Cities, Politics, and Policy: A Comparative Analysis


Edited by: John P. Pelissero

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    To Paula

    Tables and Figures


    America's cities, for better or worse, have long been the dwelling places of choice for American residents. Today, 226 million people—a full 80 percent of the U.S. population—live in metropolitan areas, with 85 million people residing in the central cities. This country's urban population outnumbers the entire populace of every other country except for two—China and India. Needless to say, this is an exciting and important time to study cities, politics, and policy. America's cities and urban areas today are more socially diverse than ever; they are also better managed and, as a result of their continued growth and expansion, infinitely more complex.

    Consider a few examples. New demographic and social forces have dramatically changed urban areas and their politics and policies. New residents, issues, and urban movements have caused significant shifts in the patterns of political participation. Since 1990, 13 million immigrants have come to the United States, contributing to a 17 percent increase in the number of urban residents. As a consequence, we have seen a dramatic rise in cultural conflicts in cities as diverse as Portland, Oregon, and Gary, Indiana. New battles are being fought over rights for women, gays, and various racial and ethnic groups. Civic controversies abound in cities over school choice, metropolitan tax-base sharing, abortion clinics, and benefits for domestic partners.

    Each of these debates has given rise to greater political action at the ballot box and in the streets of our cities. Racial and ethnic groups eager to make substantial policy changes in their communities are working to extend their political incorporation in city governing circles. Houston, Texas, and Des Moines, Iowa, have elected their first black mayors. Austin, Texas, elected its first Latino mayor in 2001. Chicago has more blacks, Latinos, and Asians heading its city service departments than at any time in the city's history. The distribution of political power in cities is shifting the policy outcomes in many urban areas. New-style mayors and city councils are charting new directions for politics and policies from New York to Los Angeles. Most recently, our cities have been challenged to meet the increasing needs of their populations as they struggle to maintain a sense of security in the wake of terrorist threats. Our cities—once the dependents of national and state governments—are now heavily interdependent and exist in a complex intergovernmental environment. The goal of this collection is to enhance students’ understanding of this new environment.

    Cities, Politics, and Policy: A Comparative Analysis addresses recent trends in a comprehensive manner. It presents current findings from the thriving field of urban politics on each of the major topics of urban research, such as political participation, power, urban government institutions, and public policy. Each chapter orients students in the key areas of study (how city councils work, how political participation in cities has changed over time), synthesizes the current state of urban research in the field, and then gives a preview of the research agenda for the next decade. Throughout the book the authors use systems analysis to help students connect the environment in which urban politics takes place to the political processes, actors, and institutions of city government. The systems model allows us to describe the formation of urban politics as well as to explain the outcomes of political interactions in the city. The book's comparative perspective draws heavily upon empirical works—both case studies and cross-sectional research on U.S. cities. We show that our theories of urban politics are solidly based on the extensive collection of case studies that have long been the primary research vehicles for understanding cities. But the contributors to this volume have also relied upon cross-sectional studies of multiple cities across the nation and across time. Moreover, readers will see that these scholars have provided an insightful look not only into what we know about city politics and policy but also into areas of urban democracy that need further study. The approach and thoroughness of this book make it an ideal choice as a textbook for an undergraduate urban politics course or as a companion volume in upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses in urban politics.


    I am indebted to the many people who have supported the writing and publication of this work. First are the contributors to this volume. Each is a recognized leader in political science and a scholar who has made a profound impact on the discipline. I am grateful that they were willing to take the time to produce these wonderful essays. I had originally hoped that David R. Morgan, my mentor and friend from the University of Oklahoma, would join me as coeditor of the book. Although Dave retired before I could move this project forward, I appreciate his guidance of my vision for the book. I thank my colleagues and administrators at Loyola University Chicago who encouraged me to complete this book and who provided the resources that helped make it possible. Jim Krueger, a Loyola graduate student, helped with research and editing. The team at CQ Press has been invaluable, beginning with Brenda Carter, who embraced the idea behind this book, convinced the press that it was worth doing, and then provided the professionals who helped me complete the volume. I am grateful for the assistance of my development editor, Elise Frasier, who helped to clarify and focus the writing for this book. I also thank Charisse Kiino, acquisitions editor; Janet Wilson and Molly Lohman, copyeditors; Belinda Josey, production editor; James Headley, sales manager and Rita Matyi, marketing manager. Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude for patience and understanding to my family. My wife, Paula, and our children, Carolyn and Steven, offered the encouragement and love that allowed me to finish this work. They deserve special thanks.

