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health, tenement-house inspection, and the state public service commission. Each of these departments, except parks, education, taxes and assessments, and the public service commission, is headed by one officer appointed by the mayor. The department of parks is in the control of three commissioners appointed by the mayor, and one commissioner is assigned to each of the great administrative divisions of the city. The department of education is under the control of a board of forty-six members appointed by the mayor. The public service commission, charged with the supervision of common carriers, street railways, gas and electric companies, is not a municipal but a state board, composed of five members appointed by the governor with the approval of the senate.
Under each of these great departments there is an army of employees numbering more than 60,000, graded in official hierarchies. Under the head of each department there is one or more deputies appointed by the head. The minor offices are principally filled — theoretically, at least — by examinations and promotions. By far the greater number of New York municipal employees (42,713 in 1906) are under the jurisdiction of the civil service commission, and of these over one-half are in the competitive class filled by examination, while the remainder belong either to the exempt, non-competitive, or labor class. The largest examination held by the New York commission, during that year, was for patrolmen in the police department, at which 1834 men were examined. Outside of the jurisdiction of the civil service commission were about 11,000 employees in the teaching force under the board of education, also selected by examinations and promotions.
The civil service commission 2 of New York City is established under a general law of the state, which provides that the mayor of each city shall appoint commissioners not more than twothirds to be of the same political party - for the purpose of prescribing, amending, and enforcing rules for the classification of the officers, places, and employments in the service of the city; and for making appointments and promotions and holding examinations; and for registering and selecting laborers in the
1 Strictly speaking, the department of health is in charge of a board, but the health commissioner is in practice the chief officer.
2 Three members.
employment of the city. The merit system has been established for the cities and some towns in Massachusetts; for Milwaukee and certain municipal departments in cities over 10,000 in Wisconsin; for Chicago, Evanston, and a few others cities in Illinois; for New Haven, Connecticut; in some departments of all cities of Ohio (1908); in the charters of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, and some other western cities; in cities of the first class in New Jersey; and in the charter of Philadelphia.1
The suffrage for voting in municipal elections is usually the same as for the state at large, but there are some exceptions. For example, Rhode Island restricts the municipal franchise by a special property qualification, and Kansas widens it by admitting
Not only is the suffrage generally unrestricted by property qualifications; special efforts are now being made to increase the active participation of the voters in municipal politics by new devices.
1. The principle of the initiative and referendum is being rapidly adopted for municipal as well as state affairs, so that the voters may initiate measures and force the reference of ordinances, franchises, and other matters of importance to the electorate at large. No less than twenty states have adopted the initiative and referendum for some or all of their cities: California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington.3
2. The principle of "the recall" is also being adopted, especially in the cities with commission government. Under this system elective municipal officers may be forced to stand for a new election, or withdraw altogether, when, on demand of a certain
1 See Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the National Civil Service Re form League, for each year, for a full statement. See also the twenty-fourth Report of the National Civil Service Commission, pp. 163 ff.
2 In many other cities a referendum on special matters is allowed, but no initiative.
National Municipal League Report for 1909, p. III. *Readings, p. 531; below p. 600.
percentage of the voters, a new election is held. The principle has been applied in a modified form in Boston, where the mayor may be recalled after two years of his term have expired.
3. Finally, party conventions for municipal nominations are being abolished in favor of nomination by petition or direct primary. The petition system is now in force in Boston under the recent charter, and candidates for mayor and councilmen are nominated by petitions signed by 5000 voters. The direct primary is quite generally used in connection with the commission form of city government.
No lengthy argument need be adduced to show that the government of the great American city is a complex process requiring a multitude of detailed technical and expert operations subject, in matters of general policy, to the control of the electorate. By its very complexity it offers a multitude of opportunities for waste, corruption, and maladjustments. On the side of its administration the city is a gigantic business concern requiring for its proper conduct something more than mere election enthusiasm. Speaking abstractly, all of its branches should be carefully integrated so that there can be no conflict of authority, no waste in the purchase of supplies, no neglect of duties by the employees, no misuse of funds appropriated, and no protection for vicious interests seeking to evade the law or to wrest privileges from the city.
