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10. Congress may not only disapprove by concurrent resolution passed by both Houses all legislative proposals of the Council, which must also be signed by the President who may exercise a veto, but retains specifically the right to initiate any District legislation it desires.
11. The formulas in all 1948 bills for Federal participation were unsatisfactory. The Kefauver 1949 version, as it passed the Senate, makes the Federal Government responsible for 20 percent of all income of the District of Columbia in the preceding year. This is more liberal than former proposals and has the virtue of rising with increasing revenue of the District; but probably falls far short of full Federal responsibility which should be based on the Federal stake in the Federal City and not on what local citizens are willing or able to tax themselves.
12. The proposed bonded indebtedness in the April and May 1948 Auchincloss bills was limited to 3 percent of assessed real property values; but the Kefauver bill sets the limit at 5 percent. This may prove useful in taking care of the arrears of capital improvements, but it should be remembered that bonds are simply a method for spreading the expense of capital improvement and that so far from saving money in the budget they ultimately add to the amounts to be repaid as compared to the present pay-as-you-go system.
THREE BOARDS DEFENDED
We particularly deplore the proposals for the Board of Education which for a long period of years has been free from local or national politics under the present system of appointment, and we express our approval of the report of the Superintendent of Schools as adopted by the Board. We regret to see the passing of the responsible Library Board, and the establishment of a department with an advisory board. We believe that the Recreation Board will function better as a responsible board which appoints its director than as a department under a city manager, with an advisory board.
DISTRICT CITIZENS NOT REPRESENTED IN CONGRESS
In other ways, the Kefauver bill contains certain provisions which are less sound than some of the provisions in former bills. There is no provision for any kind of representative in Congress of the citizens of the District not voting elsewhere. Since Congress retains its constitutional authority for all major legislation affecting the District, it is only fair that the citizens who do not retain their citizenship in any of the several States (and thereby their representation in Congress) should have the same privilege as other citizens of the United States. Probably the provision for some type of representation in Congress is omitted because it is generally conceded that adequate representation in Congress of the unenfranchised citizens of the District must be by constitutional amendment. This is a longer and more laborious method than simple congressional legislation; but who can doubt that the sound first step toward rendering justice to the citizens of the District is to grant them the suffrage to vote for adequate representation in Congress and for the President and Vice President of the United States? They would thus be constituents of certain Members of the Congress which is, when all is said and done, in charge of legislation for the District, and would be electors of the President who carries definite responsibility for the Federal City, not only in respect to the sites and buildings which house the executive agencies, but for the scale and character of the Federal City itself.
When it comes to the delegation of minor defined legislative authority to the Council; this is something which could have been done by a simple act delegating such authority to the District Commissioners at any time, now or in the future. All of the absurd illustrations of matters to which Congress has given its attention in the past could have been corrected at any time, had Congress chosen to do so. We do not need an expensive Council of 11 instead of the 3 Commissioners to bring about this desirable reform.
CONGRESS STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR LEGISLATION
The provisions for the handling by the Council of legislative proposals which will become law if Congress does not disapprove by concurrent resolution within 45 days and if the President does not veto them, as stated above, indicate that the drafters of the bill must have come to the conclusion that Congress could not
alienate its constitutional duty. As a matter of fact, the Commissioners have frequently proposed legislation to Congress, but Congress has insisted on extensive hearings and has seldom accepted the legislation in the form submitted.
ELABORATE, EXPENSIVE GOVERNMENT PROPOSED So far as we can see, these proposals, instead of streamlining the District Government, would blow it up into an inflated system. The provisions in the early Auchincloss bills provided for an unpaid Council, except for an honorarium for attendance at meetings. Then the compensation was hiked to $3,000 and in the final Kefauver bill to $5,000 with $7,500 for the President of the Council, plus an expense account. It has been our experience that a higher degree of ability can be secured in members of boards whose principal function is attendance at stated meetings (and concerned with policy-making, not administration) than through the appointment or election of paid board members. I regret to say that in my belief $5,000 is enough to attract many politicians and might lead to the election of those entirely unfitted to serve on such a policy-making council.
