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North Idaho College • Coeur d'Alene • Social & Behavioral Sciences • Political Science

State and Local Government POLS-275

  • Fall 2012
  • Section 2
  • 3.0 Credits
  • 08/27/2012 to 12/20/2012
  • Modified 08/28/2012

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Richard Tanksley, [email protected] Office Location: MOL 201F  Phone: 769-3325 Office Hours - Mon 12:00-2:15, Tue 12-12:45, Wed 9:45-10:15 & 12:00-2:30 or by appointment.

Instructor: Ken Thompson JD [email protected] Office Location: Post Hall 104    Phone: 676-7157  Office Hours -TBD

Meeting Times

Tue. 10:30 – 11:45AM, Location: LKH 242


Using a comparative approach, this course examines the characteristics and qualities of both state and local governments. Emphasis is placed on how local and state governments are organized and how they operate. Additional issues that are examined from a state and local government context include: federalism, the role of political parties, participation, land use, finances and various policies that are important to government at the state and local levels. This course fulfills a social science requirement for both the A.A. and A.S. degrees. Lecture: 3 hours per week


Required: Simon, C.A., Steel, B.S. & N.P. Lovrich. State and Local Government: Sustainability in the 21st Century (2010). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199752001

You will also be required to access articles from the internet and library as needed.


POLS 275      State and Local Government


This course is designed to give students a more intimate knowledge of the functions and design of state and local governments in the United States. As a result of taking this course students will:


?   Gain a greater understanding of their underlying philosophy of the role of government. 


?    Be able to identify, understand and apply political science concepts and theories to historical and contemporary issues in state and local government.


?    Obtain a basic working knowledge about the evolution, differences and important functions of state and local government.


?    Become knowledgeable in the election process, the various types of officials and the institutions of state and local government.


?    Gain an understanding of what federalism is and how the bureaucracy functions.


?    Develop critical thinking skills and knowledge of specific policy areas affecting local and state government. Examples of such policy areas include but are not limited to land development, planning, judicial issues, taxation, civil rights and education.


?    Learn the basics of budgeting and fiscal considerations as they relate to state and local government.


?    Gain an understanding of the ethical and moral issues that are involved with government service and citizenship.


The assessment of these outcomes will include exams, discussion, case studies, writing assignments and class participation.   


Assessments (Student Evaluation Procedures)

Students will be assessed through exams, simulations, assignments and participation according to the following weights and schedule. If a student wants to pursue a course topic in more detail, a substitute for one of the assignments may be offered.

Grading                              % of grade                  # of points

Exam 1                                    17                                170

Exam 2                                    17                                170

Exam 3                                    18                                180

City/State Folder                     10                                100

Assignments                           30                                300

Class Participation                    8                                  80

Total grade                            100%                          1000

Exams are designed to assess how well each student is learning the material. The type of exam will vary and may include multiple choice, short answer and essay questions.

City/State Folder: In groups of two, students will adopt a state, city or county government. Students will be required to follow their adopted government and provide information as to the leadership, design of local government, budgeting information, local policies and local governmental news.

Assignments will be given at various times during the course. Such assignments generally include attending a live, local governmental meeting, a court session, analyzing case studies, outside reading and discussions.  

Class participation requires students to discuss and analyze topics within the text and outside readings that are relevant to state and local government. Grading will be based upon the depth of student involvement. Participation also includes any online activities. Excessive absences will impact this grade.

Any use of outside sources for any work during this course should include citations.

