Okay, so this may not seem to have a lot to do with LOCAL politics - but trust me, it does. (And even if it didn't it's still worth your 5 minutes!)
Mark Blyth is a professor of International Political Economy at Brown University and faculty fellow at its Watson Institute for International Studies. He is writing "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea," forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2011.
Just to tie it together a little bit, local governments are ultimately the agents responsible for administering public and social services. When national governments - or in our case, federal or state governments - cut public services and funding for support programs, it is the local governments that are squeezed most. Many times the services they provide are even mandated by local rules or legislation (i.e. the "independent socialist republic of San Francisco"), and so the services just go unfunded or the localities have to raise finances on their own. In both cases, the public takes it our on the the city/county/district first. No fair!