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Accountability in State Legislatures
Steven Rogers
University of Chicago Press, 2023

A troubling portrait of democracy in US state legislatures.

State legislatures hold tremendous authority over key facets of our lives, ranging from healthcare to marriage to immigration policy. In theory, elections create incentives for state legislators to produce good policies. But do they?

Drawing on wide-ranging quantitative and qualitative evidence, Steven Rogers offers the most comprehensive assessment of this question to date, testing different potential mechanisms of accountability. His findings are sobering: almost ninety percent of American voters do not know who their state legislator is; over one-third of incumbent legislators run unchallenged in both primary and general elections; and election outcomes have little relationship with legislators’ own behavior.

Rogers’s analysis of state legislatures highlights the costs of our highly nationalized politics, challenging theories of democratic accountability and providing a troubling picture of democracy in the states.


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Alaska Politics and Public Policy
The Dynamics of Beliefs, Institutions, Personalities, and Power
Edited by Clive S. Thomas, with Laura Savatgy and Kristina Klimovich
University of Alaska Press, 2016
Politics in Alaska have changed significantly since the last major book on the subject was published more than twenty years ago, with the rise and fall of Sarah Palin and the rise and fall of oil prices being but two of the many developments to alter the political landscape.

This book, the most comprehensive on the subject to date, focuses on the question of how beliefs, institutions, personalities, and power interact to shape Alaska politics and public policy. Drawing on these interactions, the contributors explain how and why certain issues get dealt with successfully and others unsuccessfully, and why some issues are taken up quickly while others are not addressed at all. This comprehensive guide to the political climate of Alaska will be essential to anyone studying the politics of America’s largest—and in some ways most unusual—state.

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Arresting Citizenship
The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control
Amy E. Lerman and Vesla M. Weaver
University of Chicago Press, 2014
The numbers are staggering: One-third of America’s adult population has passed through the criminal justice system and now has a criminal record. Many more were never convicted, but are nonetheless subject to surveillance by the state. Never before has the American government maintained so vast a network of institutions dedicated solely to the control and confinement of its citizens.
A provocative assessment of the contemporary carceral state for American democracy, Arresting Citizenship argues that the broad reach of the criminal justice system has fundamentally recast the relation between citizen and state, resulting in a sizable—and growing—group of second-class citizens. From police stops to court cases and incarceration, at each stage of the criminal justice system individuals belonging to this disempowered group come to experience a state-within-a-state that reflects few of the country’s core democratic values. Through scores of interviews, along with analyses of survey data, Amy E. Lerman and Vesla M. Weaver show how this contact with police, courts, and prisons decreases faith in the capacity of American political institutions to respond to citizens’ concerns and diminishes the sense of full and equal citizenship—even for those who have not been found guilty of any crime. The effects of this increasingly frequent contact with the criminal justice system are wide-ranging—and pernicious—and Lerman and Weaver go on to offer concrete proposals for reforms to reincorporate this large group of citizens as active participants in American civic and political life.

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Back of the Yards
The Making of a Local Democracy
Robert A. Slayton
University of Chicago Press, 1986
"Robert A. Slayton's Back of the Yards is one of the finest accounts I have ever read on an urban, working-class neighborhood in twentieth-century America. Its focus on family, politics, and worklife is penetrating and its conclusions reinforce an emerging scholarly picture of ordinary people exercising unique forms of power."—John Bodnar, author of The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America

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The Banks We Deserve
Reclaiming Community Banking for a Just Economy
Oscar Perry Abello
Island Press, 2025
We’ve never done anything big in this country without little banks. Yet the number of community banks in the US has been steadily declining for decades, giving way to big banks that have little connection to the communities they claim to serve. The massive, unprecedented shift toward such a highly concentrated banking sector has weakened our ability to take action at a community level and leaves many people, especially those who have been historically marginalized, without access to capital.
In The Banks We Deserve, journalist Oscar Perry Abello argues that community banking has a crucial role to play in addressing urgent social challenges, from creating a more racially just economy to preparing for a changing climate. At their best, community banks unleash the agency and aspirations of the communities that establish them. Abello challenges people working on racial justice, community development, or addressing climate change to start more community banks or credit unions as part of their work, while also calling for policies and regulatory reforms that will help tilt the landscape back in favor of community banking.

The Banks We Deserve tells the stories of new community banks — like Adelphi Bank, in Columbus, Ohio, the first new Black bank in 20 years; or Walden Mutual Bank in Concord, New Hampshire, the first new mutual bank since 1973 and the first chartered specifically to finance a more sustainable food system; or Climate First Bank, in St. Petersburg, Florida, which has grown exponentially since opening for business in 2021. He hopes these stories inspire others to take some of these same daunting-but-not-impossible steps.

For a community or industry that is being ignored by big banks, the idea of starting up a new bank or credit union rarely figures as an option. In The Banks We Deserve, Abello shows advocates, organizers, and innovators that it can be done, that it is being done, and describes a path to support more community banks and credit unions.

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The Beast
Benjamin B. Lindsey
University Press of Colorado, 2009
Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey’s exposé of big business’s influence on Colorado and Denver politics, a best seller when it was originally published in 1911, is now back in print. The Beast reveals the plight of working-class Denver citizens—in particular those Denver youths who ended up in Lindsey’s court day after day. These encounters led him to create the juvenile court, one of the first courts in the country set up to deal specifically with young delinquents. In addition, Lindsey exposes the darker side of many well-known figures in Colorado history, including Mayor Robert W. Speer, Governor Henry Augustus Buchtel, Will Evans, and many others. When first published, The Beast was considered every bit the equal Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and sold over 500,000 copies. More than just a fascinating slice of Denver history, this book—and Lindsey’s court— offered widespread social change in the United States.

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Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image
Douglas Bukowski
University of Illinois Press, 1998
There are politics, politicians, and scandals, but only in Chicago can any combination of these spark the kind of fireworks they do. And no other American city has had a mayor like William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson, not in any of his political incarnations. 

A brilliant chameleon of a politician, Thompson could move from pro- to anti-prohibition, from opposing the Chicago Teachers Federation to opposing a superintendent hostile to  it, from being anti-Catholic to winning, in huge numbers, the Catholic vote. Shape-shifter extraordinaire, Thompson stayed in power by repeatedly altering his political image. In Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image, Douglas Bukowski captures the essence of this wily urban politico as no other biographer or historian has. Using  materials accessible only thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Bukowski has fashioned an unforgettable story of a volatile Chicago leader and his era. And he does it with such grace and in such an irresistible style that readers will yearn to visit the local speakeasy and lift a glass to colorful politicians gone by.


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Bitter Fruit
Black Politics and the Chicago Machine, 1931-1991
William J. Grimshaw
University of Chicago Press, 1992
William Grimshaw offers an insider's chronicle of the tangled relationship between the black community and the Chicago Democratic machine from its Great Depression origins to 1991. What emerges is a myth-busting account not of a monolithic organization but of several distinct party regimes, each with a unique relationship to black voters and leaders.

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The Bonds of Inequality
Debt and the Making of the American City
Destin Jenkins
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Indebtedness, like inequality, has become a ubiquitous condition in the United States. Yet few have probed American cities’ dependence on municipal debt or how the terms of municipal finance structure racial privileges, entrench spatial neglect, elide democratic input, and distribute wealth and power.

In this passionate and deeply researched book, Destin Jenkins shows in vivid detail how, beyond the borrowing decisions of American cities and beneath their quotidian infrastructure, there lurks a world of politics and finance that is rarely seen, let alone understood. Focusing on San Francisco, The Bonds of Inequality offers a singular view of the postwar city, one where the dynamics that drove its creation encompassed not only local politicians but also banks, credit rating firms, insurance companies, and the national municipal bond market. Moving between the local and the national, The Bonds of Inequality uncovers how racial inequalities in San Francisco were intrinsically tied to municipal finance arrangements and how these arrangements were central in determining the distribution of resources in the city. By homing in on financing and its imperatives, Jenkins boldly rewrites the history of modern American cities, revealing the hidden strings that bind debt and power, race and inequity, democracy and capitalism.

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The Ohio State University Press, 2000
In the late nineteenth century, a new era began in American urban history, characterized by an explosion of both the populations and the proportions of cities, obliterating their traditional social and physical characteristics. Commercial businesses relocated, slums emerged around the core, and new residential areas were established along the periphery. The period was one of extreme disorder—labor and ethnic unrest, election violence, rising crime rates—but it was also a time of political innovation and civic achievement.

In documenting the changes Cincinnati experienced during  the Progressive Era, Zane L. Miller provides a clear perspective on the processes of urbanization that transformed the American city. His focus is political because politics provided continuity amid the diversity of city life. The most important aspect of political continuity in Cincinnati and in other cities was "bossism," often depicted as an example of corruption, but which was in many cities part of the quest for a new urban order. In Cincinnati, Boss George B. Cox's machine was a response to the disorder of the times; interestingly, the machine actually helped to control disorder, paving the way for later reforms. Miller carefully explores both the nature and the significance of bossism, showing how it and municipal reform were both essential components of the modern urban political system.

Originally published in 1968, Boss Cox's Cincinnati is considered a classic in the field of urban studies.

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Boss Rule in South Texas
The Progressive Era
By Evan Anders
University of Texas Press, 1982

Four men played leading roles in the political drama that unfolded in South Texas during the first decades of this century:

  • James B. Wells, who ruled as boss of Cameron County and served as leading conservative spokesman of the Democratic Party in Texas;
  • Archer (Archie) Parr, whose ruthless tactics and misuse of public funds in Duval County established him as one of the most notoriously corrupt politicians in Texas history;
  • Manuel Guerra, Mexican American rancher and merchant whose domination of Starr County mirrored the rule of his Anglo counterparts in the border region;
  • John Nance Garner, who served the interests of these bosses of South Texas as he set forth on the road that would lead him to the United States vice-presidency.

Evan Anders's Boss Rule in South Texas tells the story of these men and the county rings they shaped in South Texas during the Progressive Era.

Power was the byword of the bosses of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Anders explores the sources of that power. These politicos did not shirk from using corrupt and even violent means to attain their goals, but Anders demonstrates that their keen sensitivity to the needs of their diverse constituency was key to their long-term success. Patronage and other political services were their lifeblood, and the allies gained by these ranged from developers and businessmen to ranchers and Mexican Americans, wealthy and poor.

Besides examining the workings of the Democratic machines of four South Texas counties, Anders explores the role of the Hispanic populace in shaping the politics of the border region, the economic development of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and its political repercussions, the emergence and nature of progressive movements at both local and state levels, and the part played by the Texas Rangers in supporting bossism in South Texas.


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Boston Mayor Thomas Menino
Lessons for Governing Post-Industrial Cities
Wilbur C. Rich
University of Massachusetts Press, 2023

Hailed as one of Boston’s most beloved mayors and its longest serving, Thomas Menino (1942–2014) deftly managed the city’s finances and transformed Boston into the hub of innovation that it is today. During his time in office, Boston embraced modern industrial growth and moved forward with noteworthy developments that altered neighborhoods, while also facing ongoing racial strife, challenges of unaffordable housing, and significant public union negotiations.

Mayors in modern American cities occupy unique positions as government leaders who need to remain active parts of their communities in addition to being tasked with fixing neighborhood issues, managing crises, and keeping schools and public infrastructure on course. Situating news coverage alongside interviews with the mayor and his administration, political scientist Wilbur C. Rich chronicles Menino’s time in office while also considering his personal and professional background, his larger-than-life personality, and his ambitions. Menino’s approach to these challenges and opportunities offers enduring lessons to anyone interested in urban government and political leadership.


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Careers in City Politics
The Case for Urban Democracy
Timothy Bledsoe
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993
Careers in City Politics provides an in-depth view of the vital aspects of local politics-access to political office, individual office holder's accountability to the public, the performance of councils as collective political bodies, and the often high turnover of personnel.

Timothy Bledsoe bases his findings on the political careers of more than eight-hundred city council members representing cities with large and medium populations. Tracing how some officials' careers unfolded over five years, Bledsoe studies their reasons for seeking office and examines how successful they were in adapting to their jobs. He evaluates office-holders whose council careers were cut short and those whose lengthy service qualified them as “careerists,” paying special attention to first-term officials and to those who used their seats as stepping-stones to higher political offices. In this first-of-its-kind study, Bledsoe offers specific recommendations for restoring some of the lost vigor to local politics.

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Change and Continuity in Minangkabau
Local, Regional, and Historical Perspectives on West Sumatra
Lynn L. Thomas
Ohio University Press, 1985
Social scientists have long recognized many apparent contradictions in the Minangkabau. The world’s largest matrilineal people, they are also strongly Islamic and, as a society, remarkably modern and outward looking.

Focusing on Minangkabau proper, and treating several adjacent areas as well, this collection examines the resilience and adaptability of the Minangkabau in the face of outside political and economic pressures and of distortions in social science and legal theory. Individual studies address issues of kinship and other forms of social organization, ideology, and political and economic life. Together, they emphasize the integrity of Minangkabau social forms while revealing fascinating patterns of continuity and change in Minangkabau culture.

This collection will be of particular interest to anthropologists specializing in Southeast Asia, but it will also be important reading for those concerned with the issue of change and continuity in the third world generally.

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Chicago Latina Trailblazers
Testimonios of Political Activism
Edited by Rita D. Hernández, Leticia Villarreal Sosa, Elena R. Gutiérrez
University of Illinois Press, 2024

Mexican American and Puerto Rican women have long taken up the challenge to improve the lives of Chicagoans in the city’s Latino/a/x communities. Rita D. Hernández, Leticia Villarreal Sosa, and Elena R. Gutiérrez present testimonies by Latina leaders who blazed new trails and shaped Latina Chicago history from the 1960s through today.

