Tag: Local Government

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I’ve always had the understanding that if the state makes a law, there should be consequences for those who break it. Silly me. More

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I noticed it the first few late evenings after my move to a different town last fall. How could I not? It was a loud, wailing, siren, foreboding, and impersonal. Unlike friendly chimes of a city clock, this signal made me want to look for the nearest bomb shelter. My daughters said it went off […]

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City Journal contributing editor Howard Husock joins associate editor Seth Barron to discuss problems at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). With some 400,000 residents, NYCHA is the nation’s largest public housing system. In recent years, news reports have documented extensive corruption at the agency along with chronic problems at NYCHA properties, including heating outages, broken elevators, high lead-paint […]

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Christopher F. Rufo joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss an urban struggle with street homelessness and the political fight around it in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city. Known as the “Emerald City” because its surrounding areas are filled with greenery year-round, Seattle has recently seen an explosion of homelessness, crime, and drug addiction. Municipal cleanup crews pick up […]

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On this episode of the AEI Events Podcast, New Orleans’ Mayor Mitch Landrieu reflects on his experiences with governing at the local level and the progress New Orleans has made during his time in office. Having inherited a city struggling with numerous challenges, he recounted how his administration worked to rebuild a foundation for the […]

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I’ve just put up a new post on my blog which discusses the latest crisis to hit the Land of Lincoln. Illinois’ municipalities are cutting into essential public services to pay for increasing pension costs, and it’s only going to get worse: While I’ve been pointing out for years that the State’s 5 pension systems […]

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For many residents of Pennsylvania, and anyone interested in tax policies and how public schools are run, the result of a November 7th referendum vote on a PA Constitutional Amendment Question resulted in what I believe is good news. Pennsylvania is joining other states in trying to get a handle on escalating property taxes, with […]

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Many of you know that the board of selectmen in my town sued me and another town resident last year because we made Right to Know (Freedom of Information) requests to inspect some government records (that happened to be emails). This is part of a national trend that I wrote about last month, in which […]

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Minority Outreach on a Small Scale

 
Downtown Atlanta, circa 1962. Photocredit: Atlanta Time Machine.
Downtown Atlanta, circa 1962. Photo credit: Atlanta Time Machine.

Avik Roy’s return to the comments regarding Republican outreach to minorities has occasioned much discussion about how to do outreach to minorities, whether it is possible, how it would work, and much else along those lines. I don’t have an answer, but let me offer a small scale example that illustrates the problem, courtesy of Clarence Stone’s book, Governing Atlanta. And do keep in mind that everyone in this story is a Democrat.

In 1948, Atlanta was a segregated city with a large black middle class. The city was divided into wards, but the local government of Atlanta was rapidly centralizing into the hands of Mayor William Hartsfield. In the later 1930s, the city began to professionalize, moving power away from appointed officials and into a civil service and electing all its aldermen at large, rather than from districts. All of this was driven by the demands of the Chamber of Commerce, specifically the clique that Clarence Stone and Floyd Hunter called the “Downtown Business Elite.” It cost him working class voters who had previously relied on Jim Crow and patronage to provide them jobs and welfare support, but the new reforms placed that power in the hands of the Business Elite.

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Ask the Expert: Local Government

 

shutterstock_188321978So my day job is teaching at a state university — some time back I did the “10 things your professor wishes you knew” post — but my interest, the thing I study and teach, is local government. Local governments in the United States are endlessly fascinating, in part because the US is abnormally fragmented compared to the rest of the world.

Perhaps an example helps. New York City Metropolitan Area has a population of 20 million. Moscow Metropolitan Area also has a population of 20 million. Yet Moscow has 19 million people living inside a single government, while New York City has less than half that, the other 11 million be spread across over 200 cities in five states. Here in my home state of Kentucky, fully a quarter of the incorporated cities — about 20% of the population of the state — are in Jefferson County (Louisville Consolidated Government).

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Of, by, and for the People

 

Last night my wife and I attended our local City Council meeting.

I’m a little ashamed to say that this is the first time I have done this in the nearly two years I have lived at my present address. Why that is, I couldn’t tell you, so I guess it comes down to apathy. Life has been good and easy, so the motivation to “get involved” and “make a difference” in our civic life has been effectively nada. (Apologies for the cultural appropriation.)

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I really can’t improve on Jake Adelstein’s title for this — funny? horrifying? — story at The Daily Beast. Each Oct. 31, the gangsters famous for their permanent costumes (tattoos, missing digits and the like) invited ordinary citizens, mostly small children in “scary” outfits, to have fun with extortion, demanding Japanese candies and snacks. More

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A Nice Little Fiefdom

 

cc_application_pic_500x333We’ve had a few discussions before about the proper size and scope of local government. While I agree that keeping government local has multiple advantages — e.g., ease of response to complaints, ability to fit local needs better, relative ease of voting with one’s feet, etc. — this case out of Rhode Island furthers my feeling that those advantages only go so far and that we shouldn’t understate the degree to which local governments can still abridge citizens’ rights.

In Rhode Island, licenses to carry a concealed weapon are issued through local police departments, which have great discretion over their issuance. Some towns and cities are relatively liberal in issuing licenses, while others make it nearly impossible for the average citizen to protect himself with a firearm outside of the home. East Providence appears to be one of the latter: by former Chief Joseph H. Tavares’ own admission, no license to carry a concealed weapon had been issued within the last decade in his city of 47,000 people with slightly below-average income rates and rather dull crime stats.

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The Proper Function of (Local) Government

 

At the risk of reigniting the libertarian-conservative Wars — Oh, who am I kidding? It’s fun! — I wanted to explore a subject we’ve touched on a number of times but never addressed in detail: the proper size and scope of local government.

Before discussing the differences between the two sides, I think it’s worth noting the areas of agreement. Almost to a man, I think libertarians and SoCons alike would greatly prefer a system in which the state and — even more so — federal governments limited their activities to a short list of defined powers but left cities and towns to their own devices. Put another way, we all have some preference for subsidiary over national government, and this is one of the foundational reasons for our alliance against the progressive Left.

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Why Civic Literacy Requirements Are a Bad Idea

 

shutterstock_71548027Yesterday, Troy Senik posted about how Tennessee Republicans came up with a half-decent idea: to require that students pass a civic literacy test in order to get a high school diploma. More specifically, that they correctly answer at least a 60 out of 100 questions found on US immigration tests. Troy endorsed this idea and so did many of the commenters on the thread.

I realize I’m swimming against the current here, but I’d like to take issue with this, because its a terrible idea.

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The Varieties of Local Government

 

Ferry-friday-harborIt’s little wonder that the federal government and national politics have taken the front seat in so many political discussions: not only do they have an ever-increasing role in our lives — far beyond what was originally intended —but the internet has also further facilitated the ability of people from around the country (and the world) to interact.

That’s a shame, as local government — town, city, and county — is a fascinating subject and the sheer variety of forms and mores just in the United States is a thing to behold.

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