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Full text of "What's the matter with New York; a national problem"

WHAT'S THE MATTER 
WITH NEW YORK 

NORMAN THOMAS 

AND 
PAUL BLANSHARD 



From the collection of the 




m 



v JJibrary 
t P 



San Francisco, California 
2006 




WHAT'S THE MATTER 
WITH NEW YORK 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW TOBK . BOSTON . CHICAGO . DALLAS 
ATLANTA . BAN FBANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED 

LONDON .BOMBAY . CALCmTA 

MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
OF CANADA, LIMITED 

TORONTO 




Reproduced by permission of 
Rollin Kirby and the New York World-Telegram. 

DESIGN FOR A MUNICIPAL FOUNTAIN 



WHAT'S 

THE MATTER WITH 
NEW YORK 

A NATIONAL PROBLEM 



NORMAN THOMAS 

AND 

PAUL BLANSHARD 



NEW YORK 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1932 



COPYRIGHT, 1932, 
NORMAN THOMAS AND PAUL BLANSHARD. 

All rights reserved no part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form without permission in writing 
from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes 
to quote brief passages in connection with a review 
written for inclusion in magazine or newspaper. 

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1932. 



SET UP BY BROWN BROTHERS LINOTYPERS 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 

BY THE FERRIS PRINTING COMPANY 



To 

SEVEN FUTURE CITIZENS OF NEW YORK 
W. T., M. T., F.T., R. T., E. T., P. B., JR., AND R. B. 

in the hope that they will live to be proud 
of their city 



PREFACE 

MORE years ago than he likes to remember one of the 
authors of this book it doesn't matter which returned 
for a brief visit to his native town with all the weight of 
a very recent college degree upon him plus the sophisti 
cation acquired from twelve whole months in the metrop 
olis. To this youth a shrewd old judge imparted infor 
mation that has stuck, although much else has been for 
gotten. "Boy," said he, "don't tell me that Tammany 
could teach us many tricks. Our small town politicians 
know them all. But the paving supply men do tell me our 
town has an honest council. When one of our Council- 
men contracts to deliver his vote he stays bought even if 
some late comer offers to raise him." 

The obvious moral of this tale is that we are not hold 
ing up New York City in this book as a sinner above all 
other American communities. Indeed, we suspect that 
the point of our story is that in essence it is typical. Ad 
mitting with proper humility that "New York isn't the 
United States," acknowledging that its sheer size alone 
gives it certain peculiar problems, accepting at its full value 
the good old American horror-not-unmixed with fascina 
tion at the very name of Tammany, we still affirm that 
there are dozens of cities, towns, and rural counties that do 
not need to go to school in the Wigwam in order to learn 

ix 



x PREFACE 

how to make politics pay politicians at what terrible cost 
to the community our chapters illustrate. 

But we do not, in this book, indulge in any detailed 
comparisons, odious or otherwise. That is one of many 
things that do not lie in the field we have marked out for 
ourselves. We indulge ourselves in a last chapter on the 
City of the Future, but we do not go at length into the 
question of the future of cities in the light of our progress 
in communication, transportation, and the distribution of 
electrical energy. We summarize the findings of the Sea- 
bury investigation, but we are not its official recorders, nor 
do we confine ourselves to its revelations and recommen 
dations. We discuss the place of structural changes in 
government in any program for a nobler city, but we do 
not seek to write a new charter for New York. We are 
Socialists, eager to make New York an example of effec 
tive municipal socialism, but we are not laying down a 
platform for a party. What we do is to try to give facts 
about the past and present of New York City government, 
and then to interpret those facts and to suggest what can 
be done about them. We cannot in every chapter remind 
the hoped-for reader what we beg him never to forget; 
namely, that behind the politics of New York lies the 
economics, the politics, the ethics of a sick acquisitive soci 
ety, drawing inexorably near to the end of its epoch. 

Yet, even in this day when not only cities but a whole 
social order groan and travail in pain, it seems to us well 
that we should understand the meaning and possibilities 



PREFACE xi 

for good or evil of the government which touches so inti 
mately the lives of the seven million people of many na 
tions and races, gathered from the North, the East, the 
South, and the West, who call New York home. 

How critical we are and why of government in New 
York, of its political machines, of its privileged classes, 
and its unprivileged masses the book must speak for 
itself. 

We criticize, not because we despair but because we 
hope. We who are not native New Yorkers would be less 
than honest and less than grateful if we did not acknowl 
edge the spell New York has laid upon us, the sense of 
living vitality which she imparts, and the good comrade 
ship which we have found within her borders. It is a city 
worth saving from the shame of economic exploitation 
and political corruption. It is a city, great masses of whose 
workers with hand and brain, for all their seeming apathy 
or cynicism or despair, deserve a government which will 
be theirs, rather than their exploiters. They will take a 
long step toward it when they begin to see the contrast 
between the shame that is our city's and the splendor that 
might be the crown of glory to all its sons and daughters. 

In a sense this book is a cooperative effort with several 
of our associates. We wish especially to express our deep 
indebtedness to two of those associates, Henry J. Rosner 
and E. Michael White, whose research underlies many of 
the most important chapters and whose critical comments 
have been invaluable. Our thanks are due also to H. Eliot 



xii PREFACE 

Kaplan for facts concerning the city's civil service and to 
Beatrice Mayer for patient and cheerful work upon the 
manuscript and index. 

Before we were halfway through the book it became 
evident that we could not record all of the important and 
exciting developments in New York's recent civic scandals 
without stretching the discussion to impossible lengths, 
and yet we were loath to omit any important events be 
cause we wanted to make this a reference book for writers 
and civic workers as well as a critical discussion for the 
general reader. We have made what seems to be a logi 
cal compromise by discussing the major scandals in detail 
and adding as Appendix I a "Calendar of Scandals during 
the Walker Administration" which lists without too great 
solemnity the major events in the reign of Jimmy the First 
will it be Jimmy the Last? 

N. T. 
P. B. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE vii 

1 
CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 1 

2 
HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 16 

3 
NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 44 

4 
MORE TIN BOXES 63 

J5 
GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 79 

6 
JUSTICES AND THE LAW 92 

7 
THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 111 

8 
THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 129 

9 

MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 155 

xiii 



XIV 



CONTENTS 



10 
ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 

11 
TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 

12 
CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 

13 
RACKETEERING IN LAND 

14 
HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 

15 
THE CONSUMER PAYS 

16 
THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 

17 
THE CITY MANAGER AND PROPORTIONAL 

REPRESENTATION 302 

18 
THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 314 

REFERENCES 327 

APPENDICES 

I. A CALENDAR OF SCANDALS DURING THE 

WALKER ADMINISTRATION 331 

II. THE SEABURY CHARGES AGAINST MAYOR 

WALKER 350 

INDEX 357 



WHAT'S THE MATTER 
WITH NEW YORK 



1 

CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 

WHEN James J. Walker resigned as mayor of New 
York on September 1, 1932, the event was important not 
only to the seven million people of the metropolis but 
to the seventy million people of America whose lives 
are now controlled by the governments of cities. New 
York presents in an exaggerated degree problems that 
are universal in a machine-age democracy. It is important 
in its own right because it contains in Wall Street the 
financial capital of America and because millions of Ameri 
cans are more or less culturally dependent on its news 
papers, magazines, and publishing houses. It is equally 
important as a large-scale model of the thing we call a 
city, a city with bosses, political machines, rackets, gang 
murders, franchises, aldermen, realtors and reformers. 

How desperately necessary it is to control these things 
we call cities is worthy of some consideration before we 
turn to New York's troubled affairs. The notion that that 
government is best which governs least was born in the 
country in an age of simple agriculture and handicraft 
arts. It can have no meaning in a modern city. However 
bad our city government is, it is indispensable to masses 
of workers who do not grow their own food or make their 

1 



2 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

own cloth but live housed in tenements, are fed by com 
plex processes under which the city is never far removed 
from hunger, who would die of thirst but for a city water 
system, and who are herded back and forth in city sub 
ways. Our health, certainly our protection from epidemic 
disease, depends far more on the city board of health 
than upon the best family doctor. The education of our 
children is in the main a city function. So is our protec 
tion from fire and theft. The courts of the people are city 
courts, with little chance of appeal to the august tribunals 
in Albany and Washington. And in these bitter years of 
depression hundreds of thousands of American workers 
have learned that if they are to escape from the starvation 
of unemployment it is primarily the city upon which they 
must depend. Few of us can do for ourselves what the 
city government does for us collectively. 

New York has a peculiar need of a strong and efficient 
government because it is so artificial a creature of the 
machine age. Its economic as well as its political life 
depend upon collective control, and in many cases that 
control is national. It is an overhead city feeding upon 
the hinterland. The centripetal forces that hold it to 
gether are felt in San Diego, Key West, Seattle, and 
Bangor. Its political boundary lines are little more than 
signposts past which the automobiles whiz. A great part 
of its population pours out of the skyscrapers at night to 
sleep in neighboring states and completely ignore the civic 
problems of the metropolis. Incidentally, it can be said 
that so artificial a city may not have a stable future. What 



CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 3 

the machine has created the machine may destroy. The 
necessity for concentration which created the great city 
in the first place is now being destroyed by the telephone, 
the telegraph, the radio, the motor bus, and the airplane. 
Prophets like Frank Lloyd Wright think that the city is 
doomed. Stuart Chase warns us that modern science has 
made the great city a place of danger in time of peace and 
war because of the peril of broken gas mains and aerial 
attacks. 

Whatever the machine age may do to the city its im 
portance in national life is bound to grow because of 
another factor. It has become the frontier of the struggle 
between organized capital and the forces of social change. 
In Russia under the leadership of a remarkable group of 
intellectuals, the city proletariat has not only overthrown 
the old order in the city but has carried to a bewildered 
and often reluctant countryside a coercive gospel of social 
ist salvation. So the city which to the shepherd and peas 
ant has always been the symbol and home of a predatory 
culture appears in a new role as the pioneer of a system 
that challenges old acquisitive standards. 

In America we have not come yet to anything resem 
bling the revolutionary organization of the city proletariat 
of Europe, but it would be foolish to disregard the possi 
bility. New York is worth studying not only as a sample 
of civic failure but as a possible cradle of economic revolt. 
As yet its working class is unbelievably docile, but the 
fourth successive winter of unemployment may not leave 
it so. 



4 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

At present neither proletariat nor intelligentsia is much 
interested in city government. Forty per cent of the Amer 
ican voters do not bother to go to the polls at all. When 
Walker resigned as mayor of New York the one organi 
zation that defended him most warmly was the Central 
Trades and Labor Council of the American Federation of 
Labor through its president, Joseph P. Ryan! Among the 
intelligentsia it is smart to be cynical concerning all forms 
of democracy and especially local democracy. A man who 
discusses intelligently the color line in South Africa and 
the freedom of India will consider a street-car franchise 
in Brooklyn beneath his mental range, and he will be posi 
tively disgraced if any one asks him to run for alderman. 
His attitude toward city investigations is that they are 
amusing and worthless exhibitions of human ignorance. 

Well, are investigations worthless? We believe they 
are not, and we think that it will be worth while to look 
back a moment at some of New York's great investiga 
tions. 

George Washington Plunkitt, a famous old Tammany 
district leader who operated a bootblack stand in front of 
the New York County Court House about 1900, once said: 
"There's an honest graft, and I'm an example of how it 
works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin': I seen 
my opportunities and I took 'em." 1 

Never did one slogan express better the history of New 
York political machines since the year 1789 when Tam 
many was founded. An old Tammany song quoted by 



CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 5 

M. R. Werner in his Tammany Hall summed it up 
phonetically: 

Tammany, Tammany 
Swamp 'em, swamp 'em 
Get the wampum 
Taammanee! 2 

Of late years, particularly while Al Smith was running 
for president, an effort has been made to throw a cloak 
of gentility about the early activities of Tammany. An 
egregious paper-bound history of the society has been put 
out which omits or distorts everything that a history 
should tell. The truth is that Tammany always has been 
a center of corruption and it has never reformed. It has 
on occasion modified its methods in the face of public 
indignation but as soon as the public indignation has 
cooled down it has gone as far as the law would permit. 
(Strictly speaking, Tammany is confined to Manhattan, but 
we shall frequently use the word in its popular sense to 
describe the Democratic organizations in Greater New 
York.) 

The founder of Tammany, an upholsterer named Wil 
liam Mooney, who had been charged with deserting the 
American army and joining the British during the Revo 
lutionary War, spent nearly $4,000 of city money in addi 
tion to his salary on his family and himself in the year 
1809, and was removed from office. Like Sheriff Tom 
Farley in 1932, his standing with Tammany was not 
affected by his removal for he was later chosen a Grand 



6 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Sachem of the society for several terms. From that day to 
this Tammany has fought every investigation by legisla 
ture or grand jury, and has welcomed back into its ranks 
the discharged convicts and the dismissed officers. Aaron 
Burr was the first real leader of Tammany, and did much 
to shape its permanent policies. 

Looking back on the story of New York's great scandals 
one can understand why Lord Bryce once remarked that 
city government is the great failure of American democ 
racy, and why H. G. Wells, when he visited Chicago many 
years ago, said: "I would as soon go to live in a pen in 
a stockyard as into American politics." Yet the story in 
retrospect is not one of despair. Waves of reform have 
been followed by waves of reaction, but each reform 
movement has wrought some permanent improvement in 
the life of the city. We may take, for example, the last 
five investigations or drives against New York corruption, 
the fight of The Times against Tweed in 1870, the fight 
of Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst and the Lexow Committee 
against police corruption in 1894, the exposure of Croker 
by the Mazet Committee in 1899, the Meyer investigation 
in Hylan's administration, and the Seabury investigation 
in Walker's. Only one of these investigations, the Meyer 
inquiry, failed to produce appreciable results in improving 
the city's life. Every one of them would have succeeded 
more completely except for the fact that the organized and 
bitter opposition of Tammany was supported by wealthy 
business interests. 

The fight against William Marcy Tweed was led by 



CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 7 

George Jones, editor of The Times, with the able assist 
ance of Harper's Weekly and the famous cartoonist, 
Thomas Nast. Jones was bitterly attacked by the Tweed 
newspapers as an Englishman and the husband of an 
actress, and all of Harper's books were barred from the 
public schools. While he was stealing about a million 
dollars a month from the city, six of the wealthiest men in 
New York, headed by John Jacob Astor, gave Tweed a 
certificate of character for which it is alleged that their 
taxes were reduced. 3 Jay Gould advanced a million 
dollars as bail to free Tweed from jail, whereupon 
Tammany renominated and reflected him to the State 
Senate. 

But in spite of his wealthy friends Tweed died in Lud- 
low Street jail and his dapper boy-friend, Mayor A. Oakey 
Hall, the 1870 counterpart of Jimmy Walker, was thor 
oughly disgraced. It is true that only one man, Tweed 
himself, was convicted as a result of the great scandal, but 
the Tweed Ring was broken up, two of the Tweed Ring 
judges, Albert Cardozo and George Barnard, resigned or 
were removed, and reformers learned how to expose some 
of Tammany's favorite devices for theft. After Tweed's 
death some of the crudest forms of looting the public 
treasury were abandoned, and Tammany thereafter cen 
tered its attention on exploiting private citizens for city 
service and protection. 

Such exploitation in the underworld reached its climax 
in the nineties during the great depression of Cleveland's 
second administration. (Perhaps there is a connection be- 



8 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

tween civic conscience and financial failure.) Prostitution 
in those days was open and widespread in New York, 
especially on the lower East Side, and the Rev. Charles H. 
Parkhurst, pastor of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian 
Church, who was also president of the Society for the Pre 
vention of Crime, discovered that an organized system of 
bribery existed under which the police collected millions 
in tribute for failure to enforce the law. Parkhurst began 
thundering from his pulpit in 1892, at a time when Croker 
was in temporary retirement in Ireland, and he kept thun 
dering until the business men became disturbed and the 
Chamber of Commerce persuaded the legislature to ap 
point the Lexow investigating committee. 

Parkhurst, who is still alive, has been described so often 
as a mere vice crusader that his non-Puritan aspects have 
been almost forgotten. He could swear most effectively in 
ecclesiastical language "the polluted harpies that under 
the pretense of governing this city, are feeding day and 
night on its quivering vitals. They are a lying, perjured, 
rum-soaked and libidinous lot" * but Lincoln Steffens has 
pointed out that he was a shrewd leader, "wise" to politics 
in the suggestive sense of that word. Certainly he knew 
how to dramatize his fight. He put on a pair of checked 
black and white trousers, hired a detective for six dollars 
a day and expenses, and went out to see the underworld 
for himself. His stories, told from the pulpit, forced the 
Lexow inquiry which, on the basis of three million words 
of testimony, disclosed a regular system of police inter 
ference at the polls and police payments from disorderly 



CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 9 

houses. The facts played an important part in destroying 
organized prostitution in New York and ultimately in 
bringing the voting machine. 

It remained for the Mazet inquiry of 1899 to lay before 
the public the spoils system of Tammany. Republican Boss 
Platt forced the inquiry. Croker was the star of that 
inquiry. His answers on the witness stand set a record 
in frankness, and accordingly in the education of the pub 
lic. The audience at that inquiry when Croker testified 
behaved very much like the cheering Tammany henchmen 
who applauded Mayor Walker when he testified before 
Seabury, but the reaction of the newspaper-reading public 
was sharply hostile. Croker for the first time laid bare 
the modified methods of Tammany in winning "honest 
graft." "If you can show me," he shouted at Counsel 
Frank Moss, "where I have taken a dollar from this city 
you can cut that right arm off." 

Moss could not show how Croker had taken city funds 
directly, but he proceeded to show how Croker as an auc 
tioneer and contractor made money by getting contracts 
which his puppet city officers had the power to grant. One 
passage from Croker's testimony has become classic as the 
Tammany credo: 

Q. Let us see if my deductions are correct. The judges 
appointed by Tammany Hall appoint referees, who, in line 
with their party obligations, appoint auctioneers. . . . And 
it is the duty of those auctioneers 

A. That referee is appointed by the judge, and he ap 
points whatever auctioneer he pleases. 

Q. But if that referee is a good Tammany man, he should 



10 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

appoint an auctioneer who is in line with the party, should 
he not, as a part of the patronage? 

A. It all depends on the kind of a Tammany man he is. 

Q. If he appoints your firm he does a good party act, does 
he not? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Why? If he appoints your firm he does a good party 
act, you say. Now, I ask you why does he do a good party 
act when he appoints your firm? 

A. Well, all things being equal, he has a right to do it. 
He is a Democrat himself and he ought to appoint Demo 
crats. 

Q. And he ought to do that thing which puts into your 
pocket money, because you are a Democrat too? 

A. Yes, sir. . . . 

Q. Then you are working for your own pocket, are you 
not? 

A. All the time; the same as you. 6 

The big corporations of Croker's day did business with 
him as the big corporations of to-day do business with our 
present Tammany officials. The Manhattan Elevated Rail 
road Co. gave his trucking company favors just as the 
North German Lloyd gave $50,000 to a Tammany lawyer 
in 1930 for a pier lease because it was cheaper to do that 
than to fight. 

After the Mazet inquiry the City Club issued a pamphlet 
in which it said mournfully: "Ground is not wanting for 
the belief that the power of Mr. Croker is sustained, 
directly and indirectly by 'respectable and prominent citi 
zens' who believe that it is better to uphold the bosses 
than to 'imperil the interests, perhaps those of widows and 
orphans, committed to their charge.' In other words the 



CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 11 

theory is that a citizen is justified, when acting as a direc 
tor, or as the manager of a company in 'doing business* 
with a political machine, however corrupt and however 
dangerous to the state." We shall encounter that same 
theory again and again in the evidence of business men 
before Judge Seabury in 1932. 

Although the Seabury inquiry has not yet been com 
pleted as this book goes to press, its accomplishments have 
already been substantial. It has not only destroyed an 
organized vice ring that had developed a new form of 
extortion, and brought about the removal or resignation of 
many magistrates, police officers, and a mayor, but it has 
so aroused public opinion that a reconstruction of the city 
charter giving representation to minority parties may be 
the final outcome. 

As we look back over the history of New York City 
investigations we cannot help but conclude that investiga 
tions do get results. The Tweed prosecutions stopped the 
worst forms of direct robbery of city funds; the Lexow 
investigation did much to destroy organized prostitution; 
the Mazet inquiry made elections more honest and ex 
posed the Tammany machine to public gaze; the Seabury 
investigation may yet give us proportional representation, 
and it has accomplished many minor changes which we 
shall discuss in later chapters. 

The greatest weakness of all New York's investigations 
has been their short-lived effect. "These reform move 
ments are like queen hornets," said an East Side gangster 
whom Werner quotes. "They sting you once and then 



12 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

they die." Even when "they sting you once," the sting is 
fatal to only a few victims. Of all the big men of Tam 
many exposed by Judge Seabury only Sheriff Farley and 
Mayor Walker were forced out of office. Tammany has 
not only succeeded in protecting most of its own but it has 
quickly come back to power after every exposure. It was 
defeated at the polls in 1871 after the Tweed scandals 
and then came back into power three years later. William 
L. Strong, the reform mayor elected after the Lexow in 
quiry, lasted two years and then gave place to one of 
Tammany's worst tools, Robert A. Van Wyck. Seth Low, 
president of Columbia, served one term as mayor after the 
Mazet inquiry and then yielded to Tammany's choice, 
George B. McClellan. 

The cynic may say that these spasms of reform were 
useless, but the fact remains that the quality of municipal 
service in New York has immensely improved since the 
days of Tweed and the constant fight for reform has 
played a real part in that improvement. The failure to 
defeat Tammany permanently has been due not so much 
to the failure of investigations as to a particular weakness 
of reform groups. They are unwilling to face the fact 
that only a party machine can defeat a party machine. 
They either vote the Republican ticket or put a "fusion" 
liberal mayor in place of a Tammany scoundrel and then 
walk away and leave him, convinced that their victory is 
proof of the wisdom of non-partisanship in elections. 
Three or four years later the Tammany machine is back 
in power again. 



CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 13 

One striking example of the naivete of most civic re 
formers was the acclaim given to Joseph V. McKee when 
he succeeded Walker as mayor in September, 1932. Be 
cause McKee immediately made some drastic cuts in city 
waste he was hailed as a city savior. The Seabury inquiry 
had just revealed that the real trouble with New York 
was its control by a corrupt Democratic machine. McKee 
had been a faithful member of that machine, and had 
voted for the Equitable bus franchise and the salary 
grabs. He said after assuming office: "I am an organiza 
tion Democrat, always have been, and always will be." 
Yet this was the man hailed by many newspapers and 
realty groups as the coming redeemer of the city. 

One mistake of the reformers is their willingness to 
believe that the Republican machine wants reform any 
more than Tammany does. Boss Platt was willing to use 
a reformer to beat Croker, but one term of reform was 
enough for him. He declared that for the doctrine of 
non-partisanship in local elections he had "the sincerest 
and profoundest contempt." He knifed Seth Low in the 
mayoralty fight of 1897 and threw the election to Tam 
many's Van Wyck. The same thing will happen over 
again if reformers trust to the Republican Party to give 
them any permanent relief from the abuses of corrupt 
machine rule. And there is a certain justification for this 
contempt of non-partisan groups. Their results are never 
permanent. 

Theoretically perhaps we might imagine a city of 
seven million people voting wisely regardless of party. 



14 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

In practical life the picture is impossible. A little reflec 
tion compels us to expect what the history of modern times 
in every country confirms ; that politics is and must be an 
occupation requiring time, an exacting avocation if not a 
full-time profession. The more complex a community is 
the greater is the need of the unifying influence of a politi 
cal party. And a political machine is not necessarily 
evil. What makes New York's political machine evil is 
the purpose it serves and the way it serves it. 

Democracy, in brief, requires government by parties 
because the citizens are too numerous, too ill-informed 
and too preoccupied to come together spontaneously to 
choose the policies and leaders they wish to prevail. Polit 
ical machinery has to be worked. The parties work it. Or, 
slightly to change the figure, political government, espe 
cially in modern times, is an engine which cannot be kept 
going by volunteer stokers and late October bonfires. 
Your professional politicians are the stokers. Nor need 
the term "politician" be one of opprobrium. A man who 
organizes other men in a political group for a high social 
purpose may be one of the nation's most useful citizens. 
This is not, of course, to disparage non-partisan action by 
civic groups to win the support of all parties for intelli 
gent measures of reconstruction. One of the chief sources 
of strength of the City Affairs Committee is that it stands 
for no party or candidate, but for measures that any 
progressive party or candidate should support. 

One more defect is outstanding in all the investigations 
of New York. They do not plumb deep enough into the 



CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 15 

underlying economic base of Tammany's power. The 
power of every urban democratic machine in this country 
could be traced back to an urban plutocracy if the inves 
tigators had the will and the understanding to do it. 
Tammany is an organization for private profit existing in 
a business system operated for private profit and the two 
cannot be separated. If Tammany did not exist some 
other machine would rise to take its place, since the own 
ing class in this country needs political brokers to carry 
out its will. 

The proof of this statement is in the facts that this 
book sets forth. We hope that before we are through the 
reader will agree with us that the roots of civic corruption 
in American life lie deep in a predatory economic system 
and that the fight for clean government is only one battle 
in the larger struggle for a just social order. 



2 
HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 

A TEACHER in a school in an outlying region in New 
York reports that he has a bright class. He asked the boys 
how they would go about getting a new sewer laid an 
important question in that district. At once they told him: 
"We'd get a petition signed by the property holders and 
then we'd go to see the district leader." Surely a much 
more realistic answer than they could have made by 
memorizing the Constitution of the United States and 
familiarizing themselves with that strange jumble of laws 
which the charter of New York City has become. Almost 
any textbook will anatomize for you the legal skeleton of 
the body politic; very few will tell you what breathes into 
it the breath of life and sets it moving. Some textbooks, 
the ones used in New York public schools for instance, 
purport to describe city government without even men 
tioning Tammany Hall. 

The fundamentals of New York's legal structure are 
simple. New York, like all American cities, is a creature 
of the state. Its powers are derived from the legislature, 
not the sovereign people. Despite the growing sentiment 
for home rule and an alleged home rule act, the state can 
and does interfere with the city by means of all sorts of 

16 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 17 

mandatory laws. Very few of the items of a program of 
municipal socialism for New York could be carried out 
without running to Albany. A legislature in which up 
state rural counties are disproportionately represented 
could, if it so desired, rip up the whole city government. 
A governor of New York can on charges remove the 
mayor and the borough presidents although the mayor 
nominally administers a budget almost three times the 
size of the state budget and usually exercises far more sig 
nificant power over the life and well-being of its people 
than any governor. 

This rule of New York City by New York State is one 
of those anachronisms which survive in America because 
we treat historical accidents as sacred. The boundary lines 
of the state, running northward as they do near the Hud 
son River, and stopping at the southern tip of Manhattan 
Island, cut off New York City from the Jersey, Pennsyl 
vania and Connecticut hinterland of which it is a natural 
part. The tying of New York City with its distinctive 
urban problems to the vast and conservative rural area of 
up-state New York permits the conservative Republicans 
to play the countryside against the city. If the arrange 
ment worked for intelligent and progressive legislation 
and the destruction of Tammany, it might be excusable, 
but in practice the Republicans at Albany are more re 
actionary on questions of social legislation than the Demo 
crats. They thwart every forward movement toward un 
employment insurance, municipal housing and the better 
regulation of power companies. 



18 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

As everybody knows, the present City of New York was 
created in the year 1897 by uniting the great cities of New 
York and Brooklyn and the scattered villages of Staten 
Island (Richmond County) and Queens County, Long 
Island. The new city took in four counties. These were 
not consolidated. On the contrary, a fifth county, Bronx, 
was created. Bronx was a separate borough from the be 
ginning of Greater New York; the other boroughs were 
coterminous with the counties. Of course the counties 
have the full or more than the full complement of 
courts, sheriffs, recorders, and the like, all of them sup 
ported by the city budget but none of them legally sub 
ject to city control. Aside from the function of giving 
jobs to faithful friends of the political machine, the 
counties have lost all meaning. They survive because of 
institutional inertia and Tammany obstruction to reform. 

The official government of New York can be seen on 
almost any Friday in the winter time by visiting the cham 
ber of the Board of Estimate in that little gem of architec 
ture nestled in the shadow of the Woolworth Building, 
the City Hall. The name of the official government is the 
Board of Estimate and Apportionment. The visitor who 
arrived there about 11 o'clock on a Friday morning during 
the Walker administration and waited until 12 would see 
seven men stroll in behind the dapper mayor and take 
their seats behind a large semi-circular desk on a plat 
form. The mayor without any apology for being an hour 
late would begin proceedings by saying through his loud 
speaker: "Call the roll." The clerk would call "Mayor, 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 19 

Controller, President of the Board of Aldermen, President 
of the Borough of Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens 
and Richmond." These are the men who are elected every 
four years to govern the city. Three of them, the Mayor, 
the Controller, and the President of the Board of Alder 
men, are elected at large by the whole city, and they each 
have three of the board's 16 votes. The borough presi 
dents are elected by each borough and their votes vary, 
the Manhattan and Brooklyn presidents having two votes 
each, and the others one. 

At most meetings of the Board of Estimate the borough 
presidents are mere figureheads. Often they send substi 
tutes to represent them except when a borough crisis 
arises. Otherwise they sit sleepily waiting for the clock 
to creep to 1:30 when they can go out to a two-hour lunch 
and transact their important political business. We do not 
recall in our experience at Board of Estimate meetings a 
single instance of a comment on any problem by a borough 
president which showed any careful study of a city-wide 
situation. The borough presidents sit on the board 
frankly for logrolling purposes to get all available appro 
priations and patronage for their boroughs. 

Yet this semicircle of sleepy-eyed politicians with a 
weary showman in the middle is one of the most pow 
erful governments in the world, reckoned in the dollars 
which it spends and the citizens it controls. It affects 
the life of the average New Yorker much more than the 
Congress at Washington or the Assembly of the League 
of Nations and one reason why it is such a tragic failure 



20 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

is that the average New Yorker never stops to realize this 
fact. It is the only legislative body in New York City 
with any real power. Nominally it shares its power with 
the Board of Aldermen, a body of 65 local politicians 
chosen by Tammany and affiliated bodies, but actually 
this Board of Aldermen has little power and uses less. 
It meets once a week for an hour in cool weather and 
rushes through an approval of the actions of the Board of 
Estimate. It can and does change the names of streets. It 
can help to pay itself good salaries. Each alderman for 
his hour a week receives $5,000 a year and is aided in his 
deliberations by the protective care of eleven sergeants-at- 
arms who receive $26,520 a year. The Board of Aldermen 
is one house of the Municipal Assembly and the Board 
of Estimate is the other, but only the Board of Estimate 
can initiate the budget and the Board of Aldermen cannot 
increase it. 

One reason why the Board of Aldermen is so inept is 
that there is almost no opposition in it to Tammany rule. 
It includes 64 rubber-stamp Democrats and one voluble 
Republican. It has amounted to less than nothing since 
the period several years ago when a delegation of Socialist 
aldermen made it a platform for some penetrating com 
ments on New York City government. 

The same statement could be made concerning the 
ineptness of the Board of Estimate. Tammany has no 
political opposition in the board. Borough President 
Harvey of Queens, nominally Republican, is as docile as 
a kitten. Controller Berry fights Mayor Walker because 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 21 

he has political ambitions and because he represents the 
Smith wing of the party, but he too must pull his punches 
in a crisis, for Tammany has the power to destroy him. 
The only colorful fighter on the Board of Estimate in 
recent years has been Berry's substitute, Deputy Controller 
Frank J. Prial, and he has caused Mayor Walker sufficient 
trouble to make the public appreciate what one deter 
mined critic in the inner circles may mean to the tax 
payers. 

The mayor who presides over the Board of Estimate is 
a person of vast powers. He appoints the executive heads 
of the city departments, the masters of police, fire, correc 
tion, charity, health, hospitals, sanitation, docks, tenement 
houses, parks and playgrounds. He appoints also the 
magistrates and the judges of the Court of Special Ses 
sions, and the judges of the Children's Courts, and the 
members of the Board of Education, and the majority of 
the members of the Board of Standards and Appeals 
although he cannot remove magistrates. If he is a Tam 
many man (and he usually is) then the Tammany brand is 
on every department and loyalty to Tammany is the con 
dition of appointment. 

The controller is the next most powerful city officer to 
the mayor. He is the city's chief financial officer although 
he does not draw up the budget that is left nominally 
to the Director of the Budget, Charles L. Kohler, an old- 
time Tammany district leader. The borough presidents 
have as their chief prerogative the control of roads, sewers 
and building permits in their own boroughs, a rich source 



22 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

of patronage. The wisdom of this borough form of gov 
ernment we shall discuss later. Here we may point out the 
anomaly of having five sewer departments in five different 
boroughs and one water department for the whole city; 
five building bureaus and one Tenement House Depart 
ment; five highway departments and one Board of Sanita 
tion to keep the streets clean. 

Such in outline is the structure of New York's official 
government. It does immense business. Its budget for the 
fiscal year 1931 was $621,000,000. It carries 142,650 per 
sons on its payrolls. It has developed an elaborate civil 
service and has in some of its departments experts, almost 
unknown to the general public, who would be an orna 
ment to any community. 

But the real government of New York does not func 
tion at City Hall. It functions at many district clubhouses 
throughout the city, and at the county Democratic head 
quarters. 

The four most powerful rulers of New York govern 
ment are the four Democratic bosses of the four large 
boroughs, John F. Curry in Manhattan, John H. McCooey 
in Brooklyn, John Theofel in Queens, and Edward J. 
Flynn in Bronx. When, in September, 1932, it became 
necessary to decide whether Mayor Walker should run 
again for mayor, the press and the whole city recognized 
that the real decision lay in the hands of these four men. 
Here was a city of seven million people choosing its chief 
magistrate through four men, not one of whom has ever 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 23 

shown any great intellectual or business distinction, not 
one of whom would be chosen by any great corporation, 
school, or newspaper to direct its destinies. 

The reason for this singular spectacle at least it would 
appear singular if we had not become so utterly accus 
tomed to it is that New York is ruled by a closely knit 
predatory machine whose methods are quite familiar 
in every large city in America. The machine is based 
solidly upon the common man's self-interest plus the con 
trol of the powers that will satisfy that interest. 

Murray Seasongood, formerly Mayor of Cincinnati and 
now president of the National Municipal League, sums up 
the matter thus: "It is assumed that every one wants some 
thing. Even the strictly honorable want honors. In the 
list of illegitimate favors are to be counted; unconscion 
able grants to public utilities; undeserved deposits to 
friendly banks; low valuation for taxation to large cor 
porations and individuals with a pull; a complaisant 
building inspector; delinquent taxes allowed to remain 
delinquent; appropriation for public purposes of property 
no longer desired by the owner at a price far in excess of 
actual value. For the less powerful, there are grants of 
market or parking privileges, poor relief, indigent soldier 
burials, taking care of traffic citations, lending dogs from 
the dog pound, and so on down to the right of unmolested 
profitable street-begging." * 

To which we may add that in our experience we have 
never seen any pushcart peddler essentially more obse- 



24 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

quious to Tammany in the height of Jimmy Walker's 
power than representatives of some of the great Mer 
chant's Associations which wanted something. 

Under the Tammany system the place where men go 
when they want something is the district clubhouse pre 
sided over by the district leader. Behind a desk in this 
clubhouse the leader sits for several hours almost every 
night in the year while petitioning citizens interview him. 
They want city jobs or excuses from jury duty, or peddlers' 
licenses, or mercy from a local magistrate. The district 
leader hears their stories and reaches a decision. If he 
agrees to do something, the arrangement is colloquially 
called a "contract." It is not necessarily based on any 
direct payment to the leader or even a pledge to vote the 
Democratic ticket. The leader takes it for granted that 
when he gives favors to people they will support him 
politically. He is always on the lookout to secure young 
followers to work for the machine on promise of promo 
tion to a good job if they are faithful. "Better join my 
club," said a district leader recently to one of our young 
Socialist friends. "I can give a bright future to a young 
man like you and I need somebody who can read and 
write." 

