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The Nature of State &Local Relations. Most state constitutions create a unitary system in which power is concentrated in a central government Unlike states, local governments usually have no constitutional authority in their own right

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The Nature of State &Local Relations

  • Most state constitutions create a unitary systemin which power is concentrated in a central government
  • Unlike states, local governments usually have no constitutional authority in their own right
  • Constitutional home rule granted constitutional independence to some local units

The Nature of State &Local Relations

Counties in the United States

  • The largest jurisdiction within a state
  • Originally organized on the idea that the county seat would be no more than a day’s journey for anyone within the county’s borders
  • Traditional functions:
    • Law enforcement
    • Highway construction/maintenance
    • Tax collection and property assessment
    • Recording legal papers
    • Administration of welfare programs

Growth of Governments in the United States

Type of government 1997 2007

U.S. government 1

State government 50

Local government 87,453

County 3,043

Municipal 19,372

Township 16,629

School district 13.726

Special district 34,683

Total 87,504




SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, at


The 17 Largest U.S. Counties by Population

  • 1. Los Angeles County, California
  • 2. Cook County, Illinois
  • 3. Harris County, Texas
  • 4. Maricopa County, Arizona
  • 5. San Diego County, California
  • 6. Orange County, California
  • 7. Kings County, New York
  • 8. Miami-Dade County, Florida
  • 9. Dallas County, Texas
  • Queens County, New York
  • 11. Riverside, California
  • San Bernardino County, California
  • Wayne County, Michigan
  • King County, Washington
  • 15. Clark County, NV
  • Broward County, Florida
  • Santa Clara County, California

The Commission Form of County Government

The Council with Elected Executive Form of Government


Towns, Cities, Suburbs

  • The Rise of “Edge Cities”

Ten Largest U.S. Cities and Nine Fastest Growing by Population

1. New York, N.Y.

2. Los Angeles, Calif.

3. Chicago, Ill.

4. Houston, Tex.

5. Philadelphia, Pa.

6. Phoenix, Ariz.

7. San Antonio, Tex.

8. San Diego, Calif.

9. Dallas, Tex.

10. San Jose, Calif.

  • 1. Lincoln, CA
  • 2. Surprise, AZ
  • 3. Frisco, TX
  • 4. Goodyear, AZ
  • Beaumont, CA
  • Louisville/Jefferson County, KY
  • Pflugerville, TX
  • Indian Trail, NC
  • Wylie, TX

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010


City GovernmentDifferent ways of structuring city government, and the functions of mayors.

City Government

  • 19,492 municipalities
    • 9,000 have less than 1,000 residents
    • 58 have 300,000 or more
  • Three supercities
    • New York
    • Los Angeles
    • Chicago

City Government Today

  • The Mayor-Council Charter
  • Weak Mayor Councils and Strong Mayor Councils
  • The Council-Manager Charter

The Mayor-Council Form of City Government

  • Weak Mayor-Council Form
    • Members of the city council select the mayor, who then shares power with other elected or appointed boards and commissions



Strong Mayor-Council Form

Voters directly elect the city council and the mayor, who enjoys almost total administrative authority and appoints department heads

carry out policy


The Council-Manager Form of City Government




Department heads

carry out policy


The 10 Fastest-Growing Metropolitan Areas

  • 1. Palm Coast, FL
  • 2. St. George, UT
  • 3. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
  • 4. Raleigh-Cary, NC
  • 5. Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, FL
  • 6. Provo-Orem, UT
  • 7. Greeley, CO
  • Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX
  • Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, SC
  • Bend, OR

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010


The Central City and Its Politics

Meeting the Challenges of Growth and Economic Development

  • Annexation
  • Agreements to furnish services
  • Public authorities
  • Special districts
  • Regional coordinating and planning councils
  • City council consolidations
  • Federated government
  • Community self-help

California Consists of

58 Counties

500+ Cities

1025+ School Districts

Other Districts


Ten Largest Cities in California

1. Los Angeles 3,957,875 

2. San Diego 1,305,736 

3. San Jose 944,857 

4. San Francisco 799,263 

5. Long Beach 491,564 

6. Fresno 464,727

7. Sacramento 452,959  

8. Oakland 412,318 

9. Santa Ana 351,697

10. Anaheim 345,317


The Central City and Its Politics

Central City Politics

  • Most people live in metropolitan areas.
    • 84% live in metropolitan areas.
    • 27% live in cities bigger than 100,000.
  • Gentrification
    • Wealthy people buy property in poorer areas of a city.

The Central City and Its Politics

  • Today, most people live in metropolitan areas, which include large cities and their suburbs
  • The shrinking tax base in cities has made it difficult to raise sufficient revenue
  • However, the demand for services has not decreased
  • In recent years, many central cities have shown signs of rejuvenation

Urban renewal has brought new life to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD


Metropolitics Today

Future of Metropolitan Reorganization

  • Problems of central cities
    • Congestion, smog, tension, loss of community, drugs, unsafe streets, neglected children, visual pollution
  • Centers of innovation, excitement, and vitality

Meeting the Challenges of Growth and Economic Development

  • Until recently, almost everybody wanted to see his or her city grow
  • Beginning about 20 years ago, an antigrowth movement developed in many cities

Eminent Domain

  • The power of government to take private land for public purposes
  • Has existed since the country’s founding
  • Tempered by a right to compensation
  • Recent controversies

The Role of the Mayor

  • Need for a strong mayor developed in the late nineteenth century, with America’s industrialization
  • The typical mayor is
    • A college graduate
    • A business or legal professional
    • An experienced grassroots politician
  • Main responsibilities
    • Administration
    • Promoting economic opportunities

Antonio Villaraigosa is the first Hispanic Mayor of a major city in the U.S.

New York City mayor Bloomberg considered running for president as a third-party candidate in the 2008


The Role of the Mayor

Who Influences Local Policy Making?

  • Citizens
    • Normally, the citizenry does not pay much attention
    • Citizens often become active when a new policy is proposed that directly affects them
  • Organized workers
  • Business leaders
  • Neighborhood associations
  • Professional associations
  • Good government associations
  • Home builders and developers
  • Racial and ethnic groups

Southern California consists of

  • 1 in 8 Hispanics in the US resides in LA County
  • 1 in 10 Asians in the US reside in LA County
  • 1 in 9 foreign born in the US reside in LA County
  • The LA Region has the highest concentration of Asian population (2.6 million) in the nation
  • Largest number of Hispanics – in terms of numbers (8.9 million) and percentage of total population (39%)
    • 45 American Indian Reservations
    • 61 Hawaiian Home Lands