single day government helps people. They do big projects, they do small projects. But there’s so many things that the government gets involved in. You know, like county government, for example, is, you know, on a local level, affects more people’s lives in any other form of government.
They build hospitals, they build roads, they build airports, they build schools, they maintain police departments, they maintain health departments. So there’s so many ways that government really does reach down and really help people. And what we found is, you know, in sort of doing some of the research is is at some point there’s always that one person who works for the government who says there has to be a better way to do this. And what they do is, is they sit down and they start to think about like, how can I fix this? And we found across the country, you know, in big counties and small counties and big cities and small cities, there’s lots of people who are really dedicated government workers who really try to come up with solutions. So that’s the idea of the show.
Carol: And they can really have an impact on the daily living of people.
David: What they really can, you know? And it’s, you know, it’s all level of things. But what are the things we’re going to try to do in this show is we’re going to try to to put a personal face on that person who can say this government project helped me. Because of this project, my life is better. I’m going to give you one example. So out in Sonoma County, California, that a homeless veterans problem and a county commissioner out there said, We have to come up with a solution for this.
And what they did was, you know, obviously these things don’t happen overnight, but they built 14 mini houses and a mini house is it’s a house, but it’s a very small house. So they have like a Murphy bed that comes down out of the wall. They have like little dining tables, they have a little kitchen, they have a little bathroom shower, you know, they have everything you want in a house. So now there’s 14 people in Sonoma County who were homeless veterans who now actually have their own home. They’ve got their own house.
Carol: And did they come with like services for them. Or they just live independently? No butlers.
David: No butlers. No, no, no, no. It’s their own house. It’s their house. That’s where they live. You know, I’m sure many of these folks were, you know, getting some type of government assistance for different projects. But the point is you had 14 people that were veterans of the U.S. military that were living on the street. And now as a result of this project is one county commissioner saying there has to be a better way. They have a place to live and sleep.
Carol: And these are people who sacrificed. They were in the military. They did something for our country.
David: They did
Carol: and this is a chance for government to pay back a little bit.
David: A little bit, yes. And there’s, you know, there’s lots of stories about like this down to the Florida Keys. There were when they built the Florida Keys. You know, one of the typical problems in Florida is over-development. And one of the things that they did was they built all these, you know, houses and they put in streets and they putting these canals where they built these canals. They didn’t really give a lot of thought, you know, water flow. So as a result of all this, you have all this sort of water that’s backing up. You have seaweed growth.
You have you have people who are living in the Florida Keys, you know, the beautiful Florida Keys with crystal clear blue water all around them, but on their canal, it’s so polluted and so, so bad that they can’t sit in their backyard. They can’t swim. Some people couldn’t even get their boats out because it was just choked with seaweed, so.
Carol: It was probably smelly too.
David: Oh yeah, it was horrible. You know, people were, you know, I went down and talked to some folks there and they couldn’t. They could not sit in the yard. They had to closed the back windows, closed the back doors, turn the A.C. on it. That’s not why you live in the Keys, right?
Carol: That kind of thing also brings bugs and insects, right?
David: So they had a canal restoration program down there. They came in, though the woman who is in charge of the project said, You know, we have to do something about this. They came in and they cleaned it up.
So there’s lots of stories like this, and what we want to do is we want to tell these stories that show that government, you know, in many ways, is forward thinking they’ve come up with some great ideas. There is, you know, this is, you know, kind of a silly thing because you think, Oh, you know, how big a deal is this? But in Catawba County, North Carolina, they had a problem. They had, you know, one central library, they had a bunch of schools, you know, budget cuts, et cetera. They had schools with no libraries. So what they did was they loaded up, they bought a van, they loaded up their books on a van, and now they drive around regularly to all these schools that have no libraries. They bring books. They do story times. And one of the other kind of fun things they do is they talk to the teacher and they go, Hey, you know what?
