The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont

By Steven Soifer | Go to book overview

3
Local Government and City Finances in Burlington

The events that transpired under the Sanders administration need to be examined in light of the city government's structure--including the executive role of the mayor, the legislative function of the Board of Aldermen, and the role of the city commissions--and its day-to-day operation. The structure and function of municipal government can determine, to a large extent, the power wielded by its highest offices, and Sanders has been forced to adjust his expectations to comply with these inherent limitations. Still, in the areas of appointments and city finances, the mayor has accomplished a lot.


STRUCTURE OF BURLINGTON'S CITY GOVERNMENT

Burlington often is referred to as having a "commission form of government." This is misleading. Said one Burlington activist: "We don't have a commission form of government; what we have is a mayor and council form of government." This distinction is important. What people meant when they said "commission form of government," commented this activist, was the early-twentieth-century movement which saw "administrative and legislative power centralized in one body." This never was (and is not) the form of government in Burlington.

The disagreement over Burlington's form of government is compounded by the perception that it is a "weak mayor form" of government. However, terms such as strong or weak mayor forms of government were "misnomers," according to a former socialist mayor, because many mayors play a strong role in city government despite

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The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Historical Background and Theoretical Framework on Socialist Municipalities 1
  • 2 - Burlington, Bernard Sanders, and the Progressive Coalition 13
  • 3 - Local Government and City Finances in Burlington 39
  • Conclusion 60
  • 4 - Development and Growth Issues and the Sanders Administration 61
  • Conclusion 88
  • 5 - Citizen Participation, Democracy, and the Neighborhoods 91
  • Conclusion 117
  • 6 - The Question of Ownership Under Municipal Socialism 119
  • Conclusion 141
  • 7 - Taxes and the Redistribution of Wealth 142
  • Conclusion 171
  • 8 - Quality-Of-Life Issues and the Sanders Administration 174
  • Conclusion 204
  • 9 - Central America: Sanders and the Peace Movement 206
  • Conclusion 222
  • 10 - Conclusion 224
  • 11 - Epilogue 238
  • Notes 243
  • Selected Bibliography 273
  • Index 275
  • About the Author 287
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