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state-Elements of control-Need of central administrative control over the localities--Redistribution of administrative functions between the state and locality-Evidences of centralization tendencies–Relation to revenue reform-Charter reorganization-Township system in the city-Park boardsThe county and city-Growth of executive concentration–The principle of checks and balances—Three essential factorsCharter reorganization-Administration of the modern city founded upon a representative basis-Elimination of the ward system—The elective basis of the mayor-Political basis of the mayor—The cabinet idea—Board vs. single commissioner system for the city departments-Professional vs. non-professional administration—Cabinet proposal of the substitute act of 1875—The council should be the central fact-Laymen in administrative work-Civic unions-Summary

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The metropolitan city occupies an exceptional administrative position among the municipalities of the world. Wherever a uniform municipal organization obtains in the modern state, with but few exceptions, special provisions are made for the great urban center. Its political, commercial and social importance has given it a unique place in the administrative system of the state. Furthermore, the more important of the metropolitan cities are passing through a transitional stage of institutional organization. The administrative county of London is a tentative substitute for the amorphous conditions that prevailed in the Greater London prior to the law of 1888. The score of local mairies and central prefects that have diffused executive power in the city of Paris exhibit an important struggle between the forces of centralization and decentralization in the large city. The question of the reorganization of Paris is under consideration. The Greater New York begins a new epoch under the provisions of a charter, embodying the principles of territorial and administrative consolidation. The conditions prevailing in the city of Chicago must find their ultimate solution in a consolidated and simplified charter, which will subordinate all the varied administrative interests, scattered among towns, parks and municipality, under one central responsible organ.

The transitional phase of the American municipality renders it exceedingly difficult to point to definite processes in its evolution. In the midst of varied kinds of charter organization, broad outlines are discernible, although at times effaced in reactionary tendencies, or in retarded development.

The charter evolution of the city of Chicago typifies in brief the changes that have followed in the history of the American municipal development in general. The common council was the central organ in the few cities that existed before the American Revolution. In the first charter of the town of Chicago, the town board was the only organ that was instrumental in ministering to the wants of the village. Furthermore, slight traces of an aristocratic nature appeared in the freehold qualifications of the suffrage. Thus as a result of Eastern models, as well as of the prevailing elementary conditions, the common council absorbed all administrative and legislative functions. Gradually executive power has issued from this elementary town board, and its successor, the common council. The first consideration in this evolution is the principle of popular sovereignty which followed with the widespread use of the suffrage in the election of local officers. In Chicago, as elsewhere, the election of the mayor passed from the council to the people and became the starting point in the separation of executive and legislative functions, and gradually vested the mayor with the elements of administrative power and direction. With each succeeding charter, the position of the mayor was strengthened by the addition of new powers taken from the council. Although the common council remains today as the central fact in the municipality of Chicago, the theory of executive concentration has been consistently followed out until the mayor is possessed of the responsible powers of the direction and supervision of the administration, as well as of appointment and veto. He has been given many financial and legislative powers formerly exercised by the council, which places this body in a weakened position before the municipality, shorn of many of its venerable privileges.

The chasm that separates the mayor and council is partially bridged on the one hand by the executive veto of the ordinances of the municipal legislature, and on the other hand by legislative confirmation of the appointments of the executive. These checks, designed to create harmony in administration and to restrain hasty action in appointment and legislation, have reared two almost independent organs appealing for popular favor. Where responsibility was expected, irresponsibility has resulted. Widespread distrust of the representative organ of the city has started strong tendencies toward executive concentration, which has been consistently worked out in the Chicago system. The mayor and his heads of departments stand in almost complete separation from the council. The personal relation is only maintained in the presence of the mayor as the presiding officer of the municipal legislature and in the confirmation of executive appointments, and in his veto over the city ordinances.

A second fact of general significance appears in the changes that have been noted. But few American municipalities have escaped the era of boards. Special legislation has been the responsible factor in this wide diffusion of administrative functions among nominally independent authorities. Particular problems have been met by the creation of specific boards with only partial control exercised by the municipality. Responsibility and administrative coherence were lost in disintegration and confusion. During the early years of the city of Chicago, special legislation created a number of quasi-public boards for the discharge of important administrative services.

Thus special legislation brought to the city its full measure of abuses, and left its traces in administrative chaos and disorganization. The continuous appeal to the state legislature for amendatory legislation was checked by the Constitution of 1870, which provided for a general charter law for the cities of Illinois. Since the acceptance of the law in 1875, by the city of Chicago, a more systematic correlation of administrative functions and organs has resulted.

The history of the municipality of the Middle West has been characterized by rapid and transitory changes due to the presence of a mobile population and rapid material expansion. As the western town-county system represents a distinct epoch in Anglo-American local administrative history, so the western city completes the thread of institutional continuity by appropriating the Eastern type derived from English models. Custom and early transitional forms have exerted but little force in the institutional evolution of the western city, while, on the other hand, the freedom of movement that has characterized western life has imparted its rapid and unqualified changes in the structure of the city.

Furthermore, the history of the American municipality brings into prominence one fact, that back of the vast variety of municipal legislation there appears no well defined theory of charter organization, which could be designated as general throughout the states. Crude workmanship, excessive legislative control, and the absence of a clear vision into the needs of urban life and organization, have resulted in a vast variety of forms of charter organization with few prevailing types. The process of development in Chicago and elsewhere has tended to draw the municipality from the traditional basis of local self-government toward submission to a strong control over the locality by the state legislature; this development has resulted moreover in a wider separation of the elements of executive and legislative power, in a more extended use of the suffrage in the city, and particularly in the election of the mayor by the people, and also in vesting him with the important powers of veto and appointment. The corporate history of Chicago affords ample proof of these changes.

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