New on the Urban Affairs Forum

Ada County, Idaho is Growing and so is the Role of Women in its Governance

By Jaclyn J. Kettler | A major story following the 2018 midterm elections is the impressive gains women made in the U.S. Congress and in state races. National media, however, has largely overlooked key victories for women running for local office. For example, in Harris County in Texas, 17 African-American women won their races for local judgeships. Here in Idaho, voters elected two women to the 3-member Ada County Commission. It appears to be the first time women will hold a majority of seats on the Ada County Commission. Ada County includes Boise, the state capital and one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country. Read More

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  • By Sara Hughes | Toronto has been called “the most fascinating totally boring city in the world.” Despite its low crime rate, the over-half internationally born residents, and the fact that it is one of the fastest growing cities in North America, many residents appear comfortable with incremental change or, perhaps even better, no change at all. Read More
  • By Davia Cox Downey | Economic development is a complex process by which local entities compete for development projects. Theory development in this area has ranged from descriptions of the economies of corporate clustering, transportation cost networks, central place theory, growth machine theory, and transaction cost theories to name a few.  While these theoretical perspectives provide a basis for understanding "why" cities need economic development to survive in a highly competitive, fractured metropolitan space, these theories do little to show students the "how" of economic development decision-making.  I use a classroom exercise to illustrate the process of economic development. Traditionally, I have used the city of East Lansing, a small midwestern city with issues of town and gown relations, but this assignment can be retrofitted to a city of any size. Read More
  • By Amanda Kass | Assessors play an important role in the property tax process in the United States. A homeowner’s taxes are based on the estimated value of their home, and that estimate is made by the assessor. If an assessor over- or under-values a property, then the homeowner will be over- or under-taxed. Over-taxation can produce a cascade of negative consequences, including foreclosure for failure to pay property taxes, while cities want to maintain high collection rates. Read More
  • Jerusalem: The City Not Allowed To Be a City

    October 26, 2018 // 0 Comments

    By Michael Ziv-Kenet and Noga Keidar | All of Israel’s largest cities, including Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Beer-Sheva, will hold state-wide local elections on October 30. These elections will be mostly decided on traditional urban issues like public transport, plans for urban development, as well as on candidates’ charisma and basis of supporters. In Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, however, urban affairs have taken only a marginal space in the debate – instead, national politics’ embeddedness in the election sweeps a side almost any other issue. Read More
  • By Thessalia Merivaki | College students participate in elections at lower rates than average Americans. And yet, being in college exposes them to an environment of diversity, inclusion, political debate, political dissent, and a multitude of social interactions. If the foundations for civic engagement exist, why is there such a disconnect between the college experience and political participation? Read More
  • Making (Political) Magic in Anaheim

