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Mayors and Money: Fiscal Policy in New York and Chicago (American Politics and Political Economy Series) 1st Edition
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New York City in the 1920s and 1930s got reform, but it never got good government. Why?
Chicago has the country's last machine, yet garbage is collected, snow plowed, and taxes lower than in some Sunbelt cities. How?
Mayors and Money is the counterintuitive argument that a political machine is actually less draining on a city treasury than the most common alternative, eg undue influence of public sector unions. In New York a mayor must make very expensive promises to the transit workers, sanitationmen, teachers, hospital workers to get elected, in Chicago a mayor is chosen more by the insiders of the Cook County Democratic organization. Yes, a Chicago mayor must build things with no-bid contracts and provide patronage jobs, but these cost less than the demands of city employees.
If I have a problem with Fuchs' argument it is that she denies that Chicago and New York have different political centers of gravity. New York has this big liberal intelligentsia, plus a large Jewish population. New Yorkers pay higher taxes than Chicagoans in part because there are powerful constituencies in New York that want or tolerate more spending.
Unlike the other review, I found Fuchs' book very readible, though I thought there could have been more anecdotes. For instance, Daley's getting the State of Illinois to assume responsibility for the courts and welfare are awesome feats. No where else in the country to cities win political battles against suburbs. Fuchs implies that Daley got those things because he was a boss, but doesn't go into detail. Also, unions were and are a part of the Chicago machine, so I think Fuchs is exaggerating the differences.