Scholars of planning and urban development have identified Chicago under Mayor Harold Washington (1983-87) as a municipal administration that joined populist politics with a progressive policy agenda and administrative practice (Clavel & Wiewel, 1991; Metzger, 1996; Squires, Bennett, McCourt, & Nyden, 1987).(1) Washington's reform agenda was rooted in his life experiences, political philosophy, and the "rainbow" movement that elected him mayor (Alkalimat & Gills, 1989; Levinsohn, 1983; Rivlin, 1992).(2) Mayor Washington's administration is widely viewed as an example of equity planning in action. For the purposes of this paper, we define equity planning as the explicit inclusion of redistributive and social justice goals in government's policy, planning, and implementation frameworks.
Nevertheless, other scholars have questioned the scope of equity results that the Washington administration achieved during its 4 1/2 years (Mangcu, 1997). Wiewel and Rieser (1989) argue that the Washington administration did not materially improve the economy and job availability in the most deprived Chicago neighborhoods, particularly the public housing neighborhoods. Although acknowledging the promise of the progressive innovations undertaken by this administration, Reardon (1991) concludes that Washington failed to institutionalize his innovations and good intentions into laws. More broadly, Ferman (1996) argues that the Washington administration was unable to alter Chicago's urban regime structure of competitive machine politics that defined the patterns of elite participation, public decisionmaking, and institutional design that shaped economic development in Chicago. Other critics have elaborated upon these concerns, suggesting that the administration did not challenge private sector prerogatives by fighting plant closings more aggressively, taking abandoned steel mills by eminent domain, implementing linked development and first source hiring, and enforcing accountability for receiving public incentives (Brehm, 1991). Still others saw the administration's policies as representing a mix of progressive, good government, and patronage constituencies (Bennett, 1993; Holli & Green, 1989).
Each of these critiques offers a contrasting framework for understanding and evaluating the results of equity planning. Wiewel and Reiser's (1989) proposed standard is that the Washington administration should have produced measurable, aggregate results for the poor within its 4 years, even acknowledging economic and political constraints. Reardon (1991), following Selznick (1949), was concerned with the lack of overall institutionalization under the Washington administration. Too much happened through ad hoc administrative action or executive orders, instrumentalities that could (and were in some cases) easily rolled back under subsequent mayors. From this perspective, a more permanent incorporation of reforms would be evaluated as an intermediate step to attaining more widespread equity outcomes for low-income citizens. Ferman's (1996) approach was similar to Reardon's (1991), except that her target for change was not the municipal administration in the narrow sense but the complex urban regime of Chicago, the defining relationships among economic elites, political processes, and institutions. Again, she concluded that the Washington administration made modest progress in this regard at best.
We find the ambitious standard proposed by Wiewel and Reiser (1989) to be unrealistic for a city battered by recession, economic restructuring, and a development history that largely ignored manufacturing and neighborhood business development. Nevertheless, we heartily embrace the use of outcome thinking and measurement as a way to hold governments, as well as others, accountable. We follow Reardon (1991) and Mangcu (1997) in emphasizing the elements of the Washington administration's equity practice that transcended …