It must be remembered that in addition to this Council of 11 which would inherit only a small part of the duties of the District Commissioners, there would be a city manager, presumably paid a large salary—perhaps equal to the pay of all three Commissioners as set up today—and he would inherit the administrative duties of the three Commissioners as they now function.
In addition there would be the 12 department heads with assistants and clerical service. With these 24 policy-making and executive heads and their assistants mulling around it would be a miracle if economy or efficiency in government could be achieved.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FIRST STEP
A campaign to relieve Congress of dealing with unnecessary details has resulted in a superficial opinion on the part of many citizens in the States that their representatives in Congress should not be spending so much time on the affairs of the people who live in the District of Columbia. The Kefauver bill does not in fact relieve Congress of the ultimate duty placed upon it by the Federal Constitution and it is doubtful if congressional committees will spend any less time on District legislation than in the past, except as Congress may do what it could have done at any time, delegate defined legislative authority to the District government-whatever it is—along the lines suggested by the late Charles Beard.
We agree with Jesse C. Suter, writing in the Sunday Star on June 12:
“What the American people whose homes are in the District of Columbia want and need is the right to participate with their fellow Americans of the States in the government of their country. This is absolutely true measured by all of the fundamental principles of the American form of government and supported amply by the experience of these voteless and unrepresented people at the Nation's Capital * * *
What the District of Columbia needs is an amendment to the Constitution of the United States which will empower Congress to provide by legislation “that there shall be in the Congress and among the electors of President and Vice President members elected by the people of the District constituting the seat of the Government of the United States, in such numbers and with such powers as the Congress shall determine."
Such an amendment to the Constitution would, of course, require passage by a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and then ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States. When this fundamental reform is accomplished the creation of a local government will be a mere detail handled by a Congress in both Houses of which the District is regularly represented and submitted for the signature of a President who in part was elected by the citizens of the District.
In these bills we have put the cart before the horse and propose to set up a too-elaborate local machine, still subject to a Congress in which the District citizens are not represented.
FINANCIAL BURDEN WITHOUT AUTHORITY In other words, in this measure it seems, Congress would be passing the financial buck to the residents of Washington (many of whom are citizens of 1 of the 48 States) without transferring from Congress the ultimate power which Congress holds under the Constitution and without providing that the Federal Treasury meet its manifest responsibility for its Federal City.
Can anyone suppose that a Council with nine elected members, responsible for raising the proposed budget, would approve the further alienation of private property from the tax rolls of the District in order to provide sites for Federal buildings, however necessary to the Federal executive government? It is true that the Federal Government could condemn land for public purposes; but the pressure of the voters and their elected officials decidedly would be against the extension of Federal holdings which would reduce the District income from taxable real property and, indirectly, as a result reduce the Federal contribution based on local income.
The responsibility for the sizes and disposition of the budget is put squarely upon the local taxpayers. If they tax themselves enough, the Federal Treasury's 20 percent of last year's income will increase. The Federal City, established solely to serve as the seat of Government, should not be limited in budget to amounts which the local citizens are willing to authorize. The Federal Government has a stake in its Federal City far beyond the estimated value of its buildings and grounds, and, as the years pass, the Federal Government will own an increasing area in the Federal City-larger in extent than the area of private property.
Concerning the provisions for the electorate, it is easily understood why the body of District voters would more nearly resemble a balanced community elsewhere if all or a large part of the Federal employees were permitted to vote; but we question the practicability, if not the legality, of permitting those who vote in the States also to vote in District elections. So long as the civil service and many other appointed positions draw quotas from the difference States, it is unlikely that many of these would relinquish their home-State privilege of voting. At best, therefore, it is difficult, if not impossible, to set up in the District a truly balanced community electorate, whereas if all those who live in the District and do not vote in any State were permitted to vote for representation in Congress, the ground would be covered without duplication or omission.
