The declining role of networks to sustain a regional idea.

One of the greatest mysteries surrounding the decline of the New England Governors' Conference has been the lack of response or discussion of regional issues among its traditional supporters. It may be comparable to a declining baseball team that no one watched or longer cared about when the team eventually failed. Over the years, the New England Governors' Conference cut, bit by bit, the staff and resources essential to building networks, and staying in the game.

New England public and university libraries are full of historical materials addressing the evolution and desirability of cross-border regionalism. One can even find such materials in New York. But there is nowhere near the same level of regional commentary or networks today. In the current era, public policy research on cross-border regionalism has lost momentum, as has the enthusiasm of key funders. Mobilizing new forms of community knowledge has been a central focus. Less interest and fewer resources are available for focusing on formal regional processes and assessing outcomes than in the past.

The context has changed over time. For example, attitudes about government planning (regional or otherwise) have changed. New Public Management theories and practices have become more popular and old policy structures and systems of rational planning have been questioned.

All of this has created pressure to change old practices and reduce public knowledge and engagement. In NL, there has been much debate about legislation that restricts public information and processes, which are more inclusive. There has also been much criticism about reducing the power of the Public Utilities Commission to promote markets in electric power in order to protect the Muskrat Falls project.

Similar trends have occurred south of the border. In the past, the New England...

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