Preface "Cover the subject, but don't give us an encyclopedia." "Don't make it too long: we plan to use some supplementary reading." "Give us about three-fourths state and one-fourth local." "Above all, write a book that will hold the interest of the students, especially students enrolled in their first political science course, who may never take another." Those are some of the things I have been told by numerous teachers of state and local government. This book is an attempt to respond. From my point of view, the nicest thing anyone could say about this book is that it is accurate, that it is lucid, that it broadly covers the subject, and that (in places at least) it is fun to read. I know perfectly well that many will be forced to read this book at gunpoint, will read it because they have to--because it is assigned. Rest assured, you are with me in every paragraph. I understand you. I was a college student for eight years. It's not easy to study state and local government, or to teach the subject. The 50 states vary so much that professors have difficulty saying anything definite that applies to them all. Yet the states do have many fundamentals in common. In a sense our states are like a pack of dogs (pardon the comparison). They all have four legs, two eyes, one tail, and a nose. Yet they have great differences. The bull terrier's tail is different from the foxhound's, and the doberman's legs aren't like the chow chow's. And America's 87,000 local governments have lots in common, too, despite their differences. But in writing this book I often had to say "often"; frequently had to say "frequently"; commonly had to say "commonly." After hundreds of pages the sight of one of those fuzzy words was painful. I ached for something concrete and universal. But in the study of state and local government, nothing is as lonesome as a concrete universal truth. All purported conversations in this book, though entirely fictional, are based on actual conversations or on data acquired in other ways. They are simply a less formal way of presenting information. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. The English language has no singular third-person personal pronoun that is both masculine, and feminine. To correct this unfortunate circumstance we have used "he or she" rather than just "he," "his or hers" rather than just "his," and so on, except in passages where repeated use of double pronouns would impede the flow of language. If any person reading this book is moved to communicate with me about it, please do so. I want to know what you like or don't like about the book. Future editions may reflect your observations. Your communication will be gratefully received and answered if possible. You may write to me at the Department of Political Science, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7150. Or better yet, send me an E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . At least those are mypresentaddresses. You may also contact me through Prentice Hall. Certainly I would not want to lay responsibility on anyone but myself for these pages, but I must acknowledge with gratitude the numerous helpful criticisms made by Steven D. Williams, Tennessee Technological University; Marty Wiseman, Mississippi State University; Joseph R Marbach, Seton Hall University; and Thad Beyle, University of North Carolina. Robert S. LorchRobert S. Lorch is the author of 'State and Local Politics: The Great Entanglement (6th Edition)', published 2000 under ISBN 9780130260062 and ISBN 0130260061.