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Every city library is under the control of a board of library trustees. If not otherwise provided in the city charter, the board consists of five members appointed by the mayor. The board provides a building, or buildings, for library purposes; appoints a librarian and necessary assistants; purchases books, periodicals, and necessary supplies; and makes rules for the management of the library. A large city usually has a principal library, and a number of reading rooms situated in different localities.
SECTION 4. MISCELLANEOUS DEPARTMENTS 110. The Civil Service Commission. The appointment of public employees according to political influence is known as the “ spoils system,” a system which we are rapidly giving up in California. A few cities? governed by freeholders' charters have adopted the “merit system”; that is, they have entered upon the reform of their civil service. Any such city has a civil service board or commission, consisting of from three to five members appointed by the mayor. The city charter states what employees shall be selected according to civil service regulations. In general, they include office employees, such as clerks, stenographers, and accountants, and other public servants except the chief officers of the city, the heads of departments, and certain important officials such as superintendents, inspectors, and assistant city attorneys. Common laborers
1 This is a provision of the state law. Most freeholders' charters provide library boards, five members appointed by the mayor or the council being the usual provision. Some cities have three members, while San Francisco has twelve.
2 San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and Long Beach. The legislature of 1913 provided for the filling of many state positions by the merit system, and the new charter of Los Angeles county contains a similar provision respecting county positions.
CIVIL GOV. IN CAL.-II
are not included; neither are members of the school department, as the qualifications of teachers are determined by state law.
The civil service board does not fill vacant positions. It classifies the various positions which fall under its jurisdiction, and prepares lists of persons who qualify for appointment in the various classes. A person gets his or her name on one of these lists by passing an examination given by the board. Examinations, free and open to all eligible persons, are given at stated times, usually twice a year. They are competitive; that is, the name of the person receiving the highest mark is placed at the head of the list.
When a position in the classified service is to be filled, the appointing power 1 notifies the civil service board of the fact. This board then submits to the appointing power, from the top of the list, the names of as many persons as the charter stipulates; usually three, if that number are on the list. One of these must be appointed to the position. Examinations are also given for promotion, so that an employee may qualify for advancement. Any employee in the classified service may be suspended for cause by the authority that appointed him, but he may appeal to the civil service board, which has power to reinstate him.
The merit system is in direct opposition to the plans and purposes of political bosses, and civil service reform cannot be expected to make headway in cities where bosses are in control. A civil service provision in a city charter is therefore no proof that the city enjoys the benefits of the merit system. An unfriendly administration may
1 This may be the council, a board of commissioners, the mayor, or the head of a department.
render the charter provisions ineffective; and no city should expect to escape from the demoralizing influences of the spoils system until its officers are in thorough sympathy with the principle that public servants should be chosen for the good of the service, rather than for strengthening the political position of the party in power.
111. Other Governmental Agencies. — There are other governmental agencies in large cities that are not included under the departments mentioned above.
The city pound is one of these. It is established by the city council, in the exercise of its police power, for the purpose of taking care of stray animals and enforcing city ordinances relative to the licensing of dogs. It is under the management of a poundmaster.
Charters of the fifth and sixth classes empower the boards of trustees, where such charters are used, to establish free markets and municipal employment bureaus. The more recent freeholders' charters also provide for employment bureaus.
The department of elections in San Francisco should also be mentioned here.1 It consists of a board of five election commissioners, and a registrar of voters. The election commissioners conduct all elections in the city, aided by the registrar of voters, as explained in Chapter II.?
112. The Unity of a City Government. — The government of a city must necessarily be studied by considering its departments separately; but one should think of it as a unit. The departments are the arms of the government
1 See outline of the San Francisco charter, Appendix E.
2 There are many voluntary organizations of citizens in every city which do important public work and exercise a pronounced influence over the city government. Among these may be mentioned the chamber of commerce, the merchants' exchange, charitable societies, improvement clubs, and the like.
reaching out in answer to the various public wants and interests. As a city increases in population and its municipal needs multiply, the number of its governmental departments must increase; but the unity of the municipal government should be kept constantly in mind, not only by the student, but by the voters, and especially by the officers and employees. This unity is not disturbed by the existence of those departments which represent the state, because our principle of local self-government makes such departments municipal in practice; even in theory they form a harmonious part of the city government because they are engaged in satisfying wants which the people of the city have in common with the people of the state.
1. Why does the police department of a city in the work that it does represent the state ?
2. How are these departments organized in your city ?
3. Exactly what would you do in case a fire should break out in your home? Do you know where the nearest fire alarm box is, and how to give the alarm ?
4. How can a citizen best assist either the police, fire, or health department in its work ?
5. What are the “municipal affairs” of a city ?
6. Does your city have a board of public works? If so, its members chosen ? If not, who has charge of the construction and repair work, the cleaning of streets, etc. ?
7. Does your city have a city engineer ? A superintendent of streets ? If so, how is each chosen ?
8. What does your city do with its ashes, rubbish, and garbage ? 9. Does your city have park and playground commissions ? 10. How is the board of education in your city chosen? Does the city constitute a school district, or does outside territory belong to the district ?
II. Does your city have a public library? If so, how is it managed ?
12. Is there a civil service provision in your city charter? If so, is it carried into effect? If it is disregarded, who is to blame?
Appendix E consists of brief outlines of all the city charters in use in California. These outlines are given in order that our various city charters may be studied comparatively, and the following questions are intended to assist in such comparative study.
1. What are the essential differences between the charters of Los Angeles and Berkeley ? Palo Alto and Berkeley ? Los Angeles and Palo Alto ?
2. Compare the charters of 1907 and 1909, and note the differences.
3. Compare the charters of Riverside, Richmond, and Stockton with reference to the powers of the mayor and the council.
4. Compare the charters of San José, Sacramento, Riverside, and Oakland with reference to the selection of the board of education.
5. In how many ways are police judges chosen ?
6. How do the charters of Stockton and Sacramento differ with respect to civil service ?
7. To what extent are officers chosen by wards ?
8. In what cities is an officer declared elected at the first election if he receives a majority vote?
9. Why is the charter of Richmond not a commission charter ? 10. Compare the charters of San Francisco, Eureka, Riverside, and Oakland with respect to the department of public works.
11. What freeholders' charters resemble the fifth class charter ?
12. Study the power of the mayor with respect to the following points: veto power, relations to the council, appointing power, power of removing other officers, and the ex officio positions which he holds. Do recent charters differ from older ones in respect to any of these points ?
13. How does the charter of Petaluma differ from other charters