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More Than Mayor or Manager: Campaigns to Change Form of Government in America's Large Cities

Overview

Different forms of city government are in widespread use across the United States. The two most common structures are the mayor-council form and the council-manager form. In many large U.S. cities, there have been passionate movements to change the structure of city governments and equally intense efforts to defend an existing structure. Charter change (or preservation) is supported to solve problems such as legislative gridlock, corruption, weak executive leadership, short-range policies, or ineffective delivery...

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Overview

Different forms of city government are in widespread use across the United States. The two most common structures are the mayor-council form and the council-manager form. In many large U.S. cities, there have been passionate movements to change the structure of city governments and equally intense efforts to defend an existing structure. Charter change (or preservation) is supported to solve problems such as legislative gridlock, corruption, weak executive leadership, short-range policies, or ineffective delivery of services. Some of these cities changed their form of government through referendum while other cities chose to retain the form in use.

More than Mayor or Manager offers in-depth case studies of fourteen large U.S. cities that have considered changing their form of government over the past two decades: St. Petersburg, Florida; Spokane, Washington; Hartford, Connecticut; Richmond, Virginia; San Diego, California; Oakland, California; Kansas City, Missouri; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Dallas, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; El Paso, Texas; Topeka, Kansas; St. Louis, Missouri; and Portland, Oregon. The case studies shed light on what these constitutional contests teach us about different forms of government -- the causes that support movements for change, what the advocates of change promised, what is at stake for the nature of elected and professional leadership and the relationship between leaders, and why some referendums succeeded while others failed. This insightful volume will be of special interest to leaders and interest groups currently considering or facing efforts to change the form of government as well as scholars in the field of urban studies.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781589017092
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication date: 11/23/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,432,726
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

James H. Svara is a professor of public affairs and director of the Center for Urban Innovation at Arizona State University. He is coeditor of The Facilitative Leader in City Hall and author of The Ethics Primer for Public Administrators in Government and Nonprofit Organizations.

Doug Watson is a former professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and city manager of Auburn, Alabama. He is co-author of Civic Battles: When Cities Change Their Form of Government.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

1 Introduction: Framing Constitutional Contests in Large Cities James H. Svara Douglas J. Watson 1

Part I Change from Council-Manager to Mayor-Council Form

2 St. Petersburg: Easing into a Strong-Mayor Government J. Edwin Benton Donald C. Menzel Darryl Paulson 25

3 Spokane: Development Debate Sparks Government Debate Wendy L. Hassett 47

4 Hartford: Politics Trumps Professionalism Wendy L. Hassett 63

5 Richmond: Implementation of and Experience with Strong-Mayor Form of Government Nelson Wikstrom 81

6 San Diego: Switch from Reform to Representative Glen W. Sparrow 103

7 Oakland: The Power of Celebrity? Explaining Strong-Mayor Charter Reform Megan Mullin 121

Part II Rejected change from Council-Manager to Mayor-Council Form

8 Kansas City: The Evolution of Council-Manager Government Kimberly Nelson Curtis Wood 141

9 Grand Rapids: A Lack of Enthusiasm for Change in the Council-Manager Form Eric S. Zeemering 163

10 Dallas: The Survival of Council-Manager Government Karen M. Jarrell 183

11 Cincinnati: Charter Conflict and Consensus John T. Spence 203

Part III Change from Mayor-Council to Council-Manager

12 El Paso: Professionalism over Politics in the Shift to Council-Manager Government Larry Terry 225

13 Topeka: Council-Manager Redux Finding Balance in the Politics-Administration Dichotomy R. Paul Battaglio Jr. 245

Part IV Rejected Change to Mayor-Council Form from Commission and Weak Mayor

14 St. Louis: Déjà Vu All over Again-Charter Reform Fails Robert Cropf Todd Swanstrom Scott Krummenacher 263

15 Portland: "Keep Portland Weird," Retaining the Commission Form of Government Doug Morgan Masami Nishishiba Dan Vizzini 279

16 Conclusion: Distinct Factors and Common Themes in Change of Form Referenda James H. Svara Douglas J. Watson 303

List of Contributors 325

Index 331

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