The Evening Star. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1897.
.By the Municipal Corporations Act the election of the mayors of •Mwral lborou S 1:ls is vested directly in Election, the ratepayers. Attempts have been made from time to time in , iParliameiirt to place the power of election an the hands of the borough councils, but these have never met with much support. It has been generally realised that an
important principle was involved in giving the burgesses an entirely free hand in the election of mayor, and thus enabling them to obtain the services of the very best men in /the? community, who might not possibly be in a position to serve an extended time as councillors owing to the character and importance of their business engagements. Another consideration which has always weighed with the Legislature in determining the question is that were the' city and borough councils to elect the mayors there would be a danger of the clique system, so prevalent in local bodies, becoming intensified to the extent of imperilling the interests of the ratepayers. Local experience has shown the tendency to run in a groove and to conservatism in the worst sense of the word, even with the mayors popularly elected, since the dominating party in the City Council have very generally succeeded in putting one of themselves in the Chair and frightening off outsiders. In the election now pending it will be noted that the councillors who are candidates arrogate to members of the Council a right of preference to the votes of the burgesses—a right which is by statute denied to them, and has been again and again, as mentioned above, deliberately and specifically refused. We would not contend that a citizen who has faithfully served as a councillor has no claim to consideration should he aspire to the mayoralty, but of the validity of this claim the burgesses are by law made the judges, and it is for them to decide as to the value or otherwise of the services rendered. The affairs of the City Corporation are not over-flourishing at present. It mav be conceived what the state of things might be if the councillors were to play battledore and shuttlecock for the mayoralty, keeping the game within the Council Chamber. We have been led into the above remarks by the address of Councillor Hardy yesterday evening at the City Hall. This worthy councillor would have been satisfied, we should have thought, with the result of his previous tests of the opinion of the ratepayers, and not have thrust himself forward on this occasion, when the only effect of his candidature can be to secure the election of a mayor from outside the Council an event which he professes himself most anxious to prevent. He is, indeed, very bitter at the presumption of Mr E. B. Cargill in coming forward, when no less than three members of the City Council are scrambling for the Chair, and, in his opinion, are all entitled to a fair field, and ought to be allowed to fight it out between them. If Mr Hardy is really so earnest as he purports to be in desiring to see a councillor returned, the way is open to him to do something to that end by withdrawing even now from the contest, since his chances are a very forlorn hope, indeed. He is evidently in deadly dread of the outside candidate, whose chances, we may inform him, are being materially advanced by the petty spiteful attacks made upon Mr Cargill personally and in connection with his public services rendered to the City and Colony when Mr Hardy was an unknown quantity. Mr Hardy bases his claim to the support of the burgesses on his long term as a councillor and the due performance of the routine dutios attached to the position. He is hardly the kind of man, we think, who would trouble himself with Corporation affairs from a sense of-public duty as a large propertied citizen, and it may be taken for granted that a seat in the Council suited him, as it does several of his colleagues equally happily situated, or he would not be there. We concede all liia punctual attendances at Council and Committee meetings. But it might be asked whether his presence has been any more useful to the City than the continuous absence of one of his colleagues ? He has certainly done nothing to check the course of the Council towards the financial bog in which they are now floundering; in fact, according to his own statements last evening, he is not cognisant of the seriousness of the position, for which he as a councillor is directly responsible. The ratepayers do not want to be pelted with lumps of figures, and they resent attempts to throw dust in their eyes by ingenious statements and complications oft accounts. What they quite realise is that the rates are to be increased this year and still more so duringjfche ensuing year, and that for this they have to thank the long-term councillors, who might have avoided the crisis had they exercised ordinary intelligence in good time. MrHAßDYdeclarasthat.it will be an insult to the Council if the distinguished claims of the three councillors standing for election are ignored! Councillor Hardy, as the occasion no doubt demanded, said a good deal about himself; but as to the financial question he left much to be inferred. We at once concede that he has " managed his own affairs fairly well," and in this "all who know him" will, as he says, entirely agree. Had he not himself introduced the subject, we should have hardly thought it right to allude to his well-known care of No. 1. In regard to his municipal career, on which he bases his claims to election, we would like to be informed whether he has ever, in or out of the Council, expressed an original idea, submitted any useful proposals, or moved an inch in furtherance of reform ? On the contrary, has he not consistently opposed any movement in that direction 1 He was distinctly unfavorable to the adoption of day labor in Corporation works, and has very practically obstructed the extension of the municipal franchise.
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The Evening Star. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1897., Evening Star, Issue 10473, 17 November 1897