Mayor Diaz on the Perils of Partisanship

In Part 2 of our interview with Manny Diaz, former mayor of Miami, Diaz discusses the ways in which political partisanship in the US is hurting our cities.
Part 3 of a 4 part series
Mayor Manny Diaz on Redesigning Miami
In Part One of our video series with Manny Diaz, the former ...
The Business of Government
Having a business background is useful for politicians, but ...
Mayor Diaz on the Perils of Partisanship
In Part 2 of our interview with Manny Diaz, the former ...
The US Fails to Invest in Infrastructure
The money that goes toward keeping us in our cars in the ...
Thursday, November 29, 2012 08:00 EST | 8
Comment   Print   RSS
Newest First    Oldest First    Threaded View
Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
12/18/2013 2:01:58 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Excellent observations
Agree with your points here, @hfreeman17. Leadership in business or in a city often means stepping up to declare the strategy, not to let things run themselves, or to allow factions to run away with the agenda. That serves no one.

12/18/2013 1:53:35 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Excellent observations
I was impressed with what Mayor Diaz said and also studying up on his accomplishments. Our own Manhattan Institute in 2004 named him "Urban Innovator of the Year."

My observation with respect to partisanship is that it can be productive when--at the federal level, for instance--it leads to a compromise bill that can help constituents from very different parts of the country and represented by very different legislators.  Politics makes odd bedfelows, and all that.

But I have always thought of a Mayor--aside from being closer to her or his constituents--as a chief executive, whose task is always to act, because "the buck stops here." Same goes for President.  I was surprised that Diaz was a lawyer and not a business owner, because he appears to have acted decisively on behalf of all Miami.  Business leaders instinctively know that in order to make payroll, to keep the business afloat, partisanship is so much hot air.  It does no good.  I am also shocked when I see a mayor or governor or president blaming someone else for things not getting done.  It might be true, but it doesn't help the people who are directly counting on that *leader* to get things done.

The leader ultimately has to avoid being partisan and cut through all the talk to accomplish what the people need.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
11/30/2012 6:31:49 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Excellent Observations
Interesting question, Mary, and good points PeterJ, about at what point this insulation happens. I also wonder if it matters what status the person had before entering office. For example, Rahm Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago. Is he more "untouchable" because of his prominence? I actually don't know the answer, and would love to hear from anyone who is in Chicago. But I agree with PeterJ that this can happen at any level. But you're not going to be an effective mayor if you let it happen early on.

11/30/2012 2:50:54 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Excellent Observations
Mary, I do think that insulation can happen at any level of office and regardless of the size of the constituency. Maybe it is communication that matters most. Some public officials are very effective at it - they use media and other tools of the office to connect with the public. They work on building a public relationship and and invest in it over time. Maybe it is the building of political capital that allows some to do bolder things.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
11/30/2012 9:46:18 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Excellent Observations
Do you all think that governors also have the ear of the people and are closer to their constituents?

I'd like to think so.

I suppose another question might be: At what precise point in the political hierarchy does the official lose touch with the reality of those who elected him/her?

11/29/2012 11:18:40 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Excellent Observations
Yes, there is accountability at the city level, and elected officals, namely mayors, are the administrators to whom citizens seek leadership. It cannot be deflected at this level, which I think results in democracy working as it should. And I do beleive citizens respect officials who honestly lead, communicate, and deliver sorely needed leadership.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
11/29/2012 6:19:29 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Excellent observations
"One great observation: If politicians had to face their constituents every day the way mayors of large cities do, we'd see less partisan shenanigans."

I believe that as well. I recently went to see the movie Lincoln, as well as a musical called A Civil War Christmas -- both of which revolve around the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and that period of time. In seeing both of these, I was reminded that there was a time when citizens could go right up to the White House and ask/demand things of the president. Those days are long over. Even Senators and Representatives exist as little more than pre-packaged soundbites.

There's a great talk by Benjamin Barber (who intends to be writing for Future Cities soon) called If Mayors Ruled the World... I think he's onto something.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
11/29/2012 1:11:07 PM
User Rank Staff
Excellent observations
Applause for former Mayor Diaz of Miami regarding the errors and evils of partisan politics at the local level. He also speaks to why we need to resist partisanship at the federal level.

One great observation: If politicians had to face their constituents every day the way mayors of large cities do, we'd see less partisan shenanigans.

related videos
Cities Must 'Row the Boat' Away From ...
The Mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., discusses the need for ...
How Open Data Challenges Communities
Ike Leggett, County Executive for Montgomery County, ...
Urbanized Suburbia: How to Strike a Balance
Suburban areas are becoming more urbanized, presenting ...
Next Steps for '100 Resilient Cities'
On December 3rd, The Rockefeller Foundation chose the first ...
Urban Planning: Take a Strategic View
Copenhagen's approach to urban planning mixes a long-term ...
Leaving NYC's DOT, With Safer Streets ...
Future Cities spoke with Janette Sadik-Khan about her ...
Cleveland's Not Sustainable? Not So Fast
Despite claims that Cleveland, Ohio, doesn't care about ...
Architects Need Public Space Training
Jan Gehl of Gehl Architects spoke to the Royal Institute of ...
Cities Must Share Tech Network Ideas
Cities in the developed world face challenges retrofitting ...
Pressure on Resources? Use Data
Cities around the world are working out how to accommodate ...
Businesses Must Lead on City Innovation
City leaders can encourage technological innovation, but ...
Property Firms Can Shape Smart Cities
Real estate companies can help cities become smarter by ...
Smart City Money Makers
companies and solutions that are most prominent, and destined to be most profitable, in the smart city revolution.
How to Make Your City Smarter
Cities all over the world need to become smarter and more sustainable. But where to start? Download this guide to learn the first, proven steps toward making your city smarter.
all research
quick poll
Join the discussion
All polls
twitter feed
Future Cities Twitter Feed
follow us on facebook
Site Moderators
Future Cities is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Designed to provide the people with access to green building products all year round
connect to us
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2016 UBM,
All rights reserved.