The Grading scale for the entire course:         

92 to 100% =  A               90 to 91.9% = A-    

88 to 89.9% = B+             82 to 87.9% = B                80 to 81.9% = B-

78 to 79.9% = C+             72 to 77.9% = C                70 to 71.9% = C-

68 to 59.9% = D+             62 to 67.9% = D                60 to 61.9% = D-

Below 60 = Fail

Course Policies


  • It is your responsibility to attend classes. Class will start on time and you may be assessed two absences if you leave early without permission or arrive late to class. We reserve to right to keep you from entering class if you are frequently tardy. You do not have to notify either instructor if you are absent, though arrangements must be quickly made to make up any missed exam. We do not initiate instructor withdrawals. Thus, if you do not attend, you are responsible for withdrawing or a grade of F will result.
  • Under no circumstances should you come to class if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, have a fever or are coughing excessively.
  • Make-up policy: Students are allowed to make up graded work or tests if an absence is due to participation in extra-curricular, school-sponsored activities. A note or schedule from school authorities should be provided. Late assignments without good cause will result in a 5% grade reduction per week. An excessive amount of late assignments will not be accepted and a grade of zero for those assignments will be recorded.  
  • Except for extreme circumstances, any exam not made up within a week will be recorded as a zero. If you miss a second exam, a documented reason must be provided. Make-up exams are given entirely at our discretion and may be formatted differently.

 Classroom Conduct:

Please pay attention during class and avoid distracting others. We do not allow any electronics to be used during class, including cell phones or computers without permission. Please do not text, web surf, read the newspaper or enter into side conversations during class.

In addition to the division's policies on academic dishonesty, there is no excuse for plagiarism. Copying and pasting or using other's intellectual ideas in any manner will result in a grade of Fail and college disciplinary action. If you use someone else's exact words, you need quotation marks and a citation. If you use another's thoughts, you need a citation no matter how small the assignment is.

Additional Items

Course Schedule - Please note that this schedule may be modified as necessary.

Week of      Chapter topic                                        Hybrid Exercise

Aug 28       1. Introduction and Themes                   Quiz in Angel over syllabus

Sept 4        2. Federalism                                         Pick a city/state for folder

Sept 11      3. The New Margins Sustainability         Attend a city council meeting

Sept 18      4. Actors and the Policy Process            AIDS Policy Discussion Board

Sept 25      5. State Constitutions                             Review for Test

Oct  2         Test 1             

Oct  9         6. Legislatures                                        Case study: Gambling

Oct  16       7. Executives                                          Discussion Board on Corruption

Oct  23       8. Courts.                                                Attend a local court session

Oct  30       Advising Day, no class                            City Life Game

Nov  6        9. State and Local Bureaucracy              Review for Test

Nov  13       Test 2                                                     Pirates reading assignment

Nov  20     10. Budgeting and Sustainability.             City/State Folder due

Nov  27      Outside Reading: Govt Pirates                Case Study TBD

Dec  4        11. Entitlements                                        

Dec  11      12. Traditional and Visible Services          Review for Test

Dec 17-20            Final TBD    


Method of Course Delivery  

The Instructional Methods of this course will consist of lectures, discussion, student writing, presentations and learning exercises. It is also expected that students will attend a local government meeting, a court session and/or observe media presentations of such meetings. This is a hybrid course, meaning that part of the traditional classroom is substituted by internet learning and exercises. You must access this course from "My NIC Courses" online on a regular basis.

Academic Freedom - Student academic performance may be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. I encourage everyone to express their own views and opinions while respecting others who may hold different views.

Instructor Comments - We congratulate you on your quest to learn more about state and local government. May you have a rewarding and successful semester. If at anytime during the course I can be of individual assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 The DMV will often say that driving is a privilege, what they often fail to realize though is that regulating driving is an even greater privilege.  RT


Division Policies

For a complete explanation of the North Idaho College Statement on Academic Honesty & Academic Integrity please ferfer to Policy 5.06 & Procedure 5.06.01: 

Academic Dishonesty
Violations of academic integrity involve using or attempting to use any method that enables an individual to misrepresent the quality or integrity of his or her work at North Idaho College. These violations include the following:

Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study in any academic exercise.
Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise.
Plagiarism: knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in an academic exercise.
Violation of Intellectual Property: stealing, altering, or destroying the academic work of other members of the community or the educational resources,materials, or official documents of the college. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of this policy.

Student Responsibility
As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, all North Idaho College students have both rights and responsibilities: Please access www.nic.ferpa.StudentCode/index.htm for complete information that pertains to this subject.