The leader's income is derived partly from the dues of 
his club and partly from a city salary for some sinecure, 
but mostly from the kind of commissions and direct graft 
which we shall describe in the next two chapters. Before 
the Seabury inquiry began Professor Joseph McGoldrick 
of Columbia, who is an authority on New York's govern- 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 25 

ment, said that "a gross return of $100,000 a year is 
probably fairly common" for the Tammany district leader, 
and the inquiry proved that his estimate was modest. 2 

Roughly speaking, a political district corresponds to an 
assembly or aldermanic district. 

The Republicans and Democrats usually maintain at 
least one clubhouse in each district, although the Repub 
lican clubs have been going bankrupt in the lean years of 
the depression at an alarming rate. Each district has its 
Democratic and its Republican leader, who are usually 
friends, except at election time, and even then ready to 
unite against the Socialists. The Republican and Demo 
cratic leaders need each other. Powerful as the Demo 
cratic leader is, one of his constituents or clients may have 
some trouble about a passport or the admission of a rela 
tive at Ellis Island or bootlegging or an income tax case 
which the Republican leader presumably is in better posi 
tion to care for when the Republican party is in control at 
Washington. What is simpler than for the leaders to 
meet and exchange "contracts"! The Republican leaders, 
however, are greatly handicapped by the rule that a Fed 
eral employee cannot actively take part in politics. Main 
taining a Republican machine on a strictly amateur basis 
is a difficult task in opposition to a Tammany machine 
which may directly or indirectly affect the choice of 600 
job-holders in each political district. 

The district leaders are the governing oligarchy in each 
county and they choose the Currys, McCooeys, Theofels 
and Flynns. Curry, boss of Manhattan, was elected by the 



26 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

district leaders by a very close vote, and he acts accord 
ingly. The cherubic-faced McCooey of Brooklyn has a 
grand machine and is able to do marvelously well for all 
his relatives, but he has to respect his district leaders and 
his fellow county bosses, notably Curry of Tammany, and 
he does not forget it. There is no one boss to-day in 
New York of the dimensions of Croker or even Murphy. 
Each county boss is only primus inter pares, and he knows 
it. 

There is not even, technically speaking, a city-wide 
political machine, Democratic or Republican. The county 
is the unit and technically, Tammany is confined to Man 
hattan. Its commanding position in the alliance of five 
Democratic machines is due to its age and prestige, and its 
control of the borough which, though no longer the most 
populous, is still the center of wealth and civic activity. 
Tammany proved its power, when with the all-important 
help of Al Smith who later regretted his choice it sup 
planted Hylan of Brooklyn with Walker of Broadway in 
1925. Since then Walker's fortunes and Tammany's have 
been closely intertwined. 

But it should not be supposed that because Tammany is 
dominant in the Democratic organization to-day it will 
always remain so. Flynn of the Bronx has been backing 
Roosevelt consistently, and McKee is Flynn's protege. If 
McCooey should join forces with Flynn New York might 
see a real war in the Democratic Party. It would be a war 
without principles, solely for personal advantage. 

The district-leader government maintains a nominally 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 27 

democratic form. The party members in each county 
choose a county committee an immense affair which in 
Manhattan numbers over 5,000 people and this county 
committee chooses a County Executive Committee of 
about 30 district leaders who really run the government of 
the borough. The County Executive Committee has two 
very important subcommittees which are inner circles of 
wisdom and power, the Steering Committee and the Law 
Committee, referred to in popular parlance as the War 
Board. The county leaders like Curry and McCooey are 
chosen by the district leaders of the executive com 
mittee. 

Above this official party hierarchy is the window-dress 
ing of the Tammany Society itself, which is a fraternal 
order having 13 sachems and an annual celebration on 
the 4th of July. Nominally, Tammany Hall, the popular 
name for the Democratic organization in Manhattan, is 
separate from the Tammany Society. Actually the separa 
tion is a legal fiction and both are controlled by the same 
group. When a crisis occurs, the big official limousines 
with city-paid chauffeurs roll up of an evening to Tam 
many Hall on 17th Street and Union Square and the dis 
trict leaders, and sometimes the sachems, put their heads 
together in the inner sanctum where the dour-faced Curry 
sits beside a desk with a silver-framed portrait of Alfred 
E. Smith upon it. Here mayors, judges and governors are 
made and unmade. 

The one thing that a district leader must always do is 
to control the primaries in his district. This depends not 



28 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

only on his skill in dispensing all sorts of favors but on 
his success in holding his precinct leaders in line. These 
precinct leaders get out the vote at elections, and what is 
more important for the machine, at primaries. It doesn't 
take many votes in a precinct to win the ordinary primary. 
The precinct captain can always count on his own old 
guard, the 600 officeholders in each district, the grateful 
recipients of favors, personal friends and relatives. Before 
the non-partisan reformer is aware of what has happened, 
the nominations of both old parties are completed and he 
is left to protest in futility, especially if the Socialist Party 
is too "radical" for him and he shrinks from the party 
label. Only in the rare event of a well-organized attack 
by a rival aspirant to power in the organization, or the 
still rarer event of a popular uprising does the district 
leader need to worry. Political death comes with failure 
to carry a precinct or a district in the primary. To lose 
your district in an election may be forgiven Mr. Curry, at 
least once, has openly and successfully supported an oppo 
nent of a leader who failed to carry his district but to 
lose your district in a primary is political suicide. 

We have said that the power of the political machine 
rests upon its ability to give all sorts of people something. 
That something has almost infinite variety. It shades from 
legitimate and kindly service to men and women, bewil 
dered by the complexity of the city, to highly illegitimate 
service to some favored contractor, landowner, or criminal 
with a pull whose case must be fixed. Government even 
in its more serviceable aspects is still a fearsome thing to 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 29 

the average man and he looks around as from time im 
memorial for a friend and protector. This the district 
leader or one of his lieutenants is. Nor is he usually anx 
ious to tell his constituent that he does not always need 
his intervention with the lower courts and the various city 
boards. Your typical politician is always ready to claim 
credit for unnecessary services. 

Much is sometimes said of the political machine espe 
cially Tammany as a great benevolent organization. 
Actually it is generous with other people's money. It does 
not forget its own coffers. A typical district leader 
never gives away anything of his own, unless it is his time, 
and even for that he is well repaid. The main reliance 
of a district leader is the favors he can get from the city 
administration which he helped to put and keep in office. 
His own largesse, such as the spectacular gifts of the old 
Sullivan clan at the holiday season, or the outings of a 
Tom Farley association, are secondary. Even they are paid 
for out of the pickings of the leader which he derives as 
perquisites of his power. 

Religious and national fellowship also tends to 
strengthen Tammany, which is led by Irish Catholics, who 
cleverly play for the cooperation of conservative Jewish 
voters and usually get it. The radical Jewish voters are 
the most intelligent and hopeful group in the city but 
they by no means constitute a majority of Jewish citizens. 
Tammany's methods of religious allottment we shall dis 
cuss later. Suffice it to say here that Tammany is very 
wise in its appeals to religious and racial feeling. "Po- 



30 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

litical leaders of each faith," says Prof. Joseph McGold- 
rick, "attend the functions of all. Goldfogle marches in 
the St. Patrick's Day parade. Walker and McCooey at 
tend the Purim ball. Smith issues a message of greeting 
at Rosh Hoshannah. The P. V. McCarren Club last year 
distributed $2,000 worth of matzoths." 

The Protestants are not so effective in New York poli 
tics because they are divided and because there are not so 
many of them as Catholics or Jews. The Catholics and 
Jews combined outnumber the Protestants six to one. 
Greater New York has 1,734,000 Catholics and 1,765,000 
Jews, but only a little more than half a million Protestants. 
Of course, these statistics are for church membership only. 
Almost half of the people of New York do not belong 
to any church. 

The faithful servants of a district leader are promoted 
on a systematic basis. At least twenty members of the 
average district club have good paying city jobs. The 
humble but all-important precinct leaders are given minor 
clerkships or those famous sinecures, the corporation in 
spectorships, which entail no work and may bring pay 
from both the city and the corporations "inspected." The 
youngest and most unimportant lawyers are sent to the 
State Assembly where the pay is low, only $1,500, and the 
frequent absences from the city inconvenient. The next 
highest office for the faithful is that of alderman which 
pays $5,000 a year but which is usually reserved for the 
docile and the stupid as a position in which any brilliance 
would be an embarrassment to the party. Above these 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 31 

lower orders come the big commissionerships and chief 
clerkships with salaries above $5,000, which the district 
leaders themselves take as side lines. Above these come 
the judgeships and the borough presidencies, all con 
trolled by the same bosses. The ownership of the mayor 
is the condition for control of most of these appointments, 
which is the main reason why Tammany is always so much 
more interested in that office than in any other. 

Eighty-five Republican and Democratic district leaders 
on the city payroll have an average salary of $7,300. Of 
course, they occupy positions at the top of various depart 
ments where they are exempt from civil service examina 
tions. The Civil Service Reform Association in May, 1932, 
published a list of 106 Democratic and Republican dis 
trict leaders and their relatives on the payroll who drew 
$715,000 a year from the city without taking civil service 
examinations. 8 In many cases the leaders secure official 
jobs for several members of their families and reap a 
personal harvest through such side lines as insurance and 
real estate. A woman Tammany leader (each district has 
a woman co-leader for decorative purposes) is usually 
satisfied if a husband or son is given a city job. Some of 
the leaders and their salaries, with their relatives indicated 
by brackets, include: 

Daniel E. Finn New York County Clerk, $15,000. 
(Daniel E. Finn, Jr., secretary to Supreme Court Justice, 

$6,500.) 
(Mrs. Mary A. Finn, Deputy Clerk, Municipal Court, 

$4,000.) 



32 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Mrs. Mary E. Dunne, no position. 

(Joseph J. Dunne, Third Deputy Commissioner, Tenement 

House Department, $6,000.) 
Christopher D. Sullivan, Member of Congress. 
(Christopher D. Sullivan, Jr., attendant to judge, Court 

General Sessions, $3,000.) 
Harry C. Perry (former leader), Chief Clerk, City Court, 

$12,000. 
William L. Kavanagh, Deputy Commissioner Water Sup 



ply, G. & E., $8,500. 
:le: 



Charles W. Culkin, former actuary auditor, Finance De 
partment, $8,000. 
(Thomas J. Culkin, secretary to commissioner, Department 

Water Supply, G. & E., $5,000.) 
(Gerald P. Culkin, clerk to justice, Municipal Court, 

$3,000.) 

William J. Ahearn, no position. 
(Edward J. Ahearn, law assistant, Surrogate's office, New 

York County, $8,000.) 
Mrs. Mary E. O'Connell, no position. 
(Maurice O'Connell, clerk to justice, Municipal Court, 

$3,240.) 
Solomon Goldenkranz, First Deputy Commissioner of 

Docks, $8,000. 
Terence F. McKeever, Member of Board of Assessors, 

$8,000. 
Walter T. Fitzsimons, Deputy Commissioner of Records, 

Surrogate's Court, New York County, $9,000. 
Charles L. Kohler, Director of Budget, $17,500. 
Martin G. McCue, Clerk, Surrogate's Court, New York 

County, $11,000. 
(Martin G. McCue, Jr., clerk to justice, Municipal Court, 

$3,240.) 

Andrew B. Keating, Deputy Controller, $10,000. 
Thomas M. Farley, former Sheriff, New York County, 

$15,000 now removed. 

(Terence V. Farley, Clerk, Municipal Court, $4,500.) 
John E. Sheehy, Sheriff, New York County, $15,000. 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 33- 

H. Warren Hubbard, Commissioner of Public Works, 

$12,000. 

Mrs. Katherine D. Codding, no position. 
(Arthur H. Codding, Secretary to Commissioner, Board 

of Transportation, $4,800.) 
Mrs. Clara Gompers, no position. 

(Louis Gompers, secretary to justice, City Court, $4,500.) 
James J. Sexton, President Department Taxes and Assess 
ments, $15,000. 

William J. Heffernan, Commissioner of Elections, $8,000. 
Henry Hasenflug, Under-Sheriff, Kings County, $6,500. 
(Henry Hasenflug, Jr., Clerk Board of Elections, Queens,, 

$2,820.) 
(August Hasenflug, confidential clerk to justice, Kings 

County Court, $5,750.) 
(John Hasenflug, clerk to justice, Municipal Court, 

$3,240.) 
Hyman Schorenstein, Commissioner of Records, Kings 

County, $7,500. 
John Theofel, clerk, Surrogate's Court, Queens County,. 

chairman executive committee, $8,000. 
John A. Lynch, county leader, President Borough of 

Richmond, $20,000. 
David S. Rendt, Commissioner Public Works, Richmond, 

$12,000. 
Philip F. Donohue, treasurer of Tammany Hall, member 

Board Water Supply, $12,000. 
James F. Egan, former secretary of Tammany Hall, Public 

Administrator, New York County, $10,000. 
Valentine J. Hahn, Commissioner of Elections, $8,000. 
John J. Knewitz, Commissioner of Records, Bronx, $9,000. 
John R. Crews, Commissioner of Taxes and Assessments, 

$12,000. 
Jacob A. Livingston, Commissioner of Elections, $8,000. 

The last four of these gentlemen are Republican district 
leaders, a fact which should surprise no one because Tarn- 



34 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

many believes in purchasing the docility of the Repub 
licans by such appointments. When James J. Walker 
represented New York at the Philadelphia Sesquicenten- 
nial he summed up Tammany's magnanimous attitude 
toward the Republicans in this speech: "If Bill Vare, Fred 
Kendrick and Charley Hall lived in New York, they'd be 
Tammany leaders, and if John McCooey, Judge Olvany 
and Jim Egan lived in Philadelphia, they'd be making up 
the Republican slate. We're all God's children and I don't 
believe in taking party politics too seriously." 

The Civil Service Reform Association estimates that 
half of all the employees on the city payroll who are 
exempt from civil service examinations could be elimi 
nated without loss and thus save New York City $25,000,- 
000 a year. That $25,000,000 helps to keep the Tammany 
machine in power. Ostensibly, of course, it is payment for 
service, and no one can prove how much is graft until an 
independent efficiency commission is permitted to make a 
real survey of all city jobs and to eliminate the chair- 
warmers. While the political deadheads sit comfortably 
upon the city payroll, the mayor and other leaders divert 
attention by delivering solemn speeches on economy. The 
various Tammany department heads "economize" while 
they are traveling about the city in unlabeled automo 
biles driven by chauffeurs on the public payroll. They 
cruise in 71 Cadillacs, 12 Lincolns, 24 Packards, 10 Pierce 
Arrows and a Duesenberg. When McKee succeeded 
Walker in September, 1932, he reduced this automobile 
extravagance, but we doubt that the reduction will be 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 35 

permanent. The Tammany government leaders have in 
corporated city limousines into their family standards of 
living, and to return to subway riding would be just too 
painful. 

In Mayor Walker's administration the Tammany office 
holders threw all caution to the winds in rewarding 
themselves. The Mayor boosted his salary in 1929 to 
$40,000, almost three times the salary of a member of the 
President's cabinet. The salary of Charles Kerrigan, the 
Mayor's assistant, was raised to $17,500, of the controller 
to $35,000 and of the president of the board of aldermen 
to $25,000. 

The question may arise why we permit such favoritism 
to political leaders. Don't the civil service laws protect 
us? Yes and no mostly no. Tammany has developed a 
smooth-working system for evading the purpose of the 
civil service laws in the selection of the city's employees. 
It is aided in this maneuvering by a politically controlled 
Municipal Civil Service Commission. The state constitu 
tion says that "appointments and promotions in the civil 
service of the state, and of all the civil divisions thereof, 
including cities and villages, shall be made according to 
merit and fitness, to be ascertained as far as practicable 
by examinations which, so far as practicable, shall be 
competitive." A splendid law, but what is "practicable"? 

Practicable, says Tammany, means if it can't be done 
any other way. Tammany's interpretation of the law has 
accomplished the following results with the city's 142,650 
employees. (This number includes 3,500 county em- 



36 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

ployees.) At the top of the government and the payroll 
come the mayor and other elected officials, and the heads 
of departments, 244 in all, who never need to pass any 
examination except that administered by the district 
leaders. They get $3,000,000 a year, an average of more 
than $12,000 each. They are called the unclassified officers 
and they include the district leaders we have just listed 
and other favorites of the machine. Next under them on 
the payroll come about 900 employees of the "exempt 
class" such as secretaries and deputies. They receive 
$6,700,000 or more than $7,400 each. They are exempt 
supposedly because of their intimate personal relationship 
to the heads of the government but actually because of the 
opportunity which this classification affords to pay large 
salaries to political henchmen. 

Next beneath these exempt favorites come a non-com 
petitive class of 11,250 employees who do the cheaper 
forms of work in hospitals and public institutions. They in 
clude orderlies and untrained nurses and scrubwomen. The 
assumption is that the qualities of such workers can be 
discovered only by experiment and not by examination. 
They must submit some kind of a record of their experi 
ence but it is usually only a formality. The city pays them 
about $10,000,000 a year, or $17 a week each some work 
only part time. In practice they are almost as dependent 
upon political favoritism as their overlords. They fawn 
upon the district leaders and work for the organization 
ticket with the desperate earnestness of men whose bread 
is at stake. 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 37 

Next to them in the scale come the 54,600 city work 
ers who actually pass competitive examinations and draw 
$148,000,000 from the taxpayers, and the 44,500 school 
teachers. These two groups are the backbone of the civil 
service. Beneath them in the scale come about 27,250 
laborers whose only examination is a physical examination 
and who are allegedly employed by the city in the 'order 
of their application. In practice these "laborers" some 
times include typists and clerks squeezed in by their politi 
cal friends after failure to pass examinations in their 
rightful classes. 

Officially this is the picture of New York's government 
by civil service. The system has one outstanding merit ; the 
departments controlled by the mayor including police, fire, 
health and docks, have a flat rule that employees must be 
chosen in numerical order as they pass the civil service 
examinations. But the courts, the borough presidents' 
offices, and the Finance Department are not controlled by 
these rules. And, what is much more important, virtually 
every civil service department is ruled by a political chief 
whose recommendations for promotion may be based on 
partisan bias. Many of the departments where competi 
tive examinations are supposed to rule are rotten with 
favoritism. 

Last year, for example, the City Court chose seven 
clerks supposedly by civil service examinations. The jus 
tices, of course, had almost nothing to do with their selec 
tion. The orders came from Tammany Hall that, what 
ever the result of the examination might be, three men 



38 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

were to be squeezed in somehow. We will call them Her 
man Cohen, James Callahan and Louis Cravello and we 
will simplify the situation for purposes of brevity. When 
the examination was held these men came out llth, 12th 
and 15th as follows (names fictitious): 

1. John Gordon 

2. Richard Hoyt 

3. Karl Miller 

4. David Bowman 

5. Patrick Malone 

6. George Merrick 

7. William Dietrich 

8. Ernest Babcock 

9. Jan Capek 

10. Isidore Lash 

11. Herman Cohen 

12. James Callahan 

13. Mark Van Norden 

14. Peter Turner 

15. Louis Cravello 

The Tammany arithmetic experts puzzled a long time 
over this list before they worked out a method of elimi 
nating enough men to put Cohen, Callahan and Cravello 
in office. This is how they finally accomplished the trick. 

The famous 1 in 3 civil service law says that when an 
opening is to be filled by civil service examination, the 
department needing a new employee must take one of the 
first three men on the list of successful candidates. The 
acceptance is recorded by a process called certification. 
The Civil Service Commission in this case certified the 
three highest men, John Gordon, Richard Hoyt and Karl 
Miller to the City Court. The department passed over the 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 39 

first two on the list in choosing the first clerk and certified 
Karl Miller because he was a local district worker. Then 
the Civil Service Commission certified the first three re 
maining names and sent back the list for the appointment 
of the next clerk with Miller eliminated and David Bow 
man as No. 3. The department chose Bowman for the 
same reason it had chosen Miller. Then a Tammany in 
sider brought pressure to bear upon Patrick Malone (No. 
5) and persuaded him on a plea of "harmony" to waive 
appointment, so the third certification of the three highest 
names placed George Merrick at No. 3 under Gordon and 
Hoyt. The department thereupon chose Merrick (No. 6). 

Now, a trick in the law helped Tammany to reach its 
favorites. The law says that when a man who has passed 
a civil service examination has his name certified three 
times to a department by the Municipal Civil Service Com 
mission and each time his name is passed over for some 
one else, then his name is dropped from among the appli 
cants for that particular job. So after three trials, the first 
two men on this list, John Gordon and Richard Hoyt, were 
dropped, and when the list was returned to the department 
for the selection of the fourth clerk Dietrich, Babcock and 
Capek who had originally been seventh, eighth and ninth 
were now first, second and third. Capek was chosen, and 
Dietrich, Babcock and Lash were certified as the three 
highest for the selection of the fifth clerk. 

At this point the Tammany manipulators saw that they 
could not squeeze in Cohen, Callahan and Cravello even 
by this trickery of elimination unless one remaining appli 
cant was forced out. Four clerks had been already chosen 



40 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

and there were only three berths left. So they forced out 
Lash by a series of threats which finally persuaded him 
that his life would not be worth living if he should secure 
the position. That made Cohen, the first of their favorites, 
No. 3 on the fifth list, and they chose him for the fifth 
clerk. Then Dietrich, Babcock and Callahan were certified 
for the sixth list and the department chose Callahan. Here 
the rule of three rejections entered in again and Dietrich 
and Babcock, each of whom had been passed over three 
times, were eliminated. 

So, on the final list of three for the selection of the 
seventh clerk, Louis Cravello, whose appointment had 
been the chief aim of Tammany from the beginning, was 
certified as No. 3, and was chosen. This is what the order 
of * 'merit and fitness" looked like when Tammany was 
through: 

1. John Gordon (eliminated by jugglery) 

2. Richard Hoyt (eliminated by jugglery) 

3. Karl Miller (chosen) 

4. David Bowman (chosen) 

5. Patrick Malone (persuaded to withdraw) 

6. George Merrick (chosen) 

7. William Dietrich (eliminated by jugglery) 

8. Ernest Babcock (eliminated by jugglery) 

9. Jan Capek (chosen) 

10. Isidore Lash (forced out) 

11. Herman Cohen (chosen) 

12. James Callahan (chosen) 

13. Mark Van Norden (left at the post) 

14. Peter Turner (left at the post) 

15. Louis Cravello (chosen at last) 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 41 

It is not surprising in these circumstances that almost 
every man who wants a civil service job in New York feels 
impelled to make a contact with a district leader in addi 
tion to preparing for his examination. The examinations 
themselves are probably administered honestly enough but 
the rule of 1 in 3 and other tricks of the trade may nullify 
the highest standing. An applicant who is not wanted by 
the politicians may be called in and told plainly that he 
is not wanted, or he may have the situation and its possi 
bilities entirely misrepresented to him. Sometimes a favo 
rite receives a tip to underbid his competitors for a job 
and, after he has been working a short time, his salary is 
raised. 

Special tricks are permissible in the making of contracts 
with "experts." The Board of Education hired the fa 
mous Dr. William H. Walker, brother of the Mayor, as a 
medical examiner and consultant without examination be 
cause the civil service law permits the city to hire scientific 
or professional service of an "expert nature" on a part- 
time basis. 5 Dr. Walker's right to hold such a job with 
out examination is now being contested in the courts by 
the Civil Service Reform Association. 

The fight for civil service standards in New York dur 
ing the last ten years has been, on the whole, a losing 
fight. Tammany has increased the exempt positions 30 
per cent since 1920 and its war of attrition constantly 
goes on. The State Civil Service Commission has thus far 
been the chief bulwark of the merit system and, fortu 
nately for New York City taxpayers, no new exemptions 



42 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

may be granted without state sanction. The state commis 
sion is constantly attacked by the city civil service commis 
sion to open the political floodgates to Tammany patron 
age, but in 80 per cent of the cases in the last five years 
the state commission has refused. 

In this outline sketch of the political engine which runs 
the somewhat complicated machinery of Greater New 
York it remains to add only a few words about the func 
tion of women as voters since the adoption of the nine 
teenth amendment. Despite the intelligent activities of 
such groups as the League of Women Voters and the 
Women's City Club, women in general have fitted very 
docilely into the Tammany scheme of things. The per 
centage of women who vote at all is even lower than the 
percentage of men. The masses of women, being pecul 
iarly responsible for spending the family income and 
peculiarly charged with the duty of seeing that their chil 
dren are fed, are peculiarly susceptible to the fears and 
favors doled out by district leaders. Few women, even 
among those who are dependable Democratic or Republi 
can voters, are very active in party affairs along their own 
lines. 

Both parties have women as co-leaders in the districts; 
none of these co-leaders has developed great power in her 
own right. Tammany has no women sachems and no 
women on its important committees. In a great many dis 
tricts women do the bulk of the clerical work as election 
inspectors, and Socialists know from experience that they 
can be at least as adept as the men in vote stealing. In 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 43 

short, until now the coming of woman suffrage has made 
no perceptible difference in city affairs except that on the 
whole women, for ecclesiastical and other reasons, are a 
little more inclined to be suspicious of such things as 
Socialism. Sex has little to do with civics of either the 
theoretical or the practical brand. City politics, we con 
clude, are better explained in terms of Marxism than 
Freudianism! 



THE NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX 
BRIGADE 

THE new Tammany is the old Tammany with the wis 
dom of age and experience added. Its guile and aplomb 
have increased until to-day it has a legal device for every 
possible type of looting and a moral explanation for every 
bribe. As the years have gone on a noticeable shift in 
tactics has occurred. The votes of aldermen and other city 
officials are almost never sold directly and the city treasury 
itself is relatively safe from theft. The real fortunes 
of the new Tammany are gathered through brokerage 
services. 

Look, for example, at the Tin Box Brigade, who crossed 
the witness stand before Judge Seabury. Farley was inter 
ested in gambling rights, Culkin in building permits, 
Doyle and Olvany in zoning privileges, Maier in pier 
leases, Dr. Walker in compensation fees, and McCormick 
in marriage licenses. A large part of the activities of these 
gentlemen was and is strictly legal, and it is to be noted 
that no one of them, even the notorious Dr. Doyle, was 
convicted of any crime as a result of the Hofstadter legisla 
tive investigation. That is the characteristic of the new 
legal graft of Tammany Hall. For every type of exploita- 

44 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 45 

tion it has developed a technique for coming within the 
limits of the law. And if occasionally some undisciplined 
or crude member of the brotherhood does step over the 
edges of legal propriety, what a host of legal luminaries 
spring forward to defend his constitutional rights before 
Tammany appointed judges! 

Sometimes the exploitation of the public by Tammany 
brokers takes place entirely outside of official activities. 
Boss Curry and Boss McCooey sell insurance and what 
ambitious young contractor doing business with the city 
could fail to see the advantages of such useful contacts? 
Theofel sold automobiles whose streamlines appealed to 
the esthetic sense of an astounding number of Queens 
officials. We shall describe his methods later. 

The patriots of the Tin Box Brigade can be under 
stood only if they are regarded as members of a genial 
brokerage brotherhood. They did not regard themselves 
as particularly guilty. Not one of them in testifying before 
Seabury broke down and told the whole story. If they 
had been able to express their defense in general socio 
logical terms they would probably have said that they 
were applying the methods of the business system to poli 
tics a bit too successfully. Other men got jealous, chiefly 
Republicans, and forced an investigation to get in on the 
loot. 

Farley became the most famous of the brigade chiefly 
through accidental circumstances. Probably he was no 
worse than his associates ; he simply captured the spotlight 
first and was unlucky enough to arrive on the scene at a 



46 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

time when Franklin D. Roosevelt could politically afford 
to demonstrate a high moral courage. Genial, popular 
Thomas M. Farley was Sheriff of the County of New 
York and leader of the 14th district of Manhattan. He 
had been successively alderman, deputy county clerk and 
county clerk a quite typical career for a popular servant 
of the people who was faithful to Tammany. Then Sea- 
bury got him. He was arraigned before a packed house 
at a time when New York was ready to listen. Seabury 
asked him to explain bank deposits of $360,000 in seven 
years. He stuttered and stammered. His total salary and 
other explainable income during those seven years had 
not been more than $90,000. Where did the other $270,- 
000 come from? Farley finally confessed that he kept at 
home a "wonderful tin box" and that he drew out from 
time to time the moneys which swelled his bank accounts. 

"Now, in 1930," Seabury asked, "it appears that you 
deposited in cash in the Chatham and Phenix and in the 
Harriman and in the Emigrant over $13,000 in cash. 
Where did that cash come from, Sheriff? A. Well, that 
is my salary check is in there. 

"Q. No, Sheriff; your salary checks aggregated $12,- 
876.09, which is exclusive of the cash deposits which dur 
ing that year you deposited in those three banks. A. Well, 
that came from the good box. 

Q. Kind of a magic box? A. It was a wonderful box." 

New York rocked with laughter. The first big act of 
the Seabury show had scored heavily. 

Judge Seabury filed with Governor Roosevelt charges 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 47 

against Sheriff Farley, saying: "That he has demonstrated 
his incompetence to hold the said office of Sheriff, by 
reason of his ignorance of the duties of his office and the 
laws of this State pertaining to the same, and by reason 
of the appointment to and retention in office under him 
of incompetent and unworthy persons; that he has sworn 
falsely under oath at public hearings before the Joint Leg 
islative Committee; that he has failed to account for or 
to explain the receipt and possession of large sums of 
money in excess of his salary as a public officer or income 
received from any admitted occupation or from invest 
ments, upon all of which grounds and by reason of any 
and all the charges hereinabove enumerated, it is respect 
fully submitted that said Thomas M. Farley should cease 
to be an incumbent of the office of Sheriff of New York 
County." 

Farley was removed from office but not from his posi 
tion as a leader of the Tammany organization. After his 
amazing testimony three great banquets were given at one 
of New York's leading hotels, supposedly at $40 a plate, 
at which he was the guest of honor. Many of New York's 
leading business men and several prominent churchmen 
were present at those dinners. 

Along with his charges against Farley, Seabury had 
submitted facts against two of Farley's under sheriffs, 
Peter J. Curran and Joseph Flaherty, which were startling 
enough to provide a sensation in ordinary times but which 
Governor Roosevelt blandly ignored. About Curran, Sea- 
bury said: "Between 1925 and 1931 he deposited $662,331 



48 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

exclusive of the proceeds of notes discounted, sales of 
securities and interest, practically none of which is credibly 
explained." That was almost twice the deposits of Farley, 
but Mr. Curran remained in office under Roosevelt's ap 
pointee, Sheehy, after his chief, Farley, was removed, 
and the City Affairs Committee squandered a few postage 
stamps in trying to get him removed. 

Farley was only the first of a series of tin box sensations. 
The other brokers had other sources of revenue pre 
sumably Farley's sources were largely in the underworld. 
James J. McCormick, leader of the 22nd district, Man 
hattan, believed in love and marriage fees, and as deputy 
city clerk he pocketed at least $150,000 in such fees in six 
years. 2 During those six years he put $384,788 away for 
a rainy day. He was indicted but acquitted. 

Much more important than these district leaders were 
the two great zoning racketeers, Dr. William F. Doyle and 
Judge George W. Olvany, the former leader of Tammany 
Hall. (For the chronological order of these scandals and 
the official details we refer the reader to the Calendar of 
Scandals in Appendix I.) Doyle held the spotlight for 
many months because of his persistent silence and the 
elaborate maneuvers of the Tammany legal hierarchy in 
protecting him. He was a former veterinarian who had 
acquired magic power over the zoning regulations of the 
city and incidentally banked more than a million dollars in 
the process. 8 

In a city like New York the right to change the zoning 
laws may make or break a man's fortune. The city has 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 49 

adopted very strict and, on the whole, intelligent regula 
tions to exclude factories from residence districts, to con 
trol the location of gasoline stations, and to determine the 
setback of high buildings. Since all laws should accom 
modate themselves to changing conditions the city has 
given to the Board of Standards and Appeals the necessary 
power to make modifications in the zoning laws upon 
application. The application is usually presented to this 
board of five people, all of them political appointees, by 
some professional representative or sponsor. Naturally, 
the citizen whose land may be raised in value from 
$10,000 to $50,000 by a special ruling is anxious to em 
ploy the representative before this board who will produce 
the best results. 

From 1925 to 1931 apparently every one in the city 
except Mayor Walker who knew anything about city gov 
ernment, knew that Doyle was the man to see about zon 
ing regulations. Although he was never admitted to the 
bar, he won for his clients between June 22, 1922, and 
Dec. 31, 1929, 244 permits for garages in districts other 
wise restricted against them and after permit applications 
had been turned down by the building superintendents in 
the various boroughs; 52 permits for gasoline stations 
which had previously been turned down by the building 
superintendents of the Fire Prevention Bureau; 187 modi 
fications of departmental orders either under the State 
Labor Law, the Fire Prevention Rules, or the Building and 
Tenement House Department Rules ; 7 permits to vary the 
height of buildings curtailed by the zoning law; and 6 per- 



50 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

mits for wet wash laundries in restricted districts, after the 
permits had previously been refused by the building super 
intendents.* 

Most significant of all, during 1928 and 1929, Doyle 
persuaded the Board of Standards and Appeals to reverse 
itself in forty-nine cases after he had taken these cases on 
appeal when other lawyers had failed. 

These amazing decisions were almost all concurred in 
by the three present members of the Board, Guilfoyle, 
Connell and Holland, whose vote is necessary in order to 
make any modification in the zoning law. 

Next in fame to the practice of Dr. Doyle before the 
Board of Standards and Appeals had been the practice of 
the firm of McCooey and Conroy, headed by John 
McCooey, Jr., son of the successful Brooklyn philanthro 
pist, and now promoted to the Supreme Court. 

The case of the application of McCooey and Conroy 
on behalf of Joseph Zorn for a gasoline station permit at 
2576 86th Street, Brooklyn, will serve to illustrate the 
kind of case in which favored practitioners got concessions 
from the Board. 

The decision in that case, handed down on June 9, 
1931, is nothing less than astounding. The applicant 
obtained a permit for a gasoline station in 1928. This 
permit was obtained by fraud and after the fire commis 
sioner, superintendent of buildings, and the Board of 
Standards and Appeals refused to set the permit aside, 
it was declared illegal on July 7, 1930, by Mr. Justice 
Cropsey of the Supreme Court of Brooklyn, whose deci- 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 51 

sion was sustained by the Appellate Division and the 
Court of Appeals. On the basis of that decision the Board 
of Standards and Appeals revoked the permit on the 
ground that it had been fraudulently obtained 

Mr. Zorn pleaded guilty on April 19, 1929, in the 
Magistrate's Court to a charge of violating the building 
zone resolution in attempting to install a gas tank without 
any authorization. Despite the decision of the Supreme 
Court, the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals, 
despite the action of the Board itself in revoking this per 
mit, and despite the record of the applicant's guilt in the 
Magistrate's Court, when an application was made to the 
Board in 1931 by the same Mr. Zorn, by McCooey and 
Conroy, for a permit to operate this very same gasoline 
station, and a variation of the zoning law on the ground 
of hardship, the Board of Standards and Appeals granted 
the application and refused to pass upon the question of 
fraud, thereby flouting its own decision and the decision 
of the Supreme Court. 

In the end Seabury was completely baffled by Doyle. 
In order to force him to talk a special session of the legis 
lature passed special immunity laws, and then all that 
Doyle would say was that he never had given a bribe to 
a public official. Then why had he declined to answer a 
perfectly plain question in the first place and why had he 
argued that an answer might tend to incriminate him? 
He had admitted splitting fees but he steadfastly denied 
giving any fees to city officials. To whom did he pay 
them? Directly to the Tammany overlords? Certainly 



52 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Tammany supported him more anxiously than any other 
man involved in the inquiry. John F. Curry personally 
fought the battle in the courts to keep him out of jail for 
contempt. 

During all this agitation Mayor Walker preserved an 
attitude of aloofness. His close friend, William E. Walsh, 
chairman of the Board of Standards and Appeals, resigned 
under fire, was indicted and, as usual under Tammany 
prosecution, acquitted. The mayor finally appointed a 
"citizens' committee" to look into the board's practice. 
The committee reported that the entire board should be 
reorganized, whereupon Walker thanked the learned col 
laborators, put the report in a pigeonhole and did noth 
ing. The men who gave Dr. Doyle and John McCooey 
such astounding favors are still running the Board of 
Standards and Appeals. 

