STATE OF MISSOURI EX REL LACLEDE GASLIGHT CO v. MURPHY(1898)
The Laclede Gaslight Company filed its petition for mandamus in the name of the state of Missouri, on its relation, [170 U.S. 78, 79] against Michael J. Murphy, street commissioner of the city of St. Louis and another, on November 26, 1894, in the supreme court of that state.
This petition stated that the relator was incorporated by an act of the general assembly of Missouri approved March 2, 1857, which was amended by an act approved March 3, 1857, and by an act approved March 26, 1868, and set forth the three acts in extenso.
The fifth section of the act of March 2, 1857, read as follows:
The words 'sole and exclusive,' in the fifth section, were stricken out by the act of March 3, 1857. Laws Mo. 1856-57, pp. 598, 599.
Section 1 of the act of March 26, 1868, amending the act of March 2, 1857, was as follows:
The petition then averred that the act of March 2, 1857, as amended by the subsequent acts, constituted relator's charter, by which relator was granted the privilege and right of lighting the city of St. Louis as in the acts set forth, 'and to that end may establish and lay down in any portion of said corporate limits all pipes, fixtures, or other thing properly required in order to do the same, with this limitation only, that in laying donw pipes, fixtures, or other thing properly required therefor relator shall do the same with as much dispatch and as little inconvenience to the public as possible.'
It was further stated that by a certain agreement, executed February 28, 1873, relator had 'abandoned and surrendered any and all exclusive rights, and all claims or pretenses of claims of sole or exclusive privilege or right, of lighting any part of the city of St. Louis with gas, or making or vending gas, gas lights, or gas fixtures, and also all exclusive right whatsoever under its said charter.'
The petition went on to say that, in pursuance of its charter, relator had been for a long time engaged in the lighting business, both by gas and electricity; that, under a contract with the city, it was lighting a part of the public streets and alleys by electricity, and would be obliged to do so for some years to come; that it was furnishing light, by means of gas or electricity, to a large part of the inhabitants of the city; that, in order to fulfill its obligations to the city and the public, the company had erected and was maintaining 'extensive and costly plants for the manufacture and distribution of gas, as well as for generating and distributing electric currents'; that for distributing gas it had constructed a system of pipes laid under ground, without objection; that for the distribution of electricity it had 'hitherto used overhead wire strung upon poles along the streets and alleys of said city,' which poles and electric wires had been and are maintained and used by relator, without objection by said city or the authorities thereof, for the distribution of electricity, as well to furnish [170 U.S. 78, 81] light to private consumers as for the fulfillment by relator of its said contract with said city of St. Louis for the lighting by electricity of certain public streets and alleys thereof; that to effect such distribution it is necessary to transmit through and by means of said wires electric currents of great power, which, if and when accidentally diverted, are dangerous to human life and property; that in order to avoid the inconvenience and danger to the public necessarily incident to that method of distributing electric currents, and in order o provide more effective and proper service, relator has made arrangements to lay its wires underground along and under the streets of said city according to approved and practicable plans, and is now ready to do so with as much dispatch, and as little inconvenience to the public, as possible.
It was then stated that Murphy was street commissioner, to whom was committed, under the city charter, 'the supervision and control of the streets and alleys of said city, and the denforcement of city ordinances relating thereto.' And relator averred that, having completed its preparation to carry out the work above indicated, and having given notice to the street commissioner of its intention to do so, the company proceeded on the 30th day of October, 1894, to begin the work of excavating at a point on the east side of Broadway street, in St. Louis, near the corner of Mound street (that point being adjacent to its generating plants), which work was proper and necessary for placing wires under ground, when the street commissioner caused the work to be stopped, and notified relator 'that he would not allow any part of any street of said city to be excavated for any purpose whatever without a permit previously obtained from him for that purpose, as provided by ordinance; and relator states that by section 568, art. 1, c. 15, of the Revised Ordinances of 1887 of said city of St. Louis, it is provided that 'no person shall make or cause to be made any excavation on any public street, highway, or alley without written permission of the street commissioner so to do, excepting public work under the authority of the water or sewer commissioner, who at the time of ordering any such excavating shall notify the street commissioner of the same." [170 U.S. 78, 82] That upon being so notified the company applied to the street commissioner for a permit to make the necessary excavation on Broadway, so that it might place its wires under the street for the purposes indicated. That the officer refused to give the permit asked, whereby, it was alleged, the company, in the exercise of its vested rights, was prevented from laying down in the streets of the city the pipes and fixtures required in the conduct of its business.
