issue vouchers, or direct payments, to low-income residents to help offset the costs of services.
A third distribution pattern, proportional equality, can be viewed as a variation of the first two. In this case, services are distributed based on some preestablished relationship. For instance, precincts with higher crime rates might be assigned more patrols than those with relatively less crime. Precincts with similar crime rates would receive equal services. This pattern of service distribution offers little additional insight to equitable service delivery as framed in the current discussion. Rather, most of the focus is on issues related to providing the same level of services across communities or differentiating services based on need or willingness to pay.
There is little consensus on the term "equity" or "equitable service delivery." Some discuss it in terms of quantity and level of service. Others regard equity to be a matter of service quality and responsiveness to citizen demands and needs. Still others argue that these two dimensions are intricately linked. In a broad sense, equitable service delivery can also be viewed from at least two additional perspectives that include all of the issues mentioned earlier. The first considers the actual allocation and distribution of services. The second focuses on the effects, outcomes, or results of service delivery. This approach distinguishes between the process of service delivery and the tangible products of service delivery.
Over the years, the various views of equitable service delivery have resulted in a series of judicial, legislative, and administrative decisions and actions. No one construct of equitable service delivery is right. Rather, one's perspective on it is shaped largely by social, political, moral, and economic values. Thus, equitable service delivery is value laden and context-bound. It is a function of the rights and responsibilities that a society assigns to both itself and its government. Assessing fairness is a function of societal norms, the types of services being delivered, the level of government, and the country.
CYNTHIA Y. JACKSON
Aristotle, 1985, Politics. J. A.K. Thompson, tr. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books.
Chitwood, Steven R., 1974. "Social Equity and Social Service Productivity". Public Administration Review 34 ( 1):29-35.
Frederickson, H. George, 1990. "Public Administration and Social Equity". Public Administration Review 50 ( 2): 228-236.
Hawkins v. Town of Shaw, 1972. 461 F. 2nd 1171.
Lineberry, R. L., 1977. Equality and Urban Policy: The Distribution of Municipal Services. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Rae, Douglas, 1981. Equalities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Rawls, John, 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Wise, Frank Jr., 1976. "Toward Equity of Results Achieved: One Approach". Public Management (August): 9-12.
Young, H. Peyton, 1994. Equity in Theory and Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
ESTOPPEL. The legal principle that basically operates to preclude a party from asserting a particular position, usually because the party has either taken a contrary position on the same question or taken some action that has caused another party to act, or refrain from taking an act, in reliance upon the estopped party's prior action or position.
Estoppel was originally not favored by courts in early cases, on the grounds that it is a technical doctrine that operates, in the words of the English jurist Edward Coke (1552- 1634), "to shut a man's mouth from speaking the truth." Although the doctrine has over time gained acceptance as any other legal doctrine, it is still frequently stated that the doctrine may only be invoked to "prevent injustice." Estoppel is usually a defensive measure and may not be used to create new substantive rights.
There are three common types of estoppel. Estoppel by record prevents a party from denying the truth of any matter that is set forth in a judicial or legislative record. Estoppel by deed prevents a party to a deed from claiming any right to property that conflicts with the deed. Equitable estoppel, or estoppel in pais, is the subject of this article and refers to estoppels that are not estoppels by record or estoppels by deed.
As a general rule, the doctrine of estoppel is not applied against a state government acting in its governmental capacity. The United States Supreme Court has held that a state cannot estop itself from the exercise of its police power. For example, a state is not precluded from exercising its power to declare a truck and its cargo of liquor to be contraband, despite previous failures by authorities to stop the truck in enforcement of a liquor control law. Likewise, the failure of a state highway patrol officer to stop a speeding driver on several occasions does not operate to estop the officer from stopping the speeder on a subsequent occasion. A state is not estopped by acts of its officers made in excess of their authority, or by erroneous statements made by its officers.
There are instances in which the state is subject to estoppel. Estoppel may arise against the state to prevent fraud, provided the estoppel does not operate to impair the state's exercise of its sovereign power. A state may also be estopped when acting in a proprietary -- as opposed to governmental -- capacity. The distinction between proprietary and governmental functions is often blurred, however, and