Copyright
National Municipal League.

National municipal review (Volume 9) online

. (page 1 of 118)
Online LibraryNational Municipal LeagueNational municipal review (Volume 9) → online text (page 1 of 118)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


311447



Kansas Olttg
f ubltr Hthrarg




From the collection of the

7 n

m

o Prelinger
v Jjibrary









San Francisco, California
2007



MUNICIPAL REVIEW



1920



VOLUME IX



JANUARY, 1-59 JULY, 405 - 474

FEBRUARY, 60-114 AUGUST, 475 - 532

MARCH, 115 - 136 SEPTEMBER, 533 - 618

APRIL, 137 - 198 OCTOBER, 619 - 690

MAY, 199 - 342 NOVEMBER, 691 - 756

JUNE, 343-404 DECEMBER, 757-801



NATIONAL MUNICIPAL LEAGUE

261 BROADWAY
NEW YORK



,. . . . , u ^

'.': :..: .':..:'.: v/ "I

-:. /. v ' . :

-:." *



PartodlMl




VOL. IX, No. 1



JANUARY, 1920



TOTAL No. 43



VIEWS AND REVIEWS



CHICAGO adopted the non-partisan
ballot in November. Boston and
Cleveland have had it for years.
About one-third of the cities, those
having the commission or commission-
manager form, have it. The charter
commission that fails to provide it
nowadays carries the burden of proof,
for a new charter with partisan elec-
tions is an exception.

Like all governmental reforms, it
somewhat disappoints both its friends
and its enemies. Consider Akron and
Altoona! Akron has the non-partisan
feature in its charter, but the election
went Republican nevertheless. The
logical man for city manager is a
Democrat, and so the commission at
present writing is wondering whether
it may presume to put the newly-
elected mayor into the managership.
Altoona, on the other hand, after hav-
ing the non-partisan ballot for two
years, was deprived thereof by the
legislature without its consent. Forth-
with it proceeded adroitly to run
Republicans in Democratic primaries
and Democrats in Republican pri-
maries and re-elected the same group
which had come into office two years
before in the then non-partisan elec-
tion, thus despite the partisan bal-
lot, achieving all the essentials of
what we call non-partisanship !

A town, however, which overwhelm-



ingly elects two Republicans and three
Democrats, may not by that fact
alone plume itself upon its non-par-
tisanship; it may rather have bi-
partisanship! It should be able, if
things happen to break that way, to
elect five Democrats without particu-
larly noticing so irrelevant a detail,
just as it might ignore the fact that
all five were Presbyterians.

On the other hand, the private con-
ference of leading business men and
well-meaning politicians which erects
a combination ticket that is assured of
election from the start, is just as
definitely ring rule as any other and
may become even more solidly en-
trenched against revolt. Under the
partisan ballot, there may be more
certainty of healthful contest, and the
group of leading philanthropic citi-
zens whose ordinary aloofness and
whose ability to finance a revolt, is
an important safety-valve, may be
more effective than if pre-organized
into the combination.

Such combinations, are of course,
eminently practical. Their records are
generally records of real devotion to
the public welfare and of good and
unhampered administration, tempered
by an honest reluctance ever to let
such power slip into less trusted hands.
The outs, clustering hopelessly around
any available disgruntled leader, or
around the socialist organization, at-
tack with a viciousness that is utilized



NATIONAL MUNICIPAL REVIEW



[January



to cover their scarcity of tangible and
honest complaint. Broad-gauged, tol-
erant, efficient and earnestly-deferen-
tial management at city hall may hold
them off indefinitely. A cocky, shal-
low manager and a naively class-
blinded commission of good business
men may irritate them into frenzy.



ii

In such circumstances of pressure,
it is the democratic thing to do (but
if you are talking to a Tory, you had
better say 'good tactics') to provide
a suitable safety-valve. The correct
safety-valve is accurate and propor-
tional representation of the disgruntled
element. It will not suffice, in the long
run, to nominate a labor member,
hand-picked and docile, on the com-
bination ticket.

