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ing each man the head of a department, known as such to ail the people, thus focusing the eyes of the voters upon the individual commissioner. Making the ordinances and regulations referable to popular vote upon proper petition is intended as another important check upon the large powers of the commission. This may be noted particularly in the case of franchises. Equally important to note is the recall, which affords a method of retiring a bad commissioner, whose shortcomings have been manifest by the other provisions of the plan.

The division of duties among the various commissioners varies in different charters. The mayor is usually head of the depart

ment of public affairs, or has in some other Division of

manner general oversight of all other departAdministrative

ments. Finance and revenue, and police and fire, Duties in Different Cities

are two departments pretty uniformly provided

for in all the different commissions; the remaining activities of the city are distributed variously. In Galveston, for example, the mayor has general supervision of municipal affairs; there are commissioners for the department of finance and revenue, and for police and fire; the third commissioner has charge of streets and public property, while another has water-works and sewerage. In Houston, the third and fourth commissioners have charge of water, light and health, and of streets and bridges, respectively, while the mayor and the two other commissioners have nearly the same duties as in Galveston. Recently, however, there has been transferred to the mayor of Houston, part of the duties of one of the commissioners, in order to more evenly distribute the burden of administration. This suggests the large degree of flexibility which is possible under the commission plan, an important item which has scarcely been touched upon in the discussions of the plan. As conditions change and the duties of one commissioner increase while those of another become lighter it is possible to readily readjust the load by a simple ordinance. In Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, the mayor has charge of public affairs, and there are besides, the departments of accounts and finances, public safety, streets and public improvements, and parks and public property; while in Grand Junction, Colorado, there are besides the mayor, a commissioner of finance and supplies, of highways, of health and civic beauty, and of water and sewers.

In Houston, the mayor is given power to appoint such heads of departments as are provided for by ordinances, subject to confirmation by the four aldermen. The mayor may remove any officer or employee, with or without the consent of the council ; and has also a veto, as well as a vote in the council, and he may vote on his own veto.

In some cities, as in Grand Junction, Colo., each commissioner is elected directly to his department; in Huntington, W. Va., the person receiving the highest vote is declared mayor, and designates his own department and that of each of the other commissioners. In Galveston, only the mayor is elected to a specific place, the other commissioners being chosen as a group, but it being practically known before hand what places they will occupy.

As between commissioners giving part of their time to city affairs, as in Galveston, and all their time, as in Houston, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids and elsewhere, the tide seems to have set definitely in favor of giving all their time; nearly every recent commission charter thus provides.

In addition to the small number of commissioners which makes the ballot of the voter short and simple, and the fact that each is known and held responsible as the head of a certain department, the referendum, the recall and other additional checks are employed in many cities.

In Houston, a referendum on grants and franchises must be ordered by the council upon petition of five hundred voters; and a referendum on the issue of bonds is provided. Fort Worth and Memphis have somewhat similar provisions relating to bond

issues. Des Moines requires a referendum on Referendum

franchises; and permits it on all other matters, upon petition of 25 per cent. of the voters. Cedar Rapids and Keokuk operate under the same law. Gloucester and Haverhill, Mass., have similar provisions. Mississippi and South Dakota provide in their state laws for a referendum on franchises. Kansas City requires a referendum on franchises and allows it on ordinances by petition of 25 per cent of the voters. Austin, Texas, provides a referendum on petition of 15 per cent of the voters.

A most interesting provision is that of Huntington, W. Va., where a citizens' board of sixty-four, sixteen from each ward, has the right to veto any ordinance which the commissioners may pass. This is in effect a referendum board.

The voters are given the power to originate ordinances in Des Moines. If 25 per cent. of the voters petition for the passage of an ordinance, the council must either “pass the ordinance within

twenty days without alteration or submit it to Initiative

the voters at a special election.” If the petition is signed by only 10 per cent. of the electors, the council may pass it within twenty days without change or submit it at the next general city election. In South Dakota, the state law gives the right to any 5 per cent. of the electors to propose city ordinances which shall be voted on at a general city election; if 10 per cent. sign the petition a special election must be called. In Austin, Texas, 5 per cent. is sufficient. In Dallas, 15 per cent. requires a special election, 5 per cent. a general election after thirty days.