North Idaho College, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, provides both services and accommodations to students who meet the guidelines provided in these acts.  For a complete description, please see:

Please contact the North Idaho College Center for Educational Access in Seiter Hall, Room 100 for assistance.  Phone:  208-769-5947

To withdraw from all courses a student must obtain a college withdrawal form from the Registrar's Office, secure the signatures of those persons indicated on the form, and return the form to the Registrar's office. No student may withdraw from the college after the final date of withdrawal from courses except for compelling and extraordinary reasons. In such circumstances a student must petition the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee for late withdrawal from college using the college withdrawal form available in the Registrar's Office.


For complete information regarding student withdrawals, please see the North Idaho College Policy 5.04.01: 

Institutional Policies

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct applies to any student enrolled at North Idaho College.  This includes, but is not limited to, face-to-face classes and Internet classes.

Student Responsibilities

As students undertake to fulfill the obligations and duties outlined in this document, the college community of which they are a part undertakes to respect the basic freedoms of students. In recognition of students’ rights and dignity as members of the college, North Idaho College is committed to the principles found in the NIC Student Handbook.

Center for Educational Access/Disability Support Services

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, North Idaho College provides accommodations to eligible students who experience barriers in the educational setting due to learning, emotional / mental, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities.  Instructors will provide accommodations to students only after having received a Letter of Accommodation from the Center for Educational Access. 

If a student would like to request accommodations, he or she must contact the Center for Educational Access so that a Letter of Accommodation may be sent to the instructor.  Students requesting accommodations must contact the Center for Educational Access at the beginning of each semester.


By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You also understand that collection costs and legal fees will be added if the services of a collection agency are utilized.

If you are registered for a class and do not attend, you will still be liable for the tuition unless you drop the class.


Last day for students to withdraw from semester-length classes:

Instructor-Initiated Withdrawal: Instructors have the right to withdraw students for academic reasons up until the same date; in doing so, instructors must notify students through NIC e-mail within 48 hours of submitting documentation to the Registrar's office, and students have the right to appeal the instructor's decision. For more information, see the NIC Procedure:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy: All withdrawals, whether for individual classes, total withdrawal from school, or instructor-initiated are not considered to be satisfactory progress for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy:

Additional withdrawal information:


An incomplete is assigned only if the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work to within three weeks of the end of the semester (or proportional length of time for a course of less than a semester in length).  Incompletes are issued only in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as severe illness or injury.  Incompletes are not issued in cases in which the student is simply unable to complete his/her work within the specified semester or session.  If a final grade of "I" is recorded, the instructor will indicate in writing to the Registrar what the student must do to make up the deficiency.  The instructor will indicate in the written statement what permanent grade should be entered if the Incomplete is not removed by the deadline.

All incomplete grades must be removed within six weeks after the first class day of the following term, excluding the summer session.  If the Incomplete is not removed by that date, the grade reverts to the grade indicated by the instructor's written statement authorizing the incomplete.

Discrimination and Harassment

North Idaho College has a zero tolerance policy for any acts of discrimination or harassment of any kind.  For more information, please see the NIC Student Handbook, Code of Conduct Article III and Article VIII. Compliance efforts with respect to these laws and regulations are the responsibility of each member of the campus community and are under the direction of the Dean of Students Office for Student Issues (2nd floor, Edminster Student Union Building, (208) 676-7156) and the Human Resources Office (Sherman Administration Building, (208) 769-3304) for employee issues.

Institutional Statement

DROP FOR NON-PAYMENT:  By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You will be dropped from classes if payment is not received by  5 p.m. Pacific Time on the third day of the semester. Students on the waitlist will be given the option to register for classes after students are dropped for non-payment.

REMOVAL FROM CLASS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE:  Attendance is based on your participation in this class. Failure to attend may result in your being removed from this class and may result in your financial aid award being reduced. You are responsible for confirming the accuracy of your attendance record.