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PAPER OF EDWARD J. McDERMOTT, ESQ. Many men lay the blame of our failures in municipal affairs op our immigrants, although municipal government is no worse in the North than in the South, where there are few immigrants. Others attribute municipal evils to the nomination of municipal officers by political parties; and yet in Louisville, for many years, we had no political nominations whatever, and Republicans were even elected from the city at large, though it had then a big Democratic majority; but, in spite of this absence of political nominations, the municipal govern. ment was little better then than has been since political parties have made nominations. Some students of municipal affairs attribute all our evils to ignorance on the part of voters; but, though education, in the past thirty years, has been made almost universal in the cities, and the percentage of those who cannot read and write is small, there has been no commensurate improvement in the government of cities.

Many thoughtful men hoped that merely fixing responsibility on the Mayor for the administration of municipal affairs would bring great improvement, and it has undoubtedly accomplished much, but not what we hoped, and for this obvious reason: He is usually sought out and nominated and elected by self-seeking men whom he cannot control or resist after his election. He finds himself so hampered by the acceptance of favors from selfish or corrupt men during his canvass, and 80 bound by promises made for him explicitly or impliedly by his ardent supporters, that he cannot do freely or at all what he knows is best. Besides, he is generally ineligible for the succeeding term, annt can not at once feel the effects of public opinion; and, even after his weakness or unfaithfulness has been plainly demonstrated and he has been clearly condemned by the judgment of the people, there is very little satisfaction to the public in knowing that he will not soon trouble them again. If he keeps in accord with men who live upon the public, he will have ardent, loud, loquacious champions; and, if he is shrewd, he can get the support of a newspaper or two. Under such circumstances, it is hard to control or hurt him.

A Mayor and the Aldermen around him are usually of the same type. General he gets his experience and his political influence while in the Council. His talents or aptitudes, if he has any, are substantially like any they may have, but he usually excels most of them around him at least a little in ability and character. It is said that the people are not good judges of measures, but that they are good judges of

I doubt it. A good “mixer" of ordinary standing is hard to beat in any race. By reason of this he is often trusted in high places without any record of important services in the past; and two or three years may elapse before it is known that he is deficient in ability or character, and when the discovery is made, what is it worth? Another perhaps as bad or worse succeeds him, and the procession goes on without end, like the ghosts that rose before the troubled vis


ion of Macbeth. Mayors alone, however independent or autocratic, cannot save us from bad government.

It is clear that a municipal government is not like a State government; that the legislative work of the State is more difficult and probably more important than the executive work; but in a municipality legislation is much less important than administration; the administrative officers are much more important than the law-making officers. In fact, nearly all legislation is suggested, if not prepared, by the Mayor and his assistants. A city has really nothing to do with national policies and ought to be conducted like a private corporation, but with greater skill and economy. In so far as the city, for the benefit of the State, is allowed, within its boundaries, to provide for the general health, to care for the poor and the sick, to educate the young and to prevent crime, it sbould be under the supervision of administrative officers of the State at the capital, and should be compelled to observe State laws; t:ut in all other matters it should be free to collect and to spend the money of the taxpayers with as much honesty, skill and judgment as possible and according to their directions alone.

The greatest complaints against municipal governments have been due to the inefficiency, favoritism or corruption of their officers. The people have been too indulgent or too indifferent as taskmasters. A tarnished name cr a poor head has not been a bar to great preferment, Inefficiency has produced corruption; and corruption has produced inefficiency. One of toe great sources of corruption has been the free gift of franchises for which private persons and corporations were willing to pay open!y or secretly large sums of money. That source of corruption can be stopped by a public sale of franchises under rigid and well considerer regulations for the public good . Corruption has appeared also in the acceptance of public contract-work by officers who either had not the skill to protect the citizens from imposition or who had not the honesty to resist bribes or flattery or who had not the courage to reject imperfect work when done hy influential contractors or personal friends. Tbis source of evil can be partly stopped by the selection of competent officers who have been thoroughly tried in advance by rigid tests based on scholarship and experience and who are made secure in their places so long as they do good work and guard the city from plunderers. Corruption again has been caused (1) by the distribution of offices among personal friends and political supporters or (2) by the making of such contracts or public improvements or purchases as may be desired by influential men. A well-guarded civil service system can, to a great extent, prevent the abuse of public offices for private or political purposes. The control of public improvements and their location by the Mayor or his responsible subordinates at places where they will contribute most to the general good will not stop all abuses as to this matter, but Councilmen who want to pave the way for re-election ought not to be allowed to compel the spending of public money on un

necessary or extravagant improvements desired by influential friends. If the necessity or the opportunity for swapping offices or improvenients between the Mayor and the Councilmen be taken away, municipal government will be very much purified and rendered less offensive to men of character and ability. Nothing creates so much ill-will and so many heart-burnings and wastes so much time and money as the vain effort of Mayors and Councilmen to protect or strengthen themselves by the use of public patronage. There are never enough offices or improvements to go around, and nothing is so destructive of the usefulness of a municipal government as the rivalry and hatred which spring up between the Mayor and Councilmen in the distribution of offices, contracts and improvements. It is safe to say that one-half the time spent by Mayors and Councilmen is spent in the disposal of offices among a horde of persistent, unreasonable and clamorous officeseekers and in the division of municipal favors. The problems incident to such a difficult partition not only consume the time and disrupt the friendly relations that might otherwise exist between the Mayor and Councilmen, but drive away from the City Hall men of ability and character who would be delighted to serve the public, if they could be free from such turmoil or bondage. While erils like these are being gradually removed-while there is practically unanimity among municipal reformers as to the best remedies for them --it is still evident that the removal, even in great part, of the evils of oflice-jobbing will not alone make inicipal government in this country what it ought to be.