That it was the duty of the street commissioner to grant the permit; and, being without other remedy, relator prayed a mandamus against that officer, commanding him to issue a permit to the company to make an excavation along the east side of Broadway street, as near the curb as practicable, and extending from the southeast corner of Mound street to the southeast corner of Olive street and Broadway, in so far as was necessary for the laying of the company's electric wires underground; 'the same to be done with as much dispatch, and as little inconvenience to the public, as possible.'
An alternative writ of mandamus having been issued, the street commissioner filed his return thereto, alleging therein that the act of March 26, 1868, was in conflict with paragraph 2 of section 1 of article 8 of the constitution of Missouri of 1865, because the company did not, within one year from the time the act of March 2, 1857 took effect, organize or commence the transaction of its business, and not until 1873, and that said act was in conflict with section 25. art. 4. of the constitution of Missouri, because it did not set forth the act or part of act amended at length, as if it were an original act or provision.
That relator had never by any act been granted the franchise to make and vend electricity for any purpose whatever, and that lighting by electricity was wholly unknown March 2, 1857, and March 26, 1868.
The relator moved to strike out certain portions of the return, and demurred to certain other portions thereof; assigning, among other grounds: That its 'charter was and is a contract between the state of Missouri and said corporation, not subject to alteration, suspension, or repeal, except with the consent of said corporation, and that any constitutional provision, law, or municipal ordinance adopted or enacted after said date by, or by authority of, said state, or by any municipality thereof, inconsistent with any right, privilege, or franchise granted by said charter to relator, or the effect of which would be to deny to relator any such right, privilege, or franchise, or to annex to the full exercise thereof byr elator any condition or requirement not prescribed by said charter, would be in contravention of section 15 of article 2 of the constitution of Missouri of 1875, forbidding the general assembly to pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts, and [170 U.S. 78, 85] also of setion 10 of article 1 of the constitution of the United States, forbidding any state to pass any such law.'
That 'the provisions of said ordinance of said city of St. Louis in said portion of said return mentioned, if held valid or binding upon relator, would necessarily impair the obligation of the contract between relator and said state of Missouri, contained in said charter, by annexing to the exercise by relator of the rights and privileges by said charter granted to it certain conditions and requirements not prescribed by said charter, and which it does not appear, nor is by respondent averred, that the relator has ever consented to or accepted.'
On the issues thus presented, the supreme court heard the cause, and denied the peremptory writ.
Subsequently, on the application of relator, the judgment was set aside, the demurrer to the return, and motion to strike out parts thereof, were overruled, and leave was given to plead over.
Relator thereupon filed a traverse to the return, setting forth at length the grounds on which relator denied that the averments in the return in respect of the organization of the company, and of the time when it commenced the transaction of business, and of the invalidity of the act of March 26, 1868, constituted defenses to the proceeding.
The traverse further stated that if electricity was not a substance or material, as averred by respondent, which relator denied, that constituted no defense. That relator was incorporated to carry on the business of lighting the city of St. Louis, and the right and privilege of doing so was granted, as before set forth and reiterated. The traverse explained the process of lighting by gas, and also by electricity, which relator asserted was included in the grant; admitted that the company had theretofore exercised its corporate franchise of lighting the city with gas through pipes laid beneath the surface of the street on the east side of Broadway from Mound street to Olive street, and in other places; that, to furnish light by means of electricity, it was necessary to use wires, 'either on poles above the surface of the street, as relator is [170 U.S. 78, 86] now doing under a contract with said city of St. Louis, or in tubes or conduits beneath said surface'; and that 'its purpose in making the excavation on Broadway mentioned in the petition was to construct and place underground a conduit for wires, such conduit and wires being properly required for the production of electric light as a substitute for gas light'; and set forth that the conduit and wires so intended to be laid down were of the most approved description, offering no obstruction, and avoiding the danger to life and property attending the use of overhead electric wires.
The traverse denied that relator had not acquired the right to place such wires above or beneath the streets, and denied that section 2721 of article 5, c. 42, Rev. St. Mo. 1889, applied to relator, but averred that, if it did, its provisions would be invalid, as impairing the obligation of the contract contained in its charter.
