Imágenes de páginas

them from the political side of the government. In Germany and France, this separation is more rigid and complete than in Great Britain, where it seems to exist more from custom, and there are not wanting signs that the separation in Great Britain is not as complete as it should be, though in the main well sustained at present.

Is this common feature of separation in well-governed cities, and the absence of it in the badly-administered ones, a mere coincidence or result, or is it an underlying cause of the good and bad results ? To answer this, let us examine a little more closely and see if there is anything in the mingling of politics with expert administration, that has anything to do with causing extravagance, graft and inefficiency; anything in the conditions of this intermingling that has a bearing on the motives that affect the actions of men.

Now what do we find ? First, we must notice that this intermingling of politics with would-be expert administration in our

American cities is not only allowed but comPolitics and

pelled. In many charters, the terms of office Expert Service

of the supposed expert administrators are coterminous with those of the chief political executives. In a few the terms are indefinite; but the chief executive can, as a rule, turn out the administrative officers without assignment of cause, and put in their places whom he wishes, is supposed to make pretty sweeping changes when he comes into office, and generally has a right to put his thumb into the expert details, and often, as we see, pulls out for himself and his friends many a plum; for example, ordering a contract to be assigned to some favorite instead of given on open competition, or having purchases made from a particular firm, or payment withheld from another, and the like. But even in the case of competitive bids, by this power over and interference with the supposed expert administrators, the political chief can arrange to have the specifications for competitive contracts so loosely drawn as to make it easy to assist a favorite and injure an opponent or a mere negative outsider. By means of allowing large bills for extras or the substitution of inferior materials, he can enable the favorite to make a large profit, and by holding up every payment and making frivolous objections to all the work done, can ruin the independent outside contractor. Indeed, it might as well be published with the advertisement for municipal competitive contracts, “No contractor unwilling to divvy need apply." In these ways and by “split contracts," "straw bids," and other well-known devices, laws requiring competitive bids are evaded or nullified, and the municipal contracts and purchases of supplies are kept in politics, with easy opportunity for large, fraudulent profits.

The supposed expert administrators, for the most part, are men without the necessary education, training or experience, whose chief bringing-up has too frequently been in the saloons and ward politics. As to the “motives that affect the actions of men," these would be experts, even when capable and honest and when not compelled by their chief executive, are practically forced into politics, as already shown, from their own natural desire for the success at nominations and elections of the political forces that put and keep them in office. They have not only to distribute contracts and the purchase of supplies, for political purposes, but they seek to thwart the civil-service laws and to secure as many exempted positions as possible in order to increase their political patronage. They dare not enforce a day's work for a day's pay among the city laborers who are voters. They resort to complicated methods of accounting, as far as the law or evasions of it will allow, so as to conceal extravagance.

The well-meaning mayor and his political experts do not have to build up a political machine. They find ward leaders already on hand, who control the nominating machinery of their respective districts by appeals to party and race prejudice, religious differences, and by securing favors for a large following, building up an extensive acquaintance and gaining popularity in numerous ways, sometimes unobjectionable in themselves, but all for a purpose. These ward leaders ask favors for themselves and their henchmen and it is hard to resist them. It is soon found that these ward politicians and leaders of combinations of wards have far more to say about the nomination and election of a mayor and aldermen than the ordinary business or professional man in ordinary years. Indeed, the support of these leaders is fre

, quently indispensable for retention in office, either for the mayor or for the heads of departments. It is no more than human nature that a good mayor and capable experts will gradually yield on the one hand, and on the other, that the political leaders will seek a mayor, the more respectable and well-meaning the better, such as will not, in practice, resist their power.

For example, the present mayor of Boston, elected on a reform wave after the exposures by the first Finance Commission, and who in the beginning made retrenchments, is now shown by the present permanent Finance Commission to be guilty, in a far less degree, however, than his predecessors, of extravagance, of securing partisan appointments and of raising salaries unnecessarily as the question of re-election comes on.

Let us take the point of view of experts who may consider taking employment. Capable engineers and scientific men are

discouraged from accepting municipal expert Discouragement administrative work on account of this very inof Expert

termingling of politics and the uncertainty of Service

tenure. The present mayor of Boston, for example, elected, as I have just said, on a wave of reform, found it impossible to persuade any of the few high-grade persons he first selected to accept the office of superintendent of streets. Mr. McAneny, recently elected president of the Borough of Manhattan, New York, has the same difficulty in getting fit men for heads of his departments.

