Senator Mark O. Hatfield


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Domestic Policy:
Neighborhood Government

September 12, 1972

              Congressional Record – Senate: Pages 30350 - 30352

Mr. HATFIELD.  Mr. President, perhaps most important, however, is the general philosophy behind revenue sharing. The bill now before us is, in reality, without allowing him control over its allocation.  The revenue-sharing bill circumvents the citizens of this country, particularly the taxpayers.  The basic thrust of this kind of legislation undermines the representative nature of our Republic and erodes the quality of our Government.  If grants are made to State and local governments they should include the requirement that explicit programmatic standards be met, with an eye toward redirecting State and local spending.  Virtually every revenue-sharing proposal presented to the Senate has failed to meet this criterion.

What should be done?  Of primary importance at the Federal level is to cut back unnecessary and wasteful spending.  We must focus our spending priorities in areas which will yield greater return.  And example is military spending, which can be cut back without jeopardizing our national security.  A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests, furthermore, that a dollar spent on education generates twice as many jobs as a dollar spent for military purposes.

A significant step in the right direction would be the absorption of all State welfare costs by the Federal Government.  This would help the States reduce a major portion of their budgets and free them to spend these revenues in other badly needed areas.  While the source of welfare revenues would generate from the Federal Government, the administration and control of the program must remain at the local level.  My State of Oregon, for example, would benefit more by this approach than by the revenue-sharing proposal under consideration-$76 million through welfare reorganization in contrast to $70 million through revenue sharing.

Most urgently needed, however, is a major change in the trends of government over the past 3 decades.  These trends must be reversed.  Testimony I submitted to the Republican Platform Committee in Miami in August of this year discusses this matter in detail.  Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that the testimony be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the statement was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:



It is clear today that the great experiment of our cities is a failure. We must return to a scale of government which is comprehensible to our citizens.  By developing a neighborhood government-not by flat but by an organic evolution from community organization-we can develop a sense of community through the state and a sense of individualism and neighborhood through the nation.  To date, the centralization of government has destroyed community self-management and citizen participation.  We must reverse this trend and develop our cities along the lines of neighborhood government and inter-neighborhood cooperation.

There is renaissance in our democracy today, and the Republican Party has a distinct opportunity to play a major role in it.  Over the past decade, communities of neighborhood size have been incorporating, taking over various governmental services, and providing for many of their own needs.  This reformation of local control can be encountered from coast to coast, in poor neighborhoods, in middle class neighborhoods, among blacks, Chicanos, whites, Latins, Catholics, Jews, and Protestants.  It has cut across economic, racial, religious, and political lines, and is potentially the most dynamic force within our society today.  I would specifically make five proposals which the Republican Party should include in its platform:

    1.  Development of state and federal legislation, allowing for the creation of neighborhood governments.

    2.  Elimination of the legal, political, and economic obstacles to development of neighborhood self-governing capacity.

    3.  Nationwide boundary determination of neighborhoods.

    4.  Development of methods promoting economic self-sufficiency of neighborhoods.

    5.  Determination of standards and data regarding neighborhood development.

The first proposal is that legislation should be developed to allow for the creation of neighborhood governments.  Within this context, incentives should be made to state and local governments to facilitate this effort.  Model legislation could be created, including financing arrangements in the mutual interests of the neighborhood, state, and federal governments.  The general thrust of all of these proposals should be to develop working models from which we can learn how to better devolve power to the people in as orderly a fashion as possible.

My second proposal is to encourage government at every level-city, county, state, and federal-to eliminate the political and economic obstacles to neighborhood self-governing capacity.  The legal obstacles, let alone the political and economic obstacles to neighborhood evolution and incorporation, are numerous.  Without the strong support of every level of government, this movement will be forestalled and distorted.

The political obstacles are considerable.

At the time of the Republican Party’s founding, like today, the nation was in great turmoil.  It was a painful period of introspection and groping for answers.  From this turbulence, our Party was formed-too late, unfortunately, to stem the tide our most devastating war.  These Republicans, men such as Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, Senator Salmon Chase of Ohio, Senator William Seward of New York, and Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio, were among the leaders of the new political party.  While their reforms focused primarily on the issue of slavery, they were couched in a common belief of every individual’s right to freedom and opportunity.