The traverse admitted that by article 2, c. 15, Rev. Ord. St. Louis 1887, as amended by Ordinance No. 16,894, the municipal authorities undertook to prescribe certain conditions for placing wires, tubes, or cables conveying electricity along, across, or under the streets and alleys of the city, and averred that said ordinance, and the amendatory Ordinance No. 16,894, are the same ordinances revised and re-enacted in article 2, c. 15, of the Revised, Ordinance of 1892, by Ordinance No. 17, 188, approved April 7, 1893, and that sections 603 to 614 are the only provisions prescribing regulations or conditions in respect of placing along, across, or under any of the streets, alleys, and public places, of wires, tubes, or cabls conveying electricity for the production of light, heat, or power, and are the provisions insisted on by respondent. These sections were set out in the traverse, and are printed in the margin. 1 [170 U.S. 78, 87] The traverse then proceeded:
To this traverse respondent filed a general demurrer, assigning also special grounds.
Subsequently the city of St. Louis was made a party, entered its appearance, and adopted as its own the return of the street commissioner, and his demurrer to the traverse.
The demurrer was then sustained by the supreme court, 'for the reasons given in the opinion heretofore rendered in this cause, to which reference is hereby made as a part of this judgment,' and judgment was again entered denying the peremptory writ.
A writ of error from this court was allowed by the chief justice of Missouri. The opinion of the state court forms part of the record, and is reported in 130 Mo. 10, 31 S. W. 594. [170 U.S. 78, 94] The court in that opinion stated that on the pleadings the following issues of law were fairly framed:
But the court declined to express an opinion on 'any question involving the right of relator to exercise the rights or enjoy the franchises which appear to have been granted under the acts of the general assembly mentioned in the statement,' or 'to inquire whether the right to use electricity for making light was included under the terms 'substance or material,' as used in the charter,' and confined itself 'to the question whether relator has a vested right to place its electric wires under the surface of the streets without the assent of the municipal authorities thereof, and without compliance with valid ordinances of the city.'
And this question, for reasons given, the supreme court determined in the negative, and held that 'respondent, under his official duties as street commissioner, properly refused to grant the permit demanded, unless relator first complied with the requirements of the valid ordinances then in force.'
Henry Hitchcoc and Isaac H. Lionberger, for plaintiff in error.
W. C. Marshall, for defendants in error.
Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing ianguage, delivered the opinion of the court. [170 U.S. 78, 95] Mandamus lies to compel a party to do that which it is his duty to do, but can confer no new authority, and the party to be coerced must have the power to perform the act. Taxing Dist. v. Loague, 129 U.S. 493, 501 , 9 S. Sup. Ct. 327.
On the facts disclosed by the record, was it the duty of the street commissioner to issue a permit to the company to make excavations on Broadway, so that it might place electric wires under the surface of the street?
The supreme court of the state held that it was not the duty of the street commissioner to do so. Did that court in so holding give effect to ordinances impairing the obligations of the contract created by the company's charter?
Assuming the charter to be in force, as contended, the company was authorized to light the city, and to lay down pipes for that purpose, 'with as much dispatch, and as little inconvenience to the public, as possible.' It originally furnished light by means of gas through underground pipes, and when electricity came to use it furnished electric light through overhead wires. It now sought to put these electric wires under the surface, and it insisted that it had a vested right to do this, without being controlled by the municipal authorities.
Subsequently to the passage of the acts of 1857 and 1868, a city charter had been adopted, whereby the state vested the city with the power to regulate the use of the streets, and pass ordinances deemed expedient 'in maintaining the peace, good government, health and welfare of the city, its trade, commerce and manufactures.'
The board of public improvements of the city of St. Louis, consisting of a president, the street commissioner, the sewer commissioner, the water commissioner, the harbor and wharf commissioner, and the park commissioner, has existed for many years under the charter and ordinances of that city. Each of these commissioners is the head of the department indicated by the title of the office, and has special charge thereof, but subject to the general control of the board; and the board is charged with the duty, among other things, of furnishing data and information to the municipal assmbly of the city in respect of matters with which it is called upon [170 U.S. 78, 96] to deal, preparing and recommending ordinances for the improvement and lighting of the streets, and establishing regulations for excavations and the laying of gas pipes in the streets, etc. Rev. Ord. 1882, p. 976; Rev. Ord. 1887, p. 893; Rev. Ord. 1881, p. 716.
