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(2) It is proposed to put the city practically on a level with the central State government so far as the power of taxation is concerned. This is a radical innovation. The city's debt-creating power is unlimited for purposes of remunerative services, while the taxing power is limited only in respect to the taxation of real and personal estate. Dog taxes and poll taxes, corporation taxes and inheritance taxes, business taxes and professional taxes may be levied by the city in the same way as by the State.
(3) Furthermore, on the basis of practically unlimited financial powers, a sweeping general grant of powers is made to the city, and the door is thrown wide open for a great extension of municipal functions. The new charter recently adopted by the people of San Francisco is doubtless the only important city charter in the United States that is so favorable to the municipalization of public services as the constitutional amendments proposed by the Committee.
(4) Finally, central administrative control over the exercise of municipal functions is contemplated by the Program. Although this inno vation is not given any prominent place in the words of the Program, it is clear that the provision for State supervision of municipal ac counts is only the entering wedge for an indefinite amount of central supervision by means of State Boards and officers. With the door closed to central legislative control, the development of administrative control by the State is the only apparent alternative to the gradual disintegration of the State government.
IV. General Principles of Government Assumed.
(1) The Committee have evidently concluded that there is no sound general theory of the limits of municipal functions, or, indeed, of municipal organization, save in the barest outline. There is no reference riade to the arguments for or against public ownership of so-ca'led municipal monopolies in general, and the Committee evidently go upon the assumption that the deliberately formed judgment of the people of any particular city ought to be the only test of the propriety of municipal undertakings, provided only that the interests of the State at large be not palpably jeopardized by municipal action. The recommendations of the Committee preclude the discussion of the proper functions of city government in general and relegate the question of functions to the citizens of each city for their free determination.
(2) A city is brought into being by the sheer necessity of some posttive co-operation. The growth of municipal self-rule marks the turning point in our general theory of government. Henceforth, gorernment must more and more become positive co-operation for mutual service rather than for mere repression. Hence the Committee have ances" and have boldly proclaimed that government in cities is a posiances” and have boldly proclaimed that government in cities is a positive and necessary good.
(3) The Committee, whether out of love or from sense of duty, have
adhered almost everywhere to the demands of radical democracy. Perhaps the requirement that the framers of city charters shall be house. holders ought to be mentioned as a slight departure from the demo. cratic path. No provision is made for the initiative and the referendum except in certain specific cases, but this omission might be supplied by cities framing their own charters. There is little in the whole Program that the supporters of radical democracy could object to.
V. Is the Program Practicable?
No theory is a good theory unless it will work. In other words, a theory must refer to conditions. We are where we are. Croker's man is at the head of the administration of our metropolis. In most of ouc cities we have rulers whose official acts are influenced to a greater or less extent by the hope of political preferment or of public plunder. Our ivic life is in many cases blighted by the mercenary power of public service corporations and the narrowly selfish motives of the majority of every class of citizens. Our conditions are just what they are, and no Utopian dream will take us up and set us down in the midst of conditions more favorable to reform. To whatever ideal condition we attain we shall have to go from where we are. It is noz, (.? course, to be expected that any single program of municipal organization that is at all comprehensible could be carried through uniforinly iu any large number of States or cities at once. Indeed, if a program adopted by the Municipal Leagve should be incorporated, practically intact, in the laws of a single one of the more important Commonwealths and be given a fair trial without any of the chronic legislative tinkerings so common in the United States, the efforts of the League and of its Committees would be much more than justified. If the results arising from the trial of the proposed Program were anything like as important and salutary as there is good reason to think they would be, the Program would spread like an epidemic.
Let us ask, therefore, what are some of the more important diffculties in the way of success in the advocacy of a Program like the ope recommended by the Committee?
(1) It would be necessary, in the first place, to vanquish the overweening self-esteem of that class of the American people who believe that everything American in the field of politics is perfect, and who would scorn to learn lessons in municipal government from the experience of European countries.
(2) The rural population of the country is not wholly convinced of the ability or desire of the great cities to govern themselves well. And wherever the cities form an important factor in the political life of the State without having a preponderating infuence in the State Legislature any sweeping municipal home rule measures are likely to be re ceived with distrust by the law-makers of the State.
(3) The dogged opposition of ultra-conservative men who do not really believe in democracy except as a necessary evil can safely be
counted on. They would take alarm at the proposition to clear the way for a wide extension of municipal functions.
(4) Public service corporations would certainly oppose with all of their power a measure to grant a liberal amount of discretion to cities in the matter of municipal ownership and operation of remunerative public enterprises.
(5) Any program, to be carried through, will require the support of practical politicians. It would be strange indeed to see an important legislative body the majority of whose members had not been initiated into the mysteries of the office-seeking caste. To ask these men to support a Program like the one presented by the Committee would be equivalent in many cases to a request that they change their occupation. There is every reason to believe that the agitation in favor of the proposed reforms would not proceed very far before professional partisans would scent danger and declare war on the Program. Every change in our system of government bas to be brought about through existing political machinery. It is, perhaps,, unfortunate that we cannot form the bold knights of municipal reform into a regiment of "Rough Riders” and carry our Program through at the point of the sword.
(6) Another difficulty that would bave to be overcome in carrying a Program through to successful enactment would be the prevailing tendency of American Legislatures, either through sheer stupidity or through diabolical cunning, to emasculate any rational and comprehensive measure of reform proposed for enactment.