What do you have coming up? What can we do? So the teacher says, Oh, we’re going to study astronomy. So the librarian loads up a bunch of astronomy books, drop offs of the teacher. So they’re getting fresh stuff. But they’re, you know, the mobile library, the library to go that kind of idea. You can, you know? Good laugh at the fact that, oh, you know, it’s a library, you know, who goes there.
Carol: This opens up a whole world to especially young children. It’s something to look forward to. They get excited. And books open up your mind.
David: They get it. They get it. They can get a new library book. But the library comes to them and they’re coming to places where there was no library. But, you know, think about what a lot of people use libraries for. There’s lots of folks that don’t have home computers, so they go to the library to check out a computer to get on the Wi-Fi to get help filling out forms, applying for jobs. Now the library comes to them, so they set it up. They have office hours and then you’ve got a library in there to help them, you know, fill out forms and stuff like that. Yeah, to navigate the web. You know, do all those things that they need to do. So, you know, I think there’s lots of stories out there that we’re, you know, that we’re kind of excited about telling.
Carol: And, you know, transportation is another big thing throughout the country that’s been changing. Right? As people move out of cities, what what are they? How can you get around? Not everybody, you know, in this day of environmental and green?
David: Right. So in Gwinnett County, which is sort of a suburb of Atlanta, one of the projects they had there was they sort of created like an Uber kind of public transportation system. So instead of just running, you know, a lot of buses down bus lines, and sometimes you pick up two people and sometimes you pick up four people, you know, computer programmers smarter than I came up with this plan where people go on their app, they call up the county bus, which is, you know, they have these large vans now and they they pick them up at their house or, you know, a block away and they drive around. They drove, taken to stores, whatever they need to go. But but what they’ve done is, is they’ve solved a transportation issue in their in their in their town with an inexpensive, low cost solution.
Carol: So they didn’t just wait for people to complain and do nothing.
David: Right. So, you know, we’ve talked about some of these. We think that there’s lots of great stories out there and we’re looking for great stories out there. So go to the good government show dot com and send us your story idea. But you know, one of the things that we’ve talked about as I’ve been sort of going through and doing some of the research for the show is there is a lot of people in this country, you know, unfortunately right now who don’t have a lot of faith in government, right?
Carol: People have been turned off. They think of it as having to fight government instead of government being there to help them.
David: Right. And what we’re going to show is, is that government is there to help them. And one of the guys I’ve spoken with is Brian Namey from the National Association of Counties. He’s their chief spokesman who says, you know that people are dying to tell these stories.
Brian Namey: You’re covering so many real life examples of county government making people’s lives better. And I think once listeners hear those stories and understand those examples, they’ll come to the conclusion that, you know, county governments are incredibly consequential in our lives and really do play a role in making our communities better places to live, work and play.
We see every single day examples of county government responding to real community needs, whether it’s things like infrastructure and transportation, human services, health, economic and community development kind of. Governments have vast responsibilities when it comes to all these things, and the examples that you’re highlighting really do demonstrate that counties have an incredible role in making people’s lives better.
Carol: County workers who work really hard day in and day out, and they’re just not sitting there collecting a paycheck. They actually are able to do some really fine things.
David: Yeah. And I talked to Scott Thompson. He’s with the Ventura County Fire Department, but he’s also the president of the National Association of Government Communicators. And you know, again, he mentioned there are so many workers that work for the government that are, you know, working hard every day. And the idea to get these stories out is, you know, really exciting for them.
Scott Thomsen: If we talk about things in an honest, open and ethical manner, it builds trust in what you’re doing and also gives people the opportunity to make informed decisions. And that really is at the heart of good government in a representative democracy. Basically, you’re creating an invitation to say, Hey, show me your best stuff. The thing that you’re really super proud of and we’d like to share it with a whole lot of other people. I imagine that there are a lot of places that are going to have some really cool stories that’ll come out of this, and I’m happy to help you find those.
