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June 01, 1924 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1924-06-01

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Non-Partisanship and Local ElectionsI
By Thomas H. Reed


Nettleton Shoes

(This is the last article of a series of seven by Pro-
fessor Reed, in which he has qiven a survey of present-
day political meithods in.this country. The articles will
be published in booklet form at an early date.)

tions and elections has been adopted. The non-parti-
san system is very common in the smaller cities par-
ticularly those of the western country. In California
it applies to all local, educational, and judicial offices.
In Chicago it has been applied to the election of the

It is in the management of cities, school districts and city council while Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, a]
other local units that national party spirit plays its many other larger cities have gone over to it cor
smallest role. There was a time not so many years pletely.
ago when every municipal election was waged between I'he non-partisan system usually involves two el
nomines of the great political parties. The absurdity tions, a preliminary or primary election at whi
of it was manifest enough. There is even less con- candidates are nominated by petition. These petitio
nection between national and nmnicipal issues than usually need only a few signatures so that nominati
between national and state issues. Most of the work is comparatively easy. The names of the candidat
of a city government lies in rendering to its inhabitants are arranged upon the ballot without party designati
definite concrete services concerning which there is of any kind. In some cities. if a candidate receives
no real division of even local public opinion. The city clear majority of all the votes cast at this first electi
provides fire protection, police protection, paved he is declared elected but in others the first electic
streets, lights, parks, play grounds and a variety of simply serves to narrow the number of candidatest
other advantages for its people. There is no one in two. In a few cities preferential voting has been us
the community who wants to go back to horse-drawn to avoid the necessity of a double election. Lind
fire apparatus or who maintains as an abstract prin- this system each voter expresses three choices amon
ciple of government that sewers naturally run up hill. the candidates for each position. If a candidate r
There are really only two questions which arise with ceives a majority of first choices he is elected,: if no
regard to each of these services. First, how much the second choices are counted and if these still fa
money should be spent on it and second, what technical to yield a majority, the third choices are broughti
means shall be resorted to to get the best results. In and the candidate with the largest vote is chosen.
consequence the national parties with their vociferous A still more scientific system of representation ha
advocacy of great national and international policies already been adopted in a f ew of our cities, the mo
make no real contact with the problems of municipal notable of which is Cleveland. This is proportion
government. The connection between national and representation by the "Hare plan." Under this pla
municipal politics, however, was kept up by the hunger each voter indicates his preference among the cand
of the national party organization for municipal power dates by the use of figures I, 2, 3 and so forth. A
and patronage. These were in the aggregate far greati electoral quota, that is the number of choices sufficiet
er than those at the disposal of the states. Not only to secure election, is determined by dividing the tote
were there many more municipal offices than state number of ballots cast by the number of .positions t
offices but command of the local police force often be filled plus one, and then taking the next higher
gave vast opportunities for graft and the control of whole number. The first choices -are first counted
elections. Anyone who has received a number of first choice
So long as the bulk of the American people were equal to or greater than the quota is declared electe
so interested in national politics as to be willing to The ballots on which these candidates are indicated a
allow city government to be prostituted to the ad- first choice beyond the number that is necessary t
vantage of-their national party, there was small hope make tip the quota are then counted for the secon
that city government could be anything but corrupt or if necessary for the third or other choices. 'Thi
and inefficient. Forty years ago municipal government process goes on until enough candidates have receive
was our one peculiar national disgrace. A vast change, the quota to fill all the positions. If, however, th
however, has taken place in the attitude of the public re-(listribution of tle surplus ballots of persons alread
toward municipal politics and in the character of mu- elected does not accomplish this result, the lowes
nicipal government. It has yerhaps been helped on;by candidate is dropped from the list and all the ballot
a decline in the intensity of national party contests. cast for:him are redistributed. This latter process o
That general weakening of parties to which we have .elimination goes on until enough persons have receive
previously referred has had its. reflection in greater the.quota or until there are no.more than the require
independence on the part of municipal voters. The nmnber of candidates left unelimninated. . All thi
change, however, is due in part at 'least to a growing sounds very complicated. It is in fact one.of the mos
recognition of the significance of municipal govern- difficult things in the world to explain abstractly. I
ment and a decided tendency to deal with its problems. however you ever tried to write a description of h1Q
on their own merits. It is only in a few politically to tie. a bow knot for a person who had, never see
backward communities that the party bosses can in one, you would realize that there are other sinipl
these lays line up the full party strength on a munici- processes which are very hard to describe. Propor
pal issue without having been sure beforehand to have tional representation by the Hare plan works simpl
gotten on the right side of that issue. Men make enough as can be easily demonstrated b y holdingt
little now of discarding party allegiance in municipal trial election. The advantage of this plan is that i
affairs. represents in the city council every element of th
Not only has there been a decided tendency toward city's life proportionately to its numerical strength
independent voting in cities but for many cities and In other words it is very fair and secures .a mor
other local units the system of non-partisan nomnina-effective representation of the people than can be had


