URSI 100--Introduction to the City

Governing the City

City Government

  1. Forms of city government
    1. Policy vs. administrative roles
    2. Weak mayor/council

                                                               i.      Growth of political machines

    1. Reform governments

                                                               i.      Commission

                                                             ii.      Manager/Council

    1. Strong mayor/Council
  1. Constraints on local government
    1. Dillon’s rule
    2. Merit system
    3. Competitive bids
  2. Reinventing government
    1. Efficiency—or effectiveness?
    2. Privatization

                                                               i.      Lower labor costs

                                                             ii.      Economies of scale

                                                            iii.      No efficiency without competition

    1. Quasi-governmental units (school districts, special districts, etc.)

                                                               i.      Port authorities

                                                             ii.      Intergovernmental cooperation (RDCs, COGs)

                                                            iii.      Consolidation (vs. “Tiebout hypothesis”)

Citzen Engagement

1. Community Power

a. Pluralism (“political stratum” vs. constituency; stratum is neither homogeneous nor hard to enter)

b. Elites

c. Regimes & “Growth Machine”

2. Political Economy of Cities

a. City limits (openness to national & other external factors)

b. Public Choice theory

c. Political economy” theory

i. government largely serves interests of capital

ii. pervasiveness of class conflict

                                                           iv.      cities are nodes in global capitalist system

                                                             v.      consumer demand manipulated by producers



Based on LEVY, J.M. 2000. Urban America: Processes & Problems. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


2003 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 1 January 06