Civil Service Provisions in Commission Charters

Elliot H. Goodwin
1911 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science  
The merit system of appointment to the public service is one of those checks upon abuse of power which, together with the initiative, the referendum and the recall, have been frequently associated with the commission form of municipal government. It must be said, however, that none of these checks -was incorporated in the commission plan as first instituted in Galveston in 1001. The Galveston experiment and, in fact, the commission plan in its essential features, is based upon the theory of
more » ... entration of all the functions of municipal government in the hands of a small body. In its more recent development, there has been an attempt to popularize the system, arising on the one hand out of a desire to make commission government conform to democratic principles without sacrificing the added efficiency gained through concentration, and, on the other, out of fear of the abuse of power. The Des Moines plan was the first to incorporate the initiative, the referendum, the recall and the merit system. It is largely due to the prominence wliich this plan has attained that these features have come to be associated with commission government. The adoption of the merit system in commission charters has not been as general, however, as is commonly supposed. Only seven of the eighteen states that have passed laws providing for commission government, have made provision for the incorporation of the merit system. Of these seven, Illinois and New Jersey had, before the passage of the commission government laws, separate civil service acts, which become operative in any city, regardless of the form of government, upon a popular vote in favor thereof. Of the 138 cities which in June, 19it, were governed on the commission plan under general state laws or special charters, but forty-one, or less than one-third, have any civil service provisions. Of these, the four commission cities in Massachusetts are covered by a separate 1
doi:10.1177/000271621103800312 fatcat:csuesubdbnbtxa2ifnxguzw4lu