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Consolidation of City and County Government

1478 words (6 pages) Essay in Politics

06/10/17 Politics Reference this

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Most people have very busy lives, we own businesses, have families, and jobs. Running for a political office takes a lot of time and money and typically only the “rich” or “well off” have the disposable income, and time to run for a political office. Citizens do like to be involved in government to a certain extent, but typically only when issues strikes home with them such as smoking in public places, sexual predators in the neighborhoods, drug free school zones, etc.

 

The fundamental difference between a mayor and a city manager is that mayors are elected officials and managers are not.A City manager is typically appointed by mayors and city councils on the basis of the manager’s background, education and past experience. Elected officials often expect that a manager’s decisions and actions will be guided by professionalism, ethical principles, and the will of the city council. A mayor is the “front man” on all local issues, they are expected to be aware of the issues facing them (city/county issues), and to be able to deal directly with these issues. For example, James Knowles is the Mayor of Ferguson, MO, Since the shooting death of Michael Brown the city of Ferguson has been subject to mass protests, hacking and looting. Knowles has pleaded with the looters to stop, has canceled protests, and told the media “We want people to have faith in the process.” Earlier he had defended the officers’ policing of the looting, saying “The officers did their best. They’re only human.” (heavy.com, 2014). A city manager has a somewhat varying role in government today. Some city managers envision themselves as policy managers; others see themselves as administrative managers, a prudent city manager should not wish to appear as a policymaker even if they are so inclined to be. A city manager oftentimes must roll with many of the city councils ideas as they depend on them to keep them in their position. Just a few years ago in my town, Jim Bourey, a city manager resigned due to may disagreements with the Greenville city council, Bourey said his resignations was forced. “In this case, there’s a comfort level that the manager needs to have and council needs to have with the manager, and that wasn’t where they wanted to be.” (foxcarolina.com, 2010).

Mayors are free to engage in political activities, as it is required of them to represent their political affiliations; Mayors are elected because of their politics, even if/when they hold nonpartisan positions. Mayors are, in short, living examples of the local democracy at work. City managers are not free to be Republican or Democratic managers; City managers are required to represent the bureaucracy, and the decisions made by the elected mayor of their jurisdiction and city council. A City Manager that strays into the political arena lack the legitimacy endowed by an election, not to mention good survival instincts (weshare.cityofalbany.net, 2009) References: Politics in states and communities (Rev: 14): Pearson Education (10/15/2012) Dye, T. R., & MacManus, S. A. heavy.com, www.heavy.com/news/2014/08/ferguson-mayor-james-knowles-michael-brown- shooting/, Accessed 26 December 2014 foxcarolina.com, www.foxcarolina.com/story/14756034/greenville-city-manager-jim-bourey-resigns-4-19-2010#ixzz3MzB9QJmX, accessed 26 December 2014 weshare.cityofalbany.net, www.weshare.cityofalbany.net/2009/10/09/the-difference-between-mayors-and-city-managers/, Accessed December 26, 2014

After the end of the Second World War the United States experienced unprecedented population growth that to this day has shaped the social and political landscape of the country, and changed how and where many Americans live. Known as the “baby boom,” this population expansion took place between the years 1946 and 1964, with the peak occurring in 1957. The elevated birthrate, unparalleled in American history, added more than 50 million babies by the end of the 1950s. (countrystudies.us, 1998). And with this tremendous growth Americans developed their love affair with the automobile.

Up until the Second World War many people had lived in cities with dense populations, after the war many wanted to have a piece of the “American Dream” and started moving in droves to what was once known as the countryside into what was becoming known as the suburb. Suburbs have grown incrementally since the end of the war, but the most significant works have been since the 1970’s. The suburbanization of American was primarily driven by two things, one that I previously mentioned being the motorcar and the second being the development of interstate highways and expressways.

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The bill created a 41,000-mile “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” that would, according to Eisenhower, eliminate unsafe roads, inefficient routes, traffic jams and all of the other things that got in the way of “speedy, safe transcontinental travel.” At the same time, highway advocates argued, “in case of atomic attack on our key cities, the road net [would] permit quick evacuation of target areas.” For all of these reasons, the 1956 law declared that the construction of an elaborate expressway system was “essential to the national interest.” (history.com, 2014)

Some of the governing issues that arose from the urbanization of the countryside were very basic in nature, such as how to police such a large area, typically there is the town police force that dealt with issues in town and did not stray too far from their assigned areas, this developed two new police force expansions one within the local sheriff’s department, by giving them a broader scope within the county they served as well as the growth of the state police department which had far superior jurisdiction statewide. Other issues of the suburban sprawl had to do with the provision of services such as electricity, water and sewage, as well as garbage collection and fire and rescue department’s expansion. (McManus, 2012, p421)

In my humble opinion it seems that the best way to govern metropolitan areas is through a consolidation of the management system and services offered to the citizens of the city/county, as many of the services offered are fragmented at best, for example, in my hometown of Greenville, SC the city has a paid fire department and ambulance service that has 24/7 shifts and recently on the news they stated that the typical wait time for a 911 call response for either of those services was about 9 minutes, the flip side of this is that I live in the same county, but in the suburbs, there was an occurrence with one of my neighbors that required me to call for an ambulance, now we are a ways out of the city so we have a volunteer fire/rescue department, the response time for that call was over 20 minutes, granted it was a non-life threatening issue, but still required transport to the hospital. Would a centralized service have narrowed that time down, I don’t know, but I am sure that if the service were centralized then the time could possibly have been shortened.

Other examples of services offered by the city but not by the county are water & sewer services, the city has a water service, the county does not, so my water comes from a well, is the water better from a well, maybe, but I still have to pay for the well to be dug, the water softener chemicals and if it were to go dry I would be out another $2000 to have a well dug. In this case it would cost the city to extend the water services 10 miles out of town and to provide the infrastructure to support it (pumping stations, etc.) that cost would obviously be supported by an increase in taxation, or the cost amortized over X amount of months in billing cycles, but I would not have the overriding concerns of a well running dry.

I would support a consolidation of city and county services as I feel that in the long run it would be beneficial to all of the residents of the county and city regardless of what the actual service provided is.

 

References:

Politics in states and communities (Rev: 14): Pearson Education (10/15/2012) Dye, T. R., & MacManus, S. A.

countrystudies.us, www.countrystudies.us/united-states/history-114.htm, accessed 26 December 2014 history.com, www.history.com/topics/interstate-highway-system, accessed 26 December 2014

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