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corruption of our city government. The example of other American cities certainly justifies this belief.
It is the opinion of the Commissioners that, if true home rule is to be granted to the District, this bill should not undertake a reorganization of the various departments and agencies of the District government to an extent further than necessary to be consistent with home rule. The city council should be given broad authority to reorganize the District Government in the manner it shall deem proper. If other changes later appear to be desirable to the Council they can then be made without resort to legislative proposals.
The CHAIRMAN. What is their attitude toward this bill? Are they for it or against it, and if they are against it, what modifications do they suggest ?
Mr. WEST. We suggest a number of changes that should be made with respect to the provisions of the bill, especially dealing with reorganization, and they also object to the provision of the bill which gives to anyone who is a resident of the District and has been a resident for 1 year, the right to vote, even though he may be domiciled in another State and retain his right to vote in that other State. .
They feel that the right to vote in the District of Columbia should be limited to those persons who are domiciled in the District, with no voting privilege elsewhere, but there are a number of objections that the Commissioners have to the reorganization provision..
The CHAIRMAN. Do they approve any of the provisions of the bill? Mr. WEST. They approve those that we do not specifically mention. They point out a number of
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. West, how many paragraphs of the bill do · they disapprove?
Nr. WEST. In section 302, on page 9, they call attention to the fact that a member of the District Council cannot hold an appointive office for which compensation is provided out of District funds, but a member of the District Council may be a Government employee or a Government official and may even be an official of some branch of the Government with which the District is required to enter into agreements, and even may be an employee of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which is given very broad power over the District in this bill.
Then they also call attention to the fact—and this is more or less technical-that the bill provides that an ordinance other than a zoning ordinance shall take effect as law upon passage by the District Council. The Commissioners suggest it would be possible to provide in there that the Council may provide that the law shall take effect, or the ordinance shall take effect at a later date, because that is sometimes very desirable in order to give people an opportunity to comply with the ordinance.
In section 332 authority is given the District Council to appoint a . secretary, but there is no authority given the District Council to appoint an assistant secretary and the necessary clerical personnel.
Then we point out that in section 336 (b), page 16, the District Council, when it adopts a zoning ordinance, must then refer it to the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and if the National Capital Park and Planning Commission certifies that this ordinance is contrary to the Federal interest, then the zoning ordinance
cannot be enacted unless it is adopted by two-thirds of the District Council.
Now, the District Council consists of 11 persons, 2 of whom are appointed by the President. It would therefore be very difficult to adopt a zoning ordinance if such a certificate is filed by the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, but the citizens are not given an opportunity to appear before the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and a citizen is certainly entitled to use his property as he sees fit under the Constitution, unless in the exercise of the police power it would be improper for him to so use that property, but this gives an absolute power of veto, subject to the subsequent passage by two-thirds of the city Council, places this power of veto in the National Capital Park and Planning Commission without giving the citizens of the District an opportunity to be heard before that Commission, and merely if they deem that the interests of the Federal Government would be adversely affected by that zoning ordinance.
Then they point out that in section 402 a legislative proposal by the District Council submitted to the Congress becomes law unless it is disapproved by a joint resolution of Congress within 45 days or by the President within 10 days. There is a conflict in legal opinion as to the constitutionality of this provision, that is, whether the Congress can delegate to a District Council the authority to enact legislation.
There is no question, of course, of their power to delegate to the District Council authority to pass all ordinances of a municipal nature. Now, even though this provision be held constitutional, it seems to the Commissioners that a great deal of confusion would result from the passing of this provision of the statute, because until the constitutionality had been determined, no one would know whether the law had been passed validly or not, and whether they should proceed under this legislative proposal of the District Council or under the law as it existed prior to that time.
They also call attention to the fact that under sections 701 and 702 the amount of the bonded indebtedness may be as great as 5 percent of the assessed value of the taxable real property of the District. This will permit the District to create a bonded indebtedness of over $83,000,000.
It provides, however, that the District Council must raise the money with which to pay this bond issue from ad valorem taxes. They are given no authority to levy other taxes or to increase the rates of the other taxes.
Over 50 percent of the land in the District is exempt from tax. Therefore, it would necessarily follow that every real-estate owner would have hanging over his head a very large increase in his rate of taxation which might seriously affect property values in the District.
Now, section 802 provides that the Director of the Department of Finance shall "compile the correct estimates for the budget and exercise financial budgetary control over each agency.”
ssioners believe that budgetary matta
This is inconsistent with section 504 (a), pages 27 and 28, which transfers the office of the Budget Officer to the District Manager. The Commissioners believe that budgetary matters should be immediately under the District Manager and not in the Department of Finance. Under this bill it seems to be both places.
Then, under section 831, pages 45 and 47, the District is required to pay 60 percent of the estimated expenditures of the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia, the name of which has now been changed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Thirty percent of the estimated expenditures of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the correct title of which is now the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and 60 percent of the estimated expenditures of the office of the United States District Attorney and the office of the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia.
At the present time the District receives the same percentage of the fees and fines collected by these courts and officers, but section 832 on page 49 provides that after June 30, 1951, the District shall receive no portion of such fees and fines.
Then 903 (a) and 904 (a) make just certain technical objections to the abolishing of a board after transferring its functions.
In section 907 (a) the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of the District is transferred to the Director of the Department of Law. The offices of the Corporation Counsel and Assistant Corporation Counsel are abolished, but the office of Recorder of Deeds is not. The Recorder of Deeds is placed under the Director of Law. The Recorder of Deeds is an officer appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Director of Law will be appointed by the District Manager.
