The Local Command Structure and How the Library Fits In

The Local Command Structure and How the Library Fits In

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2196-9.ch004

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Narrow Government Authority: Dillon's Rule

Dillon's Rule states that a substate government may engage in an activity only if it is specifically sanctioned by the state government. State constitutions vary in the level of power they grant to local governments. However, Dillon's Rule states that if there is a reasonable doubt whether a power has been conferred to a local government, then the power has not been conferred. This rule allows a state legislature to control local government structure, methods of financing its activities, its procedures and the authority to understake functions. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Dillon's Rule in 1903 and again in 1923. Since then, the following tenets have become a cornerstone of American municipal law and have been applied to municipal powers in most states:

  • A municipal corporation can exercise only the powers explicitly granted to them.

  • Those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted.

  • Those essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation, not simply convenient, but indispensable (National League of Cities, n. d.).

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Forms Of Local Government

Regardless of community size or the nature of the disaster, local government leaders are responsible for overseeing all four phases of emergency management – preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Federal and state governments play a supporting role in the immediate aftermath and in providing funding and guidance for long-term recovery and mitigation.

Preparation and response, half of the emergency management cycle, generally get the most attention, particularly in high-risk areas. Preparing to respond usually involves significant training and practice to ensure that key local employees and supporting resources are ready to jump into action quickly and that local residents understand their roles and responsibilities in preparing for and responding to disasters.

Local government leaders, particularly those who have been through a major community disaster, recognize that preparing for long-term disaster recovery demands as much attention as preparing for short-term response. After a major disaster, the recovery process takes months and even years to bring a community back to a “new normal” and as strong as or better than before the disaster (Becker, 2009).

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