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convention provided for the elimination of the circle for straight party voting. But in neither of these two cases has the necessary legislation been secured.
The prevailing tendency of legislation, both general and special, in regard to the scope of municipal function has been in the direction of increasing the powers of municipalities; but at the same time this has been done for the most part by specific enumerated grants, which require frequent additions to meet the needs of growing cities and the demands of public opinion. Thus in each legislative period there are passed hundreds of acts authorizing local street and sewer improvements, parks, garbage and sewage disposal works, additional sanitary regulations and other powers long recognized as within the proper scope of municipal action. Into the details of such statutes it is unnecessary to go.
Nevertheless there have been, during the past ten years a number of measures of greater significance. The general laws of Virginia, Ohio and Indiana grant the same substantive powers to all cities in these states; and the smaller cities are thus vested with authority to undertake such works as have been already established in larger cities. Thus municipal waterworks and lighting plants are authorized both in Ohio and Indiana. Acts of special importance for the two largest cities in the country were those establishing the tenement house department in New York City (1901), enlarging the powers of New York City to construct rapid transit subways and an Illinois law of 1903 authorizing municipal street railways.
The Scope of
In those states where cities have authority to make their own charters the scope of municipal authority is clearly more extensive. But in most of these states the constitutional provisions deal for the most part with the detailed method of framing and adopting charters and contain no definite statement as to the extent of the power that may be exercised. Judicial decisions have, however, held that the power to make city charters does not exempt the cities from state legislation in regard to elections, judicial courts, police, county officers or education; but in California an amendment to the constitutional
provision specifically authorizes local charters to establish police courts.1
The provisions in the revised Michigan constitution are much more definite in expressing the scope of municipal powers, which are however granted in broad terms and more nearly agree with the principles of the municipal program than in any other state. The section authorizing home rule charters further provides that each city and village shall have power and authority "through its regularly constituted authority, to pass all laws and ordinances relating to its municipal concerns, subject to the constitution and general laws of the state." Other sections specifically authorize any city or village to acquire and maintain "parks, boulevards, cemeteries, hospitals, almshouses and all works which involve the public health or safety," and on a three-fifths vote of the electors to acquire and operate "public utilities for supplying water, light, heat, power and transportation," transportation facilities being, however, restricted to cities of over 25,000 population.
The Oklahoma Constitution has a provision apparently more sweeping, that every municipal corporation "shall have the right to engage in any business or enterprise which may be engaged in by a person, firm or corporation, by virtue of a franchise from said corporation." But this provision will need to be supplemented by legislation granting adequate financial powers; while the Michigan constitution provides for financing public utilities by the issue of bonds beyond the general debt limit secured by the property and revenues of the utility.
In the recent legislation on municipal government there are some significant tendencies in regard to the grant of franchises in the public streets and uniform municipal accounting-two subjects given special attention in the Municipal Program.
In regard to franchises important regulations have been pre
1 M. R. Maltbie: "City Made Charters," in Municipal Journal and Engineer, vol. 18, p. 257.—J. A. F.
'Dr. Fairlie as a member of the Michigan Constitutional Convention had a large share in securing the inclusion of such excellent features as it contains.-Editor.
scribed in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas and also in other states as Franchises and well as in charters for particular cities, notably Accounts in the Grand Rapids Charter of 1905. The
most usual provision is the limitation of franchise grants to a period ranging from 20 to 30 years in the various laws. This principle of a limited duration for franchise grants has gained rapid headway. But, in contrast with the general tendency, a recent Ohio law permits 50 year grants, and the Indiana Code of 1905 removed the limitations previously existing on the duration of future franchise grants. Requirements of public notice, competitive bidding and a popular referendum for franchise grants are to be found in a number of recent charters and general laws. But such provisions are not so general as the limitation on the duration of such grants.
Regulation by local authorities of rates and service for public utilities is provided for by recent laws in a number of states, mostly west of the Mississippi River, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas. In other cases powers of regulation have been reserved by the cities in franchise grants, most notably in the Chicago street railway agreement of 1907.
In New York and Wisconsin, the system of regulating and supervising municipal franchise corporations through state commissions has been most highly developed by acts passed in 1907.
The main tendency is thus towards stricter conditions and greater regulation of companies operating public utilities under franchise grants, though with considerable variety of method; and in this field such conditions are often imposed by state laws for the protection of the local communities from their own officials and for the protection of future generations against careless grants by the present inhabitants.
In regard to uniform municipal accounts and financial reports, by far the most important action has been the Ohio law of 1902 establishing an effective system of uniform municipal accounts in all the cities of that state, subject to the supervision of the auditor of state. In New York, Massachusetts and Iowa laws have been enacted (between 1903 and 1907) requiring uniform
municipal financial reports to state officers; and in New York and Iowa these laws now authorize the state authority to prescribe the system of accounting. In a score or more of cities in other states various improvements in methods of accounting and financial reports have been introduced. The work of the United States Bureau of the Census in preparing its annual reports on the statistics of cities of over 30,000 population have also aided in securing comparable statistics of municipal finance. But this subject will be more fully discussed at another session of the League.
In the main, then, the principles of the Municipal Program have been steadily gaining ground. Its influence can be seen in the work of state constitutional conventions, in state laws and in charters for particular cities. In no one place, however, has it been adopted as a whole; and even where some of its principles have been accepted the details have often been modified. Indeed, in several instances, a distinct improvement has been made over the detailed provisions framed ten years ago. If one general criticism may be made of that Program, it is that the proposed constitutional provisions are much too long, and specify detailed provisions which should rather be left to regulation by statute or local action. But the fundamental principles of the Program still hold good; and should and will continue to be extended even more in the future than in the recent past.
Permanent Officials in Municipal
PROFESSOR A. LAWRENCE LOWELL
Future historians will have no difficulty in assigning a cause for American shortcomings in the administration of cities. They will point out that in Europe great towns existed before the dawn of history; that the governments of Greece and Rome developed in the main out of urban conditions, and were always deeply tinged with municipal ideas. They will note that in the middle ages, when the national organization was essentially feudal and rural, the cities had a vitality of their own and presented the nearest approach on a considerable scale to selfgovernment. They will observe, in short, that urban administration is by no means a new thing in modern Europe.
On the other hand, they will perceive that local government in America was at the outset almost entirely rural in character, and long continued to be mainly adapted to rural needs. The result is that while the problem of rural administration has given rise in the last half century to quite as serious consideration in Europe as the management of cities, this has been very far from the case in the United States. Local government, outside of the large towns, has followed here a course so smooth that until scholars undertook to study the subject, a score of years ago, few educated men had any clear conception of rural institutions beyond their own section of the country. The very absence of general discussion of the matter shows that although great diversity of method exists in the different parts of the nation each system has grown normally from prevailing conditions, and is fairly well suited to local needs; while in the case of cities, where conscious imitation has been far more common, discontent is well-nigh universal throughout the land.