Taking a do-it-all attitude, these women advanced agendas, built institutions, forged alliances, and created essential resources that Latino/a/x communities lacked. Time and again, they found themselves the first Latina to hold their post or part of the first Latino/a/x institution of its kind. Just as often, early grassroots efforts to address issues affecting themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods grew into larger endeavors. Their experiences ranged from public schools to healthcare to politics to broadcast media, and each woman’s story shows how her work changed countless lives and still reverberates across the entire city.

An eyewitness view of an unknown history, Chicago Latina Trailblazers reveals the vision and passion that fueled a group of women in the vanguard of reform.

Contributors: Ana Castillo, Maria B. Cerda, Carmen Chico, Aracelis Flecha Figueroa, Aida Luz Maisonet Giachello, Mary Gonzales, Ada Nivia López, Emma Lozano, Virginia Martinez, Carmen Mendoza, Elena Mulcahy, Guadalupe Reyes, Luz Maria B. Solis, and Carmen Velasquez


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Chicago’s Modern Mayors
From Harold Washington to Lori Lightfoot
Edited by Dick Simpson and Betty O'Shaughnessy
University of Illinois Press, 2024
Political profiles of five mayors and their lasting impact on the city

Chicago’s transformation into a global city began at City Hall. Dick Simpson and Betty O’Shaughnessy edit in-depth analyses of the five mayors that guided the city through this transition beginning with Harold Washington’s 1983 election: Washington, Eugene Sawyer, Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emmanuel, and Lori Lightfoot. Though the respected political science, sociologist, and journalist contributors approach their subjects from distinct perspectives, each essay addresses three essential issues: how and why each mayor won the office; whether the City Council of their time acted as a rubber stamp or independent body; and the ways the unique qualities of each mayor’s administration and accomplishments influenced their legacy.

Filled with expert analysis and valuable insights, Chicago’s Modern Mayors illuminates a time of transition and change and considers the politicians who--for better and worse--shaped the Chicago of today.


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Citizen Brown
Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs
Colin Gordon
University of Chicago Press, 2019
The 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, ignited nationwide protests and brought widespread attention police brutality and institutional racism. But Ferguson was no aberration. As Colin Gordon shows in this urgent and timely book, the events in Ferguson exposed not only the deep racism of the local police department but also the ways in which decades of public policy effectively segregated people and curtailed citizenship not just in Ferguson but across the St. Louis suburbs.

Citizen Brown uncovers half a century of private practices and public policies that resulted in bitter inequality and sustained segregation in Ferguson and beyond. Gordon shows how municipal and school district boundaries were pointedly drawn to contain or exclude African Americans and how local policies and services—especially policing, education, and urban renewal—were weaponized to maintain civic separation. He also makes it clear that the outcry that arose in Ferguson was no impulsive outburst but rather an explosion of pent-up rage against long-standing systems of segregation and inequality—of which a police force that viewed citizens not as subjects to serve and protect but as sources of revenue was only the most immediate example. Worse, Citizen Brown illustrates the fact that though the greater St. Louis area provides some extraordinarily clear examples of fraught racial dynamics, in this it is hardly alone among American cities and regions.

Interactive maps and other companion resources to Citizen Brown are available at the 
book website.

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Citizen Lobbyists
Local Efforts to Influence Public Policy
Brian Adams
Temple University Press, 2006
Citizen Lobbyists explores how U.S. citizens participate in local government. Although many commentators have lamented the apathy of the American citizenry, Brian Adams focuses on what makes ordinary Americans become involved in and attempt to influence public policy issues that concern them. It connects theory and empirical data in a new and revealing way, providing both a thorough review of the relevant scholarly discussions and a detailed case study of citizen engagement in the politics of Santa Ana, a mid-sized Southern California city. After interviewing more than fifty residents, Adams found that they can be best described as "lobbyists" who identify issues of personal importance and then lobby their local government bodies. Through his research, he discovered that public meetings and social networks emerged as essential elements in citizens' efforts to influence local policy. By testing theory against reality, this work fills a void in our understanding of the actual participatory practices of "civically engaged" citizens.

front cover of Citizenship, Democracy and Belonging in Suburban Britain
Citizenship, Democracy and Belonging in Suburban Britain
Making the Local
David Jeevendrampillai
University College London, 2021
Examines how suburbanites form community in the face of neoliberal isolation.
An activist group in outer London’s Surbiton suburb, the Seething Villagers commemorate a fictional local history through tongue-in-cheek community festivals. These admittedly “stupid” gatherings celebrate a mythical village of Seething and its many adventures, including a run-in with a mountain-crushing giant. Citizenship, Democracy and Belonging in Suburban Britain explores how the Seething Villagers and other suburbanite fantasies fashion community in the face of neoliberal isolation. By taking the artists’ playfulness seriously, David Jeevendrampillai demonstrates how suburbanites develop fellow-feeling without access to traditional community centers.

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City and Regime in the American Republic
Stephen L. Elkin
University of Chicago Press, 1987
Stephen L. Elkin deftly combines the empirical and normative strands of political science to make a powerfully original statement about what cities are, can, and should be. Rejecting the idea that two goals of city politics—equality and efficiency—are opposed to one another, Elkin argues that a commercial republic could achieve both. He then takes the unusual step of addressing how the political institutions of the city can help to form the kind of citizenry such a republic needs.

The present workings of American urban political institutions are, Elkin maintains, characterized by a close relationship between politicians and businessmen, a relationship that promotes neither political equality nor effective social problem-solving. Elkin pays particular attention to the issue of land-use in his analysis of these failures of popular control in traditional city politics. Urban political institutions, however, are not just instruments for the dispensing of valued outcomes or devices for social problem-solving—they help to form the citizenry. Our present institutions largely define citizens as interest group adversaries and do little to encourage them to focus on the commercial public interest of the city. Elkin concludes by proposing new institutional arrangements that would be better able to harness the self-interested behavior of individuals for the common good of a commercial republic.

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Civil Wars, Civil Beings, and Civil Rights in Alabama's Black Belt
A History of Perry County
Bertis D. English, Foreword by Wayne Flynt
University of Alabama Press, 2020
Reconstruction politics and race relations between freed blacks and the white establishment in Perry County, Alabama
In his fascinating, in-depth study, Bertis D. English analyzes why Perry County, situated in the heart of a violence-prone subregion of Alabama, enjoyed more peaceful race relations and less bloodshed than several neighboring counties. Choosing an atypical locality as central to his study, English raises questions about factors affecting ethnic disturbances in the Black Belt and elsewhere in Alabama. He also uses Perry County, which he deems an anomalous county, to caution against the tendency of some scholars to make sweeping generalizations about entire regions and subregions.
English contends Perry County was a relatively tranquil place with a set of extremely influential African American businessmen, clergy, politicians, and other leaders during Reconstruction. Together with egalitarian or opportunistic white citizens, they headed a successful campaign for black agency and biracial cooperation that few counties in Alabama matched. English also illustrates how a significant number of educational institutions, a high density of African American residents, and an unusually organized and informed African American population were essential factors in forming Perry County’s character. He likewise traces the development of religion in Perry, the nineteenth-century Baptist capital of Alabama, and the emergence of civil rights in Perry, an underemphasized center of activism during the twentieth century.
This well-researched and comprehensive volume illuminates Perry County’s history from the various perspectives of its black, interracial, and white inhabitants, amplifying their own voices in a novel way. The narrative includes rich personal details about ordinary and affluent people, both free and unfree, creating a distinctive resource that will be useful to scholars as well as a reference that will serve the needs of students and general readers.

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Communities of Work
Rural Restructuring in Local and Global Contexts
William W. Falk
Ohio University Press, 2003

The image of rural America portrayed in this illuminating study is one that is vibrant, regionally varied, and sometimes heroic. Communities of Work focuses on the ways in which rural people and places are affected by political, social, and economic forces far outside their control and how they sustain themselves and their communities in response.

Bringing together the two fundamental concepts of community—where the relationships and practices of daily life occur—and work, in which an elementary exchange occurs, Communities of Work bridges several fields of study. Presented here is the contextual and embedded nature of social relations and the complexity involved in understanding them. Through the use of multiple case studies, the authors apply diverse theories and methods in seeking an integrated outcome, one captured by “communities of work.”

Beginning with a description of the broad changes in work and economic activities across the United States, ranging from the Ohio River Valley to a western boomtown, the book shifts its focus to the interplay of work, family, and local networks in time and place. Activities range from fishing in the Mississippi Delta to farming and family life in the Midwest. The authors then highlight how rural people and places respond to extra-local, increasingly global forces in settings as diverse as rural South Carolina and Wisconsin.

A certain communitarian theme runs through Communities of Work. It is about people and communities not merely reacting, but instead responding in ways that reflect their local culture, while being cognizant of the larger world within which they live.


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The Competitive City
The Political Economy of Suburbia
Mark Schneider
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991
This timely and important book, which won a special citation from the American Political Science Association’s Urban Affairs Section for its “major theoretical development,” analyzes the effect of competition among suburban communities to attract residents and business with the best public services and the lowest taxes.  Using data from a large sample of suburban cities, Mark Schneider offers a theoretical extension of the Tiebout-Peterson approach to understanding public policies and integrates this perspective with recent work on the power of bureaucrats to control budgets.

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Completing Our Streets
The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks
Barbara McCann
Island Press, 2013
Across the country, communities are embracing a new and safer way to build streets for everyone—even as they struggle to change decades of rules, practice, and politics that prioritize cars. They have discovered that changing the design of a single street is not enough: they must upend the way transportation agencies operate. Completing Our Streets begins with the story of how the complete streets movement united bicycle riders, transportation practitioners and agencies, public health leaders, older Americans, and smart growth advocates to dramatically re-frame the discussion of transportation safety. Next, it explores why the transportation field has been so resistant to change—and how the movement has broken through to create a new multi-modal approach.

In Completing Our Streets, Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition, explains that the movement is not about street design. Instead, practitioners and activists have changed the way projects are built by focusing on three strategies: reframe the conversation; build a broad base of political support; and provide a clear path to a multi-modal process. McCann shares stories of practitioners in cities and towns from Charlotte, North Carolina to Colorado Springs, Colorado who have embraced these strategies to fundamentally change the way transportation projects are chosen, planned, and built.

The complete streets movement is based around a simple idea: streets should be safe for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, driving, bicycling, or taking the bus. Completing Our Streets gives practitioners and activists the strategies, tools, and inspiration needed to translate this idea into real and lasting change in their communities.

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The Daley Show
Inside the Transformative Reign of Chicago's Richard M. Daley
Forrest Claypool; Foreword by David Axelrod
University of Illinois Press, 2024
“You have to have passion. You have to have honesty in office. You have to love the people.” Those words summed up the outlook, if not always the actions, of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Elected to govern a city roiled by racial and economic crises, Daley adroitly wielded the tools of power in the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago politics. Under his rule, Chicago rebuilt a dying downtown, becoming a cultural and tourism mecca punctuated by construction of the iconic Millenium Park. To drive growth, he engineered a massive expansion of O’Hare Airport. To correct a historical injustice, he razed the city’s notorious public housing high rises as part of a sweeping plan to transform the lives of the city’s poorest residents. Yet corruption and graft, City Hall’s role in calamities like the 1995 heat wave, and Daley’s inaction in the face of evidence of police torture, tarnished his many accomplishments.

A two-time Daley chief-of-staff, Forrest Claypool draws on his long career in local government to examine the lasting successes, ongoing dramas, and disastrous failures that defined Daley’s twenty-two years in City Hall. Throughout, Claypool uses Daley’s career to illustrate how effectual political leadership relies on an adept and unapologetic use of power--and how wielding that power without challenge inevitably pulls government toward corruption.

A warts-and-all account of a pivotal figure in Chicago history, The Daley Show tells the story of how Richard M. Daley became the quintessential big city mayor.


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Dance of the Trustees
On the Astonishing Concerns of a Small Ohio Township
Dylan Taylor-Lehman
The Ohio State University Press, 2018
On September 9, 2015, in the quirky village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, the Miami Township Board of Trustees arbitrated a dispute concerning an area bed and breakfast that was apparently causing problems in the neighborhood where it was located. People were irate: the B&B was considered too loud by some but unfairly under attack by others, while township officials were called incompetent by both sides for not ruling in their favor. The trustees were amused, concerned, and baffled at the situation before them.
This quaint debate represents just one of many fascinating problems the trustees deal with on a daily basis. While Miami Township is small, the concerns are myriad—from cemeteries filled with unknown remains to a fire department to oversee to legal action required against properties clogged with junk. The responsibilities are doubly impressive considering no trustees have backgrounds in public office.
This book combines entertaining nonfiction vignettes with well-researched township history—including a history of religious cults and the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald was once in town—and elucidates the processes behind an entire civic division. Dance of the Trustees documents twenty-first-century small-town life with humor, warmth, and erudition.

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A Democratic Constitution for Public Education
Paul T. Hill and Ashley E. Jochim
University of Chicago Press, 2014
America’s education system faces a stark dilemma: it needs governmental oversight, rules and regulations, but it also needs to be adaptable enough to address student needs and the many different problems that can arise at any given school—something that large educational bureaucracies are notoriously bad at. Paul Hill and Ashley Jochim offer here a solution that is brilliant for its simplicity and distinctly American sensibility: our public education system needs a constitution. Adapting the tried-and-true framework of our forefathers to the specific governance of education, they show that the answer has been part of our political DNA all along.
Most reformers focus on who should control education, but Hill and Jochim show that who governs is less important than determining what powers they have. They propose a Civic Education Council—a democratic body subject to checks and balances that would define the boundaries of its purview as well as each school’s particular freedoms. They show how such a system would prevent regulations meant to satisfy special interests and shift the focus to the real task at hand: improving school performance. Laying out the implications of such a system for parents, students, teachers, unions, state and federal governments, and courts, they offer a vision of educational governance that stays true to—and draws on the strengths of—one of the greatest democratic tools we have ever created.  

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Dirty Waters
Confessions of Chicago's Last Harbor Boss
R. J. Nelson
University of Chicago Press, 2016
A wry, no-holds-barred memoir of Nelson’s time controlling some of Chicago's most beautiful spots while facing some of its ugliest traditions.

