Reform, power, and the push for a city manager in Houston, Texas



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Should Houston's governmental structure be changed from a strong-mayor form to a city-manager plan? If urban government is fragmented and reactive, if metropolitan governance is enhanced by a strong mayor, and if a professional management approach to city administration is stressed by the incumbent, then why the recent push for a city manager? I hypothesize the recent reform effort is an outgrowth of social, economic, and political changes within the city as well as a result of conflicts among political actors. I seek to prove such structural reform efforts are not unique to the city, but historically have been forced into the public arena when resources become scarce, when political values are challenged, and when a change in the ratio of power is sought. Chapter 1 provides a framework from which to view the proposed structural changes and the political climate in which reform was introduced. Chapter 2 considers the origins, intent and consequences of municipal reform in this country. Chapter 3 focuses on a historical description of Houston, its political and socioeconomic characteristics, and early endeavors to promote a city-manager structure. This research then shifts to the contemporary urban scene. Chapter 4 concentrates on the more recent socioeconomic environment of Houston. Chapter 5 describes the structure of city government and the politics of Houston. Chapter 6 looks at the most recent structural reform effort. And, Chapter 7, a summary, will attempt to answer the question: In a city where business entrepreneurs dominate politics, does structure of government really matter?



Municipal government by city manager--Texas--Houston