Imágenes de páginas

slip, while he prepares his ballot in the booth, the name of a

leader for his party in the city during the next Elective Party year; these slips would be put in a separate ballot Leader

box provided for each party, and publicly counted by the regular officers of election. The person receiving a plurality of the votes so cast would become the “party leader for the ensuing year: the three or perhaps the five persons receiving the next largest votes after his should make up an “advisory committee” for the same period. The sole duty of the party leader would be to place names on a “regular ticket " at the party's primaries. The advisory committee should be consulted as to these names, and any member of it who disapproved of any name could have his dissent published. Every facility would be given for "independent" candidacies both at the primaries and at the final election; the nominees of the party leader would have no other advantage in the former than to be designated as "regular", or by some equivalent title.

I do not believe the party leader, chosen as above suggested, would usually be the present local boss: if he were, this would only show that the boss fairly represented the party. In any event, under this system, the party's nominations would be suggested by a representative consciously and intelligently chosen to do this particular work and the city's voters would know the true value of a nomination as an assurance of fitness. The function of the initiative, that is to say, the duty of making suggestions must fall in last resort to an individual: if we make it the business of anybody we make it the business of nobody; if we make it the business of every body, whether in the party or in the electorate at large, we leave it to fall to anybody who grasps it, and experience shows that this anybody will not be usually a somebody we want. I propose to recognize the importance of this business, and to put it in the hands of a designated somebody: somebody else, somebody otherwise chosen, may be possibly, indeed probably, better fitted to attend to the work than the somebody I have just suggested: but assuredly, whether we neglect it or not, the work must of necessity and will certainly have attention, and, no less assuredly, it is now generally or far too often in bad hands.

The American

Municipal Situation.


Secretary. Charter revision and nomination reform have been the two most conspicuous tendencies in a year of unparalleled municipal

activity. It is a matter of no small moment or Charter Readiustment

importance when 138 cities within two years

seriously consider the question of charter building and rebuilding. Within that period 26 cities in the North Atlantic group, 18 in the South Atlantic, 43 in the Northern Central, 26 in the Southern Central and 25 in the Western and Pacific group have called upon the National Municipal League for assistance in some form or other of charter readjustment.

The list of cities includes practically all the larger centersBoston, New York, Buffalo, Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Massachusetts, New York and West Virginia have authorized official investigations of the question. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin are the scenes of definite state-wide movements for im proved charters for most of the classes of cities within their borders.

Boston's experience has been an illuminating and significant one. The Boston charter bill, as passed by the Massachusetts legislature, and approved by Governor Draper on June 11, 1909, is divided into two parts: 1. Administrative; 2. Political.

The first part embodies the administrative features of the recommendations of the now original Boston Finance Commission providing for a permanent finance commission of five members to be appointed by the governor of the state, the chairman

to receive a salary of five thousand a year and Boston's Now Charter

the other members to serve without pay; the sal

ary of the chairman, and at least $25,000 additional for the expenses of the commission, must be appropriated


by the city council each year. This commission is authorized to employ such experts and other assistants as it may deem necessary; and its duty will be from time to time to investigate any and all matters relating to appropriations, loans, expenditures, accounts and methods of administration affecting the city of Boston and the county of Suffolk, and to report thereon to the mayor, the city council, the governor, or the general court. In addition, the mayor, city auditor, or city treasurer may refer to the commission any claim against the city which seems to be of doubtful validity " or otherwise contrary to the city's interests," payment being withheld pending such consideration."

Department heads are to be appointed by the mayor, and they must be “recognized experts in such work as may devolve upon

them ”; or else they must be “persons specially Administrative Features

fitted by education, training or experience to

perform” these duties. The mayor must certify to one or the other of these facts in making appointments, and must add that the appointment is made “solely in the interest of the city.” Before they become effective, however, they must go to the state civil-service commission for investigation and certification as to the facts alleged.?

