Intergovernmental Relations and Politics:
North Carolina in the Federal System
The vocabulary of intergovernmental relations in the United States is rich and expanding: interstate compacts, reciprocity agreements, shared taxes, federal grants-in-aid, multistate commissions and associations, federal mandates, state mandates, judicial federalism, regional governments, foreign trade missions. These and other words and phrases capture the dynamic spirit of federalism. Relationships between units of government are both vertical and horizontal (e.g., federal to state, state to state, local to state, local to local, and local to federal). The amazing maze of federalism has become more complex as the powers and activities of all governments have grown.
Interdependence of governments has become a way of life in contemporary North Carolina politics. The arenas of intergovernmental cooperation, coordination, and conflict have enlarged dramatically since the state joined the federal union. In the third century of the unique experiment of American federalism, relations between governments make it possible for individual units to be more effective by sharing interests and resources toward achieving common objectives; these relations also make it inevitable that disagreements and conflicts will occur and policymakers will seek to diminish them.
April I, 1990, was not April Fool's day for many public officials and concerned citizens in North Carolina. It was instead a day for beginning a very serious business. On that day, as at the start of every decade, the U.S. Bureau of the Census commenced the apparently simple process of counting how many people there are in the nation, in each of the fifty states, and in the towns, cities, and counties across the land. The decennial census has enor-