May 2019

Urban Politics is the Best Politics of American Politics

May 21, 2019 // 0 Comments

Emily Farris| As a political scientist trained in American Politics with a focus on urban politics, Introduction to American Politics is not usually my favorite class to teach. It’s not the students, it’s not Trump… it is the material. Intro textbooks rarely cover local politics, and I grow tired of talking about Congress or the Presidency, as if they are the only politics that matter. So, this semester I approached my Introduction to American Politics class differently, thanks to the timing of our local election in Fort Worth and a small honors section of the course. Read More

Beyond Bottom-Up Politics: The Potential, the Limitations, and the Unknown

May 16, 2019 // 0 Comments

Clarence N. Stone and Gregory D. Squires| By many accounts, the nation’s politics have turned dysfunctional. Multiple problems go unaddressed. Numerous people feel strongly that their concerns are unheard. Evidence abounds that large segments of the population are underserved. Gridlock, declining civility, and hyper-partisanship stand out on the worry list for national politics. Against this backdrop, reports of local civic vitality offer a glimmer of a possible turn for the better—but only if we can find the needed levers of change and learn how they might be strengthened.  A small group of D.C. area scholars embarked on such an effort a few years back, deciding on “Bottom-up Politics” as the label for our effort. Bottom-up emphasizes that understanding, energy, and problem solving can be found locally. By no means, though, does “bottom-up” mean that the local is broadly self sufficient or operates in isolation.  Read More

Financial Engineering by City Governments: Factors Associated with the Use of Debt-related Derivatives

May 8, 2019 // 0 Comments

Akheil Singla and Martin J. Luby| The use of financial derivatives, such as interest rate swaps, by city governments has been covered in the news media with some frequency over the past few years. The preponderance of these stories focus on the negative outcomes associated with these financial instruments, particularly in terms of increased interest payments, termination payments or other financial losses. While reporting on the issue often stops with simply stating the losses, some media accounts call into question the use of these instruments by governments at all, suggesting that governments 1) lack the financial sophistication to engage in these deals, 2) use the instruments out of desperation because of a declining financial health, 3) are increasingly staffed with finance professionals either at the administrative or board level that have experience with more complex financial instruments in their previous professional careers which leads to greater use and/or 4) are being influenced by financial sector firms that will benefit from the use of these financial instruments. Read More