« ForrigeFortsett »
those cities not having a superior court. Any officer or assistant elected or appointed by the council may be removed from office at any time by vote of a majority of the members of the council except as otherwise provided for in this act.
Sec. 9. The council shall have power from time to time to create, fill and discontinue offices and employments other than herein prescribed, according to their judgment of the needs of the city; and may by majority vote of all the members remove any such officer or employé, except as otherwise pro'vided for in this act; and may by resolution or otherwise prescribe, limit or change the compensation of such officers or employés.
Sec. 11. Regular meetings of the council shall be held on the first Monday after the election of councilmen, and thereafter at least once each month. The council shall provide by ordinance for the time of holding regular meetings, and special meetings may be called from time to time by the mayor or two councilmen. All meetings of the council, whether regular or special, at which any person not a city officer is admitted, shall be open to the public.
The mayor shall be president of the council and preside at its meetings and shall supervise all departments and report to the council for its action all matters requiring attention in either. The superintendent of the department of Accounts and Finances shall be vice-president of the council, and in case of vacancy in the office of mayor, or the absence or inability of the mayor, shall perform the duties of the mayor.
Sec. 12. Every ordinance or resolution appropriating money or ordering any street improvement or sewer, or making or authorizing the making of any contract, or granting any franchise or right to occupy or use the streets, highways, bridges or public places in the city for any purpose, shall be complete in the form in which it is finally passed, and remain on file with the city clerk for public inspection at least one week before the final passage on adoption thereof. No franchise or right to occupy or use the streets, highways, bridges or public places in any city shall be granted, renewed or ex,
tended, except by ordinance, and every franchise or grant for interurban or street railways, gas or water-works, electric light or power plants, heating plants, telegraph or telephone systems, or other public service utilities within said city, must be authorized or approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon at a general or special election.
Sec. 14. [Provides for a civil service commission, fixes the power of this commission and determines the manner in which it shall act.
Substitutes personal merit for political pull in securing and holding positions as employés.]
Sec. 15. The council shall each month print in pamphlet form a detailed itemized statement of all receipts and expenses of the city and a summary of its proceedings during the preceding month, and furnish printed copies thereof to the state library, the city library, the daily newspapers of the city, and to persons who shall apply therefor at the office of the city clerk. At the end of each year the council shall cause a full and complete examination of all the books and accounts of the city to be made by competent accountants, and shall publish the result of such examination in the manner above provided for publication of statements of monthly expenditures.
Sec. 18. [This section establishes the right of recall, that is, provides the ways and means by which a dishonest or incompetent mayor or councilman can be removed from office by a vote of the people.]
Sec. 19. [Provides for the initiative. If the council refuses to pass needed ordinances, the people can compel the passage thereof.]
Sec. 20. [Provides for the protest and referendum. If any ordinance is passed by the council which is not satisfactor to the people, they have a right to reject it by vote.]
70. THE CITY MANAGER PLAN.
In the following article Professor Herman G. James discusses some of the advantages of this latest development in American City Government: (1914)
The first city in this country to provide for a city manager was Staunton, Virginia. There, however, the old mayor and council form of organization was retained. Some other cities since that time have provided by ordinance for the position of city manager without changing their form of government in other respects. The combination of commission government features with the city manager idea was not put into practice until after Staunton had made the first move. Yet certain authoritative bodies concerned with city government exclude from their definition and from the consideration of the history of the city manager movement the city which first employed a general manager, and give credit to Sumter, S. C., as being the first city manager city because it was the first to combine commission and manager.
Now it does not seem quite clear that such a course is justified. The general manager feature as introduced in Staunton and some other cities can show at least some of the advantages claimed for the city manager plan as defined by the authorities mentioned above, for instance the application of the principle of a single administrative head chosen not by the electorate, but appointed because of special knowledge and training. It would never do therefore to dismiss this original manifestation of the plan as wholly without merit.
However, it is true that the city manager feature has a better chance of successful application in cities governed by a commission and most of the cities that are adopting the city manager plan now are doing so in connection with the commission feature, which, of course, retains its superiority over the old form of organization, whether the city manager is provided or not. In speaking of the city manager plan hereafter therefore we shall have in mind the combination of the commission government and general manager ideas.
A more important question than that of classifying the city manager plan with reference to commission government is the
consideration of its merits and defects as compared with that form and the likelihood of its ultimately supplanting the present commission form entirely.
One of the distinguishing features of commission government is the partitioning out of the various departments among the commissioners and the charging of each one with the responsibility for the proper administration of his department. The commissioners are, it is true, collectively responsible as a commission, at least in theory, for the entire administration of the city. But in point of fact, both in the minds of the commissioners and in the opinion of the public, this collective responsibility is a very secondary matter. The real responsibility is an individual one attaching with regard to each department to the commissioner in charge of that department.
Now this feature of commission government is open to some very serious objections. In the first place, the work of looking after the administration of a city department is such that it requires considerable time and attention. This means that commissioners cannot be expected to give their services free. They must be paid a salary, therefore, as though they were experts in their line. But, of course, real experts cannot be procured for the salaries offered to commissioners, and, if obtainable, would not be gotten by means of popular election. The result is that the services of really competent men cannot be procured as heads of the administrative departments and the best that can be hoped for is to secure fairly representative men without special training of any kind for their work. As though to make sure that no specially qualified man from an administrative point of view be chosen to the commission, most commission cities provide that commissioners be elected merely to the commission and then distribute the departments among themselves after election. In this manner five lawyers or bankers or business men might be chosen, instead of having men elected to particular posts with some regard to the diversity of needs to be met. In recent times the tendency seems to be somewhat in the direction of having commissioners run for particular posts, but, of course, that still leaves
us with the difficulties of popular choice of professional administrators. The results of this system are, of course, the same in commission government as they would be in a railroad corporation which chose a board of directors consisting of corner grocerymen and then entrust the passenger department to one, the freight department to another, and so on. This brings us to the second fundamental defect of commission government. Even if our municipal electorate were able and willing to be guided in its choice of commissioners solely by considerations of fitness for particular administrative posts, and even if they were willing to provide salaries large enough and terms of office long enough to procure the services of administrative experts, the system would still be open to very grave objections. Administration is that function of government which demands for its proper exercise centralization of power and responsibility. The proposal in the national constitutional convention of 1787 to provide a plural executive was wisely rejected in favor of the single executive plan. The result has been the centralization of the administration of the United States in the hands of the President. Private business everywhere applies the principle and it is a curious fact that advocates of commission government, while stressing in their arguments for the new form of government the analogy between the city commission and the board of directors of a corporation, fail to take the further step and provide a counterpart for the manager of the corporation. From the administrative point of view an expert manager is much more important for a corporation than an expert board of directors. A railroad corporation might conceivably thrive under a board of corner grocerymen if only it had the proper kind of a manager.
A manager for a city, then, would not only present the possibility of expert administration, which commission government practically excludes, but it would provide a unification and centralization of the administration which is now wholly lacking. It is true that the work of municipal administration can be roughly classified under five or six different heads,