2020

Neighborhoods and Felony Disenfranchisement: The Case of New York City

December 21, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Kevin Morris (NYU) | Many of the negative effects of mass incarceration on neighborhoods have been well documented by scholars in recent years. The incarceration of community members has been shown to cause negative health outcomes, to disrupt labor markets, and to make residents less trustful of their local government. Residents who live in neighborhoods touched by mass incarceration exhibit symptoms of trauma and are more likely to suffer from anxiety than others. One aspect of incarceration’s effects on neighborhoods, however, remains less studied: felony disenfranchisement, or the suspension of voting rights. Nearly everywhere in the United States, the political rights of individuals convicted of felony offenses are severely curtailed. This project shows that the disenfranchisement of community members has serious impacts on neighborhood turnout in local elections. Read More

When Voters Matter: The Limits of Local Government Responsiveness

December 16, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Michael W. Sances (Temple University) | V.O. Key famously wrote, “Unless mass views have some place in the shaping of policy, all the talk about democracy is nonsense.” While formally democratic, governed as they are by elected representatives, whether local governments meet Key’s standard of democratic responsiveness is unclear. In recent years, several scholars have found correlations between the policy outputs of large cities and the views of their publics, with more liberal cities producing more liberal policies. Yet these patterns could emerge even if cities were not democratically responsive. Additionally, local government is much more than large cities; yet we know little about how the thousands of smaller municipal, township, and special district governments represent their voters. In a recent article in Urban Affairs Review, I find evidence that local governments are indeed responsive in some areas, but not at all responsive in others. Read More

Public Service-Function Types and Interlocal Agreement Network Structure: A Longitudinal Study of Iowa

December 2, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Victor G. Hugg (University of Illinois at Chicago) | Faced with enduring partisan gridlock and ever-tightening financial constraints, public administrators are increasingly turning to cooperative arrangements with local institutions and organizations to provide public goods and services. Over time, networks of governance have emerged from an assortment of both formal and informal agreements. Recognizing the prevalence of these collaborative efforts, researchers have started to seriously examine these agreement networks in a bid to understand the factors the predict interlocal collaboration. Read More

Sanctuary Policy Adoptions: Assessing the Effects of Ideology and Access to Labor and Housing Markets

November 19, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Donald Vandegrift (College of New Jersey) and Zachary Weyand (College of New Jersey) | Liberal metro areas are known for their staunch defense of cultural and racial diversity. These defenses are often cast in moral terms as a conflict between cosmopolitan desires for openness and insular impulses that seek to preserve cultural homogeneity. A December 2016 opinion piece by the editors of The New York Times (“Proud to Be a Sanctuary City”) offers a typical statement of this view: “The word "sanctuary" as Mr. Trump deploys it -- a place where immigrant criminals run amok, shielded from the long arm of federal law -- is grossly misleading, because cities with "sanctuary" policies cannot obstruct federal enforcement and do not try to. Instead, they do what they can to welcome and support immigrants, including the unauthorized, and choose not to participate in deportation crackdowns they see as unjust, self-defeating and harmful to public safety." Read More

Pensions in the Trenches: How Pension Spending Is Affecting U.S. Local Government

November 10, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Sarah F. Anzia (University of California, Berkeley) | Local government budgets are in the spotlight. The COVID-19 economic downturn has decimated certain streams of local government revenue. Scrutiny of policing has raised attention to municipal expenditures. It might seem like public employee pensions are disconnected from all of this: they are usually discussed as a state-level issue, and one involving quantities like funding ratios, unfunded liabilities, and investment returns rather than spending. But the reality is that they are very much connected. Spending on public employees’ retirement benefits—including those of public safety employees—is an important part of local government budgets everywhere. And long before 2020, many experts were warning that pension costs were on the rise, forcing changes to how local governments operate. Read More

Incentives and Austerity: How Did the Great Recession Affect Municipal Economic Development Policy?

October 29, 2020 // 1 Comment

By Sara Hinkley (University of California, Berkeley) and Rachel Weber (University of Illinois at Chicago) | After the Great Recession of 2007-2009, cities across the country were hit by a perfect storm of revenue declines, inadequate federal stimulus monies, and state efforts to displace budget cuts onto local governments. As a result, local governments found themselves making unprecedented cuts to public services and jobs. Libraries and schools were closed, social work caseloads rose exponentially, and even “sacred cows” like police and fire services were put on the chopping block as decision-makers pushed austerity responses. In most parts of the country, those cuts were never restored, even long after population and economic growth recovered. Read More

Positively Resilient? How Framing Local Action Affects Public Opinion

October 21, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Sara Meerow (Arizona State University) and Fabian Neuner (Arizona State University | Cities face a variety of hazards, from rising temperatures, to increasingly intense storms, to sea-level rise. Addressing these challenges will require local governments to enact ambitious plans and policies. Historically, such efforts have been framed in terms of sustainability, adaptation, or reducing vulnerability. More recently, resilience has become the buzzword. For example, many cities, such as Boston and Miami, have developed resilience plans and high-profile funding initiatives have purported to build resilience. Read More

Information Sharing, Smartness and Megacities: Some Lessons

October 15, 2020 // 0 Comments

By J. Ramon Gil-Garcia (University at Albany, SUNY), Theresa A. Pardo (University at Albany, SUNY), and Manuel De Tuya (University at Albany, SUNY) | Megacities, metropolitan areas that concentrate more than 10 million people comprised of one or more cities plus their suburbs (UN 2006), showcase the advantages and richness, as well as the challenges and struggles, of large, diverse, and complex urban settlements. The continuous­­­­ growth of metropolitan areas is creating a myriad of problems whose complexity often outpaces the ability of the city’s government to respond. In such situations, city governments are looking for new and innovative ways to solve problems and provide services. Megalopolises like Mexico City and New York City (NYC), in particular, are working to understand this new complexity and to address it in innovative ways that make it possible to respond to the increasing demand for current services and in many cases, for new kinds of services. In essence, they are looking for ways to make their cities smarter. Read More

Rebuilding the Cultural Sector in a Post-Pandemic World Requires Understanding the ‘Ecology’ of the Cultural City

October 6, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Hyesun Jeong (University of Texas at Arlington) and Matt Patterson (University of Calgary) | As cities around the world have shut down due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the cultural sector has been particularly hard hit. Even as some jurisdictions begin to ease public health restrictions, tourism and crowded events such as concerts and festivals are unlikely to return while we are still vulnerable to the coronavirus. Public subsidies for cultural organizations are also at risk as governments have shifted to prioritize public health. Lockdowns and social distancing have limited our participation in public spaces. In sum, the cultural landscape of cities looks extremely uncertain in the immediate future and it is likely that many cultural establishments will not survive. Read More

Understanding the Adoption and Implementation of Body-Worn Cameras among U.S. Local Police Departments

October 1, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Sunyoung Pyo (Korean National Police University) | Police use of deadly force against racial minority residents is a major concern of U.S. policing. The several high-profile police-involved deaths of racial minority residents, such as the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the death of Eric Garner in New York City, along with the acquittal of police officers involved in those incidents, led to minority residents’ riots and looting in protest of police brutality. These incidents and the resulting public outcry brought major national debate on officers’ discriminatory treatment toward Black people and pressured the governments to devise a way to control officers’ discretionary decision to use of deadly force. Read More