The Ecology of City Policymaking

The Ecology of City Policymaking

The Ecology of City Policymaking

The Ecology of City Policymaking

Synopsis

Offering an important new way of analyzing urban public policy--a theoretical "life cycle" of the policy-making process in American cities--this book explains many crucial aspects of urban policy formulation: how issues emerge and get on the agendas of local governments, how policy-makers translate issues into policy, how the age of cities affects the content and process of policy-making, and how pluralist coalitions form and participate in city politics. Waste's ecology model highlights the strengths and weaknesses of current methods of dealing with problems such as crime, inadequate public schools, aging infrastructures, pollution, poverty, and toxic waste disposal. The book offers a major service to urban and policy scholars by combining theories and concerns that are generally relegated either to public policy or studies of urban politics, providing both theoretical and case-study linkage between the two areas. An important and original contribution, this book will be of great interest to all who study urban affairs or policy-making and to officials involved in public administration.

Excerpt

Cities are both remarkably different and remarkably similar. Both the differences and the similarities have important consequences for local policymaking--and for the study of local policymaking. Differences among American cities vary from the obvious to the extremely subtle. For example, obvious differences among cities include region (sunbelt or frostbelt), location (central city, fringe city, suburban city, or isolated independent city), size (megacities of one million plus or smaller cities), and age (newly incorporated cities or cities such as Boston or New York, which are older than the American national government). Cities also differ in more subtle ways, such as political culture (conservative or liberal), rate of growth (fast, slow, or no growth), psychological attitudes (statesmen, conservers, climbers, zealots, or advocates), and leadership styles (entrepreneurs, crusaders, bosses, or brokers) of elected officials.

Despite this wide range of differences among cities in America, all U.S. cities are similar in two important respects. First, as we shall argue, policy is enacted in the same way, and goes through the same "life cycle" in every American city. Second, all cities share a policymaking environment, or "policy ecology," comprising ten key elements. These include: (1) age, (2) locale, (3) the growth process and rate of growth, (4) the local political culture, (5) the personality of key elected and appointed policymakers in the city, (6) the presence or absence of political scandals or reform efforts, (7) the types of policy conflict that occur in American cities, (8) the types of policies . . .

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