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ARTICLES

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Politics versus Professionalism: The Effect of Institutional Structure on Democratic Decision Making in a Contested Policy Arena
Carolyn Bourdeaux
Georgia State University

ABSTRACT Public administrators have long wrestled with the problem of bringing professional policy knowledge or technical expertise to bear on decision making in a contentious policy arena. A common solution addresses political conict by developing institutions that buffer decision making from the regular inuence of elected ofcial. This article compares the effects of politically buffered decision making relative to politically inuenced decision making by drawing on case studies of county efforts to site and develop landlls and incinerators in New York State. Some of these counties created a special district government known as a public authority in an effort to remove the politics from decision making. Others used their regular line agencies. The cases show that the public authority siting processes were less likely to accommodate political concerns and more likely to focus on research-based policy or technical criteria. However, this professional focus then made them vulnerable to political conict and likely contributed to the high failure rate of the public authority projects. In contrast, the more successful line agency processes, inuenced by elected ofcials political concerns, tended to arbitrage away political conict at the expense of professional or technical considerationsbut these processes were more likely to succeed. One case provides a possible middle ground. Rather than arbitraging away points of conict, the administrators aggressively pushed decision making back into the political process, making elected ofcials choose the policy options. This process required elected ofcial leadership, education, and commitment and resulted in decisions that were professionally and technically informed as well as resilient to political conict.

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INTRODUCTION

Scholars of public administration and public policy analysis have long been preoccupied with the problem of melding professional policy knowledge with democratic decision making (Bimber 1991; Shulock 1999). A policy area where this is particularly difcult is in highly contentious and highly technical public sector decision making (OLeary et al. 1999)such as siting nuclear power plants, dredging ports, building new runways at
I would like to thank my father Robert Bourdeaux for his support and encouragement as well as for his helpful comments during the development of this article. Address correspondence to the author at cbourdeaux@gsu.edu.
doi:10.1093/jopart/mum010 Advance Access publication on June 29, 2007 The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Inc. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org

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airports, or the topic of this article, siting landlls or garbage incinerators. Although often unstated, the concern is that elected ofcials, subject to intense political pressure from parts of the electorate, may bog down in stalemate or will not make technically appropriate choices. One solution is to shift decision making to agencies (Fiorina 1986; McCubbins, Noll, and Weingast 1987; OLeary 1993) or to develop institutional devices that buffer decision making from the vagaries of political inuences, such as special purpose governments (Doig 1983, 2001; Doig and Mitchell 1992) or other forms of nonpolitical boards and commissions. Although there is research and theory that examines when elected ofcial choose to devolve decision making to another level of government (Fiorina 1986; Horn 1995; McCubbins, Noll, and Weingast 1987, 1989; McCubbins and Schwartz 1984), there are few opportunities to make comparisons in the same policy arena between processes that devolve decision making with others that do not. Thus, there is little theory or research on what to expect. This article draws on four case studies of counties in New York State attempting to site landlls and incinerators to compare politically buffered processes to those conducted in a political arena.
BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH

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This article is the fourth in a series of articles looking at the New York State efforts to develop solid waste facilities using a form of special district government known as a public authority. Jameson Doig describes public authorities as the realization of the Progressives vision of the administrative state (Doig 1983). Public authorities are buffered from regular political inuence by an appointed board and an independent revenue stream, typically based on user fees (Walsh 1978). As a result, public authority processes are almost purely administrative onesthe Executive Director and staff have signicant authority to shape the process and make decisions free from political interference (Doig 1983, 1993, 2001; Henriquez 1986; Walsh 1978). In New York State, 10 out of 33 counties facing a solid waste crisis chose to create a public authority to site a facility. The rst article examined why counties chose to create public authorities and through a quantitative and qualitative analysis showed that they were created for a variety of reasons including public nance, political division between political parties, and a need to consolidate interjurisdictional arrangements. Qualitative assessments also showed that an important expectation was that the public authorities would take the politics out of decision making (Bourdeaux 2005). The second article looked at how successful the public authorities were at siting and developing landlls and incinerators and showed that even controlling for political division, type of facilities (and related issues of cost), and interjurisdictional dynamics, the public authorities were signicantly less successful than counties conducting the process through a line agency (Bourdeaux 2007a). Table 1 shows the basic statistics. Further, there is evidence that this outcome was unanticipated. The public authorities were not set up to failthe elected ofcials that created them often initially sat on their board, vesting their political futures in the success of the public authority. The administrators involved often moved from jobs in planning or public works departments to become executive director of the public authority. When the public authority projects ended, often elected ofcials and administrators themselves concluded that the institutional experiment had been a mistake. In ve cases shown in table 2, the public authority was disbanded or scaled back in size. In

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Table 1 Entity Siting Facility and Completion Rates

Not Completed County sited Authority sited Total 10 (33%) 12 (85%) 22

Completed 20 (67%) 2 (15%) 22

Total 30 14 44

Note: This table includes multiple siting efforts by the same entity.

two cases, one of which will be described in this article, when the public authority process ended, the counties disbanded the public authority and proceeded to complete facilities on their own. Finally, table 2 shows that the public authority projects did not falter because of internal problems or professional decision making, the processes were terminated because of the intervention of elected ofcialsthe public authorities that were created to remove politics from decision making encountered political problems. The third article assesses why these public authorities do not look like the highly successful public authorities often described in the literature and concludes that except for one case, these public authorities did not have the same level of resources or constituency to bargain effectively in the political process (Bourdeaux 2007b). Solid waste public authorities often had to return repeatedly to their parent government(s) for funding until a facility that would generate revenue was developed. The powerful public authorities often described in the literature are also associated with more politically popular economic development and/or infrastructure projects which have constituencies in the business community or with unions (e.g., Caro 1975; Doig 2001; Walsh 1978). Indeed the one public authority that unequivocally succeeded in siting a landll had a mission beyond solid waste, including a variety of economic development tasks associated with the development of Ft. Drum, a major military installation in its jurisdiction. Thus, most of the solid waste public authorities functioned as politically buffered administrators, reminiscent of line agency staff who have been given considerable policy space to develop a policy solution but who must ultimately receive support for their proposals from elected ofcials. Although this explains why the public authorities were less successful than those in the literature, it does not explain why the public authorities were so much less successful than counties conducting the process through a line agency, which would have similar or even fewer resources to bargain in a political arena. This question is addressed in this article.
DECISION MAKING IN POLITICALLY BUFFERED INSTITUTIONS VERSUS POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS

