City Government

All About City Government

What are the responsibilities of city governments?

City governments, in the tradition of English Burroughs, are largely charged with handling the logistics of day to day life within a specific community, such as issues pertaining to parks, traffic, local hospitals and fire departments, as well as local schools. Such governments are given jurisdiction under the pretense that local community organizations and logistical concerns are best handled by the individuals who are closest to the issues at hand. Furthermore, because city governments deal with jurisdictions on a smaller scale, they are able to take on more responsibilities that might otherwise by left neglected by a federal government concerned with problems on a larger scale.

What are some of the issues faced by city governments?

As cities became more complex as a result of the industrial revolution, many of the ways of conducting city business (such as the mayor/council system) became arcane and problematic. Corruption ensued, as persons with local political power, especially in larger urban areas, succumbed to manipulation from officials at the federal level. This remains a problem with city governments in France, as local leaders serve mostly as figureheads for carrying out the wishes of officials at the federal level, a status that was most notably problematic for France under the Vichy government: local figureheads merely carrying out the requests of the overruling Nazi government during World War II.

Ideas for City Government Reform

Furthermore, because of their size and potentially negotiable boundaries, a major problem facing city governments is disputes over jurisdiction, as well as cities that have become so large that they encapsulate areas over two states, or two counties, which must then contend with the jurisdictions of those governing bodies. Some examples include New York City, a metropolitan area that spans both New York and New Jersey, which in turn must be managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Reform in the format of city governments was first undertaken by Galveston, Texas; a commission form with elected legislative and administrative bodies was adopted in 1901, although largely later abandoned by major cities. Another type of city government reform was the manager plan, a city government run by a non-partisan, professional “city planner”. This plan had noted popularity in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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