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the General Municipal Law,1 deal peculiarly with local governments. Potentially, they bind everywhere.
“ The provisions of the City Law,” it was said in an early case,2 "can hardly be considered as directory merely. They are mandatory. The wisdom of these provisions cannot be questioned by any city which may be disinclined to comply with them.” Actually, their force fluctuates with the presence of charter or other special provisions. In this early case it was held that the provision of the General City Law for the appointment of examining boards of plumbers was effective over a part of the earlier Geneva charter which vested jurisdiction over plumbing in the Department of Health ; the Court seemed to be influenced by the fact that the general law stipulated that examining boards of plumbers should cooperate with the health authorities. On the other hand, People v. Parmerter3 had already held that the terms of the General Municipal Law did not override special provisions of city and village charters regarding the issuing, signing and registering of municipal bonds.
The line of demarcation is suggested in three cases which have involved the right of a taxpayer to inspect the books and papers of New York City departments. Matter of Egano held that the right, in the situation there in point, must be found in sec. 51 of the General Municipal Law. Its dictum, in admitting that “special statutes relative to public documents in particular departments "might prevail, however, made it easy to distinguish Matter of Allen,5 in which access to the documents of the Department of Health was held to be governed by a detailed section of the charter (1175) in relation to that department. So, too, In re
* L. 1909, ch. 29, constituting ch. 24 of Cons. Laws. It revised L. 1892, ch. 685, which had brought together a number of statutes dating back to L. 1840, ch. 318. The municipal corporations to which its terms apply unless otherwise specified comprise counties, towns, villages and cities.
People ex rel. Van Dieren v. Moore (1902), 78 App. Div., 28, 30. See also remarks in In re Clamp (1900), 68 N. Y. Supp., 345.
• (1899) 158 N. Y., 385. " It may be added that, without the point being assumed to be controversial, taxpayers' suits have been held to be gove erned by sec. 51 of the Gen. Mun. L. and sec. 1925 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Altschul v. Ludwig (1916), 216 N. Y., 459, followed in Schieffelin v. Craig (1918), 183 App. Div., 515.
• (1912) 205 N. Y., 147. 5 (1912) 205 N. Y., 158.
Ihrig held that sec. 1545 of the charter was controlling because this section expressly exempted from inspection documents in the hands of the Law Department, to which the papers in question had passed from the Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity.
Nor does the application of the principles regarding the relation of general and special laws differ essentially in connection with those general acts which, like the Civil Service Law, relate to some underlying feature of the organization or methods shared by all units of government. Judicial construction of the Civil Service Law in relation to the charter of 1897 is instructive. The constitution, it will be recalled, already stated that the merit system should exist in every political subdivision and that "Laws shall be made to provide for the enforcement of this section."2 A law of 1898,3 amending the existing Civil Service Act, required that regulations framed locally should receive the approval of the state commission. At the time, the Greater New York Charter provided that the regulations should be made by the city civil service commission with the approval of the mayor.4 In People ex rel. Leet v. Keller5 the Court declined to apply the new requirement of the state law to New York City, saying: “I think that the charter provisions contained a special and exclusive system for the classification and examination of applicants They manifested a deliberate intention on the part of the Legislature to take the City of New York out of the General Civil Service Law of the State.” The realization of state supervision for New York City did not come until the charter, as amended in 1901, provided expressly that the local commission should promulgate its regulations and otherwise act in the manner defined by the Civil Service Law and “subject to and in pursuance of the provisions of that law and of such amendments as may
(1917) 167 N. Y. Supp., 1051, Art. V, sec. 9, added in 1894. *L, 1898, ch. 186.
*L. 1897, ch. 378, sec. 123. The only form of state supervision the charter recognized was the submission of such reports as the state body might direct. Ibid., sec. 125.
(1898) 157 N. Y., 90. 96.
from time to time be made to it * * *."1 The altered situation which has existed since 1901, being the result of these express and unique charter provisions, may render obsolete but does not reverse the earlier cases, nor does it indicate that general laws such as the Civil Service Law, by the force inherent in their own nature, affecť special local legislation differently from other general acts.
