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hope to suggest them when they occur to me during these tremendously important trials concerning these questions. One is to get your municipal officials out of the corrupt politics we have now. That is why I favor this commission plan that has been discussed here. And just so far as we can eliminate partisanship it will help.
In some of these cases the district attorney was in duty bound to bring quo warranto proceedings to test the justice and the legality of these elections and the method by which those franchises were acquired. The district attorney owed his position to the power of the boss who was president of the Denver Tramway Company. That man put up the money to elect the district attorney, and of course when it came to the struggle between the people on the one hand and special privileges on the other he knew where his bread was buttered and of course he stood with the special privilege grafters and betrayed the people. And that was the case with nearly every public official who was involved in that contest. Why? Because of the corruption of politics by public service corporations, by furnishing all the campaign funds, as they had always done for certain political organizations in the city, the officials served special privilege grafters instead of the people. They ought to have a square deal and we must recognize the splendid good that comes to any community from work done by the business men back of these great enterprises, but here were unconscionable business men who had so little respect for themselves or their citizenship that they would permit the expenditure of thousands of dollars in corrupting the instruments of democracy so that the whole thing became a farce. The supreme court held finally I had not any jurisdiction and when we were just getting into the matter of the frauds the whole investigation was stopped. The state's attorney made a farce of the whole thing and the result is that while all Denver knows that one hundred to one hundred and fifty million dollars worth of property was obtained by corruption and iniquity there is practically no way to recover it back. That is our experience on the initiative and the referendum, one hundred million dollars stolen from the people. [Applause.]
THE CHAIRMAN: We have plenty of time for the discussion.
MR. PAINE: Could not the council have been bought just as easily as the people who were falsely given the tax paying qualification? Is it not because the initiative and referendum have not been established yet with proper safeguard?
JUDGE LINDSEY: Exactly. I am a friend of the initiative and referendum and I don't mean my remarks to be against them but rather as pointing out certain safeguards that I sought to suggest.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think we should all be very glad to hear from Mr. A. Leo Weil of the Pittsburgh bar on either of these questions or both if he will see fit to speak to us.
MR. WEIL: The trials that we have made of the initiative and referendum in our communities have been rather of a speculative character and hardly a test. It seems to me that much of the criticism that has been made by municipal organizations and the process for curing the evils that have been suggested—and we all concede that there are many evils-perhaps go back a little further than many of us have yet thought or suggested. It occurs to me that they are due in part to not differentiating between the characteristics of the municipal organization as formerly understood and as now. The time was when the municipal organization was looked upon merely as an agency of the state, as a mere police officer, if you please, exercising state and sovereign functions and representative of sovereignty in the individual community, preserving order and taking care of those matters which all of us regard as being state functions. In our modern times, however, and under modern conditions gradually arising and growing up and not becoming full fledged at any one time, came the modern idea of the municipality as a great business coöperative organization performing the business and the duty and having to do with the obligations of the individual citizens resident in a given locality.
In consequence the city was looked upon as something separate and apart from the individuals who composed it, looked upon as a separate and distinct thing. It was therefore the system, you might say, or the practice of those who lived in the city of considering the city a thing that might be plucked without any duty or obligation to his fellow citizens who lived in the adjoining house and to whom he would hesitate to apply any such practice. And those two ideas growing up in this way, this new idea of the city as a coöperative association was lost sight of in the general growth, and our interest in our own personal affairs and in our want of study of these general conditions.
Before, it seems to me, we can get the full benefit of the referendum, and the initiative and the recall; before we can get the benefit of these charter amendments, we need something to be introduced into our municipal communities, and that is a study of the situation and valuation of the civic consciousness of the individual, his duty, his obligation to his fellow citizens separate and apart from the estimation of the city as the representative of the people. If we can get this civic consciousness introduced, if we can get the individual to understand his relation to his city and all the people in the city to regard their relation to the city as being a personal partnership, if you please, of all the residents in the city in which each one is personally interested, in which there is the joint property and the joint operation, then we can get this consciousness into the minds of every citizen, then we shall have the initiative and the referendum and the recall when in operation operate most beneficently. On the other hand, those who have given some study to the situation tell us, and it
would seem with much force and effect, that the very best way of introducing this civic consciousness, the best way of teaching us to appreciate this obligation which each individual owes to every other individual in the community in the common property and the common operation of the city is through the initiative and the referendum and the recall, and these other methods by which the attention is directed to these very subjects. It is a big question to submit. It is a question upon which I have no right to express an opinion to so intelligent a gathering. [Applause.]
THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Weil's address will close the discussion, and now we shall adjourn.
On Tuesday evening, President J. Horace McFarland delivered his annual address before the American Civic Association. There was therefore no meeting of the National Municipal League on that evening.
WEDNESDAY MORNING SESSION.
Wednesday, November 18, 1907, 10 a.m. The fifth session of the Conference was called to order by President Charles J. Bonaparte of Baltimore.
THE CHAIRMAN: The meeting will please come to order. is there any formal business.