The theory that there was a direct and corrupt connec 
tion between the Board of Standards and Appeals and 
Tammany gains some plausibility when the case of George 
W. Olvany is studied. Olvany sold his political influence 
with the Board of Standards and Appeals in several 
famous zoning cases and then concealed his interest in 
the cases by having another lawyer serve as the attorney 
of record. Olvany received his fees for such practice while 
he was leader of Tammany Hall and concealed the receipt 
by taking his firm's share in cash instead of checks. How 
the racket operated was revealed in the case of the builder, 
Fred F. French, and his construction of a building at 
551 Fifth Avenue. 6 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 53 

Mr. French wanted to build a certain wall in his new 
building somewhat higher than the height limit prescribed 
by the setback provisions of the zoning law, so he ap 
proached Olvany's law firm to get help from the Board 
of Standards and Appeals. He was referred to a lawyer 
whom he knew named John N. Boyle and was told to 
deposit $35,000 with Boyle to get the permit in sixty 
days, the money to be held in escrow and returned if the 
Board did not give him what he asked. The Board did, 
whereupon Boyle at the request of a member of Olvany's 
firm gave $25,000 in cash to a firm member, took $5,000 
as his own fee, and returned the rest to French. Where 
did the $25,000 go? Judge Olvany took a high position 
in the whole matter and declined to allow Seabury to 
examine his firm's books. 

But Judge Seabury gave the city a fairly convincing 
picture of the income-producing habits of a Tammany 
leader before he was through with Olvany. He showed 
that the same kind of farming-out process in zoning cases 
that had occurred in the French Fifth Avenue building 
case had occurred also in the cases of No. 1 Wall Street, 
the Irving Trust Building, and a block of residences in 
the Murray Hill district, which had been rezoned in spite 
of strong local protest. Olvany would assign the work 
to some other lawyer of record and take the prodigious 
fee himself. Perhaps that is one reason he lost his position 
as head of Tammany Hall he was reputed to be grasping 
and ungenerous with his spoils. But there can be no doubt 
of his success. His firm deposited $5,283,000 in the bank 



54 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

from 1925 to 1931. In one instance Fred F. French after 
paying $75,000 not only got the Board of Standards and 
Appeals to change a zoning regulation in Tudor City but 
he even persuaded the Board of Estimate to amend the 
building zone resolution affecting that area over the oppo 
sition of the board's own engineers. Olvany's firm re 
ceived $71,000 of the $75,000 fee for its strenuous labors 
in this case without appearing in the record. 

After Seabury had demonstrated how to get a change 
in the zoning laws he proceeded to demonstrate how to 
get a pier lease and a bus franchise. Bus franchises are 
granted by the Board of Estimate after public hearings 
and each franchise is supposed to be granted to that 
responsible bus company which will give the city and pas 
sengers the best contract. As we shall show in a later 
chapter, the franchises are not usually granted on an 
impartial basis. Some companies appear with loaded dice 
and their unfortunate competitors find themselves under 
attack on the most trivial grounds. In the case of John A. 
Lynch, borough president of Richmond, a franchise for 
the Tompkins Bus Corporation was granted on July 28, 
1927, to operate buses on Staten Island, although this com 
pany's record was full of irresponsible and illegal acts. 
Lynch recommended the Tompkins company, and, since 
he was borough president of the area where the buses were 
to operate and since he had just dutifully voted for Mayor 
Walker's notorious Equitable bus deal, his recommenda 
tion was followed. 

Why did Lynch vote for such a company when it made 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 55 

an inferior offer to the people of his borough? The Sea- 
bury probers asked and answered. They found out that 
Lynch had unloaded a losing newspaper in which he was 
heavily interested on Gordon, head of the Tompkins bus 
concern, during the week before the granting of the fran 
chise. Lynch was to shake off all his liabilities and receive 
a substantial sum in addition. Said Judge Seabury: 6 "An 
unbiased consideration of the testimony makes it perfectly 
apparent, in my opinion, that there was an understanding 
between Borough President Lynch and Gordon, by which 
Gordon relieved Lynch of an incubus in return for which 
Lynch agreed to, and did, use his influence in causing a 
franchise to be delivered to Gordon's company." Lynch 
is still borough president of Richmond and will vote on 
the next bus franchise which comes before the Board of 
Estimate. 

The process of getting a pier lease is somewhat more 
complex but equally common in New York's history. The 
graft is usually thinly disguised as a legal fee so that 
prosecution is difficult, particularly since there are several 
steps in the process at which a pseudo-lawyer may inter 
vene. The Tammany technique was revealed in the case 
of Judge W. Bernard Vause. 

Federal Attorney Charles H. Tuttle was investigating a 
wildcat concern called the Columbia Finance Corporation 
in 1929 in those days there appeared to be a distinct 
line between wildcat and legitimate finance corporations 
when he chanced to examine the bank records of W. 
Bernard Vause, Brooklyn county judge. He was aston- 



56 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

ished to find a series of checks from the United American 
Lines, Inc., some of them as high as $25,000. He probed 
deeper and discovered that Vause had participated in a 
$250,000 deal for three pier leases, having been "retained" 
by several shipping companies to get pier leases from the 
Sinking Fund Commission, a New York City department. 
He convicted Vause for using the mails to defraud and 
sent him to a federal prison under a six-year sentence, but 
the mystery of those pier leases has never been explained. 
Vause was not the attorney of record in the pier cases and 
he never appeared before the Sinking Fund Commission 
which granted the pier leases. But he received $60,000 
in fees after the leases were granted. Tuttle could not 
probe the Sinking Fund Commission and the Dock De 
partment because he had no power to do so as a federal 
attorney. He could only refer the whole question of the 
$250,000 "slush fund" to the aged and worried Tammany 
prosecutor, Thomas C. T. Crain. 

Crain, who is a pastmaster at futile gestures, launched 
his "investigation" by writing Judge Vause a letter de 
manding an accounting of his fees, which letter went into 
the wastebasket unanswered. Mayor Walker solemnly 
announced that his Commissioner of Accounts, James A. 
Higgins, would make an investigation of the Vause pier- 
lease deal. If the investigation was ever made the public 
has not heard the results. This man Vause, incidentally, 
had made a speech to a Brooklyn grand jury in December, 
1926, urging it not to show any Yuletide leniency to 
criminals. 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 57 

This Vause pier-lease scandal was one of the most per 
fect illustrations of the Tammany method of sidetracking 
an investigation. Because the mayor is the mayor he is 
given a newspaper headline every time he announces that 
an "investigation" will be made of some scandal in his 
administration. The public indignation dies down pending 
the outcome of the investigation, and months later every 
one has forgotten that no result of the investigation was 
ever announced. 

Pier leases in New York have been a scandal for a 
generation. It is universally believed in shipping circles 
that fortunes must be sunk in political fees to get a favor 
able lease for ocean-going steamships on the New York 
waterfront, and during the Seabury investigation this 
belief was confirmed. No less a personage than Charles F. 
Murphy himself saw the possibilities in dock leasing as a 
middleman. The New York World of October 1, 1905, 
described the budding pier lease racket of those days: 

The complete inside history of the New York Dock 
Department under Tammany Hall ... is a record which 
out-Tweeds Tweed ... the dock privilege allotted to Tam 
many Hall and the tools of Tammany Hall, if rented out 
at their true value, would pay interest on the bonds and 
the allotment toward the sinking fund twice over. 

This astounding system in dock contracts was organized 
by Charles F. Murphy, the present leader of Tammany Hall. 
. . . The present graft system may be said to have begun 
under the supervision of Murphy himself when Dock Com 
missioner under Mayor Van Wyck. . . . 

During Mr. Murphy's short career as leader of Tam 
many Hall his contracting firm has acquired, mainly through 



58 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

manipulation of the Dock Department, contracts aggregat 
ing $30,000,000. . . . 

It is not at all peculiar that the largest contracts awarded 
to the Murphy firm are companies which have too much at 
stake to risk a clash with Tammany Hall. . . . Any work 
they might contemplate could be hampered in numberless 
ways. Permits could be refused or delayed, or issued with 
costly restrictions. . . . The contractors, if not of Tammany 
Hall, could be harried by the Building Department and the 
Bureau of Encumbrances and a dozen petty Tammany 
officials. . . . 7 

Denis Tilden Lynch in an article in the Herald 
Tribune has pointed out that even during the war the 
political dummies who acted as lessees of city piers under 
the Tammany system charged the steamship companies 
from two to five times as much as they paid the city for 
them. General William Black, Chief of Engineers of the 
U. S. Army in 1920, gave certain startling illustrations of 
the profits in this pier racket as follows: 

Price Per Day Price Per Day 

Paid to the City Charged by Lessee 

by Lessee to Steamship Company 



$66.67 $250 

53.90 350 

57.47 250 

34.45 225 

53.47 500 

Now, all this material was available as a background 
for a real investigation of pier leases in 1930 when Charles 
H. Tuttle asked District Attorney Crain to probe the situa 
tion. Mr. Crain found nothing worthy of comment 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 59 

although the same information was accessible to him that 
was later unearthed by Judge Seabury. When the City 
Affairs Committee used this negligence as an argument 
against Mayor Walker in its charges before Governor 
Roosevelt in 1931, the mayor brushed the argument aside 
by saying that even Republican Tuttle had failed to find 
evidence against any member of the Dock Department! 
Precisely! Tuttle was a federal attorney and could not 
investigate the Dock Department. He could only prose 
cute individuals for violation of federal law such as for 
using the mails to defraud or evading the income tax. 

The charter says that applicants for a pier lease must 
apply first to the dock commissioner and then to the com 
missioners of the Sinking Fund. These are all political 
personages, outside of the civil service, and usually the 
dock commissioner is a district leader and member of the 
inner ring of Tammany Hall. In recent years the law in 
granting pier leases has been carelessly disregarded and 
the real control over leases exercised by the mayor. The 
North German Lloyd Steamship Company discovered how 
difficult it was to penetrate the Tammany breastworks in 
the fight to secure a pier lease. This lease was of immense 
importance to the company because it had been compelled 
to dock its great passenger liners in New Jersey and Brook 
lyn. The company's officials mournfully remarked on the 
witness stand before Seabury that in no other part of the 
world where they did business was it necessary to use cir 
cumlocutions and influence in the perfectly simple business 
of getting a place to dock a boat. In New York it 



60 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

was different. New York was unique in a number of 
ways. 

The company, being told that direct approach was a 
waste of time, approached David Maier, ex-convict and 
friend of Mayor Walker, to get a lease on a new pier not 
yet completed. Maier told the officials at first that it 
would cost them perhaps $3,000 to get a lease, and later 
he said perhaps $10,000. Then the suggested price was 
shoved up to $25,000, and Maier said the one way to get 
the lease was to hire an eminent Tammany lawyer, Wil 
liam H. Hickin, who has since been elected president of 
the National Democratic Club. Hickin was hired, and 
after years of jockeying and manipulation, he was paid 
a "fee" of $50,000 with the understanding that all except 
$20,000 was to be passed on to others. Hickin refused to 
waive immunity before Judge Seabury. He refused to give 
the names of the persons to whom he passed on his win 
nings. The bank records, however, show that he drew out 
$45,000 of the $50,000 in cash a few days after he re 
ceived the North German Lloyd check, and that shortly 
afterwards he was without any substantial funds. 

How Tammany Hall operates in these pier-lease cases 
was indicated by one letter from the Lloyd lawyer to his 
home office. David Maier, he said, "gave these assurances 
in the most positive manner, saying this is a reward due 
and promised him for thirty years of service, and that 
nobody can take it from him. He states that his position 
with the new leader is very good." This Maier is the 
gentleman whose presence on the boat with Mayor Walker 



NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 61 

on a trip to Europe caused so much stir. When the com 
pany finally got the lease, it wrote Mayor Walker a warm 
letter of thanks, but a slight mistake was made in sending 
this letter. It was mailed about two months before the 
commissioners of the Sinking Fund actually granted the 
lease. 

This pier that the North German Lloyd Line finally 
leased proved to be a great source of riches for both Tam 
many and some Republicans. Olvany was aware of it and 
so was Colonel Edward C. Carrington, the Republican can 
didate for borough president of Manhattan in 1931. In 
fact Carrington' s company, the Hudson River Navigation 
Corporation, owned the pier site on which the new pier 
was built and he hired Olvany 's law firm to get as high a 
price as possible for it from the city. He asked the city 
to pay him $3,177,000 for a pier and site assessed at 
$633,000. The city finally paid two millions. Just why 
he asked such a large amount became apparent when it 
was revealed that heavy demands were made upon him. 
He had to pay Olvany, and he was asked to pay Dock 
Commissioner Cosgrove for the commissioner's approval 
of the purchase. Two good things came out of this scan 
dal almost immediately. Colonel Carrington as a candi 
date for public office was thoroughly discredited, and the 
city got the pier site for half a million dollars less than 
the price set by the dock commissioner in the reign of 
Olvany. 

At one moment in his inquiry Judge Seabury seemed to 
be just on the point of disclosing the real inside story of 



62 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

New York's pier racket. F. Traugott Keller, chief engi 
neer of the Dock Department, admitted splitting fees in a 
private hearing after it was disclosed that he had large, 
unexplained bank accounts. He was to come back the next 
day for further examination. He died that day in front 
of a subway train. No one would testify that he was mur 
dered. Perhaps he was not. 



4 
MORE TIN BOXES 

THE high points of comedy in the examination of the 
Tin Box Brigade by Judge Seabury came with the appear 
ance of James A. McQuade, now sheriff of Kings County, 
and Dr. William H. Walker, brother of the mayor. The 
testimony of these men both brought to mind that remark 
of E. L. Godkin, which is quoted by M. R. Werner in his 
Tammany Hall: "The three things a Tammany leader 
most dreaded were in the ascending order of repulsiveness, 
the penitentiary, honest industry, and biography." 

McQuade deposited $520,000 in the bank in six years 
although his salary during that period totaled less than 
$50,000, and he could not remember any other gainful 
occupation except his political job as register of Kings 
County. His testimony is worthy of transmission to future 
generations : 

Q. Now it appears, Mr. Register, that in the year 1925, 
you deposited in the Kings County Trust Company your 
salary checks for the amount of $9,365.40. That is in accord 
with your recollection? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. It also appears in that year you deposited in cash, not 
other checks, there were other checks, too, but deposited in 
cash $55,833.07; that you deposited other checks in addition 

63 



64 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

to your salary checks for fourteen odd thousand dollars, and 
that your total deposits for that year in the Kings County 
Trust Company amounted to $80,058.41. Now bearing in 
mind what you have told us about not having any other 
gainful pursuits than your public office, will you be good 
enough to tell me where you got the seventy odd thousand 
dollars in 1925, which you deposited, $55,000 of which was 
in cash? 

A. Money that I borrowed. If you want me to get to the 
start of it, I will have to take and go over the family in its 
entirety, without feeling that I am humiliated in the least 
or am not humiliating the other 33 McQuades. If this Com 
mittee can take the time, it can take the time to listen, and 
you can, and the public in general, I will go over it from 
the start. 

I unfortunately went into politics. I say that cautiously. 

Q. You don't base that on that deposit, do you? 

A. I am going to get to that deposit, if you will let me. 
If you will let me. I bailed a man out who stole off 
McQuade Brothers $260,000, which necessitated the fold 
ing up of the McQuade Bros, firm, selling eight seats they 
had in the Exchange for $6,000 a piece, that afterwards 
brought $225,000. After they liquidated, the 34 McQuades 
were placed on my back, I being the only breadwinner, so to 
speak, and after that it was necessary to keep life in their 
body, sustenance, to go out and borrow money. 

After they paid up all they could, I took over their respon 
sibilities. It was not necessary; I felt it my duty, being that 
they were my flesh and blood, part and parcel of me, to 
help them. I am getting along in fairly good shape, when 
my mother, Lord have mercy on her, in 1925 dropped dead. 
I am going along nicely, when my brother, Lord have mercy 
on him, in 1926 or 1927 dropped dead. But doing nicely 
when I have two other brothers, and when my brother died 
he willed me his family, which I am still taking care of, 
thank God. Two other brothers, who have been very sick, 
and are sick, so much so that when your Committee notified 
me, I was waiting for one of them to die. 



MORE TIN BOXES 65 

They have 24 children that I am trying to keep fed, 
clothed and educated, which means that I must borrow 
money. The extra money that you see in this year or any 
year from that year on has been money that I borrowed, 
not ashamed of it 

Q. Now, Mr. Register, 

A. If the Lord lets me live, I intend to pay it all. And I 
borrowed more in 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929, and in the 
last month alone, I think, I borrowed $10,000 to keep the 
roof over their homes. 

Q. Well, now, Mr. Register, will you be good enough to- 
indicate from whom you borrowed this money? 

A. Oh, Judge, offhand I could not. I borrowed, which 
you ought to remember. I was introduced to you, Judge, in 
the Pennsylvania Railroad depot by the late Judge McCall, 
who said to you at that time, "This is my friend, Jim 
McQuade, Judge Seabury, and he is in need, and I am going; 
to help him." I don't know whether you remember or not. 

Q. I am sorry; I don't recall it, Mr. Register. 

A. I was standing right beside you, and the Judge asked 
me if I would ride down with him, and I told him I 
couldn't. The next day he gave me $5,000. That was the 
start of my trying to keep the McQuade family together. 

Q. Well, now, Mr. McQuade, you understand, I take it, 
that you were accorded a full opportunity to make any state- 
ment that you wanted to make in private, and that you de 
clined. You understand that, don't you? 

A. Yes. I haven't the faintest idea what it was. I am not 
ashamed of anything that I am testifying here. 

Q. Now, you have told us this story, which from your 
version of it, shows the great charity and benevolence that 
actuated you in reference to the members of the McQuade 
family, to whom you have made reference. That all relates, 
as I understand it, to money that you paid out from time 
to time? 

A. That is right. 

Q. Doesn't it? 

A. You see, in these deposits, Judge 



66 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Q. Doesn't it relate to money that you paid out? 

A. From time to time for them. 

Q. Well now, my question, Mr. Register, I wasn't inter 
ested at all in what you did with the money. I am quite 
ready to assume that you made charitable and benevolent 
dispositions of the money. Let us assume that, for the sake 
of argument. My question is: How, in the year 1925, with 
your salary of $9,365.40, you deposited $80,000-odd? 

A. I would, for instance, borrow $1,000 off John Brown. 
In two weeks' time John wanted that $1,000, and I would 
borrow $1,000 off John Jones. Another, maybe two weeks 
or less, he would want that. I would get it off John Smith, 
where in reality there would be possibly $10,000 deposited 
for the $1,000 that was actually working. 

Q. I see just over and over again using the same $1,000? 

A. That is it, trying to keep my 

Q. Can you give the names of the persons from whom 
you borrowed this money that brought your total deposits 
of that year up to $80,000? 

A. I can't, offhand, Judge, remember that far back. I had 
troubles enough to 

Q. Have you any data or writing that will enable you to 
designate the persons from whom you borrowed these sums? 

A. As the money was paid, it was off my mind, and I 
thanked God for it and destroyed anything that I might have. 

Q. Destroyed everything you might have? 

A. After I paid it, it was no good to me. 

Q. Why do you give thanks to Divine Providence? 

A. I give thanks to Divine Providence for permitting me 
to pay those people who were kind enough to loan me the 
money. 1 

After this colloquy an enterprising reporter from the 
Sun got on a street car and went out into the farther 
reaches of Brooklyn to discover how well McQuade was 
feeding his 33 destitute relatives- He found a number of 



MORE TIN BOXES 67 

them on the city payroll, being very comfortably taken 
care of by the taxpayers. He found among the 33 rela 
tives rotund and prosperous real estate owners in Queens 
who seemed quite superior to the good sheriff's kindness. 
But all of this did not threaten Mr. McQuade's chances 
for election as sheriff of Kings County, since he had 
already been designated for the office by McCooey before 
he testified and nothing less than an earthquake could 
defeat a McCooey choice in McCooeyville. 

The case of Dr. William H. Walker, the mayor's 
brother, is almost as striking. Dr. Walker is a pudgy, 
rather forlorn-looking person whom it is hard to associate 
with his dashing, voluble brother. He is not a member of 
the American Medical Association or the New York Acad 
emy of Medicine. When he was first made medical exam 
iner of the Board of Education, the Civil Service Reform 
Asociation contested his choice in the courts on the ground 
that he had not passed a required examination for the 
place. He was finally allowed to stay because of a tech 
nicality and he draws from this position $6,500 a year. He 
is also a member of the Board of Retirement for city 
pensions from which he receives $25 per meeting, and an 
examiner of pugilists under the jurisdiction of the State 
Boxing Commission, for which he receives $50 a per 
formance, perhaps 50 times a year. 

Dr. Walker's main source of income, however, is not 
official. It consists chiefly of fees split with four doctors 
who treat city employees for injuries. To understand the 
proceeding it will be necessary to explain just how the 



63 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

compensation racket works in the practice of medicine in 
New York. 

When a worker is injured in the performance of duty 
the State Workmen's Compensation Law makes the em 
ployer responsible for medical care but it gives the em 
ployer the right to designate the doctor. This gives an 
opportunity for collusion between crooked doctors and 
employers in exploiting the insurance companies who must 
pay the bills. Racketeering doctors may render fake bills 
with the consent of the employer and they may compen 
sate the employer for his cooperation by incorporating in 
their bills names of employees who never existed and so 
make it possible for the employer to be paid for medical 
attention to a ghost. More commonly inferior clinics are 
run in connection with insurance companies which are 
interested in minimizing illness and giving cheap treat 
ment to injured workers. 

In the case of the city the system gives Tammany a 
chance to send the city's injured employees to doctors who 
will split fees with the political ring. Judge Seabury dis 
covered that four doctors had almost a monopoly of com 
pensation cases of city employees and that during 37 
months, from January 1, 1929, to January 31, 1932, they 
received $216,000. Direct evidence was introduced to 
show that in scores of cases these fees were split with 
Dr. Walker on a 50-50 basis to the odd penny. No check 
was made by the corporation counsel who appointed these 
doctors to see whether the services which the city paid for 
were actually rendered, or if the treatments given were 
necessary and reasonable. 2 



MORE TIN BOXES 69 

When Dr. Walker appeared on the witness stand before 
Seabury he was frightened and nervous. He gave the most 
pathetic exhibition of "truth telling" in the entire inquiry. 
His combined bank accounts with the four doctors, it 
appeared had totaled $431,000 from 1928 to 1932, an 
astonishing harvest for a man wholly unknown in the 
upper world of medicine. 3 His explanations of checks he 
had received from Dr. Thomas J. O'Mara, one of the four 
city compensation doctors, was still more astonishing. 

He admitted receiving about $10,000 to $12,000 a year 
from Dr. T. J. O'Mara in split fees but he denied that these 
split fees came from city compensation cases. He argued 
that they came from other compensation cases which he 
shared with Dr. O'Mara and he swore that he himself had 
never done any work on city compensation cases. This 
was important because if he had done any paid service 
directly for a city patient the doctor who split city fees 
with him could be charged with misappropriating public 
funds. To save both himself and Dr. O'Mara he had to- 
pretend that the money received from Dr. O'Mara had 
nothing to do with city funds, and at the same time he had 
to concoct an elaborate yarn about the extensive coopera 
tion between himself and O'Mara to explain these mys 
terious checks. How he faced the music is revealed by 
the testimony: 

Q. Now, are you willing to swear that these fees that for 
the last five years of Dr. O'Mara's that he has split with you 
were not, any of them, in relation to city compensation 
cases? 

A. They were not. 



70 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Q. You are willing to say that they were not? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Doctor, I show you a check or warrant from the city 
payable to the order of Thomas J. O'Mara. That is the 
Dr. O'Mara with whom you have split some fees? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Here is a warrant or check for $233.20 and here is 
another one for $1,269. Will you be good enough to look 
at them and note their date is on March 3, 1931? March 
3 and 4, 1931? 

A. Yes. 

Q. That is right, isn't it? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Now, will you be good enough to look at this check 
that I hand you and tell me whether it bears Dr. O'Mara's 
signature? 

A. It does. 

Q. And whether it is made payable to your own order? 

A. It is. ... 

Q. You observe that that is just one-half, isn't it, of the 
amount of the warrants paid to Dr. O'Mara in those city 
compensation cases? 

A. I presume so. I haven't added it up. I take your word 
for it. 

Q. Doesn't the date of the check serve to refresh your 
recollection that when Dr. O'Mara got those checks for city 
compensation cases he deposited them in his bank and drew 
a check to your order for one-half of the amount? Doesn't 
it refresh your recollection, Doctor? 

A. I haven't any recollection of it, but the check speaks 
for itself, that I received it. ... 

Q. Now, you see, Dr. O'Mara got $1,502.20 and on the 
next day I think O'Mara sends you a check for $751.10, 
just one-half of that amount. Now does not that, Doctor, 
serve to refresh your recollection that at least in cases repre 
sented by these two checks from the city to Dr. O'Mara 



MORE TIN BOXES 71 

under date of March 3 and 4 for city compensation cases 
that Dr. O'Mara did split his fee 50-50 with you? 

A. I never knew anything about the doctor receiving those 
other checks. 

Q. Can you tell me any other reason why Dr. O'Mara 
should have sent you exactly one-half of the amount that he 
received in compensation cases one day after he received the 
checks from the city? 

A. No, I don't. 

Q. What was it for, Doctor, if it was not a division and 
split of this commission? 

A. It was for medical work that I performed for him. 

Q. But not medical work in reference to compensation 
cases? 

A. Not city compensation cases. 

Q. You still stick to that? 

A. Yes. . . . 

Q. Now, Doctor, you say this check for $751.10 was for 
some medical services that you rendered? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Did you ever send any bill to anybody for those serv 
ices you say you rendered? 

A. No, I depend upon Dr. O'Mara's records entirely. 

Q. You still say it was not a split on city cases? 

A. Yes, sir. . . . 

Q. Now, I show you another check to Dr. O'Mara from 
the city for $436.45 under date of June 27, 1931, services 
compensation law. Do you notice that? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Did Dr. O'Mara give you half of that payment to 
him? 

A. I haven't any recollection of it. I never knew Dr. 
O'Mara received that check. 

Q. What date did he receive that check? 

A. The check is dated June 27, 1931. 

Q. Now I show you a check by him to your order on 



72 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

July 1, 1931, for $218.23, and tell me whether that serves 
to refresh your recollection that Dr. O'Mara did split that 
fee with you even to the extent of giving you that half cent, 
you will observe? 

A. I haven't any recollection of it. 

Q. Well, if it wasn't a split of Dr. O'Mara's fee, what 
was it, Dr. Walker? 

A. It was the same as the other, the same as the other 
check. 

Q. You couldn't give me any explanation for the other 
except to say it was medical services? 

A. Well, I will say the same thing again. 

Q. Did you render any bill for these services? 

A. No. 

Q. Don't you think that, perhaps, Doctor, you may be 
in error and that really you did split these city compensation 
fees with Dr. O'Mara? 

A. No, sir. . . . 

Q. Now, Doctor, will you please look at this next check 
I hand you, under date of August 5, 1931, for services 
rendered by Dr. O'Mara, and paid for by the city under the 
compensation law, for $407.30. . . . 

Q. And this check, under date of August 6, 1931, for 
$162.40 to O'Mara, in a compensation case. Do you note it? 

A. I do. 

Q. And this check of August 6, 1931, for $181.75 to 
Dr. O'Mara in a compensation case you note it? 

A. I note it. 

Q. This one under date of August 6, 1931, to Dr. O'Mara 
in a compensation case for $196.80. 

A. Yes. 

Q. And this one under date of August 6, 1931, to Dr. 
O'Mara from the city in a compensation case for $194.15? 

A. Yes. 

Q. You observe those checks seven of them, are there 
not? 

A. Yes. 



MORE TIN BOXES 73 

Q. Doctor, I show you another check under date of 
August 6, 1931, to Dr. O'Mara from the city in a compen 
sation case for $237.20. 

A. Yes. 

Q. You note that, do you not? 

A. Yes. . . . 

Q. All right; so that we have seven checks between those 
dates to Dr. O'Mara in city compensation cases, aggregating 
$1,382.62. On August 12th, didn't you receive a check that 
I hand you from Dr. O'Mara for $691.30? 

A. I presume I did the check is cashed. 

Q. That doesn't rest on presumption, does it? That rests 
on the firm foundation of knowledge? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Wasn't that half of those seven checks that Dr. O'Mara 
got from the city in compensation cases? 

A. I will take your figures for that. 

Q. I don't mean, isn't it half of that amount; I mean to 
ask whether that $691.30 wasn't the split that Dr. O'Mara 
made with you in the cases referred to on those checks of 
warrants from the city? 

A. He gave that check for services I rendered. 

Q. Services in reference to these cases? 

A. These cases I didn't know anything about. 

Q. What cases did you render services for, for which you 
got this check? 

A. Any cases he asked me to look at. 

Q. Have you got any record to show what those cases 
were? 

A. I haven't now. 

Q. Did you ever have any? 

A. At the time he was giving me 

Q. Didn't you keep any record yourself? 

A. No, he kept track. 

Q. You didn't keep any record? 

A. No. 

Q. (Continued) of the amount he owed you? 



74 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

A. No. 

Q. He paid you thousands of dollars altogether, didn't he? 
A. Yes. 

Q. You kept no record of the cases in reference to which 
that money was paid? 
A. No. 



Q. . . . doesn't it seem strange to you that in these par 
ticular city compensation cases you received exactly one-half, 
even to the odd number of dollars and the odd number of 
cents doesn't that seem very strange? 

A. I didn't even know it was so until now. 

Q. Now that you do know it is so, doesn't it seem very 
strange to you? 

A. It is evidently a coincidence. 

Q. It's a coincidence. And doesn't it seem very strange, 
too, that the coincidence happened in so many separate series 
of cases? 

A. Yes. 8 

When the City Affairs Committee took the evidence 
produced before the Hof stadter committee and made it the 
basis of charges against Dr. William H. Walker and his 
four associates, before the Grievance Committee of the 
State Department of Education, the learned but cautious 
doctors who make up that body announced that fee-split 
ting was unethical but that they could do nothing against 
it unless fraud and deceit had been revealed. The com 
plainant in the case (one of the authors) declared that 
he did not wish to "make a solitary victim of Dr. Walker. 
He is a symptom and a sample of a great medical racket. 
It would be as silly to remove him without getting at the 



MORE TIN BOXES 75 

racket as it would be to sew up a wound with proud flesh 
underneath." 

So the case rests as this book goes to press. The Tam 
many forces are using all their power to protect Dr. 
Walker and to prevent a thorough investigation. The 
chances of revoking the licenses of these fee-splitting doc 
tors is remote because Tammany has powerful friends 
among the doctors and powerful pleaders to present a dis 
torted interpretation of the law to machine-made courts. 
Morally the case against Dr. Walker is complete he took 
what an honest citizen would call graft. But if one mem 
ber of the Grievance Committee of the Board of Regents 
is under Tammany control Dr. Walker's license will never 
be revoked. The revocation of a doctor's license by the 
Grievance Committee requires a unanimous vote. 

Dr. Walker is still in the employ of the Board of Edu 
cation to-day. Which leads us to discuss for a moment 
how politics takes the tin boxes even into our school sys 
tem. The schools have at their head over one hundred 
superintendents, principals and directors of special 
branches who receive about $10,000 a year and who take 
either a perfunctory examination or none at all. The open 
sesame to all of these positions is the recommendation of 
a major political leader. 

It is easy to imagine the effect of such a system upon 
the morale of the pupils, teachers and officials of New 
York's schools. Dr. Henry R. Linville of the Teachers 
Union has summed up the results. 

In the first place only those teachers who are able to 



76 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

command political influence are regarded by their fellows 
as being in line for appointment to the prize positions. In 
the second place, the necessity of having political connec 
tions for educational advancement leads teachers to join 
Democratic clubs, and even to give up old religious affilia 
tions for others of more practical value. This tendency is 
obviously demoralizing to the integrity of character of 
ambitious teachers and to the profession as a whole. In 
the third place, education itself becomes bound hand and 
foot to the system of politico-economic racketeering that 
is characteristic of practical government and business in 
New York City. 

Public education in New York City is an enormously 
expensive institution. But even so, it is conceivable that 
much greater expenditures than the $150,000,000 required 
to conduct the schools of New York each year would be 
made available willingly by the people if the school sys 
tem contributed substantial results in improved civic and 
social leadership, or in a recognizable improvement in the 
intelligence and social good will of the young people who 
graduate from the schools. In spite of the good intentions 
of many teachers to create a better citizenship through 
education, it is known by all young people that Tammany 
Hall stands for real and immediate success, and will help 
any smart young fellow to get what he wants. The result 
is that an attitude of cynicism toward the teachings of 
good teachers or good schools is one of the commonest of 
attitudes among the adolescent school children of New 
York. 



MORE TIN BOXES 77 

By virtue of the situation the officials of the New York 
public school system are in no position even now to con 
demn, or to refer in a deprecatory manner, to the conduct 
of ex-Mayor Walker while he was in office. The present 
superintendent of schools is fond of telling how much he 
owes to the friendly interest of "Johnny" Ahearn but the 
record shows that some twenty years ago Ahearn was re 
moved by Governor Hughes from the office of president 
of the Borough of Manhattan for incompetence and for 
failure to protect the interests of the people. 

Quite as shocking as any revelations of the Tin Box 
Brigade made by Judge Seabury was the self-revelation of 
Tammany by the Democratic members of the Hofstadter 
committee. Assemblyman Louis Cuvillier, looking like an 
aged gargoyle, sat to the left of Chairman Hofstadter 
during the entire inquiry and fought Judge Seabury like a 
counsel for the defense. No interjection was too irrelevant 
or stupid for him to make. On many occasions he sought 
to put such fantastic explanations and excuses into the 
mouths of witnesses that they recoiled and asked the privi 
lege of making their own excuses. 

Judge Seabury was wholly justified in saying at the end 
of his Intermediate Report: 

From the start Tammany Hall has done everything within 
its power to obstruct and interfere with the exposure of the 
conditions brought out in the testimony. There can be no 
question about the participation of Tammany Hall in the 
legal proceedings which have been taken in the attempt of 
some of the witnesses to avoid interrogation. Curry's action 



78 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

in springing to the defense of Dr. Doyle, as well as his sub 
sequent testimony, establish it. Not a single one of the mis 
creants has been repudiated by Tammany Hall, or even 
criticized by it, for the official wrong-doing which has been 
shown; on the contrary, Tammany Hall has taken these 
wrong-doers to its bosom, has lent them all the aid and com 
fort that it could and has acted as their protector and advisor 
throughout. 

It is perfectly apparent that what these men did is part of 
the system upon which Tammany Hall exists and expands; 
that Tammany Hall approves it and is ready to extend its 
arm to the utmost to protect and perpetuate its sordid traffic 
in political influence. 



5 
GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 

IN a democracy the mandate of a government is derived 
from voters at duly constituted elections. New York never 
has an approximately honest election. The degrees of dis 
honesty vary from year to year with varying circumstances. 
These circumstances include such matters as Tammany's 
desire to roll up an impressive vote and the Republican 
desire to make a real fight. However, Tammany always 
keeps its hand in at a little cheating even when it is wholly 
unnecessary for victory, and Republican desire for victory 
is never so strong that the party can or will prevent collu 
sion between nominally Republican and Democratic elec 
tion inspectors in certain assembly districts. Such collusion 
is, of course, the chief root of fraud. 

This matter of elections in New York and we do not 
believe that New York is a sinner above all other cities 
is worth some consideration. It was one of the gravest 
weaknesses of the Seabury investigation of 1931-1932 that 
it wholly ignored the question despite the fact that specific 
and detailed grievances were laid before it. In conse 
quence Judge Seabury was in the position of investigating 
the dishonesty of a Tammany administration whose man- 

79 



80 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

date is habitually vitiated by fraud in the elections, which 
fraud he and his associates did not even consider. 

