All Forum Posts

Taking a Risk: Explaining the Use of Complex Debt Finance by the Chicago Public Schools

March 21, 2018 // 0 Comments

Amanda Kass, Martin J. Luby, and Rachel Weber | For most of the 20th century, the municipal securities market was a sleepy backwater where governments went to raise money for roads, bridges, and wastewater systems. Most cities financed their infrastructure with debt that relied on conservative or well-seasoned market structures.  At the end of the century, however, local governments entered a period of “entrepreneurial” finance as federal support for urban development declined. In the years leading up to the global financial crisis, many US governments began utilizing new bond structures and riskier financial instruments to, potentially, lower borrowing costs. Read More

Nonprofit Organizations and the Local Politics of Immigrant Rights

March 2, 2018 // 0 Comments

Els de Graauw's new book Making Immigrant Rights Real: Nonprofits and the Politics of Integration in San Francisco unpacks the puzzle of how immigrant-serving nonprofits successfully navigate the many constraints on their advocacy to influence the local governance of immigrant integration. It focuses on nonprofit advocacy for immigrant rights in San Francisco, a traditional immigrant-receiving city with over 200 active immigrant-serving nonprofits, along with similar nonprofits in Houston, New Haven, New York City, Oakland, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. Read More

The Equity/Economic Development Tradeoff in Cross-sector Collaborations

February 5, 2018 // 0 Comments

Melissa Arnold Lyon and Jeffrey R. Henig | On a chilly October morning in Buffalo, New York, the Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo sits at a table in a high school library with a group of about 20 community leaders. The group includes two local foundation leaders, the president of the local teachers union, a top school official, the vice president of a parent advocacy group, a few local higher education representatives, and a representative from the County Department of Social Services, among others. They gather for these meetings once every three weeks. On the agenda today is a discussion about inviting a representative from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to join this group, known as the Operating Committee of Say Yes Buffalo, as well as an update on programmatic data for initiatives such as school-based legal clinics, mental health clinics, mobile health units, and summer camps. During these updates, implementation challenges are discussed and the participants volunteer or call upon each other to figure out solutions. Not every issue is resolved, but the Operating Committee works together, argues a little, and eventually determines what it can accomplish.  Read More

Why scholars should avoid throwing out a 28-year-old baby with the bathwater: Applying urban regime analysis to Switzerland

January 16, 2018 // 0 Comments

Sébastien Lambelet | Governing a city has always required some cooperation between public and private actors since both actors lack resources owned by their counterpart to govern effectively. This interdependence has been theorized in the late 1980s by Clarence Stone with the concept of “urban regime”. Simply defined, an urban regime is a longstanding coalition between the city government and some private actors that has defined a specific policy agenda and that has the capacity to mobilize the necessary resources to implement it. However, in recent time, the concept of urban regime has been heavily criticized by several American scholars who considered it unable to explain the increasing complexity of contemporary governance. By contrast, European scholars have increasingly referred to urban regimes since the concept allows them to take into consideration the declining role of nation states and the rise of neoliberalism that they observe in Europe. Read More

Testing the Importance of Geographic Distance for Social Capital Resources

January 3, 2018 // 0 Comments

Kirk Foster | Each one of us occupies a particular space in the course of our daily lives. We live in a domicile on a block that is situated within a specific neighborhood within a specific town or city. We move about that city as we go to work or someplace to volunteer – each occupy their own space into which we are incorporated. We have particular places that we stop for coffee to chat with familiar faces or shop for groceries. We may drop off children at daycare and discuss common issues with other parents. We may worship with a group of people who share similar values and experiences. My point is that our lives exist within both a social and geographic context. We cannot divorce the two. Our social interactions happen, in part, because of the geography we occupy each day.   Read More

Artists, Temporality, and the Governance of Collaborative Place-making

December 11, 2017 // 0 Comments

Alison Bain and Friederike Landau | Work space for artists is becoming increasingly scarce in the city of Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin wall, artists were often welcomed in formerly run-down neighborhoods in order to creatively upgrade them, but their spatial presence in inner-city areas has undergone a transformation. Even though artists continue to play a crucial role in shaping the image and character of Berlin as a creative and open-minded place that attracts tourists, investors and new businesses, in times where both residential and commercial rent prices are rising and gentrification leaves visible marks all over the city, artists increasingly face the difficulty of finding affordable work and living space to pursue their creative projects. In response, various artist-led and cultural workers’ movements have collectivized to find alternatives to market-oriented models of ownership and tenancy. For example, the initiative AbBA – Allianz bedrohter Berliner Atelierhäuser (Alliance of Endangered Studio Houses) seeks to speak back to artists’ spatial displacement. Read More

Picking Winners: How Political Organizations Influence Local Elections

December 4, 2017 // 0 Comments

Andrea Benjamin and Alexis Miller | Endorsements are a part of most elections.  In the urban and local context, they can come from other elected officials (National, State, and Local), Political Action Committees (PACs), and newspapers.  Regardless of the source of the endorsements, the conventional wisdom is that candidates seek out endorsements because they believe they help voters make informed decisions.  Despite their popularity during campaigns, we know very little about how local elected officials, PACs, and community leaders decide which candidates to endorse. We know even less about the extent to which voters are aware of these endorsements when casting their ballots.  Based on our study, PACs use a combination of questionnaires, interviews, and member deliberation to determine which candidates they endorse and voters are aware of these endorsements as they vote.  In local elections that lack partisan cues, these endorsements may provide voters with useful shortcuts about which candidates to select. Read More