*L. 1901, ch. 466, sec. 123; also, to the same effect, 124. For one of the leading cases construing these altered provisions, see People ex rel. Fleming v. Dalton (1899), 158 N. Y., 175. In connection with the proposal made in the charter draft of 1911 to strike out reference to the state law, the Bar Association committee argued against any tendency to develop a separate civil service law for each municipality. Hearings before the Joint Committee on Cities of the Senate and Assembly, 1911, vol. 2, pp. 678-9. At the same hearing (pp. 1126-1166) Mr. Goodwin on behalf of the Civil Service Reform Association of New York attacked the same feature of the proposed charter, declaring that state supervision was the most vital safeguard and that the proposal was tantamount to the amend. ment of the general Civil Service Law by a special city charter. (p. 1129.) Mr. Ordway of the same organization reported later, "It would have been a terrible blow to the cause in New York City if the charter had been adopted in that form, so we fought it as a whole." Proceedings of the Civil Service Reform League, Dec. 1911, p. 21. Yet the attack was not prompted by any unusual suspicion of the then mayor of New York City. In the previous year, the report of the N. Y. Civil Service Reform Association stated, “In New York City we have found Mayor Gaynor an effective supporter of the merit system. At the beginning of his administration, he announced that it was his policy in respect to appointments in the police and fire departments to appoint men in the exact order in which they appeared upon the list. * * * Later he announced that this was his policy with regard to all appointments.” Ibid., Dec. 1910. But no doubt many who fought the proposed change in the system of state supervision in 1911 entertained some doubts when, in 1914-1915, the State Civil Service Commission began an investigation of the city commission which Mayor Mitchel combatted as grotesque and a scandalous perversion of power.
Ordered on September 18, 1914, it led through charges and counter-charges and some 7,705 pages of testimony to the Report on Investigation of the Municipal Civil Service Commission and the Administration of the Civil Service Law and Rules in the City of New York, tendered Feb. 1, 1915 (Sen. Doc. 35), which stated,“ we regret to have to say that the Municipal Civil Service Commission has shown itself in many respects to be weak and inefficient.” (p. 141.) A reconstituted state commission, however, virtually repudiated these charges in a report rendered May 20, 1915. Mr. Nelson S. Spencer said of the whole affair, “The investigation undoubtedly served a useful purpose, although its origin was apparently malicious and its conduct unjudicial
*. It developed, however, matters which needed correction not only in the administration under the rules but in the rules themselves, and the municipal commission has shown a lively disposition to profit by its results." “New York City's Civil Service," in National Municipal Prview, Jan. 1916, vol. V, p. 55.
NUMBER OF GENERAL LAWS AFFECTING THE GOVERNMENT OF CITIES
IN NEW YORK STATE, 1910-1919, INCLUSIVE.
APPLYING TO CITIES AT LARGE
Application Some Varied
Cities Expressly Excluded with Size of Expressly City, etc. **
Agricultural Law (ch. 1)..
1914, ch. 369).
L. 1917, ch. 624)
rev'd. L. 1911, ch. 647)...
L. 1910, ch. 140).
69; L. 1917, ch. 802).
Law (ch. 48; L. 1910, ch. 480)
Law (ch. 63)..
affected chapters in
Acts applying to cities which
have not in terms amended Consolidated Laws.
* Some cities expressly excluded:
? (Education) L. 1913, ch. 424 (state control of historical records; not to contravene duties already imposed on officers in New York and Kings Counties); L. 1914, ch. 44 (retirement scheme not to apply where one exists); L. 1918, ch. 496 (retirement of employees
other than teachers only in places over 100.000); L. 1919, ch. 181 (local historiang only in places under 1,000,000). ? (Election) L. 1911, ch. 542 (voting machine districts, New York City and Buffalo excluded); L. 1914, ch. 5, L. 1918, chs. 50, 392 (elections in clties having elections at other than time of general election); L. 1918, ch. 181 (provision for special elections, New York City excluded). 3 (Farms and Markets) L. 1917, ch. 813 (state aid for markets in places over 10,000). - (General Business) L. 1910, ch. 187 (city scaler of weights and measures, New York City excluded, but later put under act, as amended by L. 1917. ch.
523); L. 1911, ch. 825 (coal and coke sale regulated, but not in New York City); 5 (General City) L. 1911. ch. 825 (repealing provisions in regard to the sale of coal and coke); L. 1918, ch. 546 (borrowing to meet excise tax deficiencies, except in 2nd class cities, this restriction being removed, L. 1918, ch. 115). (General Municipal) L. 1910, ch. 558 (provision of hospitals, New York City excluded from most of terms); L. 1918. ch. 637 (convention expenses of officials, cities of 1st class excluded); L. 1919, ch. 372 (county and city wholly within it may unite on memorial). ? (Insurance) L. 1911, ch. 322 (fire patrols, insurance premiums, etc., in cities over 1,000,000); L. 1912, ch, 523 (boiler inspection; not to operate in cities already having such regulation under law or ordinance). : (Navigation) L. 1911, ch. 620 (harbors on Hudson above New York City). • (Penal) L. 1910, ch. 327 (persons not admitted to bar practicing in courts, in cities of 1st and 2nd classes). 10 (Public Health) L. 1913, ch. 559 (amending health law generally, but New York City expressly exempted from many of its terms, and definition of health board organization not extended to cities of 1st and 2nd classes). 11 (Public Lands) L. 1916, ch. 299 (sale of canal land, buildings, etc., confined to cities, etc., within which located).
