« PreviousContinue »
only in some of the cities that have adopted the commission plan of government. The commissioner of public supplies has charge of the department. His duty is to act as purchasing agent for the city in procuring supplies for all departments under regulations established by the charter and the council. In most cities each department purchases its own supplies, but in some the department of public works performs this duty for the others.
105. The Departments of Public Utilities. — There are many things that a city must do or it would not be a fit place in which to live. This is true of the services rendered by the various departments that we have thus far considered. There are other things that may be taken care of by the city or may be left to private enterprise. This is true of the work of providing water, gas, electric power, and telephone and street car service. Such things as these are called public utilities. They are natural monopolies. That is, there ought not to be more than one corporation doing any of these things in one city. The existence of more than one street car system, or telephone system, is not only a great nuisance, but also a great expense to the people; while the installation of a water system, or a system for manufacturing and distributing gas or electricity, is so expensive and involves such inconvenience to the people because of the work that must be done in the streets, that more than one such system should not be permitted to cover the same territory. This is the same as saying that such enterprises are natural monopolies, and that in respect to them competition cannot exist without serious inconvenience to the public. In view of this fact all enterprises of this kind should either be strictly regulated
in the interests of the public or should be owned by the public.
European cities are far ahead of our American cities in this particular. This is especially true of the cities of Great Britain. Glasgow, Scotland, sells water, gas, and electricity to its people; owns a municipal street car system; owns large public markets, slaughterhouses, and stockyards; is in the laundry business, and the farming business, and owns a large number of tenement houses which it rents to its people. It also owns a splendid harbor from which it derives a large income. Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and other British cities are not far behind in these respects. On the continent of Europe, in a somewhat less degree than in Great Britain but far beyond anything that we know of in America, municipal ownership of public utilities prevails.
Municipal ownership of water systems is quite common in America. In California, more than forty cities own their own systems. A number of cities have electric light plants, either for the purpose of lighting their streets, parks, and public buildings; or for selling electricity to their people; or for both of these purposes.2 - San Francisco has
1 Section 23, article XII of the state constitution, - a recent amendment, provides that any city may turn over to the state railroad commission the task of regulating all of its public utilities that are owned by private corporations. This has been done by a number of cities, including Oakland, San Jose, Bakersfield, Monterey, Napa, Palo Alto, Salinas, Petaluma, San Rafael, Ontario, Antioch, and others. See footnote, page 213.
2 In 1911 the following cities owned municipal water systems: Anaheim, Antioch, Azusa, Biggs, Bishop, Colusa, Elsinore, Gilroy, Grass Valley, Gridley, Healdsburg, Imperial, Lakeport, Lincoln, Lindsay, Lodi, Lampoc, Long Beach, Lordsburg, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Mountain View, Nevada City, Newport Beach, Ontario, Orange, Palo Alto, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Rio Vista, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sausalito, Sebastopol, Suisun, Vallejo, Wheatland, Whittier, Yreka.
At the same time the following owned municipal lighting plants: Anaheim,
made a beginning in the development of a municipal street car system. All city charters that have been granted during the last few years confer authority on the respective municipal corporations to which they apply, to acquire by purchase or otherwise any or all public utilities.
Cities that own public utilities have special departments of their governments to look after them. Each of these departments is usually under the control of three commissioners appointed by the mayor. The commissioners appoint engineers and other employees and have general control of the work committed to their care.
106. The Park Department. - As we have seen, the public parks in a small city are under the direct control of the council or board of trustees. In larger cities they are either looked after by boards of public works, or by park commissions. These commissions usually consist of three or five members appointed by the mayor, who appoint park superintendents, gardeners, carpenters, painters, and other employees. They have general control of beautifying and caring for the public parks, and the grounds around all municipal buildings, and have charge of all museums, statues, and other works of art that are to be found in the parks. No statue may be placed in any park without their consent.
People are beginning to realize that parks may be made to play an important part in preserving the public health, and more for this than for any other reason, large cities in all parts of our country are investing large sums in park lands. In some cases, they are moving buildings to make room for parks; in others, they are filling in swamp lands.
Azusa, Biggs, Gilroy, Glendale, Gridley, Healdsburg, Lodi, Palo Alto. Pasadena, Riverside, Santa Clara.
107. The Playground Department. Some cities have playgrounds for children in connection with their parks, while others have separate sites altogether. Playground commissions, consisting each of three or five men and women, appointed by the mayor, have charge of these grounds. A supervisor is placed over each to direct the children in their play, and to prevent intruders from imposing on them. It is intended that the playgrounds shall be made attractive to children, and to this end they are equipped with necessary buildings, swings, and other devices, and provision is made for sports of various kinds. Parents from time immemorial have realized that children need to play, but the necessity has not been recognized as a public want until within recent years. It is now so recognized on the ground of public health, as well as of public morals. The provision of playgrounds for children is the most recent burden assumed by our cities.
SECTION 3. THE EDUCATIONAL DEPARTMENTS 108. The School Department. - The school department of every city is a part of the general school system of the state, which will be considered in Chapter XIV. It will there be seen that the schools of a city are managed on the same general plan as the schools of a country district. The school boards in larger towns and cities consist of more members and exercise a few more powers than rural school boards ($ 81). The teaching force of a city is under the immediate control of the city superintendent of schools, who is appointed by the board of education for a term of four years. The larger cities have assistant superintendents, and every school building is provided with a prin
1 Political Code, $ 1793.
cipal and a sufficient number of teachers. Freeholders' charters often contain statements of powers and duties of boards of education ; but, inasmuch as educational work is not one of the municipal affairs of the city, such statements are valid only in so far as they do not conflict with state law. They are unnecessary, because the law is quite complete in this respect, and they are either entirely omitted from the more recent charters, or are given in a very brief form.
109. The Library Department. As a means of education, libraries rank second only to public schools. They are regarded of such importance that, in addition to the county libraries referred to in Chapter V ($ 42, 10), the law provides a method whereby library districts, – public corporations with the power to tax, — may be formed in unincorporated communities. The law further provides that the legislative body of any incorporated city may, and when petitioned by one fourth of the voters must, establish a municipal library. The fact that the state will compel a city to establish and maintain a library on petition of a minority of its voters would seem to classify this particular want as a matter of state-wide importance rather than as a municipal affair.
The money for the support of municipal libraries is derived from city taxes. Such taxes in cities of the first, second, and third classes 2 cannot exceed thirty cents. These taxes are levied by city councils or boards of trustees, and the money when collected is held by city treasurers for library purposes. Instead of imposing a special library tax, city councils often appropriate definite sums for library purposes. 1 Statutes of 1909, page 823.
2 Cities of over 23,000 population. S M T W Th FS 13 14 15 16 1718
126 27 28 29 30 31
20 21 22 23