David: So, you know, I think we’re just going to have a really great treasure trove of really great stories to tell. I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to go across the country. We’re going to talk to folks in small towns and rural counties and municipal counties in big cities where there have been solutions.
Carol: And people really depend on this. They need it. It makes their lives better.
David: Yes, it really makes their lives better. And not only does it make their lives better, it makes their lives better as people in the community, in the area in Johnson County, Kansas. There was an old bowling alley. It was a bowling alley. It was a skating rink. It. Was opened as a showplace, it became an eyesore. But the county moved in, they moved their county museum in really cool exhibits. They have an electric house from the 1950s there. But what they also did was they brought other people in. They brought in. They have the local theater, they do educational classes for different people.
Carol: And they really give new life to an old structure that was becoming a problem.
David: Exactly. So you have you have so many, so many levels of help here. You’ve got a vacant building that’s no longer vacant. It’s now a vibrant building. They’ve expanded their museum. They created new jobs for folks. They made a center for people to go to. And you know, some guy in Topeka, Kansas, is getting his stage play, you know, produced for the first time, and he didn’t have to go to Broadway. So. So there’s lots of just benefits everywhere. So that’s what I’m really excited about. People who work for government who got involved in a project saw a problem and said, I can make this better.
Carol: And it gives them incentive to make another project to make something else happen. That’s really good.
David: And what the other part of this is, I hope happens, is that I hope that when people listen to this, they go, Wow, if that’s what they’re doing in that county, maybe I can make this work in my county so they may have to change a few things or make a few adjustments. But I think what we’re going to see is people doing things in their area and people saying, Hey, how can I make this work in my area? And that’s really it. I mean, you know, the idea of government is to help people. That’s what governments all about is to come together for safety, for security, for prosperity. And you know, we found that this is happening across the country.
Carol: And there are always little problems that need to be taken care of, but that you can’t do by yourself as the local homeowner or just the local citizen. You need government to help out.
David: Exactly. And one of the stories I came across was some veteran out in Oregon was at a Veterans Affairs office, and he was a Vietnam veteran and the woman he was talking to, who had a guitar and he picked up his guitar and he started to play and she said, Oh, you should meet this guy. He plays. So now two Vietnam veterans are getting together and they’re playing. So now they’ve got a buddy. So then they brought this other guy and suddenly they had three or four guys, and then they had another person who was an Iraq War veteran.
And they brought him into the scene and then they brought. Another guy says, Why don’t really know how to play? And they said, Well, here we’re going to teach you how to play guitar. So now you’ve got a group of people who are veterans, so they all have that in common. They’re sort of out in a rural area where it’s, you know, they’re not bumping into hundreds of people every day. But what they’ve done is they’ve created a community. This is changing lives. Did it cost much money now? It’s a couple of thousand dollars? Is it a big deal? Yeah. For those people, it’s a really big deal.
Carol: It’s a big deal, indeed. And you know what you talk about veterans. There’s a women’s veteran group that you know about in Texas, right, where they needed help and they were able to network and get what they needed.
David: Right? And the problem in Texas is that there are more women veterans in Texas than any other state. So you’ve got you’ve got a group of veterans that that have different challenges than men, and they figured out that they need to be addressed differently. So they set up a solution for that, right? Isn’t that what happened?
Carol: Exactly. It was the county. There was a woman in the county there who just pulled in every resource. She could think of every woman who was doing something, and they’re helping each other.
David: So we can look forward to sharing these stories with you on future podcasts of the good government show. I’m your co-host David Martin.
Carol: And I’m Carol D’Auria.
David: Thanks for listening. Talk to you again. The good government show is a Valley Park production. Jason Stershic is our editor and producer, associate producer of The Good Government Show. Our Jane Ludlow and Mackenzie Martin. The executive producers are Jim Ludlow, David Martin and David Snyder.
Thanks for listening. See you next!