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Removing administrative bodies from regular political inuence has long been an explicit strategy for achieving efciency in administrative decision making (Osborne and Gaebler 1992; Wilson 1887, 1989). The assumption stems from the observation that line agencies are closely attached to democratic political processes and thus are battered by many inuences exerted on them throughout a decision-making process (Appleby 1945; Pressman 1973; Seidman and Gilmore 1986; Wilson 1989). Line agencies must respond to aggregative decision making which bundle individual preferences. Decisions are made through bargaining and exchange, and the policy solutions that emerge from aggregative processes, trades, coalitions, and logrolls, tend to be summations of interests in various

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Table 2 Contextual Detail Surrounding Terminated Public Authority Projects

Public Authority Broome County Resource Recovery Authority

Project Incinerator

Events That Led to Termination of Project Election of County Executive in opposition to facility State DEC ruling that the BCRRA plan needed to include more recycling; reducing the amount of waste available for the incinerator BCRRA returned to county legislature to request authority to import garbage to maintain level of waste for facility
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Legislature votes in support; County Executive vetoes the legislation Legislature fails to override veto Public authority disbanded Western Finger Lakes Solid Waste Management Authority Incinerator Proposed site of incinerator leads a county to withdraw from the public authority making the economics of the facility no longer viable DEC permits large private landll in region to remain open, making new siting effort unnecessary One other jurisdiction leaves the public authority Serious consideration given to disbanding the public authority Montgomery Otsego Schoharie Solid Waste Authority Landll Proposed landll project has economic difculties after Carbone decision Two counties try to secede from the public authority and repudiate debt Public authority sues one county to keep them in interjurisdictional arrangement Effort to disband the public authority blocked by public authority debt outstanding
Continued

Landll

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Table 2 (continued ) Contextual Detail Surrounding Terminated Public Authority Projects

Public Authority

Project

Events That Led to Termination of Project Public authority operations signicantly scaled back

Eastern Rensselaer Solid Waste Management Agency

Composting facility

Project terminated due to


s

the Authoritys desire to be a consensus-based governmental unit rather than a government based on majority rules; the ever-changing political, economic, and solid waste management climate in the local, state, and federal arenas; the lack of adequate waste materials for economic sizing of any facility due to environmentally sound and economically viable solid waste management programs maximizing reduction, reuse, and recycling; litigation from within; and political subterfuge (ERCSWMA, 19951996 Compliance Report)

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s s

Public authority signicantly scaled back Oneida Herkimer Solid Waste Authority Incinerator expansion/landll Landll challenged on science, location choices on working farmland Herkimer County legislature passes resolution urging public authority not to site landll on working farm In the face of overwhelming public protest, elected ofcial serving as Chairman of the public authority board withdraws projects
Continued

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Table 2 (continued ) Contextual Detail Surrounding Terminated Public Authority Projects

Public Authority St. Lawrence Solid Waste Disposal Authority

Project Incinerator/landll

Events That Led to Termination of Project Change of legislature from Republican controlled to Democratically controlled softens support for the facilities Protest over health impact of incinerator and impact on agriculture, problems in developing recycling program, cost of the facility and potential need to import garbage from other jurisdictions In 11-11 vote, legislature fails to support debt to construct the incinerator
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Landll

Protest develops over siting landll on agricultural land Legislature requests that the public authority change its siting criteria, public authority refuses Legislature votes to disband the public authority

forms rather than a synthesis. These results are viewed as inimical to good sense, justice, efciency and appropriate policy (March and Olsen 1989, 124). These problems are likely to be particularly acute where signicant scientic or technical knowledge is required to make a reasoned decision. Thus, elected ofcials are urged to take the politics out of decision making, which typically means leaving behind the self-interested, parochial, or idiosyncratic preferences that do not t within a rational or reasoned decision framework (March and Olsen 1989). But how does one develop institutions that align incentives to promote more reasoned decision making, particularly in the face of power being given to institutions that promote aggregative decision making? One solution is to use politically buffered institutions such as public authorities (Doig 1983, 2001; Doig and Mitchell 1992; Frant 1989, 1996). One theory is that such institutions remove the high-powered incentives to respond to electoral pressures. As a result, the administrators in public authorities have more opportunity or more policy space to focus on technical expertise, business-like management, or long-term policy objectives (Frant 1989). This theory suggests that politically buffered institutions are going to be heavily inuenced by internal norms and beliefsin so far as a public authority administrator is driven to be business-like or focused on technical expertise, there is opportunity to do so. Case studies of public authorities support this observation (Caro 1975; Doig 2001; Walsh 1978). On the other hand, this sort of policy space may also open up the door to corruption, mismanagement, or inefciency (Axelrod 1992; Henriquez 1986; Leigland and Lamb 1986). In the case of the solid waste public authoritiesresource poor but created with

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the expectation that they would bring more professional decision making to a contentious policy processone would expect that they would bring norms of technical expertise or policy professionalism to their institution. However, it is not entirely clear how this expertise-based perspective might distinguish the public authority from the line agency in political debate. One hint from Walsh (1978) is that the public authority staff might make the political conict worse. She quotes an administrator in a public authority as saying:
The reputation of an authority is constantly in jeopardy before the merciless bombardment of local politicians. If an authority is developing the benets expected of it, if it is operating efciently, letting contracts without favoritism, hiring and promoting personnel without political interference, refusing to bow policy-wise to improper political pressures by changing administrations, then by its very nature it outrages political feelings and it becomes fair game of every politician within artillery range. (Walsh 1978, 260)

This observation suggests that the public authorities in New York State might have exacerbated the conict relative to the line agencies. If they focused on technical expertise and professional decision making, they may have been less likely to arbitrage away key points of conict important to legislators in a political process. This proposition still does not resolve the question of why legislators, who expected the public authority to take the politics out of decision making, did not accept these decisions. A political economy framework would suggest that elected ofcials had forward-looking rationality when they created these public authorities and therefore anticipated such outcomes (Horn 1995). However, as noted earlier, evidence suggests that the public authorities produced unintended consequences. One possibility is that elected ofcials thought that they themselves could avoid political pressure by devolving responsibility, and this assumption proved incorrect. The public authorities exacerbated conict by failing to account for political pressures in their decision making, and at the same time, when the decision was forced back into a political arena, the elected ofcials then did not have the knowledge about or commitment to a particular solution that would have enabled them to make an informed decision.
METHODOLOGY