The need is best met by the Hare
plan of proportional representation, as
in Ash tabula and Kalamazoo. The
NATIONAL MUNICIPAL REVIEW has
carefully told the story of every one
of these proportional elections (except
the one last November in Kalamazoo,
the story of which is expected in the
next issue). Both the Kalamazoo and
the Ashtabula experiences indicate on
the part of some conservative people an
intolerance matched only by the intol-
erance of the Reds and a reluctance to
see other kinds of people sharing power
at city hall. Such a spirit in a propor-
tional representation election does no
harm to anybody; but in an election on
the straight majority plan with its
necessity for ticket-making, for organi-
zation, for private barter and trade
and chess play, such conservative in-
tolerance may find itself in a position
to plug the safety valve and thus un-
wittingly arrange for an explosion.

That form of government is most
democratic which needs the least
private and volunteer organization



to enable it to operate. The non-
partisan ballot in the commission-
manager form has most wholesomely
minimized the opportunities and func-
tion of the politician, professional or
amateur, and has so clarified municipal
politics in case after case, that we get,
for once in American politics, a polit-
ical situation simple enough for rather
an exact analysis. In that clarified
atmosphere, the merits of propor-
tional representation cease to appear
academic and can be proved as to
specific cases. No one can read the
accounts of the elections in Ashtabula
and Kalamazoo without realizing that
here is the ideal of non-partisanship, a
substitution of genuine and natural
cleavages for the meaningless battles
between Republicans and Democrats
in municipal elections.



in

We have never taken much stock in
those arguments for porportional rep-
resentation which rest upon the theory
of vigorous clashes of opinion among
the people of a city on municipal
issues, for it is only occasionally in
municipal politics that genuine issues
of policy become important consid-
erations to the average voter. The
municipal voter picks men rather than
policies and votes for his own kind.
The Kalamazoo election of November
1919 seems to have been the first of the
five proportional representation elec-
tions where a great issue of public
policy split the town. But the exist-
ence of the referendum procedure
largely spoiled the opportunity to use
the election of the council as the battle-
ground.

Kalamazoo voted down the referen-
dum that called for a municipal light-
ing plant and on the same day re-
elected a majority of the commission
which had proposed it!



HOW THE RECALL WORKED
IN CHARLOTTE

BY F. M. SHANNONHOUSE

Charlotte, North Carolina

The literature of the recall is slender because this instrument is rarely
utilized. In Charlotte, North Carolina, it was recently tested under
ideally difficult conditions. : : : : : : : : : : " '-'



EARLY in the spring the Highland
Park cotton mills in Charlotte, one of
the largest mills in the city, reduced
wages of all employes about 30 per
cent. The employes quit work and
commenced to organize unions. The
Johnston mills, located just outside
the city, but under the same manage-
ment, and the Mecklenburg mills,
under another management, com-
menced to discharge union employes.
Strikes followed in both these mills,
followed by peaceful picketing, which
resulted in numerous fights and dis-
orders. Numerous arrests were made,
resulting in some convictions, in which
cases appeals were taken to the higher
court, and others were bound over to
the higher court for more serious of-
fenses.

All this happened outside of the city
and beyond the jurisdiction of the
police. During all this time union
strikers continually harassed, threat-
ened, frightened and drove away non-
union employes at the mills in the
city and outside the city, resulting in a
continual state of lawlessness and dis-
order.

The city commissioners were con-
stantly appealed to by mill manage-
ments to protect non-union employes
and preserve order. They did noth-
ing further than send out officers to
disperse mobs which immediately re-



formed after the officers departed.
Public sentiment in the community
was almost unanimously against the
mills because of the cut^ in wages
and the discharge of employes for
joining the union. There was no
newspaper publicity given lawlessness
and disorder. Members of the Com-
mission frequently requested em-
ployers to consent to arbitration,
which employers refused until law was
enforced, order restored and persons
protected.

Upon the convening of the Superior
Court, the solicitor of the judicial
district permitted the appeals to be
withdrawn or nol pressed, or per-
mitted submissions upon payment of
costs in the cases bound over. Law-
lessness and disorder grew worse and
worse, owing to the attitude and inac-
tion of the city commissioners, police
department and solicitor of the judi-
cial district.

