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State. Its own will should crystallize into its own action. The fundametal American idea of self-help and the whole trend of development in American character are involved, and while there is yet time, the American city should be restored to its original and consistent position. Iustead of being a stagnant pool by the wayside, breeding corruption and decay, whose waters can only be stirred by intluences emanating from the capitol of the State, it should become by right an epitome of living Americanism, a free seli-governing community, and an original and vivifying source of the self-subordinating and self-reliant character which alone makes this country what it is. It is of the very essence of free government, both historically and logically, to legislate locally, not to administer locally, and the idea cannot be too strongly impressed. Executive action is secondary, while representative legislative thought emanating from the locality concerned is primary and initial. We have, therefore, reversed the logical and natural order by abandoning the early Council system, inherited from England and still in existence there with full power of local legislation, and substituting for it, through a temporary and false interpretation of democratic principles, a centralized legislative tyranny in the State, in exchange for the empty and mischievous privilege of electing local administrative officials. The results of that change are a matter of history in the State of New York, where there is no city government but only government at Albany, very much as the English Parliament governs Ireland. Nothing could bave been more unwise or productive of greater danger. The same conditions and the same possibilities exist everywhere in a greater or less degree, wherever cities are given enumerated powers. The Legislature is foreign to the properly conceived city. It is a political body, elected on political issues, and is always disposed to subordipate many things of purely local importance, which do not properly come within the scope of its powers, to political considerations. It deals with cities in the main on a purely political basis, and their representation in its ranks is only fragmentary. Because it is political, it is never independent, and rarely has the courage to go counter to the prejudices of some fragment of the public—the Irish, Polish, or Italian vote, as the case may be and bring about what is in the interest of the the people at large, lest some of its members should fail of re-electior. Moreover, the increase in the size and number of cities, and of the general business of the State itself, is such that it will soon be practically impossible for the Legislature to do even ordinary justice to municipal legislation, under the most favorable conditions. Again the affairs of cities cannot be regulated by the Legislature on the basis of enumerated powers, except by special legislation, a conceded evil of the first magnitude either in the old form or by the method of classification. Finally, the Municipal council is a fact even in its ruins as we have seen it in New York; and even where its powers are thus limited, and its dignity so degraded that none but the lowest will consent to enter
its ranks, its total destruction is something which the people of this country would never willingly permit. It is therefore essential that the Council should regain its former dignity and responsibility, and this can be accomplished mainly by clothing it with extensive local powers by general grant, for the exercise of which it is answerable to a local constituency solely responsible for the regulation and conduct of its own government. Such a Council should not be large, because by reducing its numerical membership the responsibility of each member is increased, and while the character of its powers should be magnified, administrative powers should be denied it altogether in order to further simplify and more clearly define its field of action, and thus more Cully distinguish and fis its responsibility. In a Council organized in that way the character and standing of every member would be exposed to pitiless and searching scrutiny before as well as aster election. The whole community would be alive to the necessity of electing good men in self-protection, and good men would be alive to the necessity of accepting nominations. The character of nominees, particularly under the admirable nominating system proposed by the Committee, could not fail to be high, and the standing of each elected member would be jeopardized in such a manner and to such a degree that it could only be protected from serious peril by his own action, and could and would be thus protected with as absolute certainty as is possible in this world.
I had the privilege at the Baltimore meeting, in May, 1897, of calling attention to the necessity of "extensive powers of local legislation,” “responsible executive power,” and the great evils which arise from the fact that while "the Mayor is elected to represent the people directly and effectively, in an executive capacity,
the Council shares these powers and hampers the executive in their exercise." In many cases it almost monopolizes them, and the responsibility of the executive branch is seriously minimized thereby. We must have a responsible executive power, as well as a responsible Council elected by a responsible electorate.
We can never have a responsible executive force as long as we have an executive Council. Each head of a department should be re. sponsible for its work, and the Mayor should be responsible for all heads of departments, and should have power to discharge them at any time for cause, provided the cause is not of a political character, and is clearly set forth in a recorded document. Perbaps one of the most serviceable ways of emphasizing these truths and anticipating the charge of theoretical generalization is to present illustrative facts, and one can always illustrate best from his own field of observation In Milwaukee the Mayor merely has powers of supervision, together with the veto, and really forms no very essential part of the executive and administrative force of the city. We have the usual checks and bal
The Mayor's veto is one of them. The Comptroller must exam
ine and countersign contracts, and the city's legal force gives opinions which are sometimes intended as a restraint, but are not binding on the Council. An instance in point is where the city attorney advised that a claim against the city for injury was not good. The Council Committee which had the matter in charge held otherwise, and I am told that a considerable sum was, or is to be, paid out in what might be pronounced by the uncharitable advance campaign expenses; though in this particular case, I believe, the character of the committee precludes that idea. There is really only one check that is effective, and that is the Council's will, and the worst is that responsibility, such as it is, is so divided among the different city officials and so scattered over the whole field in that chief stronghold of administrative control, the Council, that nobody is ever responsible for anything. An illustration may be had in the award of contracts for bridges. The Board of Public Works, which enjoys nominal administrative powers in some directions, examines bids, together with plans and specifications, with technical skill of the first order. The various plans are sent over to the Council with special information as to the superior power of resistance in the various structural parts in the case of a given plan. The Council Committee having the matter in charge holds an informal reception for the friends and agents of the various bidders. A matter which the Board of Public Works, if properly and fully responsible, could and would settle to the city's advantage in fifteen minutes, runs through weeks and perhaps months in the Council chamber, with the probable result that the plan will be finally accepted, for which the most effective pressure is exerted. On a certain occasion a joint committee in considering a series of bids for a large contract of another kind reported in favor of the highest bidder, and in the matter of licenses, the committee which has that executive function in charge is too well aware of the campaign value of the saloon influence to resort to Spartan measures, when seventeen hundred applicants and their friends appear before it, every one of whom is rich in “influence.” How can elective officials, no one of whom can be held to individual responsibility, and whose fate at the next election depends on hordes of saloonkeepers, contractors and ward heelers who helped them into office, exercise executive powers with judicial impartiality, to say nothing of their lack of special capacity in matters involving technical skill and knowledge? How can there be any clear and definite executive responsibility unless we bring order out of confusion by absolutely separating and clearly defining legislative and administrative powers? A statement of the case seems to be the only argument required. The exercise of definitely executive functions by the Council is vicious and absurd, and is the source, in my humble opinion, of a large percentage of the very worst municipal evils. We have long recognized this fact in Milwaukee, and, as some of you know, a long step was taken in the right direction by depriving the Council of the power of appointment, and lodging it in
a city service commission, which controls the appointment of every minor official, from a bridge tender up, except in the fire and police departments, upon a basis of ascertained merit. The fire and police departments are in the hands of a similar civil service board, establisbed, curiously enough, by the leading Republican Boss, a gentleman of whom we are all very fond, but with whom we agree in that matter only.