One member of the Hof stadter Committee, Assembly 
man Hamilton Potter of Suffolk County, was genuinely 
concerned over the situation, and at one time contemplated 
definite action by the legislature. Almost nothing came 
of this, presumably because of the old familiar fear of 
up-state Republican legislators that they live in houses of 
quite too brittle glass for them to start throwing stones. 
A legislative committee did make hurried inquiry into the 
laws recently and spent two days on hearings in New York 
which were neglected by all but Socialists. 

The trouble with New York elections would not seem 
to one reading the election laws to rest with the laws 
themselves. On the surface they seem ample and adequate, 
but their interpretation by the courts has left them full 
of loopholes especially in the matter of possible coloniza 
tion. So, too, do the voting machines, now in general use 
throughout the city, seem well designed to reduce the 
chance of accidental or deliberate error in the count. The 
merits of voting machines were impressed on reformers 
by Tammany's long opposition to their use. It is true that 
since their adoption the all-night counts with their chance 
for honest error and for all sorts of dishonest tricks, 
including violence, have been eliminated. Nevertheless, 
Tammany has proved that man is mightier than any im 
personal machine. 

The chief weakness of the voting machine from a 
mechanical point of view is the fact that in its present 



GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 81 

legal form it does not, like a cash register, print its totals. 
They appear on the back of the machine in rather small- 
sized figures. While the law provides that the machine 
must be opened and so turned that the face on which 
totals are recorded is plainly visible to all election inspec 
tors and properly certified watchers of all political parties, 
it is an easy law to ignore or evade. Watchers, even of the 
Republican party in New York City, are often inexpert, 
easily brow-beaten, and in many districts they either fear 
or actually experience physical violence if they protest. 
Besides there are rarely enough watchers for every pre 
cinct. That leaves only the Republican inspectors for 
Tammany to take care of. And that is easy. We have 
seen precinct after precinct where there have been more 
Republican officials than Republican votes. We have seen 
more precincts where the Socialist vote as reported was 
zero, one, two or three, although we have been able in 
those same precincts to get small mountains of affidavits 
of Socialists who swore that in those precincts they voted 
the ticket. 

What happened? The Republican or allegedly Repub 
lican inspectors obligingly looked the other way while a 
Democratic chairman read off the minority party vote and 
a Democratic secretary recorded it with a substantial sub 
traction. In 1927 when all Tammany's bag of tricks was 
used in a certain district to prevent the reelection of the 
popular Socialist, Jacob Panken, judge of the municipal 
court, in one precinct where there was prima fade evi 
dence of irregularity the voting machine on court order 



82 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

was reopened. It showed 35 votes for Judge Panken; 
other testimony showed that the chairman had called out 
eleven and the secretary had written down nine, not on 
the regular form, but on a slip of paper from which later 
he had expected to transcribe it to the regular form oblig 
ingly signed in blank by "Republican" election inspectors 
who then cleaned out altogether! 

Incidentally that good Tammany war horse, Magistrate 
Simpson, who later resigned under fire, refused even to 
hold the alleged Republicans for the Grand Jury. That 
same year in that same district a Republican candidate for 
municipal court judge openly mourned in Socialist district 
headquarters that he "hadn't money enough to keep the 
boys in line." The "boys" were nominally Republican in 
spectors and watchers who according to general belief 
were conveniently blind and deaf for the sum of twenty- 
five good Tammany dollars. (The rate varies according 
to urgency.) 

Against this deliberate misreading of the machine 
through collusion between the old parties court orders for 
reopening the machines are no real protection. To obtain 
such orders is expensive, cumbersome and requires an 
amount of prima -fade evidence of fraud not worth the 
cost and trouble of collecting. 

But where, you may ask, are the police? Hand in glove 
with the Tammany-Republican machine. Even a decent 
cop regards it as a mortal danger to his job to interfere 
on his own initiative, or even at the request of a minor 
party watcher, with any irregularity at the polls short of 



GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 83 

murder. With rare exceptions the New York cop at an 
election precinct takes the monkeys of Nikko as his exam 
ple. He hears, sees, speaks no evil. No, not quite. We 
have known some specimens who if an honest, non- 
Tammany man is attacked at the polls will always see him 
in the role of aggressor and grab him, intimidate him, or 
actually arrest him. Meanwhile the gangster escapes. 

But we are getting a little ahead of our argument. The 
point about the voting machine is this: if it were so con 
trived that it printed in duplicate or triplicate the final 
result and these copies were properly filed it would at least 
be much harder than it now is to misread, misreport or 
doctor the record. That is what reformers never thought 
of when the machine was introduced. 

Another serious point about the machine is its adapta 
bility or lack of adaptability to proportional representa 
tion. At any rate the history of voting by a mechanical 
process is one more proof that we cannot be saved by law 
or machinery if we lack the will or power to organize for 
our own protection. Some weary hours, some two A.M. 
battles, knavery and physical violence, some ballot fixing, 
the machine prevents. With the addition of automatic 
printing of results the area of its protection might be 
extended. More cannot be said for it. 

Tammany's best means of gathering in votes at the 
expense of its political opponents is not misreading the 
voting machines but sheer intimidation on election day. 
In this process of intimidation gangsters, racketeers, judges 
and avowed political workers make common cause. Yes, 



84 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

and school teachers. In one experience one of the most 
persistent violators of the law against lobbying near the 
polls was a Tammany school teacher who used her ac 
quaintance and influence with parents openly and success 
fully all day long in the polling places in the basement 
of the school where she taught. We have seen in a 
big school basement a crowd of lingering visitors or 
hangers-on, including in the same group a judge, a district 
leader, an assemblyman and a well-known local gangster, 
all united in bonds of amity, each in his way impressing 
the voters with the manysided might of Tammany and 
the wisdom of doing its bidding. We have been gra 
ciously offered personal immunity as a favor by a typical 
Tammany alderman in a polling place, in which the same 
alderman had been inciting some of his followers to vio 
lence against a Socialist watcher. The crowd in that 
polling place could have had its composite picture taken 
for the kind of men who loot cities. The worst of them 
proudly wore party badges. Ordinary citizens, as a 
passer-by explained, believed "an honest man hasn't a 
chance. Dutch Schultz's men are operating in this district 
to-day." (Schultz is a notorious beer runner and racketeer. ) 
There is a certain degree of respect for persons in the 
administration of physical violence. In such assembly dis 
tricts as the 2nd, 4th, 17th in Manhattan to name only 
three a Socialist candidate for high office is relatively 
secure from personal attack if he visits the polling places ; 
the ordinary watcher is far less safe. There have even 
been instances where prominent Republicans have suffered 



GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 85 

the indignity of the "bum's rush" out of a polling place. 
And one of the authors of this book can testify that such 
immunity as he has enjoyed has not extended to his com 
panions or to the tires of his car. 

We suspect that the fighting Congressman La Guardia 
will agree with Socialists that the one thing Tammany 
fears is a counter organization, known to include a num 
ber of well-set-up young men, residents in the same neigh 
borhood as the election inspectors. Short of that, well- 
trained watchers can do much. So, too, can temporary 
deputies to the attorney general appointed by him to watch 
the polls that is, if the attorney general is Republican. 
In 1931 the Democratic attorney general appointed depu 
ties whose purposed or ignorant blindness and misinter 
pretation of law greatly assisted Tammany in piling up 
the majority it needed to "vindicate" the Walker admin 
istration. 

These conditions, we repeat, do not prevail merely in a 
very few isolated precincts; they are habitual in district 
after district in the greater city. Well-informed news 
paper reporters are cynically aware of them, but editors, 
like other respectable citizens, usually vote in districts or 
at hours when nothing out of the way happens. Or else 
they are so calloused to sensation that nothing matters 
short of open riot. Hence the standing headline: "All 
quiet at the polls." And for this and possibly less cred 
itable reasons it is next to impossible to get the average 
New York newspaper genuinely interested in an honest 
vote. 



86 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

How does this intimidation work? You live, let us say, 
in a Democratic district where there are reasons for the 
leader to make a big showing. You are one of the group 
not definitely lined up already by fear or favor on the 
boss's side. Your name is checked to show that fact. If 
English is your native language and you have reasonable 
self-assurance and a job out of the boss's reach, you can 
usually vote your own way, even if that way is Socialist 
or Communist, unless some one has thoughtfully voted 
for you first which sometimes happens. But if your Eng 
lish is poor, you seem bewildered, or financially insecure, 
what then? Assuming that you have given the Tammany 
canvasser no assurances, you run a hostile gauntlet as you 
stand in line at the polls even though that hostility may 
not result in immediate violence. When you come to the 
machine you may be offered "assistance" or even have it 
forced upon you. Assistance is the polite term for the 
intrusion of a Tammany inspector with you into the actual 
voting place where he pulls the levers for you. In a great 
many cases, of course, it is accepted or welcomed by bewil 
dered voters or those desirous of some favor from the boss. 

Legally, assistance can be given only to those who at 
the time of registration ask for it and then only on the 
ground of certain physical disabilities like blindness. Two 
inspectors of different parties must then accompany the 
voter to the machine. In precinct after precinct the law 
is contemptuously ignored. Reliable Socialist watchers, 
after vainly protesting, have seen the majority of the voters 
of a precinct accompanied to the machine by a good 



GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 87 

Democratic relative or an inspector or both. Often not 
even the bluff of a proper entry is made on the election 
books. We have been jovially assured in some precincts 
that "the people here are too dumb to vote any other 
way." The miserably exploited Porto Rican colony in Har 
lem, mostly Spanish-speaking but entitled to vote, is at 
present the group for whom "assistance" is the rule rather 
than the exception. Thus in 1931 in one precinct of the 
17th Assembly district 136 voters were marked for "assist 
ance" 75 for bad eyes! 38 were previous voters whose 
need for assistance was not set forth according to law. 
For this and other offenses one group of election inspec 
tors in Harlem on Socialist complaint, was mildly disci 
plined by the Board of Elections after the 1931 election 
and the chairman of the inspectors faces a criminal indict 
ment in proceedings forced by Socialists in spite of an 
apathetic district attorney's office. But such action, taken 
at considerable expense of time and energy in one precinct 
only, except for its possible exemplary effect, seems a little 
like bailing out the Hudson with a bucket. 

Moreover there is a uniform record of laxity in the 
courts in enforcing election laws. Thus a woman election 
inspector, caught red-handed voting the third time, was 
discharged by a Tammany magistrate on the ground that 
she was voting for absent loved ones and meant no harm! 
Even the higher courts for reasons best known to them 
selves have rendered decisions which hamper the war 
against colonization or the use of floaters by permitting 
men to have voting residences which are not where they 



88 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

really live. There is a good deal of colonization or its 
equivalent in New York City. It is a favorite Democratic 
jest that up-state Republicans vote the tombstones. We 
have actually known one definite case where some one 
registered and voted on the name of a man dead for at 
least a year. No one was punished. 

Other election tricks include wholesale ringing up of 
votes near the end of the day on the names of voters who 
have not appeared to vote for themselves. More common 
is spying on the voter through holes and cracks, especially 
if he rejects assistance. Out of many instances of this sort 
we recall the case of a pushcart peddler who was followed 
out on the street and warned by a Tammany captain that 
he could not ply his trade in that district since he had 
voted for one Socialist. 

Stories like this, magnified by men's fears in a great, 
cruel city, have an immense effect in cowing the electorate. 
Few there are who will go to court to swear to irregulari 
ties. They or their friends, they think, are sure to be hurt. 
They complain, they cry for justice, but it must come to 
them from on high. Repeatedly we have been asked to 
work the miracle of making an effective complaint al 
though the men and women who ask it are utterly unwill 
ing even to make affidavits. Before you, critical reader, 
become too scornful of such weakness, consider just how 
much of a price in time, delay, possible insult you would 
pay for carrying through a fight under our endlessly slow 
and wearisome judicial system in which the prosecuting 
authorities are all on the side of those who should be 



GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 89 

prosecuted. And if to this difficulty you must add possible 
risk to your job or to your cousin who works in the Hos 
pital Department, just how far would you carry your 
complaint? 

To sum this matter up: the Tammany technique of fear 
and favor for controlling the electorate emphatically ex 
tends to actual voting on election day, and of course, on 
primary day if opposition makes it necessary. The methods 
of fraud and intimidation include shipping in alleged 
voters from another district or city, physical or psycho 
logical intimidation at the polling places, actual voting 
for those voters whose English is imperfect, and delib 
erate misreading of the voting machine totals. Republican 
candidates are the victims of such tactics almost as much 
as minor party candidates, yet this large scale fraud is 
only possible because of the habitual collusion of the 
Republican county organizations such as they are with 
their Democratic big brothers. Rarely does the Republican 
leadership in any county bother to fight for the whole 
ticket. It bargains for special candidates, and it could not 
control all its nominal inspectors even if it so desired. 
Its rewards are what the Democrats give them: some cash 
and favors, and here and there a judgeship. Why else was 
Morris Koenig elected judge in New York after a noto 
rious deal with Murphy except that his brother Sam, the 
Republican leader, was so obliging an ally to Tammany? 

The question is often raised whether fraud, intimida 
tion or theft of votes really changes the result of the elec 
tion. Probably not often in the principal elections, but 



90 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

there is no way of knowing. In the old days of paper 
ballots, William Randolph Hearst was probably counted 
out in his race against McClellan and then enough ballot 
boxes were conveniently lost to make a recount ineffectual. 
Socialists in assembly and aldermanic districts have fre 
quently been counted out. Sometimes they have won on 
recount proceedings. August Claessens in a Harlem as 
sembly district in 1921 was counted out and later seated 
on recount by a comfortable margin. There is no reason 
to think conditions have changed for the better. 

But Tammany knows that aside from a mere vulgar 
necessity for winning, its demonstrations of power on 
election day are immensely significant in keeping its 
dominion of fear over the electorate. Election fraud and 
intimidation help in the process of keeping whole dis 
tricts cowed, apathetic, docile, even grateful as slaves are 
grateful for small favors. There is no public opinion of 
any great weight against these election frauds so long as 
they stop short of riot and murder. Taking the state as a 
whole Republicans gain as much as Democrats by fraud. 
Why interfere with each other, especially when unpopular 
and scarcely respectable minor parties are the chief suf 
ferers? Hence a situation in which even the Seabury inves 
tigation ignored election methods altogether. Investiga 
tion into them would not particularly have furthered the 
man-hunt against Walker into which politics and popular 
psychology virtually forced the inquiry. 

Unquestionably the election code could be strengthened. 
The machines could be improved so that they could print 



GANG RULE AT ELECTIONS 91 

the results. Something might be gained if election inspec 
tors were civil service appointees. They would at least 
be more literate and efficient and possibly though not 
certainly they would be less amenable to political orders. 
A few typical criminal prosecutions might have an exem 
plary effect. More and better watchers is a good slogan 
for every minor party. But until new faith in political 
action, new understanding of its importance and effective 
organization arouse the working masses out of their apa 
thy, elections will remain approximately as dishonest as 
they now are. 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 

WHEN Mayor Walker began his first term in 1926 the 
rumblings of a great judicial scandal had already begun. 
Hylan's appointments to the Magistrate's Court had been 
notoriously bad. Walker proceeded blithely to carry on 
the tradition by appointing all the political henchmen who 
were thrust upon him by the district leaders without 
apology and without the pretense of consulting the bar 
associations. This obedience to the district leaders was 
not painful for the mayor. It fitted in quite admirably 
with the pledge that he had given at the beginning of his 
administration that he was and would remain an "organi- 
2ation" mayor. 

As his administration proceeded and the worst judicial 
scandals of New York's history were unfolded in the 
newspapers, the mayor's loyalty and aplomb were un 
ruffled. We do not remember a single occasion during his 
two administrations when he specifically denounced any 
judicial crooks or assisted in their exposure. The entire 
movement for exposure and reform was forced upon the 
city against Tammany opposition by the Socialists and 
reformers, by the Republican federal attorney, Charles H. 
Tuttle, by Fiorello La Guardia, and by the newspapers. 

92 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 93 

In the face of growing scandals the prosecuting machinery 
obviously broke down. Feeble "investigations" were 
started by the feeble District Attorney Grain. The grand 
jury which inquired into the Magistrate's Court in 1930 
reported generalities, and concrete "leads" were not fol 
lowed up. 

In allowing these judicial scandals to develop without 
more serious efforts at reform, Tammany made a grave 
mistake. Concerning the courts we Americans still pre 
serve a peculiar kind of sensitiveness. We take our con 
gressmen and our senators with something less than seri 
ousness but we preserve the fiction that the moment a 
man is elevated to the bench he somehow rises above his 
political past and acquires a new insight and impartiality. 
Tammany has profoundly shocked even hard-boiled New 
York by creating a court system that has gone beyond all 
the limits of ordinary political manipulation. 

One reason for the shock has been the unrealistic edu 
cation in civics of New York public school children, to 
which we have already referred. The school textbooks 
omit all reference to machine control of the courts. In 
deed, a pupil in the public schools would imagine, if he 
did not read the newspapers, that our magistrates were 
wise and benign citizens chosen for their knowledge and 
impartiality, that the people actually nominate and elect 
their judges, and that the judges are removed if they show 
favoritism. 

The truth is, of course, that almost every judge in New 
York City holds his position by virtue of an initial loyalty 



94 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

to the Democratic or Republican machine. He may have 
become an honest and scrupulously fair judge in the 
process of his development many of the worst machine 
judges acquire new stature when their debts have once 
been paid but his honesty and fairness seldom have any 
thing to do with his appointment. The sine qua non of 
both appointment and election is party loyalty and service. 
The magistrates are nominally chosen by the mayor but 
actually by the Democratic leaders of the districts in which 
vacancies occur. The Supreme Court judges are chosen by 
the county political leaders. 

Nominally, the judges of the Supreme Court, the Court 
of General Sessions and the City Court are elected by the 
people. Judicial conventions are called which go through 
democratic forms, but these conventions blindly approve 
any slate prepared by the leaders. The system occasionally 
permits a man of outstanding ability to become a judge 
if he is reasonably loyal to his party, but the tendency is 
to exclude all men of independence and courage. Bril 
liance in a New York City judge is accidental ; conformity, 
at least at the beginning of his career, is essential. 

No finer illustration of the working of the system in 
the higher courts could be found than the notorious judi 
cial deal in the Second Judicial District (Brooklyn, 
Queens, etc.) in 1931 by which seven Democratic and five 
Republican Supreme Court judgeships were bargained for 
over the political counter like so many sacks of wheat. 
New judges were needed in this district but the new posi 
tions could not be provided for without the support of the 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 95 

Republican legislature. The district was Democratic, so 
the Republicans refused to create the new positions unless 
they were promised some of the judgeships. The deal 
whereby the leaders named the 12 judges was so realisti 
cally described before Judge Seabury by John Theofel, 
Democratic boss of Queens, that we shall quote from his 
testimony at some length: 

Q. Now, Mr. Theofel, you know that during the last 
session of the Legislature a law was enacted increasing the 
number of Justices of the Supreme Court in the Second 
Judicial District? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Also increasing the number of County Court Judges, 
was it not? 

A. One judge. 

Q. In your county? 

A. Yes. 

Q. And increasing the number of City Court Judges? 

A. Two. 

Q. Two. And how about Municipal Court? 

A. Two. . . . 

Q. All right. Now, you understood that some of those 
were to go to one county, others to another, didn't you? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And there was nothing in the law about what county 
the Justices should come from, was there? 

A. No, sir. 

Q. If that was to be determined in advance, then it had 
to be a determination arrived at by the leaders, didn't it? 

A. I should imagine so. 

Q. Well, now, before this law was enacted, do you re 
member a meeting in the spring in Brooklyn? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. When was it that you held that meeting in the early 
spring? 



96 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

A. I think it was, Judge. 

Q. And before the bill was enacted into law? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And who was present at that meeting? 

A. Mr. McCooey, Mr. Rendt, Mr. Krug, Mr. Rasquin and 
myself. [County leaders] . . . 

Q. And where was that conference held? 

A. Mr. McCooey' s office. 

Q. Was it a private office or a public office? 

A. Political office. 

Q. Political? 

A. It is the building owned by the organization. 

Q. By what organization? 

A. The Democratic Organization of Kings County. 

Q. And who called the conference? 

A. Why, I was telephoned and invited down. 

Q. That was a conference of all the Democratic leaders 
in the Second Judicial District? 

A. Yes, sir. . . . 

Q. Now, taking into account [the] grave perils that re 
sulted from the law's delay, did those who were assembled 
there arrive at any conclusion as to the method by which 
they could remedy these grave abuses? 

A. The only way to remedy it was to get more Judges. 

Q. Well, how could those who were assembled there, 
every one of them Democrats, get more Judges? 

A. I don't know. 

Q. They couldn't, could they? 

A. Not without the assistance of somebody. . . . 

Q. And then did anyone suggest how many more Judges 
might be provided for? 

A. Well, they said, somebody said, or they discussed the 
matter that it couldn't, that we couldn't get more Judges 
unless the Republicans put them through. 

Q. That is, in the Legislature? 

A. Yes, sir. . . . 

Q. Well, now, Mr. Theofel, didn't somebody say that the 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 97 

Republicans wouldn't put it through and create more Judge- 
ships, because if they did, the Democrats would elect them 
all? 

A. I wish they had of put them through, Judge. 

Q. Well, they wouldn't, would they? 

A. They didn't. 

Q. And didn't someone say the reason why they wouldn't 
was because the Democrats would elect them all? 

A. I think the Democrats would have elected the whole 
twelve. 

Q. The whole twelve? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. No matter who they put up or on the ticket? 

A. I think so. That is only my opinion. I may be wrong. 

Q. At any rate, you statesmen who were there assembled 
(laughter gavel). . . . 

A. Thank you. 

Q. Recognizing the difficulties, were there to devise a 
method for relief for the Supreme Court calendar, weren't 
you? 

A. Well, we were looking to get more Judges; also to 
help the calendar. 

Q. And was the net result of that conference that it was 
agreed that the gentlemen who were assembled there repre 
senting the Democratic leaders in the Second District, should 
enter into a deal with the Republican leaders, if they could 
get a bill through creating more Judges? Was that the 
understanding in words and effect? 

A. Well, I don't know whether they should enter in or 
the Republican enter in with us. I don't know which it 
was. . . . 

Q. Wasn't that, in substance and effect, the result of this 
conference of Democratic leaders? 

A. Along those lines. 

Q. You wouldn't say that my statement of it was inaccu 
rate in any substantial respect, would you? 

A. No. 



98 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Q. Was the manner in which those places should be 
allocated to counties after the bill became a law, discussed? 

A. Well, they talked about so many for Brooklyn and so 
many for Queens. I was trying to get as many as I could for 
Queens. 

Q. You, as a loyal Queens leader, wanted as many as you 
could? 

A. I would like to have gotten the whole 12 if I could. 

Q. You would have taken the whole 12 (laughter 
gavel). You could have used them there, couldn't you? 

A. I believe so. ... 

Q. How many did they cut you down to? 

A. Three. . 

Q. That is, they cut your county down to three? 

A. Yes. 

Q. You had to make provision for the Republicans in 
that three, didn't you? 

A. Well, it is up to me to get away with three Demo 
crats, if I could. 

Q. If you could. Well, now, you never expected, if three 
were to be allocated to Queens County, that you would be 
able to get away with the whole three? 

A. I tried hard enough, Judge, but the Republicans 
wouldn't let me. 

Q. You had to give up one, didn't you? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And how many did Mr. McCooey want allocated to 
him? 

A. Well, I guess he got five. 

Q. Five. Whatever you could get in Queens County, you 
were to name, and whatever he could get in Kings County, 
he was to name? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And he got five in this conference, didn't he? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Well, now, how much did Rendt get from Richmond? 

A. He got one Judge. 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 99 

Q. One. How was he going to meet his Republican sit 
uation? (laughter gavel). With only one Judge. 

A. That was a tough job. 

Q. It was a tough job. Well, why didn't they make it 
thirteen judges and give two to Richmond? 

A. I don't know. . . . 

Q. Well, now, all this apportionment was determined 
upon, as I understand it, in the spring of this year, before 
the bill was enacted into law? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And was anything said as to how many of the twelve 
they would have to give the Republicans for passing the 
legislation? 

A. I don't know. I believe it was up to you to get away 
with as many as you could. 

Q. It was up to them to get away with as many as they 
could? 

A. Yes, sir. If I could have got away with the three, I 
would have grabbed the three for Queens, but as I said, my 
Republican leader would not stand for it. 

Q. No. Well, it was tentatively understood, was it not, 
that with reasonable skill the Democrats ought to be able 
to hold seven out of the 12? 

A. Well, that was the general opinion. 

Q. General opinion. It was not thought fair that they 
should give the Republicans more than five just for passing 
the bill? 

A. Well, it was a Democratic district, Judge. 

Q. Exactly. 

A. And the vote would show that if the Republicans 
passed the legislation without doing business with the Demo 
crats, that the Democrats could go out and nominate 12 
Democrats and elect 12. 

Q. Therefore there had to be some kind of a gentleman's 
agreement, didn't there? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. That if the Republicans would create the judgeships 



100 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

the Democrats would not grab them all but would give five 
to the Republicans and take seven to themselves? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And that is the way, in the ordinary course of human 
events, the thing finally worked out, wasn't it? 

A. About the way, yes, sir. 

Q. And then it came down to selecting the number that 
had been allocated to Queens? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. You didn't assume to dictate to Mr. McCooey whom 
he should select in Kings, did you? 

A. No, sir. 

Q. And Mr. McCooey did not assume to dictate to you 
whom you should take in Queens? 

A. Well, he didn't dictate. 

Q. Well, did he suggest? 

A. No. 

Q. That was a matter for you to fight out with your 
Republican colleague, wasn't it? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And who was the Republican partner in Queens? 

A. Mr. Ashmead. 

Q. Mr. Ashmead. He represented the Republicans? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And you represented the Democrats? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Well, did you gentlemen confer on how many you 
should get and how many Mr. Ashmead should get and 
whether or not Mr. Ashmead would endorse your two and 
whether or not you would endorse his one? 

A. Yes, we did. . . . 

Q. And as the result of the conference between you and 
Mr. Ashmead it was understood between you and Mr. 
Ashmead, was it not, that you should name two Judges in 
Queens and that he should name one? 

A. Yes, but Mr. Ashmead would have taken the two if 
I would have let him get away with it. 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 101 

Q. He was perfectly willing to take the two and give 
you one? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. You wouldn't let him get away with that? 

A. Not if I could help it. I tried to get the three. 

Q. You tried to get the three but he wouldn't let you get 
away with that, would he? 

A. No, sir. 

Q. So that as the result of these meetings between you 
and Mr. Ashmead it was finally agreed that you should 
have two and that he should have one? 

A. Yes, sir. . . . 

Q. You have told us very clearly the arrangement in 
reference to the Supreme Court Justices. Now, was there 
any arrangement as to the City Court Justices? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And you were to get in Queens County how many City 
Court Justices? 

A. Two. 

Q. And you were to have one and Ashmead one? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And was that also the subject matter of your conversa 
tions with Ashmead? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Were there any County Judges created? 

A. One. 

Q. Who was to get the County Judge? 

A. I had one of our Assemblymen introduce that bill, 
Judge. 

Q. You had one of your Assemblymen introduce that 
bill? 

A. Yes, sir. There was only one County Judge. 

Q. Wasn't that the subject of negotiations with Mr. Ash 
mead? 

A. Well, I believe Mr. Ashmead was to help us get the 
legislation through on it. 

Q. Well, the legislation did go through and there was 



102 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

one County Judge additional for Queens created, wasn't 
there? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And who was to nominate him? 

A. We were, the Democrats. 

Q. The Democrats. And was Ashmead to support it? 

A. Yes, sir, he agreed to support. 

Q. He agreed to. And how many Municipal Court 
Judges? 

A. Two. 

Q. And how many of those two Municipal Court Judges 
were you to get? 

A. One. 

Q. And how many was Ashmead to get? 

A. There was only one more. 

Q. He was to get the other? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And when you got them all together, why, you were 
both to endorse that ticket, weren't you? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. And that is what you have done, isn't it? 

A. Yes, sir. . . .* 

It was not a surprise after this testimony when one of 
the prospective candidates for the Supreme Court justice 
ship allotted to the Republicans in Queens testified that 
the Republican judge selected was supposed to contribute 
$5,000 to the county committee's treasury. It is certain, 
however, that one of the judges involved was not required 
to pay a cent for his post. He was young John McCooey, 
Jr., 31 years old, relatively inexperienced and unknown 
except in his amazing successes before the Board of Stand 
ards and Appeals which we have already described. He 
and his father had reason to feel deeply grateful to Frank- 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 103 

lin D. Roosevelt who had made the judicial deal possible 
by signing the bill which created the twelve new judge- 
ships after he had been repeatedly warned by civic leaders 
that a corrupt bargain was in the making. 

For the common man the justice meted out in the lower 
courts is much more important than that meted out in the 
Supreme Court. If we include the traffic cases over half a 
million New Yorkers are arraigned in the Magistrate's 
Court in a single year, and for most of them this arraign 
ment is their sole contact with the judicial machinery of 
their city. If they are to develop "faith in American insti 
tutions" this is the place to acquire it. If the misfits of a 
great city are to be redeemed by intelligent social service, 
this is the social worker's opportunity. 

New York has a confusing network of lower courts for 
criminal and civil cases. Ordinary criminal cases are cov 
ered in an ascending order of seriousness by the Magis 
trate's Court, the Court of Special Sessions and the Court 
of General Sessions. The Magistrate's Court takes care of 
cases of drunkenness, vagrancy and disorderly conduct di 
rectly, and its three branches, the Children's Court, the 
Traffic Court, and the Family Court, take care of the minor 
offenses in these specialized fields. The Court of Special 
Sessions also handles certain misdemeanor cases which 
have passed through the Magistrate's Court. Felonies such 
as murder and arson go to the Court of General Sessions. 
Outside of Manhattan the county courts function in place 
of the General Sessions Court. Civil cases involving less 



104 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

than $1,000 may go to the Municipal Court, and $1,000 
to $3,000 to the City Court. In the State Supreme Court 
suits for any amount may be brought. Estates are cared 
for by the Surrogate's Court, which is a county institution. 

The quality of the judges tends to improve in propor 
tion to the square of the distance from a local Tammany 
leader. The magistrates are at the bottom, the regular 
Supreme Court justices a little better, the Appellate Divi 
sion slightly tainted, and the Court of Appeals subservient 
only to the congealed traditions of American capitalism. 
The magistrates and Special Sessions judges are chosen by 
the mayor, the Appellate Division chosen by the governor 
from the elected justices of the State Supreme Court, and 
the other judges elected. The Court of Appeals is the 
highest state court and to it come the important cases after 
they have been appealed from a Supreme Court judge to 
the Appellate Division of a given district. 

In all of these courts the pay is good and the term of 
office is long, sufficiently good and sufficiently long so that 
every judicial appointment or nomination is fought for 
vigorously, and, it is said, paid for handsomely in service 
or campaign contributions. A State Supreme Court justice 
receives $25,000 a year, $5,000 more than a justice of the 
United States Supreme Court, and his term is fourteen 
years. A magistrate receives $12,000 a year for ten years. 
The chief judge of the Children's Court receives $18,000 
a year, $3,000 more than the Vice President of the United 
States. There is no need of his being a specialist in child 
welfare and his duties take only a few hours a day. No 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 105 

further comment is needed as to the quality of these Chil 
dren's Court judges than to point out that ex-Mayor 
Hylan was appointed a Children's Court judge when he 
threatened to become politically embarrassing by cutting 
in on the Tammany vote after Tammany had decided to 
discard him. When Hylan was appointed, a New York 
columnist wrote that the children of Queens would now 
be tried by their peer! 

The thing which makes the Magistrate's Court so im 
portant is not only the half million cases which come up 
before the fifty magistrates each year but the fact that this 
court is in many cases the portal to higher courts where 
serious offenses are tried. In 1929 there were 17,000 pris 
oners arraigned before the magistrates on charges of fel 
onies. A magistrate under political pressure may dismiss 
an important prisoner after a perfunctory hearing, or he 
may ruin the career of a poor man who refuses to bow to 
the local district leader. If the magistrate exercises reason 
able caution in following the orders of a district leader, it 
is almost impossible to prove malfeasance in office. 

One magistrate during the height of the 1930 scandals, 
was quoted as saying: "If I were a political leader called 
into court to help out a constituent, I would not feel that I 
was using my political authority to defeat the ends of jus 
tice. I would feel as though I were in the position of a 
military judge advocate in the army, sworn to see that 
every person brought to court, no matter how incapable of 
self-help, should have all his deserts whether they were 
comfortable or uncomfortable for him." 



106 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Of course, the district leader does not come into court 
as a judge advocate but as a political fixer and overlord 
who is more powerful than the magistrate himself. Gro 
tesquely enough, the leader is quite commonly a clerk or 
other official in the magistrate's or in some higher court, 
so that citizens who want justice may go directly to the 
real seat of authority. Rotund, heavy-footed John Theo- 
fel, whose testimony we have just quoted, is chief clerk 
in the court of Surrogate Hetherington, who was put in 
office by Theofel and who returned the compliment by 
promptly whitewashing Theofel after charges were 
brought against him by the City Affairs Committee. 

The scandal of the magistrates' courts of New York is 
not new; like prosperity under capitalism it is cyclical. 
In 1908 the Page Commission, appointed by the legisla 
ture, investigated the inferior criminal courts of New 
York and found many of the abuses which still persisted 
when Judge Seabury made his investigation 22 years 
later. The Page Commission said: "The ordinary scene in 
the magistrate's court is one of confusion and utter lack of 
dignity. . . ." It denounced what would have been 
called the bail bond racket, if the word racket had then 
been popularized. Frank Moss, former police commis 
sioner and president of the Society for the Prevention of 
Crime, said before the Page Commission: "I think there 
are more anarchists bred in those places (lower criminal 
courts of New York City) than are made in the meetings 
of the anarchistic clubs. I think that many a man who 
in his heart is innocent and who is brought up by the 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 107 

police unfairly before a court which handles him unfairly, 
whatever may be the reason, goes out with a feeling of 
hatred toward the institutions which we desire to sus 



tain." 2 



The present wave of court scandals centered originally 
about Magistrates Vitale and Ewald, and grew with the 
disappearance of Justice Crater. Vitale was a magistrate 
who had the bad fortune to eat a dinner one night in his 
honor in the midst of a hold-up in which it developed that 
half a dozen of his fellow diners were rather famous gun 
men. Famous but not so quick on the draw as the gun 
men who robbed them that night. The incident aroused 
much comment. La Guardia and a Socialist leader de 
manded Vitale' s removal. The Association of the Bar of 
the City of New York recommended Vi tale's removal 
after they had discovered that the magistrate had accepted 
a $19,940 "loan" from the enterprising gambler, Arnold 
Rothstein, and that his bank deposits contained a mysteri 
ous $100,000. Vitale was removed as judge but not dis 
barred as a lawyer, and to-day he is practicing law merrily. 
Like many of his associates he has not been disqualified 
as a lawyer because he was an unfit judge. 

The case of Magistrate George F. Ewald attracted even 
wider attention. Ewald was caught originally in the stout 
income tax net of Charles H. Tuttle. It was discovered 
that he or his wife had paid out $10,000 about the time 
that he became a magistrate, and the discovery created 
enough of a sensation to cause a special grand jury in 
vestigation on order of Governor Roosevelt, with Hiram 



108 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

C. Todd as special prosecutor. Ewald was indicted for 
bribery shortly after he had resigned from office and 
Martin J. Healy, his district leader who was also first 
deputy commissioner of Plant and Structures, was charged 
with accepting the bribe. Why should Mrs. Ewald pay 
$10,000 to Mr. Healy at such an appropriate moment? 
Mrs. Ewald at first refused to answer on the ground that 
it might incriminate her, but she finally came forward with 
the fantastic story that she lent $10,000 to Healy to buy a 
house on Long Island without keeping any receipt or de 
manding any security. Mrs. Ewald was relatively poor and 
Mr. Healy was rich. Mrs. Ewald was not a friend of 
Healy's, but out of the generosity of a warm heart she 
advanced the $10,000 and ergo her husband became a 
magistrate! Two American juries looked that evidence 
squarely in the face and disagreed! The Ewalds and Healy 
were finally freed. 

