REFORM IN DETROIT: Hazen S. Pingree and Urban Politics by Melvin G. Holli

REFORM IN DETROIT: Hazen S. Pingree and Urban Politics

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This essay on a pioneering 1890's official makes very good reading for anyone concerned with urban affairs. According to Holli (who compares him with all sorts of other reform mayors except Milwaukee's famous crew), Pingree was the first big-city mayor to go beyond a ""throw the rascals out"" approach to good government. After the depression of '93 he made the foreign-born and working-class his political base. He fought conservative vested interests for low transit fares, less tax favoritism, more tolerable utilities; as governor he battled the railroads; and he cheered the Filipino guerrillas. One irrepressible conclusion: liberal Republicanism isn't what it used to be: Holli merely foreshadows a contrast with later Progressives. He digs well below the apparent paradox of a businessman challenging the large corporations. But he fails to develop his point about Pingree's gifts for rationalizing the business process, and he never acknowledges analyses like Kolko's which have demonstrated this aspect of the social reforms of the day. Nor does he tell us enough about the basic economic structure of Detroit at the time. Evaluation remains on the level of ""humanistic,"" ""empirical,"" ""pragmatic."" But then the fact that Pingree wanted to stop the abuse of privilege rather than shake up the system of privileges is too obvious to belabor. The book provides excellent raw material for students, who can expand and connect it in any number of useful ways.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Oxford