Power, Participation, and Protest in Flint, Michigan: Unpacking the Policy Paradox of Municipal Takeover

When the 2011 municipal takeover in Flint, Michigan placed the city under state control, some supported the intervention while others saw it as an affront to democracy. Still others were ambivalent about what was supposed to be a temporary disruption. However, the city’s fiscal emergency soon became a public health emergency—the Flint Water Crisis—that captured international attention. 

But how did Flint’s municipal takeovers, which suspended local representational government, alter the local political system? In Power, Participation, and Protest in Flint, Michigan, Ashley Nickels addresses the ways residents, groups, and organizations were able to participate politically—or not—during the city’s municipal takeovers in 2002 and 2011. She explains how new politics were created as organizations developed, new coalitions emerged and evolved, and people’s understanding of municipal takeovers changed. 

In walking readers through the policy history of, implementation of, and reaction to Flint’s two municipal takeovers, Nickels highlights how the ostensibly apolitical policy is, in fact, highly political.

Reviews of Power Participation and protest: Journal of Urban Affairs (Fasenfest, 2020).

Unmasking Administrative Evil, 5th Edition (with Balfour & Adams)

The relationship between evil and public affairs, as well as other fields and professions in public life, has come to the fore as institutions of government seek new ways to operate in an environment of extreme mistrust. Unmasking Administrative Evil, 5th Edition argues that the tendency toward administrative evil, as manifested in acts of dehumanization and genocide, is deeply woven into the identity of public affairs. Indeed, ordinary people may simply act appropriately in their organizational role—in essence, just doing what those around them would agree they should be doing—and at the same time, participate in what a critical and reasonable observer, usually well after the fact, would call evil. Even worse, under conditions of moral inversion, ordinary people can all too easily engage in acts of administrative evil while believing that what they are doing is not only correct, but in fact, good. This 5th edition offers important updates, including

  • A thorough discussion of contemporary virtue ethics as the field has evolved to offer an alternative to technical/rational ethics.
  • An all-new three-part structure (What is Administrative Evil?, History and Cases, and The Future of Ethics in Praetorian Times) designed to aid in course organization and instruction.
  • All-new cases, including an examination of the Flint water disaster, to provide contemporary examples of how populations can be marginalized and harmed by administrative processes that are blind to their consequences until it is too late.

Laying the groundwork for a more ethical and democratic public life – one that recognizes its potential for evil, and avoids state-sponsored dehumanization and destruction – Unmasking Administrative Evil, 5th Edition is required reading for all students of administrative ethics and public service ethics, as well those in other administrative sciences.

Reviews of Unmasking Administrative Evil, 5th Edition: Public Integrity (Benton, 2020).

Community Development and Public Administration Theory (with Jason Rivera)

The concept of community development is often misunderstood, holding different meanings across different academic disciplines. Moreover, the concept of community development has been historically abstracted, not only in the way the concept has been conceptualized in academic studies, but also by the way in which practitioners use the term in the vernacular. Departing from traditional definitions of community development, this volume applies the New Public Service (NPS) perspective of Public Administration to community development to illustrate how public administrators and public managers can engage in community development planning and implementation that results in more equitable and sustainable long-term outcomes.

Review of Community Development and Public Administration Theory: Public Administration Review (Kennedy and Mead, 2020)

Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology (with Dani Vilella)

Grand Rapids, Michigan is known for large-scale events like ArtPrize; major businesses like Meijer, Steelcase, and Amway; and the philanthropic and political contributions of its wealthiest residents. But there are hundreds, if not thousands of activists working at the grassroots level to make the River City a more just place to live.

In Grand Rapids Grassroots, a new anthology from Belt Publishing coming in November, editors Dani Villela and Ashley Nickels have collected fascinating essays, poems, and articles on the gritty realities of grassroots activism from authors on the front lines of social justice work. Dig into these firsthand accounts of protest and advocacy, and get an insider’s look at the resistance as it unfolds in a modern Rust Belt city.

Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology is the latest entry in Belt Publishing’s series of city anthologies.

Feminist Pedagogy, Practice, and Activism (with Jennifer Martin & Martina Sharp-Grier)

Feminist programming, no matter the venue, provides opportunities for young girls and women, as well as men, to acquire leadership skills and the confidence to create sustainable social change. Offering a wide-ranging overview of different types of feminist engagement, the chapters in this volume challenge readers to critically examine accepted cultural norms both in and out of schools, and speak out about oppression and privilege. To understand the various pathways to feminism and feminist identity development, this collection brings together scholars from education, women’s studies, sociology, and community development to examine ways in which to integrate feminism and women’s studies into education through pedagogy, practice, and activism.