Urban Politics

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					Formal Political Arrangements
The Legal Framework of Cities.
  A. The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states
     that all powers not conferred on the federal
     government are reserved to the states.

  B. The U. S. CON. makes no merit ion of cities or other
     local governments, therefore they fall under the
     jurisdiction of state governments.
1. It is important to understand the implications of state
   governments control. To make fundamental changes
   to urban life, the state must be reckon with.

2. Think of it in terms of states being able to eliminate
   localities altogether; all the powers and responsibilities
   of local governments derive from the actions of the
   state government or the people of the state acting

3. The legal dependency of localities is best expressed in
   what has been termed Dillon's Rule, since it was
   associated with John F. Dillon 1831-1914), a famous
   jurist and legal commentator :
Types of Local Government

Local municipal legislative bodies, normally called
   city councils (although the term varies; for
   instance, in Chicago it is called the Board of
   Aldermen), are almost always unicameral.
   Three different organizational schemes are
   mayor-council, commission, and council-
   manager. There are, of course, other local
   legislatures as well, from school boards, to
   town (or township) boards, to county
City and Local Government in Nevada

Article 4 of the NV state Constitution requires the
  legislature to establish a uniform/equitable system of
  county and township governments.

Governing board of each county is the Board of County
  Commissioners. These are elected positions, their
  duties are outlined by the state and to enforce state
  statutes i.e. Laws and marriages.

Who is your County Commissioner:

City Government: Article 8 of the NV Constitution requires
   legislature to enact laws providing for organization of
   cities and towns: Cities are governed by city councils
   chosen through non-partisan elections
Forms of city government

A. The mayor-council form of government
     1. Weak Mayor
     2. Strong Mayor
B.   The commission form of government
C.   The council manager form of government
D.   The county
E.   Special districts.
Mayor-Council Systems.

Two types exist.

The weak mayor variety features a mayor and a
   city council; however, the heads of agencies do
   not report directly to the mayor. They may be
   directly elected by citizens or appointed jointly
   by the mayor and council or even by the
   council alone. This supposedly weakens the
   mayor's ability to administer programs on a
   day-to-day basis, since agency heads do not
   have to look solely to the mayor for leadership.
The strong mayor system has both a mayor and
  a council; in this case, however, department
  heads are appointed by and report directly to
  the mayor. Theoretically, this makes
  accountability easier to determine, since it is
  clear exactly who reports to whom. The mayor,
  in addition, normally has a veto, which
  enhances his or her power (weak mayors tend
  not to have veto power). The Legislature has a
  Louder voice in cities with weak mayors than in
  those with strong mayors.
 Commission System.
In the commission form, there is no independently
    elected mayor. Members of the commission
    select one of their number to serve as mayor,
    but the main role is simply to preside over
    council meetings. In addition the mayor would
    normally administer one of the departments,
    just as do the other commissioners. Over the
    past fifty years or so, the number of
    municipalities with the commission form of
    government has declined.
Council-Manager System.
In council-manager government the voters elect a
    council which, in turn, hires a professional
    manager to run the city government on a day-
    to-day basis. Department heads report to the
    manager, who acts as top administrator. The
    theory upon which this approach is based is
    that government is most efficient when elected
    officials make basic policy decisions and then
    turn over administering the city to a
    professional administrator, the "manager."
    Managers can be hired and fired at the whim of
    a council, although that does not usually
Leadership in Local Legislatures
City councils tend to be small. The average size is
    perhaps five to seven persons, although
    councils can run up to fifty or more members
    (as in Chicago). Most of the time, councilors
    have four-year terms, although two-year terms
    are not uncommon. Many councils elect a
    majority leader to structure the business of the
    council. However, city councils are often junior
    partners to the mayor (or city manager) and
    may be relatively weak bodies. Because most
    councils are small. there is little likelihood of
    their having a meaningful committee structure.
Professionalism in Local Legislatures
Local legislative bodies are much less professional
   than are those at the state level. Most councils
   have no staff help at all; councilors tend to be
   poorly paid (if they are paid at all). Hence,
   turnover is fairly high compared to turnover in
   the state legislatures. Lack of staffing makes
   local councils less able to challenge
   businesses or interest groups for real power.
   Simply put, part-time amateur city councilors do
   not have the expertise of the state or federal
   level counterparts. In fact, city councils are
   often little more than rubber stamps.
The City Manager
Critics of the inefficient urban political
   machines also supported the city
   manager concept. City managers are
   appointed, usually by the city council, to
   draft a budget, set up a personnel
   system, and supervise the work of city
   employees. Between 1910 and 1920,
   about 150 cities hired city managers.
Advantages of Professional Managers.
As budgets and work forces grow in response to
   larger, service-demanding populations and
   state and federal mandates, the efficiency
   advantages of hiring a professional manager to
   oversee the day-to-day operations of a city or
   county become apparent.
The professional manager can plan, monitor, and
   coordinate the activities of city or county
   employees more effectively than can elected
   officials preoccupied with resolving major policy
   questions, attentive to the concerns of their
   constituents, and untrained in the arts of
   administration. Today, one-third of U.S. cities
   are run by city managers.
Which Cities Hire Professional Managers?
Medium-sized cities are most likely to use the council-
   manager force of government. Their predominantly
   middle-class populations are likely to value efficient use
   of the taxpayers' dollars highly, and therefore to
   support hiring a professional city manager.

