City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
"KING" JAMES MCMANES

Away back in 1835 the Philadelphia councils enacted an ordinance which provided for the establishment of a gas works with a capital of $100,000. The ordinance contained a clause to the effect that the city might at any time buy out the bondholders and take over the works and in addition set up a board of trustees, appointed by the city, to administer the property in the meantime.1 When the city of Philadelphia, acting under the above clause, acquired the works in 1841, it continued the system of trustees, vesting in the select council the naming of six of the trustees and in the common council the other six. In taking over the works the councils passed an ordinance on June 17, 1841, which provided that the trustees "shall have the whole control and management of the said works, and of the said sinking fund, and of all other funds belonging to said works, and the said trustees shall pay no part of said funds nor any part of the profit of said works into the city treasury, but shall apply and appropriate the same, as directed by this ordinance, until the interest and principal of the said loans shall be fully paid."2 The courts, in interpreting the ordinance, held that its provisions, which in reality made the trustees an almost independent and irresponsible body, should be effective until "all loans contracted for, or that may hereafter be contracted for, shall be fully paid."3 In as much as the board managed to

____________________
1
See Wharton School of Finance and Economy of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 1893, City Government of Philadelphia ( Philadelphia, 1893), p. 99.
2
Wording taken from Henry C. Lea Citizens' Municipal Reform Association Reports on the Gas Trust, Report I ( Philadelphia, 1874), pp. 2-3.
3
See Savings Fund v. The City, 7 Casey, 175.

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