Pols 207 Exam 4 Review

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From where do local communities in the United States get their authority to govern themselves? How does this differ from the legal status of states?

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Chapter 10-12

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1

From where do local communities in the United States get their authority to govern themselves? How does this differ from the legal status of states?

State governments; state authority comes from constitution and the people

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2

How does Dillon’s rule restrict the powers of local governments?

States that states power must be expressly granted by the constitution or law; narrow interpretation of local authority

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3

What is meant by the “political function” and “service function” of local governments?

Political function is “who gets what?” and manages conflict over public policy.

Service function is providing services not offered by private sector (i.e. market failure or natural monopolies)

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4

Explain the difference between general-purpose and special-purpose governments.

General purpose are governments that provide a wide range of services (i.e. county govt, municipal/city govt, and towns/townships)

Special purpose are governments that fulfill a special purpose and must provide a single service (i.e. special districts)

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5

What are some of the functions of county governments?  

Provide basic services such as law enforcement, courts, roads, public health/records. Also serve as limited administrator for state functions (i.e. vehicle licensing and voter registration)

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6

How are Texas counties structured?

All use traditional county commission structure; structure and powers are defined by TX constitution (Commissioners’ Court w/ 4 elected commissioners and a county judge)

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7

What is the legal status of a city? What does it mean to say that an area is “incorporated”?

Municipal corporation; incorporated communities are granted power of self government by the state

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8

What is a city charter?

States grant power of self government to incorporated communities, determines structures and powers of city govt (what it can and can’t do), and is like a mini constitution

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9

What are the key differences between various types of charters?

Special Act charters are for one community granted directly by the state (relatively rare), given special enactment by legislature

General Act/Law are when legislature defines size at which an area can incorporate, “one size fits all” city (only have powers granted to them by state)

Home Rule are when local community adopts its own form of govt (have inherent powers not granted by state constitution or law)

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10

What is meant by "home rule"?

Cities, population of over 5000, that have full power of self govt; can do all but what legislature forbids

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11

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of home rule?

Advantages: Reduced legislative interference, state legislatures can focus on state affairs, may choose form of govt and local administration, more control over local govt policies

Disadvantages: Frequent charter amendments can lead to perception of instability, fragmentation of public policy, local interest groups have more influence, longer ballots

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12

What are some of the forms city government can take?

Commission, town meeting (and representative town meeting), council-manager, mayor-council

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13

Commission

Elected commissioners in a small governing board, commissioners represent departments of city govt, may suffer problems from “govt by committee” and infighting

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14

Town Meeting

Direct democracy where all voters decide policy, elected officials called Board of Selectmen implement policy, actual participation may be low, found in New England

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15

Council-Manager government

Attempts to separate political and administrative functions, elected council and mayor makes policy and budget, council appoints city manager to carry out city business (manager is a contracted professional by the city), common in mid sized cities

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16

Mayor-Council

May be best at dealing with problems of major urban areas, strong opinions/big actions can galvanize large groups, both strong and weak in sub forms, common in larger cities

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17

What are some of the differences between strong mayor-council and weak mayor-council forms of government?

Strong: Council is legislative and mayor is chief executive w/ veto, mayor has considerable formal powers (i.e. agenda setting power, manages depts and daily operations, appointment and removal powers, fiscal power over govt), sometimes leads to political corruption

Weak: Council is legislative and executive authority and mayor has little power outside of council, mayor (elected or peer selected) has weak powers (limited agenda setting power, limited exec power, no veto), mayor is a ceremonial/figurehead role, informal power very important

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18

What are some of the key features of local elections?

Important things w/ direct and measurable effects on quality of life (i.e. policing, noise, sewage), few actual participants (voter turnout is low and disproportionate influence of seniors and middle class)

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19

What kinds of issues and interests matter most in local races?

Group identities and interests, who gets what, issues are more personal, and less media coverage

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20

How do single-member districts (district, ward, precinct, etc.) and at-large seats work for electing members of the city council?

Single member districts are divided into geographic districts whose residents elect one member to represent them on the council; better represents diversity.

At large seats are voted on by all city residents w/o regard to geographic area; members take a broad view of the city and its problems

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21

What is a metropolis? What traits characterize metropolitan life?

A large city that is a significant economic, political, and cultural area for the region

Population size and density, heterogeneity of population, regional social and economic interdependence (shared benefits and problems), and authority fragmented among many govts

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22

What are some of the traditional differences between the residents of suburbs and those who live in the urban core of a city?

Suburbs are traditionally middle class (old suburbs are poorer when better off residents leave), less diverse (history of discriminatory housing policies), lean Republican (recently more competitive), still associated with child centered families

Urban core is often poorer, more diverse, more Democratic, has unavoidable city taxes

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23

What is meant by “flight” (e.g. “white flight”) and how did it lead to a decline in the urban core of the city?

When wealthier (and often white) residents leave declining neighborhoods to move outward

Areas lose consumer spending and tax revenues, and service may decline

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24

What is gentrification, and why can it be controversial?

Changing the character of neighborhoods via influx of higher-income residents

Displaces older residents and businesses due to rising prices, loss of unique neighborhood culture, often displaces POC

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25

What are some examples of some land-use policies that can restrict growth? What are some consequences of these policies?