A conclusion like this prompts us to speak very harshly 
of the state of public mind that allows such "explana 
tions" as those advanced by Mrs. Ewald to establish a rea 
sonable doubt in a jury's mind. It also constitutes an in 
dictment of the laws of evidence as developed in our court 
system. Why should not a jury be allowed to take into 
account the fact that a person accused of crime refuses to 
waive immunity when first arraigned? In actual life the 
ability to tell a straight story concerning one's conduct 
when first charged with crime is an important indication 
of innocence, and any delay which permits the building 
up of a cooperative set of lies should be taken into ac- 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 109 

count as an indication of guilt. In the courts, however, 
full time is allowed to build up elaborate evasions and 
defendants may refuse to testify without prejudice to their 
case. We see no reason why anyone charged with any 
crime should be allowed to refuse to testify, least of all a 
public official or any citizen charged with committing a 
crime in connection with public life. 

The Ewald case was not only a revelation of the break 
down of our jury system in producing convictions, but it 
brought into the open a whole set of Tammany lawyers 
who play with the machine on occasion and yet try to 
maintain their professional respectability. The special 
grand jury investigating Ewald set out to discover just 
how common the practice was of paying $10,000 for a 
judgeship, and who commonly received the money. Natu 
rally it summoned first the real ruler of political Manhat 
tan, John F. Curry, but when Mr. Curry was asked on 
September 24, 1930, to waive immunity before this grand 
jury, he stamped furiously from the room and told the 
host of expectant reporters that he had been "insulted." 
Whereupon seventeen Tammany district leaders followed 
their chief and refused to waive immunity. 

The nature of the insult to Mr. Curry is rather difficult 
to understand in view of the known situation in New 
York courts. Since the magistrates are chosen by district 
leaders and it is almost universally believed that they pay 
* 'campaign contributions" to these leaders in return for 
their appointments, the question naturally arises: How are 
the contributions distributed? Does Mr. Curry receive anjr 



110 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

of them? What does Mr. Curry consider a fair contribu 
tion? 

Miss Annie Mathews, noted Tammany worker and co- 
leader in the 19th district with Martin J. Healy, who was 
charged with accepting the bribe from Ewald, gave away 
the Tammany case in a charmingly nai've speech before 
the League of Women Voters. Wouldn't a judge be a 
"rotter," she asked, if he got an appointment for the 
Supreme Court bench from a district leader for 14 years 
at a salary of $25,000 a year and then just said "Thank 
you"? 

When Mr. Curry could not appreciate the relevance of 
the grand jury's very pertinent questions about buying 
judgeships, the heavy artillery of Tammany's legal brigade 
came to his rescue the next day with an open letter. 
Eleven of the city's most powerful lawyers, knowing full 
well that their endorsement would be used to ght any 
thorough investigation of New York corruption, wrote 
Mr. Curry that "your attitude and position reflected in a 
high degree what was becoming to any citizen of dignity 
and self-respect in the community. . . .You should be 
commended for defending a right of inestimable value to 
every citizen." The eleven lawyers were George Gordon 
Battle, Daniel F. Cohalan, Edward S. Dore, Philip J. 
Dunn, Terence J. McManus, Jeremiah T. Mahoney, James 
A. O'Gorman, Max D. Steuer, Leslie J. Tompkins, Samuel 

Untermyer and Frank P. Walsh. 

arrnnioqqfi ti 

? 



7 
THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 

AFTER the Vitale and Ewald cases the public was ready 
for anything. Seabury in his investigation of the Magis 
trates' Courts did not disappoint it. He proved point by 
point the thesis that the rottenness of New York's lower 
criminal courts was part of an organized spoils system. 
The one big disappointment about his investigation was 
its restriction to Manhattan and the Bronx. That destroyed 
half its usefulness. When the investigation finally came, 
it included only magistrates' courts although other sec 
tions of the New York city courts were just as obviously 
a part of the Tammany system. It left Brooklyn and 
Queens magistrates' courts out of the picture although the 
manipulations of Boss McCooey in Brooklyn and Boss 
Theofel in Queens had been quite as notorious as the ex 
ploits of Boss Curry in Manhattan and Boss Flynn in the 
Bronx. This restriction of the inquiry was maneuvered by 
Governor Roosevelt, evidently acting under great pressure 
from his party machine. He did the least that he could do 
under the circumstances; asked the Appellate Division in 
a letter on August 21, 1930, to investigate the Magis 
trates' Courts of Manhattan and the Bronx. We shall dis 
cuss Roosevelt's part in this situation later. 

Ill 



112 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Considering these limitations and the obstacles thrown 
in his way by Tammany, Judge Seabury's report on the 
Magistrates' Court was an outstanding document, more 
remarkable than his later reports in the general city 
investigation. 

His investigation proved three things concerning the 
magistrates' courts, (1) that they were part of a corrupt 
spoils system, (2) that certain individual magistrates 
were sufficiently corrupt or incompetent to be removed, 
and (3) that a mechanical rearrangement of the lower 
criminal courts would make them more efficient. 

There was nothing new or startling about these conclu 
sions since they had been matters of common knowledge 
for years among civic workers, but Judge Seabury made 
them known to the average New Yorker by skillful dram 
atization. As a result of his inquiry Magistrates Jean Nor- 
ris and Jesse Silbermann were removed from office by the 
Appellate Division, Magistrates Francis McQuade, 
George W. Simpson and Henry M. R. Goodman resigned 
under fire, 6 police officers were convicted of crime, and 
13 resigned or were suspended from the force. Judge Sea 
bury's one important failure in this investigation was the 
failure to convict any magistrate of actually paying cash 
for his office. He was unlucky enough to find not a single 
dying or disappointed judge who was ready to shrive his 
soul by telling the final truth about his life. 

In the absence of such a star stool pigeon some of the 
magistrates provided effective entertainment by describing 
the manner of their appointment. Magistrate August 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 113 

Dreyer found that his law business was failing, so he won 
promotion in the following manner: 

I was a Democrat, and I belonged to the organization 
about eighteen years. This theatrical practice was going 
downhill fast, upon the ground that the National Vaude 
ville Artists started, which was taking care of all differ 
ences, which were settled by arbitration by the National 
Vaudeville Artists. The Equity was started with Mr. Paul 
Turner there, and they took care of all their differences, so 
that really what was left in the theatrical business was 
nothing but to take a divorce suit, and I felt that I did not 
want to take any divorce suits. I simply went around to my 
organization at the time, which was the 25th, and I spoke to 
George Donnellan, who was leader at the time; he is a 
General Sessions Court judge. I said: "Listen" he was not 
a judge at the time I said: "Listen, George, for eighteen 
years I never knew what a reference or receivership or guar 
dianship was, never got a 5 -cent piece, never held a political 
office. Here is my position, my practice absolutely gone, 
the National Vaudeville Artists settle their differences with 
the Actors' Equity, who settle their differences through Paul 
Turner, what am I going to do? I think I am entitled to 
get a judgeship for all I have done for eighteen years, spent 
my time three times a week, never asked for anything, never 
bothered about references," I said, "I think I am entitled to 
some recognition." Well, he says: "I will be honest with 
you, you are entitled to some recognition. You never an 
noyed me or bothered me, other lawyers were after me to 
see what I could get for them." I said: "I think I am en 
titled to it." x 

P.S. He got the job. 

Although the Inferior Criminal Courts Act specifically 
forbids a magistrate from engaging in other profession or 
occupation while he is on the bench, Magistrate McQuade 



114 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

regarded the act so lightly that he served openly in the 
management of the New York Giants and even sued the 
club to reinstate him as treasurer. When about to be con 
fronted with these facts, he resigned, but not before he 
had contributed this classic of political frankness: 

Q. Now, in your own words, Judge, will you state to the 
Court, just how you came to be appointed Magistrate? 

A. Well, I was active around in politics, and so on, and 
I had the endorsement of Mr. Hyde, who was City Cham 
berlain at the time, and Senator Sullivan interested himself 
in me. 

Q. Senator who? 

A. Sullivan. 

Q. Tim Sullivan? 

A. Yes, sir. 



Q. Just how did you manage to get this new appoint 
ment? 

A. Why, I asked Mr. Murphy, who was the head of 
Tammany Hall, if he saw fit to give me the long term. Of 
course, I asked him to speak to the Mayor, if he would, at 
that time Hylan, and he did, and Hylan gave me the long 
term. 2 

Magistrate Maurice Gottlieb told of his appointment 
as follows: 

Q. Now, will you tell us a little more about the circum 
stances of your appointment to the bench, Judge? Was the 
appointment made upon the recommendation of Judge 
Mahoney or was it merely that he sponsored you through 
your district leader and through organization circles? 

A. Well, I can explain that. I have been a member of 
Tammany Hall over 40 years. I have lived in Yorkville for 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 115 

30 odd years. My folks lived in Yorkville for 50 years. I 
am a member of the Osceola Club for over 20 years. Judge 
Mahoney I was very active with Judge Mahoney in help 
ing to elect him leader, that must be 12 or 15 years ago, and 
I might say that when he became leader I was fairly well 
known as his right-hand bower. I took care of things politi 
cally. I helped get the house that our clubhouse is in. I have 
done things to help build up our organization in our dis 
trict. . . . Judge Rittenberg, my predecessor, was very sick. 
I had known Moe Rittenberg for probably 30 or 35 years. 
A call came for a man to fill his place, as temporary magis 
trate. I spoke to Briarly. There seemed to be no logical 
man for the position but myself. After all, I had spent 
money, time and help to build up the organization. 

In appointing magistrates and in nominating other offi 
cials Tammany observes an unwritten law of religious and 
national allotments. While the leading figures in the 
Democratic machine are Irish Catholics, the Jews and 
Protestants must be appeased. Senator Royal S. Copeland 
is a leading Methodist; District Attorney Crain is an 
Episcopalian (Tammany has a fondness for Protestant 
district attorneys) ; Controller Berry is a Presbyterian; 
Borough President Samuel Levy of Manhattan is a Jew; 
Joseph V. McKee, president of the Board of Aldermen, is 
Catholic, as are Mayor Walker and a host of other lead 
ers. A rough balance of religious and national allotments 
is maintained in the courts and the other city offices by 
assigning a Jew to succeed a Jew, a German to succeed a 
German and so on. When Julius Miller, borough presi 
dent of Manhattan, was made a Supreme Court judge it 
was taken for granted that this Jewish leader should have 



116 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

a Jewish successor if a reasonably able one could be found. 
Accordingly Samuel Levy, a leading politician in Jewish 
fraternal orders, took his place and promptly demon 
strated his party loyalty by allowing a subordinate to dis 
tribute the employment cards from a public city employ 
ment office through Tammany clubhouses just before elec 
tion day. After this event he was elected President of the 
National Jewish Orthodox Congregations of the United 
States and Canada. 

When Francis X. Mancuso resigned under fire as a 
judge of the Court of General Sessions because he was 
caught as a director in the $5,000,000 failure of the City 
Trust Co., it was taken for granted that another Italian 
should get his position, so Governor Roosevelt appointed 
Amadeo A. Bertini who resembled his successor so strik 
ingly that he refused to waive immunity before a grand 
jury. When Magistrate Jesse Silbermann was being ques 
tioned by Judge Seabury in the Magistrates' Court investi 
gation, he calmly admitted that he had been chosen by 
Mayor Walker because the mayor had "decided to appoint 
a Hebrew from the Bronx." 

The power of the Democratic organization in New 
York remains as it has for so long remained in the hands 
of Irish Catholic leaders. Curry, McCooey, and Flynn of 
Bronx the big three bosses of New York political life, 
are all Irish Catholic. Their important district leaders are 
Irish Catholic. Half of the sachems of Tammany Hall 
are Irish Catholic and not one Jewish. That is one rea 
son no doubt, why the Catholic Church in New York has 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 117 

been so far behind the Protestant churches and synagogues 
in denouncing civic corruption and why no newspaper in 
New York ventures to mention this fact editorially for 
fear of being accused of religious prejudice. We know 
many good Catholics in New York who resent this civic 
inertia of their own church very keenly. 

The Rev. Edward Lodge Curran, editor of the official 
organ of the International Catholic Truth Society in a 
recent pamphlet on "Graft" said: "Tammany is once 
again under fire and once again the testimony of its op 
erations, wrested from its unwilling witnesses only 
through fear of perjury, reveals the prevalence of the same 
plundering and personally profiting attitude toward the 
administration of city government that has characterized 
its history since its association with Aaron Burr. . . . The 
leopard does not change his spots. The excuses of the 
older grafter were blunt. The excuses of the newer grafter 
are naive. The testimony of the older grafter reads like a 
melodrama. The testimony of the newer grafter reads 
like a fairy tale." 

About the creedal and racial allotment of Tammany in 
the magistrates' courts Judge Seabury was caustic in his 
final report. He said: 

Ability and fitness for the office, where they exist, are 
as a rule, purely accidental. The selection is made primarily 
to strengthen the power of the party. This explains the 
principle by which appointments are parcelled out to meet 
the alleged claims of particular political districts; it also ex 
plains the even more vicious principle by which race, nation 
ality and creed often dictate the selection of Magistrates. 3 



118 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

In his more general comment on the root of the prob 
lem in the Magistrates' Court, Seabury summed up his 
findings in a striking passage: 

The reason why we are no better off today under the In 
ferior Criminal Courts Act than we were prior to its enact 
ment is that the Inferior Criminal Courts Act left unim 
paired and free to flourish the basic vice in the Magistrates' 
Courts, i.e., their administration as a part of the political 
spoils system. It left the Magistrates to be appointed by a 
political agency, the Mayor, upon the recommendation of 
the district leaders within his -political party and these men, 
as we know, have regarded the places to be filled as plums 
to be distributed as rewards for services rendered by faith 
ful party workers. The Courts are directed by these Magis 
trates in cooperation with the Court clerks, who are not Civil 
Service employees and who are appointed without the slight 
est regard to fitness or qualification, but solely through poli 
tical agencies and because of political influences. The assist 
ant clerks and attendants, though nominally taken from the 
Civil Service List, are still, in almost all instances, faithful 
party workers who, despite Civil Service provisions, have 
secured their places through political influence as a recom 
pense for services performed for the party. The insidious 
auspices under which the Magistrates, the clerks, the assist 
ant clerks and the attendants are appointed are bad enough; 
the conditions under which they retain their appointments 
are infinitely worse, because they involve the subserviency 
in office to district leaders and other politicians. It is a by 
word in the corridors of the Magistrates' Courts of the City 
of New York that the intervention of a friend in the district 
political club is much more potent in the disposition of cases 
than the merits of the cause or the services of the best lawyer 
and, unfortunately, the truth of the statement alone prevents 
it from being a slander upon the good name of the City. 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 119 

To which may be added this further indictment, that 
behind the Tammany system of appointing judges on the 
basis of political favoritism lies the economic system 
which makes the profession of law parasitic. In a profit 
economy where the great fortunes are paid to manipu 
lators and owners the lawyer who wishes to make money 
gravitates toward the upper reaches of big business. He 
becomes a servant of a great corporation and spends most 
of his time and energy defending one property interest 
against another property interest. If he enters the field of 
criminal law he soon adopts the principle that he will 
charge his customers all that the traffic will bear. That is 
the principle of the business system in which we live, so 
why should the lawyer be expected to rise above it? The 
lawyer serves the rich client if possible and the poor client 
only if the rich one is unavailable. A constant stream of 
poor people visit our offices in search of legal aid which 
they need but cannot afford. 

The result of the pecuniary competition in the legal 
profession is that the whole field of legal aid for the poor 
in both civil and criminal cases is abandoned to second- 
rate lawyers and tenth-rate magistrates. The lawyer who 
concerns himself with the agonizing struggles of the un 
employed tenant and the wife of the drunk is looked upon 
by his own profession as a man who has failed to make 
good. The "big lawyers" rarely take such cases except 
when they are so well established as financial advisors and 
corporate manipulators that they can afford to stoop gra- 



120 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

ciously and render conspicuous aid in the presence of the 
press. 

The one bright spot in the situation for the poor litigant 
is the excellent work of the Legal Aid Society. In 1931 
the society gave advice or cooperation in 40,200 civil and 
criminal cases, charging a fifty-cent fee in most civil cases 
and nothing at all in criminal cases. The Voluntary De 
fenders Committee of the Legal Aid Society works for the 
most part in the Court of General Sessions where prison 
ers are prosecuted on felony charges. Without the aid of 
this committee the poverty-stricken prisoner charged with 
burglary or arson, for instance, would be in a helpless 
position. The law says that the judge in such cases may 
assign counsel to the prisoner but no provision is made for 
paying the counsel. The young, salaried lawyers of the 
Voluntary Defenders Committee who handle such cases 
at an average cost of $28 a case get many contributions 
for their work from the great corporation law factories, 
where the "big" lawyers of New York spend their time 
fighting over property rights. 

The poor prisoners in the Magistrates' Court do not 
have any free lawyers to defend them because the Legal 
Aid Society does not have enough money to provide law 
yers for these courts. The society can afford to defend 
only the felony cases in the Court of General Sessions. A 
poor man who is arraigned in a Magistrate's Court is 
asked by the judge: "Do you wish to have counsel?" If 
he replies that he has no money, it means that he can have 
no counsel. Even if he is charged with a serious crime he 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 121 

must go through these preliminary stages without the help 
of a lawyer. If he tries desperately to raise money for a 
lawyer, he is more than likely to fall into the hands of the 
bail-bond racketeer who works in partnership with a 
shyster lawyer. 

Most New York lawyers are so frantically busy trying 
to extract an income from business quarrels that they are 
not interested in reform of the courts. No better illustra 
tion of this charge could be found than the continued 
failure of the bar to overcome legal delays. When the 
City Affairs Committee made its attack upon the three- 
month vacations of New York Supreme Court judges in 
the summer of 1931, the Supreme Court of Brooklyn was 
three and one-half years behind its calendar and the Su 
preme Court of Manhattan one and one-half years behind. 

In spite of this fact many judges had been stretching 
their inexcusably long summer vacations (July, August 
and September) to include several weeks of June and 
many extra days at the Christmas and Easter seasons. In 
June, 1930, nine judges sitting in the Brooklyn Supreme 
Court averaged fifteen days out of a possible twenty- 
three; in June, 1931, eight judges in this same court av 
eraged seventeen days out of a possible twenty-three. In 
December, 1930, these same Brooklyn Supreme Court 
judges lost twelve trial days in addition to Christmas 
vacations. 

When there is such obvious neglect of duty in the 
higher courts, it is natural that the Magistrate's Court 
should emulate the standard. The magistrates come in late 



122 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

and leave early. In 1928 the enterprising members of 
the Women's City Club decided to check up on the magis 
trates of Manhattan to discover what time they arrived in 
the morning and left in the afternoon. The ladies discov 
ered that on the basis of a six-day week the average court 
session lasted only three hours and eleven minutes a day. 
These magistrates, it should be remembered, do not have 
any weighty documents to examine in off -court hours as 
appellate judges have. Their duties can almost all be per 
formed during the court session. 

Judge Seabury commented on the Magistrate's Court 
incompetence by saying: 

"In the Magistrates' Courts of the City of New York, 
the business of the court is generally concluded very early 
in the afternoon, and even while the court is in session 
many of the employees are not kept continuously engaged 
in the performance of any duties. In the Children's Court 
the justices sit but a few hours each day. An examination 
of the Report of the Court of Special Sessions for the 
year 1931 discloses on its face that this court does not 
transact sufficient business to keep its judicial and clerical 
staff busy more than a part of each working day. 

"There is, in my opinion, no doubt that the number of 
employees in our inferior criminal courts could be sub 
stantially cut down, at a great saving to the public, if the 
personnel were limited to competent, efficient and indus 
trious employees." 

And again he said: 

"In the Borough of Manhattan which has a population 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 123 

of about 1,900,000 we have 27 judges in the inferior 
criminal courts and 9 judges in the Court of General Ses 
sions, making a total of 36. Detroit with a population of 
about 1,550,000, has but ten judges in the whole of its 
criminal courts." 

Incidentally the cost of New York's elaborate and over 
manned system of Magistrate's, Children's and Special 
Sessions Courts, comprising seventy-four justices and a 
whole army of underlings, is $3,271,000 a year. 

Judge Seabury might have added that the real burden 
of responsibility for making the courts of New York effi 
cient rests upon the lawyers and that thus far they have 
been timid to the point of cowardice in criticizing incom 
petent judges and correcting inefficient practice. When 
the City Affairs Committee made the very modest sugges 
tion that the summer vacations of Supreme Court judges 
be cut to two months instead of three, not a bar associa 
tion in the city went on record in favor of the plan in spite 
of the fact that it had wide newspaper support. 

Incidentally, it should be said that the Municipal Court 
of New York is probably just as corrupt as the Magis 
trate's Court. One of us can testify that when he began a 
campaign for court reform in 1927 he was flooded with as 
many complaints against the Municipal Court as any 
other. This court has thus far escaped an investigation. 

As we write this book six months after Judge Seabury 's 
final report on the Magistrate's Court not a single magis 
trate who was removed from office or resigned has been 
disbarred from the practise of law, and not a bar associa- 



124 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

tion in the city has moved to discipline those notorious 
officials as lawyers. If a man is morally unfit to be a judge 
he is morally unfit to be a lawyer. Yet the bar associations 
permit the unfit ex-magistrates to continue their large 
and lucrative law practises. 

The timidity of the bar associations was never better 
illustrated than in the famous telephone call of John F. 
Curry to Justice Henry L. Sherman of the Appellate Divi 
sion to ask for a stay keeping Dr. William F. Doyle out 
of jail. Justice William Harmon Black had found the 
veterinarian guilty of contempt of court and sentenced 
him to thirty days in jail for refusing to testify before 
Judge Seabury. Doyle's lawyers led by Samuel Falk, son- 
in-law of the Republican count boss, Samuel S. Koenig, 
asked for a chance to get a stay in execution of the jail 
sentence, and Judge Black agreed on condition that Judge 
Seabury was to be notified in time to appear and fight the 
request for a stay. Instead of appealing to an appellate 
justice in New York, where Seabury could appear, Tam 
many took the case to Justice Sherman in Lake Placid. 
Boss Curry telephoned to Lake Placid from his own apart 
ment and arranged to have Doyle's lawyers apply for a 
stay there at 11 o'clock the next morning. At 10:35 that 
morning Judge Seabury in New York was notified that the 
application for the stay was being made before Justice 
Sherman at Lake Placid, three hundred miles away. Jus 
tice Sherman granted the stay. Seabury had been tricked 
and judicial canons violated. 

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 125 

never even rebuked Justice Sherman for this action. It 
made an "investigation" and issued a mournful report 
regretting the "unfortunate" intervention of Mr. Curry 
and exonerating Justice Sherman. 

Occasionally some lawyer says what he thinks about 
Supreme Court judges. Meier Steinbrink in 1924 said: 

"The majority of Supreme Court judges do not really 
work. Some of them are lazy. Of course there are a few 
who really work, but as for many of them, I would not 
give them $1700 a year as law clerks not to mention the 
$17,500 they receive. They and equally lazy lawyers are 
the primary cause of the congestion in our courts." * Now 
Mr. Steinbrink is himself a Supreme Court judge, and the 
salaries of Supreme Court judges have been raised to 
$25,000 instead of $17,500. He gained his new dignity as 
part of the judicial deal which we described in the last 
chapter. 

Judge Seabury's plan for reforming the Magistrate's 
Court is deserving of respect largely because it recognizes 
its limitations. He admits that no plan of reorganization 
can amount to anything of permanent value unless the 
courts are freed from the control of the present dominant 
political machine. To that end he suggests that magis 
trates should be chosen by the Appellate Division of the 
Supreme Court rather than the mayor, and for the sake of 
economy and efficiency he recommends that the present 
minor criminal courts of New York City should all be 
consolidated in a new Court of Special Sessions whose 
branches would all operate in a few central buildings. 



126 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

The best argument for the appointment of magistrates by 
the justices of the Appellate Division is that these justices 
are more independent of their party machines than a 
mayor. They have been appointed for ten-year terms and 
their line of promotion often leads away from the local 
machine toward Albany and Washington. Some of them 
are old enough so that a ten-year term marks the end of 
their political life and they have nothing more to ask of 
the machine. 

Probably nothing will come of Judge Seabury's sugges 
tions for a new method of appointing magistrates pre 
cisely because the suggestions would take away from both 
Republican and Democratic machines an important part 
of their patronage. A constitutional amendment would be 
necessary to bring about the change, and at Albany such 
an amendment would encounter the united opposition of 
the old party bosses. This hopelessness of getting real 
legislative remedies in Albany underscores our belief that 
a city government can rarely be redeemed independently 
from national or state politics. What New York City 
needs is not only a program of reform but a state-wide 
party to put it into effect. Without such a party even 
Judge Seabury's program of reform could be adopted and 
jettisoned as so many structural reforms have been nulli 
fied in the past. The mayor is now the tool of the Demo 
cratic machine in appointing magistrates; transfer his ap 
pointive power to the Apellate Division and after the first 
wave of public indignation had subsided, a machine gov- 



THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 127 

ernor might be discovered appointing an Appellate Divi 
sion pledged in advance to choose local magistrates recom 
mended by district leaders. Such things have been known 
to happen in the past. For this reason we emphatically 
oppose the transfer of the power to appoint magistrates 
to the Appellate Division as a futile gesture. 

A City Club committee which studied Seabury's sugges 
tions for reform of the Magistrate's Court apparently had 
the same fear of pollution of the Appellate Division. It 
said: "The committee is of the opinion that such a change 
(appointment of magistrates by the Appellate Division) 
would not accomplish its purpose, but rather its tendency 
would be to put the Appellate Division into politics." 

All suggestions for the reform of the lower courts boil 
down to this, that hardly any mechanical change, no mat 
ter how good in itself, will be worth making unless the 
"contract" system in use by the Tammany district leaders 
is abolished. Under that system the district leader, sitting 
at his desk in the clubhouse each night tells Jim Jones or 
Tom Smith: "I'll fix that with the judge." And he does 
fix it with the judge because the judge is his creature. 

Some reformers have suggested that magistrates should 
be elected instead of being appointed by the mayor. The 
suggestion seems futile to us because the same men would 
be chosen by appointment or election as long as Tammany 
controlled the judicial conventions. Nor does the jury 
system in the Magistrate's Court offer a very intelligent 
way out. Juries are expensive and slow moving. 



128 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

That part of Judge Seabury's suggestions for the Magis 
trate's Court which has the best chance of adoption is his 
program concerning lawyers and bail-bond racketeers who 
now exploit the poor in the most pitiless manner. We 
shall discuss these things when we treat of the police in 
the next chapter. Of one thing we feel certain, that the 
establishment of an office of Public Defender for those 
unable to hire a lawyer would be a great forward step in 
all the criminal courts. Justice will be a mockery for the 
poor as long as they must depend upon the vagaries of 
private charity for legal defense. A Public Defender with 
assistants for every branch of every criminal court would 
go far to eliminate the worst types of injustice. 



8 
THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 

THE poison of favoritism and incompetence seeps down 
from the courts to the police, the shyster lawyers and the 
court clerks. The system cannot be rotten at the top and 
pure at the bottom. Bribery, illegal detention, fee-splitting, 
and the third degree have become established parts of the 
New York City police system because the political ma 
chine that governs New York does not sincerely desire an 
impartial or fair enforcement of the law. Says the Wicker- 
sham Commission in summarizing its findings on law 
lessness in New York City: 

"The investigators were repeatedly told not by sen 
sation mongers but by observers of high position and abil 
ity, long experience and unquestioned disinterestedness 
that the courts know that some of the prosecutors are 
crooked and the prosecutors know that some of the courts 
are crooked, and both know that some of the police are 
crooked, and the police are equally well informed as to 
them. If a policeman or detective who has worked hard 
and effectively to land a bad criminal in jail sees him get 
off through improper influences, he will tend to be less 
zealous in the next prosecution. He will be inclined to 

129 



130 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

take the easiest course and merely try to get a confession 
without a too nice regard for the means employed." 

And, the commission adds: "The third degree is widely 
and brutally employed in New York City. . . . Third- 
degree methods, authoritatively reported to us as recently 
employed include: Punching in the face, especially a hard 
slap on the jaw; hitting with a billy; whipping with a 
rubber hose; kicking in the abdomen; tightening the neck 
tie almost up to the choking point; squeezing the testicles. 
Methods are favored which do not leave visible marks, 
because these attract the attention of the courts and some 
times lead district attorneys not to use the confession. 
There is said to be a practice that the arresting officer 
does not commonly do the beating ; another man will do it, 
so that when the arresting officer takes the stand it cannot 
be charged that he used force." 

We do not pretend that New York police are unique 
in their use of the third degree. Practically every large 
police station in the country has a room apart from the 
others where prisoners are questioned, and it is common 
knowledge that these rooms are used for practices which 
could never stand the light of publicity. In New York the 
third degree has long been a matter of public record, ac 
cepted with more or less complacency by people who can 
not think of themselves in the role of the persecuted vic 
tim. When in July, 1932, twenty-year-old Hyman Stark 
was so badly beaten by Mineola police that his Adam's 
apple was broken and he died of strangulation, a burst of 
protest came from the press and there were quick indict- 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 131 

ments of 13 policemen. But many prominent citizens im 
mediately rushed to their defense, and a jury finally ac 
quitted them. 

"The Police Defense Committee," said the New York 
Sun, "organized by George W. Loft, the former head of a 
chain of candy stores and now president of the South Shore 
Trust Company; William Welden, Jr., Nassau County man 
ager of the Greater New York and Suffolk Title and Guar 
antee Company; Dr. Theron W. Kilmer and Edward Sykes, 
was formed to raise money and to bring public opinion to 
the point of approving the act of the police in beating 
Hyman Stark to death, crushing his throat and allowing him 
to strangle on blood, even though they had plenty of evi 
dence against him and his companions to convict them of 
the robbery and beating of the aged mother of a detective, 
and had no need to torture the prisoners to extort confes 
sions. 

' 'If you let down the bars, kiss the gangsters on each 
cheek and offer them pink tea, our women and children will 
not be safe, and they must be safeguarded against these 
crooks at all costs,' the former candy maker said. 

" 'Nassau County has been reasonably safe as a result of 
the methods used by our policemen. It may be true that they 
went a little too far in this case, but who is the man who 
hasn't made a mistake in his life? Do not forget the won 
derful service these men have rendered in the past for the 
citizens of Nassau County. 

' 'In the words of big Chief Devery, "There is more law 
in the end of a nightstick than there is in all the courts of the 
land." 

The blow that killed Hyman Stark was probably no 
harder than other blows that have disfigured New York 
prisoners without killing them. M. Fiaschetti, former head 
of the Italian squad of detectives, does not stop with 



132 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

fists. He uses a baseball bat. In his book, You Gotta Be 
Rough, he says: "I went to the Tombs and got myself a 
sawed-off baseball bat and walked in on all those dogs. 
Yes; they came through with everything they knew." 

Sometimes they "come through" with things that they 
do not know just to avoid one more skull-crushing swing 
of the baseball bat; and then the "confession" is repudi 
ated in the courts while a baffled jury tries to solve the 
riddle of which side is lying. In the long run the violence 
of the police defeats its own ends for every confession is 
distrusted if the prisoner chooses to repudiate it, and, 
when the public is aroused over some particularly fla 
grant example of the third degree, no judge dares to accept 
a confession at its face value if it is repudiated. Three 
days after the killing of Hyman Stark by the police of 
Mineola, there appeared this significant story in the 
World-Telegram : 

In County Court, Brooklyn, H. Abramowitz, 19, of 71 
Herzl Street, Brooklyn, charged with first degree robbery, 
repudiated a confession which Assistant District Attorney 
Charles N. Cohen sought to introduce. 

Abramowitz told Judge Franklin Taylor that police got 
him out of bed, refused to tell him what he was being ar 
rested for until they got him to Miller Ave. station, Brook 
lyn, and when he denied knowledge of the robbery, twisted 
his arm until he screamed in pain. 

"To save it from getting broke," he said, "I was ready 
to say I did anything they wanted me to." 

Judge Taylor directed a jury to acquit Abramowitz when 
his counsel, Harry B. Siegel, pointed out that on three prev 
ious times when the case was called the State produced 
no witnesses. It had none today. 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 133 

The Wickersham committee found that assault and 
battery of prisoners by New York police had been popular 
for a long time. It quoted a former New York dis 
trict attorney, R. H. Elder, who said: "The third degree 
has now become established and recognized practice in 
the police department of the City of New York. Every 
police station in the city is equipped with the instruments 
to administer the torture incident to that process." Mr. 
Elder's opinion is not unique. The Association of the 
Bar of the City of New York appointed a committee in 
1927 to report on lawless practices of the police and the 
committee which included three former district attorneys 
of New York County and three former United States 
attorneys for the southern district of New York, among 
whom were Emory Buckner, William Travers Jerome and 
Charles S. Whitman, said: "From our aggregate experi 
ence and from such information as we have been able to 
acquire in our study of present conditions, we are of the 
opinion that these accusations (of brutal and violent as 
saults to extort confessions) are well founded." * 

The records of the Voluntary Defenders Committee of 
the Legal Aid Society bear out Mr. Elder's statement. The 
lawyers of this committee who interview prisoners in 
jail have found violence against prisoners so common that 
the prisoners do not even bother to report it on most 
occasions they assume that it is a matter of police rou 
tine. Of 1,235 prisoners helped by the Legal Aid Society 
in 1930, 289 said they were beaten by the police, and 
the lawyers of the society believed their stories were suf- 



134 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

ficiently credible to record the method of extra-legal pun 
ishment. The records of punishment of the men who were 
listed in the society's statistical table read: "Night stick; 
Kicked in stomach; Hit in jaw; Beaten; Knocked out 
teeth; Rubber hose; Fists, rubber hose; Blackjacked; 
Clubbed on ear; Struck with shovel; Broke wrists; 
Dragged by hair all day; and so on and on. Of these 
289 victims of police violence 166 were given the violent 
treatment as part of the third degree. 

Contrary to the usual belief, the police of New York 
do not confine their third-degree methods to hardened 
offenders. Of the 166 third-degree victims listed by the 
Legal Aid Society in 1930 nearly half were first offenders, 
and only 17.5 per cent had felony records. One boy of 
15 was beaten with fists; twelve boys of 16 were beaten 
with nightsticks, blackjacks, rubber hose and fists; sixteen 
boys of 17 included one kicked in the testicles. And 



so on. 6 



Many of these boys had come through the New York 
public school system where, in the civics textbook, they 
had seen a picture of the New York County Court House 
bearing this inscription: "The True Administration of Jus 
tice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government." 

The physical result of such treatment was made public 
in the famous Barbato case in which the prisoner "con 
fessed" the murder of Julia Museo Quintieri after a ter 
rific beating, was sent to the death house, and later 
released when the method by which the confession had 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 135 

been extracted was made public. Dr. Radin who examined 
Barbato testified: 6 

Q. Now, doctor, will you tell this jury what your exami 
nation disclosed? 

A. I found echymoses, that means black and blue marks, 
over the right arm, with some swelling of the arm, with a 
hemetoma over the middle of the arm. A hemetoma is a 
little collection or tumor of the blood. There were several 
abrasions over the right elbow and right forearm. Abrasions 
are superficial scratches. There are livid stripes over the 
right forearm and back of the right hand. There are echy 
moses, black and blue marks, over the left arm, also over 
both eyelids on the left eye; over the left malar bone, that 
means cheek bone here (indicating); there were some abra 
sions in the right temporal region, that is, up here (indi 
cating) 

The Court. Witness indicates by placing his hand on the 
left temple. 

A. (Continuing.) There were a few echymoses over the 
back of the neck, and he complained of pain on manipula 
tion of the head. There are some echymoses over the right 
scapula; that is, the shoulder blade. There were echymoses 
over both sides of the back and in the left lumbar region; 
that is, the left loin, in the left lower axillary region the 
axillary region is the side of the chest, and the left lower 
axillary region would be the lower part of the side of the 
chest there were echymoses over the right buttock and over 
the front of the right thigh and over the front of the left 
thigh and over the back of both thighs; there were some 
abrasions of the right leg." 

