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Struggle for Power and Influence in Cities and States, The

Struggle for Power and Influence in Cities and States, The

Dick Simpson, James Nowlan, Elizabeth O'Shaughnessy

Feb 2010, Hardback, 384 pages
ISBN13: 9780321105189
ISBN10: 0321105184
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The Struggle provides an insider’s perspective on how power and influence are obtained and wielded at the local and state levels of government.

By examining the social, economic, political and governmental conditions in communities and states, The Struggle equips students with the understanding they need to make the impact they want.


Chapter 1: Introduction: The Struggle for Power and Influence

Importance of State and Local Politics

Learning About Local Politics and Government

Scope of the Book

The Struggle



Chapter 2: Constitutions and Charters: The Foundations of State

The Beginnings of State and Local Governments in the United States

Constitutions and Charters–the Ballpark of Politics

State Constitutions

City (Municipal) Charters

Forms of Local Government

Chapter 3: Struggles in State Legislatures and City Councils

Serving in the City Council or the State Legislature

Struggling for Power and Influence in Legislative Bodies

Legislative Life

Who are the lawmakers

Lawmaking Roles

Organizing and Operating a Legislative Body

The Capacity to Legislate Effectively

Committees as the Fountain and Deathtrap of Legislation


Making your Bill a Law

Limits on Lawmakers

Making Decisions is Not Simple

Ethics in Legislative Decision Making — The “Queasiness” Test

“How’re We Doin’?” in our Legislative Bodies

Chapter 4: Executive Power in State and Local Government

State and Local Chief Executives Struggle for Power

Powers of Governors and Mayors as Chief Executives

The Various Roles of Chief Executives

History of State and Local Executive Power

The State Executive Branch

Executive Officials in City and County Government

Running a Bureaucracy


Chapter 5: Election Battles

Getting Elected

Nowlan and Simpson Campaigns

Deciding to Run

Launching a Candidacy

Developing a Campaign Strategy

A Candidate’s Image

A Campaign’s Message

Winning Elections

Chapter 6: Justice and Corrections


People in the Criminal Justice System

Processes of the Criminal Justice System

Outcomes of the Justice System

Civil Cases

Chapter 7: Federalism: Playing Tug of War

Historical Background of Federalism

State and Local Governmental Connections with the Federal Judicial Branch

State and Local Governmental Connections with the Federal Legislative Branch

State and Local Governmental Connections with the Federal Executive Branch

Interplay between Congress, State and Local Government, and Federal Agencies

The Tug of War among States — Horizontal Federalism

Interplay between States and Local Governments

States and Cities Today: Stronger in the Tug of War?

Intergovernmental Relations: A Summary


Chapter 8: Participation in State and Local Government

Paid Lobbyists

Lobbying in the Legislative Process

Journalists’ and the Media’s Role as Community Watchdogs


Citizen Activists

Community Organizations

Roles Citizens Can Play


Ch. 9: Follow the Money — The Politics of State and Local Budgeting

Budgets as Allocations of Our Values and Demands or Needs

Enormous Pressure to Spend

Finding the Revenue Always a Struggle

The Big Three Taxes: Sales, Income, Property

Should We Tax Sales on the Internet?

Evaluating Revenue Sources: The Old Regressive-Progressive Debate

Budgeting Process Is Simple, But Decisions Are Difficult

The Office of Management and Budget

Capital Borrowing and Spending

The Politics of “Shift and Shaft"

Political Dynamics of Budgeting

Budget Trends

Chapter 10. Metropolitanization and Globalization

Governing the Metropolitan Region

Urban Sprawl

Gated Communities


Problems of Metropolitanization and Globalization

Our Neighbors: Canada and Mexico

Getting Along with Our Neighbors


Chapter 11: The Struggle for the Schoolhouse and Campus

The Historical Development of American Public Education

Public School Education — From Kindergarten through High School

The Federal Role in Education

Who Pays for Public Education?

Non-public School Education

The Campuses Struggle to Maintain Independence


Chapter 12: Democracy and Ethics at the Grassroots

Representative Democracy

Metropolitanization and Globalization

Ethics in Politics

Practical Exercises

Chapter Notes

Comprehensive, balanced coverage of both state and local government and politics is found in every chapter.

Struggle for Power boxes highlight the text’s overall theme and animate the presentation by focusing on important political struggles pulled from the headlines.

An Insider’s View boxes provide concrete examples told from the perspective of those closest to the political action.

Practical Exercises at the end of every chapter promote civic involvement.

Questions for Review help students ensure they’ve mastered the key concepts of each chapter.

Discussion Questions provide a jumping off point for engaging in political discussions in or out of class.

The text explores four specific themes throughout its chapters:

  1. The role of power and influence in state and local government and politics
  2. The tension between representative and participatory politics
  3. The ways in which the structures of government and political processes interact
  4. Whether the outcomes produced by the governmental institutions and processes are good or bad.