    October 18, 2018 // 0 Comments

    By Peter F. Burns Jr. and Matthew O. Thomas | For the past decade, the theme of Disney vs the neighborhoods has dominated Anaheim politics, and this conflict is central to the city’s 2018 elections.  When voters go to the polls in November, they will select a new mayor for the first time in eight years, elect three city council members as part of the city’s new district-election format, and decide on a local living wage referendum, which may or may not eventually apply to Disney. Read More
  • By Aaron Weinschenk | I have the pleasure of teaching an upper-level political science course called “Urban Politics & Policy.” In order to help my students connect what they are learning to real-life situations, I have them (in small groups) create economic development plans for actual U.S. cities. To make the project challenging, I usually pick 6 or 7 struggling U.S. cities and assign them to the groups. (This year’s cities are Detroit, Toledo, Buffalo, Tucson, Stockton, and Memphis). I want students to have to think seriously about issues like poverty and unemployment that are so common in many of today’s urban areas. The groups work on their plans over the course of the semester and at the end give 20-30 minute presentations to the class and turn in professional economic development reports, which are usually around 25-pages. Read More
  • By Hannah Lebovits | Much of our understanding of urban politics and local governance is shaped by a focus on large central cities. Yet, many US residents don’t live in these urban spaces. In fact, a report from the Brookings Institute, notes that the distribution of population in many MSAs is significantly dispersed between the central city and suburbs. And while research on local elections and political behavior is growing, literature on politics in suburban cities remains underdeveloped. Read More
  • By Simon Williamson | In May 2018, Athens-Clark County, the home of the University of Georgia, local elections took place alongside gubernatorial and other statewide office primaries, in which  the mayor’s office and five seats on the 10-member unified county commission were up for their regular four-year terms, along with half the schoolboard and two judgeships. Although Athens-Clarke County is ideologically liberal, the 2014 elections for these offices saw moderate and right-leaning candidates win these non-partisan offices. Read More
  • By Thomas Ogorzalek and Jaime Domínguez | Incumbent Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel’s recent announcement that he will not seek re-election for a third term (the election is in February 2019, with a possible run-off in April) was an earthquake that shook the city’s political landscape. Despite fairly low approval ratings, Emanuel was still the front-runner in a field in which none of the dozen declared challengers had been elected to major office. Since the announcement, many prominent Chicago pols have explored their options, and the pool of candidates is almost certain to change before the November 26 filing deadline. Chicago’s politics sit at a crossroads, as a relatively progressive and prosperous metropolis in a region where urban crisis and creeping conservative drift have been more common lately. Read More
  • By Melina Juárez Pérez | The diversity of political candidates across the states is becoming evident with each election cycle, particularly at the local level. More women of color and LGBTQ+ candidates are not only leading strong competitive campaigns, but also winning office with progressive platforms. In 2017, for example, nine openly transgender candidates won elections mostly at the local level: four in city councils and two in school boards. Minneapolis elected two transgender council members – Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham – making them the first out transgender black woman and first out transgender black man elected to public office in U.S. history. These victories also include Danica Roem’s, a former thrash metal musician and journalist, who defeated 13-term incumbent Bob Marshall in the Virginia House of Delegates. Marshall, a Republican, had a strong anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman track record in the state including filling a discriminatory transgender bathroom bill. Read More
  • Jennifer L. Romich | Since 2012, more than 30 cities or counties have raised local minimum wages above the federal standard of $7.25 per hour. New wage laws have taken effect in large urban centers such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago, and smaller cities such as Las Cruces, New Mexico and Tacoma, Washington. Advocates for minimum wage laws suggest that such measures will raise wages, reduce income inequality, and make low-wage workers better off; critics counter that higher wages may lead firms to reduce employment, ultimately making workers as a class worse off. Read More
  • Jeffrey Swanson and Charles Barrilleaux | Why do state governments preempt local government policies? Devolution is often embraced as a normatively desirable policy goal, as it expands local autonomy and allows for policies to be tailor-made to the needs of a sub-unit’s constituents. Although decentralization has been at the forefront of the states’ rights movement, there has been limited state-level support for decentralization to the local-level. States have granted local governments some autonomy through home rule and enabling legislation but doing so involves a trade-off between the efficiency of internal policy production and potential delegation costs. Disputes between local and state governments are likely to occur when local residents have ideological preferences that differ from those of state officials. This is because local governments are more likely to implement policies that contradict state interests, but the ability for local governments to engage in policy making depends on the level of local autonomy given by the state government. The preemption process is a way for state governments to limit local autonomy, either through statute or in state courts through legal challenges of local ordinances. Read More
  • UAR Best Paper Award at APSA 2018

    August 31, 2018 // 0 Comments

    Urban Affairs Review is sponsoring a $250 award for the Best Paper in Urban or Regional Politics presented at the 2018 American Political Science Association conference. We encourage chairs of all Urban and Local Politics Section panels to nominate papers. We also welcome self-nominations. Papers presented on any panel associated with the conference are eligible for this award.