This will create the anomalous situation of having an officer appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate under the direction of one appointed by a lesser authority, the District Manager. We see no reason for placing the office of the Recorder of Deeds in the Department of Law. It is not a law office. It is purely an administrative office.
The duties of such an office are usually performed by the clerks of the court in the States. It would seem that the Director of the Department of Law will have all he can handle in directing the legal affairs of the District without undertaking to direct an administrative office such as the Recorder of Deeds, which has something over 60 employees.
Section 908 creates a Department of Public Works and transfers to that Department, among other departments in the District, the Department of Highways. The Commissioners believe that the work of the Highway Department is of such magnitude that it should not be combined with other departments under a common director, but should remain a separate and distinct department.
Then in section 909 the language is not at all clear. Apparently something has been omitted, and we call attention to that fact, but make no objection to the intent.
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The CHAIRMAN. Mr. West, would it not save time for you to tell the committee what provisions of the bill, if any, the Commissioners are for? Mr. West. They are for this much. They believe The CHAIRMAN. Pardon me. Did you prepare this paper ? Mr. WEST. Yes; but under the direction of the Commissioners.
The CHAIRMAN. What Commissioners acted on it?
The CHAIRMAN. Did the three Commissioners hold a meeting and : actually consider the bill or did you exercise the vicarious privilege of preparing this vicious attack on it with the confident expectation that the Commissioners would promptly approve any condemnation of the bill you might proclaim?
Mr. WEST. No. They went over the bill themselves. In fact they went over it last year because
The CHAIRMAN. We are not interested in last year, but in the year 1951. Have the Commissioners to your knowledge considered S. 656 ? Mr. West. May I go back to last year for a moment? The CHAIRMAN. Certainly. Mr. WEST. Mr. Chairman, if I may say this, the Klein bill in the House is word for word the Klein bill which was introduced last year in the House, line for line and page for page with this bill. They went over the Klein bill very carefully last year and told me what to place in this report, which I did.
Then yesterday at a meeting held at 3 o'clock in Commissioner „John Russell Young's office at which all the Commissioners were present, they then went over the bill in the light of the report that they had filed last year, made some changes in the report, and this is the result.
The CHAIRMAN. You say all three of the Commissioners were present? Mr. WEST. All three of the Commissioners were present. The CHAIRMAN. How much time did they devote to the bill ? Mr. WEST. They had read the bill before.
The CHAIRMAN. My question was how much time did they devote to the bill—and I meant the bill now before us.
Mr. WEST. About 1 hour, but they were familiar with the bill, and as I say, they had gone over it in much more detail last year, and this bill is word for word, as I say, line for line and page for page with the Klein bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Mason participated ?
The CHAIRMAN. Did the Commissioners really discuss the provisions of the bill yesterday? Mr. WEST. Yes, sir; they did.
The CHAIRMAN. And the report or letter that you have presented, you prepared last year?
Mr. West. Prepared last year, but there were changes made yesterday in this bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it not a fact that the three Commissioners are really against this bill?
Mr. WEST. They are in favor of suffrage for the District of Columbia if the majority of citizens want it, and provided that the registered voters consist of those who are domiciled in the District of Columbia.
The CHAIRMAN. And provided I presume that it would not interfere with the office holding or employment of any of those who participated in preparing or presenting their report?
Mr. WEST. No; I do not think they had that in mind, because as far as they were concerned their own thoughts are this would relieve them of their positions, and as far as I am concerned I am getting very close to retirement age, and by the time this goes into effect I would be at retiring age, so the bill would have very little effect upon me personally. · (There was discussion off the record.)
Mr. WEST. Mr. Chairman, let me say this. There is very little in the comments of the Commissioners that cannot be corrected by amendment. If you will study them you will find, I think, that they are all constructive.
Now I would like to call attention to one provision. That is in section 2001 (c). It provides that if in any fiscal year the expenses of the District are less than the revenue received by the District, such excess should be used exclusively for the construction, repair, and improvement of the public schools. * It seems to the Commissioners and to me that such a provision would invite extravagance and would prevent the District from laying aside funds for public works other than schools needed in the future. In other words, if the District's revenues for a certain year were $100,000 and the expenditures were $80,000, that $20,000 could not be set aside for a nest egg to build bridges or something of that kind that might be greatly needed. It has got to be spent on schools.
The result is that when the city council finds that for certain appropriations all the schools need that year is a certain amount, they are going to spend every cent in order to prevent being required to spend more for the schools than is necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. In my opinion that is one constructive criticism. Mr. WEST. But I think you will find that all the suggestions of the Commissioners are constructive, and, as I say, one of their points is that they believe it would be better not to undertake by statute all of this detail with respect to reorganization, but give to the District Council the broad powers to reorganize the District as the Council may see fit, and with the right to change that from time to time. I think that is more home rule than is provided here, with all of this detailed organization set out in the bill.
Senator CASE. Mr. West, what you have just said interests me a great deal, because it happens that I have here the draft of a bill which I am working on at the present time, and expect to toss into the legislative mill within the next few days, which seeks to do that, that is, it proposes the organization of a council which would be an advisory council with responsibility then for going into reorganization of the Government.
It does not presume of itself to make the detailed reorganization of the Government, but does provide for the organization of the Council