Managing Local Government: Public Administration in Practice


Edited by: Richard D. Bingham

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    This book is dedicated to David C. Sweet, Dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, who has devoted his career to the public service.


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    Pulling together a textbook with multiple authors is no easy task and could not have been done without teamwork. Faculty members from Cleveland State University (CSU) contributed their expertise to many of the chapters, and they worked with practitioners and experts from other parts of the country so that a variety of voices could be heard on the issues facing local governments today.

    Because of the teamwork involved, we decided to claim joint authorship rather than produce a book strictly defined as “edited” by one or two people. The concept is not without its costs—the book has required careful editing and fine-tuning for a common language.

    We are particularly grateful to Dean David C. Sweet of CSU's Maxine Goodman Levine College of Urban Affairs for providing financial assistance to hire editors—in particular, Linda M. Keegan and Anne O'Shaughnessy. Without them, our attempts at integration would have been infinitely more difficult. We thank Pat Collins for handling all of the initial correspondence with the authors and for guiding the progress of the book. We also thank Anne Schleicher for selecting the photographs for each of the chapters and providing the captions. She also took over the management of the book during the copyediting process and worked closely with the authors and publisher to meet the final deadline.

    Terri Cornwell, Director of Communications and Development, and Janice Patterson, Assistant Dean for Administration at the Levin College, provided crucial financial support for the development of the book when it was needed. Finally, we thank Blaise Donnelly, our editor at Sage, for his support for the concept of such a jointly written book.


    Just consider these statistics: In the United States, 9 million employees work in local government, which accounts for 58% of all public sector civilian employment. Yet most of the college textbooks have a national perspective and focus on public policy, not management. In short, introductory textbooks for public administration courses are not meeting many students' needs.

    In spring 1989, a few of us in the field of public administration met at a faculty-and-staff retreat at Cleveland State University (CSU) and lamented the gap between practice and publishing. But we came away refreshed, with the idea of creating a textbook to meet these very needs. Here it is—Managing Local Government: Public Administration in Practice.

    We hope that students in CSU's Master of Public Administration Program, as well as all students across the country interested in public administration, management, and local government, find it useful. In fact, many public administration programs have strong ties to local governments. Take, for example, the Master's Program in Public Administration at Northern Illinois University in rural DeKalb County. The university's graduates comprise one third of the metropolitan Chicago city managers, two thirds of the assistant managers, and 85% of the administrative assistants.

    A Glance at Local Government

    Local governments are extremely important in the United States—much more so than in many other federally organized systems. They perform an almost endless variety of services that immediately affect our lives. As Michael Tietz describes:

    Modern man is born in a publicly financed hospital, receives his education in a publicly supported school and university, spends a good part of his time traveling on publicly built transportation facilities, communicates through the post office or quasi-public telephone system, drinks his public drinking water, disposes of his garbage through the public removal system, reads his public library books, picnics in his public parks, is protected by public police, fire and health systems; eventually he dies, again in a hospital, and may even be buried in a public cemetary [sic]. Ideological conservatives notwithstanding, his everyday life is inextricably bound up with government decisions on these and numerous other local services.1

    To provide these services, local governments are pervasive in our society. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, there were more than 82,000 local governments in the United States in the mid-1980s. There were more than 3,000 counties, 19,000 municipalities, 16,000 towns and townships, 28,000 special districts, and 14,000 school districts. These local governments employed more than 9 million people. This was more than three times the number of federal civilian employees and more than twice the number of employees of all the state governments put together.2

    Furthermore, local governments are becoming increasingly important as they try to adjust to major changes. Ten years ago, there was no talk of crack cocaine, AIDS, homelessness, gangs, or even economic development. In particular, local administrators must learn to cope with change, because they often will have little control over it. Much of America's communities are dramatically affected, for example, by simple demography—changes in types of people and where they live.

    Because people's wants create the need for local government, it might be helpful to review recent demographic trends. Researchers for American Demographics magazine recently summarized some of the ways the United States has changed between 1980 and 1990.3 One significant change is simply the number of Americans—almost 250 million. That's a 10% increase in 10 years. Almost 25% of this increase is due to immigration. Mexicans, Filipinos, Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese are the most common new arrivals. Asians formed the fastest growing segment of the population during the 1980s—up by 65%. Hispanics followed with a 44% increase, now making up just under 10% of the population.

    There is also a tremendous diversity in terms of the distribution of the population. During the 1980s, the West's population grew by more that 20%, the South by more than 15%. This compares with a growth rate of less than 2% in the Midwest and 4% in the Northeast. Among the fastest growing states were Alaska (42%) and Florida (32%). At the other extreme were Iowa (-3%) and Michigan and Ohio with virtually no growth.