As the time at my command is brief, I am compelled to confine myself to one remedy proposed for the bettering of municipal government, namely, to the separation of administration from legislation. The need of this separation by law is thought by many to be of the most vital importance. It is said with much force that most of the evils in municipal government are due to a confusion in the public wind to the difference between legislative and administrative functions - to an injurious mixture of such functions in

charters and consequently, to natural encroachments the Mayor on the Council or by the Council on the Mayor. When the proposition is broadly stated that legislative functions should be clearly distinguished from administrative functions—that to the General Council should be assigned legislation, strictly speaking, and to the Mayor administration, strictly speaking-we are inclined at once to accept the statement as true; but when we undertake to discriminate practically between the two we find our task very difficult. Nearly all the important matters that concern a municipality after it is once started with a charter come within the scope of administration. The making of ordinances by the General Council is not of great importapce. After the charter, subject to many constitutional limitations, has been made by the Legislature or by a municipal convention, very


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little further legislation is perded; but the greatest task of all still remains namely, the severe and intricate task of administration and supervision. If the Council is nerely to have the right to pass ordi. liances to fix the tax-rate (as to which there is usually very little latitude), and to authorize (practically in a lump) the expenditure of the money raised by taxation, there will be very little power for good or ill in the Council and very little help from it in keeping the Mayor and his army of office-holders in the right path, Legislation in the national government and in the State government is very important; but pure legislation in the municipality has a very narrow range. In other words, Congress, in the matter of legislation, has a tremendous power, and the Legislature, in passing State laws, is still capable of doing inuch good or ill; but nearly all the important work in a municipal government is purely administrative. To say, therefore, that legislation must be kept distinct from administration is to say that the Council shall be of very Ittle use. Besides, though we can make this distinction clearly in theory, it is extremely difficult to make it in practice. No hard and clear line can well be drawn between administration and legislation in municipal affairs; and moreover, the evils which have sprung from mixing these functions have been due, not so much to open, legal eni roachments by one department upon the other, but rather to hidden and illegal encroachments. In secret and improper ways, Mayors are constantly interfering or trying to interfere with the Coun. cil in legislative matters; and, on the other land, members of the Council are constantly coercing or seducing the Mayor to secretly allow them the privilege of performing part of his administrative functions in the making of appointments or expenditures. Many bargains are thus made Letween the Mayor and the Council when each is willing to yield sone athing for the sake of carrying out some pet purpose of questionable merit; and, if they do not secretly compromise with each other in this way, they are usually trying, in the most important matters, to balk om undermine each other before the public. In these irregular ways responsibility is divided, the usefulness of each department is greatly impaired, and some of the wisest provisions of the open, legal encroachments by one department upon the other, as to hidden and illegal encroachments. In secret and improper ways, most carefully drawn charters are practically ignored. If the Mayor should be entirely beyond control in appointing many officers, in purchasing supplies and real estate, in granting municipal favors to private persons and corporations and in locating all public improvements, he will always have the Council under his thumb and will make them allow him to dictate all legislation.

It may be slid that generally the Councils of cities have performeā:

(1) Purely legislative functions;
(2) Mixed legislative and executive functions; and

(3) Purely executive functions.

To be more specific, we may say that Councils have been accustomed to do the following tasks:

(1) To pass ordinances for regulating the duties, terms and compensation of officers and for governing the conduct of the citizen so far as it concerns the city, to fix the tax-rate and to apportion the public revenue among the several departments of the city, etc. It may be said that such work is legislative.

(2) To authorize contracts; to approve pay-rolls; to purchase or to order the condemnation of property; to determine how municipal institutions shall be conducted and how public lands and buildings, etc., shall be used or managed; to decide when and where great public improvements, like sewers, streets, bridges, wharves, parks, etc., shall be made; to decide what public franchises shall be sold, leased or regulated, and at what time and on what terms this shall be done. These are executive functions mainly, but to some extent they are also legis. lative. Could such duties be entrusted to the sole discretion of a Mayor without any participation or supervision by the Council, the Board of Directors of the city?

(3) To elect or confirm divers officers and now and then to impeach them. This is a mixture of purely executive and judicial functions.

What part of these several functions would it be well to take away from the Council? Would it be safe to exclude it from all participation in or supervision over these matters, and to confine it to the power of passing ordinances, fixing the tax-rate and determining the gross amount of the annual budget? Would it be safe to trust the Mayor and his subordinates with everything else? No private corporation would give such power to its president and so completely destroy the authority of the Board of Directors.

While the Mayor is thus trusted with almost all executive functions, he is nevertheless given the right to take part in legislation by means of his veto. Ought not the Council in executive matters now and then have a veto or check on some of his acts, as in the making of large contracts, and in determining the direction in which big items of expenditure shall go? The Council evidently, in some executive matters at least, should be like a Board of Directors in a private corporation. No Mayor or president of such a corporation should have unlimited and arbitrary control for two or four years in all executive matters. The Council every two years ought to be able to take the sense of the people on the conduct of public affairs. Continuity of employment is not so essential to them as it is to executive officers with whom experience counts for so much. In England, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet combine both legislative and executive functions. The rest of Parliament, like a Council, watches the Ministry and approves or condemns it and thus controls the Ministry until an appeal is made to the people. Congress has of late passed quite a number of important

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