In 1987, the city of Chicago hired a former radical college chaplain to clean up rampant corruption on the waterfront. R. J. Nelson thought he was used to the darker side of the law—he had been followed by federal agents and wiretapped due to his antiwar stances in the sixties—but nothing could prepare him for the wretched bog that constituted the world of a Harbor Boss. Dirty Waters is the wry, no-holds-barred memoir of Nelson’s time controlling some of the city’s most beautiful spots while facing some of its ugliest traditions. Nelson takes us through Chicago's beloved “blue spaces” and deep into the city’s political morass, revealing the different moralities underlining three mayoral administrations and navigating the gritty mechanisms of the city’s political machine. Ultimately, Dirty Waters is a tale of morality, of what it takes to be a force for good in the world and what struggles come from trying to stay ethically afloat in a sea of corruption. 

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Distracted by Alabama
Tangled Threads of Natural History, Local History, and Folklore
James Seay Brown Jr.
University of Alabama Press, 2022
A gateway to Alabama for the omnivorous mind, Distracted by Alabama is a collection of twelve captivating essays about Alabama and the South by Samford University writer and scholar Jim Brown, a former president of the Alabama Folklife Association.
During his decades living and teaching in Alabama, Brown followed his curiosity down myriad pathways about Alabama and the region, including the state’s majestic landscape, plants and animals found nowhere else, history, and rich folkways. In the tapestry of Alabama culture, Brown traces the threads of Native American, African slave, and European settler influences, woven over the centuries into novel patterns that surprise and fascinate.  
Writing in the voice of a learned companion, Brown reveals insights and stories about unforgettable facets of Alabama culture, such as Sacred Harp singers and African American railroad callers, the use of handmade snares and stationary fishtraps to catch river redhorse and freshwater drum, white oak basketmaking and herbal medicine traditions, the evolution of the single-pen log cabin into the impressive two-story I-house, and a wealth of other engrossing stories.
An instant classic, Distracted by Alabama is a keepsake that readers who love, visit, or are curious about Alabama and Southern culture will return to again and again.

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Does Local Government Matter?
How Urban Policies Shape Civic Engagement
Elaine B. Sharp
University of Minnesota Press, 2012

Until recently, policy evaluation has mostly meant assessing whether government programs raise reading levels, decrease teen pregnancy rates, improve air quality levels, lower drunk-driving rates, or achieve any of the other goals that government programs are ostensibly created to do. Whether or not such programs also have consequences with respect to future demands for government action and whether government programs can heighten—or dampen—citizen involvement in civic activities are questions that are typically overlooked.

This book applies such questions to local government. Employing policy feedback theory to a series of local government programs, Elaine B. Sharp shows that these programs do have consequences with respect to citizens’ political participation. Unlike other feedback theory investigations, which tend to focus on federal government programs, Sharp’s looks at a broad range of policy at the local level, including community policing programs, economic development for businesses, and neighborhood empowerment programs.

With this clear-eyed analysis, Sharp finds that local governments’ social program activities actually dampen participation of the have-nots, while cities’ development programs reinforce the political involvement of already-privileged business interests. Meanwhile, iconic urban programs such as community policing and broader programs of neighborhood empowerment fail to enhance civic engagement or build social capital at the neighborhood level; at worst, they have the potential to deepen divisions—especially racial divisions—that undercut urban neighborhoods.


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East Tennessee Newsmakers
Where Are They Now?
Georgiana Vines
University of Tennessee Press, 2019

The Sunsphere, World’s Fair Site, and Neyland Stadium are Knoxville landmarks of pride and passion, history and culture. But anyone who has resided in this mid-sized southern city knows that it derives its unique glow not so much from its locale but from its people— the ones who built it and stayed true to it over the years.

In East Tennessee NewsmakersGeorgiana Vines pays tribute to some remarkable individuals and their contributions to Knoxville and the history, civic and cultural life, and politics of East Tennessee. Some personalities linked with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are part of the blend. While many of these profiles celebrate personal achievement and local renown, the true narrative is found in the tapestry as a whole.

Presenting the narrative in five parts—Political Notes, UT Spotlights, Media Sparks, Park Personalities, and About Town—Vines prefaces the stories with insight into her inspiration for the collection, discussing her career in journalism and how a Knoxville News Sentinel features series bloomed into the present book-length work on notable and interconnected Knoxvillians and other East Tennesseans. From political figures like Jimmy Duncan and Tipper Gore to well-known local personalities, including Sam Beall and Mary Lynn Majors, their stories and many more have here been updated and expanded into an impressively researched, entertaining, and valuable history of the colorful and dynamic city of Knoxville and the people who have made it so.


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Latinos Transforming Arizona Politics
Lisa Magaña
University of Arizona Press, 2021

Empowered!examines Arizona’s recent political history and how it has been shaped and propelled by Latinos. It also provides a distilled reflection of U.S. politics more broadly, where the politics of exclusion and the desire for inclusion are forces of change.

Lisa Magaña and César S. Silva argue that the state of Arizona is more inclusive and progressive then it has ever been. Following in the footsteps of grassroots organizers in California and the southeastern states, Latinos in Arizona have struggled and succeeded to alter the anti-immigrant and racist policies that have been affecting Latinos in the state for many years. Draconian immigration policies have plagued Arizona’s political history. Empowered! shows innovative ways that Latinos have fought these policies.

Empowered! focuses on the legacy of Latino activism within politics. It raises important arguments about those who stand to profit financially and politically by stoking fear of immigrants and how resilient politicians and grassroots organizers have worked to counteract that fear mongering. Recognizing the long history of disenfranchisement and injustice surrounding minority communities in the United States, this book outlines the struggle to make Arizona a more just and equal place for Latinos to live. 


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Environmental Politics and Policy in the West, Third Edition
Zachary A. Smith
University Press of Colorado, 2016
Population growth, industrial development, and renewed resource extraction have put the wide-open spaces and natural resources that define the West under immense stress. Vested interests clash and come to terms over embattled resources such as water, minerals, and even open space. The federal government controls 40 to 80 percent of the land base in many western states, so its sway over the future of the West’s communities and environments has prompted the development of unique policies and politics. 

In the third edition of Environmental Politics and Policy in the West, Zachary A. Smith and John C. Freemuth bring together a roster of top scholars to explicate the key issues involved. The volume has been completely updated to cover rapidly changing developments in the West, including climate change, land management politics and policy, science controversies, western water and river restoration, tribal sovereignty issues, the management of endangered species, and renewable energy development. Contributors also address how bureaucracy and politics shape environmental dialogues and explore multifaceted issues such as the politics of dam removal and restoration, wildlife resource concerns, suburban sprawl and smart growth, the management of renewable resources, public land reform and science, tribal sovereignty and energy, and the allocation of the West’s tightly limited water resources.

This timely new edition offers a comprehensive and current survey of influential western policy and environmental issues. It will be of great use to students of environmental studies and also public and environmental policy, as well as activists and professionals working in the environmental arena.

Contributors: Leslie R. Alm, Carolyn D. Baber, Walter F. Baber, Robert V. Bartlett, Hugh Bartling, Matthew A. Cahn, R. McGreggor Cawley, Charles Davis, Sandra Davis, John C. Freemuth, Sheldon Kamieniecki, Matt Lindstrom, William R. Mangun, Denise McCain-Tharnstrom, Daniel McCool, Jaina L. Moan, Zachary A. Smith

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Expelling Public Schools
How Antiracist Politics Enable School Privatization in Newark
John Arena
University of Minnesota Press, 2023

Exploring the role of identitarian politics in the privatization of Newark’s public school system


In Expelling Public Schools, John Arena explores the more than two-decade struggle to privatize public schools in Newark, New Jersey—a conflict that is raging in cities across the country—from the vantage point of elites advancing the pro-privatization agenda and their grassroots challengers.

Analyzing the unsuccessful effort of Cory Booker—Newark’s leading pro-privatization activist and mayor—to generate popular support for the agenda, and Booker’s rival and ultimate successor Ras Baraka’s eventual galvanization of the charter movement, Arena argues that Baraka’s black radical politics cloaked a revanchist agenda of privatization.

Expelling Public Schools reveals the political rise of Booker and Baraka, their one-time rivalry and subsequent alliance, and what this particular case study illuminates about contemporary post–civil rights Black politics. Ultimately, Expelling Public Schools is a critique of Black urban regime politics and the way in which antiracist messaging obscures real class divisions, interests, and ideological diversity.


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Feminist Locations
Global and Local, Theory and Practice
DeKoven, Marianne
Rutgers University Press, 2001

Contemporary feminist scholarship has done much to challenge the many binary constructions at the heart of Western culture: white/nonwhite, theory/practice, and, most notably, masculine/feminine. Feminist criticism has reshaped these conceptions by breaking them apart and reconfiguring them into intersecting, relational fields of difference. The contributors to this collection look to the future of feminist theory and practice, specifically in terms of their complex relationship with the global and local configurations of postmodernity.

In the first part of this book, current feminist theory is assessed for possible future directions. Part two focuses primarily on political issues and part three on questions of the body. Topics include feminist success versus social backlash, global womens human rights, postcolonial feminism, the politics of reproduction, and narratives of womens aging in postmodern culture.

Contributors: Karen Barad, Anne C. Bellows, Charlotte Bunch, Nao Bustamante, Elaine K. Chang, Marianne DeKoven, Leela Fernandes, Susan Stanford Friedman, Coco Fusco, Radha S. Hegde, Cheryl Johnson-Odim, E. Ann Kaplan, Debra J. Liebowitz, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Cynthia Saltzman, Lynne Segal


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First Son
The Biography of Richard M. Daley
Keith Koeneman
University of Chicago Press, 2013

"Mayor Richard M. Daley dropped the bomb at a routine news conference at City Hall on Tuesday. With no prelude or fanfare, Mr. Daley announced that he would not seek re-election when his term expires next year. 'Simply put, it's time,' he said." New York Times, September 7, 2010

With those four words, an era ended. After twenty-two years, the longest-serving and most powerful mayor in the history of Chicago—and, arguably, America—stepped down, leaving behind a city that was utterly transformed, and a complicated legacy we are only beginning to evaluate.

In First Son, Keith Koeneman chronicles the sometimes Shakespearean, sometimes Machiavellian life of an American political legend. Making deft use of unprecedented access to key players in the Daley administration, as well as Chicago's business and cultural leaders, Koeneman draws on more than one hundred interviews to tell an up-close, insider story of political triumph and personal evolution.

With Koeneman as our guide, we follow young Daley from his beginnings as an average Bridgeport kid thought to lack his father's talent and charisma to his unlikely transformation into an iron-fisted leader. Daley not only escaped the giant shadow of his father but also transformed Chicago from a gritty, post-industrial Midwestern capital into a beautiful, sophisticated global city widely recognized as a model for innovative metropolises throughout the world.

But in spite of his many accomplishments, Richard M. Daley's record is far from flawless. First Son sets the dramatic improvement of certain parts of the city against the persistent realities of crime, financial stress , failing public housing, and dysfunctional schools. And it reveals that while in many ways Daley broke with the machine politics of his father, he continued to reward loyalty with favors, use the resources of city government to overwhelm opponents, and tolerate political corruption.

A nuanced portrait of a complex man, First Son shows Daley to be sensitive yet tough, impatient yet persistent, a street-smart fighter and detail-driven policy expert who not only ran Chicago, but was Chicago.


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The Fixers
Devolution, Development, and Civil Society in Newark, 1960-1990
Julia Rabig
University of Chicago Press, 2016
Stories of Newark’s postwar decline are easy to find. But in The Fixers, Julia Rabig supplements these tales of misery with the story of the many imaginative challenges to the city’s decline mounted by Newark’s residents and suburban neighbors. In these pages, we meet the black nationalists whose dynamic organizing elected African American candidates in unprecedented numbers. There are tenants who mounted a historic rent strike to transform public housing and renegade white Catholic priests who joined black laywomen to pioneer the construction of low-income housing and influence housing policy. These are just a few of the “fixers” we meet—people who devised ways to work with limited resources and pull together the threads of a patchwork welfare state.

Rabig argues that fixers play dual roles. They support resistance, but also mediation; they fight for reform, but also more radical and far-reaching alternatives; they rally others to a collective cause, but sometimes they broker factions. Fixers reflect longer traditions of organizing while responding to the demands of their times. In so doing, they end up fixing (like a fixative) a new and enduring pattern of activist strategies, reforms, and institutional expectations—a pattern we continue to see today.

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From Outrage to Action
The Politics of Grass-Roots Dissent
Laura R. Woliver
University of Illinois Press, 1993
 In one case a local judge declared a five-year-old sexual assault victim a "particularly promiscuous young lady." In another, an innocent black man died in police custody. In these cases and two others, outraged citizens banded together to protest and seek redress for the injustices.
Through in-depth interviews with activists, Laura Woliver examines these community actions, studying the groups involved and linking her conclusions to larger questions of political power and the impact of social movements. Her findings will make fascinating reading for those interested in the rise and fall of grass-roots interest groups, the nature of dissent, and the reasons why people volunteer countless hours, sometimes in the face of community opposition and isolation, to dedicate themselves to a cause. The ad hoc interest groups studied are the Committee to Recall Judge Archie Simonson (Madison), the Coalition for Justice for Ernest Lacy (Milwaukee), Concerned Citizens for Children (Grant County, Wisconsin), and Citizens Taking Action (Madison). Woliver relates the community responses in these cases to those in the Jeffrey Dahmer mass murder case and the beating by Los Angeles police of Rodney King.

front cover of From the Local to the Global, Third Edition
From the Local to the Global, Third Edition
Key Issues in Development Studies
Edited by Gerard McCann and Stephen McCloskey
Pluto Press, 2015
In recent years, the international development sector has found itself confronting new and persistent challenges to poverty eradication and the promotion of human rights. From The Local to the Global highlights the extent to which the local and global are interconnected in today’s world economy and questions the legitimacy of the neo-liberal model of development that they argue has propelled us into the crisis.
            This completely revised third edition takes stock of the international development environment as it embarks on new policy frameworks to confront new challenges, ensuring that From the Local to the Global will continue to serve as an indispensable introduction to key development issues such as aid, debt, trade, migration, security, gender, and climate change.

