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has proved unquestionably successful. Not more than half the eight years, however, during which Galveston has been governed by its commission can be called an emergency period; for the last four years the city may be considered as having been under nearly normal conditions. The most striking thing about the Galveston situation has been its remarkable financial success. This, however, has been so fully described as not to need repetition.

In the field of city finance, more data is available than elsewhere, and the results are more conclusive. In Houston, which presents usual civic characteristics, during the four years of commission administration in that city, the old method of issuing bonds to cover a deficit in running expenses has been abolished; and now not only are current bills paid as they come due, but $400,000 of the bonds have been returned, delinquent taxes collected and needed public improvements completed and paid for out of current revenue. Further, the tax rate has been reduced from $2.00 to $1.80; the cost of its electric lights from $80.00 to $70.00 per arc per year. Other improvements have been made; each business man whom one interviews explains some new respect in which the plan is a financial improvement over the old system.

In Des Moines only the first year's report is available, but it shows marked economy in many lines. Care should be exercised

in order not to attribute accidental saving to Des Moines

commission government, and to see that figures are really comparable. For example, the statement that in 1908, after the new plan was installed, street curbing constructed by the city cost 39.9c. per lineal foot as against 42.9c. per lineal foot for the year before, proves upon careful analysis to be valueless since conditions of depth, material and length of haul varied so that no comparison was possible. The same is true of sewers and pavements. But certain facts which have a real bearing on the situation can be ascertained. The cost of street lighting which can fairly be compared since under similar conditions, cost in Des Moines $75.00 per year per arc, for the year before and $65.00 per arc per year for the first year of the commission plan; furnishing a saving of $10,000 for the year in this item alone.

A similar large saving was effected in Houston. This probably indicates that a greater effort was made on the part of the commission and the commissioners of lighting to secure lower rates from the lighting company. If the reason for the added effort is the new feeling of responsibility created under the commission plan, it is fair to credit this saving to the plan.

Several car-loads of creosote wood-block paving were rejected in Des Moines on account of being below standard, a thing un

heard-of in the old days. In Cedar Rapids the Results

commission had recently after consideration refused to pay for a piece of paving already laid but clearly defective.

Turning to other purely financial results, we find in a large number of cities municipal employees promptly paid and as promptly discharged if not efficient. Police regulations are better enforced than formerly; in Galveston, Houston, Des Moines, Dallas and elsewhere. The streets are reported by those interviewed as being kept much cleaner, both in the business and residence districts, particularly in Des Moines and Galveston. Specific instances of improvement in the different departments of city government are so numerous they cannot be included in this short paper. The foregoing list of cities is not even complete, since every fortnight finds a new municipality which has adopted the commission plan. A dangerous tendency should be pointed out in passing, namely, the desire to economize by curtailing regular municipal work, such as street cleaning, and the making of necessary improvements. In a certain city several thousand dollars were saved in one year by not cleaning the streets excepting at rare intervals.

The use of the recall has not been sufficient to determine its effectiveness. The recall has been threatened two or three times in Des Moines, once in Cedar Rapids, and several times in other cities, but has actually been employed only in Los Angeles which can scarcely be classed as having commission government.

So far as the commission plan has been tried, it seems to have resulted in a marked increase in municipal efficiency, in the finance, police, street and lighting departments. In the fire department the consensus of opinion is that this department was pretty efficient before and that the improvement is therefore slight.

Considerable disappointment is expressed in at least three cities visited at the fact that former politicians, largely comprised the board. It is argued, however, on the other hand, that if the results are so much better under poor or average commissioners, that under able men wonderful results could be achieved.

The study of the receipts and expenditures of the cities with the comparison of the cost of construction work, and other items; the evidence of inhabitants as to clean streets and good lighting; the enforcement of police and sanitary regulations; are all points upon which the reports of visiting delegations, skeptical of the value of any new panacea for our municipal ills, the inspection of careful students of government as President Eliot, Prof. Albert Bushnell Hart, and George Kibbe Turner and citizens of the municipalities which have the plan, agree.

