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The New York Bureau of Municipal Research has been enabled through gifts from Mrs. E. H. Harriman and others to establish a school for the training of municipal experts. As plans for the new school have so far been formulated, it is proposed to enroll four classes of students: (a) college graduates who desire a year or two of general training in municipal research before entering some form of public seryice or social work; (b) accountants who desire to qualify themselves by professional training as experts in municipal accounting and public finance; (c) superintendents of schools, secretaries of boards of trade, heads of civic organizations and others who desire to supplement their previous training by contact with practical problems of city government, and (d) advanced students of economics, sociology and government who desire to pursue studies involving special research and requiring skilled guidance. The curriculum proposed will include instruction in the analyzing of budget estimates and the drafting of city charters, practice in municipal accounting and in the preparation of official statements.
A portion of the funds at the disposal of the Bureau will be available for the publication of results obtained and data gathered by students. It is announced that the chief purpose of the school will be to give its students such general and special training as will fit them to serve capably in various branches of the municipal service.
The seventeenth annual meeting of the National Municipal League and Conference for Good City Government was held at Richmond, Va., during the week beginning November 13. The annual address of the President, Hon. William Dudley Foulke, was entitled “Effective Municipal Government.” It was chiefly a description of the organization of the municipal achievements of Frankfort-on-the-Main and contained various suggestions concerning the adaptation of certain German methods to American conditions. Hon. Charles J. Bonaparte gave an address upon “Municipal Civil Service Reform" and a paper on “Antitoxin for Municipal Waste and Corruption" by Richard H. Dana of Cambridge, Mass., dealt with the same topic. The subject of excess condemnation and special assessments was discussed in a paper by Lawson Purdy, president of the Board of Taxes and Assessment of New York, and Professor Robert C. Brooks of the University of Cincinnati presented a study of the “German Imperial Unearned Increment Tax." A session was devoted to public service franchises and a committee of the League which has been studying
this general subject for the last two or three years presented a report through Hon. Robert Treat Paine of Boston, its chairman. Other committees of the League likewise presented their reports on the police and liquor problems. At a session on budget-making and allied subjects an exhaustive paper on the subject of the “Massachusetts Law on Municipal Indebtedness” was read by Charles F. Gettemy of Boston, director of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics. Hon. Harvey N. Shepard of Boston also discussed the relation between the Massachusetts city and the state, pointing out the entire dependence of the city upon special statutes for even its most elementary powers. An afternoon was given over to direct legislation and preferential voting, with a paper on the former subject by Dr. W. E. Rappard and on the latter by Mr. R. M. Hull of Harvard University. There were several round-table discussions, one of which dealt with commission government.
At the annual business meeting of the League a new constitution was adopted. A council which will hereafter take the place of the old executive committee was established. It was decided that honorary members might be hereafter elected to the League at its annual meetings, and Hon. James Bryce was chosen as the League's first honorary member. Plans for the publication of a National Municipal Review, to appear quarterly, were completed, and the first number of the periodical appeared early in January. The following officers were elected for the ensuing year: president, William Dudley Foulke; vice-presidents, A. Lawrence Lowell, George McAneny, Camillus G. Kidder, Charles Richardson, H. D. W. English, Jane Addams, William Kent; treasurer, George Burnham, Jr.; secretary, Clinton Rogers Woodruff; chairman of Council, Albert Bushnell Hart. The next convention of the League is to be held at Los Angeles, Cal., in the summer of 1912.
A feature of the National Municipal League's convention at Richmond was the conference of civic secretaries held in connection with it. This conference was attended by secretaries of city clubs, good government associations, local improvement leagues, and other civic organizations in different parts of the country, about forty in all. Many matters of common interest were discussed and it is intended to make the conference an annual affair in the hope that it will serve as a clearing-house for the exchange of ideas concerning effective methods of civic service.
At the recent meeting of the American Political Science Association in Buffalo the evening session of Thursday, December 28, was devoted to a discussion of “The County Problem in Municipal Government.” Papers were presented on “City and County in New England” by Prof. 0. C. Hormell of Bowdoin College, "The City-County Problem in New York City" by Mr. A. C. Ludington of New York, "Chicago and Cook County" by Mr. F. D. Bramhall of the University of Chicago, and “City and County of San Francisco" by Mr. Percy Long of San Francisco. The general impression left upon the audience by these papers was that problems of county government have had far too little public attention in this country. It was shown, for example, that in some states where civil service regulations had been applied to city officers none of the posts in county government had as yet felt the influence of this reform. Likewise it was pointed out that restrictive legislation in the way of limits upon annual tax rates, upon borrowing and upon its expenditures such as have been applied to cities and towns in various states have not commonly been made applicable to counties at all. The county in fact seems to be the one area of local government in the United States which has not yet felt the pressure of reforming influences. This cannot long remain the case, however, for the relation between city and county is in many cases so intimate that improvements in the administration of the one are certain ultimately to react upon the other.
