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Professor Lowell had prepared a paper with the understanding he would not be required to be present, and that it would be printed in the proceedings. Prof. A. Lawrence Lowell's paper on "Permanent Officers in Municipal Government" was then presented. (See Appendix.)
The report of Prof. William Bennett Munro on "The Present Status of Instruction in Municipal Government in American Colleges and Universities" was read by Mr. Woodruff. (See Appendix.)
THE CHAIRMAN: The report of Professor Munro proves conclusively the growth of a demand and desire to supply the demand for intelligent knowledge of municipal government. We shall now listen to a paper by Mr. H. D. W. English of Pittsburgh on one of the most important questions now beginning to engage the attention of business bodies throughout the country, “The Function of Business Bodies in Improving Civic Conditions." [Applause.]
Mr. English then read his paper, which is printed in full in the Appendix. THE CHAIRMAN: We will now have Mr. Paine's paper on "The Initiative, the Referendum and the Recall in American Cities."
Mr. Paine then read his paper, which is printed in the Appendix.
THE CHAIRMAN: Two of the most live topics of the day in regard to city government are open for discussion. One, the value of the unselfish patriotic interest of business bodies in the civic matters of cities, and the other the progress toward home rule and the government of our cities toward securing a government there which shall be representative of the public opinion of the voters of those cities, by means of the initiative, referendum and the recall. We have plenty of time to discuss either or both of those topics and reasonably short speeches on either of those topicsand by "reasonably" I mean those that seem to your chairman reasonably short, will be welcomed.
MR. GEORGE BURNHAM, JR., Philadelphia: Mr. Chairman: I would like to say a very few words on the question brought up by Mr. English. I think we all feel that Mr. English has presented the matter in an admirable way and has shown what can be done by commercial organization. But perhaps it would be interesting to know what sometimes happens, and what the difficulties are in such movements on the part of commercial bodies and what sometimes happens when the question is taken up by such bodies. They have more dynamite in them than some of the matters that I see by the report of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce have been discussed by improvement in the milk supply and even in the civil
it, such as the service law.
I am a member of the Trades League of Philadelphia. We had for some time a committee upon street cars. This committee had gone into an exhaustive inquiry into the service, and had criticised the service pretty vigorously. Now something like a year ago a proposed contract was
suddenly sprung on Philadelphia by the street car company that would tie up the city for fifty years and more with the company, and in which the city would surrender very valuable privileges. The street car committee of the Trades League took the question up and made a very careful and exhaustive study of it, and opposed this contract very vigorously as it was thought it was not to the city's interest.
The League's Committee appeared before the legislature and opposed the enabling act which was before the legislature and which was passed. The street car people then commenced to back fire on the Trades League. Of course the street car securities are very widely distributed. They are in the banks as securities for loans, and a systematic effort was made to have resignations from the Trades League pour in upon us. They came in in very large numbers. I need not say to you, that we had to limit our activities a little, but the mischief so far as we were concerned was done. The committee's report had been published, it was not convincing apparently to the council because the contract was passed by a large majority.
I only mention this as one of the difficulties that trade organizations are going to have when they enter into civic work. I don't of course present it as an argument why they should not. I think it is a pretty convincing argument why they should. The fact that the financial interests in Philadelphia that were connected with the street-car committee were not willing to have the light thrown in upon the contract is pretty good evidence why business organizations should take up this sort of work more frequently than they do. [Applause.]
DR. GRAHAM TAYLOR, Chicago: We had a somewhat different experience in Chicago. The street car franchise situation was taken up by a semi-political organization of non-partisan individuals Chicago's composed of business and professional men, namely the Street Car Municipal Voters League. The object of that league was Experience to secure honest and capable men for the city council of Chicago. About twelve or thirteen years ago it set out on a campaign of publicity. An agent of the league was stationed in the city council at every session to check up every vote of every alderman. Every candidate for the alderman's position was investigated; his career was thoroughly investigated in regard to his business reputation, his political action if he had any, and his personal character and capacity. Of course when we come to the test, such tests as were afforded by absolutely dishonest and disreputable ordinances, the whole town was with us. For instance, when we would report that a man had voted for the Ogden Gas ordinance, in every one of the wards where there was anything like an intelligent and conscientious vote, that man was defeated.
But when it came to the question of refusing our endorsement to a man who favored a thirty or a fifty year franchise for a street railway company, then we began to find that the constituency of the league divided. Nevertheless that matter of the granting of the franchise for not more than
twenty years was such an absolute, such a fundamental principle for the progress of Chicago that we made it a test for a man's capacity to serve the city in the city legislature. There was a criticism that the league had departed from its primal principle to require only honesty and capacity, but we fought it out to the finish and the rights of the city of Chicago were finally secured in a franchise which will be the precedent and has already become the precedent and will be for all time to come, that no franchise shall be given for more than twenty years. I believe that the whole town now believes that the Municipal Voters League was right and that its critics were wrong. Of course if we had been a purely trade organization we might have had the experience of this Philadelphia organization, but there was a compact body of only a dozen or fifteen men backed by those who simply chose either to contribute to the funds of the league or to follow the recommendations of the league in the campaign for the aldermanic election, and who were to a far greater degree more independent than a mere trades organization could be, and yet without the backing of the business sentiment of the city of course we should have been very largely powerless.