Other important sections provide for the initiative of the budget by the mayor; more careful safe-guarding of long-time contracts entered into by the city, increase in the power of the auditor; carefully drawn provisions preventing the interference of the city council in the matters of city contracts and city labor, and the publication of a “ City Record”, weekly or oftener, under the direction of the mayor. In it all city advertisements must be published, together with other information relating to the city, proceedings of the council and the school committee, and all communications from the mayor. There are numerous other excellent details, the working-out of which, together with the larger and more important feautres, will repay close watching.

The political part of the Act was referred to the voters of Boston in alternative form, the choice being made at the Novem

1 See article in Engineering News, October, 1909. 2 See paper of Richard Henry Dana, infra.

ber election. The first plan provided for a two years' term for mayor, and a city council consisting of one member from each ward except two, to have two each, nominated in the primaries and elected for a two years' term, and nine members elected at large for three years' terms: making in all 36. Nominations for mayor and councilmen at large and the school committee to be made by the old convention system.

The second plan, known as the “ Finance Commission Plan," provided for a four years' term for the mayor, subject to recall

after two years by not less than a majority of Political Features

all the voters in the city; a city council to con

sist of nine members elected at large for three years' terms; and all nominations for municipal election to be made by petition of not less than 5,000 voters, without party designations on the ballot.

To illustrate and formulate arguments in matters of public and especially municipal policy diagrams are being used to an increasing degree. The telling maps and illustrations of the Bureau of Municipal Research in New York (a full exhibit of which was made at the Pittsburgh meeting of the League) have done almost as much to arouse public sentiment on the necessity for budgetary reform as did their compact tables of figures. The same policy was pursued in Boston in the charter campaign. Harvey S. Chase, a member of the League's Executive Committee, graphically depicted the plan urged by the politicians known as “ Plan No. 1," and that of the Finance Commission and the Committee of One Hundred appointed to promote its adoption. The diagrams showed how, under the first, the city electorate was broken into two unequal portions, each with separate parts (the ward electorate and the municipal electorate), with the election of the councilors divided between them, whereas under Plan 2 was shown to be a single governmental unit starting directly from the people irrespective of party affiliations.

Under Plan 2 any petition signed by 5,000 voters will nominate a candidate for mayor, councilman or school director. That is all there is to the matter of nomination; and there are only 15 elective officers for the whole city, no more than six of whom - 3 councilmen, 2 school directors and I mayor—could possibly

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

be elected at any one election, except the first. In other words, Plan 2 introduces the short ballot; whereas, Plan I provides for undivided responsibility and an unwieldy body of legislators. Complexity characterizes the one, and comparative simplicity and directness the other.

Boston, by a small majority, endorsed Plan No. 2, the vote being for Plan 1, 35,276; for Plan 2, 39,170—total, 74,446.3

Although no charter legislation affecting Greater New York was passed by the state legislature, the report of the commis

sioners chosen by Governor Hughes to suggest Greater New

a new charter for the city constituted an imYork Charter

portant event. The existing charter is a hodgepodge of all sorts and conditions of laws and regulations. No small part of the provisions is entirely out of place in an organic law. The commissioners set themselves to the task of preparing a municipal constitution in place of a body of statutes including, it is estimated, over a half-million words. They drafted a charter of about 70,000 words and a body of administrative law of nearly equal size. In other words, the two represented physically one-quarter the content of the present charter alone.

In substance it suggested that the borough presidents should be shorn of administrative functions and devote their attention solely to the great financial work of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment; that the administrative work be given to heads of departments directly responsible to the mayor, and to bureaus, some under the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, some under other departments, and a council of 39 members to take the place of the present unwieldy and unnecessary board of aldermen. A notable change suggested was the one which outlined the abolition of the street-cleaning department, putting its work as well as that of repairing streets, care of sewers and the like now under the charge of the borough presidents, into a “Department of Street Control.” The power to grant franchises was transferred from the board of aldermen to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the proposed council to have authority of making ordinances only; in other words, it was to be made a

& The vote for Governor at the same election was 76,190 (Republican, 28,542; Democratic, 47,648).-EDITOR.

« AnteriorContinuar »