River City Case Analysis


      River City is a typical midwestern conservative city whose government has been operating under the values of the Progressive reform movement since the early 1900’s. Their council-manager form of government is non-partisan with an appointed city manager and until very recently their mayor was elected from among the city council on a one year rotating basis.   The citizens of River city recently changed the way in which both the city council and the mayor would be elected.   First, the city council would no longer be elected at-large but rather two candidates would be nominated from five districts in a primary election with one of the nominated candidates from each district being elected during the general election.   Second, the mayor would be directly elected by the people of River City for the first time.
Under a traditional council form of government, the job of the council is to appoint members to boards and commissions, set policy, adopt the budget, approve contracts and appoint a city manager.   Up to this point, the council in River City appointed members to the numerous boards and commissions and appointed a city manager.   However, other traditional Progressive values that River City seemed to be so proud of in their government had been dwindling over the years.   Although they claimed to be patronage free in their appointment of members to boards of commissions the best positions went to those who helped council members get elected while the less attractive positions went unfilled, leaving one to feel an air of patronage. River City was beginning to look more like a city out of Jacksonian time than one out of the Progressive Era.
The sheer number of boards and commissions in River City would remind anyone of Jacksonian government as well, common man democracy at its best.   Through citizen participation the city had created thirty-five different boards and commissions, each with its own director and staff. River City had become so good at...