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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 85, no. 2186: February 5, 1910

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February 5, 1910 RECORD AND GUIDE 263 ESTABUSHED-^ tfJlRT'H 21V\ 186 8. Will Ito6fIEl> p RfA^L Estate, BuiLDiffc A,R&KrrE(mjRE ,Kcijse3(old DEaoffTM*!,) BUsutess Afto Themes of GetIer^L iHTErify...- PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Commuiiicatloiis should be addressed tO ' C. W. SWEET Published Every Saturday By THE RECORD AND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET ~ Treasurer, F. W. DODGE Vice-Pres. Sc Genl, Mgr,, H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nob. 11 to 15 East 34th Street, New York City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the Post Office at Ncio York, A', Y.. as second-class matter." Copj'rigbted, 1010, by Tbe Record Se Guide Co. Vol. LXXXV. FEBRUARY 5, 1910. No. 2186 THE committee of the AssembLy which submitted a report to the Legislature condemning the Ivins char¬ ter has been commissioned to draw a new charter, embody¬ ing their ideas upon the manner in which New York City should be governed. Could anything be more ridiculous? A legislative committee, consisting for the most part of country lawyers and politicians, come to New Yorl^, and hold about a dozen hearings in .reference to the existing government of New Yorli; and about a certain proposed manner of re-organizing it. At these hearings nobody appears except a few people whose political or financial interests would be injured by the proposed new charter. On the strength of the l^nowledge so obtained the commit¬ tee prepares a report which disapproves of practically all the more important changes made by tlie Charter Revision Commission. At the same time it vaguely advocates cer¬ tain principles of municipal organization, which have been proved to be erroneous and dangerous by the whole history of American City government, and which are being aban¬ doned by all the progressive cities in the country. Finally, to crown the performance, this third-rate committee, which is without any exact knowledge of New York governmental conditions, and which is apparently ignorant of the whole trend of charter-reform in the United States, is authorized to spend a few weeks of its valuable time during a busy legislative session in preparing a new charter for the lar¬ gest city in the country. The Charter Revision Commis¬ sion, which was composed of thoroughly competent residents of New York, considered it necessary to sit constantly for more than a year, and to hold innumerable hearings before venturing to submit a new scheme of municipal organiza¬ tion for tbe Metropolis. It consulted everybody who by experience and knowledge was entitled to an opinion on different aspects of local administration; and the conclusions it reached exhibited, not only the results of an abundance of well-digested information, but a firm grasp of appro¬ priate principles. But the committee of the assembly can dispense with any such elaborate and exhaustive prepara¬ tion. It can toss ofl a charter for the Metropolis with the utmost ease and celerity, and at the end of a month or six weeks. New York will be presented with a new system of government, which wil! have the distinction of requiring the smallest amount of preliminary preparation on record. Of course, the ivhole performance is a farce; but one can¬ not help wondering whether it is as ranch of a farce as it seems. The committee must know that its performance will not receive any serious consideration; and the question is: Why is it taking the trouble to do it? There must be some possible advantage in it for the machine of the two parties. The Ivins charter has been killed by the politicians, for a certain object; and they must have the same object in proposing a substitute as they had in knifing the original. of government, which would promote responsibility, effi¬ ciency and economy, were utterly indifferent to the whole project. It raised far more opposition among a few own¬ ers of real estate iu the Bronx and Brooklyn, who feared that they would not get as much out of the city treasury under centralized administration than it did support among their fellow taxpayers. In fact, the project inspired so little popular iiiterest and approval that, perhaps, it is just as well ,tliat it has failed. If the more intelligent and well-to-do people in New York City have not been con¬ vinced by the experience of the past five years that the ^ financial interests of the city can be properly protected and promoted only by a highly efficient centralized admin¬ istration, they have certainly fairly incurred any possible costly results of their blindness. It is better that the revision of the Charter should wait, until public opinion has been convinced of the desirability of an effective re¬ organization. There is at least one conspicuous advantage which will be gained by waiting. New York will be able to reap the benefit of the experience of more progressive cities all over the country. At the end of a few years the new ideas now being embodied in municipal charters will have been much more thoroughy tried out than they have been as yet. The commission plan is still experimental, and further experience of it may expose defects or suggest improvements. The Boston plan, which concentrates re¬ sponsibility in the mayor, will have also been tried for a sufficiently long time to test its success. Finally it is pos- .sible that Chicago, also, will adopt a very different scheme of reorganization, the effects of which may, also, be of help to the future charter-makers for the Metropolis. The exist¬ ing charter has many grave defects; but it is not a wholly unworkable form of organization, and in the hands of good officials, it may be made into a fairly effective instrument of public service. Its worst defect, viz., separate borough administrative responsibility, is neutralized by the fact that the existing Borough Presidents are competent public- spirited men. As long as they continue to do as well as they are apparently doing at present, the demand for change cannot be very urgent. THAT the Ivins charter is a lost cause, there seems to be unfortunately no doubt. The professional poli¬ ticians of the two parties did not want it, because their interests are opposed to efficient and_ responsible municipal government. Their opposition might have been unavail¬ ing, in case there had been developed in New York City any effective body of favorable public opinion, but such a body of opinion failed absolutely to appear. The taxpayers who should have been most interested in securing a form rp HE most casual observer must be struck by the fact that J. the temper of the present Administration of New York differs radically from that to which the city has hitherto been accustomed. Never before have tlie new heads of departments turned their attention immediately to the task of cutting the deadwood out of their offices, of reducing expenses, and increasing efficiency. Even in Mayor Low's, subordinates who were admirable in certain respects, ac¬ complished nothing in the way of departmental reorganiza¬ tion. At present a good prospect is offered that the city is going to be better served during the next four years at smaller expense, and that the departmental chiefs will have some other object in view than that of securing the largest possible appropriations from the city treasury. Not less promising is the behavior of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. In the first pJace, its several members are really getting together. They are not sciuabbling or play¬ ing politics. They are cooperating in the interest of good government, and what is more they are cooperating effec¬ tively. They have agreed practically to do all that the law allows to increase the control of the Board over the ex¬ penditure of the city's money. They are really testing what can be done under the existing charter to that end; and the test is certainly worth making. It remains to be seen how much can be accomplished by these means. The outlook for the taxpayer would be very bright indeed, were he not threatened by the terrifying possibility of being called upon to pay many million additional dollars to the women school teachers in the city. No economies which can possibly be effected by either the departmental chief or the Board of Estimate would be sufficient to fill the hole cansed by an acquiescence in the demand for "equal pay," and we cannot believe that the Board which really wants to benefit the whole city, will deprive itself of the means of doing so by submitting to the demand. Considering the need of subway and other improvements, the means which are available for carrying them out, and the responsibility of the Board for doing so, it is not too much to say that submission to the equal pay agitation would be tantamount to the ruin of the administration. Thereafter its hands would be tied. It would have increased taxes without giving the taxpayers any¬ thing for ttjeir money, and it would have injured both the credit of the city and its ability to pay for essential im¬ provements. Its power for good would be so seriously Read this paper during your "Weel^'s End." (Send your home address to Office of Publication.)