Finally the city commissioners ap-
pealed to the governor for troops to en-
force order, the situation having gone
beyond local officers. The governor
agreed to send troops, stating he would
make public announcement that the
employers were in the wrong. Imme-
diately the employers posted notices
that the mills would be opened on a
fixed date and that there would be no
discrimination on account of member-
ship or non-membership in any union
or other organization, consenting to



NATIONAL MUNICIPAL REVIEW



[January



deal with committees of employes, but
refusing to deal with persons other
than employes. The mills opened up.
The governor issued a proclamation
declaring in unmistakable terms for
the open shop.

ii

For some months the city health
officer had been engaged in enforcing
ordinances to secure a more sanitary
milk supply. The dairymen organ-
ized and contested and denied the
right of the city to levy a $1.00 license
to do business in the city, and the
dairymen found numerous supporters
in the city among former antagonists
of the administration. Some friends
of the dairymen suggested a recall.
After some weeks a local Republican
politician, with the assistance of an
attorney for some of the dairymen,
drafted a recall petition and put it in
circulation. It was circulated by
former opponents of the administra-
tion, together with some persons op-
posed to the administration because
of failure to enforce the law and
preserve order during the cotton mills
strikes, but little interest was mani-
fested in the petition.

Next the street car employes or-
ganized a union and struck, stopping
all cars for several weeks. A volun-
tary committee of citizens, headed by
the mayor, the street car company
not being represented, undertook to
pass on and arbitrate the street car
strike, and made a report sustaining
the strikers, together with their de-
mand for recognition of the Interna-
tional Brotherhood, the one demand
the street car company continually
and consistently refused.

Finally the street car company im-
ported some strike breakers and started
a few cars to moving. On the first day
mobs all over the city, composed of
delegations from the various cotton



mills, stoned the cars and engaged in
other lawlessness. The police force
remained practically inactive. The
day the cars stopped, and the dis-
orders above mentioned occurred, Mon-
day, August 25, numbers of reputable
citizens signed the petition for a recall
and others threatened to sign unless
order was maintained.

During the day word was circulated
that unionists from near-by towns
would arrive that night to drive away
the strike breakers. The adminis-
tration stationed 30 policemen at the
car barn. The threatened delegations
from other towns did not arrive, but
a mob formed in front of the car barn,
witnessed by one thousand or more
citizens standing at a respectful dis-
tance, making threats against the
strikers, calling for dynamite and de-
manding an officer, a policeman, who,
in trying to disperse a mob which
tried to gain admittance to the car
barn, had knocked down one of the
mob.

About 12.20 a. m., after the specta-
tors had departed, the mob in front of
the car barn had a conference and
voted to enter the car barn and "get"
the strike breakers. Upon approach-
ing the barn a shot was fired
the mob claims by chief of police, the
policemen claim by a member of the
mob immediately followed by pro-
miscuous shooting, resulting in five of
the mob being killed and twenty or
thirty others being wounded.



in

Peace, long delayed, reigned. Im-
mediately the demand for the recall
was taken by the mob, and a large
portion of union labor, led by the
Union Herald, a union paper edited
by an imported labor agitator recently
returned from a long stay in Russia.
A committee nominated officers to



1920] HOW THE RECALL WORKED IN CHARLOTTE



run on the recall petition. A lawyer
headed the candidates for mayor, and
a former hardware clerk, defeated in
the last election for commissioner for
public works, was selected for candi-
date for public works, and a retail
groceryman, living in a cotton mill sec-
tion, was candidate for commissioner
of public safety.

The recall candidate for mayor made
the issue the unlawful shooting at the
car barn. The attitude of a large
number who had originally signed the
recall petition suddenly reversed. Our
newspapers and citizens, neutral so
far as unionism was concerned, ac-
cepted the issue, waged a fight and
defeated the recall petition candidate
by a vote of 3,300 to 1,900, the biggest
election ever held in the city.

It was not a question of candidates.
It was simply a question of enforce-
ment of the law for the present and
the future. The city commissioners,
unionists and all others have learned
where this community stands on that
issue.

While the recall is condemned by a
great many, it is the opinion of
many familiar with the apathy and
indifference on the part of a majority
of the citizens that the recall election
led to a campaign of education and
action absolutely necessary and essen-
tial to head off a rapidly growing spirit
of bolshevism, class autocracy and
political chaos such as would have led
to results unknown. For the present
we have peace and quiet.

The above rather lengthy narration
of events is based on my own per-
sonal knowledge and observation. I
cannot escape the conviction that all
our troubles preceding the recall elec-
tion, and the recall election itself, were
brought on by the failure of the city



commissioners and the proper officers
of the law to properly discharge their
duties in upholding and enforcing
law.

