City Management

City Management

City Management

City Management

Excerpt

It has become almost trite to observe that democracy begins in our cities. History also demonstrates that its decay starts there. Clear thinking concerning the concept of democracy as a plan of government requires the realization that its applications have changed through the centuries, shifting with the swings of economic and social conditions. No human institution is static. Every form of society moves continually in some direction, and successful democracy must be elastic enough to adjust its administration to the dynamics of modern society. Failure to keep democratic administration and changing conditions in harmony with each other will eventually bring a reckoning. It is important that we recognize this fact, and put it in our political hatbands as democratic principle number one.

Dictators control the destinies of their fellowmen by drafting yes-programs for legislative assemblies. Fear or worshipful obedience secures prompt legislative unanimity. By thus subduing the spirit of the law, a legal veneer is secured for personally determined executive and administrative actions. The superlative dictator technique, known as ruling by decree, provides an a priori legislative consent for the administrative orders of the dictator. Democratic legislative determination for administrative action, under normal conditions, results from untrammeled discussion and the free choice of elected representatives.

The European dictator operates on the national scene, and is commonly titled Leader. His American prototype controls state and local governments, and somewhat proudly accepts the sobriquet of Boss. State bosses have frequently gathered their training and necessary power by mis-managing some city, supported by the unified efforts of "Yellow Shirts" who, like the European goose-steppers, are controlled by economic fear or worshipful obedience. The cold economic pogrom of the American Boss is often just as effective in breaking down citizen resistance as is the hot variety of the European Dictator.

Personal administration, without deterrence of legislative guidance, is naturally the more effective plan for obtaining a given political objective, but a free people insists on determining policies which control their daily lives. When national policies are concerned, the citizen may be called on to contribute his life in their accomplishment; when state or local affairs are involved, the citizen's income and manner of living are necessarily affected. In either case, Americans have always insisted that they be "let in on" the major policy-determining decisions, partly on the theory that those who pay the orchestra should be al-

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