In view of the force of argunient on various sides, and particularly in the clear and able report of the Committee on Program, it may be safely assumed as established that the City Council should not possess executive and administrative powers, and that it should have exclusive and complete powers of local legislation. We have finally to deal with the responsibility of administrative officials. To establish that the same principle must be applied. The tenure of appointive officials should be jeopardized to such a degree and in such a manner that dismissal from the service would be the prompt and certain result of inefficiency or malfeasance. It is clear that a numerous body of elective officials cannot enforce administrative discipline, and I can think of no better way to centre administrative responsibility in such a manner that discipline can be maintained, with no alternative but the exact discharge of duty, tban the plan suggested by the Committee. It has the supreme merit of clearly defining and narrowly limiting the area of executive and administrative action, and therefore making it possible in case of a violation of duty to bring the responsibility home to single individuals with crushing conclusiveness and force. A Mayor who appoints all heads of departments, and all subordinates under strict civil service rules, is responsible. He is doubly responsible when independently of the Council he appoints his chiefs for indefinite terms, subject to removal by himself, or his successor, for non-political reasons duly set forth in a written and recorded document. His responsibility is still further enforced by the possibility and danger of his own removal for reasons of a non-political character, duly set forth in writing, by the Governor of the State, after being heard in his own defense. But not only is the Mayor a strong and responsible official under this system, every head of a department and every subordinate under him is forced to a keen realization of his own individual responsibility, and the result of his failure to discharge it. It is a very beautiful proposition, and one of which the National League may well be proud. It is a theory, it is true, but it is a theory so obviously based in sound reason and wide observation of government and men that I cannot conceive of its being successfully challenged. A Mayor of that kind is not a master, but a superior and highly responsible servant, who, if he cannot always compel his subordinates to be honest and efficient, can promptly mete out deserved punishment and appoint better men in their places. Such a system may even be expected to make good officials of men who might otherwise succumb to the prevalent tempta
tions and influences of city government as it is now conducted, not Ouly because the punishment of dismissal is severe and conspicuous, but chiefly because it is prompt and certain. I am tempted to suggest, however, that if the Governor is to be entrusted with the power of removing the Mayor, there may be scme doubt whether he would be as prompt in removing a Mayor of his own political party, and as hesitant about removing a Mayor of opposite political faith as he should be. In other words, there would seem to be some danger of “politics" in that arrangement. In that connection, however, the counter-effect of the reduction of the number of elective officials by the appointment of heads of departments (excepting the comptroller), with a full check on removal for political reasons, in eliminating politics from city affairs is worthy of careful consideration. I can think of no other method, unless the power to remove an incompetent or corrupt Mayor be vested in a general local government board with powers of supervision over ali cities in the State.
I have said nothing of the distinction between the general sphere and character of the legislative power of the State, and the special and exclusively local character and limits of the legislative power of the properly organized city, or the points at which the State and municipal fields are merged. It is so eminently reasonable that the State should legislate only on matters affecting all of its citizens alike, or all of its cities alike, matters of general concern; that the purely local legislature should be confined to purely local matters, and that the general interests of the State should override any merely local interest, without possibility of question, that it would be superfluous and out of place to endeavor to add a word to the distinction so ably and so clearly drawn in the papers of Mr. Deming and Professor Goodnow. I cannot conclude my remarks, however, without referring briefly to some of the dangers said to be involved in exclusively local powers of municipal legislation, and adding a word in regard to the double Council. As to the latter, there can be no doubt that the constitutional provisions proposed by the Committee obviate every objection to a single chamber, and yet it will be found that there are cities in which, owing to the bad character and representation of the central wards, and the fact that race lines and ward lines coincide in many cases, a double Council in one form or another is necessary, owing to the traffic in city legislation between ward representatives, and the extreme reluctance of the people to part with the ward as a basis of representation. I feel specially privileged to call attention to this matter, because I took a position at Baltimore in favor of a double legislative Council, as against a single executive and administrative body; and for the reasons suggested above, I am sure there are cities where it will be necessary to couple representation at large with the body elected on a ward basis, and that is perhaps the best form of a double Council, because it provides general with local representation in the simplest