NEIGHBORHOOD GOVERNMENT: The Local Foundations of Political Life by Milton Kotler

NEIGHBORHOOD GOVERNMENT: The Local Foundations of Political Life

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The author, a fellow of Washington's Institute for Policy Studies, here examines causes of and cures for the current decentralization crisis. In his view, present-day neighborhoods were originally independent units annexed and exploited for political and economic gain by downtown business interests. Now, with a number of changes, downtown authority has diminished; hence the reawakening of the neighborhoods to the idea of self-rule. As a solution, the author urges the creation of neighborhood corporations, permitting local communities to tax, to regulate their economies, to ""make war and peace,"" etc. While provocative in its rhetoric and accurate in some details this interpretation is also full of holes. The historic-throwback thesis fails to explain why the demand for self-determination began in black, poor neighborhoods, or why the demand focuses on specific social services (education, welfare) which bankrupt City Hall is unable successfully to provide. Kotler's proposed answer does not deal with the basic problem of the cities' financial destitution. Nor does it sensibly balance neighborhood and citywide needs. The specter of tiny local entities regulating prices, banking, rents, and licenses in disregard of people a few blocks away is horrifying. Still, it makes one think. A seemingly radical but rickety analysis.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 1969
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill