Commentary

05/09/2013  by Ed Coghlan

CA Fwd’s Fred Silva receives lifetime achievement award

Fred Silva is the recipient of the Sacramento American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) Ross Clayton Lifetime Achievement Award. He was presented the award at a dinner Wednesday night in Sacramento.

Silva, who is currently California Forward's senior fiscal policy advisor, has spent 45 years working in state and local government.

"Fred is the expert's expert on California," said Richard Callahan, an Associate Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Management, who presented Silva the award. "I am one of many who admire him and respect his judgment on matters important to the public interest as well as his optimism and belief in the future. "

"Fred Silva reflects what is right about government in California," said Jim Mayer, Executive Director of California Forward, which is a non-profit, non-partisan government reform organization.

"Fred, like so many others who dedicate their careers to public service, is committed to making sure that public services work for those who rely on them.”

Silva was formerly a fiscal policy advisor to the New California Network and senior advisor on governmental relations for the Public Policy Institute of California. He was also executive secretary to the California Constitutional Revision Commission where he directed the staff work and wrote the the Commission's final report in 1996.

The Lifetime Distinguished Public Service Award is presented to an individual for especially meritorious service to the field of public administration over the course of a lifetime. But if you think Silva is slowing down, you'd be wrong.

Oh, and if you think he's losing passion for the work, you'd be wrong again.

"After doing this work for 45 years, I still think issues of governance and finance are fun and worth exploring," said Silva. "I am always renewed by the energy of my colleagues at California Forward who always have the optimistic view that changes in the way we govern ourselves is possible. To paraphrase the words of Albert Einstein: It is better to be an optimist and called a fool, then a pessimist and be right."

Mayer noted that Silva's energy is contagious.

"He also is mentoring and igniting a passion for good government in the Millennials on the California Forward team."

One of those young staffers, who shares Fred's passion for policy (and the San Francisco Giants)  observed: "He is a living, breathing Google search engine on public and fiscal policy."

Silva is considered one of the state's leading experts on understanding the historical friction between California's state and local government and explaining how it has shaped fiscal policy and conflicts through the century. He co-authored a book The State-Local Fiscal Relationship in California: A Changing Balance of Power with Elisa Barbour. He has authored nearly two dozen publications and commentaries regarding government fiscal issues in California.

ASPA is the national's leading public service organization advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration. 

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