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The Global in the Local
A Century of War, Commerce, and Technology in China
Xin Zhang
Harvard University Press, 2023

The story of globalization in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as experienced by ordinary people in the Chinese river town of Zhenjiang.

Fear swept Zhenjiang as British soldiers gathered outside the city walls in the summer of 1842. Already suspicious of foreigners, locals had also heard of the suffering the British inflicted two months earlier, in Zhapu. A wave of suicides and mercy killings ensued: rather than leave their families to the invaders, hundreds of women killed themselves and their children or died at the hands of male family members. British observers decried an “Asian culture” of ritual suicide. In reality, the event was sui generis—a tragic result of colliding local and global forces in nineteenth-century China.

Xin Zhang’s groundbreaking history examines the intense negotiations between local societies and global changes that created modern China. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, world-historic political, economic, and technological developments transformed the textures of everyday life in places like Zhenjiang, a midsize river town in China’s prosperous Lower Yangzi region. Drawing on rare primary sources, including handwritten diaries and other personal writings, Zhang offers a ground-level view of globalization in the city. We see civilians coping with the traumatic international encounters of the Opium War; Zhenjiang brokers bankrolling Shanghai’s ascendance as a cosmopolitan commercial hub; and merchants shipping goods to market, for the first time, on steamships.

Far from passive recipients, the Chinese leveraged, resisted, and made change for themselves. Indeed, The Global in the Local argues that globalization is inevitably refracted through local particularities.


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Governing Oregon
Continuity and Change
Richard Clucas
Oregon State University Press, 2018
At the end of the twentieth century, the state government of Oregon was routinely entangled in intense partisan conflict, with opposing sides waging bitter battles in elections, the legislature, and the courts. Many of the most important state laws -- such as Measure 5, which capped property taxes -- were decided through the initiative process rather than by lawmakers in Salem.
As the twenty-first century began, this political dynamic began to shift. Partisan conflict in the capitol grew less rancorous, legislative gridlock eased, and ballot initiatives lost their central role in defining Oregon politics. Less visible changes reshaped issues from agricultural policy to tribal government. This shifting dynamic coincided with significant transformations in Oregon’s economy and cultural life.
The state’s economy sustained severe blows twice in the early 2000s, but by 2014, Oregon boasted one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation. Along with economic expansion, Oregon’s population grew in both size and diversity. Despite these powerful forces of change, other aspects of Oregon political life remained entrenched, including the deep urban-rural divide and the state’s problematic fiscal system.
With contributions from 27 leading experts and political insiders, Governing Oregon: Continuity and Change offers insight into the people, political practices, governing institutions, and public policies of Oregon. It will be of tremendous value to political scientists, public servants, and engaged citizens alike.

Warda Ajaz is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Jeannine Beatrice is Chief of Staff with the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).
David Bernell is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Joe Bowersox is the Dempsey Endowed Chair of Environmental Policy and Politics in the Department of Environmental and Earth Science at Willamette University.
Alexandra Buylova is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Paul De Muniz retired as Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court in 2012 after serving for twelve years on the court. De Muniz currently teaches at Willamette University College of Law as a Distinguished Jurist in Residence.
Mark Edwards is Professor of Sociology in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Leanne Giordono is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. 
Daniel Gray is a Master of Public Policy (MPP) student in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Sajjad Haider is a PhD candidate at the School of Management, Lanzhou University (China), and a visiting research scholar at the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University.
Jordan Hensley earned a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Allison L. Hurst is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Abdullah Husain is a PhD candidate in Environmental Sciences at Oregon State University.
Phil Keisling is Director of the Center for Public Service at Portland State University’s Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. He was Oregon Secretary of State from 1991–1999 and a Member of the Oregon House of Representatives from 1989–1991.
Chris Koski is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Chair of the Political Science Department at Reed College.
Justin Martin owns and operates, Perseverance Strategies, Inc., a government relations and public affairs firm.
Melissa Buis Michaux is Associate Professor of Politics at Willamette University.
Douglas Morgan is Professor Emeritus of Public Administration and Director of the Executive MPA Program in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.
Sanne A. M. Rijkhoff is a former adjunct assistant professor of political science at Portland State University. She is currently an Eyes High Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Calgary.
Ethan Seltzer is an Emeritus Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. 
Brent S. Steel is Professor and the Director of the Graduate Program in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University. 
Casey L. Taylor is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Political Science at Idaho State University.
Rebecca Warner is Professor of Sociology in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.

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How States Shaped Postwar America
State Government and Urban Power
Nicholas Dagen Bloom
University of Chicago Press, 2019
The history of public policy in postwar America tends to fixate on developments at the national level, overlooking the crucial work done by individual states in the 1960s and ’70s. In this book, Nicholas Dagen Bloom demonstrates the significant and enduring impact of activist states in five areas: urban planning and redevelopment, mass transit and highways, higher education, subsidized housing, and the environment. Bloom centers his story on the example set by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, whose aggressive initiatives on the pressing issues in that period inspired others and led to the establishment of long-lived state polices in an age of decreasing federal power. Metropolitan areas, for both better and worse, changed and operated differently because of sustained state action—How States Shaped Postwar America uncovers the scope of this largely untold story.

front cover of How States Shaped Postwar America
How States Shaped Postwar America
State Government and Urban Power
Nicholas Dagen Bloom
University of Chicago Press, 2019
This is an auto-narrated audiobook edition of this book.

The history of public policy in postwar America tends to fixate on developments at the national level, overlooking the crucial work done by individual states in the 1960s and ’70s. In this book, Nicholas Dagen Bloom demonstrates the significant and enduring impact of activist states in five areas: urban planning and redevelopment, mass transit and highways, higher education, subsidized housing, and the environment. Bloom centers his story on the example set by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, whose aggressive initiatives on the pressing issues in that period inspired others and led to the establishment of long-lived state polices in an age of decreasing federal power. Metropolitan areas, for both better and worse, changed and operated differently because of sustained state action—How States Shaped Postwar America uncovers the scope of this largely untold story.

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Inside Newark
Decline, Rebellion, and the Search for Transformation
Curvin, Robert
Rutgers University Press, 2014
For decades, leaders in Newark, New Jersey, have claimed their city is about to return to its vibrant past. How accurate is this prediction? Is Newark on the verge of revitalization? Robert Curvin, who was one of New Jersey’s outstanding civil rights leaders, examines the city, chronicling its history, politics, and culture. Throughout the pages of Inside Newark, Curvin approaches his story both as an insider who is rooting for Newark and as an objective social scientist illuminating the causes and effects of sweeping changes in the city. 

Based on historical records and revealing interviews with over one hundred residents and officials, Inside Newark traces Newark’s history from the 1950s, when the city was a thriving industrial center, to the era of Mayor Cory Booker. Along the way, Curvin covers the disturbances of July 1967, called a riot by the media and a rebellion by residents; the administration of Kenneth Gibson, the first black mayor of a large northeastern city; and the era of Sharpe James, who was found guilty of corruption. Curvin examines damaging housing and mortgage policies, the state takeover of the failing school system, the persistence of corruption and patronage, Newark’s shifting ethnic and racial composition, positive developments in housing and business complexes, and the reign of ambitious mayor Cory Booker.

Inside Newark reveals a central weakness that continues to plague Newark—that throughout this history, elected officials have not risen to the challenges they have faced.  Curvin calls on those in positions of influence to work for the social and economic improvement of all groups and concludes with suggestions for change, focusing on education reform, civic participation, financial management, partnerships with agencies and business, improving Newark’s City Council, and limiting the term of the mayor. If Newark’s leadership can encompass these changes, Newark will have a chance at a true turnaround. 
Watch a video with Robert Curvin:

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Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations
William Anderson
University of Minnesota Press, 1956
Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations was first published in 1956. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.This volume is number 8 in a series of monographs edited by William Anderson and Edward W. Weidner on intergovernmental relations in the United States as observed in the state of Minnesota. Topics discussed include: the financial problems of a federal system; Minnesota’s place and rank in the union; the financial relationship between Minnesota and the nation from 1783 to 1953; the respective financial powers of Minnesota and the nation; national and state taxes in Minnesota; federal grants-in-aid as a revenue source; the national-state fiscal balance; state-local revenue relations; and state payments to local governments.

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Japanese Prefectures and Policymaking
Steven R. Reed
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986
In this book, Steven R. Reed argues that studying only central administrations and national-level politics yields a picture of greater rigidity than actually exists in modern governments. There is not a simple dichotomy between centralization and local autonomy: many different relationships between levels of government are possible. Reed illustrates his point in nine detailed case studies in which he analyzes the governments of three of Japan's forty-seven prefectures. Reed interviews over one-hundred officials to reveal the innovative policymaking that exists at the local level.

Reed compares how each prefecture addresses pollution control, public housing, and access to the best high school education, and concludes that despite some inefficiency in the system, the results are usually very good. Japan's prefectures are important sources of governmental flexibility and responsiveness.

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Knoxville, Tennessee
A Mountain City in the New South
William Bruce Wheeler
University of Tennessee Press, 2005
Knoxville, Tennessee: A Mountain City in the New South is much more than an update to the 1983 edition; it is virtually a complete rethinking of its predecessor as well as an updating of Knoxville’s story from the 1982 World’s Fair to the death of the nearly legendary Cas Walker. In this new edition, Wheeler argues that, like Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (1925), Knoxvillians have fabricated for themselves a false history, portraying themselves and their city as the almost impotent victims of historical forces that they could neither alter nor control. The result of this myth, Wheeler says, is a collective mentality of near-helplessness against the powerful forces of isolation, poverty, and even change itself. But Knoxville’s past is far more complicated than that, for the city contained abundant material goods and human talent that could have been used to propel Knoxville into the ranks of the premier cities of the New South—if those assets had not slipped through the fingers of both the leaders and the populace. In all, Knoxville’s history is the story of colliding forces—country and city, North and South, the poor and the elite, as well as the story of colorful figures, including Perez Dickinson, Edward Sanford, George Dempster, William Yardley, Louis Brownlow, Cas Walker, Carlene Malone, Victor Ashe, and many, many more. This is not, however, a history–or a future—without hope. Wheeler charts positive changes as well, such as downtown residential movements, urban renewal initiatives, political progressivism, and improving race relations. In many ways, Knoxville’s story parallels the struggles facing all American cities, making this revised edition of interest both as a regional history and as a fascinating case study of American urbanism.

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The Last Cacique
Leadership and Politics in a Puerto Rican City
Jorge Heine
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993
This pioneering study of the dynamics of city politics in one of Puerto Rico's largest townships examines the fascinating career to Benjamin Cole. A quasi-legendary figure in island politics, Cole served as mayor of Mayagüez from 1968 to 1992. His spectacular success often ran counter to the broader political trends in Puerto Rico and offers insights in the currents of change that swept the island from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Based on years of intensive research, including unusually candid interviews with members of Puerto Rico's political elite, The Last Cacique offers the first in-depth study of local politics in Puerto Rico and one of the very few available for the Caribbean region.

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Latinos in Chicago
Quest for a Political Voice
Wilfredo Cruz
Southern Illinois University Press, 2022
WINNER, 2023 Illinois State Historical Society Certificate of Excellence in “Books, Scholarly”!

The path to political power for Latinos in Chicago

In the Midwest’s largest city, Latinos have been fighting for political representation for more than half a century. In this exploration of urban politics in Chicago, Wilfredo Cruz shows for the first time how Latinos went from being ignored by the Irish-controlled political machine to becoming a respected constituency.

Beginning with the Latino community’s first attempt to acquire a political voice in Chicago politics in 1911 and continuing through Latino officeholders of the early twenty-first century, Cruz surveys not only the struggles of this community—specifically the two largest Latino groups in the city, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans—but also the ways in which Chicago’s Latinos overcame those challenges to gain their political voice.

For most of the twentieth century, Chicago politicians ignored the growing Latino community. This disregard changed with the 1983 election of Mayor Harold Washington, an African American who defied the political machine and actively recruited Latinos to his administration and helped them win city and statewide political offices. His actions opened the doors of government for Latinos in Chicago. Subsequent mayors, seeing the political success of Washington’s move, continued his policies.

Many up-and-coming Latino politicians making strides in Chicago, including state representative Aarón Ortíz, Alderman Andre Vasquez, and Alderman Rossana Rodríguez-Sanchez, contribute their takes on the struggle for political power and the challenges facing the rising new generation of elected officials. With this book, Cruz asks and answers this question: What does the future hold for Latinos politically in Chicago?

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Local Government and Finance in Minnesota
William Anderson
University of Minnesota Press, 1935
Local Government and Finance in Minnesota was first published in 1935. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.A comprehensive survey, by the foremost authority in the state, of the organization, history, functions, and administrative procedures of local government units in Minnesota.

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Local Interests
Politics, Policy, and Interest Groups in US City Governments
Sarah F. Anzia
University of Chicago Press, 2022
A policy-focused approach to understanding the role of interest groups in US municipal governments.

Local politics in the United States once seemed tranquil compared to the divisiveness and dysfunction of the country’s national politics. Those days have passed. As multiple wide-ranging crises have thrust America’s local governments into the spotlight, they have also exposed policy failures and systemic problems that have mounted for years. While issues such as policing and the cost of housing are debated nationally, much of the policymaking surrounding these issues occurs locally. In Local Interests, Sarah F. Anzia explores how local governments—and the interest groups that try to influence them—create the policies that drive the national conversation: policing, economic development, housing, and challenges of taxing and spending. 

Anzia examines local interest groups in terms of the specific policies they pursue, including how these groups get active in politics and what impact they have. By offering new perspectives on these issues, Anzia contributes to our knowledge of how interest groups function and the significant role they play in shaping broader social outcomes.