These difficulties, however, are the same that reformers have met all along, and are all the result of ignorance, confusion of voices or selfishness. There are a number of considerations favorable to success wbich deserve to be mentioned as an offset to the difficulties that are inevitable.
(1) To limit the strength of American prejudices we have in all parts of the country a considerable infusion of foreign-born citizens. In some States and many cities the majority of the voters are lightly tound to the old American traditions. And if our country is to receive any ultimate benefit from the admixture of different race elements within its borders, may we not hope that among other things the people will become less narrowly prejudiced in favor of discredited American methods and be ready to learn from successful experiments made elsewhere?
(2) To offset the distrust of the political capacity of great cities entertained by the country legislators, we have the rising tide of public septiment in favor of home rule in the cities themselves; and as the urban population is increasing out of all proportion to the increase of the rural population we may expect that the scale of political power will soon turn in favor of the cities.
(3) Over against the opposition of the individualists and of vested
corporate interests may be placed the rapidly growing sentiment in the new West and everywhere in cities ir favor of the expansion of governmental functions. There is very little doubt that if our cities' hands could be untied all at once there would soon be a remarkable crop of municipal street railways and lighting plants.
(4) Finally, the inevitable logic of necessity is already silently introducing into American practice some of the reforms contained in the Program, notably civil service reform, central administrative control and the limitation of franchise grants. And, indeed, a rational program supported by intelligent argument and the necessity of some remedial measure is a powerful engine for overcoming even political habits and prejudices.
VI. Is the Program Necessary?
I believe that all the members of the Municipal League will readily admit the necessity of some program. If the one presented by the Committee after careful scrutiny and revision by the League is deemed to be practicable, it will hardly be required that we prove its necessity. Existing confusion is intolerable. Perhaps I may be permitted to call attention to one factor in the problem which seems to me to be too generally overlooked. In cities the concentration of wealth and poverty alike is extreme. When any considerable proportion of the citizens of a city begin to live from band to mouth, so that they are unable to "stand a siege,” they inevitably become dependent upon their more fortunate fellow-citizens for the means of making a living. The corruptibility of the masses and the irresponsible power of concentrated wealth threaten the political life of all large cities where the people have the right of suffrage. If public services continue long enough in the hands of private corporations, while the collars of the rich and the numbers of the poor are multiplied, it is my opinion that our cities will drift beyond the possibilty of self-government on demociatic lines. The only way to save democracy is to cut the ropes that bind our young giant cities and let them fight their own battles. The Oommittee have proposed a radical Program. Any other kind of a Program would be useless in the face of the radical conditions by which American municipal government is beset. I would be inclined to criticise a few minor details of the Program, but to the Program as a whole I give my earnest support. It is intelligent, comprehensive, courageous and necessary.
THE CHAIRMAN : The paper of N. F. Hawley, Secretary of the Minneapolis Charter Commission, will be submitted by our Secretary for incorporation in the proceedings of this Conference.
PAPER OF N. F. HAW JY, ESQ. The Report of the Committee on a Municipal Program first struck my mind in the aspect of another attempt at the making and unmaking
of municipal charters-an occupation to which we are much devoted in the United States. We seem to have a marked penchant for making laws . We resort constantly to constitutions, codes and charters in order to embody our ideals, and often make our la anticipate custom and public sentiment and even take the place of practice and civic activity, apparently oblivious of the fact that laws do not execute themselves. We repeatedly set up statutes far in advance of our ability to enforce them. Then, too, we love order, philosophical arrangement and symmetry, and by means of sweeping refornis and innovations are constantly attempting to straighten out the theoretical incongruities and irregularities of accumulated customs and business methods. We frequently are not content to gradually improve the laws and customs as they exist. We do not always build from where we stand. We are prone to build in the air, and then, having framed there a symmetrical edifice, we often fail to move into it.
But I do not wish to be misunderstood. I believe in ideals, and I do not think the "Municipal Program" wholly impracticable. We might as weli recognize frankly the American tendency to law and charter quaking. Now more than ever before are municipal enactments being considered and passed by the State Legislatures. At no time could the “Municipal Program” have been more opportune. It, moreover, is not only timely and suggestive, but in my opinion it is, in many of the general principles laid down, correct.
Without now considering the feasibility or wisdom of attempting to adopt, or urge the adoption, throughout the country of one single form of municipal government, I wish to express, without argument, approval of a few of the principles upon which the report of the Committee seems to have been based-principles which, let me say in passing, were, many of them, adopted and embodied in the charter proposed by the Minenapolis Charter Commission, of which I am a member. Among the ideas to be especially approved I would first mention the suggested freedom of action on the part of each individual city. Regarding this I will later speak more at length. I think also are especially to be commended the prohibitions against special legislation; the distinctive separation of legislațive from executive functions; the provisions for general representation; the lodging of the appointive power for administrative services in the Mayor; the establishment of a single legislative body; the limit of municipal indebtedness; the exemption from such limit of debts incurred for income-bearing properties; the restrictions upon the granting of franchises; the provisions requiring publicity of legislative action; the establishment of municipal civil service; the largeness of the powers proposed to be granted to the city; the freedom granted the city in determining the services to be rendered by it; the provisions requiring a uniform system of accounting; and also the separation of riunicipal from cther elections.
But there are many different opinions—honest and intelligent-in