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in the interpretation of that grant of power shall be in favor of and not against the cities.
Then, further, I should limit general laws to matters incapable of delegation to cities, and as to special laws relating to governmental-agency acts, I should retain the mayoralty veto, strengthened so that to override it would require the same number of votes in the legislature now required to override a governor's veto.
The powers of the cities, it seems to me, should be limited in certain respects, namely, as to the limit of indebtedness that they may incur, as to the rate and amount of taxation that they may levy, as to the power to lend their credit to private persons or to corporations-as the present constitution so limits in those respects; but in the last I should limit it even more specifically than it is at present limited.
Then, as Mr. Howe has said, I should give to these cities of ours in this state the right to make their own charters through commission and referendum, as in the Ohio plan. I should do it through non-partisan voting, as provided for under the Ohio constitution, with the determination, at one and the same election, upon the question whether a new charter is to be framed, and upon the personnel of a commission to frame and present that charter. The defect in the Ohio plan is serious, and I will touch upon that in a moment.
The city's charter, as has already been said tonight, should be its constitution. It should be a brief grant of power, but a broad grant of power, capable of amendment easily, but protected against sudden and vicious attack. It should be in two parts: first, a general grant to be the organic act; and second, a body of administrative rules which should bear the same relation to the organic act as the by-laws of a corporation bear to its certificate of incorporation; and those administrative rules should be capable of easy amendment by the local legislature, subject again to the mayoralty veto.
Further, I should suggest for the consideration of the constitutional convention the provision that any local officer, however he may be removed, or rather that the successor of any local officer, however that local officer may be removed, may be
chosen or appointed only by the local electorate, or by the local authority, or by the local legislature. There is a provision in the present constitution which may secure the cities in this matter at present, but it is not without question. A provision such as that would prevent the cities of our state from being subjected to the dangers involved in the kind of raid which has been recently made, and is still under way, on the part of the state civil service commission upon the civil service commission of the city of New York.
Then I should further provide that the state shall not interfere with the governmental-agency activities of the city by imposing a financial burden upon the city. The state must retain control of those matters, but when dissatisfied with the conduct of business by the city in dealing with these matters, it reserves to itself the power to take away entirely the administration of those matters from the city and take it back into its own hands, as, for example, in the matter of the enforcement of the criminal law by the police force.
A restriction, it seems to me, should apply to every form of governmental activity that the municipality may engage in, so that neither the pay of men, nor the number of the force in any department or bureau or subdivision of the city engaged in what is a state as distinguished from a local function and activity, may be increased by the state legislature against the will of the local authority or the city.
These are the concrete suggestions which I make tonight without prejudice as to any further suggestions that the city may see fit to present to the constitutional convention.
The establishment of efficient and genuine democracy in this country has been of slow evolution. Independent nationality was achieved one hundred and thirty-eight years ago through the War of the Revolution, but it took the terrible struggle of the Civil War to establish universal human liberty throughout this country. And now, after fifty years more of struggle and of evolution and of progress, I trust and I believe that we are about to re-democratize our institutions, to re-acknowledge and to re-establish those ancient rights of local self-government and municipal autonomy that found their first expression and their
origin in the earliest recorded days of English history, that were brought over here to this country by the first English colonizers, as much a part of their inherent rights as the right to breathe itself, and to be surrendered no less stubbornly; which on the adoption of our fundamental law remained in full force and effect except as specifically limited therein, but which since that day have been circumscribed, limited and reduced until the cities of this country are neither self-governing nor autonomous.
If the cities of this country are free to work out their own destinies in their own way, untrammeled by legislative interference, I entertain the hope that they will soon become what they should long since have been, the dynamic centers of the democracy and the progress of our great republic.
HOME RULE FOR CITIES
DELOS F. WILCOX
N reading Professor McBain's paper, it occurred to me that,
in common with most other home-rulers, he had been misled by the fact that we usually personify our cities as females and had come to the conclusion that government is clothes; that a municipal home-rule charter is a code of fashions. Ever since reading the celebrated witticisms of Professor Teufelsdroeckh on the subject of clothes, I have had the greatest respect for them. They are of the greatest importance. It is especially important for us to have such clothes that we can work in them. As you know, some clothes make work very difficult, while others make us very uncomfortable unless we work while we have them on. It is from this point of view alone that the discussion of the clothes, the fashions, the forms of municipal government, as an essential factor of home rule, is important. I think that more important than the right to choose between the commission form of government and the city-manager plan, more important than the right to frame a charter controlling the details of special assessments, the organization of the police force, and so forth, is the right to do things.
The fundamental question in this home-rule proposition is this: Shall we continue the American policy from which we have been trying to get away, in our academic discussions at least, for the past twenty years, of considering that municipalities have only those rights which are specifically expressed in their charters, granted by the legislature; or shall we reverse that process and give to cities, by a broad grant of general power, applicable alike to cities which frame their own charters. and to other cities, the right to control their local affairs?
I confess that it is not easy, as Professor McBain has said, actually to formulate a home-rule clause that will prevent the cities from becoming imperia in imperio, and at the same time
'Discussion at the meeting of the Academy of Political Science, November 20, 1914.
prevent the legislatures of the states from unduly interfering with the exercise of municipal functions.
Two or three days ago, in Baltimore, the committee on municipal program of the National Municipal League had a meeting, and as Professor Lindsay asked me to discuss this question somewhat from the point of view of that committee, I want to read to you the declaration of powers which that committee tentatively recommended for inclusion in the constitutions of the states. Though as yet unable to agree upon the specific restrictions to be placed upon the exercise of these powers, we were able to agree that the cities should, to begin with, have a broad, sweeping, general grant, somewhat as follows:
Cities and villages shall have, and are hereby granted the power to borrow money and levy taxes and assessments; to control, perform and furnish all public services, and appropriate or otherwise acquire, hold, manage, control, lease and dispose of property, either within or without their corporate limits, for such purposes and for the protection and preservation of public improvements, by excess condemnation, or otherwise; to issue and sell bonds on the security of such property, or of the earnings thereof, or of both; to adopt and enforce local police, sanitary and other similar regulations, not in conflict with general laws; to do whatever they may deem necessary or proper for the safety, health, convenience and general welfare of their inhabitants, and to exercise all other powers of local selfgovernment.
It seems to me that we ought to insist in this state, as in any other state where home rule is a serious issue, upon putting into the constitution some general grant of powers at least as specific and comprehensive as this one. No doubt we shall have to formulate some modifying clause. In the first place, unrestricted home rule may run amuck, in that the cities may try to arrogate to themselves those things which are properly state functions. They might even try to control matters of crime, which are properly controlled by the state law, and in the regulation of which the entire state has a fundamental interest. In the second place, with absolute home rule, there is danger that the cities in this generation may give away the