The street commissioner had primary jurisdiction over streets and highways, and section 568, art. 1, c. 15, of the Revised Ordinance of 1887, which article treated of excavations in streets and public places for various purposes, provided that 'no person shall make or cause to be made any excavation on any public street, highway or alley, without written permission of the street commissioner so to do, except public work done under the authority of the water or sewer commissioner, who at the time of ordering any such excavating shall notify the street commissioner of the same.'
By sections 581-583 et seq., article 2 of the same chapter, wires, tubes, or cables carrying electricity for the production of light or power were to be placed above or below the surface of the ground of streets, alleys, or public places, and secured in such manner as prescribed by the board of public improvements; and that board, on the filing of an application stating the streets, alleys, and public places desired to be occupied, and the manner in which the wires, tubes, or cables were to be secured, were authorized to grant a permit for such occupancy, with such restrictions, regulations, and qualifications as the board might designate, etc. These were sections of Ordinance No. 12,723. See Rev. Ord. 1887, p. 652.
Section 50 , art. 1, c. 15, of the Revised Ordinance of 1892, was the same as section 568, Rev. Ord. 1887, and sections 603, 604, et seq., of article 2 of that chapter, quoted ante. corresponded substantially with sections 581 et seq. of the ordinance of 1887. Rev. Ord. 1892, p. 660.
Section 2721, c. 42, of the Revised Statutes of Missouri of 1889 ( volume 1, p. 693), provided: 'Companies organized under the provisions of this article, for the purpose of constructing and maintaining telephone or magnetic telegraph lines, are authorized to set their poles, piers, abutments, wires and other fixtures along, across or under any of the public [170 U.S. 78, 97] roads, streets and waters of this state, in such manner as not to incommode the public in the use of such roads, streets and waters: provided, any telegraph or telephone company desiring to place their wires and other fixtures under ground, in any city, they shall first obtain consent from said city through the municipal authorities thereof.'
The company asserted by its pleadings that it had never accepted the provisions of Ordinance 12,723, and the subsequent ordinances, and had never obtained the consent of the municipal assembly to occupy the streets with electric wires laid under their surface.
Nor had the company ever applied to the board of public improvements for a permit to occupy Broadway with electric wires laid under the surface of that street.
But the company asserted that the only limitation on its power to so occupy the streets was that the work should be done 'with as much dispatch, and as little inconvenience to the public, as possible.'
And, admitting that it sought to excavate with the view to occupy the street with electric wires laid under the surface, the company demanded the writ of mandamus to compel the street commissioner to issue a permit allowing it to excavate for that purpose.
The supreme court held that the grant of the state to the company, 'though construed to include the right to use electricity for illuminating purposes in respect to such right, was taken subject to reasonable regulations as to its use, and the power to regulate has been delegated to the city of St. Louis. Under its general public power the city has the right to require compliance with reasonable regulations as a condition to using its streets by electric wires.'
In view of the want of knowledge of the art. of producing light by electricity when the franchise was granted, the court thought that 'it would be most unwarrantable to imply, not only that relator had the right, under the general words used in the act of incorporation, to use electricity for lighting purposes, but that it also had the right to adopt its own methods for exercising that power, regardless of the paramount rights [170 U.S. 78, 98] of the public to the use of the streets. The power delegated to the city to regulate the use of its streets existed before the art of lighting by electricity was known, or at least before relator adopted it; and the art should be exercised, if at all, under the powers thus in force when it was brought into use.'
Considering the danger to life and property from electric wires when charged, it seemed to the court too plain for argument that the city should have the right to direct the manner in which their use should be exercised; and especially when more than one method was open, and the rights and safety of the public were more or less affected by either.
Again, many companies used electric wires for various purposes; and to accommodate them all, and prevent monopolies in the use of the streets, it appeared absolutely necessary that the municipal authorities should have the right to direct the manner in which wires should be placed underground.
The court was of opinion that it would be time enough for the company to complain when its rights were distinctly infringed, and held that the street commissioner 'properly refused to grant the permit demanded unless relator first complied with the requirements of the valid ordinances then in force.'
Obviously the supreme court declined to enter on a discussion as to what were and what were not valid ordinances as respected the company, because the record showed that the company denied that it was subject to any control by the municipal authorities, and claimed that all that was required of it by its charter was to do the work with as much dispatch, and as little inconvenience, as possible.
It had made no application to the municipal assembly, directly or through the board of public improvements, for authority to proceed.