The worst forms of police brutality usually come in a 
"drive" that is staged after some sensational crime. Then 
the police must do something, anything, to appease public 



136 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

anger. Grover Whalen, as commissioner of police, had as 
the slogan for his drives: "There's plenty of law at the 
end of a nightstick." It should have read: There is plenty 
of lawlessness at the end of a nightstick. Whalen an 
nounced in a public attack upon the Communists that 
"these enemies of society were to be driven out of New 
York regardless of their constitutional rights." Fortu 
nately for the Communists and the Constitution, Whalen' s 
nightsticks were wielded in so bloody and public an en 
counter that even New York's complacency was disturbed. 
It was perceived that nightsticks under certain circum 
stances might make Communists more rapidly than Marx 
ian speeches, and Mr. Whalen retired from his original 
position with his gardenia and his reputation badly wilted. 
When children were shot by gangsters in the streets of 
New York in the summer of 1931 Commissioner Mul- 
rooney ordered a great "drive" of indiscriminate arrests 
in which the first night's haul of 105 persons contained 
not a single victim chargeable with a definite crime. The 
New York police department does not bother to observe 
the law that requires the prompt arraignment of a 
prisoner before a court, and in this negligence lies one 
explanation for the frequency of the third degree. The 
law itself contains a loophole. Section 165 of the Code of 
Criminal Procedure says: "The defendant must in all cases 
be taken before the magistrate without unnecessary delay, 
and he may give bail at any hour of the day or night." 
He may give bail at any hour of the day and night not 
must. It is a misdemeanor for a police officer to violate 




Reproduced by permission of 
Rollin Kirby and the New York World-Telegram. 

'AW, IT'S ONLY A KID!" 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 139 

this law; but what does it mean? What is "unnecessary 
delay"? The New York City Charter makes a most lenient 
interpretation of this law. In section 338 it provides that 
the policeman immediately after he has made an arrest 
must convey "in person the offender" to the nearest sitting 
magistrate, but that if this magistrate is not sitting the 
prisoner may be kept in the station house until the next 
regular sitting of the magistrate. So a man may be ar 
rested in the late afternoon, beaten to a pulp at various 
intervals during the night, and washed up carefully in 
the morning after his confession has been extracted. Or 
he may be taken from police station to police station while 
his relatives are sent to the station he has just left. Or he 
may be "detained" in a police station without being ar 
rested so that the police officers can truthfully say later 
that he was arraigned immediately after arrest. 

It is the poor, of course, and not the rich who are sub 
jected to illegal violence by the police. We have never 
heard of an officer of the Bank of United States or a Wall 
Street speculator being put through the third degree. Even 
middle-class murderers like Judd Gray and Ruth Snyder 
are subjected only to the ordeal of long questioning. If 
some of our wealthy traffic-law violators experienced the 
police handling given to Socialist strikers they would be 
somewhat more concerned with police lawlessness. 

We approach the proposed remedies for this situation 
with a sense of despair. We do not believe that the ordi 
nary policeman on the beat is to blame for illegal deten 
tion and the third degree. These practices are part of a 



140 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

system that has been allowed to grow up largely because 
of public inertia and the survival of savage traits. Most 
New York policemen are courteous, hard-working serv 
ants of the law, probably tainted by liquor graft but other 
wise self-respecting citizens. Their pay is not high even 
the first-class policemen average less than $60 a week 
and their physical risks in gang-ridden New York are con 
siderable. Their conduct is determined not so much by 
themselves as by police tradition. In London the police 
tradition is against violence and the third degree is un 
known. In New York it is an accepted part of police 
practice because New York is part of the United States 
and almost every city in the United States suffers from 
the same affliction. 

No official exposures or programs for reform seem to 
have any effect upon police conduct. The Page Com 
mission in 1908 said almost precisely the same thing about 
illegal detention of prisoners in station houses that Judge 
Seabury said in 1932. The Page Commission said con 
cerning the detention of prisoners in station houses ille 
gally: "The plain provisions of the Greater New York 
charter . . . have been repeatedly violated by the police." 
Judge Seabury in his magistrates' report said: "One of 
the most insidious influences in the administration of jus 
tice is the atmosphere and relationships that exist in and 
around police stations. These stations scattered through 
out the city are isolated outposts, little controlled by pub 
lic opinion because the operations that go on there are so 
mysterious that little can be known of them by outsiders. 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 141 

In almost every case of framing that came out during the 
investigation, the police station was the place where the 
dirty work of bribery and fixing was carried on. ... 

"If we add to this sinister process the fact that the 
third degree, when it is practised, is generally done in the 
police station, we have an overwhelming argument for a 
complete reform of the station house, which as a practi 
cal matter, cannot be accomplished, or else a method by 
which the prisoner shall be taken into court without an 
intermediary trip to the station house. Legislation should 
be enacted providing that all persons on arrest, regardless 
of the offense charged, should be taken directly before a 
magistrate, the charge read to them, the statement of the 
arresting officer taken upon the record and an opportunity 
given to the prisoners, after first advising them of their 
rights, to make a statement of their own. ... At least 
one term of the court should be in session at all hours of 
the day and night, to which arrested persons could be 
brought." 

This last suggestion of a twenty-four-hour magistrate's 
court for the prompt arraignment of all prisoners is the 
most practical device to avoid the fixing of cases by both 
the police and criminals. The danger hours in any crim 
inal case are the hours between arrest and arraignment. 
During those hours the shyster lawyer, the district leader, 
the bail racketeer, and the over-ambitious policeman all 
may have their chance to exploit the prisoner or distort 
the truth. Professor Raymond Moley suggests that the 
present system can be revised without any change in the 



142 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

law. The present deputy assistant district attorneys who 
are supposed to function in the Magistrate's Court are use 
less. Professor Moley would have them dismissed and 
lawyers hired by the Police Department to examine every 
prisoner arrested in the presence of a magistrate immedi 
ately after his arrest. 7 

Certainly a city of the size of New York could afford 
to have at least one emergency magistrate sitting in each 
borough all night to prevent the police from forcing a 
"confession" upon any prisoner before he has had a chance 
to say guilty or not guilty before a magistrate. But no 
law revising the practice of handling criminals will be 
effective in the long run unless public opinion forces its 
observance by the police. Good, sound laws against un 
necessary detention in police stations have been on the 
statute books of almost every state in the union for many 
years, but the police of nearly all our larger cities have 
ignored them. The police are so powerful that they can 
make their own law if their superior officers do not inter 
fere. 

In the case of the liquor racket in New York, it is a 
matter of universal knowledge that a system of speak 
easy protection exists with payments to police and pro 
hibition enforcement officers. One speakeasy proprietor, 
writing a public confessional recently, said that each 
speakeasy paid about 25 per cent of its gross receipts for 
protection. The testimony before the Hofstadter com 
mittee indicated that small speakeasies pay their tribute to 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 143 

the ordinary plainclothes patrolmen, but that, to use Judge 
Seabury's words, "the larger operators, who could and 
were willing to pay well for protection, were reserved for 
the higher-ups. This does not mean that the lower police 
officers were not left with plenty of opportunities for 
graft. One of them who was shown to have deposited 
$99,000 in ten years, stated that 'the cop,' such as himself, 
got only 'the crumbs from the table/ ' 

The real feast of liquor and gambling graft in New 
York is spread for the higher-ups, and it is a feast so 
tempting that it would corrupt any set of human beings 
below angelic standards. Grover Whalen estimated that 
there were 32,000 speakeasies in Greater New York 
when he was police commissioner; more impartial author 
ities have placed the estimate at twice that number. The 
scale of prices for protection was indicated in the case of 
Police Inspector Mullarkey of Queens, who asked $500 a 
week for himself and $100 a week for an assistant for 
the right to run an alcohol manufacturing plant in Queens, 
but finally settled for $200 a week. He disappeared dur 
ing the Seabury hearings. 

The situation in regard to liquor racketeering in New 
York to-day is so abnormal that we have purposely 
avoided any extended discussion of it. The liquor traffic 
has always been a source of trouble for the government 
of New York, but since the adoption of the Eighteenth 
Amendment it has been peculiarly troublesome because of 
the amendment's unpopularity. Since the great majority of 
the people of the city do not want prohibition, they do not 



144 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

hesitate to cooperate with bootleggers and police in flout 
ing the law. In these circumstances, there is bound to be 
a system of protection for an industry which the majority 
of New Yorkers consider justified. 

If we are going to have a liquor trade and it now 
seems inevitable that we must have the Socialist solu 
tion of government ownership and operation of the in 
dustry seems the most logical one. Take profit out of 
liquor and half the gangs in America would have nothing 
to live on. Sell liquor at cost under the most careful 
regulation and the bootlegger would soon lose his cus 
tomers. 

In the exposure of the framing of innocent women by 
the vice squad, it was discovered that even the experi 
enced reformers of the Committee of Fourteen, an anti- 
vice committee, had been completely hoodwinked for 
years by a secret alliance of policemen, magistrates, law 
yers and bondsmen. Outraged women had been report 
ing these frame-ups for years, but the position of the 
police is so powerful that no one believed the women's 
stories until Judge Seabury's aides discovered one police 
stool-pigeon, Chile Acuna, who exposed the whole con 
spiracy. Acuna, once a well-to-do immigrant from South 
America, died not long after the exposure while suffer 
ing from a brain tumor in a Brooklyn hospital. If he 
had been a gangster and turned upon his gang, his 
life would have been snuffed out in a few hours. As 
it was, the police, whom he had betrayed, did not dare 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 145 

to kill him because they knew that his death, like the 
death of gambler Rosenthal on the orders of Police 
Lieutenant Becker in 1912, would have brought down 
upon them the vengeance of an aroused public. 

We cannot believe that Mayor Walker and the leaders 
of Tammany Hall actually knew the full horror of the 
exploitation of innocent women by the vice squad, but 
it is fair to say that the conditions which grew up in 
the vice squad were a direct result of their negligence 
and misgovernment. When groveling politicians buy 
their way to the bench with money or political service 
they do not change their character over night. When 
Tammany puts an aged and feeble judge into the most 
difficult legal post in the United States, the office of Dis 
trict Attorney of New York County, it means that Tam 
many wants certain crimes overlooked. In the case of the 
vice squad (since abolished) the whole system of exploita 
tion would have been impossible if the District Attorney 
had paid any attention to the Women's Court. 

New York, considering its size and wealth and the 
large population of visitors in search of amusement, does 
not have a great amount of organized prostitution. Opin 
ions differ as to the amount of street-walking, but it is 
probable that the proportion ir less than in Chicago, 
Detroit, and other large American cities. Tammany can 
not be accused of fostering vice on a large scale for its 
own profit. 

Those cases of prostitution which come to the atten 
tion of the police are brought into a section of the Magis- 



146 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

trace's Court, where they are tried by a magistrate with 
the help of a representative of the District Attorney's 
office. This representative should be a man of integrity 
and of sound training in social service work. Under Tam 
many he is not. For seven years the post was filled by 
John C. Weston, a former Tammany process server who 
did not even bother to submit reports to the District 
Attorney's office. He united with the vice squad in de 
veloping a vice ring which extorted hundreds of thou 
sands of dollars from innocent women by having them 
arrested falsely, bailed out at extortionate rates by a 
bondsman in the ring, and then bled by a racketeering 
lawyer who split with the police. The story is the most 
hideous thing in the whole history of New York. It 
was concealed for many years because the innocent women 
who were the victims did not dare to risk the ruin of their 
reputations. 

The ring worked through stool-pigeons hired by the 
police department. The stool-pigeon would select his vic 
tim, arrange to give a signal to a vice-squad patrolman 
in plain clothes, enter the woman's room on some pre 
text, give her some marked money or place it on a table, 
perhaps strip off his coat, and then signal the policeman. 
The officer would come bursting into the room, arrest the 
woman for prostitution, and take her to jail. He would 
appear to be entirely innocent of any desire to frame the 
woman, and the stool-pigeon would conveniently dis 
appear. The officer would inform the victim that she 
could get out on bail immediately if she went to a cer- 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 147 

tain bondsman who was in the ring. The bondsman 
would adjust his charge for bail according to the amount 
the victim could pay, usually getting an attachment 
against her bank book and charging her ten per cent for 
bail, although the legal rate is three per cent. Then she 
would be told that she could have her case fixed if she 
would hire a certain lawyer, also a member of the ring. 
Each vulture in the ring would extract his toll, and 
when the case finally came before the magistrate it 
would be dismissed on recommendation of the District 
Attorney. 

Weston, the assistant to the District Attorney, for rec 
ommending dismissal, would get $25 to $150. Alto 
gether he helped in the dismissal of 600 cases and orig 
inally claimed a profit of $20,000. The policeman's 
"split" would depend entirely on the amount extracted 
by the bondsman and lawyer the totals over a period 
of years might amount to a substantial fortune. Officer 
Quinlivan of the vice squad, said his wife banked $88,000 
in five years, of which $61,000 was in cash. Officer Mor 
ris acquired about $50,000, of which $10,000 came from 
"gambling," and $40,000 from his "Uncle George," who 
died conveniently after giving him $40,000 in one-thou 
sand dollar bills while they were going to Coney Island ! 8 
Quinlivan went to prison and Morris was dismissed from 
the force. Altogether there were six policemen convicted 
of crime and 13 resigned or suspended from the force; 
the lawyers escaped more easily. Two lawyers were 
disbarred and one reprimanded as a result of Judge Sea- 



148 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

bury's exposure of the ring. The vice squad itself was 
abolished. 

No summary of the methods of the police in the vice 
frame-ups can do justice to their cruelty. Let the Seabury 
record in the Potocki case tell the story of one woman's 
suffering: 

Mrs. Potocki, for two years before her arrest, had been 
supporting her two little girls. From 8 P.M. to 4 A.M. she 
worked as a charwoman. When she returned home she could 
sleep only an hour or so before giving her two children 
breakfast and sending them off to school. Then she went 
downstairs to work in a restaurant until 3:30 P.M. She had, 
in addition, been selling liquor to friends to add five or ten 
dollars a week to her income. 

At 5:30 P.M., September 23rd, 1930, she was entertain 
ing two friends, Marie Barry and Jack Keeve, when she 
heard a knock at the door. Two plain clothes men, Lewis 
and McFarland of the Vice Squad, stood outside and said 
they had been sent by a friend to get a drink. When they 
had persuaded her that they were "all right," she let them 
in. Drinks were poured and $15 placed on a table. Mrs. 
Potocki' s two friends left at approximately 7 P.M. She then 
told the officers that they must go. Just as she began to 
remove the bottles from the table, Lewis struck her on one 
side of the jaw and then on the other. She screamed as she 
fell; Lewis stood over her and demanded $500. Lewis then 
fell upon her and ripped off her clothing. 

At that moment, Mrs. Barry, who had returned to get a 
package which she left, knocked at the door. McFarland 
opened the door for her and struck her on the jaw with such 
terrific force that the blood spurted from her mouth. Mean 
while, Lewis was still wrestling on the floor with Mrs. 
Potocki. In his effort to overcome her resistance he hit sev 
eral times, and beat her severely. McFarland at the same 
time was holding Mrs. Barry by the hair and dashing her 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 149 

against the wall. Finally Lewis dragged Mrs. Potocki to 
the telephone and called for the patrol wagon. 

At 9 P.M. the two battered women were taken to the Old 
Slip Station. Mrs. Potocki, who is corroborated by Mrs. 
Barry, testified that she called for a doctor all night, but no 
one paid the slightest attention to her cries. 

The trial took place before Magistrate Earl Smith, who 
was so shocked by the evidence of police brutality that he 
not only discharged the woman but sent the minutes to 
Chief Magistrate Corrigan. 

Dr. Louis Goldblatt of the Beekman Street Hospital testi 
fied before me that he examined Mrs. Potocki on September 
26th, at which time he made the following findings: Con 
tusions below the left eye on the right and left arms and 
upper sternum "marks above the right breast, which re 
sembled teeth marks" contusions on both breasts the 
abdomen and upper thighs, on both inside and outside sur 
faces, and tenderness over the ribs in front, so that it hurt 
her to breathe. 9 

Officers Lewis and McFarland are now in Sing Sing. 

Now that the vice squad has been abolished, the two 
most important next steps in a thorough clean-up of the 
Magistrate's Court are the public ownership and opera 
tion of a central bond office for bailing out all prisoners 
and the elimination of scores of surplus court clerks and 
attendants who act as fixers for shyster lawyers. The eli 
mination of the surplus court attendants will not come 
while Tammany is in power because these attendants are 
an important factor in the Tammany machine, but a pub 
lic bond monopoly would be quite possible in spite of 
Tammany if a centralized Magistrate's Court is adopted. 
Possibly Tammany would not oppose such a reform be- 



150 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

cause the bail-bond racketeers are only scavengers on 
the edge of the system. Their elimination would affect the 
power of the district leader only slightly. 

The bail-bond racket, as it now operates, has developed 
partly because New York is so large and impersonal. 
Originally the theory of bail was that a prisoner who had 
responsible friends could gain his liberty if those friends 
trusted him so much that they were willing to risk their 
property in his defense. Such property usually consisted 
of a house or land and still does in our smaller towns. 
But in New York only a small minority of the people own 
any property that can be used for bail. The average poor 
man has no friends who could bail him out even if they 
wanted to. The result is that when he is arrested he 
must fall back upon a bonding company or an individual 
bondsman to whom he has been referred by the police 
man or the court attendant. Usually these bondsmen 
have little offices near each Magistrate's Court with a 
runner to stay in the court room and get tips from the 
police and court attendants and an office man to make 
out papers. 

These companies and individual bondsmen operate in 
New York Magistrate's Courts without any careful regu 
lation or inspection. They are extortionists pure and sim 
ple or, more accurately, vile and sophisticated. They 
charge their victims three or four times the legal bail- 
bond rate of three per cent; they may use the same piece 
of property over and over again in various courts as 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 151 

security so that if a number of prisoners jumped bail 
simultaneously, the city could not recover; and they hire 
"chiselers" to get trade whose salaries become an over 
head charge upon the poor who are arrested. One bail- 
bond racketeer named Steiner who was exposed by Judge 
Seabury and sent to the penitentiary, extorted from Miss 
Anna Johnson, a doctor's nurse, on a vice frame-up, her 
entire savings of $600. 10 

The establishment of one publicly owned bail office 
which would have a monopoly of the bail-bond busi 
ness and which would not be operated for profit, would 
permanently destroy the bail-bond racket because it would 
take away the pool of profits on which the racketeers 
thrive. The State Insurance Fund for workmen's com 
pensation has set an admirable precedent for such a ven 
ture. A public bail office would have no salesman's over 
head in its expenses and it would have no motive to force 
high bail for trivial offenses. Judge Seabury' s recom 
mendations for destroying the bail-bond racket tend in 
this direction, but they do not, in our judgment, go quite 
far enough. He recommends low bail in minor cases 
and points out that in England, where low bail (a pound 
or two) is accepted in most offenses, there are practically 
no professional bondsmen. A standard of $25 bail instead 
of $500 for most minor offenses would be a distinct gain 
for the poorer prisoners, but as long as some private 
profit existed in the bond business the vultures would 
circle about the Magistrate's Court, preying upon their 



152 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

victims. A publicly owned bail office operated by the 
State Insurance Fund would put these vultures out of 
business permanently. 

Judge Seabury found that the bail racket was very 
closely tied up with the incompetence of the Probation 
Department. Long before his investigation it had become 
evident that both the probation and parole systems in 
the city are a grim and expensive joke. Again and again 
ex-prisoners from Welfare Island have come to our offices 
and told of a system of payments for parole which they 
say is still in vogue. We cannot prove their stories be 
cause we have no power of subpoena and because the 
ex-prisoners themselves are so afraid of "the system" 
that they will not take the witness stand. 

The quality of men who care for the moral welfare 
of discharged prisoners under the Tammany regime was 
disclosed in 1930, when Edwin J. Cooley, head of the 
Probation Department of the Court of General Sessions, 
resigned under fire after it was discovered that he had 
authorized the controller to make payments to his sister 
for seven months in 1929, during part of which time she 
was employed in Buffalo. He was acquitted by a jury 
after a trial in which he was prosecuted by an inexperi 
enced young assistant district attorney and defended by 
one of the ablest lawyers in New York. 

In the Probation Department of the Magistrate's Court 
the care of prisoners on probation is slipshod, incom 
plete and irresponsible, particularly so in the Women's 
Court, where the supervision of young girls is especially 



THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 153 

important. Young girls with venereal disease planning 
to start their life over again after medical treatment and 
discharge have found that the probation department has 
sent letters to their distant parents, saying that their 
' 'daughter is in the hospital with an infectious disease" 
and is being held in the Women's Court. Judge Seabury 
and his staff showed that such stupidity was typical of 
the department. Almost no check-up was made upon 
the stories of delinquent girls on probation they might 
have continued as prostitutes and no one would have been 
the wiser. Very few of the girls were visited once a 
month, as the law required, and the most flimsy and un 
verified "reports" were accepted without further investi 
gation. "Dear Miss McCauley," one girl wrote, "I am 
well. Hoping you are the same. Oblige." This was the 
kind of "report" which was accepted for a whole year 
as "supervision." One "report" on the case of a male 
probationer deserves to stand with this. "The defendant 
is of good character and habits, with the exception that 
he stays out late at night, associates with undesirable 
companions, refuses to work, and will not obey the rea 
sonable dictates of his parents." 

Many of the magistrates have chosen to dismiss their 
prisoners rather than place them in charge of such para 
gons of stupidity which paragons, by the way, cost the 
city $250,000 a year. Even when a prisoner has a long 
police record the magistrate often dismisses his case with 
out placing him on probation. Judge Seabury discovered 
196 such cases in the Magistrate's Court in 1930 alone. 



154 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

He strongly condemned the chief probation officer of 
the Magistrate's Court for incompetence and negligence, 
and recommended the junking of the present probation 
system and the creation of a central probation bureau 
with specialized branches and a health clinic for all the 
criminal courts of Greater New York. Nothing has been 
done about Judge Seabury's recommendations. Nothing 
will be done until Tammany control of the courts is 
shaken off. 

That is the conclusion that we must come to after sev 
eral years of observation of New York justice. The most 
perfect forms of social service are nothing but flashy deco 
rations unless the political group in control at City Hall 
has a sincere desire for honest and efficient government. 



9 

MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 

THE two greatest wonders of American city politics 
have been William Hale Thompson and James Joseph 
Walker. Although Thompson in his day was the greatest 
political clown in the United States he never attained the 
personal popularity of our Jimmy. Jimmy did not need to 
"bust King George on the snoot" or carry around a cage 
full of rats bearing his opponents' names. He was his 
own show. He was one of the most adroit and charming 
campaigners that this country has ever produced. His 
popularity in New York was based upon the solid founda 
tion of good public speaking, quick wit, and a real per 
sonal warmth. Given that combination even his weak 
nesses were an asset until he resigned. Once the glamour 
of power had been taken from him people began to won 
der just what qualifications he had to direct one of the 
greatest corporations of history. 

Early in his first term he set out to be a tabloid mayor. 
He exhibited his cleverness at innumerable dinners; he 
did the graceful and appropriate thing at all sorts of 
sporting events; he welcomed everybody from channel 
swimmers to cardinals. And in all of these arduous labors 

155 



156 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

he had the movie cameras grinding at his elbow and the 
reporters frantically scribbling notes. 

We have called Walker at the head of this chapter a 
machine-made mayor and the description is quite accurate 
because without the support of the Tammany machine he 
would have been destroyed by his own weaknesses far 
sooner than he was. But almost equally he was a press- 
made mayor. He was "good copy for the boys." There 
were thousands of stories about him in the newspapers dur 
ing the seven years after his election, and of course, most 
of these stories created a favorable impression upon the 
reader because in them Walker was presented as saying 
or doing something important or interesting. Shrewd men 
know that the sheer weight of publicity is the important 
initial factor in creating a political hero in America, and 
Walker knew how to use his commanding position as 
mayor to win that publicity. 

The reporters liked him because he was easy and warm 
hearted and lent them money and thought of something 
to say that would fill an assignment. They swallowed his 
every utterance, for the most part uncritically, and gave 
him front-page headlines. This was especially true of the 
regular reporters who covered the City Hall beat. On this 
beat in recent years the great New York dailies have had 
routinists rather than crusaders. Perhaps their point of 
view has been affected by the knowledge that hostile criti 
cism usually makes it harder to get the next day's story 
from incensed officials. At any rate, when an important 
fact concerning unemployment relief, bad city manage- 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 157 

ment, or constructive social reform was brought before 
the Board of Estimate by a protesting civic group or party, 
the fact was nearly always subordinated in the next day's 
news story to some blatant and empty promise of action 
by the mayor. The average New Yorker, reading only 
headlines in the newspaper, judged Walker by those head 
lines. The newspaper editorial writers might try to undo 
the work of the headlines by commenting soberly on civic 
problems but the subway strap-hanger did not read the 
average editorial. 

Moreover, until the World-Telegram entered the field 
Walker was not faced with the kind of blistering day-to 
day exposure that was necessary to destroy his popularity 
with the common voter. The old World and the new 
Herald-Tribune were intelligently hostile but the Times, 
New York's most influential paper, did not take the ini 
tiative against Walker. It waited until some one else 
did the exposing. And, as always, Hearst was incalculably 
crafty, preaching high civic morality while backing 
Walker and his gang by every journalistic artifice. Hearst's 
hand was apparently the guiding one in Walker's final 
resignation, for it was Hearst who made him believe that 
his vindication at the polls would be overwhelming. 
Then, when Walker had resigned, Mr. Hearst slapped him 
on the wrist. 

Walker's prestige was increased by the mediocrity of 
the men around him. We have already pointed out that 
the borough presidents who sat on the board with him 
were colorless and obedient, voting like automatons for 



158 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

the administration measures after the usual logrolling for 
their district interests. Probably the most colorless and 
obedient of all was the nominal Republican, George U. 
Harvey of Queens, who worked hand in glove with 
Walker on almost every Tammany measure and even in 
troduced the resolution which raised Walker's salary from 
$25,000 to $40,000 a year. 

Joseph V. McKee, who succeeded Walker as mayor of 
New York, sat at the right of Mayor Walker for almost 
seven years on the Board of Estimate with a pained ex 
pression on his face looking like a "bored Prince of 
Wales." He is a much quieter and more dignified person 
than his predecessor and Walker's clowning made him 
wince. He accepted it because he was forced to accept it 
as a member of the machine. Toward the end of Walker's 
reign when it seemed that the desertion of a sinking ship 
might be good politics, he sometimes rebelled against his 
chief, but in nearly every important vote he stood with the 
mayor. 

Walker handled his powers as mayor with the utmost 
recklessness. On all the occasions when we visited the 
Board of Estimate during his administration he was never 
once on time. Quite commonly he was an hour late for the 
opening of the session, although his presiding over this 
board was the most important duty of his office and often 
the most pressing legislative matters had to be held up 
until his arrival. Likewise in our experience we have 
never known him to take less than an hour and a half for 
luncheon, even while sweating crowds were standing up 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 159 

in the board chambers waiting for his return. When he 
did arrive he often scolded a citizen who was protesting 
against some measure for taking one minute over his 
allotted five minutes. His tact and charm were not always 
evident in the legislative chamber. Often he appeared so 
tired and cross from his labors of the previous day, or 
night, that he hardly seemed to know what was going on. 
He was savage and coarse in shouting down (through his 
loud speaker) many a luckless citizen who aroused his 
anger. 

James Joseph Walker came to the mayoralty through 
steady promotion at the hands of his Tammany colleagues. 
Born in 1881 on Leroy Street in old Greenwich Village, 
he came from an Irish family steeped in Tammany poli 
tics. His father had been a Tammany alderman, assem 
blyman and leader of the old Ninth Ward. In his youth 
he wanted to be an actor and this aspiration explains a 
large part of his conduct as an adult. He did become a 
passable pianist and vaudeville gag man, making $10,000 
on one song, "Will You Love Me in December as You 
Do in May." He met his wife while he was a gag man 
in a musical comedy and she was in the chorus. He de 
cided to become a lawyer and work for "the organiza 
tion," so, after graduating from the New York University 
Law School, he was sent to the assembly and later to the 
senate as one of the young "slaveys" of Charles F. 
Murphy. 

At Albany, where he served for fifteen years, Jimmy 
Walker revealed two qualities necessary for political sue- 



160 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

cess. He always voted with the machine and he made a 
host of warm personal friends. In personality and con 
duct he was the antithesis of the dullness and routine of 
legislative life at Albany. He dressed boldly, drank gaily, 
and fought for the freedom of sports. He gradually be 
came known as a warm-hearted "regular fellow." His 
party finally chose him as its leader in the Senate, a post 
usually occupied by a rising young subordinate of the ma 
chine who can be trusted to have no mind of his own in 
serious matters. It was from this post that Tammany 
promoted him to City Hall, with the potent help of Alfred 
E. Smith. 

After the stupidities of the Hylan administration the 
city and Tammany Hall gave a sigh of relief when a per 
sonable and plausible mayor moved into City Hall. Hylan, 
who had been forced on the Democratic organization by 
Hearst as his price for supporting the party ticket, had 
neither intelligence nor charm, and he was one of the most 
erratic mayors New York ever had. The Tammany lead 
ers were relieved when Walker took office because they 
again had a man at City Hall who would obey orders, and 
the people were relieved because they were rid of a color 
less bore. Walker not only obeyed orders with alacrity 
but he boasted before and after election that he was and 
would be a Tammany mayor. 

He promptly appointed as heads of various departments 
a whole string of Tammany district leaders whose quali 
fications for the offices consisted of loyalty to the machine 
and personal friendship for Jimmy. His judicial appoint- 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 161 

merits, also, were machine appointments made without 
heed to the recommendations of bar associations. The 
degraded character of his administration was partly con 
cealed by a brilliant publicity stunt, the appointment of a 
gigantic committee on plan and survey for the city, com 
posed of 472 more or less distinguished members. The 
various activities of this gigantic committee distracted pub 
lic attention for months. Sub-committees were appointed 
and books were written and reports filed away; and if 
Walker ever read the reports there is no evidence of it. 

There was, for example, the report of the mayor's com 
mittee on budget and finance, commonly known as the 
Lehman report. It went in great detail into the clumsy 
and inefficient method of making the city budget and 
recommended a complete change in procedure. It recom 
mended that each year's budget should contain a capital 
outlay program so that the taxpayers would know what 
public improvements were contemplated the present 
budget does not contain these items. It recommended a 
change in the fiscal year so that there could be a more in 
telligent consideration of the budget. None of these 
reforms was adopted. Each year the budget comes up 
before the Board of Estimate in such an obscure and in 
complete form that the civic organizations are almost 
helpless in criticizing it. The citizen who wants to know 
what the city is getting for its expenditures cannot find 
out from the budget because these things are not itemized. 

Fortunately for Walker he entered City Hall at a mo 
ment when America faced its greatest wave of investors' 



162 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

prosperity. Land values soared, business expanded hysteri 
cally, and millionaires were made over night in Wall 
Street. The extravagance and mismanagement of the ad 
ministration were forgotten in the national exuberance. 
Walker laid corner stones and cut ribbons, and opened 
bridges, and claimed the credit for himself and for his 
administration of spending the new excess wealth. 

He was fortunate, also, in having a good watch-dog 
over his treasury in the person of Controller Berry. Berry's 
department had a number of surprising blind spots es 
pecially a blind spot concerning unemployment relief 
needs but it undoubtedly saved the city from the worst 
forms of drunken spending. In fact, as we write these 
lines, the City of New York is not in bad financial condi 
tion, considering the national situation, and it has not been 
in bad financial condition during the Walker administra 
tion. The looting of funds during the Walker regime has 
consisted for the most part of a levy upon private business 
by political brokers who had 2oning laws, franchises, or 
permits to sell. It is probable that only in the payment of 
high salaries to Tammany chair-warmers has there been 
any extensive misappropriation of public funds, although 
some evidence exists that public works are built below 
contract specifications. We would not condone any of 
this petty graft; it is serious enough. But it is trivial com 
pared to the large profit-taking of private business at the 
expense of consumers and workers. 

The record of the Walker administration can be quite 
naturally discussed under the two heads which we have 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 163 

already suggested, brokers' loot and personal loot. Walker 
from the beginning of his administration used his power 
to give to the Tammany machine the personal loot of 
highly paid, decorative positions. The non-competitive 
jobs at the top of the city's administration gave him the 
chance to bestow rewards on almost all the leading serv 
ants of the machine. In several cases he appointed power 
ful district leaders who were notoriously unfit. There 
were for example the cases of James F. Geraghty of the 
Bronx and Charles L. Kohler. 

The City Affairs Committee in its charges against 
Walker in March, 1931, cited the appointment of James 
F. Geraghty as commissioner of licenses and Charles L. 
Kohler as director of the budget. During Walker's first 
administration the regulation of private employment agen 
cies had become such a scandal that the State Industrial 
Survey Commission had recommended that the regulation 
be put in state hands. Walker's answer was to place in 
the office of commissioner of licenses in charge of em 
ployment bureaus a Bronx district leader, Geraghty, who 
had been officially condemned for incompetence by the 
Meyer Legislative Investigating Committee when he was 
in charge of the Division of Licensed Vehicles. The 
Meyer Committee disclosed that "the administration of 
the Division of Licensed Vehicles of the License Depart 
ment under Deputy Commissioner Geraghty not only 
made it a hot-bed of petty graft but that the safety of the 
public had been seriously menaced by the large number of 
licenses as taxicab drivers issued to ex-convicts." 



164 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Geraghty is still in office. Kohler was made Budget 
Director by Walker after serving as secretary of the 
Health Department during some of its most serious scan 
dals, scandals concerning which Judge Charles H. Kelby 
in his report on August 10, 1927, had said that "it is hard 
to believe that the executive heads of the department were 
not cognizant of conditions." 

We cite the cases of Geraghty and Kohler because they 
are instances of the way in which Walker was allowed by 
Governor Roosevelt to whitewash his administration in 
answering the charges of the City Affairs Committee in 
1931. Walker misrepresented his record and his misrepre 
sentations were accepted by the public as a vindication 
because Roosevelt refused the committee the privilege of a 
rebuttal. In the case of Geraghty, Walker dismissed the 
charges against him by describing the Meyer Committee 
findings as "merely the reflection of a disappointed inves 
tigator," and by saying that "Mr. Geraghty's resignation 
from the License Department had no relation to the inves 
tigation, nor was it caused by anything adduced before 
the committee." 

The truth is that the Meyer Committee thoroughly ex 
posed and condemned Geraghty in the most specific words : 

With the advent of the present administration, the Chief 
of the Division of Licensed Vehicles was shorn of power. 
An official subordinate was made his actual superior in 
charge of the issue of licenses and one of the Deputy Com 
missioners, James F. Geraghty, a district leader in the Bronx, 
was placed in direct charge of the Division. From time to 
time the complicity of taxicab chauffeurs in crimes of vio- 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 165 

lence, often committed in broad daylight, roused public con 
cern. While this branch of the inquiry was under way, 
Geraghty's resignation was invited and submitted. . . . 

Geraghty's tolerance is not difficult to understand in view 
of his own standards of conduct in public office. For in 
stance, when his political club held an "outing" twenty-seven 
taxicabs were furnished him gratis by an association of taxi- 
drivers, which itself paid the men who owned the cabs. 
When his club gave an affair this same organization was 
requested to and did buy $100 worth of tickets. When the 
bill for the transfer of jurisdiction over the licensing of cabs 
and drivers was pending, employees of the division professed 
to fear for their positions and raised a fund for expenses 
in working up opposition by the sale of raffle tickets among 
the persons licensed by the departments. In a word the divi 
sion has been completely demoralized. 

As Walker blandly ignored the real record of Geraghty 
so he ignored the ominous Dr. William F. Doyle and his 
astonishing practice before the Board of Standards and 
Appeals. In his reply to the City Affairs Committee 
charges he did not even mention Doyle. The facts about 
Doyle were a public scandal during the mayor's entire 
administration, having been spread on the records of the 
Board of Aldermen by George U. Harvey on May 26, 
1925, seven months before Walker took office. The Har 
vey resolution demanded a special investigation "to in 
form the people of the city how a veterinarian could come 
before city boards as an architect and amass a fortune of 
$2,000,000 in three years." Walker not only had the 
power to remove the members of the Board of Standards 
and Appeals who made Doyle's success possible, but he 
had a whole corps of investigators already on the city 



166 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

payroll waiting to be used in just such a scandal. The 
1931 budget of the city showed that the mayor's commis 
sioner of accounts, who is really his chief investigator, had 
under him two deputies, eighteen examiners, sixty-two 
accountants and six examination inspectors ready for a 
clean-up. 

