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Matthias, F. T. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 33, Number V (February 1929)

Fensel, Alden C.
Municipal administration,   pp. [157]-158

Page 158

end of two or four years, and then trains a new one. The
cost of this turn-over in dollars and cents must be
  One of the essential features of the city-manager form
of government is that local residence is not required for
holding office. Men can train themselves for municipal
work because of the opportunities for permanent work
and advancement. The plan gives rise to a new profession.
  Type of Government. Managers have been drawn from
all walks of life as there have been few opportunities for
training. Many of the officials are adapting themselves to
the work and are making good; others who are inherently
incapable fall by the wayside.
  The success of a city manager depends largely upon his
contemplating city management should study himself to
ascertain the natural inclination and adaptability for such
  The Profession of Municipal Administration. Municipal
administration is a relatively new technic in this country,
although it has been developed for many years in Europe.
While the city manager form of government gives ex-
pression to this art or profession, it is not the only means
of obtaining economical and effective government; how-
ever, it probably is the biggest factor that has obtained
in the betterment of government. Perhaps a limited num-
ber of technically trained men were available at the
inception of the new era in administration, but very few
were given managerships.    We find engineers, lawyers,
qualifications for the work. As the
city manager is to be responsible
for the administration of the munici-
pality it is apparent that he is
primarily an executive. As an execu-
tive, he should be able to build up
an organization which always tends
toward the attainment of better
economies and greater efficiencies in
operation, always striving for a closer
approach toward ideal conditions. In
order to accomplish this, the execu-
tive must have a well defined con-
ception of the duties of administra-
tion. The previous analysis of the
service rendered by a city discloses an
of functions.
extreme diversity
  It is apparent that one individual cannot be a specialist
in public welfare, safety, works, finance, and law; so
these functions are usually departmentalized and a head
created for each department who is responsible to the
manager. In order to appoint and supervise the various
department heads, the manager must have a fundamental
knowledge of the functioning of each department. He
must know the relative importance of each service
rendered; so that he can intelligently allocate the funds,
whose total amount is usually so limited that money is
not available for the operation of any service to the fullest
extent that is considered desirable. The manager should
be able to work out problems with his department heads
and make final decisions in matters of major importance.
  Personal Qualities. The city manager is always in close
contact with the people; he must meet all classes of citi-
zens and receive their complaints and suggestions. He not
only must keep harmony in his organization, but he must
maintain concord between himself, the citizens, and his
council. A consideration of this human element is a vital
factor in the success of the administration. A manager
is frequently subjected to unwarranted, malicious attacks
which necessitate his being thick-skinned to prevent mental
wear and tear. Therefore, in addition to technical quali-
fications a successful manager must have such personal
qualities as to make compatible his relations with the
public and his council. Before entering the field, a person
management. An
   doctors, business men, and newspaper
   men occupying these positions with
   more or less success. Some of them
   had previous training in municipal
   work serving in various capacities
   as city engineers, treasurers, clerks
   and councilmen. Normally the length
   of service has not been long. The
   professional mortality of city man-
   agers has been the highest known in
   any profession. While this may be
   attributed to some extent to un-
   qualified incumbents it is more prob-
   ably due to petty policies and in-
   ability of citizens to appreciate good
nstance of this is two cities twenty-five
miles apart; one had a poor manager for many years and
thought him satisfactory until his failure in financial ad-
ministration was so positive as to force him to resign; the
other had a man who can be rated as one of the best
managers in the country-petty politics and an unap-
preciative public forced him to resign.
  It is probably true that a manager cannot continue in
a city over an extensive period, as many of his decisions
and  actions incur enmity    of selfish  individuals.  The
pyramidal effect finally forces the man out. A discourag-
ing feature of the service is that a large number of
managers are forced out under fire.
  One of the talking points of the city manager form is
the promotion of managers from smaller cities to larger
ones-the English and German procedure. While this
procedure should be effective in the training of managers
and the obtaining of good management, it has not gen-
erally been put into effect in this country, and there are
small indications of its adoption in the immediate future.
Conversely, the forced resignation of many of our man-
agters precludes them from a managership in another city.
  Training for the Profession. The University of Michigan
and the National Institute of Public Administration in
New York City have, for considerable time, run training
schools for city managers. The course of the Institute is
now incorporated in the School of Citizenship and Public
Affairs of the University of Syracuse. The curriculum
                 (Contnued on page 164)
  Mr. Fensel attended the National
Institute of Public Administration
after being graduated; he then served
as an engineer in the office of the
City Engineer of Ashtabula and also
as unofficial assistant to the manager.
He was later appointed as the engi-
neering staff member of the Munici-
pal Research Bureau of Cleveland of
which he is now director.
15 8
Volume 3 3, No. 5

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