Every fifteen minutes a child in an American city suffers a gunshot wound. Thirty million urban Americans go to bed hungry each night. Twenty percent of the bridges in metro areas are functionally obsolete, and voter turnout nationally and in metro areas has declined almost 25 percent from the 1960s to the 1990s. Since at least 1990, American cities have been forced to deal with overwhelming problems high levels of poverty, hunger, homelessness, crime, and low levels of funding for mass transit, infrastructure needs, and education. In short, American cities are facing a permanent crisis, one which consumes more than 585 billion dollars every year.
Independent Cities explores the factors which have caused the decline of America's major industrial cities, paying particular attention to the effects of federal policies. Robert Waste uses the unique problems and opportunities presented by contemporary American urban politics to explore public policy and administrative options. He sets forth a rigorous examination of the current state of American cities, with careful consideration given to a wide variety of policy alternatives. From the moderate alterations identified with the Clinton administration to more radical positions, including amending the American constitution and the massive overhauling of the nations infrastructure, Independent Cities suggests an array of solutions to the problems affecting urban America and the peculiar dynamics of urban politics. Waste abandons ideological purity and academic neutrality in favor of trying to put together a set of programs and policies that, if given a fair trial at the national level, would help solve the current crisis in American cities. Throughout, he clearly lays out the interactions of federal, state, and local governments, and gives an overview of policy makers options. He offers his own inventive solutions, detailing what American cities need to do in the late 1990's and the early part of the next century to help create strong, healthy, independent cities. This text is essential reading for courses in political science and urban studies.