Слике страница
PDF
ePub

!

of giving him power, but of imposing upon him responsi-
bility, and so retaining power in the people. To them he
is directly responsible for the exercise of his power, and
he hardly begins his duties before he is called upon to
account to them. If he cannot justify his acts, he deserves
and receives their condemnation.

The council has its function in the executive govern-
ment. The constitution created it for advising the gov-
ernor,” not for tying his hands, not for dictating his
appointments, nor for exercising coördinate and equal
power with him.

It creates not ten but one supreme
executive magistrate.” The jurisdiction of the council
was fully and ably discussed in the constitutional con-
vention of 1853. No one in that elaborate debate claimed
as part of its power the right to advise in cases of remov-
als from office. Its only powers, as there stated and
claimed, were to advise and consent to appointments, to
advise in cases of pardon, to audit accounts, and to act as
the supreme returning board in the election of state offi-
cers. These powers a majority of the convention deemed
of sufficient importance to justify the continued existence
of the council.

In appointments to office there may well be a confirm-
. ing power. It is approved by an experience of more than
a century in national and state government; it affords
an opportunity to correct mistakes, and to defeat any
improper or personal intluences governing an appoint-
ment; but it still leaves to the executive a field for selec-
tion practically unlimited. If not abused and made a
power to dictate, it does not infringe upon executive
responsibility. Whether this power can better be exer-
cised by the senate, as in the national government and in
many states, or by the council, does not seem to me of
the greatest importance; nor does the question whether
the council itself shall remain or be abolished, although
in but three of our forty-four states is there an elected
executive council. But whether power to remove shall
be shared by the council is of great importance, and
vitally affects executive responsibility. This power is
necessary for proper executive control. If not entrusted
to one alone, either its efficiency is lost, or greatly im-
paired by divided responsibility. Such divided respon-
sibility, or no responsibility, is the system of executive
management established in this Commonwealth wholly by

1

statute law, mostly of recent enactment. Experience has shown as practical results of such a system :

First. That neither the governor nor the people through him have any adequate power over the executive departments, of which he is the head, but his power is practically limited to suggestions, advice and appointments to fill vacancies.

Second. That over many of the departments and executive offices there is no power of control in any one.

Third. That the power of removal and so of control usually requires for its exercise a formal trial upon specific charges, and proof of absolute malfeasance in office.

Fourth. That an officer of an important public department, accused of official misconduct which, in the opinion of the governor, requires his removal, may remain in office without the confidence and against the will of his executive chief.

Fifth That a member of an important commission may hold his office indefinitely after his term has expired, without appointment and without the approval of the governor.

Sixth. That nominees of the governor, beyond criticism and objection, may be refused confirmation for the sole and declared purpose of holding in office men whose term of office has expired.

Seventh. That with the present limitations upon the power of removal, the power to confirm can always be used for this purpose, and successfully in every case of an expired term.

I state these results of our present system not to discuss here executive action in any particular case, but because I believe all can agree, whatever their opinion in such case, that a system which can produce such results is without proper responsibility, and ought to be so changed as to give to the chief executive power that shall fix upon him full executive responsibility.

I am confirmed in this opinion by the established and nearly unbroken practice in the national government for more than a century, by the full recognition of this principle in modern municipal government, by its adoption in the executive system of other states, and by its endorsement alike by the student of government and by those who have had practical experience in its administration. The constitution of the United States, vesting in the pres

1

H

1

ident the executive power, gives to bim the power of appointinent “ by and with the advice and consent" of the senate, and is silent as to the power of removal. The same phrase and the same silence are found in the constitution of our Commonwealth. The first congress, in establishing executive departments, expressly conferred the power of removal upon the president. In the debate upon that question, Madison, one of the framers and expounders of the national constitution, declared its purpose as follows: “It is evidently the intention of the constitution that the first magistrate should be responsible for the executive department. So far, therefore, as we do not make the officers who are to aid him in the duties of that department responsible to him, he is not responsible to his country.” The act conferring this power was carried in the senate by the casting vote of vice president Adams, who gave at length his reasons for his vote. Speaking of these, his grandson, Charles Francis Adams, writes : “ These reasons were not committed to paper, and can, therefore, never be known; but in their soundness it is certain that he never had the shadow of a doubt. His decision settled the question of the constitutional power in favor of the president, and consequently established the practice for the country which has continued down to this day.” He adds: “ All have agreed that no single act of the first congress has been attended with more important effects upon the working of every part of the government."

