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Political Science
Political Science 3364F/G
Timothy Cobban

LOCAL GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AND DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE – WOLMAN NATURE OF THE PROBLEM  Institutional structure achieves such an importance because it is the vehicle through which the basic purposes and values a society wishes to pursue through local government are carried out  A consideration of theories of local government institutions has both a normative and an empirical component  Any discussion of structure must be undertaken in the context of the values which inhere in local government, values that will differ from one society to another VALUES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT  The bedrock of American local democratic theory is that the role of the local government is to reflect the will of people and that direct individual participation in local government is the best means of achieving this end  A ward system – wards should be small enough that every citizen could attend war meetings and act in person  Local democracy consists of the expression of and conflict among diverse views and values held by contending groups attempting to shape local government decisions to meet their ends  Local democracy is thus a free flow of group political conflict and local government is its arena  To Jefferson, republicanism became purer as it came closer to the people  The Madisoian emphasis on limiting government power through separation of power and checks and balances is reflected in the separation of executives mayor and legislative council power characteristics of American municipal government as it is  In the context of representative rather than direct democracy the relevant unit of participation shifted from the individual to the group and focused concern on the representation of the interests of various groups through local government  The position of city manager of course is the central feature of the council manager plan and the ultimate theory of the scheme contemplates that he should be an expert in municipal administration, selected without reference to local politics  Local government has a very important role to play in the democratic life of this country. Local authorities provide or promote a wide range of public services that are best administered locally under democratic control  Benthamite tradition that sees local government primarily as a series of agencies for providing national services as efficiently as possible to national minimum standards  Responsiveness is a valued aspect of local government because it leads to better service delivery  Good local government has an important role to play not just in securing services but also in encouraging local participation in the political system  The idea of widespread public participation in the process of government is contrary to the idea of representative government on which so much of British central and local government is based NATURE OF THE DEBATE  He extent to which cleavages and differences in interests that exist in the community are reflected through and dealt with by the political system  That government should be in good part an effort to moralize the lives of individuals  Three fundamental principles of the local government reform movement as follows 1. There is an overriding public interest that is superior to the particular interests of the various segments of the urban community 2. This general interest is more easily discovered through cooperation than through conflict and competition 3. Technical problem solving is the central task of local government; politics is therefore to be minimized  Reformers believed that these general principles could be realized through changes in the structure of local government  Partisan politics interjected irrelevant partisan political considerations into what properly should be deliberations concerned with economy and efficiency in the provision and delivery of local services  Reformers were predominantly upper middle class and business oriented and their concern for economy and efficiency coincided nicely with their own self interest even if expressed in universalistic terms of the general good  I will focus on the effects of reform of institutional structures on the various values that been predominantly associated with local government in the US – namel
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