Who Has the Power?
In the book . Driven From New Orleans: How Non-profits Betray Public Housing and Promote Privatization the author Arena wrote about power in a community and who really has the power. By looking at the city of Fredericksburg’s comprehensive plan it shows that a government’s power chain has many parts. This is similar to the cases written about in the city New Orleans; the power appeared to be in the hands of the government and citizens but in reality many other groups and institutions had a larger say and more power. In the Fredericksburg city’s comprehensive plan, it focuses on the partnership with major intuitions in the area, mainly University of Mary Washington and Mary Washington hospital.
The comprehensive plan of Fredericksburg came out in 2015 and stated the goals, plans, and projects of the city. A section of this plan was devoted to the partnerships with the University of Mary Washington and Mary Washington Hospital; the ways at which they are beneficial to partner with the city. By working together, there are both pros and cons to the city and the citizens. Many articles and books that have been read have dealt with power structure at the local level but mainly Driven From New Orleans: How Non-profits Betray Public Housing and Promote Privatization. The concept of npo’s can be related to the same idea that power may seem to be coming from one place but in reality it is not. In this case the power seems to be in the hands of the government but in reality the institutions have a lot of power.
Part of the plan mentions how the city and the intuitions have an agreement to let each other use buildings/land plus they agreed to let their plans be agreed upon and help each other. “Maintain strong liaisons with the University of Mary Washington and Mary Washington Hospital, to share information, support each other’s initiatives, and to coordinate efforts” (Page 157). This appears to be the city working with surrounding intuitions for a way that is beneficial to both the city and the intuitions. However, it does not account for the citizens’ power or lack thereof. Now the intuitions have a larger say because they have a partnership with the government, possibly taking away power from the people. The people on the board of the University and the hospital are looking out for their best interest not the citizens. So whoever is in control of the institutes’ now gets a larger say. Local government power chain may appear to be obvious but it does not factor private intuitions and their part.
Decisions of the government are not only looking out for the people but also big institutions. This is not necessarily bad. By having a partnership with them is gives the government a way to protect the neighborhoods from over development. “Ensure that neighborhoods near the University are not adversely impacted by growing enrollment” (page 157). By partnering Fredericksburg city can help the citizens be protected against the growing university. The city may have to give power up but it also gives the citizens more control. It is even stated in the plan that there will be “Continue to participate in regularly scheduled Town/Gown meetings” (157). By this clause there is another way to make sure that both parties are getting what they want.
It is important for there to be a good working relationship between the institutions in a city and the government however there is also a fine line between working with and giving up power. The city of Fredericksburg comprehensive plan gives power to the University and Hospital because it puts their interest into account as well as gives them power to say no and threatens to stop supporting the city if they want to. When the city counts on the institutions for support they need to give into some demands. This could cause a slippery slope. When looking at power in a city, it is just not the elected and standing members of the government that have power but there are also silent institutions with a lot of power.
Arena, John. 2012. Driven From New Orleans: How Non-profits Betray Public Housing and
Promote Privatization. University of Minnesota Press.
Adopted by the Fredericksburg City Council. City of Fredericksburg Comprehensive Plan
September 8, 2005 http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5099