Publication Explores 'A New Agenda for Cities.' (from the National League of Cities and the Ohio Municipal League)

By Fletcher, Jeff | Nation's Cities Weekly, June 1, 1992 | Go to article overview

Publication Explores 'A New Agenda for Cities.' (from the National League of Cities and the Ohio Municipal League)


Fletcher, Jeff, Nation's Cities Weekly


In the wake of the recent civil disorders in Los Angeles and other cities, Americans are asking themselves the same two questions the Kerner Commission grappled with following the urban violence of 1967: Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again?

These questions are discussed in a lively and timely new book, "A New Agenda for Cities," just released by the National League of Cities and the Ohio Municipal League. The book is the first in a series of unique publications that take a critical look at the future of the American city through the eyes of some of America's foremost urban scholars, writers, and practitioners.

In 1968, the Kerner Commission identified racism as the problem and more social programs as the cure. Is racism the central problem in our nation's cities today? Do the answers of twenty-five years ago provide meaningful guidance to solving today's urban problems?

In "A New Agenda for Cities," urban scholar Richard Nathan contends that the deep distress of the inner city is the urban challenge of the future. He argues that this challenge is one that is marked by issues of race and space.

Nathan, currently Provost of the Rockefeller Center for Government of the State University of New York at Albany, once served as associate director of the Kerner Commission on Civil Disorders and was a key advisor to the Nixon administration on welfare reform issues.

Nathan's view is that the pervasive problems of inner cities and the underclass will be solved principally by better program management that yields incremental progress in meeting today's urban challenges.

"A New Agenda for Cities" chooses management improvement, institution-building, and steady progress over vision, bold leadership, and "big fix" solutions for cities. Despite a reliance on strong local government execution of programs, the hub of progress, in Nathan's view, is still Washington and financial assistance from the Federal government. …

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