It had not filed any application with the board of public improvements giving details of the streets it wished to occupy, and the manner in which the wires, etc., were to be secured, supported, and insulated, and a plat of the route, nor asked that board for a permit for the occupancy it desired.
Whatever objections the company may have been entitled [170 U.S. 78, 99] to raise to particular provisions of the ordinances, in denial of their applicabillity or validity, it took no action whatever, so far as this record shows, calculated to bring such matters to a distinct issue.
The street commissioner had no power, under the charter and ordinances, to issue the permit requested, in the absence of the assent of the board of public improvements, which had general control; and the court could not command him to do that which it was not his official duty to perform.
Judgment to that effect in itself involved no federal question, for confessedly there was no contract right that leave to excavate should be given by a particular officer; but we concur with the conclusion of the supreme court that the company was subject to reasonable regulations in the exercise of the police powers of the city, and, so far as that involved any federal question, such question was correctly decided. People v. Squire, 145 U.S. 175 , 12 Sup. Ct. 880; St. Louis v. Telegraph Co., 148 U.S. 92 , 13 Sup. Ct. 485; Id., 149 U.S. 465 , 13 Sup. Ct. 990.
We are unable to accede to the contention that the company was entitled, by contract with the state, to lay electric wires underground without reference to the directions or regulations of the city on that subject, or that the street commissioner was obliged to permit it to excavate the streets for that purpose without the assent of the board of public improvements or of the municipal assembly, or effort to obtain either, on the mere averment of the company that it fears it might thereby subject itself to requirements from which it insists it was exempted by the terms of its charter.
If the company, as it asserted, possessed the right to place electric wires beneath the surface of the streets, that right was subject to such reasonable regulations as the city deemed best to make for the public safety and convenience, and the duty rested on the company to comply with them.
If requirements were exacted or duties imposed by the ordinances, which, if enforced, would have impaired the obligations of the company's contract, this did not relieve the company from offering to do those things which it was lawfully bound to do. [170 U.S. 78, 100] The exemption of the company from requirements inconsistent with its charter could not operate to relieve it from submitting itself to such police regulations as the city might lawfully impose. And until it had complied, or offered to comply, with regulations to which it was bound to conform, it was not in position to assert that its charter rights were invaded, because of other regulations, which, though applicable to other companies, it contended would be invalid if applied to it.
The supreme court of Missouri did not feel called on to define in advance what might or might not be lawful requirements, and there is certainly nothing in this record compelling us to do so.
It must be remembered that the case does not come before us from the circuit court. This is a writ of error to revise the judgment of the highest tribunal of a state, and this we cannot do unless federal questions have been ero neously disposed of.
[ Footnote 1 ] Sec. 603. That no wires, tubes or cables conveying electricity for the production of light, heat, or power shall hereafter he placed along or across any of the streets, alleys or public places in the city of St. Louis, by any person, corporation or association not having, previous to the passage of this ordinance, accepted and complied with ordinance number twelve thousand seven hundred and twenty-three, now amended, or shall be duly
authorized by the municipal assembly, and then only as hereinafter provided.
Sec. 604. All such wires, tubes or cables, along or across any of the streets, alleys or public places of the city of St. Louis, shall be placed at such distances above or below the surface of the ground, and secured in such manner as shall be prescribed by the board of public improvements.
Sec. 605. That any person or persons, corporation or association, duly authorized by ordinance to do business in the city of St. Louis, and desiring to place along or across any of the streets, alleys or public places of the city of St. Louis, such wires, tubes or cables, shall file in the office of the board of public improvements an application therefor, stating in detail the streets, alleys or public places which said wires, tubes or cables are to occupy, and the manner in which said wires, tubes or cables are to be secured or supported and insulated, together with a plat showing the route of such wires, tubes or cables.
Sec. 606. The board of public improvements is hereby authorized, upon the filling of the application and plat required by the preceding section, to grant a permit for such occupancy of the streets, alleys and public places herein named, with such restrictions, regulations and qualifications as may be prescribed by said board, and under the supervision and to the satisfaction of the supervisor of city lighting.
Sec. 607. That in case any person or persons, corporation or association, duly authorized by ordinance, desiring to place along or across any of the streets, alleys or public places of the city of St. Louis, such wires, tubes or cables, shall, with the application and plat heretofore provided for, file in the office of the board of public improvements the written consent of any telegraph or telephone company, or any other electric light or power company, doing business in the city of St. Louis, to the placing of such wires, tubes or cables upon the poles of said telegraph, telephone, electric light or power company, situated in the streets, alleys or public places named in such application, the board of public improvements is hereby authorized to grant a permit for such occupancy of the poles of such telegraph, telephone, electric light or power company, with such restrictions, regulations and qualifications as may be prescribed by said board, and under the supervision and to the satisfaction of the supervisor of city lighting.
