For our next-to-final discussion in this class, we are going to review state & local government relationships. Before answering this discussion, you should read Chapter 8, review the lecture, and read the two short readings – “Kasich” and “Hand Off”.
As we have discussed throughout this class, and is mentioned fairly heavily in this chapter, cities, towns, and other local government generally have no right of existence other than that which is provided for by the associated state in which they are located. Even in states that constitutionally guarantee local government, the powers that can be levied by local government are usually fairly restrictive. Nevertheless, the vast majority of services received by citizens is performed by local government, and thus it is the level of government most obviously connected to their lives on a daily basis.
With that thought in mind, I want you to use a city or local government with which you are familiar – your hometown, a nearby city, etc – that has faced an issue predominantly affecting local citizens but which has had a great deal of state involvement.
1. What was the issue, or what did it involve?
2. How was the state also involved in this issue? Did it override local control? Did it provide assistance dealing with the issue? Were there contentious feelings or personalities involved?
3. What was the outcome of the issue, or is it still ongoing? If it is still ongoing, what do you think will be the likely outcome of the issue?
4. Were there/are there opportunities in which the federal government could have provided assistance, or did actions by the federal government precipitate action in the first place?
5. In your opinion, how much state involvement should there have been, considering the specifics of the issue.
As an example, where I work, the City of Asheville was locked in a years-long battle with the State of North Carolina over the fate of its water system. Four or five years ago, coinciding with a change in party control of the State, legislators voted to strip the city of its water system and turn it over to a special district created by the State. The City filed suit, and was ultimately successful in court in arguing that the seizure has been an undue deprivement of the property of the citizens of Asheville. Ultimately, the City won its lawsuit, though some legislators have hinted that they may revisit in a different form.
As we wind down this class, I hope to see quite a robust discussion. Everyone is aware of some issue going on in their community that has had some level of state involvement, whether that be emergency managers taking over Detroit or state abolition of an ineffective school board.
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