The possibility of developing long terms of office for municipal commissioners, during which they may become thoroughly familiar with their duties and hence very efficient, is suggested by the fact that Galveston in the past eight years has changed only one of its commissioners, except by death; and that change was at the election this year.

The confidence of business men and voters in the commission plan is very marked. Whether the belief in the ultimate success of this method of municipal administration will stimulate effort on the part of citizens to secure better government or whether it will lead to over-confidence and apathy are questions for the future to decide. It is not likely, however, that interest in municipal affairs will be any less than it is today. If the commission plan shall arouse that hopeful public interest which is so essential in a democratic form of government, it will have gone far in solving one of the difficulties with which we are now contending. No system or plan can produce good government; all that municipal machinery can do is to supply the mechanism by which the will of the voters is promptly and actively registered. This is the aim of commission government.

Recent Constitutional and Statutory Enactment in Michigan Relative to Cities.


Member of the Michigan Legislature. Under the old constitution, the legislature was the sole source of legislation touching municipal matters.

The principle of home rule as it existed under that constitution, went only to the extent that each locality had the right to choose the men who should fill its local offices; the power of the municipality, the method of their exercise and form of local institutions, were matters dependent solely upon legislative enactment. These took the form, for the most part, of special acts, either enacting charters as a whole, amending existing charters, or in the nature of enabling acts for some special purpose. Probably not a single city exists in Michigan whose charter does not bear some evidence of this special legislation.

Although the constitutional convention, which took itself more seriously on some points than was necessary, thought that the old system of special legislation was very bad, the only real evil of any great moment was the waste of time consumed in legislative roll-calls. The local bills were invariably drafted at home; they were passed as a matter of course at the request of the local member, and the local member, if he was wise, invariably refused to ask the passage of a bill over which there was any controversy in the territory affected. I personally am satisfied that the former system worked out better ninety-nine times in a hundred than the new one will. The only case of refusal to pass a local measure which was ostensibly supported by the local members was in the case of the Grand Rapids non-partisan election

measure, and in that case they secretly opposed Municipal

its passage. The remedy for such cases is to Home Rule in Michigan

elect proper men to public office.

This principle of local home rule, which in the old constitution was nowhere expressed in words, but which was

created by the decisions of the Michigan Supreme Court, is much amplified by the express terms of the Constitution of 1909.

This constitution provides that the legislature shall provide by general law for the incorporation of cities, which general law shall limit their powers of taxation and of borrowing money. (Art. VIII, Sec. 20.) Special legislation is practically a thing of the past, though special or local acts can be passed where general laws cannot be made to apply. Whether a general act is applicable is made a judicial question. No special act may take effect till approved by majority vote of the electors of the district affected voting on the question. (Art. V, Sec. 30.)

Subject to the constitution and the general laws of the state, the electors of each city (and village) may frame, adopt, and amend its charter. (Art. VIII, Sec. 21.) This provision does not state in terms whether the powers of cities are to be specified in the general incorporation act, or are to be fixed by the inhabitants of each city.

It is, however, the commonly-accepted opinion that these constitutional provisions are not self-executing; that the function of the legislature consists not merely in drawing an enabling act and limiting the borrowing and taxing powers, but also in specifying certain things that cities must, may, and may not do; and in providing for such matters as uniformity in election procedure, changes in boundaries, relations with the county officials and government, and the like.

The new constitution, therefore, modifies the old in that the legislature may now probably specify the things which all municipalities may, or must, or must not do, but cannot prescribe the form of local institutions nor the manner of executing local powers. As to the latter particulars, the legislative power of the state is conferred upon the electors of the several cities and villages.

The new constitution also touches upon matters relative to municipal ownership of various descriptions of properties. There

are specific grants of power to acquire parks, Municipal

boulevards, cemeteries, hospitals, almshouses and Ownership

all works which involve the public health or safety. (Art. VIII, Sec. 22.) There are also grants empowering

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