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The situation in New York State allows a comparison of public authority and county line agency processes. The thinness of the theory and the question of why the public authorities performed worse than the county line agencies suggests a methodology that is inductive and uses comparative case studies (Yin 1994). The conundrum of inductive case study research is how to sort through the vast amounts of data to nd patterns. The initial case studies drew on ideas about institutional analysis and focused broadly on institutional setting, environment and historical context, and actors, including administrators, elected ofcials, and opposition groups (Barzelay 2000; Lynn, Heinrich, and Hill 2000; Ostrom 1986). Within this larger framework, the analysis then examined various actors policy preferences and their policy choices. The particular inquiry in this article is guided by the nding in table 2 that actions of elected ofcials led to the demise of the public authority projects. Thus, the focus of inquiry is on elected ofcials preferred policy choices relative to those of administrators. The case studies were primarily derived from newspaper articles about the debate (between 201 and 484 articles for each case). Key passages were entered into the computer

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to form narratives, and these passages then were coded using QSR N5 to cluster actors, preferences, policy choices, and strategies around the common decision nodes/points of controversy. To triangulate on the information presented and try to reduce distortions from a newspaper-only focus (Yin 1994), representatives from each of the sets of actors, in particular the elected ofcials, administrators, and opposition groups, were interviewed to conrm and supplement the narratives constructed from the newspapers. Other supplemental materials included bond prospectuses, the minutes from public meetings, environmental documents, and interviews with state ofcials and attorneys involved in several of the cases. The nal case narratives which often were over a hundred pages long can be read in their entirety in Bourdeaux (2003). For purposes of comparing two types of processesthe administratively driven public authority cases and the county government line agency casesthe analysis that follows is presented in two parts. The rst part compares policy choices around points of conict that were common across the cases and in particular those that represent a choice between a professional policy solution versus a political solution. In this context, a professional solution is one that might be associated with a professional policy analysis or one that might emerge from policy documents such as those produced by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), emphasizing scientic or costbenet criteria. By contrast, a political solution is aggregative or one based on the exigencies of political power. This part of the analysis follows a strategy of identifying bins or categories for reducing and classifying information around patterns that emerged in the data (Miles and Huberman 1994). The results map back onto the proposition that legislatively driven processes will be more political or aggregative than those conducted by the public authorities. The second part of the analysis is more loosely structured in keeping with ideas of inductive research when the theory is not clear or not known. The analysis examines the evolution of decision making around similar points of conict in two jurisdictions.

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Policy Setting and Case Selection

According to a survey by the DEC, in the mid-1980s, over 30 counties faced a solid waste crisis, or no place to put their garbage (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Solid Waste 1987). This problem was created by state and federal laws forcing higher environmental standards for landlls. Between 1960 and 1987, the state went from approximately 1,600 landlls to 84 (only 35 actually had permits to operate). The state further required that counties develop solid waste plans and determine long-term solutions for places to put their garbage (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Solid Waste 1987, 19992000).1 The rst part of this analysis assesses four cases of counties grappling with nding a place to put the garbage. The counties used different governance arrangements to conduct these high-conict processes. All the county governments had a county executive or county administrator and a county legislature of between 17 and 37 members. However,
1 Although waste reduction and recycling gured highly in state and local planning, almost no locality determined that reduction, reuse, and recycling would be a sufcient solution for garbage disposalmost jurisdictions found that they needed a landll or incinerator. Localities also did not foresee the eventual large-scale private sector investment in landllslocal ofcials believed they had to nd a place to put the garbage in their own jurisdiction (Anderson 2000; William F. Cosulich & Associates 1991).

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three counties initially chose to use a public authority to conduct the site selection process for their landll or incinerator. Cases were selected from the counties that had to resolve a solid waste crisis and then were selected based on the type of institution used, similarity of demographics, size (all had populations over 100,000), and geographic proximity. All are in central New York State and so faced similar policy constraints such as ability to ship waste to an adjacent jurisdiction.
Levels of Political Inuence

Three of these cases include repeated siting efforts or concurrent siting processes. The St. Lawrence Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA) tried three times to site a facility with varying degrees of political inuence or political buffering. In the rst case, site selection was conducted by elected ofcials and line staff, but the remaining process of project development was turned over to a public authority. In the second case, site selection was conducted entirely by a public authority. In the third case, the county turned over site selection again to line agency staff. Oneida and Herkimer Counties tried two times to site a landll, both times with a public authority, the Oneida Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (OHSWA). One quirk of their process was that the majority and minority leader of the Oneida County legislature sat on the board of the public authority. In the rst siting process, the elected ofcials decided to take a hands-off approach and tried to build legitimacy by showing that political considerations had not contaminated site selection. The second case, however, might be considered to be more politically informed because the elected ofcials and administrators concluded that the process would be political no matter their good intentions. Onondaga County sited both a landll and an incinerator through a regular line agency interacting regularly with elected ofcials, and Jefferson and Lewis Counties sited a landll through the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC), the one truly successful public authority case. These cases do overselect for public authority success since they capture the two cases out of the 14 total public authority efforts that reached the end stages of facility development.
PART I: POLITICS, POLICY, AND POINTS OF CONFLICT Site Selection

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For each process of site selection and facility development, the debates over the facilities clustered around a series of points of conict that had political and/or professional policy resonance and which administrators (and elected ofcials) might address, mitigate, or ignore. Site selection, or the choice of where to locate a landll or incinerator (often called a waste-to-energy WTE facility), forms the heart of a controversy over a solid waste facility, and the professional policy versus political criteria used in site selection turned out to provide a straightforward metric for the political sensitivity of the administrators in the different institutions. In site selection, disgruntled host communities have differential political capacities to resist a solid waste facility. Major issues in terms of the local capacity to resist include:
Siting a facility in a low-population area: Although this issue was often framed as inconveniencing the fewest number of people, (e.g., OSHWA siting criteria), the fewer the people also meant fewer voters who could mobilize in protest and fewer nancial resources that could be mobilized for politics, studies, consultants, and lawyers.

