Tag Archives: Montreal

Thoughts On Local Government_>>>7

[The following is a point-form note series on Local Government Politics aggregated from an academic course on that subject.]

The Dillon’s Rule:  – Referenced in the chapter Excerpt from V. Ostrom, R. Bishe & E. Ostrom “The Struggle for Local Self Government”

  • Hundreds of U.S. court decisions to the present day have employed the Dillon Rule to determine the scope of municipal powers and rights. Critics of the Rule have argued that it imposes unreasonable constraints on the ability of communities to govern themselves and so undermines democracy, and even that local self-government is a matter of natural right that does not need to be conferred by higher political structures. It has also been suggested that Dillon’s approach derived from the contemporary view that cities were inherently corrupt political organs. This was perhaps an often well-deserved judgment during his time, especially considering the extensive business ties and even investments of numerous cities and their leaders in the late 19th century. Deviations from the Dillon Rule remain in the minority, however, despite the significant decrease in the public perception of municipal corruption.
  • – While on the federal bench, Dillon wrote Municipal Corporations (1872), which was one of the earliest treatises to systematically study the subject. Dillon explained that in contrast to the powers of states, which are unlimited but for express restrictions under the state or federal constitution, municipalities only have the powers that are expressly granted to them. His formulation of the scope of municipal power came to be known as the “Dillon Rule,” which states that municipal governments only have the powers that are expressly granted to them by the state legislature, those that are necessarily implied from that grant of power, and those that are essential and indispensable to the municipality’s existence and functioning. Any ambiguities in the legislative grant of power should be resolved against the municipality so that its powers are narrowly construed. However, when the state has not specifically directed the method by which the municipality may implement its granted power, the municipality has the discretion to choose the method so long as its choice is reasonable.
  • The doctrine of inherent right of lovcal self government was rejected until it could be subsequently formulated as a legal prinicile embodied in state constitution and hence beyond the exclusive controls of the legislatures
  • The acceptance of Dillon’s rule coincided with the erecetion of large-scale public utility enterprises and the development of machine politics and boss rule.  Absolute and unlimited sovereignty on the part of state legislatures over municipal governments made state legislatures the focus of attention in controlling local governments.  Rather than providind general rules that applied to general catergories of local government, state legislatures under this authority enacted special charters and laws that applied specifically designated cities.  Such chraters enacted became instruments for detailed legislative interference in local affraids.
  • Special legislation enacted by state legislatures went so far as mandating the payment of claims to designated individuals
  • Dillon’s rule made legal the rape of cities by the so-calle “robber barons” of the late 19th century.
  • The response of the progressive reform movement slowly eroded the Dillon rule and strengthened local autonomy.

Human resources management in Canadian cities:  – Referenced in Urban Governance in Canada by K. Graham, S. Phillips with A. Masolow

  • Uses examples of Winnipeg, Vancouver and Halifax to illustrate the importance of human resource management in the operations of Canadian urban governments.
  • We see cities preoccupied with managing the downsizing of staff, training and motivating remaining staff, and dealing with pressure on the municipal compensation system resulting from reorganization and amalgamation or from decreasing financial flexibility
  • Historically Canada exhibits two contradictory methods in dealing with human resources:
  • Collective bargaining, view them as private actors therefore have a right to collective bargaining, not very sophisticated, although it needed to be
  • Recent years, given it more importance, more sophisticated dealings, an increase in the professionalization and downsizing, responsibility for human resource planning
  • At local level there is absence of oversight in local human resource management whereas at the federal and provincial level there is. 

‘Home rule”:  – Referenced in the chapter Excerpt from V. Ostrom, R. Bishe & E. Ostrom “The Struggle for Local Self Government”

  • A companion set of constitutional provisions provided a commensurate increase in opportunities for local communities to control their own local affairs subject to the general laws of the state.  In more than half of the American sates, constitutional authority was extended to local communities to allow then formulating their own local municipal charters.
  • Under these “hone rile” charters, citizens could stipulate their own constitutional terms and conditions of governance, and such charters could be revised or amended locally through the process initiative and referendum.
  • The progressive Reform movement thus extended toe principle of federalism that had applied to the organization of the national and state governments downward so that this principle also applied to state and local units of governments as well.
  • In effect, recognized a constitutional right of local self-government.  Judge Cooley’s (Michigan) (Law school named after him) doctrine, in effect, became a part of several state constitutions and became to prevail over Dillon’s rule in those states