We have had somewhat similar questions as to whether we should demand that every candidate for the city council promise to support the policy of a non-partisan constituency for the council committees, and we introduced that into our platform and unflinchingly insisted that the council shall never any more be organized on a wholly partisan basis. The business efficiency of the city has enormously increased since we have forced that issue and required of the majority of the aldermen a promise to constitute the committees by conference between members of both parties of men who are most efficient in the business served by that committee.
Again, the partisan criticism of the league was sharp, again we were accused of departing from our primal principle of capacity and honesty. But again the results have shown the wisdom of that fundamental principle, so I do not think that there needs to be too great caution in the unflinching support of a fundamentally good thing, and even when you do lose in some quarters you will gain in others and at any rate you might better run the risk. The result of that kind of play has been most encouraging. The story has so often been told that I don't think any allusion to the Municipal Voters League should be made without giving the fact over again, that whereas twelve or thirteen years ago of sixty-eight men in the city council not ten were suspected of being honest, last April we had seventy men in the city council not ten of whom were suspected of being dishonest. [Applause.]
MR. A. JULIUS FREIBERG: Dr. Taylor has just made a suggestion which in connection with Mr. Paine's remarks is most interesting. He
says-I don't know whether he questions adversely or not, but at least he raises the point as to whether or not it is advisable for business organizations, chambers of commerce or civic organizations, to interfere or petition their municipal councils only in cases of supreme importance, cardinal questions concerning the city's welfare, or whether they may have a larger field and should consider themselves as right in petitioning the council on pretty much any question at all that is for the city's welfare. Now, of course, if you are working towards the situation in which you expect to bring about the enactment of the referendum or the initiative in city matters, then it seems to me it is very well not to have very much concern about the individuality of the council, because your end and purpose is finally to bring about its overthrow as legislative machinery. But if you are not disposed to reach out after the referendum or the recall of the initiative with reference to city matters, then it does seem to me it is quite questionable in the light of certain experiences we have had in Cincinnati for any civic organization to do more than insist that the members of the council shall be honest in the first place and in the second that they shall conform to the wishes of the people from time to time on matters of cardinal importance.
If you continually bestir yourselves and bother to use a common term-the council of the city, some of the members of which perhaps have a desire to be honest and do the right thing, you make a laughing stock of yourselves. Now I believe that I can see something of that sort of thing happening today in Cincinnati. We have a club called the Business Men's Club which is a club that exists apart from the chamber of commerce, which is a body composed of the better class of business men in the city. The Business Men's Club was to some extent organized for the purpose of interesting itself in local civic affairs. It is a very large club indeed, and has innumerable committees which are supposed to concern themselves with the various departments of city life. Now this Business Men's Club appeals to the council and gets itself in the newspapers on about every possible conceivable subject. Nine-tenths of their appeals-perhaps a larger percentage than that—are well taken and certainly all of their appeals are sincere. At the same time they have been bedeviling the council, which is all powerful there, to such a large extent that it looks as though the council is beginning to make a little bit fun of the organization.
For one of the sub-bosses there when appealed to by the business organization in reference to the improvement of a certain viaduct is said to have made the remark "let them walk," and "let them walk" is quite a by-word now in Cincinnati. It looks as though the too frequent appeals on the part of this organization are beginning to diminish its influence with councils. Of course if that body were a truly patriotic institution serving in good faith the people's interests no amount of appeals by the Business Men's Club in good faith would be too much, but that unfortunately is not the case. There is another danger. A great many of the members
of this club are rather inexpert on some of the things that they profess to instruct the council about. They don't take sufficient time, they don't enter into the fundamental principles of some of the things that they propose nothing like as earnestly or as thoroughly for instance as the National Municipal League might, and therefore some of their conclusions, which get to be very vehement, are sometimes extremely superficial and are often easily punctured by the bosses of the council.
While I am on my feet I want to ask Mr. Paine a question in connection with the referendum. One of the greatest criticisms on our present system of legislative control-control on the part of the legislature of all the cities-is the fact that owing to the fact that most of the towns of the state or the country are not acquainted with city affairs we are tied up in our cities from having sufficient initiative in our own affairs, and of course in most states it is impossible to change that all of a sudden, on account of constitutional limitations. But, if there is to be any change made in the fundamental laws so far as to allow the people themselves to govern, why don't writers on this subject attempt to make some provison whereby the initiative is limited in city matters to the voters of the city and in state matters to citizens of the state if it is possible to make a dividing line between the two?
State and City
MR. PAINE: Mr. Chairman: I am not quite sure I comprehend the question. The initiative in the state matter is limited to voters of the state and in the city to the voters of the city.
Mr. Freiberg: There was a bill introduced at the last legislature containing a provision for a referendum in all matters that the legislature today has the right to pass a law for. Now inasmuch as most students of representative government recognize that there might very well be a dividing line and more home rule accredited to the city than there is at present, even without reference to the referendum, why therefore when a new system is devised, is there not some constitutional provision arranged by which the people of the whole state are limited in their referendum vote and are prevented from having to do with concerns in the city?
MR. PAINE: It is not a question of the transition period. The legislature of Ohio is possibly one of the worst examples of interference on the part of the state with the municipal affairs of the city. The correct theory of course should be that the state should not interfere with the affairs of the city, but that these affairs should be controlled by the city. That does not require a fundamental change. The legislature itself can grant it if it will. A good many of the charters of Texas gave the citizens all the powers for the general local good which are not expressly reserved by some legislative act or by the constitution, gave them therefore general power, and they keep their hands off.