« PředchozíPokračovat »
5 Franchise Taxes.—The owners of franchises, however, have very strenuously fought this form of taxation on the ground that inasmuch as their franchises were exempt from taxation at the time of granting the imposition of a tax is simply confiscation. For example, a street railway company holds a franchise. It invests $100,000 in its plant, tracks and rolling stock, but by virtue of the monopoly which it enjoys is able to pay a dividend of five per cent upon $200,000. Under such circumstances the franchise alone would be treated as worth $100,000, although, in fact, efficiency in operation might be partly responsible for the large dividend. Under the old law the corporation would pay a tax on only $100,000 — the value of its tangible property; but if the franchise is taxed as real estate at two per cent the corporation must pay on $200,000 valuation. Thus by taxation twofifths of the capital value of the franchise, that is $40,000, is cut away. The dividend paid by the corporation is thus reduced on account of the necessity of paying that rate into the treasury of
The expediency of taxing the franchises of public service corporations is the subject of no little debate. The taxpayers of cities usually favor putting a portion of the burden upon the public-service corporations on the ground that it reduces the tax rate. On the other hand, the customers of the public-service corporations prefer to see charges for gas, electricity, and the like reduced rather than any relief afforded to the taxpayer. The franchise tax is at bottom, as Dr. Wilcox remarks, a consumption tax on the common necessities of life which appears as a special burden upon the poor and is therefore unjust and undemocratic. On this theory, then, democracy will necessitate that franchises for the supply of the common necessities of urban life must have their value regulated in the interest of cheaper and better service.”—Charles A. Beard, “ American City Government,” p. 141.
6 State Police.—The reasons for the adoption of centrally appointed police forces, apart from transient partizan political ones, are two in number: One is the general dissatisfaction with
local police management. This was largely responsible for the state appointment of the police commission in New York in 1857. It is, of course, true that partizan-political reasons had their influence then, but it is none the less true that the condition of the police force in New York under local management was a bad one.
The second reason for the centralization of municipal police forces has been the neglect of cities, having the management of the police, to enforce state laws which were believed to be of vital importance by the people of the state as a whole, particularly the prohibition laws.
It is difficult to obtain any satisfactory testimony as to the effect of state administration of the police force in the cities of the United States on the preservation of the peace and the maintenance of good order. The testimony would, on the whole, seem to be in favor of a state appointed police force, although it cannot be said that a state appointed police force is any more successful in securing the enforcement of Sunday closing, liquor, or prohibition laws than a locally appointed police. Ex-Mayor Quincy, of Boston, is reported as saying: “I am free to say that under the present board (the police board in Boston has since 1885 been appointed by the governor of the state) police administration has been better, the laws have been more strictly enforced, good order has been more generally maintained than under the old system. When the tone of the state government is higher than that of the city government centralized-police administration is the better system. The strictly police functions are more properly a state affair than most of the other departments of the city government.”—Frank J. Goodnow, “City Government in the United States," p. 223.
7 The Police and the Courts.—The criminal courts are an integral part of the police system, not separate judicial institutions to be treated under the head of the judiciary. The spirit and method of the magistrates determine in a large measure the effectiveness of police control. Magistrates with an academic knowledge of the law and without an intimate acquaintance with the habits of criminals and the difficulties which the policemen
encounter in securing absolute legal proof in all cases, may destroy the zeal of a force by allowing notorious criminals to escape on technical grounds.
Mr. McAdoo, in his book on the police system of New York City, gives an example which illustrates the danger that arises from a lack of sympathetic coöperation between the courts and the police. An officer brings a prisoner into the court and says to the magistrate, “ This man is a pickpocket; he is a vagrant; his picture is in the Rogues' Gallery. This is the seventh time that I have personally arrested him; I caught him on a Thirtyfourth street crowded car with two or three other pickpockets who escaped. A great many citizens are having their pockets picked every day. He has no honest means of support. Down at the detective bureau all know him as a professed crook all his life. He is a dangerous man to be at large.” The magistrate then demands from the officer legal proof that the prisoner has no means of support. This, of course, the officer cannot produce and he is confounded when the prisoner “hauls $500 bills out of every pocket, shows a large diamond and calls up an accomplice who swears that he keeps a small tailor shop and that the prisoner works for him.” The magistrate, ignorant of the tricks of the trade, discharges the prisoner and roundly abuses the officer with interference of a personal liberty.” The spirt of the officer is thus broken; and when he discovers another branch of the thieving fraternity in operation, shrugs his shoulders and thinks,“ What's the use?”—Charles A. Beard, “American City Government,” Þ. 173.
