American Metropolitics: The New Suburban Reality / Edition 1

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In 1998, Myron Orfield introduced a revolutionary program for combating the seemingly inevitable decline of America's metropolitan communities. Through a combination of demographic research, state-of-the-art mapping, and resourceful, pragmatic politics, his groundbreaking book, Metropolitics, revealed how the different regions of St. Paul and Minneapolis pulled together to create a regional government powerful enough to tackle the community's problems of sprawl and urban decay.

Orfield's new work, American Metropolitics, applies the next generation of cutting-edge research on a much broader scale. The book provides an eye-opening analysis of the economic, racial, environmental, and political trends of the 25 largest metropolitan regions in the United States —which contain more than 45 percent of the U.S. population. Using detailed maps and case studies, Orfield demonstrates that growing social separation and wasteful sprawling development patterns are harming regional citizens wherever they live.

The first section of the book, "Metropatterns," illustrates a common pattern of growing social separation and wasteful sprawling development throughout the country —a condition that limits opportunity for the poor (particularly people of color), diminishes the quality of life for most Americans, and threatens our fragile environment. It also shows how these patterns reveal the existence of three types of suburban communities —those at risk of social and economic decline, those struggling to pay for rapid growth, and a very small number of places that enjoy the benefits of economic growth with few social costs. Ironically, this last group is often the center of the movement against sprawl. "Metropolicy," the second section, analyzes past policies and programs that have attempted —and failed —to address the challenges of concentrated poverty, sprawl, and inequitable distribution of resources. Orfield lays out a comprehensive regional agenda to address these problems, with solutions for land use planning from a regional perspective, greater fiscal equity among local governments (with an emphasis on reinvestment in the central cities and older suburbs), and improved governance at the regional level that will help facilitate the development of policies to benefit all types of metropolitan communities. The third section, "Metropolitics," discusses examples of political strategies that have led to successful programs on land use planning, tax equity, and regional governance. Using detailed analysis of 1990's election data it identifies and maps the nation's swing political jurisdictions which are overwhelmingly in at-risk and growth-stressed suburbs. Finally, the book draws a new and incisive picture of the political structure of U.S. metropolitan regions, and lays out a series of strategies for moving regional reform efforts forward.

With detailed maps of conditions in each metropolitan region, comprehensive data on existing conditions and voter attitudes, and bold, innovative strategies for change, Am erican Metropolitics is an important book for anyone concerned with the future of our cities and suburbs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Whether you agree with his policy prescriptions or not, Orfield has found a way to illuminate the most critical —and, often, most baffling —battlefield in American politics." —David S. Broder, The Washington Post, 5/1/2002

"Orfield lays out a comprehensive regional agenda which challenges civic leaders to step beyond parochial solutions and to act regionally to pursue fundamental reforms." — Smart Growth Network Newsletter, 5:3, 2002

"Myron Orfield is the new guru of regional approaches to the issues of growth and decline facing cities and their suburbs.... What makes Orfield's message so compelling is that he presents the problem not just from the perspective of cities, but also from the suburbs view." —Eric Siegel, The Baltimore Sun, 5/2/2002

"'American Metropolitics'... will take [it's] place, along with Orfield's first book ('Metropolitics'), as [a] useful brick in the wall of reform." —Michael Tomasky, Columnist, New York Magazine, The American Prospect, 9/9/2002

"'American Metropolitics' is a flashback to a time when solid research dominated policy debate. Orfield... has written an intelligent and insightful book detailing the challenging nature of the suburbs of major metropolitan areas and what that means socially and politically.... Orfield's 'American Metropolitics' offers cutting-edge research and does for the nation what his earlier book 'Metropolitics' did for the Twin Cities.... By offering pragmatic tactics and strategies to combat the seemingly inevitable decline of metropolitan areas, Orfield's work offers hope for the hopeless, and new directions for those too tired to dream dreams." —Bob Hulteen, Director, Twin Cities Religion and Labor Network, Sojourners, 9/1/2002

David Broder
The notion that suburbs are the key battlegrounds of American politics has become so accepted it is almost a cliche. But the anatomy of suburban life and suburban elections remains much harder to define...No one has done more to explore that mystery than a Minnesotan named Myron Orfield . . . The distinctions Orfield draws among suburbs, and the way the varieties show up on his maps in shades from dark red to orange to bright blue, explain why the battle for suburban votes is so challenging -- and why cliches about "soccer moms" or "New Economy voters" are often so misleading. They fail to capture the complexity of today's suburban reality. . . Whether you agree with his policy prescriptions or not, Orfield has found a way to illuminate the most critical -- and, often, most baffling -- battlefield in American politics. That is no small achievement.
Suburbs In a New Light
Bob Hulteen
What's the sound of a policy wonk clapping? I don't know. But with the publication of Myron Orfield's American Metropolitics, I suspect we're about to find out what a herd of them sound like.... an intelligent and insightful book detailing the changing nature of the suburbs of major metropolitan areas and what that means socially and politically.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815702498
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 222
  • Sales rank: 599,306
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.74 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Myron Orfield is Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Research Corporation, a Minnesota State Senator, and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Metropatterns 5
1 Schools and Tax Wealth: Leading Indicators of Community Health 9
2 The New Suburban Typology 23
3 A Comparative Analysis of Segregation, Fiscal Inequality, and Sprawl 49
Pt. 2 Metropolicy 65
4 Federal Urban Policy 69
5 Fiscal Equity 85
6 Land-Use Reform 111
7 Metropolitan Governance Reform 129
Pt. 3 Metropolitics 151
8 Metropolitics and the Case for Regionalism 155
9 An Agenda for Regionalism 173
App. A Tax-Capacity Calculations 189
App. B Tax-Base-Sharing Simulations 195
App. C MARC Projects Completed or in Progress 197
References 201
Index 211
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