Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Failures in San Diego

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Synopsis: The early 21st century has not been kind to California's reputation for good government. But the Golden State's governance flaws reflect worrisome national trends with origins in the 1970s and 1980s. Growing voter distrust with government, a demand for services but not taxes to pay for them, a sharp decline in enlightened leadership and effective civic watchdogs, and dysfunctional political institutions have all contributed to the current governance malaise.
Until recently, San Diego, California―America's 8th largest city―seemed immune to such systematic governance disorders. This sunny beach town entered the 1990s proclaiming to be "America's Finest City," but in a few short years its reputation went from "Futureville" to "Enron-by-the-Sea." In this eye-opening and telling narrative, Steven P. Erie, Vladimir Kogan, and Scott A. MacKenzie mix policy analysis, political theory, and history to explore and explain the unintended but largely predictable failures of governance in San Diego.
Using untapped primary sources―interviews with key decision makers and public documents―and benchmarking San Diego with other leading California cities, Paradise Plundered examines critical dimensions of San Diego's governance failure: a multi-billion dollar pension deficit; a chronic budget deficit; inadequate city services and infrastructure; grandiose planning initiatives divorced from dire fiscal realities; an insulated downtown redevelopment program plagued by poorly-crafted public-private partnerships; and, for the metropolitan region, inadequate airport and port facilities, a severe underinvestment in firefighting capacity despite destructive wildfires, and heightened Mexican border security concerns.
Far from a sunny story of paradise and prosperity, this account takes stock of an important but understudied city, its failed civic leadership, and poorly performing institutions, policymaking, and planning. Though the extent of these failures may place San Diego in a league of its own, other cities are experiencing similar challenges and political changes. As such, this tale of civic woe offers valuable lessons for urban scholars, practitioners, and general readers concerned about the future of their own cities.

About the Author: Steven P. Erie is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Urban Studies and Planning Program, University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Rainbow's End: Irish Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics (1998), Globalizing L.A.: Trade, Infrastructure, and Regional Development (Stanford, 2004), and Beyond 'Chinatown': The Metropolitan Water District, Growth, and the Environment in Southern California (Stanford, 2006).
Vladimir Kogan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.
Scott A. MacKenzie is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis.

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Steven P. Erie; Vladimir Kogan; Scott A. MacKenzie
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Book Description Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 360 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. New book. CALIFORNIA. The early 21st century has not been kind to California's reputation for good government. But the Golden State's governance flaws reflect worrisome national trends with origins in the 1970s and 1980s. Growing voter distrust with government, a demand for services but not taxes to pay for them, a sharp decline in enlightened leadership and effective civic watchdogs, and dysfunctional political institutions have all contributed to the current governance malaise. Until recently, San Diego, CaliforniaÑAmerica's 8th largest cityÑseemed immune to such systematic governance disorders. This sunny beach town entered the 1990s proclaiming to be "America's Finest City," but in a few short years its reputation went from "Futureville" to "Enron-by-the-Sea." In this eye-opening and telling narrative, Steven P. Erie, Vladimir Kogan, and Scott A. MacKenzie mix policy analysis, political theory, and history to explore and explain the unintended but largely predictable failures of governance in San Diego. Using untapped primary sourcesÑinterviews with key decision makers and public documentsÑand benchmarking San Diego with other leading California cities, Paradise Plundered examines critical dimensions of San Diego's governance failure: a multi-billion dollar pension deficit; a chronic budget deficit; inadequate city services and infrastructure; grandiose planning initiatives divorced from dire fiscal realities; an insulated downtown redevelopment program plagued by poorly-crafted public-private partnerships; and, for the metropolitan region, inadequate airport and port facilities, a severe underinvestment in firefighting capacity despite destructive wildfires, and heightened Mexican border security concerns. Far from a sunny story of paradise and prosperity, this account takes stock of an important but understudied city, its failed civic leadership, and poorly performing institutions, policymaking, and planning. Though the extent of these failures may place San Diego in a league of its own, other cities are experiencing similar challenges and political changes. As such, this tale of civic woe offers valuable lessons for urban scholars, practitioners, and general readers concerned about the future of their own cities. Steven P. Erie is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Urban Studies and Planning Program, University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Rainbow's End: Irish Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics (1998), Globalizing L.A.: Trade, Infrastructure, and Regional Development (Stanford, 2004), and Beyond 'Chinatown': The Metropolitan Water District, Growth, and the Environment in Southern California (Stanford, 2006). Vladimir Kogan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. Scott A. MacKenzie is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. "It takes more than scenery to make a successful cityÑor a solvent state, for that matter. Chronicling the near-deliberate dismantlement of San Diego, Paradise Plundered relates how a favored city squandered its heritage and thereby set forth a warning to the rest of the nation." ÑKevin Starr, University of Southern California "Paradise Plundered provides a trenchant analysis of governance and public policy in San Diego over the past two decades. The authors show how weak public institutions and persistent anti-tax sentiment created a grossly underfunded pension system, massive structural deficits, and a balkanized city. San Diego's fall from grace offers a cautionary tale that is a must read for anyone who cares about effective urban government."ÑMargaret Weir, University of California, Berkeley "A landmark expose of how fiscal populism provides camouflage for private greed in America's most badly governed big city. San Diego's celebrated 'public-private partnerships' are unmasked as Ponzi sc. book. Bookseller Inventory # 74073X1

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Book Description Stanford University Press, United States, 2011. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. The early 21st century has not been kind to California s reputation for good government. But the Golden State s governance flaws reflect worrisome national trends with origins in the 1970s and 1980s. Growing voter distrust with government, a demand for services but not taxes to pay for them, a sharp decline in enlightened leadership and effective civic watchdogs, and dysfunctional political institutions have all contributed to the current governance malaise. Until recently, San Diego, California-America s 8th largest city-seemed immune to such systematic governance disorders. This sunny beach town entered the 1990s proclaiming to be America s Finest City, but in a few short years its reputation went from Futureville to Enron-by-the-Sea. In this eye-opening and telling narrative, Steven P. Erie, Vladimir Kogan, and Scott A. MacKenzie mix policy analysis, political theory, and history to explore and explain the unintended but largely predictable failures of governance in San Diego. Using untapped primary sources-interviews with key decision makers and public documents-and benchmarking San Diego with other leading California cities, Paradise Plundered examines critical dimensions of San Diego s governance failure: a multi-billion dollar pension deficit; a chronic budget deficit; inadequate city services and infrastructure; grandiose planning initiatives divorced from dire fiscal realities; an insulated downtown redevelopment program plagued by poorly-crafted public-private partnerships; and, for the metropolitan region, inadequate airport and port facilities, a severe underinvestment in firefighting capacity despite destructive wildfires, and heightened Mexican border security concerns. Far from a sunny story of paradise and prosperity, this account takes stock of an important but understudied city, its failed civic leadership, and poorly performing institutions, policymaking, and planning. Though the extent of these failures may place San Diego in a league of its own, other cities are experiencing similar challenges and political changes. As such, this tale of civic woe offers valuable lessons for urban scholars, practitioners, and general readers concerned about the future of their own cities. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780804756020

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