Unlike most competing texts that are densely written and heavily theoretical, with little flavor of political life, this book is a readable, jargon-free introduction to real-life local politics for today's students. While it encompasses local government and politics in cities and towns across America, "Local Politics: A Practical Guide to Governing at the Grassroots" gives special attention to the politics of suburbia, where many students live, and encourages them to become engaged in their own communities. The book is also distinguished by its strong emphasis on nuts-and-bolts practical politics. It provides focused discussion of institutions, roles, and personalities as well as the dynamic environment of local politics (demographics, immigration, globalization, etc.) and major policy issues (budgets, land use, transportation, education, etc.). Other texts treat communities as abstractions and readers as passive observers. "Local Politics: A Practical Guide to Governing at the Grassroots" is designed to inspire civic engagement as well as understanding. It features "In Your Community" research projects for students in every chapter along with informative tables, clear charts, essential terms, and guides to useful websites.
1. Introduction to the Study of Local Politics: Why We Bother and How We Go About It; Part I. The Environment of Local Politics: Characteristics of Urban Places; 2. The Environment of Local Politics: The Geographic, Demographic, and Economic Contexts; 3. The Evolution of Urban Places: Where People Live and Why; 4 The Intergovernmental Environment of Local Politics: Creatures of the States and Supplicants of the Federal Government; Part II. Official Decision-Makers: Inside City Hall; 5. Forms of Government: From Weak Mayors and Machines to the Beginnings of Reform; 6. Reform Politics: The City Manager Form of Government and Beyond; 7. Legislators and Executives: The Balance of Power; 8. Bureaucracy: The Rest of the Iceberg; Part III. Outside City Hall: Elections, Influence, and Power; 9. Elections and Campaigns: The Voters (and the Media) Have Their Say; 10. Interest Groups in Local Politics: Types, Tactics, and Targets; 11. Community Power Structures: Official and Unofficial Decision-Makers; Part IV. Budget Politics, Public Policy, and Regional Government; 12. Budget Politics: The Getting and Spending of Money; 13. Politics and Public Policy: Some Local Issues and Battles; 14. Metropolitan Politics: The Future of Local Government.