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Can American Cities Go Their Own Way?

In this April 10, 2014, file photo, a new event hall overlooks the Nashville skyline at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn. (Mark Humphrey/AP)
In this April 10, 2014, file photo, a new event hall overlooks the Nashville skyline at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

American cities in tension with state governments and Donald Trump’s Washington. Can cities go their own way?

The local town hall meeting looks like the basic building block of American democracy. A lot of cities are finding out that’s not exactly true. They’re pushing for policies that conflict with state governments and Donald Trump’s Washington. And they are getting a lot of pushback – on issues from guns to wages to bathrooms and Happy Meals and plastic bags. States “pre-empting” city ordinances. Washington cutting off funds. This hour On Point, American cities, trying to go their own way. — Tom Ashbrook


David Graham, staff writer at the Atlantic. ( @GrahamDavidA)

Ned Hill, professor of public administration and city and regional planning at the Ohio State University.

Michelle Wilde Anderson, professor of law at Stanford Law School, focused on state and local government.

Mary Uhles, children’s book illustrator and On Point listener. She proposed this show using the Hearken module as part of our 2017 National Listening Tour. ( @maryuhles)

Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-FL), mayor of the city of Tallahassee, FL. ( @andrewgillum)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: Red State, Blue City — “American cities seem to be cleaving from the rest of the country, and the temptation for liberals is to try to embrace that trend. With Republicans controlling the presidency, both houses of Congress, and most statehouses, Democrats are turning to local ordinances as their best hope on issues ranging from gun control to the minimum wage to transgender rights. Even before Inauguration Day, big-city mayors laid plans to nudge the new administration leftward, especially on immigration—and, should that fail, to join together in resisting its policies.”

Austin-American Statesman: Expect more conflict between cities and states — “It’s hard for localities to resist pre-emption, but many are stepping up their efforts. Cities such as Cleveland and Tucson, Ariz., are challenging state laws in court, as are civil rights groups and other organizations that supported the policies that states are blocking. Mayors across the county, from Washington state to Florida, increasingly are teaming up to lobby at state capitols and rally public opposition to laws that limit local control.”

Quartz: America’s liberal cities are readying to battle Donald Trump on almost every front — “Mayors hold a fair amount of heft in America’s devolved political system. At a time of sustained sclerosis in Washington, cities (arguably with some exceptions) are ‘the one institution today that still works, where government functions, where trust levels are double the levels of other institutions,’ according to Fordham University’s Benjamin Barber, an acclaimed social scientist and author of If Mayors Ruled the World.”

American Cities At Odds With State And National Regulations


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