under other methods. Practically all the countries of
Europe now conduct their national and many of them
their local elections under some system of proportional
The greatest advance in minicipal governiment, how-
ever, has come about not through a system of elections
or the elimination of national parties in municipal af-
fairs but through the recognition that the functions
of a city are rather business than politics. We have
already seen that the chief duty of the city is to fur-
nish certain definite concrete services to its citizens.
All of these services might conceivably be rendered
by a private business enterprise for compensation. They
do not involve political questions of any serious conse-
(luence. This has led to a movement to duplicate in
city government the form of organization most com-
monly used in private business. The private corpora-
tion is made up of stockholders who choose at their
annual meeting a board of directors who in their turn
choose a general manager to whom is entrusted, sub-
ject to his responsibility to the Directors, the adminis-
tration of the affairs of the corporation. A similar
device has long ben employed in the government of
.many of our public institutions. The city school
district for example, perhaps the most successfully
governed of all American political units, is governed
by a school board chosen by the people which in its
turn chooses the superintendent of schools to whom
is left in large measure the detailed administration of
the school system. Our great public institutions from
universities to insane asylums are managed by boards
of trustees of a political or quasi political origin who
choose a president or superintendent or : me other
officer to administer the affairs of the institution. This
well tried scheme of government has now been adapted
to the use of cities. At the present time more than
3,o cities are governed by the so-called "manager"
plan. There is nothing difficult or mysterious about
this method of government. It is simply the applica-
tion of business rmethods to the conduct of the business
of the city. So far with the exception of Cleveland
none of our very large cities have adopted it. Every-
one is now watching with great interest the results in
Cleveland but whether or not it succeeds under the
local circumstances of that city, it has already dem-
omstrated its succcss.
We must end this series of articles, however, in a
penitential moodI. There is one unit of government
in this country in which almost no progress has been
made since the days of the first settlers. The typical
American county is governed by a large number of
elective officers each independent of the other and all
practically independent of the Board of Supervisors
or County Commissioners which constitutes the lcuis-
lative body of the county. No such disorganized sy-
tem of administration could work at all except by
miracle. There has been sufficient intervention of
Providence to keep our counties from foundering coin-
pletely lout there is prodigious waste of money and
energy in their faulty organization. They are the
fattening ground of the professional politician. Ma-
chine pickings have grown thin elsewhere; in the
county ther is luxurious abundance. Here is the place
to strike if we would make politics cleaner and parties
more representative.

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¢, 40 ;t{yr,.i
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In black and tan smooth
calfskin. Also in viking

Wahr's Shoe Store


108 S. MAIN



:. .




Refresh Yourself at Our
Fountain with

------- ------

(Continued from Page Ten)
.ere will be communion at 8 o'clock
d again at 11:00. A special musical
'vice will be presented by the choir
4 o'clock, and at 6 o'colck the stu-
its will gather in Harris Hall for
hort hike and picnic supper.
First Methodist Church3
Symbol and Reality" is Reverend
hur W. Stalker's subject for morn-
worship at the First Methodist
urch. This will be a communion
vice. At noon Mr. Thomas Iden
1 meet the student class at Wesley

Hall, at G o'clock there will be. a sen- the Unitarian Cburch. .An Informal,
for meeting on the Boulevard,,and the pat ty meets at tie -church to go up
Pastor's subject for the evening wor tle river ut 4:30.
ship at 7:30 is "Beauty mi Religion. t

First Presbyterian Chnrch
Judge Alexander Burr.of North.Da-
kota will speak on "What Happened
1 at the General Assembly" at the class'
for young people of the Presbyterian
Ckurch at noon today. The subject
for morning worship is "What the'
Presbyterian Church Stands For."
There will be a social hour at 5:30,
and Judge Burr will speak at Christian
Endeavor at 6:30.
Unitarian Church
Sidney S. Robins, minister, will
speak on "What Mr. W. J. Bryan Is
Afraid Of" at ;the morning service of,

TrinIty Lutheran Church
Mrs. H.:C. Bell, field seeretary of,
the Lutheran- Church,, will speak at:
the Women's Missionary Society of;
a special 7:30 service of the Trinity
Lutheran Church tonight. Sunday
School will be held at 9: .d morn-
ing worship at 10:3>0.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
The only service of the day at St.
Paul's Lutheran Church will be a con-
firmation service at 9:30. The student
bible class will meet at 1:00, and at
5:30 there will be a student's supper
and outdoor meeting. I

It has often been said that the
only way to get the first thou-
sand is to save it. There is no
time like the present to begin.
Open a savings account with

Get in

that last bit of
over a Palace


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