Recognition of this fact has led several American cities to completely abolish the old form of government by mayor and council, and to substitute for it government by a commission composed of a few men endowed with full legislative and executive power in the city. Although there had been for some time a tendency toward greater centralization in municipal management, the movement for commission government may be dated from the reconstruction of the government of Galveston, in Texas, after the great storm of 1900, which destroyed a large portion of that unhappy city and sacrificed some 6000 lives. For a time, the government of that municipality was paralyzed, for the great problems connected with the reparation of the ruin were too much for the old political machine which had control. A committee of citizens was chosen to formu
'Readings, p. 530, and below, chap. xxx.
late a new charter, and they drafted an instrument which vested the entire government in the hands of five commissioners, three appointed by the governor and two elected by the people of the city without regard to ward lines. This charter was adopted, but its appointive feature was declared unconstitutional.
A revision soon followed and the government of Galveston was vested in a mayor and four commissioners elected at large by the voters of the city and invested with all the rights, powers, and duties of the mayor and board of aldermen. The administration of the city is divided into four departments: police and fire, streets and public property, waterworks and sewage, and finance and revenue; and the mayor and the four commissioners are required by the charter to designate from their own number a commissioner for each of the four great departments. The mayor president is merely one of the commissioners, although no city department is assigned to him, and exercises a "general coördinating influence over all." The board meets at stated times for the transaction of public business very much as the board of directors of a great corporation would meet to discharge their functions.
This commission form of government with modifications has now been set up in about fifty cities scattered from Massachusetts to California; and a number of states, including Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Mississippi, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma, have passed laws authorizing their municipalities, under certain conditions, to adopt the new plan. According to the recent report of the National Municipal League (1909), it was under
1 See the excellent article by Professor W. B. Munro, "Galveston, Plan of City Government," Providence Conference for Good City Government (1907), p. 144. The annual reports of the National Municipal League should be consulted for the progress of commission government.
2 The following cities now (1909) have commission government in some form. MASSACHUSETTS: Haverhill, Gloucester, Chelsea. TEXAS: Beaumont, Dallas, Denison, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Galveston, Austin, Waco, Marshall, Palestine, Corpus Christi. Iowa: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Burlington, Keokuk. TENNESSEE: Greenville, Memphis. KANSAS: Hutchinson, Independence, Kansas City, Leavenworth, Topeka, Wichita. IDAHO: Boise City, Lewiston. OKLAHOMA: Ardmore, Tulsa. NORTH DAKOTA: Minot, Mandan, Bismarck. CALIFORNIA: San Diego, Berkeley. SOUTH DAKOTA: Sioux Falls. COLORADO: Colorado Springs. This list is not complete.
"active" discussion in no less than thirty-three cities, representing twenty-five states.' The system varies somewhat from city to city, but the fundamental principle is the same everywhere the concentration of executive and legislative power in the hands of a small body, usually of five men, elected at large by the voters of the city. Several of the cities, notably Des Moines, Iowa, have added a system of initiative and referendum and also a device whereby a certain percentage of the voters may "recall" any one of the commission that is, force a new election for the office. There is also a general tendency to abolish party methods of making nominations and substitute a non-partisan primary.
Commission government, as Professor Goodnow points out,3 is a return to the original type of city government in the United States in so far as it concentrates all powers, administrative and legislative, in one authority. It differs, however, from the original council system in that its members do not represent single districts, but are elected at large by the voters of the entire city - a practice which, of course, substantially excludes minority representation, and is so far highly undesirable. From the standpoint of pure business administration, the commission form of government has many features to commend it. It centralizes power and responsibility in a small group of men constantly before the public and subjected to the scrutiny of public criticism; it coördinates the taxing and spending powers, thus overcoming the maladjustment so common to American public finance; and it throws down that multiplicity of barriers behind which some of the worst interests in American municipal politics have screened their antisocial operations.
On the other hand, it destroys the deliberative and representative element in municipal government, and may readily tend to reduce its administration to a mere routine business, based largely upon principles of economy, to the exclusion of civic ideals. Furthermore, it is claimed that we get greater responsibility by concentrating administrative power in the hands of the mayor than by dividing it among five commissioners.
Another serious criticism of the commission system is based on
1 Cincinnati Conference for Good City Government (1909), p. 96.
2 For the initiative, referendum, and recall, as applied in Des Moines, see Readings, p. 529.