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in the interests of the public or should be owned by the public.
European cities are far ahead of our American cities in this particular. This is especially true of the cities of Great Britain. Glasgow, Scotland, sells water, gas, and electricity to its people; owns a municipal street car system; owns large public markets, slaughterhouses, and stockyards; is in the laundry business, and the farming business, and owns a large number of tenement houses which it rents to its people. It also owns a splendid harbor from which it derives a large income. Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and other British cities are not far behind in these respects. On the continent of Europe, in a somewhat less degree than in Great Britain but far beyond anything that we know of in America, municipal ownership of public utilities prevails.
Municipal ownership of water systems is quite common in America. In California, more than forty cities own their own systems. A number of cities have electric light plants, either for the purpose of lighting their streets, parks, and public buildings; or for selling electricity to their · people; or for both of these purposes. San Francisco has
1 Section 23, article XII of the state constitution, - a recent amendment, provides that any city may turn over to the state railroad commission the task of regulating all of its public utilities that are owned by private corporations. This has been done by a number of cities, including Oakland, San Jose, Bakersfield, Monterey, Napa, Palo Alto, Salinas, Petaluma, San Rafael, Ontario, Antioch, and others. See footnote, page 213.
2 In 1911 the following cities owned municipal water systems: Anaheim, Antioch, Azusa, Biggs, Bishop, Colusa, Elsinore, Gilroy, Grass Valley, Gridley, Healdsburg, Imperial, Lakeport, Lincoln, Lindsay, Lodi, Lampoc, Long Beach, Lordsburg, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Mountain View, Nevada City, Newport Beach, Ontario, Orange, Palo Alto, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Rio Vista, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Sinta Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sausalito, Sebastopol, Suisun, Vall jo, Wheatland, Whittier, Yreka.
At the same time the following owned municipal lighting plants: Anaheim,
made a beginning in the development of a municipal street car system. All city charters that have been granted during the last few years confer authority on the respective municipal corporations to which they apply, to acquire by purchase or otherwise any or all public utilities.
Cities that own public utilities have special departments of their governments to look after them. Each of these departments is usually under the control of three commissioners appointed by the mayor. The commissioners appoint engineers and other employees and have general control of the work committed to their care. 106. The Park Department. — As we have seen, the
- , public parks in a small city are under the direct control of the council or board of trustees. In larger cities they are either looked after by boards of public works, or by park commissions. These commissions usually consist of three or five members appointed by the mayor, who appoint park superintendents, gardeners, carpenters, painters, and other employees. They have general control of beautifying and caring for the public parks, and the grounds around all municipal buildings, and have charge of all museums, statues, and other works of art that are to be found in the parks. No statue may be placed in any park without their consent.
People are beginning to realize that parks may be made to play an important part in preserving the public health, and more for this than for any other reason, large cities in all parts of our country are investing large sums in park lands. In some cases, they are moving buildings to make room for parks; in others, they are filling in swamp lands.
Azusa, Biggs, Gilroy, Glendale, Gridley, Healdsburg, Lodi, Palo Alto. Pasadena, Riverside, Santa Clara.
107. The Playground Department. — Some cities have playgrounds for children in connection with their parks, while others have separate sites altogether. Playground commissions, consisting each of three or five men and women, appointed by the mayor, have charge of these grounds. A supervisor is placed over each to direct the children in their play, and to prevent intruders from imposing on them. It is intended that the playgrounds shall be made attractive to children, and to this end they are equipped with necessary buildings, swings, and other devices, and provision is made for sports of various kinds. Parents from time immemorial have realized that children need to play, but the necessity has not been recognized as a public want until within recent years. It is now so recognized on the ground of public health, as well as of public morals. The provision of playgrounds for children is the most recent burden assumed by our cities.
SECTION 3. THE EDUCATIONAL DEPARTMENTS 108. The School Department. - The school department of every city is a part of the general school system of the state, which will be considered in Chapter XIV. It will there be seen that the schools of a city are managed on the same general plan as the schools of a country district. The school boards in larger towns and cities consist of more members and exercise a few more powers than rural school boards ($ 81). The teaching force of a city is under the immediate control of the city superintendent of schools, who is appointed by the board of education for a term of four years. The larger cities have assistant superintendents, and every school building is provided with a prin
1 Political Code, $ 1793.
cipal and a sufficient number of teachers. Freeholders' charters often contain statements of powers and duties of boards of education; but, inasmuch as educational work is not one of the municipal affairs of the city, such statements are valid only in so far as they do not conflict with state law. They are unnecessary, because the law is quite complete in this respect, and they are either entirely omitted from the more recent charters, or are given in a very brief form.
109. The Library Department. — As a means of education, libraries rank second only to public schools. They are regarded of such importance that, in addition to the county libraries referred to in Chapter V (§ 42, 10), the law provides a method whereby library districts, – public cor
porations with the power to tax, — may be formed in unincorporated communities. The law further provides that the legislative body of any incorporated city may, and when petitioned by one fourth of the voters must, establish a municipal library. The fact that the state will compel a city to establish and maintain a library on petition of a minority of its voters would seem to classify this particular want as a matter of state-wide importance rather than as a municipal affair.
The money for the support of municipal libraries is derived from city taxes. Such taxes in cities of the first, second, and third classes 2 cannot exceed thirty cents. These taxes are levied by city councils or boards of trustees, and the money when collected is held by city treasurers for library purposes. Instead of imposing a special library tax, city councils often appropriate definite sums for library purposes. 1 Statutes of 1909, page 823.
2 Cities of over 23,000 population.
Every city library is under the control of a board of library trustees. If not otherwise provided in the city charter, the board consists of five members appointed by the mayor. The board provides a building, or buildings, for library purposes; appoints a librarian and necessary assistants; purchases books, periodicals, and necessary supplies; and makes rules for the management of the library. A large city usually has a principal library, and a number of reading rooms situated in different localities.
SECTION 4. MISCELLANEOUS DEPARTMENTS
110. The Civil Service Commission. — The appointment of public employees according to political influence is known as the “ spoils system," a system which we are rapidly giving up in California. A few cities ? governed by freeholders' charters have adopted the “merit system”; that is, they have entered upon the reform of their civil service. Any such city has a civil service board or commission, consisting of from three to five members appointed by the mayor. The city charter states what employees shall be selected according to civil service regulations. In general, they include office employees, such as clerks, stenographers, and accountants, and other public servants except the chief officers of the city, the heads of departments, and certain important officials such as superintendents, inspectors, and assistant city attorneys. Common laborers
1 This is a provision of the state law. Most freeholders' charters provide for library boards, five members appointed by the mayor or the council being the usual provision. Some cities have three members, while San Francisco has twelve.
2 San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and Long Beach. The legislature of 1913 provided for the filling of many state positions by the merit system, and the new charter of Los Angeles county contains a similar provision respecting county positions.