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  • Minting Ye and Igor Vojnovic | In a recent Urban Affairs Review article we explore how women have been impacting the social and physical upgrading of neighborhoods in one of the most competitive property markets in the world. In 2016, the most expensive apartment in Asia sold in Hong Kong for US$117 million, breaking the old record that was set in that city a year earlier. At the other end of the market spectrum, purchasing an entry-level apartment is also costly, with units as small as 163 square feet selling for $500,000. Being one of the most expensive global real estate markets ensures that space is at a premium. Micro-apartments ranging between 28 square feet to 40 square feet—a fraction of the size of a parking spot—are available across the city. Read More
  • Chris Hess | Public infrastructure has always shaped patterns of metropolitan growth and residential segregation. Street-car lines, followed by highways, created important corridors from cities out into the so-called “Crabgrass Frontier” (Jackson 1985). New access to undeveloped suburban areas combined with government-insured mortgages with low down-payments generated vast opportunities for housing construction. However, through much of the 20th century “redlining”, discriminatory housing covenants, and exclusionary zoning maintained a system of residential stratification preventing racial and ethnic minorities from moving outward to burgeoning suburbs. Consequently, many urban neighborhoods became racially-segregated, faced disinvestment due to housing policy favoring lending to suburban contexts, and experienced increasing “mismatch” from suburban employment growth. Read More
  • David Miller and Jen Nelles | American regions are made up of interdependent local governments. Their interdependencies stem from the fact that many problems, opportunities, and issues routinely ignore and transcend the clear jurisdictional boundaries between neighboring cities, counties, and towns. Figuring out how to work across those boundaries has proved both elusive and a challenging.  That said, state and local governments have, over time, awkwardly, and with much experimenting, developed mechanisms of regional governance.   Read More
  • Jason P. Casellas and Sophia J. Wallace | Due to the stall in immigration reform at the federal level, there has been a rapid increase in state-level immigration policies over the last 15 years. Some states pursued restrictionist policies aimed at limiting immigrants’ rights and increasing immigration enforcement, such as Arizona through SB 1070, while others have sought to expand and protect immigrant rights, such as California in declaring the entire state a sanctuary. During the 2016 campaign and in his presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly promised increasing restrictive immigration policies aimed at reducing the number of undocumented immigrants, massive deportations, building a wall on the U.S-Mexico border, and imposing harsh penalties on immigrants. Read More
  • Mathew D. McCubbins and Ellen C. Seljan | Local governments across the United States often find themselves needing to seek out new revenue sources, particularly in the face of state limitations on taxation.  Our research examines the usage of special assessments, a particularly popular, but understudied source of local revenues, in the state of California. Today, special assessments are commonly used to back local infrastructure projects and provide growing number of public services, from local fire and police protection to street maintenance and repair. Read More
  • Orly Linovski | Urban planning is often thought of as a public sector activity, despite the increasing role and influence of private-sector consultants. Consultants are involved in many stages of the planning process, including undertaking policy reviews; creating long-range plans and strategies; and, designing and implementing public engagement strategies. Planning consultants often straddle the private and public spheres, working for both government and private clients. This raises questions about how private-sector planners balance competing goals, as well as the democratic legitimacy and accountability of the planning processes they undertake. While consultants have been involved in planning since the early days of the profession, the reduced capacity that many municipalities currently face makes it critical to examine the impacts that outsourcing and privatization may have on planning processes. For local governments that have traditionally seen planning as a public-sector activity, these changes can undermine both the public interest and the relationship between citizens and decision-makers. Read More
  • Rachel Weber (University of Illinois at Chicago), Stephanie Farmer (Roosevelt University) and Mary Donoghue | In 2013 the City of Chicago undertook the largest mass school closure in recent history, declaring that the school district’s budget required shuttering 49 of its most underutilized buildings. The city erupted in protest, with the Chicago Teachers Union leading a charge of angry parents, students, and teachers. Read More

What the Trump Administration Should Know About Cities

  • By Timothy Weaver | The election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency has left many observers in profound shock and has caused great alarm in city halls across the nation. Not surprisingly, many analysts have emphasized the degree to which Trump’s approach to cities will involve a sharp break with the past. By contrast, I want to suggest here that, though change is indeed in the offing in some domains, in the final analysis the forthcoming urban policies introduced by Trump’s secretary of HUD, Ben Carson, will prove all too familiar. Rather than a brave new world, cities are likely to find themselves back in the 1980s, where cuts, privatization, deregulation, and pro-business strategies will be given a major fillip. It is important to note that such a state of affairs, while having most in common with the Reagan years, would prove less of a sea change from the Obama administration than many liberals would like to admit.