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Siting a facility on the border with another jurisdiction: The voters in the other jurisdiction obviously had less capacity to inuence decisions in the jurisdiction where a facility was actually located. Having a willing host community: In New York State, this criterion meant having a willing town or city government. Each county is entirely divided into towns and cities, and there is no unincorporated area. If the town or city at large was not willing to host the facility, then the protestors could mobilize the taxing power of the jurisdiction to ght the facility. Placing a priority on nding willing sellers of property: Unwilling sellers of property created a highly mobilized, emotionally appealing, and politically active group of protestors. There was also the potential to draw out the process because of resistance to hydrogeological testing on the property and because of litigation around the process of eminent domain.2 Avoiding siting a facility in an agricultural district or on farmland: An issue that had unanticipated resonance in these largely rural counties was siting a facility on farmland. Any effort to take agricultural land through eminent domain raised the politically resonant issue of taking a farmers home and livelihood. Politically, if farmers began to protest a landll or incinerator, this issue tended to engage the Farm Bureau and the broader constituency of farmers across a jurisdiction. Finding farmers who were willing sellers could help neutralize this issue. A further complication was that siting a landll in a formally designated agricultural district precluded the use of eminent domain under state law, in effect, requiring willing sellers.
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These criteria for site selection have clear political implications. Some of these may overlap with more reasoned or professional policy considerations, but certainly ignoring these criteria reects lessened attention to political concerns. A further dimension of the professional versus political tension is that political criteria often raise questions of fairness since some of these considerations arbitrage away political conict at the expense of political minorities or voteless constituencies, such as communities in other counties. As table 3 shows, emphasis on these political factors clustered in the explicitly political processes (the rst and third SWDA cases and the Onondaga County incinerator case, with the politically informed OHSWA case in the middle). As expected, political institutions are careful to consider aggregative criteria that arbitrage away political conict, whereas the politically buffered institutions do not select sites that include many of these criteria. Although one might certainly look at these criteria as reecting different values relative to technocratic policy-making criteria, the observation still stands that the political processes emphasized different variables from the politically buffered processes. The distinction between these criteria is reected in the debates themselves. In the second OHSWA case, the administrators concluded that despite their best efforts to avoid

2 Some willing sellers were not willing to admit publicly that they would sell their land, which could potentially obscure the visibility of this strategy to the researcher. However, nonwilling sellers typically protested and attempted to block the hydrogeological testing on their landwhich is evident in the newspaper accounts. Further, one can differentiate between county or public authority efforts that explicitly and publicly limited their search to properties with willing sellers and those that did not or only made informal efforts to nd willing sellers.

Table 3 Political versus Policy Choices

Process Grounded in Explicit Effort to Remove Political Inuences from Decision Making

Politically Informed

Political accommodation Site selection Willing sellers Low population Willing host community On border with another jurisdiction Avoided agricultural land Total site selection criteria Other policy issues Transportation problems with site

OHSWA case 1: landll No No No No No 0 No

SWDA case 2: landll No No No No No 0 No

DANC landll No Yes No No Yes 2 No

OHSWA case 2: landll No Yes No Yes Yes 3 Yes

Political Site Selection SWDA case 1: incinerator/ landll Yes No Yes Yes Yes 4 No Nonpolitical site development No No 4 Yes No

Process is Explicitly Political Onondaga Onondaga SWDA County County case 3: landll incinerator landll Yes No Yes Yes Yes 4 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes 4 No Yes No No No No 1 No

Accommodate 40% recycling (versus protest) Ban on importation Total political accommodation Facility sited? Facility constructed?

Yes Yes 2 No No

NA Yes 1 No No

No Yes 3 Yes Yes

Yes Yes 6 Yes No

NA Yes 6 Yes No

No Yes 5 Yes Yes

No Yes 2 Yes No

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politics in the previous case, the process was inevitably political (OHSWA-10 Agency Ofcial 2002). They added as the second most important criterion in site selection (after hydrogeology) that the site should inconvenience the fewest number of people. Also during both OHSWA site selection processes, the county legislatures voted to advise the public authority not to site in an agricultural district. Similarly, avoiding agricultural land was explicitly described as a political criterion in the second SWDA case. During consideration of the landll, the elected ofcials voted to advise the public authority not to site on agricultural land. The administrators at SWDA argued in protest that it would not have been good policy to take this criterion into account because a large percentage of the county was agricultural land (SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003). In the third SWDA case, the administrators, now line agency staff concerned about moving their proposed project through the political process, amended the previous site selection criteria explicitly to include sites that had willing sellers of the property (thus avoiding the agricultural land debate) and, if possible, a large amount of adjacent public land.

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Policy Issues Beyond Site Selection

Other policy issues beyond site selection are somewhat more ambiguous in their results. The environmental appropriateness of a site, perhaps the most important policy variable, was hard to assess because it was constrained by state and federal environmental lawall sites had to be above a certain threshold to receive approval from the DEC. However, other issues reecting an emphasis on a search for efciency, a characteristic of a professional policy orientation, might include ease of transportation to and from the solid waste facility. Low-population areas on the border of another jurisdiction or sites that inconvenience the fewest number of people may also be less efcient because they are further from major highways and arterials. Importation of waste and level of recycling can also be assessed for political expediency compared to the results that might emerge from a more reasoned process of policy analysis. In 1987, the state mandated a 40% recycling rate. However, several counties analyzed the level of recycling that was technically feasible and concluded that around a 30% recycling rate would be ambitious given existing markets for the products and the change in behavior that would have to take place. In general, history has supported their analysis.3 Yet, recycling was politically popular and in some cases was viewed as a way of reassuring the public that the landll or incinerator was the last resort. A process that emphasized policy criteria that emerged from an analytical process might resist the 40% recycling rate, whereas one that was highly focused on political criteria would accommodate this rate even knowing that it might be infeasible in actuality. Processes that occurred well after the recycling law was in place and therefore had no opportunity to protest the 40% rate are given NA in the chart.
3 Both Onondaga County and St. Lawrence County concluded at about the same time that a 30% recycling rate would be ambitious (Davis 1987; Reagan 1990; Tooley 1990) and would come to protest the states mandate. DANC proposed a recycling plan that was so expensive that the counties took over recycling from the public authority. Currently, localities count products that are recycled as part of industrial processes as recyclables as a way of gaming the numbers (OCRRA-11 2001). In 2003, New York City cut its recycling program because it was costing more to recycle than to simply dispose of the trash.