Zoning laws, subdivision control, utility and environmental regulations, and building permits

Shortages of affordable housing; costs fall on poor, working class, minorities, and renters; rents increase and property taxes may become unaffordable

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26

What is eminent domain? In what ways does the U.S. Constitution restrict its use?

Taking of private property for public use by the govt or designated right of way agent; use has to be public and property owners must be compensated

5th amendment ensures private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation

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27

How did the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) change the legal understanding of public use?

Broadened the term “public use” to “public purpose”; essentially took power from residents and gave it to the city when defining what exactly counted as public use

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28

What solutions do regionalism and localism advance for providing services and addressing the common problems of metropolitan areas?

Regionalism wants to centralize and consolidate govts and services; reduce costs w/ economies of scale, suburbanites shouldn’t free ride, and clear lines of responsibility

Localism wants local govts to stay separate and provide services for own communities; locals keep unique community identity, decentralization of power (locals have more access to govt and opportunities for effective participation), can retain control of funding especially for schools

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29

What does the Tiebout Model claim about an individual’s choice of local community? What are some shortcomings of this model?

Govts are producers of public services and citizens are consumers. Local govts exist in a marketplace, govts offer services for various prices (i.e. tax rates), and persons/businesses vote with their feet and move to their desired community

Makes assumptions of mobility, choice, and perfect information

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30

In Texas, what degree of municipal annexation power do cities have?

Home rule cities used to be able to annex adjoining territory without the consent of the residents in the territory. Now, all Texas cities must have residents approval for annexation per the HB 347 law

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31

What are some of the key governments, government agencies, and governing bodies that are involved in setting education policy?

States and local govts

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32

What are some of the traditional roles of states and local governments in providing for the education of those living in their communities? 

Establishing schools and colleges, developing curricula, determining enrollment and graduation requirements, sharing responsibility for funding (results in great variation at state and local levels)

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33

Describe the role the federal government has played in public education. Characterize the debate over the role that the federal government should play.

Federal govt can create programs, mandates, and standards for education in the states (i.e. National School Lunch and Milk program and No Child Left Behind).

Debates over common/shared national standards, state flexibility and rights, one-size-fits-all policies, too much federal encroachment, difficulty of implementation and monitoring

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34

Which key issues have shaped Texas education policy for primary and secondary education?

Desegregation, equity in public school funding, and search for educational excellence

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35

Which taxes do local governments primarily rely on to fund public schools? How can this create issues of equity in school funding?

Property taxes

Property-wealthy districts have a leg up over property-poor districts

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36

How does Texas attempt to equalize differences in the funding levels of local public schools?

Requiring wealthier districts to transfer funding to poorer districts; this is resented by rich districts, plagued with problems, and hasn’t actually resolved inequalities

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37

What are some of the roles states play in higher education?

Establish colleges and universities

Regulation of colleges including: tuition, financing, and reporting; research; admissions (top 10% rule); some curriculum requirements; share responsibility for funding

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38

What are some of the sources of revenues for Texas public universities?

Appropriation in state budget, permanent university fund (for UT and A&M), Texas university fund, student tuition and fees, endowments, donations, gifts, public and private grants

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39

How has the funding of public universities changed over the last few decades?

Declining state support in funding and greater reliance on tuition and fees

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40

What is criminal law, and what is the role of the state in punishing crime?

Law that deals with actions harmful to the state as a whole

The state is the accuser (plaintiff) and prosecutor; the state asserts an exclusive right to punish crime

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41

What is the standard of guilt in a criminal case?

The burden of proof is on the state/prosecutor, and “beyond a reasonable doubt”

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42

What is the difference between violent crime and property crime?

Violent crime is crimes against persons (homicide, assault, robbery)

Property crime is crime against property (theft, breaking in, vehicle theft)

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43

How has the U.S. crime rate changed since the 1960s?

Crime rate has fallen over recent decades despite a recent uptick (that’s still lower than the 1990s)

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44

What was the "tough on crime" movement?  What are some example of "tough on crime" laws enacted by states?

“Tough on crime” was sentencing laws w/ longer sentences, reduced judicial flexibility, mandatory minimums, etc. Aim was to be stricter on crime and battle the rising crime rate (i.e. War on Drugs)

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45

What effects has the "war on drugs" had on the U.S. criminal justice system?

Huge driver of mass incarceration; it added and increased penalties for dealing, possessing, and using illegal substances

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46

According to criminal justice theory, what are the five rationales for punishment?

Retribution: Wrong to community must be repaid

Incapacitation: Societal protection

Deterrence: Keep others form committing same crime (punishment is an example)

Rehabilitation: Reintegrate offender into society

Restoration/Reparation: Conceives return to justice and the communal order as restitution and “repairing” the harm

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47

How does the U.S. incarceration rate compare to that of other countries? In which states and regions of the U.S. is the incarceration rate highest?

U.S. rate is extremely higher than other countries (over double the rate of most countries)

Mississippi, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas have some of the highest rates

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48

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, what makes a punishment cruel and unusual? What happened as result of the court case in which these legal principles were established?

Cruel or unusual if its: degrading to human dignity, inflicted in a wholly arbitrary fashion, clearly and totally rejected throughout society, and patently unnecessary

The case was overturned

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