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The murder rate in Chicago is one of the highest in the nation, but the differences between wealthy areas like Lincoln Park (where the median household income was reported at ,613 in 1999) and poorer neighborhoods like West Garfield Park are buried in the statistics when the same police force and municipal government are assigned to them.

Moreover, since Mesquite is more than 80 miles from Las Vegas, it made better sense to form a separate police department, Montgomery said.

Boulder City Manager John Sullard said distance would also be one of the considerations his City Council members would have to weigh if they should ever decide to look at consolidation."I haven't thought about consolidation, though," Sullard said.

Metropolitan or consolidated governments are frequently promoted based on their ability to concentrate buying power into larger purchasing authorities that can force suppliers to offer better pricing.

This is a simple case of monopsony power -- the power of a single, larger buyer to force prices downward, in a mirror image of monopoly power when a single, larger suppleir can force prices upward.

Larger political units have larger contracts to offer, thus inviting a much greater prospect of bona fide corruption.