MR. WOODRUFF: All the delegates from out of town are invited to the dinner tomorrow evening, and they are invited as the guests of the Chamber of Commerce. That is the only announcement I have to make.
THE PRESIDENT: Ladies and Gentlemen: I understand from the program that the subject of discussion this morning is "Militant Political Work for Better Governed Cities." I presume that that means militant political work to make the cities better governed. On that subject we are to first listen to a paper by Mr. Robert S. Binkerd of the Buffalo Municipal League and hereafter of the New York Citizens' Union. Mr. Bink
MR. BINKERD: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: Grave apologies are due you all for the condition in which this address is presented, and particular apologies are due the gentlemen who have agreed to discuss this subject this morning. I was to have had this ready by October first. This I promised when I was gyrating between Buffalo and New York City, and ought to have known better. But in the past two months municipal research and charter revision work which I had been doing in Buffalo came to a head, capped with the necessity of conducting an investigation before the mayor of Buffalo, in addition to our regular campaign
work. I am sufficiently thankful just to be alive and here. An outline of what I want to say has been in the hands of my co-conspirators only a day or so, and to heighten the iniquity, I have added to it without their knowledge, during the past day or two.
I implore their tender mercies and yours. For I am in the predicament of the butcher boy of Oxford, England, who, at one of the mediæval pageants, was dressed up as a Roman senator. A waggish undergraduate, pulling at his toga, enquired, “I say, old fellow, are you Ap-pi-us Claudius? "To which the poor butcher boy responded, "No, I'm un-appy as L!"
MILITANT POLITICAL WORK FOR BETTER CITY GOVERNMENT.
At the Atlantic City Conference of the National Municipal League one of most important questions which confronts good government workers was raised, two opposing theories stated, and then, just as one settled down in the expectation of a good debate-the discussion took a new turn, and expectations were dashed to the ground.
This took place as a round table conference. Mr. Pendleton of Cincinnati had just stated that in his judgment, plans of campaign which he designated as “municipal voters league methods" were best. Mr. John J. Murphy, of the Citizens Union of New York City, on the contrary, said that the New York idea was independent nominations wherever possible, and more or less favored the separate municipal party idea. These two viewpoints represent attitudes toward a problem which every militant, political, good government organization must decide.
By militant political work I mean that which has to do with actively participating in making or influencing nominations, and in aiding the election or defeat of candidates; the work done by such organizations, in short, as the Chicago Municipal Voters League, the City Party of Philadelphia, or the New York Citizens Union. These I differentiate from militant non-political organization, such as the Bureau of Municipal Research, the various city clubs, or the Taxpayers Association of Cincinnati.
What I have to say does not deal with work by this second class of very necessary and complementary organizations. Their function is to get facts and administrative data, and to evolve plans and methods whereby municipal government may be made more efficient, regardless of who is responsible for the bad conditions which call for remedy.
This, however, is but half the work to be done, and it is to this other, or as I call it, to this militant half, that I call your attention.
Militant political organizations in the United States seem all, except the Cambridge Association, to have chosen between the policy advocated by Mr. Pendleton or that advocated by Mr. Murphy. The municipal voters
leagues of Detroit, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Paul have followed the example of Chicago. The city parties of Philadelphia and Cincinnati have followed the separate municipal party example, first set by the Citizens Union of New York City. Organizations of each kind have been in existence some ten years at least; and it would seem that, in the light of their camparative experiences, we ought now to be able to judge of their relative efficiency.
I believe that we are in a position so to judge, and the burden of my paper is, that "municipal voters league methods" have been proved more efficient under existing conditions.
It is not by chance that the cities of Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Buffalo and others have been steadily, if slowly, improving the character of their governments, especially on the legislative and directorial side. In these cities militant good government work has been conducted by municipal voters league methods. They perhaps have never been, nor now are, free and well-governed, but there has been an increasing number of independent citizens raised, informed and guided. Bad public service has become more or less dangerous at any time. Good public service has become sure of more recognition, the character of men running for public office has been gradually bettered; to utterly relapse into the condition of a dozen years ago has become well-nigh impossible.
It is not by chance, on the other hand, that the cities of New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati have thrown off gangs of plunderers in recent years, only to see them ride back into power at the next election. In these cities militant good government work has been conducted by separate municipal parties. These have secured some brilliant and refreshing municipal revolutions, gladdening to the hearts but their work has not been lasting, nor progressive,
of all good men; nor cumulative.
As with "Postum," so with this "there's a reason." As a matter of fact, there are several reasons, but the first one is this: the existing election and ballot laws of practically every state make impossible the continued existence of a successful separate municipal party alongside the local organizations of the national parties. This is particularly true where local elections are held at the same time that county, judicial, or state officers are elected. Even where this is not true, the fact that the citizen and political workers have to turn their backs on the same organization with which they worked at the last state or national election, doubles or trebles the difficulty of the separate municipal party. Such a party-without going into any tiresome detail-cannot at present succeed by anything short of a political revolution, and we cannot expect the voters of any city "to revolute" at every city election.
But the same man who may refuse to leave utterly his national and state party, and who will not go out and organize his election district for