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Madison in the Sixties
Stuart D. Levitan
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2018
Madison made history in the sixties.

Landmark civil rights laws were passed. Pivotal campus protests were waged. A spring block party turned into a three-night riot. Factor in urban renewal troubles, a bitter battle over efforts to build Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace, and the expanding influence of the University of Wisconsin, and the decade assumes legendary status. 

In this first-ever comprehensive narrative of these issues—plus accounts of everything from politics to public schools, construction to crime, and more—Madison historian Stuart D. Levitan chronicles the birth of modern Madison with style and well-researched substance. This heavily illustrated book also features annotated photographs that document the dramatic changes occurring downtown, on campus, and to the Greenbush neighborhood throughout the decade. Madison in the Sixties is an absorbing account of ten years that changed the city forever.

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Majoritarian Cities
Policy Making and Inequality in Urban Politics
Neil Kraus
University of Michigan Press, 2013

Neil Kraus evaluates both the influence of public opinion on local policy-making and the extent to which public policy addresses economic and social inequalities. Drawing on several years of fieldwork and multiple sources of data, including surveys and polls; initiatives, referenda, and election results; government documents; focus groups; interviews; and a wide assortment of secondary sources, Kraus presents case studies of two Midwestern cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Gary, Indiana. Specifically, he focuses on several major policy decisions in recent decades concerning education, law enforcement, and affordable housing in Minneapolis; and education and riverboat casino development in Gary.

Kraus finds that, on these issues, local officials frequently take action that reflects public opinion, yet the resulting policies often fail to meet the needs of the disadvantaged or ameliorate the effects of concentrated poverty. In light of citizens’ current attitudes, he concludes that if patterns of inequality are to be more effectively addressed, scholars and policymakers must transform the debate about the causes and effects of inequality in urban and metropolitan settings.


front cover of Mama Might Be Better Off Dead
Mama Might Be Better Off Dead
The Failure of Health Care in Urban America
Laurie Kaye Abraham
University of Chicago Press, 1994
North Lawndale, a neighborhood that lies in the shadows of Chicago’s Loop, is surrounded by some of the city’s finest medical facilities, Yet, it is one of the sickest, most medically underserved communities in the country.

Mama Might Be Better Off Dead immerses readers in the lives of four generations of a poor, African-American family in the neighborhood, who are beset with the devastating illnesses that are all too common in America’s inner-cities. Headed by Jackie Banes, who oversees the care of a diabetic grandmother, a husband on kidney dialysis, an ailing father, and three children, the Banes family contends with countless medical crises. From visits to emergency rooms and dialysis units, to trials with home care, to struggles for Medicaid eligibility, Laurie Kaye Abraham chronicles their access—or more often, lack thereof—to medical care. Told sympathetically but without sentimentality, their story reveals an inadequate health care system that is further undermined by the direct and indirect effects of poverty.

Both disturbing and illuminating, Mama Might Be Better Off Dead is an unsettling, profound look at the human face of health care in America. Published to great acclaim in 1993, the book in this new edition includes an incisive foreword by David Ansell, a physician who worked at Mt. Sinai Hospital, where much of the Banes family’s narrative unfolds.


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A Mayor for All the People
Kenneth Gibson's Newark
Robert C. Holmes
Rutgers University Press, 2020
 2021 winner of Edited Works category: New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance

In 1970, Kenneth Gibson was elected as Newark, New Jersey’s first African-American mayor, a position he held for an impressive sixteen years. Yet even as Gibson served as a trailblazer for black politicians, he presided over a troubled time in the city’s history, as Newark’s industries declined and its crime and unemployment rates soared.
This book offers a balanced assessment of Gibson’s leadership and his legacy, from the perspectives of the people most deeply immersed in 1970s and 1980s Newark politics: city employees, politicians, activists, journalists, educators, and even fellow big-city mayors like David Dinkins. The contributors include many of Gibson’s harshest critics, as well as some of his closest supporters, friends, and family members—culminating in an exclusive interview with Gibson himself, reflecting on his time in office.
Together, these accounts provide readers with a compelling inside look at a city in crisis, a city that had been rocked by riots three years before Gibson took office and one that Harper’s magazine named “America’s worst city” at the start of his second term. At its heart, it raises a question that is still relevant today: how should we evaluate a leader who faced major structural and economic challenges, but never delivered all the hope and change he promised voters?

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Mayor Harold Washington
Champion of Race and Reform in Chicago
Roger Biles
University of Illinois Press, 2020
Raised in a political family on Chicago's South Side, Harold Washington made history as the city's first African American mayor. His 1983 electoral triumph, fueled by overwhelming black support, represented victory over the Chicago Machine and business as usual. Yet the racially charged campaign heralded an era of bitter political divisiveness that obstructed his efforts to change city government. Roger Biles's sweeping biography provides a definitive account of Washington and his journey from the state legislature to the mayoralty. Once in City Hall, Washington confronted the back room deals, aldermanic thuggery, open corruption, and palm greasing that fueled the city's autocratic political regime. His alternative: a vision of fairness, transparency, neighborhood empowerment, and balanced economic growth at one with his emergence as a dynamic champion for African American uplift and a crusader for progressive causes. Biles charts the countless infamies of the Council Wars era and Washington's own growth through his winning of a second term—a promise of lasting reform left unfulfilled when the mayor died in 1987. Original and authoritative, Mayor Harold Washington redefines a pivotal era in Chicago's modern history.

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The Mayors
The Chicago Political Tradition, fourth edition
Edited by Paul M. Green and Melvin G. Holli
Southern Illinois University Press, 2013
 Originally released in 1987, The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition gathered some of the finest minds in political thought to provide shrewd analysis of Chicago’s mayors and their administrations. Twenty-five years later, this fourth edition continues to illuminate the careers of some of Chicago’s most respected, forceful, and even notorious mayors, leaders whose lives were often as vibrant and eclectic as the city they served. In addition to chapters on the individual mayors—including a new chapter on Rahm Emanuel, enhanced by an expert explanation of the current state of the city’s budget by Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation—this new edition offers an insightful overview of the Chicago mayoral tradition throughout the city’s history; rankings of the mayors evaluated on their leadership and political qualities; an appendix of Chicago’s mayors and their years of service; and additional updated materials.

Chicago’s mayoral history is one of corruption and reform, scandal and ambition. This well-researched volume, more relevant than ever twenty-five years after its first edition, presents an intriguing and informative glimpse into the fascinating lives and legacies of Chicago’s most influential leaders.


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Mexican Hometown Associations in Chicagoacán
From Local to Transnational Civic Engagement
Bada, Xóchitl
Rutgers University Press
 Chicago is home to the second-largest Mexican immigrant population in the United States, yet the activities of this community have gone relatively unexamined by both the media and academia.  In this groundbreaking new book, Xóchitl Bada takes us inside one of the most vital parts of Chicago’s Mexican immigrant community—its many hometown associations.

Hometown associations (HTAs) consist of immigrants from the same town in Mexico and often begin quite informally, as soccer clubs or prayer groups. As Bada’s work shows, however, HTAs have become a powerful force for change, advocating for Mexican immigrants in the United States while also working to improve living conditions in their communities of origin. Focusing on a group of HTAs founded by immigrants from the state of Michoacán, the book shows how their activism has bridged public and private spheres, mobilizing social reforms in both inner-city Chicago and rural Mexico.

Bringing together ethnography, political theory, and archival research, Bada excavates the surprisingly long history of Chicago’s HTAs, dating back to the 1920s, then traces the emergence of new models of community activism in the twenty-first century. Filled with vivid observations and original interviews, Mexican Hometown Associations in Chicagoacán gives voice to an underrepresented community and sheds light on an underexplored form of global activism.

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Mobilizing the Metropolis
How the Port Authority Built New York
Philip Mark Plotch and Jen Nelles
University of Michigan Press, 2023

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has morphed in ways that would be unrecognizable to its founders. Its mission evolved from improving rail freight to building motor vehicle crossings, airports, office towers, and industrial parks and taking control of a failing commuter rail line. In its early years, the agency was often viewed with admiration; however as it drew up plans, negotiated to take control of airfields and marine terminals, and constructed large bridges and tunnels, the Port Authority became the object of less favorable attention. It was attacked as a “super-government” that must be reined in, while the mayors of New York and Newark argued that it should be broken up with its pieces given to local governments for their own use.

Despite its criticisms and travails, for over half a century the Port Authority overcame hurdles that had frustrated other public and private efforts, built the world's longest suspension bridge, and took a leading role in creating an organization to reduce traffic delays in the New York-New Jersey region. How did the Port Authority achieve these successes? And what lessons does its history offer to other cities and regions in the United States and beyond? In a time when public agencies are often condemned as inefficient and corrupt, this history should provide some positive lessons for governmental officials and social reformers.

In 2021, the Port Authority marked its 100th birthday. Its history reveals a struggle between the public and private sectors, the challenges of balancing democratic accountability and efficiency, and the tension between regional and local needs. From selected Port Authority successes and failures, Philip Mark Plotch and Jen Nelles produce a significant and engaging account of a powerful governmental entity that offers durable lessons on collaboration, leadership, and the challenge of overcoming complex political challenges in modern America.


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More Than Blue, More Than Yankee
Complexity and Change in New England Politics
Edited by Amy Fried and Erin O’Brien
University of Massachusetts Press, 2024

New England politics can, at first blush, appear monochromatic. After all, only one member of the entire region’s delegation to the US Congress is a Republican, and citizens have elected few Republicans to the US House or Senate in the last decade. But this has not always been the case. In 1948, only two states in the region–Rhode Island and Connecticut–had Democratic senators. Yet a closer examination of the region today reveals fascinating political variation. Liberal policies, greater diversity, and engaged political movements are reshaping stereotypical Yankee tendencies of close-fisted government, whiteness, and laconic discourse.

This collection of new essays captures both the political history and contemporary moment in this region and exposes the surprisingly varied political landscape. It examines historical shifts, regional developments, and the politics of its states to argue that New England has been and continues to be an important part of the national political puzzle, from demonstrating democratic principles in early America to producing major contemporary figures such as Elizabeth Warren, Ayanna Pressley, and Susan Collins. The political shifts at work in New England mirror the South’s transformation, but have received much less attention. This volume corrects that omission by profiling political movements and candidates, political rhetoric from activists to pundits, and demographics and voting in each state as well as the region as a whole.

In addition to material by the editors, this important collection includes contributions from Rachael V. Cobb, Jerold Duquette, Christopher J. Galdieri, Jane JaKyung Han, Douglas B. Harris, Luis Jiménez, Scott McLean, James Melcher, Maureen Moakley, Paul Petterson, and Dante J. Scala.


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The Tumultuous Story of Oregon's Most Populous County
Jewel Lansing and Fred Leeson
Oregon State University Press, 2012

Covering people and events from 1854 to the present day, this definitive history of Multnomah County provides compelling details about public works triumphs and political scandals.

Founded as a convenience so residents of the fast-growing city of Portland wouldn’t have to ride by horseback to Hillsboro, Oregon’s tiniest county geographically soon grew to be the state’s most populous.  Through nearly sixteen decades, Multnomah County’s history seldom has been calm and peaceful.  From hangings that turned into grim public spectacles in the nineteenth century to a glaring failure to deal with urban growth in the middle of the twentieth, the county survived several attempts to revamp its structure or merge with Portland’s better-known municipal government.
Highlighted episodes include the construction of the iconic Columbia River Highway between 1914 and 1918, the tragic flooding of Vanport City in 1948, the employee strike of 1980, the library scandal of 1989-1990, and the same-sex marriage license debacle of 2004.
Historian Jewel Lansing and journalist Fred Leeson make effective use of archival sources, oral histories, newspaper articles, and personal interviews to create the definitive reference on Multnomah County history, politics, and policy. History buffs and informed Portland citizens will be particularly engaged by the regional trivia and narrative details.

The Ohio State University Press, 1997

The Mysteries of the Great City examines the physical, cultural, and political transformations of the American city between the Gilded Age and the New Deal. Focusing on New York, Chicago, and Cincinnati, John Fairfield demonstrates that these transformations before and after the advent of city planning were the result of political decisions influenced by corporate and private wealth.

The expansion and reorganization of the great city stood out as the most visible symbol of the transformation. The new metropolitan form, with its skyscraping business center, industrial satellites, crowded working-class neighborhoods, and exclusive suburbs, embodied an emerging corporate order. But the metropolis also disguised the new order and gave it an apparent physical implacability and inevitability that obscured the role of choice in its creation and therefore placed it beyond criticism. Fairfield unravels the mysteries of the new form to reveal the centrality of power and politics in urban design.

While acknowledging that a great many factors shaped urban development, Fairfield underscores the decisive role of human design. He argues that American cities, both before and after the advent of professional planning, have always been in some measure “planned.” Discussing such figures as Frederick Law Olmsted, Henry George, Daniel Burnham, Frederic Howe, Edward Bassett, Robert E. Park, and Louis Wirth, Fairfield illuminates the political and intellectual conflicts among advocates of alternative paths of urban development.

The Mysteries of the Great City will enlighten all readers interested in the development of cities, particularly urban historians and planners. In pointing to the Gilded Age as a period of great possibilities of progressive reform, this study will also reward readers interested in the historical foundations of our modern society.


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Naming the Local
Medicine, Language, and Identity in Korea since the Fifteenth Century
Soyoung Suh
Harvard University Press, 2017

Naming the Local uncovers how Koreans domesticated foreign medical novelties on their own terms, while simultaneously modifying the Korea-specific expressions of illness and wellness to make them accessible to the wider network of scholars and audiences.