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Similarly, importation of waste was a policy issue with political resonance. In all the cases, opponents of facilities argued that their community was about to become a waste capital. In fact, the community as a whole might be made better off by importation because it would lower costs of garbage disposal. Again, like recycling, importation was a policy issue that local ofcials would cede to in the short run although they might have to reverse themselves in the future. Looking at table 3, one can see that for these criteria, the picture is more ambiguous. Most of the sites selected had easy access to transportation. Questions about recycling were raised in a number of jurisdictions, including Onondaga County, which was a heavily legislative process. Although Onondaga County eventually ceded to the states 40% requirement, administrators and legislators pointed out that this amount would be difcult to achieve. In contrast, OHSWA, a politically buffered public authority, heavily emphasized recycling in both casesin part from good intentions but also because they wanted to build legitimacy for their projects and process. In fact, OHSWA was the only jurisdiction in these cases to develop a publicly owned and run recycling facility. Importation was banned in all jurisdictions except St. Lawrences rst case, where the public authority actively resisted a legal restriction on importation. The administrators argued that they would be happy to size their incinerator as though no waste would be imported but it would be imprudent from a policy standpoint to ban it entirely because they might need imported waste later to cover costs. In contrast, OHSWA, a public authority, was so anxious to ban importation in the second case that the authority asked the state legislature to pass a law specically prohibiting OHSWA from importing waste, which they did. Even though public authorities accommodated certain political concerns or values and line agencies resisted certain political considerations, overall the differences are striking. The public authorities did change the nature of the debatethey made it less politically inuenced. At the same time, with the exception of DANC, these public authorities had few resources to compete in the political process, and thus, their dedication to nonpolitical policybased concerns likely contributed to the political vulnerability of the projects. Onondaga County, however, does present an interesting contrast. Although their incinerator process followed the contours of a politically inuenced siting process, the landll siting effort was apparently more professionally informed despite the need for regular negotiations with elected ofcials. The comparison of the St. Lawrence SWDA and Onondaga County cases helps esh out the stories of what happened and reveals three patterns in the relationships between administrators and elected ofcials. In the rst, administrators respond to political pressure by arbitraging away political conict. This pattern is reected in the site selection processes in the rst SWDA case and the third SWDA case as well as the Onondaga County incinerator process. In the second pattern, administrators rely on their politically buffered status and refuse to cede to politically expedient demands. In the rst SWDA case (after site selection) and the second SWDA case, administrators try to reason with elected ofcials over policy but ultimately stand rm behind their policy preferences despite repeated warnings from elected ofcials. This strategy was also used in the rst OHSWA case that is not presented in this article and repeatedly fails. Finally, in the Onondaga County landll siting and in the incinerator case (after site selection), a third pattern emerges. Here administrators try to educate elected ofcials and aggressively throw decision making back into the political process. This process is messy, but it is also creative.

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Although it requires legislative leadership, it seems to have engendered a level of elected ofcial commitment that makes the process resilient to conict.

PART II: CASE COMPARISONS The First St. Lawrence SWDA Case: Administrative Experts versus Politicians

The St. Lawrence County SWDA cases illustrate an evolution of thinking about contentious decision making. The county ofcials initially created SWDA in 1983 in an effort to bring centralized expertise to an issue that county ofcials perceived as too complex for county government. The public authority provided a convenient method of nancing a new facility, was less constrained by regulation, and importantly, provided a method to remove the political dimension from the decision-making process (Plastino 1992; SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003). Although the county legislators insured their continued inuence by placing a legislator on the board of the public authority and by requiring that the public authority to solicit legislative approval prior to issuing debt, the norm that the public authority staff adopted was to focus on nonpolitical, policy-oriented decision making. In the initial political process, all the points of conict associated with siting both an incinerator (or WTE) and a landll were anticipated. This site selection process follows the rst pattern of arbitraging away political conict. Although the facilities were not put in low-population areas, the communities were willing hosts of the facilities and in these early days of the solid waste wars were even touted as an economic development opportunity. The facilities were to be placed on industrial properties, had willing sellers, and did not create a problem of placement on agricultural land. The public authority was created in conjunction with this deal making over site selection. Although the administrators at the public authority had to return to the county legislators approximately once a year to solicit approval to issue debt to nance project development, for almost 7 years they enjoyed wide support. However, by 1988, new conicts rose to prominence. The public authority was now removed from its original political origins and had internalized the belief that its task was to present reasoned policy. The authority staff, including a county legislator who sat on the board, believed that their role was to make a reasoned argument to the public and to the legislators about the decision that they had determined would be best (SWDA-3 Agency Ofcial 2002; SWDA-7 Elected Ofcial 2003). Now the second pattern, administrative resistance to political concerns, came to the fore. The health impact of the facility was a particular concern for the core opposition to the incinerator, but broader opposition from such groups as the League of Women Voters, the Environmental Management Council, and the business community began to coalesce around the public authoritys recycling plan, the cost of the incinerator, and resistance to importation of waste. Specically, these groups expressed concern that SWDA was not aggressively pursuing the states 40% recycling goal, that SWDA would have to import waste in order to make the facility nancially viable, and that the incinerator might be too costly. SWDA countered these charges by presenting evidence based on an analytical approach. On recycling, the SWDA board conducted a study (with the involvement of a leading environmentalist) and concluded that 40% recycling was too ambitious. As noted earlier, SWDA staff were likely correct on the merits. Opponents also demanded that

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SWDA denitively rule out importation. The legislature also voted twice to ban importation, although they had ofcially ceded the authority to make this decision to SWDA. SWDA administrators agreed not to size the incinerator based on imported waste, but despite the urging of the elected ofcials, they would not agree to denitively rule out this alternative source of revenue. On the cost of the facility, SWDAs case may have been more suspect (SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003). However, the staff argued, correctly, that the county would suffer serious negative repercussions from backtracking. Over 7 years, the county made a substantial investment in planning for the facilities, which was entirely nanced by debt issued by the public authority. The county had also entered into public and private contracts and agreements contingent upon ultimate development of facilities. Yet despite their expertise and reasoned arguments, neither the public nor (7 years later) many of the current elected ofcials had been involved in the original development of the incinerator and landll plans. In 1990, support for the facility further softened4 when a number of new legislators were elected and the control of the legislature shifted from Republican to Democratic. Although an important change, this shift was not necessarily decisive. Previous votes for the facilities were broad and nonpartisan, and a Democratic legislator actually sat on the board of SWDA. In 1990, after 7 years of project development, SWDA returned to the county legislature for a nal vote to issue debt to construct the incinerator. In a dramatic 11-11 vote, the legislature failed to endorse the debt, and the entire process collapsed. As SWDA had warned, this came at a serious cost to the countythe private sector partner withdrew; the state withdrew grant money allocated to help with the project and then moved to close the last remaining landlls. In addition, $33 million in debt had been issued contingent on the eventual revenues from the incinerator and landll facilities. Now the debt had to be paid by the general taxpayer. Indicative of the lack of understanding between the legislators and SWDA were some of the last minute negotiations between legislators and the state DEC. SWDA had been working on this project for almost a decade and had entered into consent decrees with the state to keep open several county landlls contingent upon the timely development of alternative facilities. Yet, just preceding the vote, a legislator called the DEC to ask if the agency was serious about immediately closing the landlls. Misunderstanding the response, the legislator then became the deciding vote against nancing the incinerator. Fundamentally, SWDA had not arbitraged away conict that was causing political pressure for the legislators. The legislators had nal authority to veto the proposed facility, but they had no technical knowledge about the issues surrounding their decision.
The Second St. Lawrence SWDA Case: An Administratively Driven Participatory Process

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What then occurred was that the SWDA county ofcials made a choice. Some SWDA ofcials assessed the problem as one of a lack of legislative education and engagement and recommended the creation of a committee of legislators to work more closely with SWDA (Cartier 1990; Pardoe 1990). Although this committee was constituted briey, it eventually fell by the wayside. In contrast, the DEC staff recommended a public involvement
4 The idea that the support had softened was suggested in interviews with opponents of the facility. They did not see the new legislators as actively supporting their position but that they at least had open minds to opposing the facility (SWDA-2 Opponent 2002; SWDA-4 Opponent 2002; SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003).