The largest American cities do not make extensive use of
   city managers. Presumably, strong Mayors in large
   cities build their power bases on providing services to
   large, low-income minority populations. Efficient service
   delivery is of less importance.

Smaller cities also tend to prefer the mayor-council system.
     Democracy and Local

“Unless mass views have some place in the
  shaping of policy, all the talk about
  democracy is nonsense”
                    V. O. Key (1961)
     Community Power (Democracy) and
two central questions preoccupying the academic study
  of cities in the post-war era

1. Who governs cities, that is, the community power question.
2. why (or how) cities became marked by savage inequalities,
   especially along racial lines.

The first is a process question, involving how political issues
  are resolved and the relative power and influence of actors
  and structural forces in their resolution. The second
  involves outcomes, specifically the pervasiveness of
  deeply entrenched poverty spatially concentrated in the
  older neighborhoods of the urban core.
                  Elite Theory
1. A “stable” group: The economic elite model posits a
    unified and wealthy class of individuals possessing a
    dominant influence during numerous decision points in
    the policy process and remaining uninhibited by any
    larger social or political influences (Gonzalez, 2001).

2. Impermeable:

3. Apathetic Citizens: Argues that democracy functions
    when you have a degree of apathy, and elites are the
    ones participating the most (voting, running for office).

4. Identifiable/Cohesive Elite
-Understand American society to be composed of a complex set of groups and
    it is the competition and bargaining among and between these many
    groups that is the essence of the political process.

-When we, as individuals, want to influence politics and policy, we generally do
    not do it on an individual basis.

-Any and all groups in society can have their views heard and considered at
     some point in the policymaking process.

-The government acts merely as a referee over the group competition and
     declares the winner (by rewarding them with policy or policy influence).

-According to pluralist theory, political resources are diffuse and therefore a
     variety of interest groups have an opportunity to utilize these resources
     and compete with other interest groups for policy attention.
Who Governs?: Robert Dahl:
Robert Dahl conducted a study of New Haven, Connecticut,
  and was interested in “Who Governs?”

Dahl found that New Haven was once an elitist city. But, over
  time it gave way to pluralism, such that different groups were
  active in different policy areas.

Even within a policy area, there were competing groups.

Nonetheless, it was organized interests that drove the policy

Dahl’s theory rests on five assumptions:
   –   people know their interests
   –   people collectively organize to further their interests,
   –   equal access to political institutions exists across groups,
   –   the government represents those interests,
   –   and the outcome of government action reflects the inputs of interests.
            The Urban Regime
Definition: The informal arrangements by which public bodies and
     private interests function together in order to be able to make and
     carry out governing decisions

Critical Questions: (1) who makes up the governing coalition? (2) How
      is coming together [cooperation] accomplished?
The Importance of Informal
            The participants
Participants: influenced by two basic institutional
   principles of American political economy: (1)
   popular control of the formal machinery of
   government and (2) private ownership of
   business enterprise

What does this mean?
Why do we need cooperation?
   – Business elites need government authority
     for some projects. Examples?
   – Public needs the slack resources that
     businesses have.

Achieving cooperation is a major
  accomplishment and requires constant
How is cooperation done?
  Rational Choice/Game theory
    Tit for Tat (repeated interactions)
    Selective Incentives (preventing free-riders)

   Factors in the success of cooperation:
    Culture: language, common identity
    Size: larger groups harder to form
   Ramifications of Unequal

“Votes count but resources decide”

Which groups will be included in the
  “governing coalition”?

The Atlanta Case? San Francisco? Detroit?
     Implications of Regime

The importance of looking beyond election
  results when we seek to find out who

Business elite occupy a privileged position in
  the regime

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