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  • By Nik Theodore | Immigration policy was a focal point of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which included a pledge to mass-deport millions of unauthorized immigrants currently residing in the United States. Cloaked in the rhetoric of law-and-order policing, the proposed deportations have been presented as a necessary first step towards reforming the nation’s immigration system.

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  • By David Imbroscio | Recent political developments in both the United States and Europe have been, to say the least, jarring. They should give us cause to begin a process of systematically re-evaluating many of our accepted orthodoxies in political strategy and policy development. Regarding the latter, the urban sphere is a critical, if not essential, place to start. For embodied in what we call urban policy lies a host of core values and assumptions regarding what has been the central political question since at least the time of Aristotle: Namely, what constitutes the nature of “the good society,” and how it might be achieved? Urban policy – properly understood – thus is best thought of as representational of all matters concerning the public interest, at least in the sphere of domestic affairs.

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  • By Peter Eisinger | During the Obama years cities around the nation articulated or actively pursued policy initiatives at the vanguard of progressivism. Sometimes these policy commitments were entirely consistent with Obama’s agenda (green cities, gun control) and sometimes they went beyond (the $15 minimum wage, sanctuary cities), but in general the cities were partners with Washington in the progressive project. Many cities also embraced global trade, an Obama priority, seeing both foreign direct investment and export as crucial to local economic fortunes. As the Trump era begins, however, these various progressive and globalist initiatives and commitments will clearly put cities in stark opposition to the national government. Cities across the country—not simply on the coasts but also in the heartland—are already emerging as active or de facto nodes of resistance to the Trump agenda.

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  • By Todd Swanstrom | Donald Trump ran against cities. During the campaign, he called inner cities “disasters,” implying that this was caused by flawed liberal policies. Trump’s negative portrayal of cities continued after the election. In his Inaugural Address he painted a bleak picture of “[m]others and children trapped in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape,” and he decried “the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives.”

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  • By Michael Pagano | The 2016 presidential campaign rhetoric was laced with mischaracterizations of cities, even as we have come to understand the importance of cities and metro regions as the nation’s key economic drivers in the 21st Century. Yet, campaign rhetoric and the candidates’ statements do speak to an understanding of each candidate’s perspectives on cities and their connections to the federal government. Let’s take a look at three broad federal policy areas that will certainly be (or already have been) addressed by the Trump Administration and that clearly have a place-based dimension: infrastructure, tax reform, and sanctuary cities. Read More
  • By Vladimir Kogan | Many early indicators suggest that big cities are unlikely to get much love from the incoming Trump administration. At an early January press conference, for example, the president suggested his administration would focus on rewarding “places that I won” — and most big cities backed his Democratic opponent by large margins, as they have done for many decades. In addition, President Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, not only lacks government experience but is also openly hostile to some of the agency’s programs and efforts. Read More
  • By George Galster | America prides itself as the land of equal opportunity. Sadly, it is clear that equal opportunity is a cruel sham in a nation whose metropolitan areas’ neighborhoods and schools are increasingly segregated by race and class. Our metropolitan areas are rapidly becoming engines of inequality. Here is what the Trump Administration should know: Read More
  • By Scott Minkoff | When we started the Urban Affairs Forum last year one of our goals was to become an outlet for scholars to offer thoughts about current events based on their years of expertise. Today we are launching our first (of what we expect to be many) Urban Affairs Forum Scholars Series. The topic: What the Trump administration should know about cities. Read More

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Urban Affairs Review is a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly journal focused on questions of politics, governance, and public policy specifically as they relate to cities and/or their regions. The Urban Affairs Forum is a space for leading thinkers about urban issues to share their research, ideas, and experiences. Visit us for insights on local and regional politics, urban governance, and public policy that are based in the research findings of our diverse community of scholars and practitioners. You can learn more about the Forum here.

 

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