“Issues in Local Government”


I like democracy. Democracy is perhaps best exemplified in local government. Hence, I like local government.

You might quibble that that’s not a valid argument, and suggest that the conclusion is a reductio, but hey, democracy is messy.

Anyway, I’m interested in local government. To that end, I’m organizing and moderating a panel discussion at Felician University that you might want to attend if you’re in the neighborhood. Sponsored by the Felician Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs.

“Issues in Local Government,” March 30, 2020 (Monday), 1-2:15 pm, Obal Hall Lecture Hall (second floor of Obal Hall, 262 South Main St., Lodi, NJ 07644) with

No predicting exactly what they’ll say, but I assume we’ll talk a bit about the relationship between zoning and housing and between housing and school finance, and continue some conversations we’ve had at Felician about crime and policing.

Vincent and Judith are colleagues of mine at Felician. Judith has the distinction of being involved not just in ordinary local politics, but in Native American politics: the Ramapough Conservancy, which she chairs, does conservation work with the Ramapo Lenape Indian Nation of north Jersey. The Ramapo Lenapes, one of the few (perhaps the only) Indian tribe recognized by the state, has famously been engaged in a property battle with the Township of Mahwah. In a surprising turn of events, the Ramapo Lenapes have been backed by…correct, you didn’t guess it, Donald Trump. Local government can be stranger than fiction.

Though currently Lodi’s Borough Administrator, Vincent has the distinction of having previously served as Lodi’s police chief (this was before the other Vincent, Vincent Quatrone, arrested me on suspicion of mass murder, but I’m not one to hold a grudge). And in his law enforcement capacity, “Sparky” Caruso decided to submit himself to a public tasing, just to see what it was like. As it happens, he sent me a highly enjoyable video of this event (duration: 71 seconds), and if he lets me, I’ll download it here for your viewing pleasure. I mean, when I say that “any publicity is good publicity,” I really mean it.

Byron has the distinction of having worked both in state government and for the city of Newark–the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs under Chris Christie (responsible for housing policy), and the Newark Conventions and Visitors Bureau under Ras Baraka (responsible for tourism). If that isn’t “diversity,” I don’t know what is.

Sadaf happens to be the first female Muslim mayor in New Jersey, the first female South Asian mayor in New Jersey, and (I’m guessing), one of the few mayors in New Jersey to be a post-doctoral research associate in international relations, or to have written a book on Ismat Chugtai’s Urdu Literary Progressivism. In the small world that constitutes Pakistani-American life in New Jersey, she also happens to be a friend of my cousin Sabahat’s. (And she spoke at the anti-war demonstration I blogged a few weeks ago.)

You can scarcely afford to miss an event with a lineup like this. To paraphrase Greta Thunberg, how dare you even think of missing it? How dare you?

While I’m blathering in promotional mode about issues in local government, check out the Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the City, a terrific book of essays co-edited and with a contribution by my friend (and erstwhile colleague and neighbor) Joe Biehl. I’d invite Joe to the local government event, but it’s a Jersey-focused event, and Joe is one of those die-hard New Yorkers who hates all things Jersey. I’m just afraid he’d show up and say the wrong thing. And with all that history between us, I’d hate to have to tase him.

And no, I haven’t invited any anarchist agorists to speak at any of my events, but there’s always a first time.

9 thoughts on ““Issues in Local Government”

    • The contrasts between New York and New Jersey might be as instructive as any similarities, though Byron may have things to say about Newark that apply. The one hunch I would offer is that in both New York and north Jersey, housing prices are high because housing supply is constrained by regulation and/or opposition to building. I don’t know how public schools are funded in NYC, but in New Jersey, they’re funded by property taxes, so the two things (housing and education) are related to each other.

      In any case, we can certainly plug your book to the throngs of enthusiastic readers in the crowd.


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