    Between 1970 and 1980, the nation experienced an unprecedented surge of growth in nonmetropolitan areas. In the past decade, however, this trend has reversed itself. During the 1980s, metropolitan areas grew at nearly double the rate of nonmetropolitan areas. Table P.1 shows the population change in the 25 most populous metropolitan areas. Imagine what it must have been like in Riverside and San Bernardino, California, which experienced growth of more than 45%.

    Table P.1. Population and Population Change of the 25 Most Populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas, 1980–1990

    Many of the trends of the past decade are not favorable. For example, one in five Americans have completed at least four years of college, but younger males, aged 25 to 34, are less likely to have completed college compared with those in the same age group of ten years ago.

    Income statistics are also rather depressing. The median household income increased by only 2.7% over the 10-year period (adjusting for inflation). Those under age 25 suffered the most, as their median household income fell by a full 10% over the decade.

    What do these trends portend? Some municipalities—big and small—will have a problem controlling growth and all of the problems (and benefits) that a population boom brings. Rapid growth means an increasing demand for services—transportation, water, sewer, and police and fire protection. Other cities will lose population. Often this translates into a general cycle of poverty, including unemployment, housing abandonment, and the physical deterioration of the business center.

    All this change—in fact, human settlement itself—creates the need for government. For example, take something as seemingly simple as the disposal of solid wastes. In June 1989, the Miami Herald ran a special recycling report in its “Living Today” section.4 The article reported that, in April 1989, more than 12,000 volunteers combed almost 1,000 miles of Florida's beaches and estuaries, collecting an astonishing 307 tons of debris during a one-day cleanup. A single one-and-a-half-mile stretch of Key Biscayne yielded 27 miles of monofilament fishing line, an environmental nightmare for the danger it poses to wildlife. Each day, the average South Floridian produces between six and seven pounds of waste. Whatever discards are not recycled amount to as much as 1.2 tons of castoff per person each year. Much of it ends up in places like Dade County's Mt. Trashmore, shown in the photograph.

    There are no easy solutions to ever-mounting problems in local government for managers; there is only education. This photo of ML Trashmore in Florida's Dade County illustrates, figuratively and literally, the need for new strategies in managing local government.

    As serious as our solid-waste problems are in general, there are particular trouble spots, such as the 16 billion disposable diapers buried in landfills every year, which take as long as 500 years to decompose. An even faster growing segment of municipal waste is plastics. In 1987, the plastics industry produced 55 billion tons of plastic products, with U.S. consumers discarding about 22 billion tons. Plastic, of course, lasts nearly forever.

    For managers, there are no easy solutions to problems such as these; there is only education as a tool to adjust to change. We hope this book is a step in providing that education.

    Overview of the Book

    The book has three parts: an overview of administration and local government, the dimensions of administration, and administrative applications in local government. The two chapters in the overview introduce public administration and local government. The authors describe America's unique political and economic landscape and how it has influenced the face of localities, which many refer to as “private cities” within a fragmented service-delivery system. Areas explored include definitions of management and public administration, theories of the state, and descriptions of the variety of public agencies at the local level.

    The second part conceptually and empirically explores six dimensions of public management and administration: the legal side of public management, human resource management, budgeting and public finance, public decision making, intergovernmental relations, and ethical considerations in public administration.

    The third part is composed of seven chapters illustrating the application of administration in local government. The authors of these chapters were faced with a difficult task. They were asked to integrate the six dimensions of administration discussed above into their discussions on the delivery of public services. Thus each of the chapters in the third section will deal with personnel, finance, decision making, intergovernmental relations, and ethical considerations in the context of delivering specific services. These chapters deal with management of housing agencies, economic development organizations, community development corporations, public safety, recreation and culture, transportation, infrastructure, and solid-wastes disposal. It is thus our hope that this book really accomplishes what its title suggests—Managing Local Government: Public Administration in Practice.


    1. Michael B. Tietz, “Toward a Theory of Urban Public Facility Location,” Paper of the Regional Science Association 11 (1967), p. 36 (quote from Robert L. Lineberry, Equality and the Public Policy: The Distribution of Municipal Public Services, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1977, p. 10).

    2. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States 1985 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1985), pp. 261, 292.

    3. Judith Waldrop and Thomas Exter, “What the 1990 Census Will Show,” American Demographics, January 1990, pp. 20–30.

    4. Margarita Fichtner, “Here's the Choice: Act Now or Throw Paradise Out with the Garbage,” Miami Herald, June 25, 1989, pp. 1G, 6G-7G.

