Researcher's digest. Foundation surveys regional studies

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    Researchers Digest . . Edited bv Thor Swanson Foundation Surveys Regional Studies

    Catalogues U n i v e r s i t y Research and Teaching

    A N I N D E X of interest to students of state and local political institutions

    is the recent Regional Studies at U.S. Universities-A Survey of Regionally Oriented Research and Graduate Educa- tion Activities, organized by Harvey S. Perloff for Resources for the Future (Washington, D.C., May 1957, 118 pages ; single copies free ; additional copies, 50 cents each).

    As the area of common local public problems tends to be a region rather than a municipality, and requires a broad understanding of the community rather than only a knowledge of govern- mental machinery, an inventory of enter- prises of this nature is welcomed by those interested in seeing the boundaries of local government and important inter- action areas more nearly coterminous.

    The questionnaires upon which the re- port was based were sent to administra- tive officers of 172 colleges and univer- sities and to about 450 members of the Regional Science Association. The Pre- face offers the warning that the resulting information should be considered only a large sample of the educational and research work in the regional field rather than the universe. Little of the research of agricultural experiment stations, de- partments of geography and geology and bureaus of business research, for ex- ample, are included because of the large amount which is of a regional nature, because it would be of interest largely to limited specialist groups, and because of the large number of specialized bibliog- raphies available.

    The Preface suggests that the survey has a twofold purpose: (1) to find out what is under way in the regional field at colleges and universities, as one type of information useful in the development of the program of regional studies within Resources for the Future, Inc., and . . . (2) to make available information that might be of value to scholars working in various academic fields which in one way or another are concerned with re- gions or techniques of regional analysis, as well as to university administrators. The study did not attempt to restrict the definition of regional studies for its correspondents, but sought to find out how the institutions and scholars ap- proached the subject. The report limited its information to graduate education programs and to faculty research.

    The classification employed in the or- ganization of the materials follows : physical elements and natural resources, population and human ecology, regional economic development, metropolitan studies and metropolitan planning, re- gional history, literature and socio-cul- tural elements, methods and techniques of regional analysis and comprehensive regional studies.

    The metropolitan studies and planning section is the longest of the seven and should be of particular interest to readers of the REVIEW. The urban research and training programs of 38 institutions are outlined.

    Business Executives Study Dallas Complex

    Multiple Governmental Units in the Metropolitan ContpEex-Dallas (47 pages, $1.00 ; apply Business Executives Research Committee, Southern Methodist University, Box 112, S M U Station, Dal- las 5 ) is the third in a series of economic

  • 19571 NEWS I N REVIEW 43 1

    and governmental studies of Dallas County, Texas, sponsored by the Busi- ness Executives Research Committee through Southern Methodist University and financed by local business leaders, the Committee for Economic Develop- ment and the Fund for Adult Education.

    The study details Dallas Countys par- ticular superabundance of governmental units, draws conclusions and recom- mendations for action and presents three capsule reports on developments in the St. Louis, Toronto and Baton Rouge areas.

    The story is a familiar one-Dallas Countys 900 square miles contain 29 in- corporated communities. . . . In addition there are the county government, four commissioners road precincts, several levee and fresh water districts, 21 school districts and a hospital district-in all, 73 governmental units of one kind or another.

    The committee considered its most im- portant single conclusion to be this: County-wide planning by informed citi- zens and representatives of all local gov- ernmental units concerned on a purposive and continziing basis . . . quickly. The report recognizes the evolution of Dallas and Tarrant (Fort Worth) Counties into one large metropolitan area and con- cludes that in a broad sense the major planning problem involves coordinated development of the 58 municipalities ex- isting in the two-county area.

    Among other conclusions, the commit- tee considers that metropolitan area problems require much more attention a t the state level and that the federation approach with strengthened county gov- ernment merits further study as alterna- tives in that north Texas area.

    State Oficials Questioned Re Legislative Councils

    Legislative Council (Jackson, Mis- sissippi, April 1957, 32 pages), published by the Mississippi Economic Council, is a review of what a council is and how

    it works, looking to its possible utiliza- tion in the Mississippi legislature.

    The most interesting part of the report is an appendixed listing of opinions of legislative councils by governors, lieu- tenant governors, presidents pro tem of state senates and speakers of the houses, all of whom were questioned by mail for the report. While one fourth of the states have no legislative councils, and officers from these jurisdictions often expressed no opinion, a high percentage of the four categories of officials ac- quainted with the agency considered it a useful and effective aid to the legisla- ture. Among over a hundred officials re- ported on, no more than a half dozen were antagonistic toward or dubious of the merits of the council device.

    Open vs. Closed Sessions Reviewed

    Open Public Meetings of Legislative Bodies-Californias Brown Act , by Al- bert G. Pickerel1 and Edward L. Feder (Berkeley, University of California, Bu- reau of Public Administration, 1957, 72 pages) is an analysis of Californias four- year experience with a law prohibiting, with limited exceptions, non-public meet- ings by local government legislative bodies.

    Two questions have been raised regard- ing its interpretation: (1) Does the act apply to home rule charter cities? (2) What is a meeting? The best answer (still inconclusive) to the first question is that i t does. The weight of opinion relative to the second is that the term meeting includes all meetings at which public business is considered or de- liberated.

    Of interest nationally to those con- cerned with local affairs is the discussion of the merits of the public meeting. Many public officials argue the law is negative, legalistic and that executive sessions are a constructive and integral aspect of the policy formation process. Newspapermen


    almost without exception found the act helpful but recognized the difficulty of legislating effectively against the closed meeting if public officials are determined to hold them.

    An appendix to the report summarizes the status of open public meetings in the other 47 states. This indicates that ap- proximately one-third of the states have legislation which forbids closed meetings by state and/or local agencies.

    Municipal Research, Public Relations Surveyed

    The University of Wichita, in con- junction with the Research and Informa- tion Department of the city of Wichita, has recently compiled Research and Puh- lic Relations Practices in 26 Cities (23 pages). It summarizes replies to a ques- tionnaire concerning organization, staff - ing and budgeting for the two functions. Cities involved ranged in size from Kala- mazoo to Chicago. Fourteen of the cities have central research offices, eleven have central public relations units. The re- search function, when centralized, was found to be almost invariably under the chief executives direction.

    The size of budgets allocated to the central research offices varies from Los Angeles more than $300,000 to Kalama- zoos $10,000, and numbers of research personnel from Los Angeles 44 to Rich- monds one-man staff.

    Replies from responding cities revealed that wide use is made of research data brought together by outside agencies not connected directly with city govern- ment.

    Brookings lnstitution Reports Governmeat Studies

    A Rebort on Governmental Studics and Related Activities, 1953-1957 (Wash- ington 6, D.C., April 1957, 71 pages) undertakes to describe the stepped-up program of the Brookings Institution in

    the political science area over the past four years. The research program to date has emphasized the national govern- ment and the national party system.

    In addition to discussing the objectives and main outlines of the governmental studies program-national, state and fed- eral-state relations-and listing staff and advisory committees in the area, the re- port reviews the institutions pre- and post-doctoral research fellowships.

    State Finance Trends Reported

    Trends in State Finance: 1955 and 1956 (Federation of Tax Administrators, 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago 37, 1957, 54 pages) reviews the major develop- ments in state finances for the two-year period. The report, written by Leon Rothenberg, discusses, against the cur- rent economic scene, increasing expendi- tures and revenues, debt, toll roads, de- velopments in intergovernmental rela- tions and property tax administration. Summary tables of principal tax rate changes for the biennium and tax rate tables complete the volume.

    University Sets U p Gover