provided for in these five western States and this system is small. In each, matters of State interest are reserved to the central government. To the cities there is also reserved full power to deal with municipal matters in their own way. The principal difference is that under the English and French systems and the plan of enacting only very general laws, the legislative authority may interfere at any time and deprive the cities of all autonomy; while under constitutional home rule a field of municipal activity is set apart into which the State authorities may not come. It is merely the crystallization into constitutional law of the best practice in the United States and Europe-a crystallization that has been found to be necessary to protect the rights of cities against the encroachments of the State legislature. In no country is the city made absolutely independent, but where some sort of control is necessary, administrative control has been substituted for legislative interference to the great benefit of all concerned. The recent tendency in the United States is in the same direction.


Another important recent tendency in American city government is the concentration of power in the hands of the mayor. The council is reduced in size, or from a bicameral to a unicameral body and shorn of its main functions, or is abolished completely, as in the cases of Galveston and Des Moines. That this development has been carried to an extreme and that the city council should be retained and rehabilitated is the belief expressed by Professor E. Dana Durand in the following article: [1900].

The most striking tendency in the recent history of American municipal government is that toward increasing the power and responsibility of the mayor. There is scarcely an important city which has not modified its charter in this direction within the past quarter-century. The practically exclusive control which the city council formerly exercised over the executive administration has been by gradual steps almost com

pletely taken away; while even what have always been considered essentially legislative functions, especially those pertaining to the finances, have been in no small measure transferred to the city executive. At the same time, there has been a rapid centralization of the executive power itself. Heads of departments were formerly for the most part placed in office, or at least retained there, regardless of the will of the incumbent mayor; but by the most modern charters they are nearly all made appointive and summarily removable by him. In New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and several other leading cities, the right of confirming appointments, the last remaining means by which the council could exercise some direct control over the personnel of the executive, has now been abolished, while in other municipalities it is retained only as a concession to tradition and conservative influences.

This great change in municipal organization, moreover, has not been, like so many others, brought about simply by thoughtless, partisan or corrupt legislative tinkering. While in many cases such influences have doubtless shared in the movement, it has yet met the approval-though in differing degrees and according to different lines of reasoning-of very many of those who have disinterestedly sought better municipal government. It has the sanction of such names as those of Seth Low, Gamaliel Bradford, Edmund J. James and Frank J. Goodnow. The latest and most authoritative utterance as to the relation of the council to the mayor is to be found in the report of the municipal program committee of the National Municipal League, published with the approval of the League in 1899. The committee does, indeed, maintain the desirability of rehabilitating the decaying city council, but urges that this body be confined strictly to legislative functions; while the probability is that the suggested methods of increasing its influence would prove relatively ineffective in practice. The proposed general municipal charter provides that the mayor shall have the sole power of appointing and removing all executive officers except the comptroller; and that he shall be given also the exclusive right to initiate appro

priation measures, leaving the council only the authority to reduce items of the estimates submitted.

Had the increase in the prerogatives of mayors not been accompanied by a very great weakening, often by the almost complete annihilation, of the power of our city councils, it would perhaps call for less comment. Could it be considered as having merely introduced that separation of powers which is the main principle of our constitutional law; had city legislatures retained a prominence corresponding to that still possessed by Congress and state legislatures-we should have no new problem in the science of politics. We should have simply the old question, whether or not this system, with its checks and balances, is after all more advantageous than that which gives the ultimate control and responsibility to the representative body alone; with the additional inquiry whether, granting the desirability of the separation of powers in the higher grades of government, it is equally feasible and desirable in the city. But the actual standing of the city council is far different from that of our state and national legislatures. Already in many cities either the council has been deprived directly by statute of all save relatively insignificant powers, or in practice, despite the legal form of authority, its real influence has dwindled almost to zero. In both New York and Brooklyn, prior to their consolidation, we saw "a local elective legislature with practically no power"; while under the Greater New York charter the sphere of the council is apparently increased by little more than "certain obstructive powers," which are scarcely likely in actual working to restore it to a position of influence. The council still retains in most cities the relatively unimportant function of making ordinances concerning the conduct of citizens-as to nuisances, use of streets, etc. It still grants franchises, though often the executive participates very largely in this power. It still has some control over expenditure, although, under the new practice of giving the initiation of financial measures solely to the executive, the council has often ceased to have much real weight in determining the budget. Other powers

than these, as regards either the broad policies or the details of administration, the council in many cities has almost none: the state legislature or the municipal executive has absorbed them all. Unless there shall be a turning in the tide, the once all-powerful city council seems likely to become a mere useless fifth wheel in the American municipal chariot.

Some, indeed, of the friends of good city government have watched this emasculation of the council with regret and apprehension and have advocated measures, usually rather ineffective for restoring some of its pristine vigor. But others have seen in this process only the steady withdrawal of power from dangerous hands to place it in safer ones. The council is widely discredited. The name of alderman is used as if synonymous with "boodler" and "ward-heeler.' "It is not entirely clear," says Seth Low, speaking of New York and Brooklyn, "that either city would suffer under existing conditions by the abolition of its common council." Mr. Low utters this with something of a tone of regret, but others have boldly and cheerfully advocated this very step. Says one recent writer:

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Because legislative bodies are always inefficient administrators, it does not follow that administrators are poor legislators. It has yet to be shown that aldermen have ever filled a useful function in a modern American city.

Doubtless this last is the position of an extremist, which would meet little endorsement. Nevertheless, the conspicuous facts of the great reduction of the power of the council, of the progressive degeneration of its character, of the growing distrust with which it is viewed, challenge consideration. They appear to demand a thorough study of the arguments which have been advanced in favor of the transfer of the centre of gravity of municipal administration from the council to the mayor. They confront us with such questions as these: Is this transfer of power consistent with democratic principles ? If not, are we yet forced to it by the unripeness of our city populations for democracy? Is the movement a temporary

or a permanent one? If we have gone too far in taking a large part of properly legislative work from the council and giving it to the executive, can we partially retrace our steps and secure a practicable division of the legislative from the executive sphere? Can we prevent the council from swallowing the mayor, to use Dr. Albert Shaw's phrase, if we attempt to check the mayor in his process of engorging the council? If this balance of powers be found impossible, is not perhaps the logical and democratic solution to be found in making a numerous representative body, rather than a single individual, the controlling and responsible authority in municipal government? We shall best be able to consider these questions, if we take up, one after another, the arguments which have been brought forward in favor of increasing the power and responsibility of the mayor.

The fallacy of the line of reasoning which we have been criticising is aggravated by the fact that, in pointing out the results which have come from centralizing power in the mayor, no account is made of the growth of public sentiment demanding better government and compelling the choice of worthier men for office-men who would have made improvement in the administration under any form of organization. Flagrant abuses from time to time stir up the "good citizens,' " who are always in the majority, if they will only act and act together. A wave of reform overturns with the same sweep forms and individuals; for the American reformer is never content unless he tinkers the governmental machine at the same time that he puts new men in charge of it. The improvement which comes perhaps solely from the change of men is then attributed primarily to the change in form. That this is a fairly correct description of what has taken place in recent years in some American cities which have introduced the mayor system seems to be evidenced by the fact that the character of the government has often been but temporarily improved after the change, or at least has fluctuated with the rise and fall of the reform spirit among the citizens. It is too early to judge finally the practical working of the system. Undoubtedly

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