I should state that the federated
unions have employed attorneys and
are prosecuting the policemen present
at the car barn, on warrants charging
murder. The evidence of the prose-
cution is gradually disclosing the per-
sonnel of the mob, its purposes and
intentions, just as I have stated above.
This prosecution will result in nothing
but the acquittal of the policemen and
will serve the same good purpose as
the recall election did in fortifying the
sensible portion of our people in their
action in the recall election and in
warning the lawless element that we
must and shall have peace.

The "Recall" rendered an invalu-
able service under our most trying
conditions, and amply justified its
inclusion in our charter. Present and
new conditions make necessary some
proper agency for the majority to
ascertain immediately where they
stand, and whether or not the majority
shall rule, and particularly so when the
City Government is committed to the
hands of three or a few men with full
legislative and executive authority.
The "Recall Election" brought out
one thousand to fifteen hundred
voters more than ever voted in a City
election, because it was not "politics."
It was law, order, security, life for all
the union man and the non-union man.
The fire was quenched instead of being
allowed to smoulder for months await-
ing a regular election, while the peri-
patetic agitator and selfish and un-
scrupulous office seeker would have
fanned the flame of hatred and dis-
content in the community by his
misrepresentations .



SINGLE TAX PROGRESS IN MARYLAND



BY CHARLES J. OGLE

Secretary, Maryland Tax Reform Association

The Maryland Law of 1916 which gave towns the right to exempt per-
sonalty and buildings from taxation is beginning to bear interesting
fruit in the form of small towns that only tax land. The effort toward
this end in Baltimore encountered legal obstruction. :: ::



A LIVELY campaign for two tax re-
form measures of far-reaching im-
portance was brought to a sudden halt
ten days before the November election
in Baltimore, when the Maryland
Court of Appeals reversed the decision
of a local court and granted an injunc-
tion prayed for by certain landed in-
terests keeping the measures from
being printed on the ballot. The
measures in question were proposed
amendments to the charter of Balti-
more which were petitioned for by
approximately 22,000 registered voters.

A year ago Baltimore adopted a so-
called home rule charter so as to come
under the provisions of a recent amend-
ment to the state constitution. This
latter provided that such a charter
could be amended by the voters, the
amendments being proposed by reso-
lution of the mayor and city council
or by petitions signed by 10,000 regis-
tered voters. More than double this
number supported each of the proposed
changes.

Petition No. 1 was to make taxes
uniform throughout the Old Annex,
which became a part of Baltimore
City in 1888. The measure with its
preamble read as follows:

WHEREAS, The territory annexed to Balti-
more City in the year 1888, now commonly
called the Old Annex, was expected at that
time to be practically all brought under the



full city rate of taxation by the year 1900; and

WHEREAS, A section of said Old Annex,
representing an assessed value of about $23,000,-
000 is still taxed at only 67 cents, or one-third of
the regular city rate, a rate of taxation consid-
erably lower than applies on property in the
remotest section of Baltimore county, although
said Old Annex enjoys city jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, Another section of said Old Annex,
representing an assessed value of about $27,500,-
000, still enjoys a favored rate of $1.30 although
consisting of a highly developed and exceedingly
valuable residential section which obtains all
municipal advantages; and

WHEREAS, The above sections have been for
many years unfairly favored at the expense of
the property owners in the old city; therefore

The charter of Baltimore City shall be and
the same is hereby amended by repealing all of
section 4 of article I of said charter and substi-
tuting in lieu thereof the following:

"4. All property, real, and personal, situated
or held in the territory annexed to Baltimore
City by the act of 1888, chapter 98, shall be sub-
ject to levy, taxation and assessment in the same
manner and form and at the same rate of taxa-
tion as property of similar character or descrip-
tion within the limits of said city as they existed
prior to the passage of said act may be subject."

The substantial justice of this pro-
posal was generally recognized. The
quasi-exemptions enjoyed by the sec-
tions referred to have long been a sore
spot with full rate taxpayers, and
many of the beneficiaries themselves
announced their intention of supporting
the measure on the high grounds of
justice and equality.

