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The New Chicago Way

The New Chicago Way

Lessons from Other Big Cities

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Ed Bachrach and Austin Berg


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
288 pages, 6 x 9, 5 illustrations


Additional Materials


Flier     Bachrach & Berg interview on Chicago Tonight     "How to Fix Chicago" U.S. News

"Mayor's race gives us a shot at a new Chicago Way. Here are 4 ways to start" Chicago Tribune"Chicago's political system is set up to produce corruption" The Economist

"Time To Reform Chicago Governance With A City Charter" Law360

"Curing the Chicago Way" Chicago Magazine

"Is is Time to Cancel 'Alderman'?" Chicago Magazine

"The Chicago Way, Kass on the Street (02/16/19)" WGN Radio

"Some voters, experts cold on Chicago's February election tradition" WGN TV

"TOPIC: The New Chicago Way: Lessons from Other Big Cities Digs deep into the culture of Chicago Politics, with Co-Authors: Ed Bachrach and Austin Berg" WGN Radio

"Commentary: Move to an elected school board, Chicago--but get it right" Chicago Tribune

"Burke's Loss is Lightfoot's Gain" Chicago Magazine

"The New Chicago Way: Lessons from Other Big Cities" Cato Institute Daily Podcast

About the Book

For all the wrong reasons, a national spotlight is shining on Chicago. The city has become known for its violence, police abuse, parent and teacher unrest, population decline, and mounting municipal and pension debt. The underlying problem, contend Ed Bachrach and Austin Berg, is that deliberative democracy is dead in the city. Chicago is home to the last strongman political system in urban America. The mayor holds all the power, and any perceived checks on mayoral control are often proven illusory. Rash decisions have resulted in poor outcomes. The outrageous consequences of unchecked power are evident in government failures in elections, schools, fiscal discipline, corruption, public support for private enterprise, policing, and more.
Rather than simply lament the situation, criticize specific leaders, or justify an ideology, Bachrach and Berg compare the decisions about Chicago’s governance and finances with choices made in fourteen other large U.S. cities. The problems that seem unique to Chicago have been encountered elsewhere, and Chicagoans, the authors posit, can learn from the successful solutions other cities have embraced.
Chicago government and its citizens must let go of the past to prepare for the future, argue Bachrach and Berg. A future filled with demographic, technological, and economic change requires a government capable of responding and adapting. Reforms can transform the city. The prescriptions for change provided in this book point toward a hopeful future: the New Chicago Way.


Ed Bachrach is the retired CEO of Bachrach Clothing and the founder and president of the Center for Pension Integrity in Chicago. His op-eds have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun Times.
Austin Berg, an award-winning writer, is the director of content strategy at the Illinois Policy Institute. He contributes opinion columns to the Illinois News Network and wrote the documentary film Madigan: Power. Privilege. Politics.