Pols 303

Local Government and Urban Politics

Spring 2004


Instructor: Dr. David Emanuelson

Tuesday-Thursday: 12:30-1:45 PM                                          Office: 408 Zulauf        

DuSable 246                                                                            Hours: T&Th 1:45-2:30 PM

Email: demanuelson@cs.com                                                    Phone: Home: 758-3724; Cell:  757-1577


Course Purpose and Goals

The primary purpose of this course is to offer a basic understanding of urban government, politics, and public administration at the local level as this understanding relates to becoming an elected official or public administration professional. In order to provide this understanding, theoretical literature will be presented along with case study analysis to demonstrate the complexity that exists in modern metropolitan government and the challenges that awaiting those wanting to play a role in it.

            The secondary purpose of this course is to make students better citizens by making them aware of how metropolitan government functions, so as citizens, students will be informed voters.  This goal is attempted by providing students with an introduction to the history, evolution, theory and the political dynamics that have led to the current forms and functions of local governmental units in the United States.  Initial class discussions will include a review of the evolution of local government from its “pre-reformed” to “reformed” status, as a means of understanding how early local public administration evolved from its political patronage roots to becoming a mechanism of efficient policy implementation.  At the conclusion of the course, when students are more familiar with the modern role of local public administration, theoretical discussions will then be possible, contrasting PA to private sector administration and to determine whether there is more to public administration than efficient policy implementation.


Student Responsibilities

            This is a 300 level course, aimed at political science majors or those seeking a career in, or a better understanding of public administration. As such it is also understood that some students from other fields may be taking the course as an elective, so the instructor will attempt to keep the course relevant to the students from these fields.  Nevertheless, as a 300 level course, there will be an appropriate level of rigor, regardless of students’ majors. 

            No matter what the major field of study of the student, the student’s first responsibility will be to come to every class and participate.  While a significant amount of material will come from textbooks, an equally significant amount will come from examples and class discussion.  Tests and papers will cover both in equal amounts so you should come to class and take good notes. 

            The second responsibility of the student will be to read the assigned literature and be prepared to participate in class discussions.  It is apparent to most instructors when students have not prepared for classes or examination so you should read the assignments before class, rather than waiting for the tests or quizzes to read them. 

            Finally, in addition to class participation, the student will be responsible to ask questions when he or she does not understand what has been presented.  There is an old saying in education that if you don't understand something, others in the class probably share that feeling, so ask questions, and you might even make a few friends in the process. 


Required texts and readings

            The following texts and periodicals are the required readings for the course. The Ross and Martin texts are on sale at the University and Village Commons bookstores.


            Banovetz, James B. Managing Local Government: Cases in Decision Making-,                          Washington D.C., ICMA Press, 1998 Second Edition


Ross, Bernhard H., and Levine, Myron A., Urban Politics: Power in Metropolitan America, Itasca, Illinois, F.E. Peacock Publishers, Harcourt Brace, 1995


            Martin, David L. Running City Hall, University of Alabama Press, 1990



            Grades are important, and in this course your work this semester will be determined by a cumulative point system, where each exam, paper, and quiz will have a point value as will your class attendance and participation.  At the end of the semester, grades will be based upon the student's accumulation of points as they relate to the grading scale that follows:


                                    A=90-100% of total possible points

                                    B=80-89% of total possible points

                                    C=70-79% of total possible points

                                    D=60-69% of total possible points


            The scale indicates that grading will not be done on a curve but as a percentage of successfully completed work scale, making it possible that there is no limit to the number of students that can receive ‘A’s’ These percentage breaks for grades represents a fairly standard scale for grading at the university level.  It also serves the purpose of helping the student understand how he or she stands during the semester, considering the following point values of assignments:  


                                    Research Paper (5 pages)                                 140 points

                                    Mid-term Exam                                                200 points

                                    Non-comprehensive Final Exam                        200 points

                                    Quizzes and exercises (13)                                260 points

                                    Attendance and Participation                             200 points

                                    Total Possible                                               1000 points


Exams-There will be two exams over the course.  The midterm exam, will be at the March 4 class.  The non-comprehensive final, will occur during May 6 from noon to 1:50 pm in this classroom.   Any change in the schedule will be announced a week in advance, and students should be advised that no make-up exams will be given without written medical explanation from a physician or university health services official.  Exams will be short answer and essay, with questions from the Martin and Ross texts, and the Banovetz workbook. Questions will also focus on class discussion and guest lectures.   


