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Alan L. Saltzstein & Raphael J. Sonenshein

In: Big City Politics in Transition

Chapter 12: Los Angeles: Transformation of a Governing Coalition

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Los Angeles: Transformation of a Governing Coalition
Los Angeles: Transformation of a governing coalition
Alan L.Saltzstein, Raphael J.Sonenshein

THIRTY YEARS AGO, Edward Banfield described Los Angeles city government as “pre-Civil War.” The mayor, he argued, was “almost too weak to cut ribbons” (Banfield, 1963, p. 80), and the major functions of government were divided between a strong City Council, numerous autonomous departments, and an electorate with considerable statutory authority through initiatives and referenda. He found power widely dispersed and central authority nearly nonexistent. Banfield and co-author James Q. Wilson claimed that because of these traits, “… many things cannot be done because it is impossible to secure the collaboration of all those whose collaboration is needed” (Banfield & Wilson, 1963, p. 111).

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