Due to Korea’s geopolitical position and the intrinsic tension of medicine’s efforts to balance the local and the universal, Soyung Suh argues that Koreans’ attempts to officially document indigenous categories in a particular linguistic form required constant negotiation of their own conceptual boundaries against the Chinese, Japanese, and American authorities that had largely shaped the medical knowledge grid. The birth, decline, and afterlife of five terminologies—materia medica, the geography of the medical tradition, the body, medical commodities, and illness—illuminate an irresolvable dualism at the heart of the Korean endeavor to name the indigenous attributes of medicine.

By tracing Korean-educated agents’ efforts to articulate the vernacular nomenclature of medicine over time, this book examines the limitations and possibilities of creating a mode of “Koreanness” in medicine—and the Korean manifestation of cultural and national identities.


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The New Chicago Way
Lessons from Other Big Cities
Ed Bachrach and Austin Berg
Southern Illinois University Press, 2019
For all the wrong reasons, a national spotlight is shining on Chicago. The city has become known for its violence, police abuse, parent and teacher unrest, population decline, and mounting municipal and pension debt. The underlying problem, contend Ed Bachrach and Austin Berg, is that deliberative democracy is dead in the city. Chicago is home to the last strongman political system in urban America. The mayor holds all the power, and any perceived checks on mayoral control are often proven illusory. Rash decisions have resulted in poor outcomes. The outrageous consequences of unchecked power are evident in government failures in elections, schools, fiscal discipline, corruption, public support for private enterprise, policing, and more.
Rather than simply lament the situation, criticize specific leaders, or justify an ideology, Bachrach and Berg compare the decisions about Chicago’s governance and finances with choices made in fourteen other large U.S. cities. The problems that seem unique to Chicago have been encountered elsewhere, and Chicagoans, the authors posit, can learn from the successful solutions other cities have embraced.
Chicago government and its citizens must let go of the past to prepare for the future, argue Bachrach and Berg. A future filled with demographic, technological, and economic change requires a government capable of responding and adapting. Reforms can transform the city. The prescriptions for change provided in this book point toward a hopeful future: the New Chicago Way.

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New Jersey Politics and Government
The Suburbs Come of Age
Salmore, Barbara G
Rutgers University Press, 2008
As the United States moves toward becoming a nation of suburbs, New Jersey is a place more Americans should get to know. The challenges it has overcome and those it continues to face provide lessons that will help states across the country address the struggles of providing quality education, protecting the environment, improving the quality of life, and accommodating a multicultural society while sustaining growth and opportunity. Written by two of the most respected political analysts in the state, this is the only book available that provides a comprehensive overview of politics and government in New Jersey. This thoroughly revised third edition, published for the first time by Rutgers University Press, also highlights recent scandals within the government and the high profile of the governorship.

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New Jersey's Multiple Municipal Madness
Karcher, Alan
Rutgers University Press, 1998
A critical look at how and why the boundary lines of New Jersey's 566 municipalities were drawn, pointing to the irrationality of these excessive divisions.

Alan Karcher looks at the history and high cost of New Jersey's multiple municipalities. He investigates the economic considerations, political pressures, and personal agendas that created the bizarre configurations dividing the Garden State, while analyzing the public policies that allowed and even encouraged the formation of new municipalities. Karcher also examines the political dynamics that thwarted every effort of New Jersey metropolises to join the front ranks of major American cities.

Karcher identifies the major motivations behind the unparalleled experience of New Jersey's municipal multiplication. He delves deeply into the primary causes of new lines being drawn, such as road appropriations, the location of a railroad station, control of a local school district, the regulation of alcohol sales, and the preservation of exclusivity prior to the acceptance of zoning. He also assesses the present situation and what has happened in the past 60 years since the municipal multiplication madness ceased, calling on elected officials to confront reality and correct yesterday's excesses.

The genesis of the present political map of the state is a story that while interesting is not always charming, while fascinating is far from edifying. Little in the history can be called quaint. Rather it is a story of separation and exclusion, of division and greed, of preservation of prerogatives and prejudices. It is a story that supports the conclusion that these lines are rarely the product of chance, rather they were drawn by politicians with very human foibles and frailties, and with very narrow agendas-agendas that have proven to be egregiously expensive for today's taxpayers.

Alan Karcher, the former Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly during the activist 1980s, currently practices municipal law in Middlesex County. He represents the third generation of his family to serve as a member of the New Jersey State Legislature.


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New York City Politics
Governing Gotham
Berg, Bruce F
Rutgers University Press, 2018
Most experts consider economic development to be the dominant factor influencing urban politics. They point to the importance of the finance and real estate industries, the need to improve the tax base, and the push to create jobs. Bruce F. Berg maintains that there are three forces which are equally important in explaining New York City politics: economic development; the city’s relationships with the state and federal governments, which influence taxation, revenue and public policy responsibilities; and New York City’s racial and ethnic diversity, resulting in demands for more equitable representation and greater equity in the delivery of public goods and services.

New York City Politics focuses on the impact of these three forces on the governance of New York City’s political system including the need to promote democratic accountability, service delivery equity, as well as the maintenance of civil harmony. This second edition updates the discussion with examples from the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations as well as current public policy issues including infrastructure, housing and homelessness, land use regulations, and education.  

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The Newark Frontier
Community Action in the Great Society
Mark Krasovic
University of Chicago Press, 2016
To many, Newark seems a profound symbol of postwar liberalism’s failings: an impoverished, deeply divided city where commitments to integration and widespread economic security went up in flames during the 1967 riots. While it’s true that these failings shaped Newark’s postwar landscape and economy, as Mark Krasovic shows, that is far from the whole story.

The Newark Frontier shows how, during the Great Society, urban liberalism adapted and grew, defining itself less by centralized programs and ideals than by administrative innovation and the small-scale, personal interactions generated by community action programs, investigative commissions, and police-community relations projects. Paying particular attention to the fine-grained experiences of Newark residents, Krasovic reveals that this liberalism was rooted in an ethic of experimentation and local knowledge. He illustrates this with stories of innovation within government offices, the dynamic encounters between local activists and state agencies, and the unlikely alliances among nominal enemies. Krasovic makes clear that postwar liberalism’s eventual fate had as much to do with the experiments waged in Newark as it did with the violence that rocked the city in the summer of 1967.

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The Origins of the Dual City
Housing, Race, and Redevelopment in Twentieth-Century Chicago
Joel Rast
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Chicago is celebrated for its rich diversity, but, even more than most US cities, it is also plagued by segregation and extreme inequality. More than ever, Chicago is a “dual city,” a condition taken for granted by many residents. In this book, Joel Rast reveals that today’s tacit acceptance of rising urban inequality is a marked departure from the past. For much of the twentieth century, a key goal for civic leaders was the total elimination of slums and blight. Yet over time, as anti-slum efforts faltered, leaders shifted the focus of their initiatives away from low-income areas and toward the upgrading of neighborhoods with greater economic promise. As misguided as postwar public housing and urban renewal programs were, they were born of a long-standing reformist impulse aimed at improving living conditions for people of all classes and colors across the city—something that can’t be said to be a true priority for many policymakers today. The Origins of the Dual City illuminates how we normalized and became resigned to living amid stark racial and economic divides.

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Paul Simon
The Political Journey of an Illinois Original
Robert E. Hartley
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009

With Paul Simon: The Political Journey of an Illinois Original, author Robert E. Hartley presents the first thorough, objective volume on the journalistic and political career of one of Illinois’s most respected public figures. Hartley’s detailed account offers a fully rounded portrait of a man whose ideals and tenacity not only spurred reform on both state and national levels during his celebrated forty-year career but also established the lasting legacy of a political legend.

Simon first became a public figure at the age of nineteen, when he assumed the post of editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Troy, Illinois. From there, he used his paper to launch a fierce crusade against the crime and corruption plaguing Madison County. This battle sparked his entry into politics, helping to land him a seat in the state legislature in 1954. While serving, he campaigned tirelessly according to his principles, earning him the mass voter approval that would usher him into the seat of lieutenant governor in 1968—the first person elected to that position who did not share party affiliation with the governor.

As lieutenant governor, Simon initiated many changes to the position, remaking it to better serve the citizens of the state of Illinois. The cornerstone of his reform plan was an ombudsman program designed to allow the people of the state to voice problems they had with government and state agencies. The program, extremely popular with the public and the press, solved problems and helped to make Simon a household name throughout Illinois. Although he faced challenges along the way, including racial upheaval in Cairo and the student and police riots on the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University, Simon’s outspoken honesty and strong support of his constituents earned him the utmost esteem and popularity.

While his 1972 bid for governor of Illinois ultimately failed, this did not deter Simon from his dedication to social progress. In 1974 he began his remarkable twenty-two-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, where he earned the admiration of the country for his political integrity. Despite the praise and support Simon had earned during his time in Washington, he was unable to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and returned to the Senate, winning a second term in 1990.  Simon committed time and energy to the myriad issues of interest to him, especially in the field of education, with one of his biggest successes coming with the passage of the National Literacy Act, which he sponsored. He continued to foster his ties to journalism throughout his lengthy political career, authoring numerous books, articles, and columns, all of which he used to relentlessly promote open government and social programs.

            This vivid account of the public life of Paul Simon reveals a man whose personal honor and dedication were unshakeable throughout nearly half a century in the political arena. Robert E. Hartley provides a candid perspective on Simon’s accomplishments and victories, as well as his mistakes and losses, revealing new insights into the life of this dynamic and widely respected public figure.


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Streetcorner Politicians
William K. Muir Jr.
University of Chicago Press, 1979
"This book . . . examines the problem of police corruption . . . in such a way that the stereotype of the crude, greedy cop who is basically a grown-up delinquent, if not an out-and-out robber, yields to portraits of particular men, often of earnest good will and even more than ordinary compassion, contending with an enormously demanding and challenging job."—Robert Coles, New Yorker

"Other social scientists have observed policemen on patrol, or have interviewed them systematically. Professor Muir has brought the two together, and, because of the philosophical depth he brings to his commentaries, he has lifted the sociology of the police on to a new level. He has both observed the men and talked with them at length about their personal lives, their conceptions of society and of the place of criminals within it. His ambition is to define the good policeman and to explain his development, but his achievement is to illuminate the philosophical and occupational maturation of patrol officers in 'Laconia' (a pseudonym) . . . . His discussions of [the policemen's] moral development are threaded through with analytically suggestive formulations that bespeak a wisdom very rarely encountered in reports of sociological research."—Michael Banton, Times Literary Supplement

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Policing Immigrants
Local Law Enforcement on the Front Lines
Doris Marie Provine, Monica W. Varsanyi, Paul G. Lewis, and Scott H. Decker
University of Chicago Press, 2016
The United States deported nearly two million illegal immigrants during the first five years of the Obama presidency—more than during any previous administration. President Obama stands accused by activists of being “deporter in chief.” Yet despite efforts to rebuild what many see as a broken system, the president has not yet been able to convince Congress to pass new immigration legislation, and his record remains rooted in a political landscape that was created long before his election. Deportation numbers have actually been on the rise since 1996, when two federal statutes sought to delegate a portion of the responsibilities for immigration enforcement to local authorities.

Policing Immigrants traces the transition of immigration enforcement from a traditionally federal power exercised primarily near the US borders to a patchwork system of local policing that extends throughout the country’s interior. Since federal authorities set local law enforcement to the task of bringing suspected illegal immigrants to the federal government’s attention, local responses have varied. While some localities have resisted the work, others have aggressively sought out unauthorized immigrants, often seeking to further their own objectives by putting their own stamp on immigration policing. Tellingly, how a community responds can best be predicted not by conditions like crime rates or the state of the local economy but rather by the level of conservatism among local voters. What has resulted, the authors argue, is a system that is neither just nor effective—one that threatens the core crime-fighting mission of policing by promoting racial profiling, creating fear in immigrant communities, and undermining the critical community-based function of local policing.

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The Politics of Place
A History of Zoning in Chicago
Joseph P. Schwieterman and Dana M. Caspall
Southern Illinois University Press, 2006
Chicago is renowned for its distinctive skyline, its bustling Loop business district, and its diverse neighborhoods. How the face of Chicago came to be is a story of enterprise, ingenuity, opportunity—and zoning. The Politics of Place reviews the interplay among development, planning, and zoning in the growth of the Gold Coast, the central area, and massive planned developments, such as Marina City, Illinois Center, and Dearborn Park. It tells the story of the bold visions compromised by political realities, battles between residents and developers, and occasional misfires from the city council and city hall. What emerges is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes exploration of the evolving character of the city’s landscape.

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The Politics of Women's Suffrage
Local, National and International Dimensions
Edited by Alexandra Hughes-Johnson and Lyndsey Jenkins
University of London Press, 2021
A history of the early twentieth-century movement for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. 
In the United Kingdom, the question of women’s suffrage represented the most substantial challenge to the constitution since 1832, seeking not only to expand but to redefine definitions of citizenship and power. At the same time, it was inseparable from other urgent contemporary political debates—the Irish question, the decline of the British Empire, the Great War, and the increasing demand for workers’ rights.  

This collection positions women’s suffrage as central to, rather than separate from, these broader political discussions, demonstrating how they intersected and were mutually constitutive. In particular, this collection pays close attention to the issues of class and Empire which shaped this era. It demonstrates how campaigns for women’s rights were consciously and unconsciously played out, impacting attitudes to motherhood, spurring the radical “birth-strike” movement, and burgeoning communist sympathies in working-class communities around Britain and beyond.

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The Power of the Badge
Sheriffs and Inequality in the United States
Emily M. Farris and Mirya R. Holman
University of Chicago Press, 2024

A sobering exploration of the near unchecked power of sheriffs in the United States.

Across the United States, more than 3,000 sheriffs occupy a unique position in the US political and legal systems. Elected by voters—usually in low-visibility, noncompetitive elections—sheriffs oversee more than a third of law enforcement employees and control almost all local jails. They have the power to both set and administer policies, and they can imprison, harm, and even kill members of their communities. Yet, they enjoy a degree of autonomy not seen by other political officeholders.

