But we would not be unjust to the gentlemen. They are not perhaps altogether indefinite. They would keep the old mayor and council plan but would have non-partisan primaries, uniform municipal accounting, and publicity of proceedings. Non-partisan primaries and publicity of proceedings they have stolen bodily from the commission. We are grateful to the gentlemen for this hearty indorsement of the material features of the commission form. As to uniform municipal accounting, while it is just as possible under the commission as under any other form of city government, its advocacy by the gentlemen is inconsistent with their insistent demand for municipal home rule. Who but the state can supervise a uniform accounting of all cities? And the gentlemen have deplored state interference.
Not only that, but the commission plan provides the necessary responsibility whereby the citizens may know and participate in the city government. In the first place the publication of monthly itemized statements of all the proceedings is required. Every ordinance appropriating money or ordering any street improvements, or sewer, or the making of any contract shall remain on file for public inspection at least one week before final passage. Franchises are granted not by any legislative body but by direct vote of the people. Similarly the citizens retain the right to reject any ordinance passed, or to require the passage of any needed ordinance. And finally, the citizens by direct vote may remove any commissioner at any time.
Thus we see that the commissioners
know both the legislative and
administrative side of the city’s work, and the responsibility of
doing both is fixed upon them.
Lastly, Honorable Judges, the Affirmative rest their cases upon these fundamental arguments: that the whole tendency in American city government is toward centralization of power in one body; where this concentration has been partial, city government has failed. This failure is due largely to the fact that, while power has centered, responsibility has been diffused. This unfortunate condition has been obviated by the adoption of the commission form which is found to be a success because it awakens civic interest, secures competent officials, and provides in the best possible manner for the legislative and administrative work of the city, centering power and responsibility in one small body of men.
MATERIAL FOR BRIEFING
SPEECH OF HON. CHARLES F. SCOTT, OF KANSAS, IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 1911
(The House having under consideration the bill [S. 7031] to codify, revise, and amend the laws relating to the judiciary.—From the Congressional Record, March 3, 1911.)