In Galveston, which has neither the referendum, the initiative nor the recall, careful attention is paid to the nomination of good commissioners, a strong city club backing those who have given satisfaction, and looking after their election.

In Des Moines and other Iowa cities, upon petition of 25 per cent. of the voters, a special election is called, at which the name

of the official sought to be removed shall be voted The Recall

on; then if any other person receives a larger vote, he is elected in place of the incumbent. If the incumbent, however, receives the highest number of votes, he continues in office. The mere possibility of a vote of lack of confidence, is thus, many believe, made a powerful influence toward good government.

The Kansas law also provides for recall upon a 25 per cent. petition. In South Dakota 15 per cent. is sufficient. The Minnesota state law provides for a recall. In Grand Junction, Colo., the petition must be signed by 20 per cent., but it cannot be used until after the commissioners have been in office three months.


1 See "The American Municipal Situation," supra.--Editor.

The proportion necessary for petitions is—in Berkeley, Cal., 20 per cent.; in Dallas, 35 per cent.; in Austin, Tex., 25 per cent.; in Haverhill, Mass., 25 per cent. San Diego has also a recall.

Aside from the small number to be voted for at elections, the cities of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Keokuk and the Kansas cities for the most part, provide for certain non-partisan primaries, which need not be described here further than to say that in Des Moines the names of candidates are arranged alphabetically and party designations prohibited.

The Iowa and Kansas laws provide for a civil service commission, as do Memphis, Tenn., Houston and most of the Texas

cities (except Galveston). Whether or not it Civil Service

is Commission

necessary under the commission plan to incor

porate a civil service board, nearly all the commission charters so provide. The Wisconsin law, recently passed, does not provide such a board. It may be interesting in passing to note that the Wisconsin law, under which, by the way, no cities are operating, provides for three commissioners, permits the long term of six years for the mayor and four for the councilmen, and makes only one commissioner elected every two years; no recall is provided.

Strict provisions against corrupt practices at elections, and severe penalties against officials being interested in city contracts are provided in the Des Moines and other laws. The details of many of these and other provisions cannot be given here for lack of space. They should, however, be studied in connection with the other phases of the subject.

Commission government, then, as existing at present, means not merely the presence of a commission as the municipal gov

erning body, but a small commission elected at Summary

large and paid, with wide powers, including usually those of passing ordinances, appointing and removing other city officers and fixing their duties, salaries and qualifications; and in all cases, each commissioner is the head of a department, known as such to the people. The board performs legislative functions as well as controlling and supervising the administration of the departments.

There are also, under most commission charters, provisions for a referendum on franchises and ordinances, an initiative, a method of recall and in many instances a civil service commission and special provisions as to nominations.

A return to the old plan is permitted under the Iowa, Wisconsin and Kansas laws after six or four years of the commission plan.

The extent to which this plan has been successful depends upon the definition of the term. If good municipal government

means clean streets, pure water, enough light, Success of

honest and capable police, a well equipped and Commission

active fire department and adequate returns for Government

money expended, then success under the commission plan, or any form of city government, means the securing of those ends. Measured by these criteria, let us examine the various cities which have had commission government, first noting the length of time during which this form of administration has been in operation.

With the exception of Washington, D. C., no city has had commission government for a period of as much as ten years. Galveston, the pioneer, inaugurated its system in 1901 ; Houston in 1905; Dallas and Leavenworth in 1907; Des Moines and Cedar Rapids in 1908; Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Minot, Bismark, Mandan, Keokuk, Huntington, Bluefield and other cities in 1909. It is, therefore, rather soon to speak with finality of the success or failure of the plan as a whole; certainly too soon to speak of the success of each of the parts of which the plan is composed. All that can be done is to record the results so far achieved.

It is impossible in many instances to contrast results under the former plan with those now obtained since no records are available for the earlier days; and conditions at present often differ materially from those which previously existed.

But even though we may be handicapped by these difficulties, it is yet possible to compare certain data, a review of which here may be of value.

Galveston, under five able and efficient men, has been rebuilt, remodeled, its grade raised, its credit reestablished and its business revived.

As an emergency measure, the commission here

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