A tentative agreement has been reached between the city authorities of Detroit and the officers of the Detroit United Railways whereby it is expected the long-standing friction between these two will be brought to an end. By the terms of this agreement the city offers the Detroit United Railways certain franchise extensions until 1924, at which date the company will relinquish all its franchise rights. In return for these extensions the railway company agrees that the city may purchase the street railways at any time upon six months' notice; likewise that reductions in fares will be made at once (eight tickets for a quarter, with universal transfers on all lines from 5 a. m. until 8 p. m., and six tickets for a quarter during other hours); and, finally, that the company will build at least ten miles of new railway each year. These arrangements are the outcome of seven months of constant negotiation during which about sixty conferences were held between the contracting parties. The agreement is tentative only, since it must be accepted both by the stockholders of the Detroit
United Railways and by the voters of the city before it can go regularly into effect. In the case of the voters a three-fifths majority will be required. But it is anticipated that this can be secured. It is believed that the agreement marks a decisive step in the direction of ultimate municipal ownership.
The movement for wider use of school buildings outside of school hours has begun to show tangible results. By a recent vote of the Cleveland School Board any public school building in the city, not in use for evening classes, may be thrown open for public meetings upon the petition of any fifteen taxpayers. It is stipulated, however, that no sectarian or political meetings which are of a partisan nature shall be held in the school buildings, and that all meetings must be concluded by ten o'clock. The School Committee of Boston has proceeded a step further by throwing open the school buildings under its control to the political meetings of both parties in the recent state election. It is furthermore proposed in this latter city to obtain from the legislature authority to raise each year in the annual tax levy a special sum of money to be used in making the school buildings of the city more useful along lines which are not strictly educational. In this connection it may be mentioned that a volume dealing with the general subject of wider use of school buildings outside of school hours will shortly appear in the National Municipal League's series published by Messrs. D. Appleton & Co.
Beginning with the January number, the monthly Bulletin of the New York Public Library will contain a list of municipal documents received at that institution. The list will appear in that section of the Bulletin which is devoted to recent accessions. For some time past the New York Public Library has made a special effort to obtain complete files of all regularly-printed municipal documents, as well as periodical publications issued by organizations interested in municipal government. Its monthly list should give to students of municipal affairs bibliographical information similar to that afforded, in the field of state government, by the monthly list of state publications issued under the auspices of the Library of Congress. The authorities of the New York Public Library have also under advisement the preparation of a complete list of all municipal data now on their shelves. This project, if carried through, would furnish a useful addition to the
somewhat meager bibliographical equipment which is at present available to students of municipal government.
The Kansas City Star, which journalists concede to be one of the best and fairest newspapers in the United States, has given an emphatic editorial endorsement of the merit system of appointments which has now been applied to the city for somewhat more than a year. The Star's verdict is that the records of every department under the merit system show an increase in efficiency and economy of administration." This statement is accompanied by concrete examples of results obtained. For instance, the license inspectors' office, which collected only $178,379 during the interval between May 1, 1909, to August 1, 1910, was able, under civil service rules, with exactly the same number of officials, to collect $239,627 during the period from May 1, 1910, to August 1, 1911. This, it is believed, proves that the license inspectors, when placed on a permanent footing beyond the reach of political influence, will readily fulfil their duties to the letter. Similar results have been achieved in the auditor's office, where the office expenses were reduced to half what they were before the inauguration of the merit system. In the engineering department, the cost of inspection was reduced from 5.11 per cent to 3.5 per cent of construction outlay. It is not often that we have been able to obtain more exact or more convincing testimony concerning the immediate benefits of civil service provisions applied to city departments.
The Asquith government has under consideration, it is understood, a comprehensive project for a reorganization of London government. The new scheme is said to include the following provisions: 1. The enlargement of the boundaries of the County of London to include "Greater London.” 2. The control by an enlarged London County Council of all public services such as are at present under its jurisdiction for the County of London. 3. Local jurisdiction in essentially local matters, with delegated powers such as are now exercised by the Metropolitan Borough Councils, by local authorities, the smaller bodies, if necessary, to be amalgamated. 4. A further application of the principle of equalization of rates to be made throughout the whole of the new area. 5. Uniformity in and centralization of valuation and assessment. 6. Control of poor law institutions and expenditure to be vested in a central poor law board with a unified poor rate, local administration to be left either to committees of local