The policy thus established remained unchanged down to 1867, and gave to the president unlimited power, directly or indirectly, to remove all subordinate officers, now numbering more than one hundred and twenty thousand. In that year, owing to a conflict between the president and congress, an attempt was made to restrict his power by the passage of an act of doubtful constitutionality, requiring the consent of the senate to removals from office. That act was greatly modified during the next administration, and was finally repealed in 1887, after it had long ceased to have any active operation. I do not believe that the people would now permit the hands of their president to be tied, and executive responsibility to be divided and lost between him and the senate.

The same principle has been successfully applied to municipal government, and is strongly endorsed by munic

ipal administrators. I have already quoted the well-known views of ex-mayor Low of Brooklyn to this effect. Equally emphatic is the opinion of ex-mayor Hart of Boston, who says, in a recent publication : “ It is not certain that the mayor should have absolute power of appointing his subordinates or any other public officers. The power of removal should be vested in the mayor.” An able commission appointed in Pennsylvania in 1878 to devise a plan for city government, reporting in favor of this principle, said : “ It is self-evident that the affairs of government cannot be well conducted unless there is an executive head upon whom responsibility therefor is imposed. It is equally clear that such responsibility cannot be exacted without the grant of corresponding power. . : . It may be said that it is dangerous to clothe him with so much authority. The answer is that such power must be lodged somewhere if good government is to be attained, and wherever placed it is essentially executive in its nature. The mayor is the chief executive of the city, and therefore he is the proper officer to exercise it. Without it there can be no efficiency in the performance of his duties."

In the great cities of the country this principle has been fully established as essential for a responsible and efficient system of government. Its soundness has been repeatedly recognized by the legislature in this Commonwealth in its later treatment of municipal charters, notably in the case of the city of Boston. The principle thus accepted as proper in the executive government of nation and city, prevails in the executive departments of many of our sister states, which vest the removing power in the governor alone If undivided responsibility is essential for proper government in nation, city and other states, why is it not wise to place such responsibility also upon the governor of our Commonwealth ? If the principle is sound, it obviously applies to all executive power. I believe that it has been thoroughly tested, and has proved to be sound; and that it best secures what Mr. Webster felicitously called “ The people's government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.” Three hundred or more subordinate public officers, now under divided control or none, would thus be made directly responsible to the chief executive, and he by the constitution is directly and immediately responsible to the sovereign people. These administrative officers, with few

exceptions, exercise their jurisdiction over the whole Commonwealth. They should be responsible to a representative of the whole Commonwealth, and not to a body each of whose members represents, and is responsible to, only a local constituency. I therefore earnestly commend to your favorable consideration such legislation as will give the power to remove all these administrative officers for cause stated to the governor, leaving to the council the power of confirmation of his appointments.

In making this recommendation my criticism is of a system and not of officials. I recognize the ability and fidelity which our public servants, with few exceptions, have given to their Commonwealth. Especially do I appreciate the unselfish, patriotic labor freely given her by noble men and women in her great work of education, charity and reform, and for the health, safety and prosperity of her people. This recommendation is without personal or selfish motive, and simply in the interest of efficient and responsible government. The record of my administration is proof of this fact. Of the few executive officers wholly under the control of the governor, not one has been removed during my year of service except the gypsy moth commissioners, and they for admitted cause. Of the many others whose terms have expired, a very large majority, though not of my political faith, have been reappointed. It is far easier and more agreeable for a public officer to have less rather than greater responsibility; and the exercise of power over offices is the most irksome part of executive duty. Such power, I repeat, “ makes any man conservative; its selfish use for patronage only is fortunately sure to be both disagreeable and destructive.” I am confident that you will receive this recommendation in the spirit in which it is offered, and, seeking only the public good, will give to it your careful consideration.

EXECUTIVE BOARDS AND OFFICES.

Again I call the attention of the legislature to the subject of executive boards and offices, in the firm belief that some steps can be taken tending to simplify and systematize executive work. In its consideration you will have before you the report of the special committee of the last legislature, which has made an investigation of the matter

« ПретходнаНастави »