local government

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

November 15, 2018 // 1 Comment

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

Thorny Property Politics: Cook County’s 2018 Democratic Primary for Assessor

October 30, 2018 // 1 Comment

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

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

Order out of Chaos: The Case for a New Conceptualization of the Cross-Boundary Instruments of American Regionalism

July 25, 2018 // 0 Comments

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

Fiscal Secession (or How Local Special Assessments are Exacerbating Service Inequality)

July 3, 2018 // 0 Comments

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

Running Local: Gender Stereotyping & Female Candidates in Local Elections

June 19, 2018 // 0 Comments

Nichole Bauer | The 2018 mid-term elections will be a banner year for women in politics. In fact, as many as 421 women could launch a campaign for a seat in the U.S. House. Even more women will run for office at the local level. In research recently published in Urban Affairs Review, I examined whether female candidates running in local elections will face a gender bias or a gender advantage among voters. Using two original survey experiments, I find that female candidates do not necessarily have an automatic advantage in a local election. Female candidates, however, will have an advantage when they emphasize positive masculine traits that voters value in political leaders. Read More

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

Can British Columbia be a Model for US Regional Governance?

November 17, 2017 // 0 Comments

Hal Wolman | Local government fragmentation in US metropolitan regions has been widely recognized as a critical problem with seriously adverse consequences impeding the ability of the region to engage in actions that would be beneficial to the region as a whole.  Despite this recognition, the problem has proven nearly impervious to effective solutions, although partial remedies such as single-purpose regional special districts, inter-local agreements, and planning and discussion forums such as Councils of Government (COGs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) abound.  Yet in many other countries – including most proximately Canada in the province of British Columbia – the widespread use of multi-purpose regional special districts provides a possible model for a successful and improved response to regional governance in the U.S.  The Canadian model, in particular, appears to address effectively the major roadblock to regional governance in the U.S., namely the fear of local governments that they will lose their autonomy and not be able to pursue their own interests in the presence of a regional government institution. Read More

Public Service Provision and Urban Stratification in Shanghai

November 13, 2017 // 0 Comments

Huiping Li | The interaction between public service provision of local governments and housing market can reinforce each other and polarize the socioeconomic space in this global city, Shanghai, even though the governance system is centralized instead of fragmented as in the US. Therefore, how to balance between different types of public expenditure within local governments has significant social and economic implications. Read More