Urban Politics

Urban politics is all about how cities work and what can be done to improve their functioning. The quality of life for city dwellers directly depends on economic and social welfare in cities. The operation of cities depends on their political and administrative position. American cities have significant control over their policy-making, but the impact of the federal laws is undeniable. Mandates issued by federal law set the direction for municipal policy and control local fiscal resources. Sometimes governmental finance is not sufficient and cities have to regulate their spending to meet federal guidelines.
The form of government is another feature that determines how well cities function. In many American cities, the model of city government resembles that of the state government. It has the mayor and the city council. In the 19th century, cities had political party machines. They recruited candidates, supported elections, and mobilized voters. At the beginning of the 20th century, corrupt practices of political machines evoked protests of activists and government reformers. They facilitated the creation of the National Municipal League that generated ideas for altering the city government.
The strong mayor council is the oldest form of city government. It is characteristic to old, large, or economically-advanced cities. The strong mayor model has a concentrated power with a central figure. The mayor, however, is a politician who may hold their personal interests higher than the interests of their city. Another model of city management is the council manager form. It has no mayor, only the city manager appointed by the council. He is a professional administrator who works effectively, saves dollars, and stands out of corruption. On the other hand, the city manager is not accountable to the public. Recently, many cities added a chief administrative officer to their mayor’s staff thus they create a hybrid version of mayor council chief administrative officer government.

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