The fact that a majority of District citizens authorized to vote under the Kefauver or similar bills, might elect. to accept financial and governmental responsibility for the District of Columbia, does not in any respect justify Congress or the executive branch of the Federal Government in relieving themselves of the moral and legal responsibility which they bear for the Federal City.
Washington is not like any other city in the United States. It was founded, and continues, to serve as the seat of the Federal Government. Unlike other national capitals it is not an industrial city. In a sense its principal and only industry is the National Government. Most of its citizens are employed by the Federal Government or belong to families so employed. While many Federal employees remain in Washington over considerable periods of time, there is a cyclical turn-over brought about by succeeding administrations, which, in spite of the comparative permanence of the business community, offers less continuity in residence and larger proportion of citizenship in different States than in any other city.
IN CONCLUSION We beg to submit, therefore, that the proposed legislation does not in fact transfer responsibility (except in minor matters) from Congress to the Council; that Congress must still carry on the duty laid upon it by the Constitution in all major legislation; that the proposed machinery is expensive and overelaborate for the authority bestowed; that the citizens of the District of Columbia would be obliged to undertake the raising of an unfair proportion of the District budget in the face of a dwindling area of land in private ownership on which to collect taxes; that the citizens would acquire the doubtful privilege of discussing and recommending legislation and budgets without the authority to put them into
We recommend, therefore, that Congress proceed forthwith to adopt a constitutional amendment which will confer the franchise upon all those who live in the District of Columbia who do not vote elsewhere, that they may have representation in Congress and vote for the President and Vice President of the United States. This is an act of simple justice and it is believed that once such a constitutional amendment has been adopted, a much simpler and less expensive form of
District government can be devised-perhaps a small policy-making Council or Commission and a Governor to serve as a single administrator. In the meantime, the District Commissioners can carry on, as they have for many years, with somewhat better results than in most American cities; though we recognize that every government needs a periodic overhauling to systematize piecemeal expansion into a unified government.
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, February 28, 1951. Hon. MATTHEW M. NEELY; The United States Senate,
Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR NEELY: On January 31, 1951, I was requested by the Corporation Counsel to submit comments and recommendations regarding H, R. 1,658 (the home-rule bill introduced in the Eighty-second Congress by Mr. Hays of Arkansas) insofar as the provisions of the proposed legislation affected the operations of the Public Library of the District of Columbia. Perhaps this statement went sent on to you. However, since that time the Senate version of this bill "for home rule and reorganization in the District of Columbia" (S. 656) was introduced by Mr. Kefauver. It is for that reason that I am taking the liberty of writing you now.
I recommend that S. 656 be amended in three particulars affecting the Public Library of the District of Columbia. I believe that the independent Board of Library Trustees, appointed by the head of the District government should be retained; that the Librarian should be appointed by the Board of Library Trustees for at least a 3-year term ; and, finally, that the present independent merit system for Public Library personnel (practically identical to that of the Library of Congress), which makes it possible for the Librarian to appoint members of the staff, should also be retained.
Every single public library in cities as large as Washington operates under a board of trustees. Furthermore, a study of 195 cities of over 50,000 population, made in 1947, reveals that 193 of the 206 public libraries are administered under boards of trustees; only 13 libraries are not. As recently as December 1947, Mr. Orin F. Nolting, assistant director of the City Managers Association, stated to the American Library Association, “although a number of cities have adopted the city manager plan since 1935, most of them have retained their library boards.” The preponderance of experience and opinion is in favor of a separate appointive board of trustees for the administration of public library service. Incidentally, the Public Library of the District of Columbia has operated very successfully under the board system for over 50 years.
