Semester Wrap-up: Lessons from Seton Hall MPA students

Last night was the last class of the semester for Strategic Management Collaborative Governance, the class at Seton Hall University I've been co-teaching with Professor Dr. Matt Hale. If you remember from the beginning of the semester, the idea of the class was to provide future public managers and leaders with both a conceptual and practical understanding of how government, especially local government, works, and how the institutions can be improved by approaching it with a different mindset, one with a heavy focus on accessibility, innovation and technology. The students performed brilliantly.Below are a few tweets that I sent out as the students made their final presentations as they each were assigned a town and tried to get one local ordinance passed, many from The Citizens Campaign best practice model ordinances. The students brought some incredibly valuable lessons to the class, both from good and bad experiences trying to get something done in local government.    Our @SetonHall Master's students presenting trying to pass @CitizenCampaign ordinances this semester. @NJpoliticsprof — Alex Torpey (@alextorpey) December 9, 2014 Lots of students saying they were passed btw many departments/people trying to get their ordinances passed #MPALessons @NJpoliticsprof — Alex Torpey (@alextorpey) December 9,...

Speaking at POLITICO's What Works Summit in Washington, DC

I had the distinct pleasure to join Garrett Graff from POLITICO, and Mayor Andy Berke of Chattanooga, Brenna Berman, the CIO for the City of Chicago, Mayor Helene Schneider of Santa Barbara on a panel talking about technology innovation in cities. The event was part of POLITICO's What Works Summit. Click below for the video!    

Happy Election Day - Find your polling place

This is reposted from Veracity's website, find your polling place using the handy dandy tool below! (Or contact me in South Orange, and I'll drive you to the polls).

Alex Getting Out The Vote at Montclair State University

On Tuesday, I was invited to come speak to a class of journalism students at Montclair State University that works in partnership with Wired New Jersey and the NJ News Commons. Although we got to cover a little about my story, the reasons why I ran, how to build a successful and constructive relationship among local media, citizen and government, and some of the incredible opportunities that exist for change in local government, we also spent some time talking why it's so important to get involved, even just through voting. Wired Jersey students recorded a brief PSA about voting that's embedded below. Enjoy! (And don't forget to vote on Tuesday!)  

Alternate water source selection, lots of fun in South Orange, and more

The fall is off to a busy start in South Orange! Not only do I have the distinct privilege of having been appointed as an adjunct faculty at Seton Hall University, getting to co-teach master of public administration students about how to creatively think about ways they can approach governance from a more transparent and technology-focused perspective, but we've been very, very busy in town! Here are a few highlights. Most importantly, an issue that many of us have been concerned about, and have been working on for a long time, is finally coming to some decision points. We've all been less than pleased, to put it lightly, with the performance of the East Orange Water Commission. As we near the end of our contract with them, we are now able to publicly pursue alternatives. We held a community meeting last week to discuss this, and you can find all the backup material, the memo our counsel has produced for us on the options, video of the meeting, and lots more information by clicking the image below: On a completely different, and much more fun note, this past weekend in town was packed with amazing events. On Saturday, we started off with the Newstead 5k...

Seton Hall Professor Partners with SO Mayor to Offer Innovative Course in Public Administration

 SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Seton Hall University and South Orange Village officials announced today that this fall, Seton Hall will be offering a unique public administration course focused on transparency, data use and collaboration. Pairing an experienced professor and a young mayor, the university is poised to offer students a chance to tie academic work and learning to the real-world impact possible from that.  The graduate course, Strategic Management for Collaborative Governance, will be co-taught by Political Science and Public Affairs Professor Matt Hale and South Orange Village President Alex Torpey. The Master of Public Administration program course will be a pilot this fall, with plans to expand it in the future. The course will bring in leading public, private and nonprofit sector experts from the open governance movement for a series of guest lectures and discussions on specific ways that local government can be more transparent and open.  Students will then conduct local research projects and community outreach in Essex County with a goal of implementing the actions recommended by open government experts. Through the course, students will focus on applying newer concepts of open government to managing, overseeing and working in a public agency.  “This is such an...

July - 2014 budget and some publicity for South Orange

At the June 23rd meeting of the Board of Trustees, we approved a budget with the lowest tax rate increase since the 1990s (graph below). This is no small feat, and major credit goes to our administrator Barry Lewis, our administration and department heads and all staff and the entire Board of Trustees for continuing their work to control costs without cutting essential services. In fact, as we've managed to stabilize the budget for the first time in over a decade, we've also managed to find ways to expand the services, events, outreach and work that we do in the Village. (P.S., we know there's always more we could be doing... Let us know what you'd like to see!) What this budget partially shows is what reasoned thinking, extreme diligence in leaving no stone unturned to both cut costs and find ways to bring in more revenue can accomplish. And it can't be done without a group of people dedicated towards the common goal of trying to reduce the cost of living in South Orange. If you're interested in more, you can find the user-friendly presentation and summary of the budget, as well as the municipal budget in an interactive Microsoft...