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MARCH 27th, 1878.
Mr. SPEAKER: The undersigned, appointed as a Committee of Free Conference on Assembly Substitute for Senate Bill No. 200---"An Act concerning the Police Force of San Francisco, to increase its numbers and efficiency, and to regulate its government”-have met with like committee appointed by the Senate, and respectfully report: That two meetings were held and resulted only in an agreement as to the number of increase of force, viz., two hundred and fifty men, and the abolishment of what is known as the special system.
We regret that the differences between the Assembly and Senate could not be adjusted on compromise ground. But the Senate committee ultimatum seemed to be the destruction of the present Commission, or the denial to them of the appointing of any increase of the force.
Your committee hold that the present Board of Police Commissioners composed of the Mayor, County Judge, Police Judge, City Criminal Court Judge, and Chief of Police were chosen by a vote of the the people, and we believe that the result of the late election in the City and County of San Francisco, so far as relates to the officers constituting said Board, most emphatically and certainly shows the confidence reposed in each, they having been elected by large majorities. We hold that the people fully contemplated the result of their action, and we have no right to believe that they were mistaken, nor do we believe in unnecessary interference with the will of the people no the part of the Legislature. No reasons were given, in our judgment, for the removal of the present Commissioners that might not apply to other elective officers, should members of the Legislature design heir removal and the substitution for them of others by appoint
We hold that the present Commission are as non-partisan in character as can be looked for. The Mayor and Judge of the City Criminal Court were nominated and elected by the Democratic Party; the Judge of the Police Court and Chief of Police were nominated and elected by the Taxpayers and Republicans, and the Judge of County Court received the nomination of the Taxpayers and the indorsement of the Democratic Party, and was elected by an almost unanimous vote of the people of the city and county.
We maintain that unless some valid reason be given that a Commission composed as this is, elected as this was, should be allowed to serve the people in the office to which they were chosen, and should not be removed to make place for others, possibly, who may have sought the place at the hands of the people and failed to receive their sanction through the ballot.
We maintain that the present Commission have acted since the reorganization, about two years ago, fairly, and free from partisan prejudice, and much that is charged against them as a justification
Committee of Free Conference
for legislative interference with local affairs or home rule, does not apply to them, but to their predecessors.
We find in all bills coming from the Senate, and also the expressions of the Senate Conference Committee, that it is supposed appointments to be made by the District Judges may prove better than the present system of electing the officers to whom is confided the functions of Police Commissioners. We find also, that the bills all provide for salaries to such appointments. One word in regard to this subject: Three bills have originated with the Senate delegation, and they each provide for the appointment by different Judges. One provides for appointment of Commissioners by the Judges of the Municipal, County, and Fourth District Courts; another, by the Judges of the Police, Twelfth, and Fourth District Courts; another. by the Judges of the Fifteenth, Twelfth, and Fourth District Courts, while the Assembly delegation from San Francisco, and the Assembly, in their action, have manifested no experimental mood, but have shown by their action upon all bills a unanimity in favor of non-interference with local officers chosen by the people at the bal. lot-box, and we had hoped that the manifest wish of the Assembly would be acceded to. Wherein that the Senate never did act upon bills referring to the subject matter of increasing the police force, and changing the Commission, without increasing or decreasing the salaries, and changing the parties to whom this great power was to be delegated. And moreover, when the question of displacing the present Commission, elected by the people, and substituting an appointed body therefor, in the Senate, the question was maintained. only by a tie vote of seventen' ayes and seventeen noes. We maintain, and respectfully suggest, that where there is so much uncertainty it would be well that the will of the people were allowed to prevail,
We maintain that it is extremely dangerous to call upon the Judiciary of our District Courts to appoint officials, and can but tend to tarnish the Judgeship with the strife of partisanship, in the election of said Judges.
Your committee can see no substantial difference between overriding the voice of a free people by federal bayonets and doing the same thing by an Act of the Legislature.
Your committee can see no substantial difference between overriding the just voice of a people by ballot-box stuffing and fraudulent returns, or the scoundrelly acts of Returning Boards, and doing the same thing under the thin cover of "The People of the State of California, in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows."
With a due regard to the foregoing facts and convictions, we could not agree with the request of the Senate committee to set aside the will of the people by legislative action, where no certainty of affording any better administration of affairs is presented. San Francisco is to-day suffering from the apprehensions of indiscreet legislation, and we trust the members of the Legislature will refuse to indorse any plan or attempt to deprive her citizens of the elective control of so important a matter as the Police Commission, and that our action will meet and receive the approbation of this Assembly.
ASSEMBLY SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 200.
MR. PRESIDENT: The undersigned, appointed as a Committee of Free Conference on Assembly Substitute for Senate Bill No. 200—An Act concerning the police force of San Francisco, to increase its numbers and efficiency, and to regulate its government-have met with a like committee appointed by the Assembly, and respectfully report: That two meetings were held, and resulted in an irreconcilable difference of views upon the matters in controversy between the two Houses. Your committee hold that under the present system of governing the Police Department of San Francisco by a Board of ex officio Commissioners, a majority of whom hold judicial offices, great abuses have grown up in that city, which, in the opinion of your committee, cannot be corrected under this system. The evidence contained in the report of the Commission appointed by the Senate to examine into the Chinese question, furnishes conclusive proof of the correctness of this statement. Should an increase of the police force be made without the adoption of the reformatory features of the bills passed by the Senate upon this question, it is the opinion of your committee that the evils complained of would be aggravated without, at the same time, affording adequate protection to the people, who would be called upon to bear the additional burden of taxation which it involves. Besides, with the power which it is proposed to lodge in the hands of the present Commissioners, who hold other offices, and are eligible to still others, they would, judging by recent occurrences in that city, become too strong for the people, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to reform the Police Department hereafter.
The police bill first passed by the Assembly did not contain a single reformatory feature-it simply added, or proposed to add, two hundred and fifty (250) men to the force, at one hundred and twentyfive dollars per month each. The Substitute for Senate Bill No. 200, under consideration by your committee, contains two or three of the provisions of the Senate, bill, but retains the present Commission. Great stress is laid upon the fact that the Senate bills to increase the police force all look toward the creation of a new Commission, to the exclusion of the present ex officio Board, on the ground that it would be "an unnecessary interference with the will of the people on the part of the Legislature."
This doctrine, though not new, comes from an unexpected quarter. Only two years ago the Legislature, regardless of the voice of a free people," created a new and wholly unnecessary Court in San Fran
cisco, and added the Judge thereof to the Board of Police Commissioners, for the sole purpose of changing the political complexion of that Commission, and overriding the expressed will of the people.
The Journals of the Senate and Assembly (p. 535) contain the record of the vote upon the adoption of this measure. This outrage was, it seems, perpetrated upon a free people by an Act of the Legislature, without the aid of federal bayonets.
But the measures matured and passed by the Senate for increasing and regulating the police force of San Francisco legislate no one out of office, nor would they change the politics of the Commissionthey simply relegate the Judges of three important Courts to the proper sphere of their proper duties.
The duties which appertain to the office of Police Commissioner should, in the opinion of your committee, be devolved upon a Board of non-elective and non-partisan officers, who should be ineligible to any other office during their term of office, and for one year thereafter. Only in this way can our city have an efficient, reliable police force.
That San Francisco has not such a force at this time is not the fault of the Senate. The first bill relating to this subject was passed by this body early in the session, and your committee can only hope that all factious opposition to that measure will be withdrawn, and that it will be allowed to become a law at the earliest moment possible.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE
INQUIRE INTO THE FACTS
IN RELATION TO THE
Alleged Under-Valuation of Property
KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.