It is indicative of the public attitude toward politics that 
Walker's failure to be a good mayor was not considered 
half so serious as any personal dishonesty that might be 
charged against him. The City Affairs Committee's 
charges against Walker in 1931 set forth certain convinc 
ing reasons why Walker should be considered an incom 
petent and irresponsible mayor of a great city; the Sea- 
bury charges of 1932 set forth equally convincing reasons 
why the mayor was personally unreliable. Of the two sets 
of charges those of the City Affairs Committee were more 
serious from the point of view of the average citizen's 
welfare because they showed the actual breakdown of 
government under Walker's reckless rule. 

But a large part of the New York press attacked the 
committee's charges as too general simply because they 
did not produce sworn testimony concerning the commis 
sion of a crime. Few stopped to ask how a voluntary civic 
body could produce sworn testimony without the power 
of subpoena. The charges which had been intended only 
as the starting point for an official probe, were attacked 
as incomplete, and under cover of the attack Governor 
Roosevelt was given the chance to dismiss them without 
loss of prestige. If he had immediately called for a public 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 167 

trial and appointed competent prosecutors, the mayor's 
unfitness for office would have been established in a week. 

After this experience it became evident that Walker, no 
matter how unfit, could not be removed unless he was 
convicted of a crime, either morally or legally. The line 
of the attack of Seabury upon Walker was marked out for 
him by circumstance. He had to prove that the mayor 
either accepted a bribe or came so close to it that the dis 
tinction was not a difference. He was compelled by the 
nature of the electorate to make his investigation a man 
hunt. He avoided the worst pitfalls of such a man-hunt 
by showing the inter-relations of corruption, but it is to be 
regretted that he did not make a methodical survey of the 
government, department by department, to show the ex 
tent of its demoralization. 

The most obvious material ready for Seabury' s use was 
the Equitable Coach scandal. The Citizens' Union had 
underscored it and the Socialist candidate for mayor in 
1929 had made it a major point of attack upon Walker. 
It was peculiarly a personal scandal because the whole city 
knew that the mayor himself had personally jammed 
through the Equitable franchise against all opposition. 

As we look back upon the Equitable scandal now it 
seems strange that no one took the trouble to go to the 
heart of the complex situation and point out the financial 
meaning of the deal. A great new industry was develop 
ing which was destined to supplant street cars, and the 
company which secured a monopoly franchise of this in 
dustry for greater New York would be in a position to 



168 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

reap a prodigious harvest. Probably the promoters of the 
Equitable Coach Company were modest in estimating their 
profits at $19,000,000 in ten years. The streets of New 
York were worth that much to any bus monopoly and 
they knew it. 

It was not surprising that a group of financial adven 
turers began working on the new mayor from the begin 
ning of his first administration, using as contact man the 
mayor's loud-mouthed salesman friend, Senator John A. 
Hastings. As soon as Hastings' intimacy with the mayor 
became known he became a "bus expert," a "taxicab 
expert," and what have you. 

What happened then is too well known to need any 
complete description here. Hastings had organized a 
bus syndicate composed of Frank R. Fageol and Charles 
B. Rose, bus manufacturers, and William O'Neil, a tire 
manufacturer. Two weeks after Mayor Walker was 
elected in 1925 they incorporated the Equitable Coach 
Company and filed an application for a city- wide bus fran 
chise. Hastings was put on the new company's payroll 
at $1,000 a month and expenses. The corporation was 
apparently set up in such a way that Hastings and his 
associates would have made $19,000,000 in ten years with 
out investing a nickel. The initial capital was to come 
out of the dear public, who would presumably rush 
to buy stock when the franchise was awarded and leave 
the insiders with their promotion stock paid for. 

The Equitable Coach Company was not apparently 
worse than many other companies which exploit streets, 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 169 

gold mines, and consumers. True, it had practically no 
financial backing and almost no experience in running 
buses. Chairman Delaney of the Board of Transporta 
tion must have blushed a little when he concocted a report 
that gave a clean bill of health to the company, but he 
swallowed his doubts and did his duty like a faithful son 
of Tammany. The reason why the Equitable Coach Co. 
was exposed was that it had to secure a contract with 
New York City after public hearings, and its franchise 
would not stand the glare of publicity. In jamming 
through the franchise, Mayor Walker and his associates 
clearly violated section 74 of the city charter which com 
pels the city to make an investigation of the money value 
of a franchise before granting it a fact which strangely 
enough was not brought out at the Seabury hearings. The 
thing which finally killed the franchise was that reputable 
bankers would not back it. They pretended that the 
Equitable' s prospects were not bright. We believe that 
this was only a pretext, that the franchise would have 
made millions for its backers, and that the bankers shied 
away because they saw that the franchise was so tainted 
that it threatened to become a public scandal. 

Walker jammed through the Equitable franchise by 
bargaining with the Bronx and Richmond leaders to give 
them their own franchises separately, signed the contract 
on August 9, 1927, and sailed for Europe on August 10th 
with a $10,000 letter of credit bought for the mayor in 
cash by J. Allan Smith, the Equitable's New York repre 
sentative. He says that the two events had no connection! 



170 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

He produced friendly witnesses at his trial before Gov 
ernor Roosevelt in August, 1932, to show that all of the 
$10,000 not contributed by himself came from other peo 
ple. But the coincidence of that letter of credit being 
taken out at that particular moment for Mayor Walker 
by the chief promoter of the Equitable was a little too 
plain to ignore. The "explanation" was reminiscent of 
McQuade and his relatives, and Dr. Walker and his split 
fees. 

Meanwhile such a storm had been raised by the award 
ing of this franchise to an irresponsible fly-by-night cor 
poration that the mayor and the Equitable promoters had 
to start the fight all over again when Walker returned 
from Europe. Some of Walker's superiors in Tammany 
were obviously worried by the scandal. J. Allan Smith 
wired to Fageol two messages which deserve to be classics 
in local political literature because they show how Tam 
many appeals to its financial masters. "No answer yet 
your suggested financing stop He (Hastings) advises 
War Board (Tammany Hall) notified boy friend (Mayor 
Walker) time limit (for commencement of operation of 
buses under Equitable franchise) was April 15th stop 
Have made progress upstairs (General Electric Com 
pany) and arranged meeting late yesterday between Judge 
(Charles W. Appleton) and boy friend (Mayor Walker) 
before he (Mayor Walker) left for Florida stop Judge 
(Appleton) reported favorable progress and expected to 
see his boss (Owen D. Young) today and advise me 
Monday stop His boss (Young) poor health ordered 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 171 

away for months but if he (Young) says yes we can get 
extension Will keep you advised." 

"John (Hastings) made mistake as his boy friend 
(Mayor Walker) did not want further negotiations with 
Philadelphia banker (Albert M. Greenfield) but says go 
ahead with Brooklyn party (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit 
Corporation) Chairman Board (Gerhard M. Dahl) agree 
able and like(s) you Things look bright." 

(The words in brackets were not in the original tele 
grams, but since we personally heard the testimony in this 
case and Judge Seabury embodied substantially these in 
terpretations in his rebuttal to Mayor Walker without 
protest by the mayor, we feel warranted in including 
them.) 

The second of these two telegrams suggests what cer 
tain political insiders have believed for a long time that 
the Equitable Coach deal was part of a great transit plan 
in which the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation 
and Gerhard M. Dahl, its head, had bargained success 
fully with Tammany Hall for transit monopoly of the 
city. The B. M. T., which had originally been bitterly 
opposed to the Equitable's bus franchise was suddenly 
converted to it and offered to cooperate. The borough 
president of Brooklyn was also converted to the Equitable 
franchise, and the McCooey machine later helped to put 
through the award of a bus franchise in Brooklyn to the 
B. M. T. for $2,000,000 when it was worth more than 
$14,000,000. Gerhard M. Dahl was receiving about the 



172 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

time of the Equitable discussion an annual bonus of 
$75,000 a year, in addition to a salary of $100,000, chiefly 
for "improving relations with the public" a fact which 
we shall discuss later. Mayor Walker became exceedingly 
friendly both with Dahl and with the promoters of the 
Equitable. When the Equitable franchise was finally ve 
toed by the Transit Commission (a State body) because 
the company could not show any financial backing, Dahl 
and the B. M. T. gave Fageol, the Equitable's promoter, 
a handsome order for new buses in spite of the fact that 
another bus manufacturer had made a lower competitive 
offer. 

The thing which gave the whole Equitable deal an ugly 
look was not only Mayor Walker's letter of credit bought 
by J. Allan Smith but the fact that nearly all of the 
Equitable promoters except Hastings refused to waive 
immunity when they came before Judge Seabury. The 
public could not believe after that that their transaction 
was innocent. 

It would be strange indeed if the capitalist politicians 
and the franchise promoters of New York did not coop 
erate to give each other unearned profit. The conception 
of both the Democratic and Republican parties is that the 
streets, piers, markets, wires, and land of the community 
are raw materials for private exploitation. If these basic 
factors of wealth production were socialized, the blessed 
private initiative of the Hastings, Fageols, and Dahls 
would be diluted and the city would languish. We shall 
discuss the meaning of such initiative more fully in the 
chapters on buses and public utilities. 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 173 

Walker finally fell not because he sold out the city to 
private traction interests but because he was too reckless 
in receiving money from friends whose generosity had 
developed after he became mayor. Paul Block, for exam 
ple, might have been more plausible in explaining his 
$246,000 beneficence to the mayor if his generosity had 
dated back to Walker's pre-mayoralty days. As it was, 
the story of how Block opened a stock account for the 
mayor on the inspiration of his warm-hearted ten-year-old 
son, who wondered how such a well-dressed mayor could 
live graciously on $25,000 a year brought loud laughter 
from the city. Probably those laughs hurt the mayor more 
than many of Seabury's factual thunderbolts. 

Both the Block incident and the Sisto incident showed 
how difficult it is to convict a modern public official of 
receiving a bribe. A stock account may be used with per 
fect safety to pay almost any ill-gotten gain while the 
stock market is going up. Graft during a depression is 
more difficult to conceal. 

In the Sisto case, as in the Block case, the mayor re 
ceived stock profits without any written commitment on 
his part to pay for any stock or to pay losses on any stock. 
His friends simply "let him in." In one case he received 
$246,000, in the other $26,000. The $26,000 from J. A. 
Sisto had definite signs of taint. Sisto was heavily inter 
ested in taxicabs and the mayor, shortly after he received 
the Sisto bonds, fought for legislation that would have 
greatly benefited the big taxi companies. That the mayor 
finally failed to win as favorable a measure for the taxi- 
cab owners as he had originally planned is beside the 



174 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

point. He obviously intended to impose upon the industry 
the kind of regulation that in the end would have meant 
great gain to such a holding company as Sisto represented. 
Sisto's sworn testimony concerning the $26,000 gift flatly 
contradicted the mayor's. Sisto said that the money was a 
gratuity and that he had paid an income tax on the entire 
amount. (See Appendix III for Seabury charges against 
Walker.) 

Walker floundered pathetically in explaining these gifts 
from Sisto and Block. He said that they were not gifts but 
profits on investments and that he would have borne the 
losses if there had been any. If they were profits, then 
why did he not pay income taxes upon them? The law 
does not permit one member of a partnership to pay the 
income tax for another. We believe that if Walker's own 
story of Sisto's $26,000 and Block's $246,000 is accepted, 
the ex-mayor is clearly guilty of violating both the State 
and Federal income tax laws. Probably he could not be 
prosecuted because in these cases the testimony of Sisto 
and Block that their contributions were gifts rather than 
dividends would be accepted at face value by the Federal 
government, and during the years when those gifts were 
made there was no Federal gift tax. 

Seabury' s weakest point against Walker was his charge 
that the mayor had violated the law by owning some 
bonds of the Reliance Bronze and Steel Corporation when 
it was supplying the city with traffic-light standards. The 
charge should never have been made because Walker had 
obviously done nothing wrong in owning these bonds. 



MACHINE-MADE MAYOR 175 

Probably the unexplained millions of Walker's personal 
business agent, Russell T. Sherwood, did more than any 
one thing to force him out of office. Here was a man 
running away after giving about $75,000 of somebody's 
money to an unnamed person who was a friend of some 
body. The tabloid readers could understand that. The 
unnamed person became the most named unnamed person 
in the history of the planet. Somebody suggested building 
a monument and laying a wreath upon the tomb of the 
unnamed person. Sherwood forfeited all his property in 
New York rather than return to face Seabury, and an 
income tax levy of almost $50,000 was made against him. 

The public could not think of any reason for Sher 
wood's disappearance except his connection with the 
mayor. He had been a $3,000-a-year assistant in Walker's 
former law office and suddenly, when Walker became 
mayor, his bank deposits jumped to $98,000 in Walker's 
first year and totaled $961,000 during the first five years 
and eight months of Walker's rule. And, significantly 
enough, almost $750,000 was in cash. Sherwood paid 
many of the mayor's and Mrs. Walker's bills out of his 
bank account and then, when asked to explain where it 
all came from, disappeared. 

To the end Walker kept up his amazing front. He 
screamed that he was being persecuted by Republicans for 
political advantage; he forgot that long before the Repub 
licans had forced an investigation the Socialists and non- 
partisan civic groups had disclosed ample grounds for his 
removal. He saw that his defense had failed and that he 



176 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

was about to be removed; so he resigned with the final 
flourish of a vaudeville star. Slinking off the stage as if 
already a fugitive from justice he would not deny himself 
that final curtain. 

And to the end Walker was backed by the machine 
which he had served so faithfully. The Tammany leaders 
did everything in their power to save him. They obstructed 
the Seabury hearings until those hearings became at times 
almost a riot. They packed the hearing room on the days 
of Walker's appearance by sending a gang of district ruf 
fians through an unguarded back door to cheer him. They 
sent filibustering lawyers to Albany for the mayor's trial 
before Roosevelt to raise every fantastic objection possible 
to a straight-forward discussion of the facts. They kept 
their machine intact after Walker's downfall, and it still 
rules New York. It rules New York so completely that, 
if the present form of voting is continued, they can prob 
ably put James Joseph Walker back in the City Hall at 
any time that they wish. 



10 
ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 

BY a queer twist of fate the public hero of the drama 
of Walker's resignation was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He 
it was whom the Western and Southern papers described 
as the stern yet fair arbiter who sat in judgment over the 
Tammany mayor. The legend of his strength and courage 
spread through the land. Had he not defied the corrupt 
overlords of his own party? Had they not sought to de 
stroy him at Chicago? What better proof could one want 
that Franklin Roosevelt was the White Knight who led 
the forces of civic virtue? 

Whereupon we who have lived in New York and for 
lo these many years have fought the steadily losing fight 
against the Tammany machine added a third volume to 
our Library of Presidential Fairy Tales. It was called 
How Roosevelt Slew the Tammany Dragon, and it sat on 
the shelf beside How Coolidge Crushed the Boston Police 
Strike, and How the Great Engineer Brought Efficiency to 
Washington. 

Lest we seem a trifle bitter about Franklin Roosevelt 
let us add that he is a nice person who once graduated 
from Harvard, has a good radio voice, and is as sin 
cere as old party politics will permit. But as to his 

177 



178 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

relationship to Tammany and New York City cor 
ruption, which is the sole interest of this chapter, it is 
the record of a weak man who has been incredibly lucky. 
To use the words of Walter Lippmann: "It is well known 
in New York, though apparently not in the West, that 
Governor Roosevelt had to be forced into assisting the 
exposure of corruption in New York City. It is well 
known in New York that, through his patronage, he has 
supported the present powers in Tammany Hall. It is 
well known that his policy has been to offend Tammany 
just as little as he dared in the face of the fact that an 
investigation of Tammany had finally to be under 
taken. . . . 

"I do not say that Mr. Roosevelt might not at some time 
in the next few months fight Tammany. I do say that on 
his record these last three years he will fight Tammany 
only if and when he decides it is safe and profitable to do 
so. For Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no 
tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privi 
lege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important 
qualifications for the office, would very much like to be 
President." x 

The illusion of Mr. Roosevelt's courage is an inheritance 
from his youth when, for a few weeks in 1911 as a young 
State Senator from Dutchess County he fought William 
F. Sheehan, who was Charles Murphy's choice for the 
United States Senate, and, after winning his fight, voted 
for the Tammany candidate ultimately. After that one 
rebel yell he was amiable, regular. He played with the 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 179 

machine, attended its banquets and mass meetings, and 
became known in the district clubhouses as a "good fel 
low." He was made governor by Alfred E. Smith who 
needed a popular Protestant with the right name as a state 
running mate on the presidential ticket to offset the preju 
dice against an Irish Catholic son of Tammany. 

When Roosevelt ran for governor in 1928 Walker had 
already been in office for nearly two years, and the char 
acter of the man was quite evident. Roosevelt did noth 
ing to offend or criticize the machine which put both 
him and Walker into office. When the notorious Olvany, 
whose real estate manipulations we have already de 
scribed, resigned as Tammany leader in 1929, Roosevelt 
issued a statement praising him. He continued to do 
business amiably with John F. Curry. His wife joined 
the committee of leading citizens to ask James J. Walker 
to be a candidate for reelection in 1929. 8 

During his second year as governor (1930) his position 
of innocent aloofness was challenged by Fiorello La 
Guardia, Charles H. Tuttle and the Socialist Party. The 
scandals in New York City government came thick and 
fast. Rothstein had been killed and Magistrate Vitale had 
been removed by the Apellate Division for accepting a 
loan from the gambler. General Sessions Judge Mancuso 
had been forced out after the failure of the City Trust 
Company. Roosevelt, instead of scouring the city for a 
successor to Mancuso who would command universal re 
spect, accepted the Tammany designee for the post, a man 
who was condemned as unfit for his place by the New 



180 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

York County Lawyers' Association and who later refused 
to waive immunity before the Todd grand jury. He re 
fused to make public his files relating to Bertini's ap 
pointment after a demand for such publicity by Louis 
Waldman. 

Then in March, 1930, the Republicans in Albany tried 
to get Roosevelt to investigate New York City on his own 
authority and the governor vetoed the bill. The Socialist 
Party, after the Vause pier lease scandal, asked Roose 
velt in June, 1930, to initiate a Moreland Act investigation 
of the New York City situation and the Republicans 
offered to support a special session of the legislature to 
give the governor adequate powers for such an investiga 
tion. Roosevelt declined in a letter that was scholarly and 
evasive. He treated the phenomena of corruption in New 
York not as connected parts of a pattern of political con 
duct but as isolated incidents to be referred to the Tam 
many prosecutors and their aides. He would intervene in 
New York City, he said, only when there was "a failure 
on the part of local inquisitorial bodies." In practice that 
meant the reference of Tammany crimes to the aged 
Curry henchman, T. C. T. Crain. 

Roosevelt was shrewd enough in all of his moves never 
to appear as the agent of obstruction. He fell back adroitly 
on good constitutional alibis. When he turned down the 
Republican and Socialist request for a Moreland Act inves 
tigation of New York City he volunteered heartily to have 
plenty of investigations by grand juries and the Appellate 
Division. These investigations, of course, would be lim- 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 181 

ited to specific areas and grievances and would not expose 
the whole picture of the corrupt rule of the city by his 
party, This is precisely the strategy that he finally used 
when the scandals in the city became so great that it was 
bad politics to ignore them further. 

When Charles H. Tuttle disclosed the Ewald scandal 
and Grain failed to get an indictment Roosevelt not only 
initiated a grand jury investigation of the particular case 
but he asked the Appellate Division to investigate the 
Magistrates' Courts in Manhattan and the Bronx. The 
public uproar was so great that he could do nothing less, 
but his move for these restricted inquiries saved Tammany 
from the much more serious revelations that seemed to lie 
behind Vause's expensive pier leases and Doyle's adjust 
able zoning laws. 

Charles H. Tuttle was perfectly justified when, in run 
ning for governor against Roosevelt in 1930 he said: "In 
the face of this record the Governor has been as blind, 
deaf and dumb as Tammany Hall could wish him to be. 
He has pretended to regard each scandal as mere distinct, 
unrelated and isolated cases to be taken up separately each 
apart from the other, until the evidence in each became 
too strong to ignore. He declined to see what even the 
unanimous Democratic press sees namely, a common 
bond and a common significance." 

To which Roosevelt replied in his closing campaign 
speech: "Without further evidence I am not convinced 
that the seven million people of New York City cannot 
handle their own affairs and unless by such evidence I am 



182 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

so convinced I will not interfere with their affairs. With 
out sufficient evidence I have refused to believe that all 
judges in New York City are corrupt. Without sufficient 
evidence I have refused to believe that all officeholders in 
New York City are dishonest." 

So the bold progressive was reflected governor and 
Tammany was "vindicated." As each new scandal arose 
Roosevelt demonstrated just the right proportion of cau 
tion and concern. When in the grand jury investigation 
of the Ewald case Prosecutor Hiram Todd called John F. 
Curry and other Tammany leaders to the witness stand, 
they all refused to waive immunity. Todd refused to lis 
ten to their evidence unless they did waive immunity. 
Roosevelt, faced with a virtual admission of guilt by his 
own party chiefs, was obliged to do something to save 
their faces or dissociate himself from such company. He 
evolved a neat formula for doing both at once. 

He wrote a solemn public letter to Mayor Walker de 
claring that no man should hold public office and refuse 
to waive immunity in regard to his public acts. Walker 
and the Tammany leaders took the cue. The leaders 
declared their willingness to testify as to their public acts 
but not as to their private acts. The buying of judgeships 
which Todd was probing into was, of course, a private 
act. Todd rightly refused to listen to the Tammany leaders 
unless they agreed to testify before him without condition. 
They refused to waive immunity completely, and in the 
end, they escaped examination. Roosevelt acquiesced in 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 183 

this evasion and never added a word of rebuke to his 
pious public utterance. 

But still the scandals in New York City grew and the 
Republicans in Albany finally decided to force a legislative 
investigation. They forced it through a joint resolution 
which Roosevelt never signed because he did not need to 
sign it. They and not Roosevelt chose Seabury as the coun 
sel for that investigation. When it was all done Roosevelt 
could not refuse to sign the appropriation bill for the 
investigation without committing political suicide. 

While the public demand for an investigation of New 
York City was growing, the City Affairs Committee, 
through its chairman and vice-chairman, John Haynes 
Holmes and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, brought charges 
against Mayor Walker; and the City Club filed charges 
against District Attorney Thomas C. T. Crain. Both sets 
of charges were intended to be only indictments calling 
for investigation and public hearings. Both charges served 
their purpose admirably because they focussed the wide 
spread discontent against the Walker administration on 
definite points of infection and probably played a deter 
mining part in inducing the legislature to vote a complete 
investigation. The details of the charges against Walker 
we have discussed elsewhere; here we are concerned with 
the role that Roosevelt played in relation to those charges, 
a role which the public has never thoroughly appreciated. 

The City Affairs Committee's charges against Mayor 
Walker were detailed and broad in their scope. They were 



184 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

so serious in their nature that no fair judge could possibly 
have discovered their truth or falsehood without some 
first-hand investigation of the departments of New York 
City's government. Governor Roosevelt never made any 
move to make such an investigation and, what is more 
damning, he never even referred the charges to the legis 
lative committee which had been created for the express 
purpose of making an investigation of Walker's adminis 
tration. The legislative committee to investigate New 
York City had been created while the charges of the City 
Affairs Committee against Mayor Walker were still pend 
ing and, as soon as the committee was created, Mr. Holmes 
and Dr. Wise hastened to assure Governor Roosevelt that 
they would be delighted to have their charges referred to 
this committee. 

Governor Roosevelt declined to refer them. He had 
received a warning from Tammany that it would consider 
the reference of these charges to the Hofstadter committee 
an unfriendly act. He did an amazing thing. He referred 
the very brief complaint of the City Club against District 
Attorney Crain to Judge Seabury for a thorough investiga 
tion with hearings ; he sent the long and detailed charges 
against Mayor Walker to the mayor for a reply, then 
refused the City Affairs Committee the opportunity to 
refute the insolent and evasive reply of the mayor, and 
finally dismissed the committee's charges against Walker 
as "too general." He did not have the courage to say 
that they were false he had never investigated a single 
city department to discover whether they were false or 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 185 

true and he feared the effect of the smashing rebuttal that 
the City Affairs Committee could have made. He chose 
rather to pick upon the aged and feeble Crain, submit him 
to public torture upon charges which contained not a 
single detail, and dismiss the 15-page detailed charges 
against Tammany's powerful mayor as "too general" 
without denying a single one of them. 

Roosevelt escaped a barrage of public condemnation by 
lucky circumstance. The average New Yorker had begun 
to think of the Seabury inquiry as the hope of the city 
long before Roosevelt had reached a decision on the City 
Affairs Committee's charges against Walker. In the ex 
citement of the new inquiry the dropping of the charges 
was not considered serious. Seabury, the public reasoned, 
would get at the facts more thoroughly than any unofficial 
committee could. 

Seabury discovered enough official and unofficial cor 
ruption to shock a continent but it was not enough to pro 
duce a tremor at the executive mansion in Albany. During 
all the tin-box revelations which we have outlined in pre 
vious chapters not one word of condemnation or one sug 
gestion of reform came from Governor Roosevelt. Many 
of the officials exposed were directly responsible to the 
governor for their conduct and removable by him. The 
complete evidence against them was published in full day 
by day in the great New York dailies where Governor 
Roosevelt could not have failed to see it. Still silence 
from Albany. Sheriff Farley, the most notorious of the 
Tin Box Brigade, testified before Seabury on October 6th 



186 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

and his complete testimony was published October 7th. 
Silence from Albany for eighty-five days! Then Seabury 
decided to officially call the attention of the governor to 
the evidence against Sheriff Farley. He transmitted that 
evidence to Governor Roosevelt on December 30th, al 
though Roosevelt had had the opportunity to read all the 
important features of it in the newspapers weeks before. 
Then Seabury waited. The Committee of One Thousand 
and the City Affairs Committee put the case against Farley 
in the form of definite charges on January 18th. Roosevelt 
did not even have the courtesy to make Seabury's statement 
about Farley public until the City Affairs Committee had 
wired him asking for an explanation of his neglect. Sea- 
bury waited until January 24th, one hundred and ten days 
after Farley had testified, before Roosevelt finally decided 
to give Farley a public hearing. 

By this time the newspapers were clamoring so loudly 
that further inaction had ceased to be good politics. Far 
ley was summoned to Albany where he floundered in his 
tin box explanations even more pathetically than he had 
on the witness stand in New York. Roosevelt removed 
him gently, without one word of anger, and without any 
suggestion that his transgressions, as Seabury had proved, 
were not individual sins but samples of a definite system 
of plunder by a political machine of Governor Roosevelt's 
own party. 

In removing Farley, Roosevelt made a statement which 
will remain the outstanding mystery of his political career. 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 187 

It was a ringing statement of high moral principle such 
as a man might make who had decided to burn all old- 
party bridges behind him and fight for a genuine political 
reconstruction. He said: "As a matter of general sound 
public policy, I am very certain that there is a requirement 
that where a public official is under inquiry or investiga 
tion, especially an elected official, and it appears that his 
scale of living or the total of his bank deposits far exceeds 
the public salary which he is known to receive, he, the 
elected public official, owes a positive public duty to the 
community to give a reasonable or credible explanation 
of the sources of the deposits, or the source which enables 
him to maintain a scale of living beyond the amount of 
his salary." 

There, for once, spoke a man and not a politician ! 

Roosevelt must have known when he made this state 
ment that if he followed it through the entire Tammany 
machine would be wrecked. Unwittingly or sagaciously 
he had given the reformers and Judge Seabury the very 
handle they had been looking for. He had proposed a 
moral rather than a legal test for fitness to hold office in 
New York. He had lightened the burden of proof placed 
upon Seabury in his arraignment of Walker. Before the 
Farley statement Seabury was beholden to prove that 
Walker had actually accepted a bribe or misappropriated 
city funds; now he only had to produce unexplained bank 
accounts. Roosevelt's position was made even more sig 
nificant by the fact that on January 25, 1932, Seabury 



188 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

issued his intermediate report summarizing the evidence 
against a whole group of Tammany chieftains and show 
ing that Farley was no worse than the rest. 

The City Affairs Committee promptly jumped into the 
fray again with a test for Roosevelt's new formula. Was 
the governor talking political rhetoric or really changing 
his attitude toward Tammany? John Haynes Holmes and 
Stephen S. Wise signed charges against Sheriff James A. 
McQuade of Kings County and sent them to Roosevelt; 
and they also sent to Roosevelt a copy of their charges 
against John Theofel, Democratic boss of Queens and 
Chief Clerk of the Surrogate's Court of that county, whose 
removal they asked by Surrogate Hetherington. Both these 
men had been convicted out of their own mouths of hav 
ing large bank deposits for which they could give no 
credible explanation. Both these men had been denounced 
by Judge Seabury in language as definite as his denun 
ciation of Farley. 

Roosevelt met the new attack by the City Affairs Com 
mittee in language so violent and with anger so un 
affected that his real attitude toward the whole Tammany 
machine was revealed as by a flash of lightning. It be 
came apparent that his statement of high political morality 
in removing Farley was the utterance of an aspirant to the 
Presidency. He had no intention of following it up. He 
showed more anger in one burst of resentment against 
Mr. Holmes and Dr. Wise than he had revealed in the 
whole course of the investigation of New York corrup 
tion. He not only refused to remove McQuade or rec- 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 189 

ommend an investigation into the conduct of Theofel, 
but he utterly ignored the other Tammany officials who 
remained in office with huge bank accounts unexplained, 
two of them, Flaherty and Curran, assistants to Farley. 
He consulted with John F. Curry as to Farley's successor. 
Then he appointed Curry's choice, John E. Sheehy, who 
calmly proceeded to leave in office the subordinates of 
Farley who were guilty of the same offense for which 
Farley had been removed. 

Fortunately for the honor of the New York press, not 
a newspaper in the city except The Times took Roose 
velt's refusal to remove McQuade and Theofel as an act 
of political courage. Roosevelt in his reply had attacked 
the leaders of the City Affairs Committee personally, say 
ing: "If you would exert yourselves patiently and con 
sistently in pointing out to the electorate of New York 
City that an active insistence on their part would result in 
better qualified and more honest and more efficient public 
servants, you would be rendering a service to your com 
munity which at the present time you are not performing." 

He refused to remove McQuade on the ground that the 
voters of Kings County had elected him sheriff after read 
ing of his testimony before Judge Seabury and that there 
fore he was legally purged. "If our system of government 
were changed," he said, "so as to give to the Governor the 
duty of overriding and nullifying a definite elective choice 
by removing an elected official for acts committed prior 
to his election, with full public knowledge thereof, such 
change would create in Albany a power so dangerous in 



190 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

the hands of an unscrupulous Governor that the will of 
the electorate could be wholly destroyed." In refusing to 
take any action against Boss Theofel he accused the City 
Affairs Committee of grave impropriety in asking him to 
exert pressure upon a "high judicial officer." 

The reply of the committee, sent by Mr. Holmes and 
Dr. Wise, probably did more than any one thing to destroy 
the confidence of liberals in Roosevelt because it summed 
up in its conclusion many important facts concerning 
Roosevelt's negligence. It said: 

You purport to be indignant over our "grave im 
propriety" in urging "that you use your utmost interest 
and influence to secure the removal from office of the 
clerk of the Surrogate's Court." You are shocked that 
any one should suggest that you "exert pressure" upon 
"a high judicial officer." This, sir, is the sheerest 
quibbling! You know perfectly well* what we meant 
in our appeal. We meant and we mean that, had you 
been worthy of your high office, as alert to the peoples' 
interest as to your own political advancement, you 
would months ago have summoned the surrogate of 
Queens County into your presence and demanded that 
he act on the facts brought to light by the counsel for 
the Hofstadter Committee. So far as the public records 
show, you have done nothing to bring the conduct of 
his clerk to the attention of the surrogate, who is by 
law, responsible to you. This in spite of the fact that 
the surrogate, taking example and advantage of your 
neglect, did nothing for five months after the facts 
concerning Mr. Theofel had been made public. The 
surrogate's present action is only the result of our prod 
ding. Had you moved with the promptness and vigor 
which the moral aspects of the case demand, there 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 191 

would have been no need to ask you to use your influ 
ence to secure the removal of Mr. Theofel. Your own 
culpable inaction was at once the cause and occasion of 
our plea. 

You pretend that Surrogate Hetherington is a high 
and independent judicial official. You know that the 
surrogate and scores of other officials in Queens County 
are the creatures of John Theofel, the Democratic 
leader of Queens, put in office by his power, and kept 
in office for his advantage. Mr. Theofel himself has 
publicly admitted that he put the surrogate in his pres 
ent position. If you do not command or force action 
against Mr. Theofel, how can you expect his political 
underling to do so? 

Your objection to our appeal for help in the removal 
of Mr. Theofel is outdone by your peremptory rejec 
tion of our charges against Sheriff McQuade, of Kings 
County, on the ground that he was elected to his pres 
ent office after the public revelation of his incredible 
bank accounts. You contend that the legislative system 
"allows to the registered voters full opportunity to 
select any citizen no matter what you and I may think 
of the qualification of that citizen for the office." Dare 
you say, sir, that the citizens of Brooklyn had a fair 
chance to weigh the guilt or innocence of Mr. McQuade 
at the last election? Let us remind you that the dis 
closures before the Hofstadter Committee concerning 
Mr. McQuade' s unexplained bank accpunts were not 
made until October 7, which was two full months after 
he had been designated for his present office by the 
Democratic party convention. He was named at this 
convention on August 7, confirmed in the primaries 
on September 15, and did not testify before the Hof 
stadter Committee until October 7. His nomination on 
the Democratic ticket in Brooklyn, as you well know, 
was equivalent to election. 

Furthermore, at the election of last November, the 



192 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

voters of Brooklyn were not presented a clear-cut issue. 
They had read sketchy newspaper accounts of a public 
hearing and of vigorous protestations of innocence by 
Mr. McQuade. No charges were then made against 
Mr. McQuade by any civic committee or any prosecut 
ing attorney. You now tell us that you would not have 
voted for Mr. McQuade had you "been a resident of 
Kings County last autumn." Why did you not state 
this before the election? How could you expect the 
voters to reject Mr. McQuade in the absence of such 
courage of leadership as it was your opportunity to 
offer? Why did you not summon Mr. McQuade before 
you while he was running for his new office and de 
mand the truth about the allegations that had been 
made against him? At that time the voters did not 
have before them any such ruling as you laid down in 
the Farley case, to the effect that an official who could 
not explain his bank accounts should be removed from 
public office. . . . 

You purport to be profoundly shocked at our request 
for the removal of a public official for offenses com 
mitted before his reelection. Your statement on this 
question is a patent evasion of the issue. It has support 
neither in law nor in morals. Mr. McQuade committed 
an offense for which he has indicated no repentance 
and, as far as we can judge, he has not turned over a 
new leaf nor broken with his past. His associations 
remain what they were in 1930, and perhaps he is still 
"supporting" the thirty-three relatives to whom he re 
ferred in his testimony before the Hofstadter Commit 
tee. You know, sir, that Mr. McQuade was guilty of 
exactly the same offense for which you removed Sheriff 
Farley and that he had the same unfitness for office on 
November 4 that he had on November 2, 1931. In 
the case of an offending official, your task as Governor 
is to judge him, not on the basis of legal technicalities, 
but on the grounds of moral fitness. The law in grant- 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 193 

ing you the power of removal exempts you from those 
judicial limitations and circumscriptions which too often 
tend to obstruct justice in the courts. 

We recognize that the power to remove an official 
for past offenses after his reelection is open to abuse, 
but that danger of abuse is no excuse for failure to 
act when the moral issue is clear. 

We insist that the very power of removal was given 
you by the Constitution of this state in order that you, 
as an executive and not a judge, might be free to oust 
an unfit public servant even when he had not com 
mitted an offense reviewable in a court of law or clear 
cut enough to be adjudged at the polls. . . . 