    J.P.P., Chicago, Illinois


    David N. Ammons is professor of public administration and government and director of the Master of Public Administration Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His works include Tools for Decision Making: A Practical Guide for Local Government (2002), Municipal Benchmarks: Assessing Local Performance and Establishing Community Standards, 2d ed. (2001), and other books on local government management. He consults with public sector units on organizational and management concerns, including performance measurement, bench-marking, and productivity improvement.

    Richard D. Bingham is professor of public administration and urban studies and senior research scholar at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. His current research interests include economies of urban neighborhoods and modeling urban systems. He has written widely in the fields of economic development and urban studies. His latest books include Evaluation in Practice (2002), with Claire Felbinger; The Economies of Central City Neighborhoods (2001), with Zhongcai Zhang; Industrial Policy American Style (1998); and Dilemmas of Urban Economic Development, edited with Robert Mier (1997). He is founding editor of Economic Development Quarterly.

    Robert E. England is professor of political science at Oklahoma State University. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with an M.P.A. and a Ph.D. in political science in 1982. His primary areas of research include public administration, minority politics, and urban politics and administration. His research has appeared in a number of scholarly journals. He is the coauthor, with David R. Morgan and John P. Pelissero, of Managing Urban America, 5th ed. (1999).

    Timothy B. Krebs is assistant professor of political science at the University of New Mexico. His research interests include urban politics, city council policy-making, and urban campaigns and elections. His most recent research on campaign fund-raising in Chicago and Los Angeles city council elections appeared in Social Science Quarterly (September 2001). He is currently studying the effect of press coverage, issue positions, and attack speech on candidates’ fund-raising in the 2001 Los Angeles mayoral election.

    J. Eric Oliver is associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Democracy in Suburbia (2001) and numerous articles on political participation, suburbanization, and racial attitudes. He is currently writing books on the relationship between racism and racial segregation and on the politics of America's obesity epidemic. He is also working on a multiyear study of voting in suburban elections funded by the National Science Foundation.

    John P. Pelissero is professor and chair of political science at Loyola University Chicago. He specializes in urban and state politics and also teaches and writes on Chicago politics. He has published dozens of articles on urban and state politics in political and social science journals, including, most recently, Urban Affairs Review and the American Journal of Political Science. He is currently working on a book about Chicago politics and a new edition of Managing Urban America (1999), with David R. Morgan and Robert England.

    Dianne M. Pinderhughes is professor of political science, Afro-American studies, and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1984. Pinderhughes directed the Department of Afro-American Studies from 1987 to 1990 and from 1991 to 2000. She published Race and Ethnicity in Chicago Politics (1987). Her current research, “The Evolution of Civil Rights Organizations in the Twentieth Century: The Case of Black Politics,” investigates the ways in which civil rights and especially black organizations have created the national political infrastructure that has shaped national policy on voting rights laws and politics.

    Michael J. Rich is associate professor of political science and director of the Office of University-Community Partnerships at Emory University. He is the author of Federal Policymaking and the Poor (1993) and several publications on federalism and a variety of urban public policy topics, including community development, housing and homelessness, crime, and economic development. His current research focuses on community building, neighborhood revitalization strategies, and welfare reform, particularly issues relating to the accessibility of low-income households to job opportunities and related support services.

    Elaine B. Sharp is professor of political science at the University of Kansas. Her research interests include urban public policy and governance, urban social conflict, and policing. She recently completed a National Science Foundation-funded research project on city governments’ responses to volatile morality issues. Her recent major publications include The Sometime Connection: Public

    Opinion and Social Policy (1999), Culture Wars and Local Politics (1999), and The Dilemma of Drug Policy (1994), along with journal articles on urban social conflict in Urban Affairs Review and Political Research Quarterly.

    Lana Stein is professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters, and her work has appeared in the Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and Urban Affairs Review. She is also the author of St. Louis Politics: The Triumph of Tradition (2002) and Holding Bureaucrats Accountable (1991), as well as the coauthor of City Schools and City Politics (1999).

    Robert M. Stein is Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science and dean of the School of Social Sciences at Rice University. He is the coauthor of Perpetuating the Pork Barrel (1995) and the author of Urban Alternatives (1990). His current research focuses on metropolitan governance and distribution of federal assistance to metropolitan area governments.

    Clarence N. Stone is professor emeritus in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and Research Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the George Washington University. His most recent book is a coauthored work on urban school reform, Building Civic Capacity (2001). He is currently a member of the Annenberg Task Force, School Communities That Work, and studies urban school reform while pursuing research on the politics of poverty.

    Kenneth K. Wong is professor in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations and the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He also serves as the associate director of the Peabody Center for Education Policy. He has published widely in the areas of federalism, urban and state politics, policy implementation, and educational reform. He currently serves as president of the Politics of Education Association, whose national membership consists of professors in school policy and politics.

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