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on the one hand, and the expert administrators on the other, between the appropriating and the spending, the criticising and the criticised.
The trouble has been that we have heretofore mixed these two inconsistent functions in the same person. Let us separate them.
But have we any instance, in the history of Anglo-Saxon government, where too much control was found dangerous in practise, and where, for the general good, it was limited? One of the chief functions of government is the administration of justice, and this used to be a part of the duties of kings. The judges were their representatives; but the power to remove the judges was found to be a power too great to lodge with safety in the executive, and even the legislature could not be trusted to have the power to diminish the judges' salaries, and so, in England and the United States, the judges cannot be removed but for cause well established, as a rule, their salaries cannot be lessened while in office, and, in England, the federal government of the United States, and in Massachusetts, their appointment is for life. In those states where the judges are the most mingled with politics, and at the time when this mingling is greatest, then and there the expert administration of justice is the worst.
As a recent instance of interference with justice we have Germany's note to the United States when about to apply force to Venezuela. The note said, in substance, that President Castro opposed the claims of Germany and its citizens, and he suggested submitting the claims to the Venezuelan courts. But those courts, the note stated, were the echoes of the President's wishes, as he was in the habit of removing those judges who differed from his views.
While we see this independence of municipal experts working well in Great Britain and Europe, and while such authorities
on government as President A. Lawrence Lowell, Independenco
the Hon. James Bryce and Dr. Albert Shaw of Exports
think the existence of this system is the one Desirable
efficient means if not the very cause of the better government in those cities, it still might be asked, “Would the system work well in our climate and country?”. Have we anything of the sort in the United States? Yes, the President of the United States, our chief executive, elected by the people, has the responsibility, exercised through his secretary of war, of carrying out all the harbor and river engineering work appropriated for by Congress. This is all done by army engineers, of West Point training and education, already in office when the President and his cabinet come in, and his power of removal is limited in practise just about as much as is proposed for the municipal expert administrators; yet there is no shirking of responsibility on account of the practically permanent tenure of army engineers, or because the President has not appointed them, and the work has been thoroughly, efficiently and honestly done. The great work on the Panama Canal, since it has been put in charge of the army engineers, has certainly been going on smoothly, rapidly, economically, efficiently and with less “ fuss and feathers ” than ever before.
To be sure, the President of the United States can asign an army engineer to other duties; but even then, the list of army engineers eligible for a place is extremely limited, and in practise the changes of duties are based on seniority and experience.
Again, it has been objected that, to avoid the ills of "mob" bungling of technical administration, we fly to red-tape bureaucracy; but experience had demonstrated that, by the scientific adjustment of the representative and administrative spheres of action, we may have the best permanent, expert service, ambitious for fame, kept at its highest efficiency and initiative, by an appreciative and exacting public, interested in getting the best results, and acting through its political representatives endowed with sufficient powers.
As this co-ordination is important, allow me to state it in another way. Let the public act within the scope of its ability and the experts within the scope of theirs, each influencing the other, and then we can secure democratic home rule, without danger to efficiency, economy and honesty.
Before closing this paper, I wish to touch shortly on two other causes commonly assigned for the failure of efficient and honest government in our cities. One is the want of sufficient salaries, and the other is the lack of property qualification for municipal voters.
As to salaries for the would-be experts, it is undoubtedly true that they are usually too low; but on the other hand, we see most
able experts working on small salaries as heads Salaries
of some of the scientific bureaus of the United States government and as professors and investigators in our universities. Again, many of the salaries for the heads of municipal departments have been raised without corresponding improvement. The offices are still in politics. The high salaries have not frightened away politicians.
In the case of the superintendent of streets under Mayor Collins in charge of the scandalous Fenway work, his salary was $7,500 a year. His successor, appointed by Mayor Fitzgerald, was a man even less fit for the place.
As to the other cause assigned, namely, our lack of property qualifications in municipal government, if restricting our elective franchise is our only remedy, reformers might well despair and abandon further effort, as there is precious little chance that the franchise can ever be cut down. The fate of Coriolanus in Rome is likely to follow anyone who would undertake his experiment here. Besides, while admitting that the property qualification would probably result in better economy in city administration, if it were established, let me ask two things—first, does history, past and present, show that government by the wealthy is always free from corruption; and second, if we had property representation, would it not adopt this very separation of the expert administrators, as it has done in Germany, as the first and best means of securing good city government ?
So far I have advisedly used the term “chief executive " of a municipality, rather than mayor, because, whether that chief executive be a commission or a mayor alone or a mayor with a politically-selected cabinet, or committees of a city council, whether of one or two chambers, or a combination of several of these, there will still be the need of educated, trained and highly specialized experts, with pretty permanent and somewhat independent tenure, to carry out our numerous municipal undertakings with as little intermingling of politics as is reasonably possible, for the very protection of such future executives as mean well, and the better chance of getting good ones in.
Should our plan be adopted, let me recapitulate some of the objects which would be attained.
(a) Securing for such positions experienced men of high character and training in place of men without the necessary knowl
edge, whose chief bringing up has too frequently Summary of
been in the saloon and in ward politics. Suggestions
(b) A tenure based on merit and fitness, instead of subserviency to political powers through whose favor the position is held and who demand favors in return.
(c) Heads of departments who believe in the merit system and wish to enforce it, in place of spoilsmen seeking to avoid and break it down, and to circumvent the civil service commission.
(d) Municipal contracts honestly and efficiently made and strictly enforced, in place of contracts so carelessly drawn and carried out as to open opportunities for fraudulent profits to influential contractors.
(e) Clean streets and better security for the public health, such as Col. Waring gave when in charge of the streets of New York.
(f) Economy of being free to get a day's work for a day's pay.
(g) Encouraging engineers and scientific men to take municipal work and keeping them in office, instead of discouraging them with the prospect of political wrangles and turning them out to make room for those of more political influence.
(h) Offering to capable and specially-trained experts a career in municipal work.
(i) A chance of promotion that will attract capable young men for the positions of assistants.
(i) More independent supervision and investigation by the political executive, as the expert administrators are themselves somewhat independent and responsible for their own departments.
(k) A separation of the appropriating from the spending functions.
(1) An accounting that will show the cost of public work done, instead of methods intended to conceal extravagance.
1 The counsel for both new and old finance commissions of Boston, recently stated that $10 are lost by inefficiency to one dollar lost by fraud. (m) Continuity of public works conceived on broad plans for the future, and not makeshift and vacillating policies with reference to temporary political expedients.
(n) More definite fixing of responsibility between the political executive and the expert administrators.
(0) And finally, taking all forms of spoils, both patronage, law enforcement and contracts, out of politics, removing the motives that induce the machine politician to keep his hand on the throttle, and so making it easier to secure good chief executives.
So important is it to create a public sentiment in favor of the separation of the political, or public policy determining executive, from the expert administration, for the mutual benefit of both, that, for the present general purposes, I shall say nothing as to the means by which this separation may be brought about and maintained, for fear of distracting attention from the desired result. If, then, this distinction is correct in theory, and the separation desirable in practise, let us set to work at once to create the necessary public opinion; and if there is reasonable hope of securing the good results set forth in this paper, is it not a cause to arouse all our enthusiasm and inspire our noblest efforts ?