8 Fire Protection.—Probably no town in any country has reached even the dimensions of a considerable village before some measures are taken to secure organized action in cases of fire, such as providing fire buckets and ladders. Later, volunteer fire companies are organized, at first entirely unofficial in character; but in time the municipality comes to provide apparatus, buildings, and other articles of equipment, so that the volunteer companies assume a semi-public character.
In the colonial towns of America the first measures for fire protection were the primitive requirements that householders
should keep in readiness a certain number of ladders and buckets, enacted first about the middle of the seventeenth century. The first pumping engine in America seems to have been ordered for Boston in 1702. Philadelphia secured one in 1718, and New York in 1731. These were hand engines, with a tank filled by buckets or stationary pumps; and not until about 1820 did suction engines appear. These early engines were frequently paid for by the municipality, but they were manned and operated by volunteer companies.
Since 1870 there has been a steady extension of the system of paid, organized, and disciplined fire brigades throughout the civilized countries, but most of all in the American cities. A marked development in the apparatus and equipment has also taken place. Swinging harness to hasten the hitching of the horses to the fire wagons was first used at Allegheny and Louisville in 1870. In 1872 the first fire boat was built, for use in Boston harbor. Three years later a similar boat was secured for New York, and since then other cities located on bodies of water have purchased fire boats for use on the river, harbor, or lake front. The water tower was invented in 1876, and came into use in New York in 1880 and in Boston in 1882. The fire alarm telegraph was introduced in 1876. Chemical engines were first used in Canada in 1883; and in 1886 these were introduced in Chicago, Milwaukee, Springfield (O.), and Lawrence.—John A. Fairlie, “Municipal Administration," pp. 151, 152, 153.
9 Chicago's Health Exhibit.—The Chicago health department maintains a permanent health exhibit, demonstrating by models the dangers to health in a great city. According to The American City, One display which is found at all child-welfare and municipal shows, and various Chicago expositions, shows 3,500 miniature dolls, representing the unnecessary deaths among babies born in Chicago each year. In the center of this exhibit is an opening behind which is a procession of the doll babies passing beneath the scythe held in the hands of the grim figure of Death. The scythe falls on every fourth doll, which immediately drops from view. It is operated by a person concealed in the box.
This startling demonstration of Death dealing with Chicago babies always makes a deep impression on exposition visitors, and causes them to realize as never before the great crime of the city in permitting every fourth baby born to drop into the grave before reaching the age of one year. One of the placards on this exhibit says that more than half the slaughter can be prevented if the public will only do its duty. Health officers from all parts of the country and others interested in matters of health find this exhibit, which is maintained permanently at the City Building, worthy of study.
Another instructive exhibit is the breathing dolls, a model operated to demonstrate the dangers of poorly ventilated sleeping chambers. In one of the small rooms a mother and baby are sleeping. They are shown to be breathing, and the air expelled from their lungs is carried out as smoke through the open door and windows.
Underneath this is a duplicate scene with breathing sleepers in a tightly closed room. Their breaths, also represented by small puffs of smoke, completely clouds the room, clearly demonstrating the ill health resulting from pollution of a closed
New York, Boston, Cleveland, Rochester, Chicago, and other progressive cities have consulting clinics at the milk stations, schools, hospitals, and other convenient places for the special benefit of mothers seeking guidance in the care of infants.Charles A. Beard, “ American City Government,” p. 281.
10 Medical Inspection of Schools.—The old cant phrase about a sound mind in a sound body is now finding some practical application in our schools. Medical inspection and the close supervision of the physical condition of children are coming to be recognized as solemn public obligations and as we have noted above in the chapter on public health, the care of the school child's eyes, teeth, and body generally is being vested in public authorities, connected with either public health or school administration. Hospitals, dental clinics, and periodical physical examinations of school children are becoming elemental parts of our educational systems.