  • About the Authors

    Richard D. Bingham is Professor of Public Administration and Urban Studies and Senior Research Scholar at the Urban Center at Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. He is coeditor of the journal Economic Development Quarterly. His latest books include Economic Restructuring of the American Midwest (Kluwer, 1990), edited with Randall W. Eberts, and Financing Economic Development (Sage, 1990), edited with Edward W. Hill and Sammis B. White. His research and consulting activities cover a wide range of state and local policy issues.

    William M. Bowen is Assistant Professor at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, where he teaches public administration. His research interests include economic development, decision making, computer applications, and nuclear waste transportation among other environmental affairs. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University.

    Mittie Olion Chandler is Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Urban Planning in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science and an M.A. in urban planning from Wayne State University. Her research interests include housing and community development policy; she has focused on low-income housing, public housing resident management, fair housing, and black politics. Her book, Urban Homesteading: Programs and Policies, was published in 1988 by Greenwood.

    Terri Lynn Cornwell is Director of the Ohio Commission on the Public Service based at Cleveland State University's Levin College of Urban Affairs, where she teaches in the Department of Urban Studies. She formerly worked as legislative director of a caucus in the U.S. Congress and was a frequent lecturer on caucuses for a staff development program run by the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Maryland.

    Jack P. DeSario is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Political Science, Mount Union College. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of a number of books, including Citizen Participation in Public Decision Making (1987) and the International Public Policy Sourcebook (1989). His articles have appeared in a number of policy and legal journals including the Policy Studies Review, Journal of Public Health Policy, Political Science, nd Health Matrix.

    Paul R. Dommel is Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies at Cleveland State University and Director of the Ph.D. in Urban Studies Program. From 1977 to 1982, he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He has written extensively on intergovernmental relations and community development policy.

    Kenneth L. Ender is Director of Planning and Program Development at Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, where he teaches public administration. The author of numerous articles and book chapters, his research interests lie in the area of organizational behavior and leadership development, topics on which he has consulted widely. His Ph.D. is from Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Claire L. Felbinger is Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Urban Studies at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, where she also is Academic Coordinator of the Public Works Management Program. Her research interests are urban service delivery, intergovernmental relations, and economic development. She recently coauthored Evaluation in Practice: A Methodological Approach (Longman, 1989).

    Edward W. Hill is Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Public Administration at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. He has written on economic development finance, public education policy, and regional labor markets. His latest book is The City in Black and White: Place, Power and Polarization, which he coedited with George Galster. He received his Ph.D. in urban and regional planning and economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Sanda Kaufman is Assistant Professor of Planning and Public Administration at the Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University. She received her Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focus is decision making in conflict management, and third party intervention in the urban, environmental, organizational, schools, and personal contexts. She has mediated small claims disputes in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her papers have been published in the Journal of Architectural Planning and Research, the International Journal for Conflict Management, and the Negotiation Journal.

    W. Dennis Keating is Professor of Law and Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. He formerly directed the university's Center for Neighborhood Development. He is coauthor of a casebook titled Housing and Community Development Law and has participated in national assessments of community development corporations and community-based housing development. He has published widely on housing and community development policy.

    Lawrence F. Keller is Associate Professor in the Public Administration Program of the Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University. His research interests center on the nexus of politics, management, and law in complex societies. Specifically, he focuses on city managers and their policy roles as they are the only appointed chief executives in the U.S. administrative-political system. He has published extensively on the policy roles of administrators and the role of law in administration. A final research interest is the structure of the administrative-political system, especially in the U.S. city. Network theory has been used to describe the functions and purposes of local government.

    Norman Krumholz is Professor of Urban Planning in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Prior to this position, he had a 20-year career as a planning practitioner, including serving as Planning Director for the City of Cleveland for a decade. He created and directed the Levin College's Center for Neighborhood Development and teaches neighborhood planning. He served on President Carter's National Commission on Neighborhoods from 1979 to 1980 and has been President of the American Planning Association and a winner of the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Rome.

    David A. Kuemmel joined the faculty of Marquette University in 1989, following 35 years in public service with the City of Milwaukee. At Marquette University, he is responsible for graduate and undergraduate teaching and research in transportation and public works management. In his 35 years with the City of Milwaukee, he was involved in all phases of surface transportation, including six years as Commissioner of Public Works and Chairman, Capital Improvements Committee. He is a fellow of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He is a member of the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). He has served on the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control since 1975. He has a B.S. C.E. from Marquette University (1954) and an M.S. C.E. from the University of Wisconsin — Madison. In 1987, he received Marquette University's Professional Achievement Award and, in 1988, was named one of the “Top Ten Public Works Leaders” of the APWA.

