The New City Government January 1, 1898 Part VIII


Conditions in Other Large Cities

For purposes of comparison, a brief glance at the conditions in two or three of the large cities of Europe, may be interesting. First, as regards London, the greatest city of the world. In the eight years that London has been a county, ruled by a county council which has labored faithfully, much has been done to improve the municipality. But unfortunately British prejudices tend to retard progress and the city of London that small, but excessively rich portion over which the Lord mayor presides, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the body answering to our Municipal Assembly. The worthy companies of wax chandlers, skinners, curriers, cooks and parish clerks look after the city, together with seventy-five other liveried corporations equally honorable. London, it has been stated by a well known writer on municipal matters, has no corporate existence as the term is understood in the example__Glasgow.

This later city may be regarded as the model city of Great Britain. Within a district of less than 15,000 acres is gathered together a population of about 810,000 persons. The municipal government is in the hands of a committee of seventy-five, chosen by the electors, who serve without fee or reward of any kind. These councilmen are by special acts of parliament, water commissioners, gas trustees, market commissioners, city improvement trustees and police commissioners. Boodling, if it exists in any form, has not yet been discovered. The sanitary arrangements are very similar to those under which the new city government of New York will operate and they have been worked out to perfection. Public swimming baths for men and women are numerous and wash houses, where the poor are given the use of improved machinery for the washing of wearing apparel, are also provided. The water rate is a little more than two cents on the dollar.

The city owns the gas plant, and sells gas at 60 cents per 1,000, making sufficient money out of this price to recently erect entirely new gas works. The right to supply electric light is also retained by the city, and to cap all, the city has bought out every street railway company and now operates all the lines itself, with the result to the public that the fares have been reduced one-half, the wages of the men employed have been increased and their hours of work lessened by two hours a day. All ferry and harbor steamboats are also the property of the city, which expects within the next few years to have entirely wiped out its already rapidly decreasing debt.

Paris is regarded as a well governed city, despite the fact that it has no mayor and is practically governed by two prefects appointed by the general government, the prefect of the Seine and the prefect of police. True, the city has an elected council of eighty members, who meet every day to discuss matters of civic administration and pass resolutions, and as this council holds the purse strings, it has a limited amount of power, but as either of the prefects may take the floor at any of the council meetings and denounce any proposed legislation, using almost unlimited authority, while being responsible to no municipal body or official, the limit line is extremely well defined. A scheme of municipal organization reported by a committee a few years since suggested that the council should have at its head a mayor and eight assistants, the latter to be chosen from among the members of the council, who should be given the appointing and removing power for the whole city. The details of the plan were good, but just when Paris was going into a ferment over it an actress died, or a duel took place, and the scheme dropped out of the public vision and has never been seen since. And yet, despite the bureaucratic methods of the prefects. Paris is well looked after and improvements are always being made, probably because the government behind the prefects is proud of the national capital.

Website: The History
Article Name: The New City Government January 2, 1898 Part VIII
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle January 2, 1898
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