The provision of S. 656 that the director of the Department of Libraries shall "serve at the pleasure of the District Manager" might, in effect, mean dismissal with virtually no notice and is contrary to accepted public library practice throughout the country. To be sure, the matter of tenure varies in other cities; some appointments are for life, or on an indefinite basis; others are for specific terms of one or more years. However, I know of no librarian in a major city who, assuming his services are satisfactory, serves at the pleasure of the appointing authority and without any assurance of continuance in office. I do not see how an effective long-range educational program can be carried out on such a basis. Furthermore, if a vacancy in the position of Director of the Department of Libraries should occur here in the future, I doubt that any librarian who has the necessary training and experience to handle the administration of a system as large and involved as this one would be willing to relinquish a secure position in order to accept this assignment on the precarious terms set forth in S. 656.
The elimination of the independent merit system for Public Library personnel and the transfer of the personnel under civil-service, would, in my opinion, seriously impede library operations. The present independent merit system, which is identical with that of the Library of Congress and is almost exactly what is recommended by the Hoover Commission, should be retained. While the Public Library now operates under most of the civil-service regulations (with respect to classification of positions, salary scale, retirement, sick and annual leave, efficiency ratings, automatic and within-grade promotions, etc.), appointments are made by the Librarian. This system has operated efficiently for over half a century. The enclosed statement by Mrs. Catherine M. Houck, personnel officer of the Public Library, while bearing specifically on S. 1,365 presented in 1949, gives added support for the present independent merit system for Public Library personnel.
It seems to me that the changes suggested herein could be incorporated in amendments to S. 656 without sacrificing any of the essential home-rule features of that proposed legislation. As a matter of fact an appropriate amendment has already been proposed by Mr. Jesse C. Suter (who is in favor of home-rule for the District of Columbia) in the Sunday Star of February 25, 1951. You may recall that after noting that "the proposal to abolish the Board of Library Trustees, transferring its functions to an executive department under the District manager, is contrary to the best recognized library experience and practice," Mr. Suter (ffered the following amendment: "To overcome the fourth criticism [of S. 656), it would be necessary to amend section 901 (a) by striking out the “Department of Libraries" from the list of executive departments named therein and in section 909 to strike out the "Department of Libraries' and transfer the entire section 909, with further amendments, to a new Title XII-Board of Library Trustees, renumbering the section as 1,201. The section now numbered 909, on page 57 of the bill, would be further amended by striking out the provision transferring to the proposed director of the “Department of Libraries” the functions of the board, also striking out the proposed abolishment of the office of the librarian. In place of the matter struck out, language should be inserted providing that the functions of the Board of Library Trustees and the Librarian are hereby "continued, together with all powers and duties as provided under existing law.'
“A further amendment suggests a new subsection providing for the qualifications and appointments of members of the Board of Library Trustees. It should provide that such persons shall have been actual residents of the District of Columbia for not less than 3 years next before their nomination and have, during that period, claimed residence nowhere else. The trustees shall be nominated by the chairman of the council and be confirmed by majority vote of that body."
Please let me know if there is any way I can be of service to you. In the meantime, all good wishes to you. Respectfully yours,
HARRY N. PETERSON, Librarian. .
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, D. C., February 8, 1951. Memorandum for: Mr. Vernon E. West, Corporation Counsel, District of
In accordance with your request of January 31, 1951, my comments and recommendations regarding H. R. 1658, Eighty-second Congress, are submitted herewith. These rearks are confined to the sections of the bill which pertain to the operation and administration of the Public Library of the District of Columbia.
H. R. 1658 creates the Department of Libraries as an executive department of the District (Title V, Reorganization of Executive Departments, sec. 503, p. 23, line 24); provides that this department "shall be headed by a director who shall be appointed by and shall serve at the pleasure of the Board of Commissioners” (sec. 504, p. 24, lines 5–7); indicates that library personnel are to be transferred to the new department "for use in the administration of the functions of such director” (sec. 505, lines 17-23); transfers the "functions of the Board of Library Trustees and of the Librarian * * * to the Director of the Department of Libraries,” and abolishes the office of Librarian (sec. 514, p. 28, lines 2-5).
I believe that the contemplated changes in the administration of the Public Library system will have an adverse effect upon this service. For the reasons