Los Angeles government nearly collapsed in political bickering over charter reform, which generated the remarkable phenomenon of two competing charter reform commissions. Out of this nearly impossible tangle, reformers managed to knit a new city charter that greatly expanded institutions for citizen participation and addressed long-standing weaknesses in the role of the mayor. The new charter, pursued by a Republican mayor, won its greatest support from liberal whites who had long favored reform measures.
Written by an urban scholar who played a key role in the charter reform process, the book offers both a theoretical perspective on the process of institutional reform in an age of diversity, and a firsthand, inside-the-box look at how major reform works.
The new afterword by the author analyzes the 2005 election of Los Angeles's first modern Latino mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, a milestone in the development of urban reform coalitions in an age of immigration and ethnic diversity.
When the news broke in 1975 that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, few believed it was possible. How could the country’s largest metropolis fail? How could the capital of the financial world go bankrupt? Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was unworkable. The city had to slash services, freeze wages, and fire thousands of workers, they insisted, or financial apocalypse would ensue.
In this vivid account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city. With unions and ordinary citizens refusing to accept retrenchment, the budget crunch became a struggle over the soul of New York, pitting fundamentally opposing visions of the city against each other. Drawing on never-before-used archival sources and interviews with key players in the crisis, Fear City shows how the brush with bankruptcy permanently transformed New York—and reshaped ideas about government across America.
At once a sweeping history of some of the most tumultuous times in New York's past, a gripping narrative of last-minute machinations and backroom deals, and an origin story of the politics of austerity, Fear City is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the resurgent fiscal conservatism of today.
Fear City is one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2017
An election is a war and "to the victor belongs the spoils." That’s the real democratic process. After all, you'll never see a victorious politician tell his supporters, "I want to thank all of you who worked so hard for my election. However, in the interest of good government, I've decided to give all the jobs to those people who voted against me." This belief became Buddy Cianci’s mantra. Following his own rules, Cianci spent almost three decades as mayor of Providence, RI... before leaving for an enforced vacation in a federally funded gated community.
Providence was a dying industrial city when he first took office, but he helped turn it into one of the most desirable places to live in America. He did it by playing the game of hardball politics as well as it has ever been played, living up to his favorite Sinatra lyric "I did it my way"—because that's the only way a mayor can run a city.
If you want to know the truth about how politics is played, you picked the right book. This is the behind-the-locked-door story of how politics in America really works. Here is a man who has been called many things: "America's Most Innovative Mayor," a "colorful character," and a convicted felon. But no one has ever called him shy. Here, he serves it all up.