Sec. 608. That whenever an alley is available for the placing of poles for the support of such wires, tubes or cables, the board of public improvements will advertise for five days previous to a day set for hearing objections or arguments in favor of placing the said poles in the alley. If, after due consideration, the board of public improvements are of the opinion
that the placing of poles for the purposes aforesaid is practicable, such poles shall be placed along said alley instead of along the street named in application. Where the poles are set in any alley they shall be located as near the side lines of the alley as practicable, and in such a manner as not to incommode the public or the adjoining proprietors or residents.
Sec. 609. The poles used as herein provided shall be of sound timber, not less than five inches in diameter, at the upper end, straight, shapely, and of uniform size, neatly planed or shaved, and thoroughly painted with two coats of lea and oil paint, of such color as may be directed by the board of public improvements, and be supplied with iron steps, commencing twelve feet from the surface of the ground and reaching to the arms supporting the wires, tubes or cables; said wires, tubes or cables shall be run at a height not less than twenty-five feet above the grade of the street. Whenever the poles are erected on a street they shall be placed, in all cases, when practicable, on the outer edge of the sidewalk, just inside the curbstone and on the line dividing the lots one from the other, and in no case be so placed as to obstruct the drainage of the streets, or interfere with or damage in any way the curbstones, trees or other public or private property on the line of the street or alley or public place where such pole shall be erected.
Sec. 610. Any person or persons, corporation or association, having made excavations in the streets, alleys or public places of the city of St. Louis for the purposes aforesaid, shall replace the streets, alleys or public places in such manner and in accordance with such regulations as may from time to time be prescribed by ordinance or by the board of public improvements, to the satisfaction of the street commissioners.
Sec. 611. The right is hereby reserved to the board of public improvements at any time to direct any alterations in the location of said poles, and also in the height at which the wires, tubes or cables shall run: but before any alteration is made, at least five days' notice in writing shall be given to the person or persons, or the president or the officer in charge of the company affected by the proposed alteration, and reasonable opportunity shall be afforded the representative of such company, or any citizen interested, to be heard in regard thereto. But when any such alteration shall be ordered, the said company shall within five days thereafter commence such alterations and complete the same as soon as practicable thereafter; and upon failure so to do, it shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and punished as hereafter provided.
Sec. 612. No person or persons, corporation or association, shall be entitled to any of the privileges conferred by this article, except upon the following conditions: That said person or persons, corporation or association, before
availing himself or itself of any of the rights or privileges granted by this article shall file with the city register his or its acceptance of all the terms of this article, and agree therein that he or it will file with the comptroller of the city, on the first days of January and July of each year, a statement of his or its gross receipts from his or its business arising from supplying electricity for light or power for the six months next preceding such statement, which shall be sworn to by such person or persons, or the president or secretary of such corporation or association; and further agree that he or it will, at the time of filing said statement with the comptroller, pay into the city treasury two and one-half per cent. on the amount of such gross receipts up to the year eighteen hundred ninety, and five per cent. on the amount of gross receipts thereafter. And said person or persons, or corporation or association, shall, at the time of filing said acceptance, also file with the city register his or its penal bond in the sum of twenty thousand dollars with two or more good and sufficient securities, to be approved by the mayor and council, conditioned that he or it will comply with all the conditions of this article, or any ordinance which may be hereafter passed, regulating the placing of wires, tubes, or cables in the streets and alleys for the purposes named therein; that he or it will comply with all the regulations made by the board of public improvements having reference to the subject embraced in this article or any ordinance herein named; that he or it will make the statements and payments required by the provisions of this section, and will save the city of St. Louis harmless and indemnified from all loss, costo r damage by reason of the exercise of any of the privileges granted by this article or any ordinance which may be hereafter passed relating to the subject-matter of this article.
Sec. 613. Any person or persons, corporation or association which, or any president, manager, superintendent or officer in charge of any corporation or association who shall violate or fail to comply with any of the provisions of this article, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, be fined not less than fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.
Sec. 614. The city reserves the right to alter, amend or repeal this article at any time.