Yet, they, as well as our nation’s first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, realized that the individual can only develop his full potential as a human being through community.  This concept dates back to the twelve tribes of Israel.  The ancients realized that without a sense of community and real citizen participation in the public life of community, the individual and the family structure deteriorates.

Reflecting on the state of our society today, the place of the individual, and the strength of family unity, we find that we do not have much, if any, real community life. Individualism is distorted for it is not grounded in community, but in money and private advantage.  This has become the political perspective and expression of today’s institutions, including both parties.  Our Party must now make a turn away from artificial and massive institutions and move toward the people.  The Government must stop looking at the nation as a reflection of itself, and the corporation must stop looking at the economy as a projection of the corporation’s self image.  These various perspectives represent only part of the picture, a picture which we must consider in its entirety if our institutions are to be relevant to human needs.

It is on this point-our original commitment to individual liberty through community-that we Republicans differ most from the Democrats.  Yet, our rhetoric and our programs are sorely in need of reshaping in order that they might express this difference clearly.  The state of our political system reflects this.  Voter registration, particularly since the addition of young voters between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, points up the fact that both parties, but particularly ours, are viewed as having little if anything to offer the overwhelming majority of people in our country.  If for no other reason than basic survival, we have to confront these facts while remembering that President Nixon won only 43% of the popular vote in 1968 and won the ten largest states by the slimmest margin.

The need for community is instinctual.  Thwarting this instinct leads to the pathological qualities encountered today, particularly the sense of rootlessness.  Unless individuals are able to relate together and act publicly for the well being of the community, the individual himself will be lost.  Therefore, it is a fundamental need to return to citizen participation and community self-management.

As I pointed out earlier, neighborhood government dates back to the beginning of recorded history.  It was also the basic form of political-organization throughout our nation’s history-during our formative years and through the 19th Century.  Over the past decade, this form of organization has been, once again, gathering momentum across the land.  Today, neighborhoods are incorporating.  They are taking over various services and providing for their own needs.  Yet, their information within the present legal, political, and economic constraints is continually threatened and their development and perpetuation are thwarted.  It is a tribute to the vitality of organized neighborhoods that they continue to persevere within the present environment.

The historical precedent for neighborhood control in the United States is the local township and its town meeting.  Today, neighborhood corporations and their assemblies of residents are springing up throughout the country.  California, Ohio, New York, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kansas are a few states in which this phenomenon has been occurring over the past decade.

The finances of this new level of government present a major problem.  Here, coordination on the federal, state and city levels is imperative.  Neighborhood governments which are predominately middle or upper income will have no financial problem.  The major financial problems occur in the lower income neighborhoods.  However, various recent studies have indicated that even in these poverty areas, there is more of a fiscal base than has been assumed.  For instance, one study made in 1969 of the Shaw-Cardozo neighborhood of Washington, D.C. concludes that more money was collected in taxes than was returned to that neighborhood in visible public services and welfare.  Perhaps this is not typical for other poverty areas in our country.  Not enough research has as yet been conducted to come to any definite conclusion on this subject.  Seen from the political perspective, it could be said that neighborhood governments might assume control of a variety of programs as their ability to do so develops.  Neighborhood government might move, perhaps, form child care to health care, to welfare, education, sanitation, police, etc.  Seen from the financial perspective, tax incentives would have to be provided to enable these neighborhood governments to assume as much of the financial burden as possible for their own programs.  For instance, tax credits could be provided for all residents to their neighborhood government in such a way that the greater the income level, the smaller the tax credits.

Initially, it may well be necessary for the state and federal governments to develop a system of grants to some neighborhoods which would focus on helping them to increase their economic base in order to make them as self-sustaining and independent as possible.  It should be kept in mind that these grants would be designed to help others to help themselves, rather than to perpetuate socially and economically unproductive dependence.  Such grants could attract business, which would have obviously constructive spinoffs, and would be made for specific purposes.