The Power of the Badge offers an unprecedented, data-rich look into the politics of the office and its effects on local communities. Emily M. Farris and Mirya R. Holman draw on two surveys of sheriffs taken nearly a decade apart, as well as election data, case studies, and administrative data to show how a volatile combination of authority and autonomy has created an environment where sheriffs rarely change; elections seldom create meaningful accountability; employees, budgets, and jails can be used for political gains; marginalized populations can be punished; and reforms fail. Farris and Holman also track the increasingly close linkages between sheriffs and right-wing radical groups in an era of high partisanship and intra-federal conflict.


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Private Metropolis
The Eclipse of Local Democratic Governance
Dennis R. Judd
University of Minnesota Press, 2021

Examines the complex ecology of quasi-public and privatized institutions that mobilize and administer many of the political, administrative, and fiscal resources of today’s metropolitan regions

In recent decades metropolitan regions in the United States have witnessed the rise of multitudes of “shadow governments” that often supersede or replace functions traditionally associated with municipalities and other local governments inherited from the urban past. Shadow governments take many forms, ranging from billion-dollar special authorities that span entire urban regions, to public–private partnerships and special districts created to accomplish particular tasks, to privatized gated communities, to neighborhood organizations empowered to receive private and public funds. They finance and administer public services ranging from the prosaic (garbage collection and water utilities) to the transformative (economic development and infrastructure). Private Metropolis demonstrates that this complex ecosystem of local governance has compromised and even eclipsed democratic processes by moving important policy decisions out of public sight. 

The quasi-public institutions of urban governance generally escape the budgetary and statutory restraints imposed on traditional local governments and protect policy decisions from the limitations and vagaries of electoral politics. Moving major policy decisions into a privatized and corporatized realm facilitates efficiency and speed, but at the cost of democratic oversight. Increasingly, the urban electorate is left debating symbolic issues only tangentially connected to the actual distribution of the resources that affect people’s lives. 

The essays in Private Metropolis grapple with the difficult and timely questions that arise from this new ecology of governance: What are the consequences of the proliferation of special authorities, privatized governments, and public–private arrangements? Is the trade-off between democratic accountability and efficiency worth it? Has the public sector, with its messiness and inefficiencies—but also its checks and balances—ceded too much power to these new institutions? By examining such questions, this book provokes a long-overdue debate about the future of urban governance.

Contributors: Douglas Cantor, California State U, Long Beach; Ellen Dannin, Pennsylvania State U; Jameson W. Doig, Princeton U; Mary Donoghue; Peter Eisinger, New School; Steven P. Erie, U of California, San Diego; Rebecca Hendrick, U of Illinois at Chicago; Sara Hinkley, U of California, Berkeley; Amanda Kass, U of Illinois at Chicago; Scott A. MacKenzie, U of California, Davis; David C. Perry, U of Illinois at Chicago; James M. Smith, U of Indiana South Bend; Shu Wang, Michigan State U; Rachel Weber, U of Illinois at Chicago.


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Progressive Cities
The Commission Government Movement in America, 1901–1920
By Bradley Robert Rice
University of Texas Press, 1977

Although the commission government movement is often treated by historians as an element of the reform surge of the Progressive Era, this is the first full-scale study of the origins, spread, and decline of the commission idea.

Commission government originated in Galveston, Texas, where business leaders conceived the plan as a temporary measure to speed recovery from the great hurricane of 1900. Other cities in Texas and across the nation soon followed; by 1920, about 500 municipalities had adopted the plan in which elected representatives serve as heads of city departments and, collectively, as a policy-making body.

Beginning with Galveston and Houston and Des Moines, Iowa, Bradley Robert Rice presents detailed case studies of the earliest commission cities and shows how the plan was developed and modified to suit each community’s needs. He goes on to chronicle the adoption of the commission plan by other cities across the country that strove for “businesslike efficiency” as a reaction against corruption and machine politics in urban government. Most commission charters included a wide-ranging package of municipal reforms, such as the short ballot, at-large representation, nonpartisanship, civil service, and direct legislation. Yet Rice shows that the commission plan generally offered little in the way of social reform to accompany its reorganization of municipal government.

Applying a model of innovation diffusion, the author analyzes how and why the new form of city government spread across Progressive Era America. He also thoroughly explores the relationship between the commission plan and other Progressive Era reforms and reports on the reasons for its decline from both a social and a practical perspective.

Progressive Cities is described by Professor Bruce M. Stave, editor of the Journal of Urban History, as “a sound piece of work which should make a useful and worthwhile contribution to the existing scholarship on urban reform and should appeal to an audience which cuts across disciplines: history, political science, urban studies and urban planning.”


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Provincial Landscapes
Local Dimensions Of Soviet Power 1917-1953
Donald J. Raleigh
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001

The closed nature of the Soviet Union, combined with the West’s intellectual paradigm of Communist totalitarianism prior to the 1970s, have led to a one-dimensional view of Soviet history, both in Russia and the West. The opening of former Soviet archives allows historians to explore a broad array of critical issues at the local level. Provincial Landscapes is the first publication to begin filling this enormous gap in scholarship on the Soviet Union, pointing the way to additional work that will certainly force major reevaluations of the nation’s history.

Focusing on the years between the Revolution and Stalin’s death, the contributors to this volume address a variety of topics, including how political events and social engineering played themselves out at the local level; the construction of Bolshevik identities, including class, gender, ethnicity, and place; the Soviet cultural project; and the hybridization of Soviet cultural forms. In showing how the local is related to the larger society, the essays decenter standard narratives of Soviet history, enrich the understanding of major events and turning points in that history, and provide a context for the highly visible socio-political and cultural role individual Russian provinces began to play after the breakup of the Soviet Union.


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The Punk Reader
Research Transmissions from the Local and the Global
Edited by Mike Dines, Alastair Gordon, Paula Guerra, and Russ Bestley
Intellect Books, 2019
Forty years after its inception, punk has gone global. The founding scenes in the United Kingdom and United States now have counterparts all around the world. Most, if not all, cities on the planet now have some variation of punk existing in their respective undergrounds, and long-standing scenes can be found in China, Japan, India, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Each scene, rather than adopting traditional interpretations of the punk filter, reflects national, regional, and local identities.
The first offering in Intellect’s new Global Punk series, The Punk Reader: Research Transmissions from the Local and the Global is the first edited volume to explore and critically interrogate punk culture in relation to contemporary, radicalized globalization. Documenting disparate international punk scenes, including Mexico, China, Malaysia, and Iran, The Punk Reader is a long-overdue addition to punk studies and a valuable resource for readers seeking to know more about the global influence of punk beyond the 1970s.

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Race and Politics
Asian Americans, Latinos, and Whites in a Los Angeles Suburb
Leland T. Saito. Foreword by Roger Daniels
University of Illinois Press, 1998

Located a mere fifteen minutes from Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley is an incubator for California's new ethnic politics. Here, Latinos and Asian Americans are the dominant groups. Politics are Latino-dominated, while a large infusion of Chinese immigrants and capital has made the San Gabriel Valley the center of the nation's largest Chinese ethnic economy. The white population, meanwhile, has dropped from an overwhelming majority in 1970 to a minority in 1990. 

Leland T. Saito presents an insider's view of the political, economic, and cultural implications of this ethnic mix. He examines how diverse residents of the region have worked to overcome their initial antagonisms and develop new, more effective political alliances. 

Tracing grassroots political organization along racial and ethnic lines, Race and Politics focuses on the construction of new identities in general and the panethnic affiliation "Asian American" in particular.


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Readings in Arkansas Politics and Government
Kim U. Hoffman
University of Arkansas Press, 2020
This second edition of the authoritative Readings in Arkansas Politics and Government brings together in one volume some of the best available scholarly research on a wide range of issues of interest to students of Arkansas politics and government. The twenty-one chapters are arranged in three sections covering both historical and contemporary issues—ranging from the state’s socioeconomic and political context to the workings of its policymaking institutions and key policy concerns in the modern political landscape. Topics covered include racial tension and integration, social values, political corruption, public education, obstacles facing the state’s effort to reform welfare, and others. Ideal for use in introductory and advanced undergraduate courses, the book will also appeal to lawmakers, public administrators, journalists, and others interested in how politics and government work in Arkansas.

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Reconstructing Democracy
How Citizens Are Building from the Ground Up
Charles Taylor, Patrizia Nanz, and Madeleine Beaubien Taylor
Harvard University Press, 2020

“An urgent manifesto for the reconstruction of democratic belonging in our troubled times.”
—Davide Panagia

Across the world, democracies are suffering from a disconnect between the people and political elites. In communities where jobs and industry are scarce, many feel the government is incapable of understanding their needs or addressing their problems. The resulting frustration has fueled the success of destabilizing demagogues. To reverse this pattern and restore responsible government, we need to reinvigorate democracy at the local level. But what does that mean? Drawing on examples of successful community building in cities large and small, from a shrinking village in rural Austria to a neglected section of San Diego, Reconstructing Democracy makes a powerful case for re-engaging citizens. It highlights innovative grassroots projects and shows how local activists can form alliances and discover their own power to solve problems.


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Reforming the Reform
Problems of Public Schooling in the American Welfare State
Susan L. Moffitt, Michaela Krug O'Neill, and David K. Cohen
University of Chicago Press, 2023
An expansive study of the problems encountered by educational leaders in pursuit of reform, and how these issues cyclically translate into future topics of reform.

School reform is almost always born out of big dreams and well-meaning desires to change the status quo. But between lofty reform legislation and the students whose education is at stake, there are numerous additional policies and policymakers who determine how reforms operate. Even in the best cases, school reform initiatives can perpetuate problems created by earlier reforms or existing injustices, all while introducing new complications. In Reforming the Reform, political scientist Susan L. Moffitt, education policy scholar Michaela Krug O’Neill, and the late policy and education scholar David K. Cohen take on a wide-ranging examination of the many intricacies of school reform.

With a particular focus on policymakers in the spaces between legislation and implementation, such as the countless school superintendents and district leaders tasked with developing new policies in the unique context of their district or schools, the authors identify common problems that arise when trying to operationalize ambitious reform ideas. Their research draws on more than 250 interviews with administrators in Tennessee and California (chosen as contrasts for their different political makeup and centralization of the education system) and is presented here alongside survey data from across the United States as well as archival data to demonstrate how public schools shoulder enormous responsibilities for the American social safety net. They provide a general explanation for problems facing social policy reforms in federalist systems (including healthcare) and offer pathways forward for education policy in particular.

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The Rise of the Public Authority
Statebuilding and Economic Development in Twentieth-Century America
Gail Radford
University of Chicago Press, 2013
In the late nineteenth century, public officials throughout the United States began to experiment with new methods of managing their local economies and meeting the infrastructure needs of a newly urban, industrial nation. Stymied by legal and financial barriers, they created a new class of quasi-public agencies called public authorities. Today these entities operate at all levels of government, and range from tiny operations like the Springfield Parking Authority in Massachusetts, which runs thirteen parking lots and garages, to mammoth enterprises like the Tennessee Valley Authority, with nearly twelve billion dollars in revenues each year.
In The Rise of the Public Authority, Gail Radford recounts the history of these inscrutable agencies, examining how and why they were established, the varied forms they have taken, and how these pervasive but elusive mechanisms have molded our economy and politics over the past hundred years.


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San Francisco Year Zero
Political Upheaval, Punk Rock and a Third-Place Baseball Team
Lincoln A. Mitchell
Rutgers University Press, 2019
San Francisco is a city of contradictions. It is one of the most socially liberal cities in America, but it also has some of the nation’s worst income inequality. It is a playground for tech millionaires, with an outrageously high cost of living, yet it also supports vibrant alternative and avant-garde scenes. So how did the city get this way?
In San Francisco Year Zero, San Francisco native Lincoln Mitchell traces the roots of the current situation back to 1978, when three key events occurred: the assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk occurring fewer than two weeks after the massacre of Peoples Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana, the explosion of the city’s punk rock scene, and a breakthrough season for the San Francisco Giants. Through these three strands, Mitchell explores the rifts between the city’s pro-business and progressive-left politicians, the emergence of Dianne Feinstein as a political powerhouse, the increasing prominence of the city’s LGBT community, punk’s reinvigoration of the Bay Area’s radical cultural politics, and the ways that the Giants helped unify one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the nation.
Written from a unique insider’s perspective, San Francisco Year Zero deftly weaves together the personal and the political, putting a human face on the social upheavals that transformed a city.

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Saving Lake Tahoe
An Environmental History of a National Treasure
Michael J. Makley
University of Nevada Press, 2014
The history of Lake Tahoe begins with the Washoe Indians who resided on its shores for thousands of years, with minimal impact on the landscape. The relatively brief American history at Lake Tahoe began in the mid-nineteenth century. Though awestruck by its beauty, the new arrivals were also intent on harvesting its abundant resources. In a mere half century, the basin’s forests and fisheries were destroyed, the lake’s pristine clarity dramatically reduced.

Left alone, nature healed itself, and by the 1960s mature forests once again surrounded the lake and its water clarity improved, with visibility more than one hundred feet deep. However, Tahoe’s wonders brought a new kind of threat: millions of annual visitors and incessant development, including ski resorts and casinos. Saving Lake Tahoe looks at the interaction through the years between human activities and Tahoe’s natural ecosystems. It is a dramatic story of ecological disasters and near misses, political successes and failures. Utilizing primary sources and interviews with key figures, Makley provides a meticulously researched account of the battles surrounding the management of the Tahoe basin.

Makley takes the story up to the present, describing the formation and evolution of a new type of governing body, the bistate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and groundbreaking efforts to utilize science in establishing policy. He depicts the passionate fights between those who seek to preserve the environment and advocates of individual property rights. Although Tahoe remains unique in its splendor, readers will understand why, with continued pressure for development, reversing environmental deterioration and improving the lake water’s clarity remain elusive goals.