Not only are the chief experts discouraged from entering municipal service, but for assistant experts we do not get the high class of men we might otherwise obtain. Besides uncertainty of tenure there is little hope of promotion to the highest places, the service is not a career, and the forced intermingling of practical politics is not only offensive to men of high principle and attainments, but it is demoralizing to character. Several prominent technical and scientific educators in our country have publicly declared they advise their young graduates not to enter municipal employment, while if the service represented a career, free from practical politics, they as publicly declare their advice would be exactly the opposite. As a result, by not getting the best material for assistant experts, we do not have the persons with special municipal training qualified for promotion to the

positions of chief experts we might otherwise have, so that our loss is twofold.

Municipal records are often not complete or trustworthy. The Commission to investigate the feasibility and desirability of damming the mouth of the Charles River in the vicinity of Boston, for example, found that the city plans and records in regard to the drainage system were so faulty as to be valueless and new plans based on fresh surveys had to be made. I do not refer to the Metropolitan Sewer Board's plans.

The idea of separating the political from the expert administration was presented to the first Boston Finance Commission,

and was received with marked approval; but Report of

later, they were moved to modify this policy by Boston Finance Commission

arguments from influential and high-minded

citizens on the theory that such separation would diminish the "responsibilityof the chief political executive. In the charter which they recommended, and which has passed the Legislature, the would-be experts are pretty much in their old position of being mingled with politics, their terms of appointment, like the mayor's, are for four years, they cannot be removed during their terms of office, except for reasons filed with a chance to reply, but at the end of their terms, hold at the mayor's pleasure, their salaries may be lowered or abolished altogether by the mayor and city council and in case of vacancy the mayor may appoint whom he wishes, with the one obstacle that new appointees must qualify before the civic service commission. A qualifying test, however, has been shown again and again, in many years of past and recent history, and in numerous countries, neither to take the appointments out of politics nor to secure permanency of tenure; nor high ability; at best it keeps out the absolutely incompetent; so that, after all, the commingling of politics with expert administration still exists in Boston's new city charter.

As this idea of responsibility seems, in the minds of many not only in Boston but elsewhere, to be opposed to the idea of separating the expert administration, let us examine a little more carefully into this "responsibility".

In its report, the Commission gives as an illustration of successful executive responsibility, such as they had in mind, the administration of the first Josiah Quincy as mayor of Boston in 1823-9. The population of Boston was then 60,000, and the functions of the city were extremely simple. There was no water supply, no street railway, no sewer system. The fire department consisted of a few “ Perkins' tubs,” worked by hand, in control of unpaid volunteer companies. In the last year of Josiah Quincy's administration, an extra “tub ” was put in South Boston. There were no steam fire-engines until 1855. The electric fire alarm was introduced years later. The pavements were simple gravel roads, or cobblestones taken from the islands in the harbor. There was no police department; only a few constables. The superintendent of streets needed only to be an intelligent boss teamster, who could select good packing gravel, and see that the workmen rammed the cobble stones with some degree of evenness. Macadam and Telford pavement were unknown. There was no need of engineering skill beyond simple surveying. Bacteriology was an unknown science. There was no public library, no city hospital, no city ferries, no complicated questions with steam railroads and terminal facilities. The area of Boston was then less than one-third of its present area, and but a still smaller fraction of that of New York, Philadelphia or Chicago of to-day. Its annual expenditure was then $333,000, while now it is $25,000,000, and New York's budget is $165,000,000 a year.

Its debt was about $900,000, while now it is about $100,000,000. This first Mayor Quincy might have known personally every constable, foreman and many of the laborers in the city. He could easily have visited every laying of cobblestones or spreading of road gravel, and he might have inspected the trial of the “ Perkins' tub ” for South Boston, and yet have had time to attend to all his other obligations, public and private. Indeed, those were the days of primitive things, when the mayor and the voters could easily comprehend and intelligently pass upon all the simple details of administration, and when Mr. Quincy's view “ that at all times the blame should rest upon him (the mayor) without power of throwing it off on

1 Including its share of Metropolitan debt which the city will have to pay.

« AnteriorContinuar »