My third suggestion is that a nationwide study should be undertaken to define the boundaries of neighborhoods in our cities.  These boundaries should be drawn on nonpolitical basis.  They could be based along historical municipal boundary lines before annexation, postal areas, and other “natural” boundaries.  The first and last survey of this kind was taken in the late 18th Century and was for the purpose of determining townships-the local units of government.  The new survey about which I am speaking is for regeneration and reconstruction of communities.  In a manner of speaking, I am advocating a humanization of the Bureau of the Census.  On the basis of the survey, they could, and should, adapt their data gathering mechanisms, projections, and analyses to neighborhood communities and their characteristics.  The states and their neighborhood communities can assist in this survey with the help of federal financing, thereby exemplifying a new type of cooperation of nation, state, and human community.

Fourth, I would suggest that the various methods of neighborhood financing be researched with an eye toward building an economic base where it does not already exist to better enable communities to provide for themselves.  Most neighborhoods already have the economic base to service their own needs, and this includes many poverty areas.  However, some do not have the resources.  A study of the numerous modes of neighborhood financing and economic strengths and weaknesses of each should be undertaken to gain a better understanding of this most vital matter.

I cannot stress too strongly that this is an approach for rich and poor, inner city and suburban, urban and rural communities.  It is not a new war on poverty or grandiose scheme to be implemented through some massive federal and/or state bureaucracy.  The primary responsibility rests with the people-with the private sector, not the public.

Fifth, implicit within such an approach to government is not only a new relationship between representatives and those represented, but a new citizen participation and responsibility in the public matters of finance, economy, education, zoning, police, welfare, health care, courts, child care, garbage collection, and many others.  All of the major domestic issues of our time would relate directly to these neighborhood governments and would be settled by them for themselves within a purview of the Constitution and the civil and individual rights assured therein.  As I stated earlier, this is not a question of states’ rights, but of individual and community rights.  My colleagues in the Senate and House and I, as well as legislators at the state level, have the responsibility for giving legislative form to the rights of the community, where appropriate.

The appropriate guidelines for legislative and administrative activities should be thoroughly examined. T he aim of neighborhood autonomy and inter-neighborhood cooperation is the goal, but the methods and programs would vary from community to community and from state to state.  Chartering neighborhood corporations should be made easy as possible within two general criteria.  First, the chartering authority should be presented with evidence that an overwhelming majority of the neighborhood’s residents approve of the action.  Second, the boundaries should be determined on as nonpolitical a basis as possible.

The chartering authority would rest, as it does now, in the hands of the states.  The two qualifications for chartering which I mentioned above are intended to be federal guidelines which determine the legitimacy of these neighborhood entities.  For the purpose of defining boundaries, various criteria, including the following, could be utilized:

Annexation boundaries of former municipalities and townships within the cities.

Official designations by municipal government for such city services as police and fire protection, recreation centers, and neighborhood city halls.

Official designations by public or semi-public institutions such as local Community Action Programs, Model Cities Programs, Public Housing Authorities, and Employment Service-funded neighborhood outreach programs.

Sub-areas designated by indigenous voluntary neighborhood citizen’s organizations as their service areas.

De facto designations by church parish, by neighborhood schools, and by private settlement houses and community centers.

Sub-areas of the cities designated by indigenous “folklore.”

Sub-areas of the cities contained within natural boundaries such as hills and rivers.

Sub-area of the cities contained within artificial boundaries that have come to be accepted, such as freeways, railways, or other elements of urban design.

Sub-areas containing public and commercial clusters of amenities that have recently been or are currently primary amenities to the surrounding residents.

Sub-area designations consistently recognized by mass media.

In the final analysis, residents do define their neighborhoods through the impact of some or most of the above criteria.

Having focused on the national implications of neighborhood governments, it might be asked how the states relate to this matter.  The states have the basic constitutional responsibility for the establishment of local government and local citizen participation.  A great deal of extensive research, co-ordination and soul-searching is required for developing state policy toward neighborhood government.  For instance, state enabling legislation may be necessary to allow counties and cities to “set up” the smaller subunits. Critical questions must be answered beforehand:  How will neighborhood governments be constituted?  What authorities will be devolved to this level?  What standards of governmental performance will be used?  What will be the new mechanisms of coordinating neighborhood self-management to higher levels of government?

A searching inquiry within each state must take place as to the role of the state in developing neighborhood subunits, what community organizations already exist, and how may these be utilized as the foundation of neighborhood governments.  This investigation would most likely require meetings and agreements between various groups and individuals:  community organizations and state personnel; state executive, legislative and judicial officials and personnel; legislators and their constituents; and the communications media.  The areas covered by these discussions would include:  the legal development of neighborhood governments, devolution of legal authority to these community-controlled institutions, standards of responsible government performance, and neighborhood co-ordination to higher levels of government in a new system of state and federal unity.

We can foresee a number of things:

State Leagues of Neighborhood Governments:

Proposed state legislation instituting community or neighborhood subunits;

Development of a nonpolitical, nonpartisan Community Government Training Center; University and college course offerings in the neighborhood and community government areas:

State-wide neighborhood atlas development;

Legal and economic studies of local self-management;

Pilot projects on Neighborhood Welfare Reform Corporations;

Community-controlled health care;

Pilot projects on different types of local mechanisms which can relate to state government.

The political implications of neighborhood government for the nation and for the Republican Party are profound.  The Democrats have successfully tapped the alienated voter in the primaries, but there are significant differences in strategy as to how to best approach the alienated American.  The word “domestic” for the Democratic nominee seems to mean “national.”  For Republicans, it should really mean “local.”  This is what the Republican Party should be talking about Neighborhood or community government is a natural phenomenon for the GOP.

Crucial to this campaign is the fact that people simply do not trust politicians.  The only way in which this trust can be engendered, once again, is for the Party to trust the people.  We should support the people’s interest in the self-management of their community affairs.  It is time for democracy to go to work again.  These are things Republicans should be saying.

By having served on the Platform Committee for the past three conventions, my observation has been that virtually every platform which we Republicans have presented has suggested a return of power to the people and a debureaucratizing of government-both federal and state.  I believe that we should do what we have always promised to do and implement a program to accomplish these ends.  What is needed is a foundation, not of marble buildings in Washington, D.C., but of homes and communities throughout the country.  These building blocks would be cemented with a revitalized sense of cooperation between neighborhood governments, between regions, between states, and ultimately between nations.

The modern history of the Republican Party has been against great plans and blueprints, New Deals, and the like.  The Democrats urge people to come home to a new nationalism; we Republicans should urge them to come home to their neighborhoods and community affairs.  We have heard president after president speak of the greatness of our nation.  I would like to hear the Republican Party speak of the greatness of the people and their human communities.  We should continue to be the Party that speaks to the people.  This is the threat that runs through the most diverse areas of the Party.  Modern society and bit government treat people like numbers.  Neighborhoods are the only place where you can have a name.

During the Convention, demonstrations are anticipated by various groups.  One of their most often-mouthed slogans is “power to the people.”  We should challenge them with this program; challenge them with action, not with rhetoric. If we do not face this challenge now and live up to our promises of the past, when will we?

There is a great deal of talk these days of the new Democratic coalition:  the college students, academicians, suburban liberals, pacifist church groups, black power advocates, women liberationists-the young, minority groups, and the poor.  Yet, what we Republicans need to realize is that we have an opportunity to put together an equally healthy, new partnership; the middle class, skilled workers, business and professional people, housewives, farmers, working youth, the new South, blue collar workers, and the alienated voter.  And, the alienated voter is the key.  I firmly believe that neighborhood government can not only coalesce this new partnership for the Republican Party, but make significant inroads into the Democratic coalition, particularly among the workers, the minorities, and the students. The potential is there, and I strongly urge us to act in our own interests, in the interests of the nation, and in the interests of those we are supposed to be representing by returning government to the  neighborhood and to the people-that is our Party’s dream and the American dream.

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