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.