Quizzes-There will be five quizzes during the semester, all of them at the beginning of class.  Quizzes will cover the assigned reading material for the class period in which they will be given and be worth 20 points each.  View them as practice for the midterm and final exam, but also an opportunity for the instructor to monitor the progress of the students in the class.  As an incentive to attend class, and if a student is absent from the class, zero points will be awarded, so be there and be prepared and you will be rewarded.  


Case Studies- There will be eight case studies that are required to be completed during the semester, all of them taken from the Banovetz workbook and listed in the class schedule and all of them worth 20 points.  Case studies will be previewed in the preceding class with the specific question to be answered presented in the preview.  Case study responses should be one page type written double-spaced in 12 point font.  Late case study assignments will not be accepted so please be prepared to attend class in order to receive credit for each case study assignment. 


Research Paper-The goal of this assignment is to familiarize the student with a local government in his or her local community, preferably a city government.  Research can begin by visiting the municipality’s website. An organizational chart should be presented along with a listing of who are the elected officials, who serves as department heads as well as a description of each of the city departments and the functions that they serve.  A policy decision may also be discussed, such as the decision to build a facility or to change a law.  A word of caution is in order.  Late papers will be penalized 20 points for each day the paper is late, so have them ready for the class period in which they are due.  Papers should be no more than five pages double spaced and in written in academic language.


Class attendance and Participation-Role will be taken in each class to help the instructor familiarize himself with the names and faces of students.  Because class discussion is an important part of the learning process, students should be prepared for class by reading the assignments and should raise their hands when they have something to add to the discussion.


Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building.  CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Class Schedule

January 13                                                        Class introduction and review of the syllabus. The nature of government.  Banovetz 1. 


January 15                                                        The city in American history. Martin Ch. 1. Ross 2, 5&6.


January 20                                                        No Class


January 22                                                        The legal basis for cities.  Martin Ch. 2. Ross 4 pages 90-97. Quiz 1.


January 27                                                        Who’s who at city hall.  Martin Ch. 5.                                                 


January 29                                                        Special District Government. Handouts. Quiz 2.


February 3                                                       Public Safety Services. Martin Ch. 8.  


February 5                                                       Social Services. Martin Ch. 9. Quiz 3.   


February 10                                                     Financing Services. Handouts. Martin Ch. 6.


February 12                                                     Politics, Power and Special Interests. Martin Ch. 4.  Handouts. Quiz 4.


February 17                                                     Elections and electioneering. Handouts.


February 19                                                     The role of professional administration and dichotomy.  Banovetz 2. Quiz 5.


February 24                                                     Discussion of first research project.  Ethics.

                                                                        Banovetz Part 9. Preview Case Study 20.


February 26                                                     Case Study 20 due.  Review for Research Paper. 


March 2                                                           Research Paper due.  Review for Midterm Exam.


March 4                                                           Midterm Exam


March 6-14                                                      Spring Break


March 16                                                         Return and review midterms.  Review professional administration. Banovetz Part 2. Preview Case Study 2.


March 18                                                         Case Study 2 due. Community politics. Ross. 3.    


March 23                                                         Community politics. Banovetz Part 3 and preview Case Study 5.    


March 25                                                         Case Study 5 due.  Intergovernmental relations. Ross 11.  Banovetz Part 4 and review Case Study 6.


March 30                                                         Intergovernmental relations.  Banovetz Part 4 and preview Case Study 6.


April 1                                                              Case Study 6 due.  Planning and economic development.  Ross 12.


April 6                                                              Planning and economic development. Banovetz Part 5 and preview Case Study 8.


April 8                                                              Case Study 8 due.  Analysis and evaluation. Handouts. 


April 13                                                            Analysis and evaluation. Banovetz Part 6 and preview Case Study 11.


April 15                                                            Case Study 11 due.  Personnel and labor relations. Handouts.


April 20                                                            Personnel and labor relations.  Banovetz Part 7 and preview Case Study 14.


April 22                                                            Case Study 14 due.  Finance and budgeting.  Handouts. 


April 27                                                            Finance and budgeting.  Banovetz Part 8 and preview Case Study 17.   


April 29                                                            Case Study 17 due. Review for the Final


May 6                                                             Final-    Noon-1:50 pm.