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Probably at no time in our history have we experienced social, political and economic changes occurring as rapidly as today. We are being asked, both practitioners and planning officials, to do more in our communities — better, faster, more efficiently and with fewer resources. In this environment we must learn to do a better job of seeing the future and positioning ourselves to be masters, rather than victims, of change.
To help you anticipate and prepare for change, I would like to offer the following observations about five of the most important national trends and patterns that I believe will present both challenges and opportunities for planners and public officials in the coming years:
1. There is a limit on what government can do. The public is becoming increasingly disillusioned about the failures of government at all levels to render quality, basic services at a reasonable cost. People are unwilling to pay more taxes to support bureaucrats and elected officials who are unresponsive and out of touch with them. Citizens want more access and involvement in the decision-making process, and they want accountability at all levels of government. Citizens are interested in helping to develop and deliver better products and services, and they increasingly support the privatization of public services. They want economy, efficiency and most importantly of all, results.
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McClendon continues with discussion of the following trends and patterns:
2. The largest employer in this county is the non-profit sector.
3. The public is becoming more knowledgeable and more sophisticated.
4. The migration from central cities has gone beyond flight to the suburbs and is being manifested in the form of “edge cities.”
5. There’s a widening gap between the haves and have nots.