12 (Railroad) L. 1914, ch. 492 (tunnel railroads in cities of 1,000,000 or over). 18 (Real Property) L. 1910, ch. 227 (recording of conveyances, required only cities over 500,000); L. 1914, ch. 309 (somewhat similar procedure required in cities over 200,000). 14 (Tenement House) L. 1911,
ch. 388 (requiring the lights in hall; applies to 1st and 2nd classes; unique in that rest of Tenement House Act applies to cities of 1st class only). 15 (Transporlation Corporations) L. 1913, ch. 495 (stage and bus lines, cities over 750,000). 16 (Workmen's Compensation) L. 1919, ch. 458 (limited by terms to places within counties having board of supervisors, which may provide by taxation for retirement system for city, village and other employees. 17 (No Chapter of Con. Laws amended) L. 1911, ch. 746 (canal terminals); L. 1913, ch. 149 (cities purchase canal lands); L. 1919, ch. 470 (celebrations etc., for veterans by cities containing one or more counties or by counties).
**Application varied expressly with size, etc., of cities:
a (Cily Local Option) L. 1917. ch. 624, amended by L. 1918, ch. 178 (local referendum system provided generally. but special procedure stipulated for New York City).
(Domestic Relations) L. 1912, ch. 241 (marriage, licenses, with different provisions stated for 1st class cities); L. 1916, ch. 524 (marriage solemnization, with different officials empowered in cities over 1,000,000, 100,000 to 1,000,000, and others). d (Education) L. 1913. ch. 748 (vocational schools, continuation of pupils in school being required only 1st and 2nd class cities); L. 1916, ch. 182 (medical inspection required everywhere, with possibility of extra officers in places over 5,000); L. 1917, ch. 786, L. 1918, ch. 252, L. 1919. ch. 409 (organization of local boards of education, with variations provided partly on basis of former organization partly on basis of cities over 1,000,000, 400,000 to 1,000,000, and others); L. 1918, ch. 409 (night schools required, lengths of term varying as between ist, 2nd, and 3rd class cities); L. 1919, ch. 645 (salaries, prohibition against sex discrimination applying to cities over 1,000,000 and amounts for each grade differing between cities over 1,000,000 and other cities and districts). d (Election) L. 1910, chs. 428 (different provisions for cities over 1,000,000). 432; L. 1911, chs. 649, 891, L. 1914, ch. 244; L. 1916, ch. 537 (different provisions for first class cities); L. 1918, ch. 8; all of foregoing expressly modifying certain of their provisions for New York City. € (Farms and Markets) L. 1917, ch. 803 (local markets may be established, the fees differing in 1st, 2nd and 3rd class cities). (General City) L. 1916, ch. 305 (regulations of plumbers, powers elsewhere vested in department of health vested in examining board of plumbers in New York City). 8. (General Municipal) L. 1913, ch. 699 (city planning commissions, appointment differing in cities over 1,000,000, and number of members varying in 1st, 2nd and 3rd class cities). h (Highway) L. 1913, ch. 319 (construction of highways through cities, many provisions differing for cities of 1st and 2nd classes); L. 1916, ch. 72 (regulation of motor cycles, with saving clause for traffic regulations of cities of 1st class, and of 2nd class in county adjoining city of 1st class). i (Labor) L. 1913, ch. 463 (regulation of bakeries, etc.; rules of state department do not apply in cities of 1st class); L. 1913, ch. 618 (sale of newspapers by minors, with slightly different procedure in enforcement for New York City stated). j (Liquor Tax) L. 1910, ch. 494 (hours of sale stated varied for cities of 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes); L. 1911, ch. 298 (some provisions regarding hotels applicable only to cities of 1st class); L. 1916, ch. 416, L. 1917, ch. 624 (regulation of many phases of traffic in liquor, with differing provisions as regards license fee, etc., for places in ? population groups). k (Military Law) L. 1916, ch. 355 (localities can ask for military aid, but New York City board of estimate, not mayor merely, makes request for it). (Public Health) L. 1915, ch. 133 (vaccination as a qualification for admission to schools required at all times only in cities of 1st and 2nd classes, in addition to powers conferred on all cities and school districts when smallpox exists). m (Public Service Commissions) L. 1913, ch. 505 (steam power regulation, but in cities of 1st and 2nd classes having existing agency, such agency will act under state law and commission's rules). n (Tar) L. 1911, chs. 471, 804; L. 1916, ch. 323; L. 1917, ch. 488 (regulating procedure in special franchise and other forms of taxation, making express provision of different machinery of New York City). 0 (No chapter of Consolidated Laws amended) L. 1913, ch. 313) make up, etc. of Tercentenary commission).