    Brian M. Murphy is Associate Professor of Political Science at North Georgia College. His publications, which often focus on public civil liberties law, have appeared in both political and law journals. One of his most recent articles, “The Quality of Justice for Indigent Defendants,” appeared in the fall 1990 Southeastern Political Review.

    David C. Perry is the Albert A. Levin Chair of Urban Studies and Public Service at Cleveland State University. He is the author or editor of a variety of books and monographs on urban policy and social and economic change in the city, including Police in the Metropolis (Merrill, 1974), The Rise of the Sunbelt Cities (Sage, 1978), and the forthcoming book, Building the Public City. His articles have appeared in leading academic journals and in The New York Times and The Nation. He currently is writing a series of essays on Robert Moses and the public authority and on the “recasting” of urban leadership in deindustrialized cities.

    Keith P. Rasey is a midcareer Ph.D. candidate in Cleveland State University's Urban Studies Program. In addition to doing public sector and nonprofit housing consulting, he has served in several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he was Director of the Program Evaluation Division in Housing, and on several presidential and departmental task forces. He also was Director of Policy and Program Development of the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

    Raymond J. Rose is Commander with the Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Police Department. In his law enforcement career, which began in 1968, he developed and implemented a computerized parking ticket program and wrote and organized the program for a computerized parking permission log and Denver Boot file. As the primary investigator in the Columbo Case — a triple murder that took place in Elk Grove Village — he was assigned to the State's Attorney's Office for 14 months. Both defendants in the case received 300-year to life sentences. Abudget research project involving a total manpower assessment was presented to the village board, who then approved a 20% increase in sworn personnel. After attending Northwestern University Traffic Institute's nine-month police administration training in 1985, he returned to school to earn his B.A. in liberal arts and sciences. He went on to obtain his M.A.P.A. from Northern Illinois University, at which time he was inducted into the National Honors Society for Public Affairs and Administration (Pi Alpha Alpha). In addition, he attended the 161st session of Police Administration training at the F.B.I. National Academy.

    Herbert J. Rubin is Professor of Sociology at Northern Illinois University. He conducts critical studies on economic development and community organization, the most recent of which are on local economic development practitioners. He is the author of a forthcoming book on community organizing and development.

    James D. Slack is Associate Professor of Public Administration and Director of the Master of Public Administration Program in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. His research interests lie in the area of public personnel administration. He has published articles on affirmative action in local government and on the training and assistance needs of local government managers. He also is author of AIDS and the Public Work Force: Local Government Preparedness in Managing the Epidemic (University of Alabama Press, 1991). His Ph.D. is from Miami University.

    Nike F. Speltz is Program Associate at the New Hampshire Charitable Fund. Formerly Director of the Arts Management Program at Case Western Reserve University and Associate Director of the Vermont Council on the Arts, she holds a master of public administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She has been a consultant to cultural and educational organizations in the United States and abroad.

    Michael W. Spicer is Associate Dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, where he is a Professor of Public Administration and Urban Studies. He teaches budgeting and economics and has written journal articles on issues of taxation, public policy, and public administration.

    Philip D. Star is an attorney and Director of the Center for Neighborhood Development in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. He formerly served as executive director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization and as a consultant to the National Housing Institute and Housing Law Reform Project at the University of Michigan. He currently is pursuing his Ph.D. in social policy history at Case Western Reserve University.

    Charles A. Washington is Assistant Professor in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University. He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1988. He teaches courses in public administration and urban studies. His research interests are affirmative action, human resource management, comparative public administrative, and urban studies.

    Alan C. Weinstein is Associate Professor at both the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and also serves as Director of the Law and Public Policy Program, which serves both colleges. He is Chair of the Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association and has written extensively on the legal aspects of land use and environmental planning. Most recently, he was coeditor and coauthor of Land Use and the Constitution: Principles for Planning Practice (APA Planners Press, Chicago, 1989).

    Robert R. Whitehead is Director of the Public Works Management Program, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University. Prior to joining the university, he served as Director of Public Works for Abilene, Texas, from 1980 to 1990, and Director of Public Works/City Engineer for Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, from 1970 to 1980. He has extensive experience in managing public works facilities, programs, projects, and budgets. A civil engineer (Michigan Technological University, 1966), he is a Registered Professional Engineer in Michigan and Texas. He received an M.A. in public works management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, and an M.S. in civil engineering, School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh.

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