Petition No. 2, which excited more



1920]



SINGLE TAX PROGRESS IN MARYLAND



comment, provided for the exemption
of merchandise and a gradual reduction
of the tax rate upon buildings down to
50 per cent of the regular city rate.
The measure read:

In order to encourage the growth and develop-
ment of commercial enterprises in Baltimore
City and to lessen the cost of goods therein,
beginning with the assessment and levy of city
taxes for the year 1921 and thereafter, all mer-
chandise held for sale shall be exempt from
taxation for all ordinary municipal purposes.

To stimulate the erection of buildings and
general city development and to encourage
home-owning, it is hereby provided that for the
year 1922 no building shall be taxed by the city
for ordinary municipal purposes at more than
90 per cent of the regular city rate prevailing in
the same taxing district; for the year 1923 no
building shall be taxed at more than 80 per cent
of the regular city rate in such district; for the
year 1924 no building shall be taxed at more
than 70 per cent; for the year 1925 at more than
60 per cent; and for the year 1926 and there-
after no building shall be taxed at more than
fiO per cent of the regular city rate prevailing in
said district. Any and all portions of this char-
ter in conflict or inconsistent with this sub-
section are hereby repealed.

Baltimore merchants not only pay
a traders' license based upon their
stock of goods, but in addition pay
the full rate of taxation upon mer-
chandise the same as upon real estate.
None of the Pennsylvania cities tax
merchandise at all, the mercantile
tax on sales in that state running
about the same as the traders' license
system here. As a consequence, mer-
chants in Baltimore are placed at a
disadvantage when competing with
mercantile houses in Pennsylvania.
Instances are cited of great concerns
establishing distributing houses in
Philadelphia instead of Baltimore be-
cause of our taxation of merchandise.
Such happenings, of course, tend to
lessen opportunities for employment in
Baltimore and affect our real estate
values adversely.



The 10 per cent reduction in the
tax rate upon buildings is similar to
the so-called "Pittsburgh plan of
taxation" which has been in effect in
Pittsburgh and Scranton since 1913,
the only difference being that the
proposed reduction was to be annual
instead of triennial, as in those places.

This was attacked as being "single
tax," the newspapers always speaking
of it as such, and the brief filed against
it in the court proceedings being abu-
sive in the extreme, calling its advo-
cates socialists, anarchists, bolshevists,
cranks, etc.

As a matter of fact, although the
plan was put forward by single-taxers
and did constitute a step in the direc-
tion of single tax, it was a very con-
servative one. Baltimore gets more
of its taxes from buildings and per-
sonal property and less from land than
other cities of its size; 60 per cent of
its real estate basis is made up from
buildings and only 40 per cent from
land, whereas in a number of other
cities this proportion is reversed.
Baltimore is said to be the only large
city where the building assessment
exceeds the land assessment. Her
per capita land assessment is only
about $300 as against something like
$800 to $900 in New York, Pittsburgh,
Boston and other places. Bearing
these facts in mind the proposed plan
would appear to do little more than put
Baltimore on a par with other cities in
the matter of increasing the proportion
of its revenues derived from land.

It is to be regretted that the cam-
paign could not have been carried to a
conclusion and the sentiment of Balti-
more's voters obtained with respect
to the proposed changes. The adop-
tion of the Annex measure was re-
garded as almost certain, and the
other proposal had at least a good
fighting chance, notwithstanding the
lack of newspaper support and the



8



NATIONAL MUNICIPAL REVIEW



[January



organized opposition of certain real
estate interests. Ten of the eleven
members of the home rule charter
commission had announced their in-
tention of supporting both measures.



ii

A number of small towns in Mary-
land are much further advanced in the
matter of local taxation. The legis-
lature of 1916 passed a general law
giving incorporated towns the power
to determine the classes of property
which shall be subject to taxation for
local purposes within their respective
jurisdiction. Acting under this law
the towns of Perryville in Cecil county
and Capitol Heights in Prince George's
county abolished the taxes on improve-
ments and personal property in 1917
and since that time have been raising
their entire local revenues from land
values.

GarrettPark in Montgomery county,
where the tax rate had been 50 cents
on all classes of property, lowered its
rate to 30 cents on buildings and per-
sonal property and raised it to 80
cents on land values.



Online LibraryNational Municipal LeagueNational municipal review (Volume 9) → online text (page 1 of 118)