Local government leaders grappling with issues facing their communities will have the benefit of academic research and information on best practices in a new journal published by the Illinois Municipal League in collaboration with DePaul's School of Public Service.
The inaugural issue of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal presents "timely conclusions and recommendations that we hope will inform future decision making by public servants in Illinois," say editors Joseph Schwieterman, a professor and director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, and Nick Kachiroubas, an associate teaching professor.
Schwieterman is a co-author on a study that evaluates the comprehensive financial statements of more than 100 Chicago-region municipalities to explore trends in revenues and employment as well as other metrics.
"Policymakers are bombarded with studies released by organizations that do not present both sides of the issue," Schwieterman says. "They often avoid reading academic journals out of concern that the articles are not written with their needs in mind. The articles in this journal are written to help policymakers appreciate all the implications of their policy options and bring them up-to-date with research that is supported by both data and critical analysis."
Other articles touch on Illinois' municipal reserves, the state's constitutional home rule authority and capital budget strategies. They are written by research scholars and others from institutions around the state and country, including the Illinois Institute of Technology, John Marshall Law School, Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois.
Journal managing editor Kachiroubas knows firsthand how useful the data and information can be. In addition to his teaching duties, he is also city clerk in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
"Our hope is that the articles, although scholarly in the sense of the research, are written in a manner that is digestible," Kachiroubas says. "We were looking for that middle ground between good scholarship and the ability to communicate to local and state officials. We hope the government officials can take these ideas based in research and use them as evidence when looking at current policy."
As an example, an issue brief co-authored by DePaul graduate student Dana Yanocha, offers guidance for local governments that are seeking to update their municipal bicycle codes with contemporary best practices.
"Partnering with the Illinois Municipal League is an excellent way to raise the profile of DePaul University when it comes to urban and suburban policy," according to Robert Stokes, director of the School of Public Service in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. "We wanted to use research to add value to policy in the state of Illinois and I feel like this journal will have the opportunity to do just that."
The Illinois Municipal League, headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, is the statewide organization representing local communities throughout the state. Founded in 1913, the League strives to provide a formal voice on matters involving common interests to all 1,298 municipalities in Illinois.
"The goal is to get more data, analytical information and best-practice examples in front of our members, so they can stay informed and better serve their communities," says Brad Cole, executive director of the League. "We think this first volume will set a solid foundation for future volumes to build upon," he adds.
The Illinois Municipal League plans to share copies of the journal with Illinois legislators, state constitutional officers and members of the Illinois Congressional delegation along with its members.