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process be added to SWDAs renewed effort to develop a regional landll, and this became the ofcial strategy of the public authority as it attempted to mitigate the conict associated with a siting process (SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003). The public authority was reconstituted with a new executive director and several new board members. To increase involvement in decision making, the executive director of the public authority created a citizens advisory board composed of a broad cross-section of the community. Sitting on the board were representatives from environmental groups, the League of Women Voters, a local recycling company, business interests, agriculture interests, teachers, geologists, and members of local unions (Kidwell 1990). The rst order of business for this group was a resolution that the public should be educated about solid waste solutions and about the landll siting criteria that the committee would develop. Throughout the process, the administrative staff professed a preference for good science and also openness. They held public hearings at each step in the process. First, the citizen advisory group developed the criteria for the landll site selection. Then the administrators ran a series of screens of the county for land that would t with the siting criteria. The criteria selected were heavily based on hydrogeology: rst, nding low-permeable soils; second, the depth to the groundwater table; third, the proximity to municipal surface watersheds; fourth, the impact on surface water; and fth, the presence of agricultural lands. Using these criteria, SWDA staff selected 125 sites. These sites were examined and approved by the citizen advisory committee, and then the executive director scheduled public hearings on both the siting criteria and the sites. The newspapers noted that SWDA distributed 146 copies of the documents to libraries and other public places across the county (Kidwell 1991b). The criteria and information about the landlls were also covered extensively in the local newspaper (Hayes 1991; Kidwell 1991a, 1991b). Yet, almost no one showed up for the rst public hearing on the 125 sites. SWDA narrowed to 36 sites and again held a public hearing, only 20 people showed up and none had complaints about the sites. Again, this process was grounded in an ethos of depoliticization or removal of aggregative, political criteria from decision making. The legislators determined that they would take a hands-off approach. Even the legislator who sat on the public authority board tried to take a nonpolitical view of the process (SWDA-8 Elected Ofcial 2003; SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003). Prior to announcing the nal sites, the executive director of SWDA and the city engineer emphasized publicly that the process had been nonpolitical (Mende 1992a). SWDA then announced the nal ve sites. Public involvement notwithstanding, the dynamics that emerged were almost exactly the same as the latter half of the previous process. The public authority and its citizen advisory group had not captured political concerns. Their criteria did not include willing sellers of property, a willing host community, or a low-population area. Although avoiding agricultural land was included, it ranked fth after hydrogeology had been considered. St. Lawrence County had extensive agricultural lands, and as a result several of the nal sites were on agricultural land. SWDA also tried to nd willing sellers, but again, this was not an absolute criterion. Once the nal sites had been identied, hundreds of opponents turned out to the public meetings in opposition5 and began to lobby their elected ofcials to stop the process.
5 According to the papers, over 350 turned out for the public hearing in Lisbon, 120 for the public hearing in Hopkinton, and over 200 for the public hearing in Potsdam. The newspaper reported that people spilled out of the rooms designated and into the halls.

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SWDA administrators had learned from the previous process and had voted to turn over control of importation to the legislature and had launched an ambitious recycling system. Further, the regional landll they were proposing would be less costly than the incinerator. However, the host communities opposed the proposed sites, over half of the landowners resisted any effort by the public authority to conduct hydrogeological testing on their property, and the opponents protested that the landll should not be sited on agricultural land. In fact, the location on agricultural land prompted the Farm Bureau to come out in opposition to the proposed sites, indicating that opposition was broader than just the local community affected. The executive director of SWDA protested that he had used criteria drawn up by the citizen advisory committee, a plan that had been available for public comment and a plan to which no one had previously objected. Further, in agriculture-intensive St. Lawrence County, excluding all sites with any kind of agricultural purpose would mean that some of the most hydrogeologically sound locations would be removed from consideration (Mende 1992b; SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003). Ignoring his argument, the elected ofcials voted 18-3 to exclude agricultural land from consideration. Although not actually binding on the independent public authority, the political reality was that SWDA had to negotiate with the elected ofcials to nance the landll, and therefore, SWDA staff had to heed the vote and redo the entire ranking and site selection process. The executive director and his board members then went to the legislature and told them that they either needed to give the administrators at SWDA complete autonomy to make the decision or alternatively disband SWDA and make the decision themselves. The county legislators voted to disband SWDA and to take over the process themselves. Much like the second part of the incinerator development process, SWDA had again attempted a nonpolitical process that emphasized best practices. This time rather than simply relying on technical analysis and persuasion, SWDA also incorporated an intensive effort at public participationin keeping with a broad swath of public administration literature that recommends participation as a way of ameliorating conict and improving government decision making (e.g., Creighton 2005; Herrman 1994; Parr and Lampe 1996; Rajvanshi 2003). However, again, the fundamental problem was that under pressure, the elected ofcials did not back the administrators. Both the SWDA efforts focused on the application of professionalism to decision making. The second case also included what seems to have been an honest, if idealistic, effort to engage the community. Ironically, the citizen advisory committee picked very professional criteria to guide site selectionthe same criteria might have emerged from an administrative process. At the same time, the administrators picking the landll sites neither managed to anticipate and avoid the points of conict that emerged nor did they take any action to educate the elected ofcials or solicit their cooperation. Because they wanted a process that removed political considerations, they marginalized the elected ofcials or failed to respond to their aggregative concerns. One might argue that the elected ofcials did not really want responsibility for a process that they knew was going to be controversial. Yet, the elected ofcials found that they were being held responsible politically, whether they were actually involved or not, and this reasoning ultimately colored the nal decision to take over the landll development process themselves (SWDA-8 Elected Ofcial 2003; SWDA-18 Agency Ofcial 2003).

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The Third St. Lawrence SWDA Case: A Political Process

In the third SWDA case, the county legislators abandoned an insulated administratively driven process and turned over decision making to the head of their planning department, a veteran of the initial political deal over the incinerator and ash landll. She revisited the siting criteria developed by the citizen advisory committee and added some new criteria: the site selected should include willing sellers of the land and if possible, a large amount of adjacent public land (Purser 1992). By ensuring willing sellers, she avoided some of the potential conicts that might be associated with taking farms for the landll. The three sites selected included one in the Adirondack state park, one on the border with another county and a Mohawk Indian reservation, and the original landll site from the rst siting process. Eventually the site adjacent to the Mohawk reservation was picked and approved by the county legislature. This site had the added benet of support from the leadership of the town in which it was located, so almost all points of conict or aggregative concerns were addressed.6 Again, this process returned to the original tactics used in St. Lawrence Countys site selection, which was to arbitrage away the points of conict that might cause pressure to be brought to bear on elected ofcials.