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Saving the Pryor Mountain Mustang
A Legacy of Local and Federal Cooperation
University of Nevada Press, 2015
In 1968 the residents of Lovell, Wyoming, began the work of saving the Pryor Mountain Mustang, a breed of horse with a genetic link dating back to the sixteenth-century Spanish conquistadores’ horses. In this moving case study, Christine Reed shows how, through a grassroots campaign, these residents championed the creation of the first federal public wild horse range. Crucial to this provocative analysis of local-federal cooperation is the relationship that grew between the Lovell advocates, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. Long before there were federal laws passed to protect wild horse herds across the western states, the Pryor Mountain Mustang was preserved through the cooperative efforts of local residents and federal officials.

Saving the Pryor Mountain Mustang explores the unique and ongoing relationship between locals and the federal government, highlighting the Lovell citizens’ philosophy of cooperation instead of the typical mistrust that exists between wild horse advocates and federal agencies. The book provides a rich analysis of how a determined group of people saved an endangered wild horse herd. The book will have wide appeal to wild horse activists, scholars of local and federal governance, and western history enthusiasts.

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Start-Up City
Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done, and Having Fun
Gabe Klein with David Vega-Barachowitz
Island Press, 2015
There has been a revolution in urban transportation over the past five years—set off by start-ups across the US and internationally. Sleek, legible mobility platforms are connecting people to cars, trains, buses, and bikes as never before, opening up a range of new transportation options while improving existing ones. While many large city governments, such as Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., have begun to embrace creative forms and processes of government, most still operate under the weight of an unwieldy, risk-averse bureaucracy.
With the advent of self-driving vehicles and other technological shifts upon us, Gabe Klein asks how we can close the gap between the energized, aggressive world of start-ups and the complex bureaucracies struggling to change beyond a geologic time scale. From his experience as a food-truck entrepreneur to a ZipCar executive and a city transportation commissioner, Klein’s career has focused on bridging the public-private divide, finding and celebrating shared goals, and forging better cities with more nimble, consumer-oriented bureaucracies.
In Start-Up City, Klein, with David Vega-Barachowitz, demonstrates how to affect big, directional change in cities—and how to do it fast. Klein's objective is to inspire what he calls “public entrepreneurship,” a start-up-pace energy within the public sector, brought about by leveraging the immense resources at its disposal.  Klein offers guidance for cutting through the morass, and a roadmap for getting real, meaningful projects done quickly and having fun while doing it.
This book is for anyone who wants to change the way we live in cities without waiting for the glacial pace of change in government.

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The Streets of San Francisco
Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-1972
Christopher Lowen Agee
University of Chicago Press, 2014
During the Sixties the nation turned its eyes to San Francisco as the city's police force clashed with movements for free speech, civil rights, and sexual liberation. These conflicts on the street forced Americans to reconsider the role of the police officer in a democracy. In The Streets of San Francisco Christopher Lowen Agee explores the surprising and influential ways in which San Francisco liberals answered that question, ultimately turning to the police as partners, and reshaping understandings of crime, policing, and democracy.

The Streets of San Francisco uncovers the seldom reported, street-level interactions between police officers and San Francisco residents and finds that police discretion was the defining feature of mid-century law enforcement. Postwar police officers enjoyed great autonomy when dealing with North Beach beats, African American gang leaders, gay and lesbian bar owners, Haight-Ashbury hippies, artists who created sexually explicit works, Chinese American entrepreneurs, and a wide range of other San Franciscans. Unexpectedly, this police independence grew into a source of both concern and inspiration for the thousands of young professionals streaming into the city's growing financial district. These young professionals ultimately used the issue of police discretion to forge a new cosmopolitan liberal coalition that incorporated both marginalized San Franciscans and rank-and-file police officers. The success of this model in San Francisco resulted in the rise of cosmopolitan liberal coalitions throughout the country, and today, liberal cities across America ground themselves in similar understandings of democracy, emphasizing both broad diversity and strong policing.

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Swarms, Viral Writing, and the Local
Rhetorical Dynamics across Networked Publics
Carl W. Whithaus
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2023
Swarms, Viral Writing, and the Local examines the social and rhetorical dynamics around emerging writing technologies. Carl Whithaus argues that these dynamics work across networked publics as patterns of behavior and ways of interacting through and with multimodal texts. This rhetorical analysis of the production and reception of born-digital rhetoric shows the ongoing and evolving impacts of online public discourse that can lead to bad restaurant reviews or the subversion of democracy. It is a networked process that gains significance because of the interplay and tensions between the global and the local. As these texts are created, distributed, received, and then recreated and shared again in viral ways, different messages resonate across media ecologies. Whithaus documents how emerging social dynamics shape—and are shaped by—digital writing, reading, and distribution technologies. 

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Town Hall Meetings and the Death of Deliberation
Jonathan Beecher Field
University of Minnesota Press, 2019

Tracing the erosion of democratic norms in the US and the conditions that make it possible

Jonathan Beecher Field tracks the permutations of the town hall meeting from its original context as a form of democratic community governance in New England into a format for presidential debates and a staple of corporate governance. In its contemporary iteration, the town hall meeting models the aesthetic of the former but replaces actual democratic deliberation with a spectacle that involves no immediate electoral stakes or functions as a glorified press conference. Urgently, Field notes that though this evolution might be apparent, evidence suggests many US citizens don’t care to differentiate.

Forerunners: Ideas First
Short books of thought-in-process scholarship, where intense analysis, questioning, and speculation take the lead 


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Trading Democracy for Justice
Criminal Convictions and the Decline of Neighborhood Political Participation
Traci Burch
University of Chicago Press, 2013
The United States imprisons far more people, total and per capita, and at a higher rate than any other country in the world. Among the more than 1.5 million Americans currently incarcerated, minorities and the poor are disproportionately represented. What’s more, they tend to come from just a few of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the country. While the political costs of this phenomenon remain poorly understood, it’s become increasingly clear that the effects of this mass incarceration are much more pervasive than previously thought, extending beyond those imprisoned to the neighbors, family, and friends left behind.

For Trading Democracy for Justice, Traci Burch has drawn on data from neighborhoods with imprisonment rates up to fourteen times the national average to chart demographic features that include information about imprisonment, probation, and parole, as well as voter turnout and volunteerism. She presents powerful evidence that living in a high-imprisonment neighborhood significantly decreases political participation. Similarly, people living in these neighborhoods are less likely to engage with their communities through volunteer work. What results is the demobilization of entire neighborhoods and the creation of vast inequalities—even among those not directly affected by the criminal justice system.
The first book to demonstrate the ways in which the institutional effects of imprisonment undermine already disadvantaged communities, Trading Democracy for Justice speaks to issues at the heart of democracy.


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Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Second Edition
National Association of City Transportation Officials
Island Press, 2014
The NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Second Edition, is based on the experience of the best cycling cities in the world. Completely re-designed with an accessible, four-color layout, this second edition continues to build upon the fast-changing state of the practice at the local level. The designs in this book were developed by cities for cities, since unique urban streets require innovative solutions.

To create the Guide, the authors conducted an extensive worldwide literature search from design guidelines and real-life experience. They worked closely with a panel of urban bikeway planning professionals from NACTO member cities and from numerous other cities worldwide, as well as traffic engineers, planners, and academics with deep experience in urban bikeway applications. The Guide offers substantive guidance for cities seeking to improve bicycle transportation in places where competing demands for the use of the right-of-way present unique challenges.

First and foremost, the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Second Edition will help practitioners make good decisions about urban bikeway design. The treatments outlined in this updated Guide are based on real-life experience in the world's most bicycle friendly cities and have been selected because of their utility in helping cities meet their goals related to bicycle transportation. Praised by Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as an “extraordinary piece of work,” the Guide is an indispensable tool every planner must have for their daily transportation design work.

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Urban Neighborhoods in a New Era
Revitalization Politics in the Postindustrial City
Clarence N. Stone and Robert P. Stoker
University of Chicago Press, 2015
For decades, North American cities racked by deindustrialization and population loss have followed one primary path in their attempts at revitalization: a focus on economic growth in downtown and business areas. Neighborhoods, meanwhile, have often been left severely underserved. There are, however, signs of change. This collection of studies by a distinguished group of political scientists and urban planning scholars offers a rich analysis of the scope, potential, and ramifications of a shift still in progress. Focusing on neighborhoods in six cities—Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Toronto—the authors show how key players, including politicians and philanthropic organizations, are beginning to see economic growth and neighborhood improvement as complementary goals. The heads of universities and hospitals in central locations also find themselves facing newly defined realities, adding to the fluidity of a new political landscape even as structural inequalities exert a continuing influence.

While not denying the hurdles that community revitalization still faces, the contributors ultimately put forth a strong case that a more hospitable local milieu can be created for making neighborhood policy. In examining the course of experiences from an earlier period of redevelopment to the present postindustrial city, this book opens a window on a complex process of political change and possibility for reform.

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A Contested Bohemia in Los Angeles
Andrew Deener
University of Chicago Press, 2012
Nestled between Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, Venice is a Los Angeles community filled with apparent contradictions. There, people of various races and classes live side by side, a population of astounding diversity bound together by geographic proximity. From street to street, and from block to block, million dollar homes stand near housing projects and homeless encampments; and upscale boutiques are just a short walk from the (in)famous Venice Beach where artists and carnival performers practice their crafts opposite cafés and ragtag tourist shops. In Venice: A Contested Bohemia in Los Angeles, Andrew Deener invites the reader on an ethnographic tour of this legendary California beach community and the people who live there.
In writing this book, the ethnographer became an insider; Deener lived as a resident of Venice for close to six years. Here, he brings a scholarly eye to bear on the effects of gentrification, homelessness, segregation, and immigration on this community. Through stories from five different parts of Venice—Oakwood, Rose Avenue, the Boardwalk, the Canals, and Abbot Kinney Boulevard— Deener identifies why Venice maintained its diversity for so long and the social and political factors that threaten it. Drenched in the details of Venice’s transformation, the themes and explanations will resonate far beyond this one city. 
Deener reveals that Venice is not a single locale, but a collection of neighborhoods, each with its own identity and conflicts—and he provides a cultural map infinitely more useful than one that merely shows streets and intersections. Deener's Venice appears on these pages fully fleshed out and populated with a stunning array of people. Though the character of any neighborhood is transient, Deener's work is indelible and this book will be studied for years to come by scholars across the social sciences.

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Welcoming New Americans?
Local Governments and Immigrant Incorporation
Abigail Fisher Williamson
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Even as Donald Trump’s election has galvanized anti-immigration politics, many local governments have welcomed immigrants, some even going so far as to declare their communities “sanctuary cities” that will limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. But efforts to assist immigrants are not limited to large, politically liberal cities. Since the 1990s, many small to mid-sized cities and towns across the United States have implemented a range of informal practices that help immigrant populations integrate into their communities.

Abigail Fisher Williamson explores why and how local governments across the country are taking steps to accommodate immigrants, sometimes despite serious political opposition. Drawing on case studies of four new immigrant destinations—Lewiston, Maine; Wausau, Wisconsin; Elgin, Illinois; and Yakima, Washington—as well as a national survey of local government officials, she finds that local capacity and immigrant visibility influence whether local governments take action to respond to immigrants. State and federal policies and national political rhetoric shape officials’ framing of immigrants, thereby influencing how municipalities respond. Despite the devolution of federal immigration enforcement and the increasingly polarized national debate, local officials face on balance distinct legal and economic incentives to welcome immigrants that the public does not necessarily share. Officials’ efforts to promote incorporation can therefore result in backlash unless they carefully attend to both aiding immigrants and increasing public acceptance. Bringing her findings into the present, Williamson takes up the question of whether the current trend toward accommodation will continue given Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and changes in federal immigration policy. 

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Who Cleans the Park?
Public Work and Urban Governance in New York City
John Krinsky and Maud Simonet
University of Chicago Press, 2017
America’s public parks are in a golden age. Hundreds of millions of dollars—both public and private—fund urban jewels like Manhattan’s Central Park. Keeping the polish on landmark parks and in neighborhood playgrounds alike means that the trash must be picked up, benches painted, equipment tested, and leaves raked. Bringing this often-invisible work into view, however, raises profound questions for citizens of cities.

In Who Cleans the Park? John Krinsky and Maud Simonet explain that the work of maintaining parks has intersected with broader trends in welfare reform, civic engagement, criminal justice, and the rise of public-private partnerships. Welfare-to-work trainees, volunteers, unionized city workers (sometimes working outside their official job descriptions), staff of nonprofit park “conservancies,” and people sentenced to community service are just a few of the groups who routinely maintain parks. With public services no longer being provided primarily by public workers, Krinsky and Simonet argue, the nature of public work must be reevaluated. Based on four years of fieldwork in New York City, Who Cleans the Park? looks at the transformation of public parks from the ground up. Beginning with studying changes in the workplace, progressing through the public-private partnerships that help maintain the parks, and culminating in an investigation of a park’s contribution to urban real-estate values, the book unearths a new urban order based on nonprofit partnerships and a rhetoric of responsible citizenship, which at the same time promotes unpaid work, reinforces workers’ domination at the workplace, and increases the value of park-side property. Who Cleans the Park? asks difficult questions about who benefits from public work, ultimately forcing us to think anew about the way we govern ourselves, with implications well beyond the five boroughs.

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Women in Politics in the American City
Myra Holman
Temple University Press, 2014
How do female municipal leaders influence policymaking in American cities? Can gender determine who gets a say in local politics or what programs cities fund? These are some of the questions raised and answered in Mirya Holman's provocative Women in Politics in the American City.
This book provides the first comprehensive evaluation of the influence of gender on the behavior of mayors and city council members in the United States. Holman considers the effects of gender in local, urban politics and analyzes how a leader's gender does-and does not-influence policy preferences, processes, behavior, and outcomes.
Holman effectively uses original survey data to evaluate policy attitudes, combined with observations of city council meetings and interviews with leaders and community members. In doing so, she demonstrates the importance of considering the gender of leaders in local office.
Women in Politics in the American City emphasizes that the involvement of women in local politics does matter and that it has significant consequences for urban policy as well as state and local democracy. 

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