It's a challenge to run a city - let's just get that right out there. You have to deal with low-budgets, angry citizens, crime, and constant changes that never seem to get better. What I'm about to say is not intended to disregard any of those facts. More than anything, I want to bring up something that might be worth thinking about.

One of the biggest problems that face cities is how they are connecting with their residents. This is a challenge unto itself as every community consumes information in different ways, and every community doesn't have the same level of access to information. You can write on Facebook, and that may serve your millennial population, but what about your older population.

What afflicts cities is transparency. How are you getting your message out there? Do the residents know what you're doing? If there is a crime epidemic, do they know where you have been successful in stopping it? Do they know what you're doing to make the roads cleaner and the highways safer? What are you doing to show progress, impart information, and connect with your residents? 

Now, there is no doubt messaging/communication is not always the top priority, especially when cities have to justify every bit of spending. Why spend on an ad buy when you can build a swingset for a park that needs it? However, I think there is something to be said for the power to get your message out there. If no one knows you built that swing, or cleaned up that avenue, then they're going to keep thinking your city is a mess beyond repair. Cities must talk to their residents. Deploy interns, create liaisons, hold town hall meetings, hold weekly television segments where you speak right to the people. Employ your city council to be out in the streets just as much as they're on Facebook. Hold meetup groups, tweet, Facebook, share, blog post, post ads on Facebook, send mailers. Whatever you can do, you have to show people what you've done, what you're doing, and what the future holds.

What hurts cities is when the people are divided, and no one feels like they are being heard. In my city, some residents are more likely to complain on neighborhood Facebook groups than they are to their own elected official. There is a disconnect in that. They are assuming, rightly or wrongly, that they won't be heard. They are also assuming that their elected official won't do anything, or won't bother to hear them.

Cities have to communicate. There's no other way around it.