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Onondaga County

In Onondaga County, the site selection process for the incinerator appeared highly political: the nal criteria included willing sellers, industrial property, a willing host community, and a relatively low-population area. As such, it looks much like the rst and nal SWDA siting processes. However, the landll site selection process is more interesting and reects a third patternnamely educating elected ofcials. Looking at table 3, one can see that this process included a signicant number of policy criteria and yet was conducted in a highly political forum. In contrast to the administratively driven approaches to siting facilities described earlier, in Onondaga County, administrators and elected ofcials explicitly adopted a strategy that would force decision making back into the county legislature. Strategically, the administrators charged with developing the solid waste plan, or the G-Team, decided that they would make sure the legislators ratied decisions about solid waste at every step in the process. One administrator on the G-Team noted that the legislature took over 75 votes on solid waste policies during the incinerator and landll debates (OCRRA-10 Agency Ofcial 2000). As in the second SWDA case, Onondaga County administrators developed the criteria for the landll with input from a citizens advisory panel. Then the administrators went through a screening process to sort the land based on the criteria selected. Key factors included hydrogeology, avoiding oodplains and wetlands, avoiding parklands, and avoiding airport ight paths because of the birds that might cluster over a landll (Anonymous 1987). Using these criteria, the administrators began with 145 sites. At about this time, the G-Team asked for a vote of condence from the legislators and received it 15-9. The G-Team then set about narrowing the number of sites to 33 sites based on environmental criteria. At this point, the county executive insisted that the county pick a site where there
6 The Mohawks did threaten a lawsuit, but they did not affect the political dynamic in the jurisdiction because they were not constituents in St. Lawrence County.

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were willing sellers of the property, and this became a primary criterion in the effort to narrow to seven nal sites. However, this was the only aggregative criterion that entered the site selection. As it became clear that some districts were more likely to be targeted than others, the legislators began to seek ways to avoid making the selection or avoid the sites that had come to the fore. One proposal was to create a committee of ve appointees to make the selection in a nonpolitical waythe legislature narrowly rejected this proposal, 12-12. The legislators then began to search for alternative sites exploring extensively the possibility that an old quarry adjacent to the incinerator site might be used. This proposal and variations on it were rejected three times by the state DEC before the legislators gave up. The G-Team also engaged in some common public involvement strategies. The administrators drew on three citizen advisory groups, one delegated to study the incinerator, one to study the landll, and another to study recycling for some public input. These committees were formed out of the preexisting Environmental Management Council. Later, a fourth group would be created to study the health impacts of the incinerator. In addition, they conducted at least four public hearings on the landll and incinerator. Finally, the G-Team and the legislative leadership made a concerted effort to educate the elected ofcials. They scheduled eld trips to similar facilities in the region and in partnership with local universities developed education sessions for new legislators to learn about solid waste policy. In the end, the legislature selected the site and although there were willing sellers, the site was neither in a willing host community nor in a low-population border jurisdiction and was land that was part of an agricultural district. In an agonized debate, the legislators nally went with the site that the administrators had ranked the highest in terms of hydrogeology, amount of land available, central location, and cheapness to own and operate. In the nal debate over the landll sites, at one point, the chairman of the legislature begged the administrators to select a site for a landll and submit it to the legislature rather than asking the legislature to make the choice. After all, he argued, the county was paying experts who should know the best site. At this point an attorney with the G-Team responded Thats part of the problem you have, Bill, is the notion that somehow with the aid of God, you can pick the site that will be the perfect site and it aint going to happen. There is no such site. Youve got to make the hard decision. The attorney went on: There are socio-economic and political factors involved. Thats why we do not leave the business of war and peace in the hands of generals (Cazentre and Bramstedt 1989). There was also a debate over recycling, although the legislators did eventually give in on this as well. In 1987, the DEC told Onondaga County to prepare for a 40% recycling rate; however, in 1988 after an analysis of recycling, Onondaga County administrators announced an aggressive recycling plan of 30% including a law that would impose nes on those who did not recycle. The legislators passed the recycling bill by a wide margin but only included the 30% criteria. Only after the state passed the 40% recycling rate requirement into law did the county amend their recycling bill to include a 40% recycling rate. On importation, the legislature was less equivocal. In 1989, the legislature unanimously passed a measure to ban the importation of waste. However, in later years, they would selectively repeal this ban to help support the incinerator nancially. Where SWDA resisted aggregative demands that were potentially poor policy, the G-Team did have to accommodate some of them.

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With this mix of policy-based and political decisions but importantly also with legislative buy-in, this process proved remarkably resilient. Two aspects seem to have been critical: the emergence of legislative leadership and the understanding by rank and le legislators that the facilities were important. Several examples illustrate these points. During the debate over the incinerator, a citizens advisory group created to study the health impact of the facility made an unexpected announcement. In front of 500 people gathered at a public hearing, they announced that they were going to recommend the incinerator be relocated. The County Public Health Commissioner who had chaired this committee then came out in opposition to the facility. Reviewing the concerns of this group, the G-Team revised the environmental impact statement causing the risk to cancer from 24-h exposure to the WTE plant from 4.5 in a million to 9 in a million. Although the risk remained small, the legislators in the ranks began to waiver even as they had to take a vote on the environmental impact statement. The Chairman of the Legislature openly worried that the process might no longer be viable. At this point, the County Executive Nick Pirro called in his political allies, the trade unions, to lobby in support of the facilityostensibly because the facility would bring jobs. The vote carried by 13-10. At another point, the G-Team and the legislators had to take a series of votes to accept the private vendor for the contract to build the incinerator, to approve the nancing arrangement for the incinerator through the use of a public authority, to turn the garbage generated by the county over to the public authority, and to approve $2.6 million in debt for the solid waste planning process by a two-thirds vote. (They actually planned to create a public authority like SWDA and OHSWA to nance the facilities; however, unlike these other counties they did not create the public authority until after the most politically contentious parts of the process had been completed.) In June of 1989, Pirro brought the creation of a public authority to nance and manage the WTE to the legislature for a vote. Without a public authority to issue the debt, the county would not be able to afford the $178 million WTE, and the facility would go down in defeat. The vote failed by 9-10, not even receiving the 13-vote majority needed to make the vote valid. However, whereas in St. Lawrence County a failed vote brought down the entire process, in Onondaga County, the process did not collapse. The leadership in the legislature kept it moving, and the legislators realized they could not just abandon the facilities. The next day, the county executive brought the measure up again, and this time it passed by a bare 13-7 majority. For this vote, a Democrat (the legislature was controlled by Republicans) switched his vote on the public authority to keep the process moving. I did it for the greater good even though it conicted with my parochial interests, the legislator stated, and this was truethe legislator represented a district adjacent to the incinerator (Sanders 1989). In 1989, seven new legislators were elected, and the county executive feared that the support for the facility would be soft among the new legislators. Expressing a desire to have the legislators who spent the last 2 years studying the issues be the ones to vote on it, he called a lame duck session to try to resolve a number of the solid waste issues. However, when he brought up the issue of turning solid waste over to the public authority, the legislature again voted it down 9-14. The county executive brought the issue back up a few days later, and again, even the Democrats conceded that although they had concerns, they were committed to the process. The measure passed by 15-7. In 1990, with a number of new legislators taking their seats, including some who had been elected specically in opposition to the proposed incinerator and landll, the county

