lest we forget the cities

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  • Editorial Comment

    Lest We Forget the Cities S THE Joint Federal-State Ac- A tion Committee of Governors

    and Federal Officers discusses a shift of functions from Washington to the states, attention is focused once again on the complex problems of in- tergovernmental relations in our fed- eral republic.

    Significantly when P r e s i d e n t Eisenhower called for the creation of this joint task force he looked be- yond a simple formula for reassign- ing certain programs to the states. He saw for it three basic responsibil- ities:

    One-to d e s i g n a t e functions which the states are ready and will- ing to assume and finance and that are now performed or financed by the federal government;

    Two-to recommend the federal and state revenue adjustments re- quired to enable the state to assume such functions;

    Three-to identify functions and responsibilities likely to require state and federal attention in the future and to recommend the level of state effort, or federal effort, or both, that will be needed to assure effective action.

    As important as it is to develop recommendations for an immediate action program to fulfill the first two responsibilities, the ultimate im- portance of the third is infinitely greater. It is hoped that the joint task force will not neglect its third assignment. But the fundamental is- sues involved in a projection of future state and federal responsibil- ities requires much more than pass- ing consideration by an action committee of short duration.

    Two years ago the bipartisan Com- mission on Intergovernmental Rela- tions noted that the proper func- tioning of the federal system requires concerted attention to interlevel re- lations. If the present joint action committee can be considered an in- terim device for securing such atten- tion it will serve a useful purpose. Perhaps the committee will turn out to be the immediate predecessor of a permanent Advisory Board on In- tergovernmental Relations proposed by the Kestnbaum Commission.

    A permanent agency also must in- clude representatives of local gov- ernment to complete the coverage of interlevel relationships and to assure that adequate attention is given to the most pressing problems of our rapidly growing urban population, those of the sprawling metropolitan areas.

    Local officials are increasingly aware of the impact of federal pro- grams upon metropolitan communi- ties and smaller urban areas. They are pressing for more adequate at- tention to the nature of this impact and for a coordination of state and national policies which affect the localities. The Advisory Committee on Local Government of the Kestn- baum Commission pointed out that the metropolitan areas of the United States are the most impor- tant focal points of intergovern- mental relations.

    In the American system of co- operative federalism we must con- sider inter-level relationships across the board-not federal-state, nor state-local, nor federal-local in isola- tion-but federal-state-local relations.


  • 19571 EDITORIAL COMMENT 3 93

    Effective Metropolitan Planning It is certainly true that one of

    the most difficult things for the hu- man mind to grasp is the nature and rate of political, economic and social change that is going on in the present. We are a part of America that is getting BIG in a fashion that would have dwarfed the imagination of our grandfathers. But our big- ness is giving us some challenges that

    are going to demand big thinking before we are done with them.

    What is needed is leadership that is big enough, thinking that is big enough to recognize when the in- terests of people can be advanced by subordinating the pride of a few.

    -From an address by FRANCIS 6. PITKIN

    Election vs. Appointment The strings of minor elective ad-

    ministrative officers in cities are steadily getting shorter. Since 1937 the Municipal Year Book has been keeping track of the elective depart- mental officers-the treasurers, city clerks, assessors, auditors, attorneys, controllers, police chiefs and public works directors. In 1937, 70 per cent of the cities elected one or more of those offices. The tables in the years between show steady reduc-

    tion and now comes the current edi- tion reporting that in 1956 only 52 per cent of 2,495 cities over 5,000 population reporting elected any.

    There were, for instance, 240 elec- tive police chiefs in 1937; the num- ber now, in about 50 per cent more cities, is down to 101. City clerks and assessors are the most numerous and apparently the hardest to put on an appointive basis, as they should be.

    Judge Bites Mayor Criminal Court Judge E. G . New- to pass such sentence because of

    ell sentenced resigned Mayor Rex Knoths good civic work, but that Knoth of Riviera Beach (Florida) to this is the type of case I think de- 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for serves punishment. Knoth resigned using his official position to fix a last month and pleaded guilty to the friends traffic ticket. charge. New York State

    The judge said he was reluctant Municipal Bultetin