CityNews U

Welcome to CityNewsU -- a curated resource for the best books, online courses and other resources to get and stay ahead of City Government in California.

This project is an experiement and we'd love your help to improve and expand it. If you have ideas, please send them our way.

The Basics

Public Administration: Understanding Management, Politics, and Law in the Public Sector
David Rosenbloom, Robert Kravchuk, Richard Clerkin
A go-to graduate level text, this is a comprehsinve look at the systems that underpin public adminsitration, and is used in both MPA an MBA programs. It's comprehensive, but that gives it shelf life as a reference book and you might not need any other single guide to the profession.

Classics of Public Administration Jay M. Shafritz and Albert C. Hyde
Name kinda says it all. An anthology updated every few years with best there is to know.

Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do And Why They Do It (Basic Books Classics) James Q. Wilson
Authored by the late, great James Q. Wilson, it is the seminal work on public institutions and how they function an relate to one another.


Local Government Finance and Budgeting

Guide to Local Government Finance in California Michael Multari, Michael Coleman, Kenneth Hampian, Bill Statler
CityNews counts several of the authors among its good friends (we won't say which ones), but suffice to say they have laid down the most comprehensive look at this -- maybe any state's -- local finances. It belongs on your desk. We're only putting other books in this section to round it out.

Management Policies in Local Government Finance ICMA
Published by ICMA, this reference guide offers the up-and-coming chief financial officer a thorough grounding in all the principles of financial management, as well as a review of the financial policies and practices used by local governments in the United States today.

Free Online Course: Statistics: Making Sense of Data. From the University of Toronto.
This is a helpful, free, online course on stats and making them work for you.

Free Online Course: Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy From MIT, smartypants.

Free Online Resources: Finance 101 from Governing Magazine.


Public Safety

McGraw-Hill Homeland Security Handbook: Strategic Guidance for a Coordinated Approach to Effective Security and Emergency Management, Second Edition David Kamien
Featuring a foreword by Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, The McGraw-Hill Homeland Security Handbook is the one-stop guide for any professional or student involved in counterterrorism, homeland security, business continuity, or disaster risk management.

Homeland Security: Best Practices for Local Government Roger Kemp
An ICMA produced resource for local government including strategies to prevent (mitigate), prepare, and respond to, as well as recover from, a variety of disasters confronting those responsible for maintaining security on a community level.


California Budget

California's Tax Machine: A History of Taxing and Spending in the Golden State (Second Edition) David R. Doerr
Doerr spent 40 years on the California tax scene, including 28 years as chief consultant to the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation, and this is his opus. This is a blow-by-blow account of the politics and policies that have shaped the tax structure in California. It's replete with war stories and biographical notes on key players over the history of the sstate, though sections on Prop 13, Prop 218 and other more recent battles are more detailed.

California in the Balance: Why Budgets Matter by John Decker, Foreword by California Treasurer Bill Lockyer [2009] John Decker
Penned by the Executive Director of the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission, this is a look at the processes and politics that influence the state Budget -- in good times and bad. It's even got a foreword by California Treasurer Bill Lockyer.

 


California History

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition Marc Reisner
The definitive history of water in the American west, its not as dry as that might sound. It even has a chapter called "Chinatown"... which, if you don't have it already, you should own Chinatown.

The Elusive Eden: A New History of California Richard Rice, William Bullough, Richard Orsi, Mary Ann Irwin.
From Native cultures through to the census of 2010, this is the defintitive guide to the state's development and evolution. It's the backbone of many UC and CSU survey courses in Calfiornia History.

Paradise Lost: California's Experience, America's Future Peter Schrag
A former Sac Bee editorial writer, Schrag explores a post-Prop 13 California. Written in the late 90's, it's aged a bit, but its look at ballot box governing is no less true today, if it is a bit stern.

California Politics: A Primer Renee B Van Vechten
Quick read, and never hurts to remind ourselves how we got where we are.

The Kevin Starr Track:
USC Professor, National Humanities Medal winner, a member of the Calfiornia Hall of Fame (yes that's a real thing, Dr. Suess is in it too) and former State Librarian, nobody knows more about California than Kevin Starr. Nobody. The titles more or less let you know what you're in for. His "Americans and the California Dream" series includes deep dives on seminal periods in the state.

Kevin Starr: California: A History
The distillation of the "Americans and the California Dream" series, this is perhpas more of an appetizer for the full series than 'Reader's Digest' version. It's a quick read, but if you don't have time for the full seven volume opus (links below), we'll let you off the hook here.

Kevin Starr: Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915

Kevin Starr: Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (Americans and the California Dream)

Kevin Starr: Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s (Americans & the California Dream)

The Dream Endures: California Enters the 1940s (Americans and the California Dream)

Kevin Starr: Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950 (Americans and the California Dream)

Kevin Starr: Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963 (Americans and the California Dream)

Kevin Starr: Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003


California's Future

Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government Gavin Newsom
Yep, that Gavin Newsom. Citizenville argues that today's government is stuck in the last century while—in both the private sector and our personal lives—absolutely everything else has changed. The explosion of social media, the evolution of Internet commerce, the ubiquity of smart phones that can access all the world's information; in the face of these extraordinary advances, our government appears increasingly irrelevant and out of touch. A good read, and hey, this guy could be Governor.

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia Anthony Townsend
Further reading when you finish Gavin's book.

Building California's Future: Current Conditions in California's Infrastructure Planning, Budgeting, and Financing Michael Neuman and Jan Whittington
PPIC authors look at infrastructure decision-making and how the state can address its substantial infrastructure needs.

The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 Joel Kotkin
Ok, not about California exclusively, but we're gonna see most of what's in here first.


Useful Fiction, Essays and Non Fiction

Oil! Upton Sinclair
Later the basis for the Daniel Day Lewis film 'There Will be Blood,' Oil! is more expansive than the film, satarizing the Teapot Dome Scandal and telling the story of wildcatting in Kern County. Trivia: it was banned in Boston (for a scene that might not even nab a PG-13 rating today). Sinclair took to the streets to give out 'fig leaf' copies to not-so-Puritanical Bostonians. The book also paved the way for his 1934 run for California Governor.

Where I Was From Joan Didion
While Slouching Towards Bethlehem is her classic (and are a great window to 1960's Calfiornia), Didion's later-life relfections on her home state, particulrarly the Central Valley, are well worth a read.

The Grapes of Wrath John Steinback
C'mon.


History of Cities (and the people that make them work)

The City: A Global History (Modern Library Chronicles) Joel Kotkin
Chapman University Prof. Joel Kotin reviews city life and city dwellers all the way back to the Phoenicians. His modern day takes on California cities may surprise (and provoke).

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World Steven Johnson
Longtime readers of CityNews migtht remember we reviewed this book when it came out in 2007. It tells a fascinating a true tale of how a 19th Century surgeon and an Episcoplain priest partnered to trace the cause of Cholera in their neighborhood. It's like that Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, without the romance.


Misc.

The ''How To' Grants Manual: Successful Grantseeking Techniques for Obtaining Public and Private GrantsDavid G. Bauer
A great (award winning, in fact) guide for novice and professional grant writers.

Free Online Course: A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior, Duke University.
Whether you're a City Councilmember or a City Manager, we figure this can only help.