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still had to muster the two-thirds vote to issue $2.6 million in bonds to nance the planning process. Some legislators openly predicted that the county executive would not have the votes that he needed. Yet again, the legislature came through. This time two previous opponents switched their position, and the bond measure was approved by the needed 16 votes. Whereas St. Lawrence County was unable to muster a bare majority, in Onondaga County, the County Executive repeatedly was able to muster the votes that he needed to see the process through, up to a two-thirds margin. Although no doubt a certain amount of logrolling and political negotiation went on in this process, legislators told a member of the G-Team that if Pirro really needed the votes they would switch to support him (OCRRA-10 Agency Ofcial 2000). In effect, through a process of education and repeated voting, the legislators had internalized a preference for the G-Teams proposed policy. Further, this process had the benet of legislative leadership, which could bring votes back to the table, strategize on when to take votes, muster constituent groups in support, and no doubt, behind the scenes, swap and trade votes to get the project through. The legislature did press for more political considerations but ultimately accepted policy criteria. The effort to avoid the hard choice about the landll and incinerator actually led to some enormously creative thinking about ways to dispose of the waste. These debates included an on-going argument with the DEC about using old quarries or other damaged land rather than pristine greenelds for a landll. They also considered ways to render garbage inert through vitrication, ways to export garbage, the size of the facilities, and the amount of recycling that could possibly be an alternative to disposal. In the end, the legislators seem to have been satised that they had exhausted the alternatives, to the extent that even those in the opposition would switch their votes to keep the process moving.
CONCLUSION

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This dilemma of how to infuse professional policy knowledge into democratic decision making is a central question in public administration. The rise of the administrative state in the early 20th century was driven by the realization that modern societies required a professional and skilled public service to handle the demands of an industrialized and urban modern society (White 1926; Wilson 1887). For instance, a landll in New York State can no longer be a dump located on an undesirable parcel of land near a town. A landll must be designed for the hydrogeology of the site, must have a double composite liner, and requires long-term leachate testing to ensure protection of the groundwater. This increased technical complexity is also accompanied by increased legal and nancial complexity. Now the concern is that the reliance on professional administrators comes at the expense of democratic decision making. Further, the effort to make decisions more professional or rational has led to changes in the underlying institutional structure through which democratic decisions are madeoften at the expense of elected ofcials and by extension the public at large (Lowi 1969; Ostrom 1989; Seidman and Gilmore 1986; Waldo 1948). However, the debate over these changes has primarily been normative. On the one hand, some argue that the professionalism of administrators plays an important role in modern democracy (Long 1952; Rohr 1986; Spicer and Terry 1993). Others argue that administrators need to return more decision making to the legislature to restore the original constitutional balance of power (Burke 1986; Lowi 1969).

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This research examines the empirical implications of actually changing the underlying institutional structure. The creation of the solid waste public authorities was an explicit strategy to alter the institutional relationship between the administrators and elected ofcials in an effort to improve the rationality or professional merit of decision making. However, using politically buffered institutions created a dilemma: these institutions were more likely to be policy focused, but a professional policy orientation made the administrators less likely to effect change when their choices came into conict with political concerns. The policy makers did have the DANC option, which was to give the public authority signicant power to bargain in a political process. However, these powerful public authorities raise serious concerns of autocratic and technocratic decision making (Caro 1975; Walsh 1978). All forms of public authorities raise concerns about an abandonment of democratic values. Another alternative was accommodating political or aggregative political concerns which often undermined professional policy criteria in decision making. Although one might argue that this is simply the price of democracy or reects alternative values, there are legitimate reasons that administrators and elected ofcials themselves might be concerned about the effects of political pressure. Elected ofcials, tied to short-term electoral cycles, may make decisions that underestimate long-term environmental or nancial risks (Downs 1957; Frant 1989). Political processes may be less fair since elected ofcials may face incentives to minimize controversy at the expense of minorities, the environment, or other voiceless and voteless constituencies. Ironically, they might also minimize controversy at the expense of a disinterested majority in the face of political pressure from a passionate minority (Downs 1957)a potential dynamic in solid waste debates which generate intense not in my backyard protest. Finally, elected ofcials, by necessity, must deal with a variety of policy issues and are generally amateurs in any one policy arena. They themselves are often concerned that they do not have the knowledge to make a good policy decision. At the same time, our existing democratic governing institutions are a forum where a vast array of values and policy preferences can be debated and legitimately brought to bear on crafting a policy solution. Further, legislative bodies constrain the autocratic power of the executive and administrative bodies. The continual challenge is to nd strategies or institutional structures that draw on the strengths of existing political institutions while nding ways to shore up their weaknesses. The Onondaga County landll case is important because it suggests an alternative to either political buffering or political capitulation. Notably, the Onondaga County landll debate had the same professional policy/politics mix as the authoritarian DANC process but was conducted in an open forum with open debate. This process used existing institutional arrangements but with a distinct strategy. Here, the administrators and county executive aggressively pushed decision making and thus responsibility back into the county legislature. The choice of this strategy indicates signicant leadership, but its long-term effect seems to have been one of substantial legislative buy-in to the proposed solution as well. The instinct in public administration for almost a century has been to make decision making more reasoned, (Flyvbjerg 1991), and although rarely explicitly acknowledged, this has led to efforts to take decision making out of political institutions. The creation of the New York State solid waste public authorities is a case in point. However, the ndings in this analysis suggest that our existing political institutions may have the capacity to be more resilient and more informed than commonly supposed. The challenge for public

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administrators is to gure out strategies that can better engage elected ofcials and bring more and better information to bear on decision making without sacricing fundamental democratic values.

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