You say that you are "becoming convinced" that 
"corruption in public office and that unfit servants in 
public office" are even more abhorrent to you than to 
us. Your record belies this boast. The Tammany brand 
is as clear on that record as the stripes of a tiger. You 
removed Sheriff Farley for his unexplained bank ac 
counts only when Judge Seabury forced you to this 
action, and then you replaced the Tammany leader of 
the 14th District with the Tammany leader of the 15th 
District. The new sheriff whom you appointed still is 
retaining in office at this date two deputies, Curran 
and Flaherty, who are guilty of the same offense that 
caused you to remove their chief. 

You have shown more indignation in attacking us 
than you have demonstrated against all the corruption 
revealed in New York City in recent months. When 
Judge Mancuso retired under fire you appointed Judge 
Amedeo Bertini in his place, although the New York 
County Lawyers' Association declared that Bertini was 
not fitted for the position of judge of the Court of 
General Sessions. You appointed Bertini on recom 
mendation of Tammany leader Charles L. Kohler and 
Bertini promptly revealed his caliber by refusing to 
waive immunity before a grand jury that was investi- 



194 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

gating a $100,000 transaction that followed his ap 
pointment. At the beginning of the special grand jury- 
investigation into magistrates' courts you allowed six 
high officers in the Walker administration to refuse to 
waive immunity in regard to their unofficial acts with 
out rebuke from you, although you must know that the 
sale of judgeships is unofficial and that the only legal 
ground for refusing to waive immunity is that testify 
ing might lead to conviction of a crime. You adroitly 
evaded the responsibility for these officials' acts by re 
buking them for refusing to waive immunity concern 
ing their public acts, but you gave them a convenient 
loophole by permitting them to remain silent concerning 
unofficial acts. You pursued the same tactics recently 
in the Farley case when you aided and abetted the 
Tammany leaders who are fighting Judge Seabury by 
hinting that they are not obliged to testify in private 
hearings. Hastings and Walker immediately took your 
cue and announced that they refuse to testify at private 
hearings. . . . 

Never once, during all the months in which disclo 
sure has been piled on disclosure of the unspeakable 
corruption of government in New York, have you vol 
untarily denounced those Tammany leaders who hold 
power in your party and office in this community. On 
the contrary, you constantly consort and consult with 
those, your Tammany masters and managers, and use 
shameful ingenuity in trafficking for their good will as 
revealed in your communication to us. This catalog 
of your actions in relation to the Tammany machine 
in New York is not pleasant to read and is its own 
refutation of your claim to leadership in the work of 
public reform.* 

To which any postscript would be superfluous. 
Governor Roosevelt's reply to the City Affairs Commit- 



ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 

tee was cryptic. He said: "If they (Holmes and Wise) 
would serve their God as they seek to serve themselves,, 
the people of the city of New York would be the gainers." 
The governor was playing for Tammany's support at 
Chicago so he postponed Walker's day of retribution ta 
the last possible moment. He could have forced the mayor 
to face the music late in May, as soon as Walker had 
testified before Seabury, which would have allowed ample 
time to remove the mayor before the Democratic conven 
tion. Instead he dawdled and dodged and finally per 
mitted His Honor to postpone his answer until July 29, 
two months after his public testimony. Then, when the 
nomination had already been secured, the White Knight 
of Albany took his civic conscience out of mothballs and 
sat in judgment over Walker. He became, as we pointed 
out at the beginning of this chapter, the public hero of 
the last act in the Walker drama. 



11 

TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 

THE fiction that Roosevelt is a bold enemy of Tammany 
has a companion myth. It is that the Republican Party in 
New York City is a bold enemy of Tammany and that it 
stands for clean government. The Republican Party has 
nominally controlled the Borough of Queens for three 
years under the "reform" administration of George U. 
Harvey, and the borough's government during those years 
has been as full of scandal and incompetence as if it had 
been ruled directly by Jimmy himself. It is well to remem 
ber this when we are inclined to blame all the political 
ills of New York upon the Democratic organization. 

The announcement in 1932 that the center of popula 
tion of New York City was in a cemetery in Queens was 
greeted by the public with both amazement and amuse 
ment. Not many people had realized to what extent the 
city had been moving to Long Island in recent years ; they 
had learned to think of New York as centered in Man 
hattan and its skyscrapers. Brooklyn, it should be remem 
bered, is now larger than Manhattan in population, and 
Queens is the fastest growing part of the city. 

One of the great disappointments of the Seabury in 
quiry was the failure to expose thoroughly the govern- 

196 



TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 197 

ment of Queens. For this failure we cannot too harshly 
blame Judge Seabury because his time and his appropria 
tion were sharply limited. It was necessary to show defi 
nite results in Manhattan in order to maintain public 
interest in the inquiry. He did pillory the Democratic 
boss of Queens, John Theofel, most effectively only to 
have Governor Roosevelt dodge the issue of forcing Theo- 
fel's removal from office by pretending that the boss's 
underling, Surrogate Hetherington, must take entire 
responsibility. 

Queens has been victimized by realtors and political 
parasites until its people are ripe for both political and 
economic rebellion. Its people are largely small home 
owners who bought houses from the makers of subdivi 
sions at boom prices and then, when the depression ar 
rived, found themselves in possession of little else but 
mortgages. Queens could yet be the most beautiful and 
well-planned section of New York if it had intelligent di 
rection because it still has room to grow. At present it 
might be called typically American. It sprawls unevenly 
over a vast territory with alternate stretches of ugliness 
and beauty, and no central concept of development any 
where. Incidentally it is one of the finest illustrations 
extant of the social cost of our burial customs. If New 
York practiced cremation the people of Queens to-day 
could have as parks for the living many acres of land now 
consecrated to the dead. 

The record of political corruption and incompetence 
in Queens would be hard to equal anywhere in the United 



198 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

States. If we ignore the interim term of President Patten, 
five of the last six borough presidents of Queens have 
been under fire of official charges, removed from office, 
resigned, or ended up in prison. Maurice E. Connolly, 
the Democratic borough president in the first part of 
Walker's reign, cost the taxpayers of his borough many 
millions of dollars by conspiring with a sewer ring to pay 
extortionate prices for defective pipes. He was convicted 
in 1928 and sent to prison after the most desperate efforts 
were made to save him. W. L. D'Olier, head of a sani 
tary corporation, who was regarded as an important wit 
ness against the sewer ring, was shot to death shortly 
before the trial, and the grand jury returned a murder 
verdict. J. M. Phillips, head of the ring, died under 
strange circumstances two months before the trial. 

Connolly, of course, was a friend and associate of Tam 
many and the failure to discover his sewer graft was a 
distinct source of embarrassment to Walker and Berry. 
The sewer contracts with their exorbitant prices for pipe 
had been registered in the controller's office and it was 
difficult to explain why some examination of them had not 
been made. Certainly, the fraud would have been imme 
diately revealed if some one in the Finance Department 
had been willing to give the matter a little attention. 

When Connolly was finally exposed, one of those pecu 
liar accidents of journalism occurred which sometimes 
bring fame to dullards and oblivion to heroes. The pub 
lic thought that the then Republican alderman, George U. 
Harvey, had been responsible for Connolly's downfall. 
The truth is that Harvey only entered the scene to exploit 



TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 199 

the sewer scandal after Attorney Henry Klein had forced 
it before the public. Klein did not even know Harvey 
when the Connolly exposure began. Harvey took Klein's 
material and used it for charges against Connolly before 
Governor Smith. The history of Harvey's reputation is as 
curious a story of manufactured public opinion as the tale 
of Calvin Coolidge and the Boston police strike. 

Harvey is a little man with a light voice who on occa 
sion wears the uniform of a colonel. He has richly earned 
the title of Tammany's Little Colonel for he has been as 
faithful to the machine in all major policies as one of its 
own district leaders. He defended Mayor Walker warmly 
when the latter was under charges before the governor, 
and made the first move for the mayor's salary increase 
and the mayor's notorious bus program for Queens (see 
the next chapter) . He was accused of being a member of 
an organization affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, and the 
evidence seemed to us convincing. He became borough 
president after the sewer scandals, when the Democrats 
of the borough were divided, with the support of a non 
descript group called Independent Democrats who were 
led by Martin Mager, John J. Halleran and Irving Klein. 

Martin Mager, the official leader of the Independent 
Democrats, was convicted in December, 1929, of bartering 
political jobs for pay but he escaped with a $500 fine 
because of his health. He continued to act as unofficial 
leader of the group for a long time after his conviction, 
apparently with the friendly support of Mr. Harvey. In 
deed, he was indicted again in 1931, this time for having 
conspired with Klein. Irving Klein, vice president of the 



200 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Independent Democrats, under Mager, who was made 
superintendent of highways by Mr. Harvey, finally ended 
his political career in 1932 when he was convicted of 
defrauding the city in the Rosati road-oil case. John J. 
Halleran, chairman of the Board of Directors of the 
Queens Independent Democrats while Mager was presi 
dent and Klein vice president, is still Mr. Harvey's Com 
missioner of Public Works although he was directly in 
volved in the Mager case by the testimony of Corporation 
Inspector Michael J. Lyons, and in the Rosati oil case by 
his admission that he had no system of checking up on 
the Rosati contract. 

Halleran was toastmaster at a banquet of the Independ 
ent Democratic Organization of Queens on March 22, 
1930, at which Martin Mager was guest of honor three 
months after Mager 's conviction for job selling. The pro 
gram of that banquet contained two poems worthy of quo 
tation, each printed on a separate page under the portrait 
of its subject. Under the portrait of Martin Mager the 
poem read: 

OUR LEADER 

Our fondest respect and deep admiration, 
Undying loyalty, is our obligation. 
Respect, for the honest methods he uses. 
Love, for the confidence he never abuses. 
Efficient, honest, staunch, true to the end, 
An honor to have him call you a friend. 
Democratic, unassuming, personality that beams, 
Enveloped in the hearts of the people of Queens. 
Restoring Democracy to its proper metre. 
Is MARTIN MAGER, OUR DEMOCRATIC LEADER. 



TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 201 

The poem under the picture of John J. Halleran read: 

OUR EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN 

Kindly listen voters, and a story I will tell 
About a man that did his job, and did it very well, 
When called upon to do a job, in nineteen twenty nine, 
A task, I'm sure, which many men, would readily decline, 
Because the sewers and street cleaning departments of 

Queens 
Were in the most deplorable condition, that we have ever 

seen. 
As head of these departments, Commissioner of Public 

Works, 

He went right at it with a will, no duties did he shirk, 
He's been there little more than a year, what else is there to 

say! 
Just look at the improvements, those departments have 

made today. 
And is he content, to take a rest, with the good work he has 

done? 
He said, "Do you think those things are good? Well my 

work has just begun." 

He organized democracy, for Independence, truth and fair 
ness, 
Of which, he's executive chairman, with belief in right and 

squareness. 

We take our hats off to you, John, we're with you to a man, 
Our efficient Commissioner of Public Works, 
THE HON. JOHN J. HALLERAN. 

Mr. Halleran is a strapping big realtor who may or may 
not be more dishonest than most realtors. He is interested 
in the expansion of Queens and has a considerable stake 
in that expansion. His brother and partner, Laurence B. 
Halleran, made a profit of $10,000 by selling some land 



202 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

for the use of the New York Air Terminals, Inc., in con 
nection with the closing of Old Bowery Bay Road in 
Queens. Supreme Court Justice MacCrate in handing 
down a decision against this corporation for taking the 
road said: "I find that the defendant without permit stole 
part of Old Bowery Bay Road, a public highway, with the 
knowledge and assistance of the Queens Borough offi 
cials." The acting borough president referred to in Jus 
tice MacCrate's decision was John J. Halleran. 

Halleran and his technical superior, Mr. Harvey, stoutly 
defended their friend Klein through many scandals and 
only threw him overboard on May 27, 1931, when he had 
been indicted and when it became evident that their own 
political lives were at stake. 

In the John Doe inquiry into Queens corruption in 1929 
Justice Tompkins, in announcing his findings on June 27 
of that year, said: "There would seem to be in this case 
some very sharp practice on the part of Commissioner 
Klein and his attorney Fred Leder. There is really no ex 
planation or not a sufficient one as to why he (Klein) 
so suddenly revoked Leary's permit (for dumping) and 
then issued it again to his own attorney Leder, who is 
engaged in the practice of law and not in filling in pri 
vate property. . . ." When County Judge Adel sentenced 
Martin Mager for job selling on December 20, 1929, he 
publicly rebuked Klein as a falsifier by saying in open 
court that he did not believe a word of his testimony. 

In October, 1930, Deputy Controller Frank J. Prial, 
after hearings, found Klein guilty of placing many dead- 



TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 203 

heads on the payroll of his department. In October, 1929, 
Klein was charged in a magistrate's court with accepting 
a bribe from a contractor. He admitted that he had re 
ceived $4,000 as a "loan" in the form of $1,000 and $500 
bills from a contractor whom he had never met before with 
out giving any physical security although the contractor 
knew that Klein held $100,000 worth of property. This 
bribery charge was dismissed in a most extraordinary de 
cision by Magistrate Simpson who later resigned under 
fire when Judge Seabury made an investigation of his con 
duct. In the face of all these scandals George U. Harvey 
and John J. Halleran sat unperturbed, continuing to 
express confidence in their friend Klein. 

Mr. Harvey's great mistake had been in admitting to his 
administration an honest man who later exposed him. 
Fritz Brieger was appointed superintendent of street clean 
ing at the beginning of the Harvey administration but 
when he became familiar with the methods by which 
Martin Mager mulcted city workers out of a portion of 
their pay each week as a reward for giving them jobs he 
presented to Harvey charges against Mager, Klein, and 
Halleran, and declared that he would not continue in 
office with them. Finally he resigned, and opened up a 
fight that came to a climax in charges against Harvey 
before Roosevelt in May, 1931. 

To anyone who studies the case against Harvey impar 
tially, it will appear that his record in many ways paral 
lels that of Walker. Neither of the two men violated the 
law in such a way that the violation could be proved, but 



204 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

both men used their official position in the most reckless 
manner. 

Harvey became a director of the New York City Air 
port, Inc., a creation of his aforementioned commissioner 
of public works, John J. Halleran, and the commission 
er's brother Laurence B. Halleran. The corporation used 
his name widely in its prospectus and published a letter of 
his on official borough stationery, saying that "this enter 
prise should receive support because of its sound business 
principles." For this service he received 500 shares of 
stock in the corporation which had a par value of $2,500. 
Actually the stock became worthless because the state at 
torney general on complaint of the City Affairs Commit 
tee held a series of sensational public hearings in which it 
was demonstrated that the corporation was one of the 
wildest dreams of a wild era. The Hallerans admitted on 
the witness stand that the prospectus of the corporation 
was misleading and that Commissioner Halleran had 
"appraised" at $3,000,000 in 1929 the identical land 
which his brother in 1930 told the tax department was not 
worth $300,000. The land had been assessed in 1929 for 
about $69,000. 

Concerning this land the company's prospectus said: 

The founders of the company, all of whom are members 
of the Board of Directors, are turning over to the Airport 
real estate ground values appraised at $3,000,000 unim 
proved, and $4,500,000 improved, exclusive of structures, 
comprising administration building, swimming pool, bar 
gains, etc., which will cost approximately $700,000. 

The greatest amount of common stock which can be out- 



TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 205 

standing is 900,000 shares of a par value of $5 each, or a 
total of $4,500,000, which is the exact price at which the 
ground value has been appraised. There are no bonds or 
preferred stock. 

Thus it will be seen that purchasers of common stock at 
par will, for all intent and purpose, be buying an undivided 
interest in a rare tract of land at exact appraisal figures. 

The stockholder who believed this appeal and invested 
his savings would find that $2 of every $5 went to the 
promoter, and that before his stock was worth a penny it 
had to survive the assault of a $1,285,000 mortgage on a 
bit of marshy meadowland worth perhaps $400,000. 

Public officials are sometimes beguiled into foolish 
business projects because they are too busy to investigate, 
but this excuse will not suffice in the case of Mr. Harvey 
and the New York City Airport. He did not quit as a 
director when the truth about the corporation was made 
public and he retained Mr. Halleran as his public works 
commissioner after Mr. Halleran had admitted making 
the false appraisal solely for the purposes of promoting 
the corporation. He still continued as a director after it 
had become known that the promoter, William Paul 
Buchler, was to get $2 for every $5 share of stock sold and 
the founders had pocketed 250,000 shares for themselves 
in founding the company. They had so rigged the finances 
of the company that it is difficult to see how the innocent 
lambs who bought stock could have saved a penny of their 
investment if exposure had not come. 

Fortunately for the stockholders the vigorous prosecu 
tion of Assistant Attorney General Paul J. McCauley 



206 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

threw the Hallerans and Harvey into a panic. McCauley 
denounced them for misstatements in stock selling. They 
offered to dissolve the airport corporation and return 
every cent invested by the stockholders. The State ac 
cepted the surrender and issued a dissolution certificate. 
The promoters agreed to a stock-sale injunction and no 
body went to jail. The directors went back instead to gov 
ern a borough of one million people. 

But Mr. Harvey's troubles had only begun with the 
smashing of the New York City Airport, Inc. Fritz 
Brieger brought charges against him before Governor 
Roosevelt, declaring that he had obtained loans aggregat 
ing $11,500 for his own corporation from a company 
that was then trying to sell a snow remover to the city, 
and that Harvey had acted as a promoter of that snow 
remover at the time he was receiving the loans. Governor 
Roosevelt in censoring Harvey for his conduct said: 

The documents before me set forth a course of conduct 
on the part of the Borough President which should be in 
compatible with ideals of official conduct. It is true that 
criminal dishonesty is not demonstrated. But some of the 
items set forth in the papers show, on the part of the 
Borough President, disregard for or lack of understanding 
of the type of official and unofficial behavior which we look 
for and hope to find in so important an office. 

It is clear that the Borough President has borrowed money 
for his own personally owned corporation from interests 
which were engaged in negotiating business transactions 
with the Borough of Queens. Outside of a few small items 
charged off for sounding out sentiment for Mr. Harvey as 
Governor these loans were repaid. The Borough President 
appears to have made no money on this transaction. . . . 



TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 207 

While it was clearly bad taste to become indebted to inter 
ests doing business with the borough, there is no demonstra> 
tion that there was an actual use of the official power of the 
office of Borough President in order to secure pecuniary 
advantage to the officeholder. 

This conclusion follows with equal force from a consid 
eration of the other major charge filed, to wit, the charge 
concerning the Airport Corporation, of which Mr. Harvey 
was a director and stockholder. It is true that he was willing 
to lend his name to a stock-promotion scheme of a highly 
suspicious nature, to write a letter of endorsement of the 
venture and to accept 500 shares of its stock for nothing, 
still there is no indication that any borough action was in 
duced by him to assist this airport corporation in such a way 
that he himself would derive financial benefit. . . . 

My conclusion from a study of these documents is that the 
conduct of the Borough President is deserving of censure, 
but that facts submitted do not warrant the institution of 
actual removal proceedings. . . . 

Lucky Mr. Harvey! He accepted $2,500 of stock for 
becoming dummy director in a parasitic corporation and 
then escaped removal apparently because Governor Roose 
velt's conscience in August, 1931, had not yet reached the 
sensitivity that it attained in the Farley and Walker cases 
in 1932. The governor let Mr. Harvey off with a rebuke 
because there was "no indication that any borough action 
was induced by him to assist this airport corporation." 
Strange that the writing of a promotion letter on official 
borough stationery and the use of his name and official 
title on promoter's literature should fall outside of the 
category of "borough action"! 

The truth is that Queens is still blessed with Mr. Har- 



208 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

vey because Mr. Roosevelt was placed in an impossible 
position at the time the charges were brought against 
the borough president. He had only shortly before dis 
missed the sweeping charges of the City Affairs Commit 
tee against Mayor Walker without even granting a hear 
ing. If he had dismissed a Republican official after that 
without overwhelming evidence of an actual crime he 
would have appeared partisan and no candidate for the 
presidential nomination could afford that dreadful stigma. 
Meanwhile Queens will continue to be the borough 
which reforms without reforming. To change from a 
Democratic to a Republican administration is well, it is 
like changing from a Republican to a Democratic admin 
istration. If Queens voters become disgusted with Mr. 
Harvey they may fall back into the arms of their Demo 
cratic boss, John Theofel, who still draws $8,000 as chief 
clerk of the Surrogate's Court. "I have never seeked a 
raise in salary in the office since I have been there," said 
Boss Theofel at a Seabury hearing. When asked to de 
scribe his onerous duties he could not even remember the 
names of the departments that he was supposed to super 
vise. The testimony read in part: 

Q. What different departments do you understand they 
have there? 

A. I am not a lawyer, Judge. 

(Then he remembered the Guardian's and Probate De 
partments. ) 

Q. Well, now what other departments have you beep 
required to supervise? Speak a little louder if you will. 

A. We have the Guardianship Department. 

Q. And the Probate Department? 



TAMMANY'S LITTLE COLONEL 209 

A. Yes, sir. 
Q. Now what else? 

A. I can't just recall offhand, Judge, the different depart- 
ments. 

Q. There are other departments? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. But you don't offhand just recall what they are? 

A. No. 

This is the man who appoints the assistant district at 
torneys and magistrates and surrogates and Supreme Court 
judges of Queens. Also, this is the man who sells auto 
mobiles. He was the chief stockholder in Wilson Bros., 
Inc., run by his son-in-law, which sold high-priced cars, 
sometimes above the market price, to the eager customers 
who held public office in the borough. In the words of 
Seabury's Intermediate Report: 

The County Clerk of Queens County bought his car from 
Wilson Bros., Inc.; the District Attorney of Queens County 
bought his car from Wilson Bros., Inc; the Borough Presi 
dent of Queens bought his car from Wilson Bros., Inc.; 
Magistrate Marvin of Queens County bought his car from 
Wilson Bros., Inc.; Park Commissioner Benninger of Queens 
County bought his car from Wilson Bros., Inc.; Assistant 
District Attorney Loscalzo of Queens County bought his car 
from Wilson Bros., Inc.; and Sheriff Burden of Queens 
County bought his car from Wilson Bros., Inc. 

Theofel's most characteristic gesture came in the cam 
paign of 1928 when he was treasurer of the Queens 
County Campaign Committee. When the committee was 
settling the bills, Chairman Smedley said: "John, take a 
thousand for yourself " 

John did. 



12 
CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 

THE street battles of Tweed centered about street-car 
franchises, the street battles of Walker about bus fran 
chises. 

The streets of New York are now the center of an in 
tense and dramatic fight for $70,000,000, which is the 
stake involved in bus franchises in Manhattan, Brooklyn, 
and Queens. 

The operation of buses in New York is a potential gold 
mine. A bus requires no tracks, no wires, no conductor, 
no signalman, yet it moves as rapidly as a street car. Be 
cause it does not block traffic and because it operates 
quietly the bus is in universal demand to replace the 
street car. The story which we tell here of the bus fran 
chise fight in New York can probably be repeated in a 
dozen American cities. 

The future of New York streets belongs to buses; there 
can be no doubt of that. The questions still to be decided 
are who will own the buses* and how much shall the city 
get for its -streets. Those were the questions behind the 
Equitable scandal, which we have discussed elsewhere, the 
Queens bus fight, and the battle in Brooklyn between the 
City Affairs Committee and the B.M.T. The Walker 

210 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 211 

administration tried to give away the streets of New York 
for less than half of what they were worth. In Manhat 
tan and Queens the uproar of opposition temporarily 
stopped the outrageous deals proposed; in Brooklyn the 
deal was concluded, but the City Affairs Committee chal 
lenged the franchise in the courts and has already won 
two preliminary skirmishes in the State Supreme Court 
and the Appellate Division. 

The obvious solution to the bus problem in New York 
would be municipal bus ownership and operation. The 
Socialist Party has been fighting for this solution for a 
generation. It has constantly pointed out that the private 
ownership of public utilities keeps those utilities "in poli 
tics" because it gives the traction manipulators a motive 
for buying politicians. In the case of bus operation the 
argument for municipal ownership is especially strong. 
The streets belong to the city and the control of municipal 
bus lines is relatively simple. The nickels and dimes that 
passengers pay for fares can be metered beyond the possi 
bility of substantial graft and the price paid for equip 
ment is standard throughout the country. One bus com 
pany official of Queens made this perfectly clear in a hear 
ing in the municipal building in 1931 when he calmly 
informed the public that he would make $4,000 a day net 
profit in Queens alone if the city granted him a franchise. 1 

The question naturally arose why a city which is com 
plaining of high tax rates should deny itself this $4,000 a 
day. The immediate answer is that the city does not now 
have the power to own and operate its own buses, since 



212 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

that power has never been granted to it under the home 
rule law by the Republican reactionaries at Albany. These 
Republicans have adopted the theory that any excess 
profits involved in a new industry must be the rewards 
of private initiative. The Tammany administration has 
repeatedly asked for the right of the city to operate its 
own buses and has repeatedly been refused. In recent 
years the request has been made so faint-heartedly as to 
arouse suspicion of substitute compensations from the big 
private bus interests of New York. 

When the Equitable bus franchise was finally defeated 
in 1929, Walker set out to grant separate bus franchises 
in various boroughs. While small private bus lines in 
various parts of the city took care of immediate traffic 
needs by operating on temporary permits, Walker dick 
ered with certain favored companies for ten-year fran 
chises. His favorite in Brooklyn was the Brooklyn Bus 
Corporation, owned by the B. M. T. and headed by Ger 
hard M. Dahl, while his favorites in Queens were two 
local companies known as the North Shore Bus Co. and 
the Jamaica Bus Co. Neither one of these Queens com 
panies could produce any reasons why they should be 
favored above other companies. The North Shore Com 
pany was pitifully weak financially and its president made 
mysterious and conflicting financial statements to various 
public bodies. The Jamaica concern had had almost no 
experience in running buses. It was controlled by Park 
Rowley, intimate friend of Mayor Walker, and its treas 
urer was Fred C. Harris who held a power of attorney 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 213 

giving him access to the safe deposit box held jointly by 
Mayor Walker and his fugitive business agent, Russell T. 
Sherwood. 

Mayor Walker, with the help of Borough President 
Harvey of Queens, attempted to divide up Queens into two 
sections and give the exclusive ten-year franchise in each 
section to one of these two favorites. Queens was in an 
uproar. Hundreds of citizens came to the City Hall under 
the leadership of vigorous local civic organizations and 
almost turned a session of the Board of Estimate into a 
riot. The opposition of these civic bodies was chiefly 
based on resentment against Walker and Harvey for at 
tempting to take away the franchises from the local pio 
neers who had served them faithfully with independent 
bus lines. The City Affairs Committee produced figures 
prepared by Henry J. Rosner to show that the proposed 
Walker-Harvey franchises to the two favored companies 
would yield the city $535,000 a year less than the offer of 
an important competitor, the Nevin-Queens Bus Corpora 
tion. The committee showed that the favored companies 
would make 112 per cent a year profit by the Walker 
deal. 2 

Walker tore up the committee's statement at a public 
hearing and threw it into the wastebasket. He shouted 
the word "faker" at the Socialist spokesman, Norman 
Thomas. But the facts produced by the opposition were 
sufficiently impressive to defeat the franchises. Controller 
Berry refused to vote with the mayor and, finally, Bor 
ough President Harvey, frightened by the local fury 



214 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

against the deal, deserted the mayor also and pretended 
that he had favored the local bus operators from the 
beginning. 

This Queens bus scandal was in our opinion the clearest 
case in the entire Walker administration of a violation of 
public trust, and it would have been sufficient in itself to 
force out of public office every man who voted for the 
Walker deal. A clearly superior bid for the use of the 
city's* streets was' voted down with a loss to the city that 
would have totaled $5,000,000. The reason why the 
scandal did not play the leading part in the Seabury in 
quiry was that the deal was never completed. Walker 
could not hold his own associates in line. A block north 
from City Hall during the winter of 1931-32 witnesses 
were appearing before Seabury. All through that winter 
Walker continued to stand for his Queens bus favorites 
even in the face of an exhaustive report by Deputy Con 
troller Frank J. Prial, which concluded that "the proposed 
franchises be not entered into at this time." 

The deal was not finally defeated until an uproarious 
session of the Board of Estimate in May, 1932, at which 
both the authors of this book were called enemies of the 
public. Joseph V. McKee, president of the Board of Alder 
men, who had been wavering in his decision, then decided 
to desert Walker also and join Controller Berry and 
Borough President Harvey in opposition. 

So the Walker-Queens deal was defeated and, as we 
write these lines, the next Queens bus battle is about to 
begin. The franchises in Queens are still ungr anted. The 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 215 

Walker administration, at last thoroughly frightened, an 
nounced that bus franchises in Queens would be granted 
on the basis of open and fair competition. Immediately 
one of the two companies which Walker had favored 
offered the city two and one-half times the percentage of 
receipts which Walker had formerly accepted as adequate. 
It was evident to everybody then that the mayor had been 
trying to give away the city's streets for a song and had 
been caught flat-flooted. Even after the franchises to 
favorites had been defeated the Bureau of Franchises pro 
duced a "financial" report in the summer of 1932 dis 
qualifying the Nevin-Queens and several other companies 
and approving the favorites, among others. It showed the 
most brazen favoritism in applying to various companies 
the financial tests which all bus companies are supposed 
to meet. Accordingly there is no guarantee that because 
Walker was caught flat-footed in 1932 his associates will 
not repeat the same type of deal in 1933. Walker did 
not act alone in the Queens bus scandal. John H. Delaney, 
looking like a Presbyterian deacon, acted with him, and 
so did Joseph V. McKee, until he saw that the course was 
too perilous. 

If these men are still in office when this book is pub 
lished they will be called upon to explain their action at 
a certain meeting of the Committee of the Whole of the 
Board of Estimate which took place on April 19, 1932. 
Originally Walker's two favorite bus companies in Queens 
had not offered the city any share at all in their profits 
outside of the usual 5 per cent of revenue, and- both 



216 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Delaney and McKee had accepted the deal complacently. 
Then when the Nevin-Queens Company offered 50 per 
cent of all profits above 6 per cent in addition to the 
usual 5 per cent of gross, and the public uproar had 
blocked the original steal, Delaney sought to save the 
mayor's face by coming forward with a more reasonable 
deal. On April 6, 1932, he advocated a Queens franchise 
that would give the city half of all profits above 6 per 
cent after the first two years of operation. (The Nevin- 
Queens Co. offered half of all profits above 6 per cent 
from the beginning of operation.) He could not get 
Walker's favorite companies to accept even this compro 
mise, so on April 19 he presented a revised contract to the 
Committee of the Whole of the Board of Estimate which 
would give the city half of all profits above 8 per cent, 
instead of 6 per cent, After three years instead of two* 
The difference to the city between the offer which Delaney 
favored and the Nevin-Queens Co. offer was $2,250,000. 
Mr. McKee sided with Delaney in support of the lesser 
offer. What hold did these two Queens companies have 
on the administration to force such a public surrender at 
the very height of the Seabury investigation? 

The difficulty of removing unfit officials from public 
office is illustrated by this Queens bus case. In private life 
a trustee of an estate who sells a piece of property for 
$1,000 when he could get $2,000 would be promptly 
removed. In municipal affairs a subterfuge can almost 
always be discovered to disguise the real character of an 
act of betrayal. 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 217 

In the case of the Brooklyn bus franchise the Walker 
administration escaped a great scandal chiefly because 
there was not sufficient local uproar to force the situation 
on to the front pages of the newspapers. The franchise 
was actually granted to the Brooklyn Bus Corporation, a 
subsidiary of the B. M. T., on June 4, 1931, on a basis that 
would yield 150 per cent profit while a superior bidder 
was disputing the claim, and newspapers of New York 
were too busy with other scandals to dig out the basic 
story. The City Affairs Committee, whose representative 
was prevented from speaking at the. last public hearing 
on this franchise, took the case to the courts where its 
counsel Louis Waldman produced some astonishing fig 
ures to* show how the city had been mulcted. He pointed 
out that the. offer of a competing company had been ig 
nored although it was $200,000 better than the offer of 
the B. M. T. He produced a table of profits under the 
franchise, based largely on the studies of the well-known 
bus engineer, A. Joseph Hoffman, which showed that the 
B. M. T. stood to win $14,877,000 in ten years on a 
maximum investment of $1,325,000. 

The question occurred to many citizens whether this 
was the kind of friendship with the public that Gerhard 
M. Dahl, chairman of the board of both the B. M. T. and 
the I. R. T., had been paid to maintain. He had been paid 
handsomely enough and somebody had produced hand 
some results. When he was called to the witness stand by 
Judge Seabury and asked how much he had been paid as 
a bonus for "improving relations with the city," the Re- 



218 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

publican majority on the committee balked Judge Seabury 
and blocked further questions. The truth finally came out 
when one of the authors who owns one share of B. M. T. 
stock exercised his legal rights as a stockholder and dis 
covered that Mr. Dahl received during 1928, 1929, 1930 
and 1931 $675,000 in salary and bonuses, probably a 
higher compensation than that received by any railroad 
president in the United States. The stockholders of the 
B. M. T. had apparently received no specific information 
concerning this unusual generosity at their general meet 
ings. They had perfunctorily approved all the actions of 
their directors at routine sessions where general resolu 
tions of approval had been introduced, and there was 
nothing in the resolutions of approval to indicate the 
compensation received by Mr. Dahl. 

Mr. Dahl's huge income underscored the sorry failure 
of public regulation. Here was a great public utility fight 
ing for the seven-cent fare and working many of its em 
ployees seven days a week ten hours a day, yet able to pay 
its chairman $100,000 a year in salary and a $75,000 
bonus even in years of depression. And the State Transit 
Commission which is supposed to approve and regulate 
all transit companies in New York, could not touch a 
nickel of Mr. Dahl's compensation, could not even ascer 
tain that compensation, because Mr. Dahl is hired by a 
holding company and the state can regulate only operating 
companies. Mr. Dahl does not directly help to move a 
wheel on the traction lines which his gigantic holding 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 219 

company, the B. M. T., controls through operating sub 
sidiaries. 

Usually when such holding companies milk the consum 
ers, workers, and small stockholders their legal methods 
are unimpeachable. Happily the B. M. T. has made a 
serious blunder in getting its virtual monopoly of bus op 
eration in Brooklyn through the franchise of the Brooklyn 
Bus Corporation. It overlooked section 74 of the city 
charter which was written after several great traction 
scandals with the specific purpose of preventing the kind 
of thing that has happened in the case of the Brooklyn bus 
franchise. Section 74 which is a sort of consumers' Magna 
Charta says: "The Board of Estimate and Apportionment 
shall make inquiry as to the money value of the franchise 
or right proposed to be granted and the adequacy of the 
compensation proposed therefor, and shall embody the 
result of such inquiry in a form of contract with all the 
terms and conditions, including the provisions as to rates, 
fares, and charges." 

The city has never made an inquiry as to the money 
value of the Brooklyn bus franchise and has never pub 
lished an estimate of that value. It has put into the fran 
chise the required figures on fares without ascertaining 
how much the cost of operation or the total profit would 
be. So it has sold a franchise worth over $14,000,000. 
for a little more than $2,000,000. If the City Affairs Com 
mittee wins its pending suit to annul this franchise the 
city could then offer the franchise anew to the highest 



220 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

responsible bidder and recapture for the taxpayers five to 
ten millions. 

A study of the bus record of the Walker administration 
shows clearly that its neglect of public interest has been 
deliberate. It has produced pounds upon pounds of offi 
cial reports on bus franchises and has always managed to 
avoid the one central fact that would reveal its stake in 
the spoils, namely, the money worth of bus franchises. 
In 1926 Mr. Delaney labored and brought forth the huge 
Sixth Report of the Board of Transportation on Omnibus 
Franchises, which was supposed to be an economic guide 
for the city in its dealings with the bus industry. It not 
only neglected the all-important problem of franchise 
money-values but it misstated the whole financial problem 
of organizing a bus company. 

Starting a bus line in New York City, if the necessary 
permits are secured, is a very simple thing financially. 
The operator needs only $2,500 for each $10,000 bus and 
$1,000 extra per bus for working capital. All the other 
costs are eagerly advanced by the bus manufacturer who 
gives $7,500 credit on each $10,000 bus and allows four 
years to pay it. The B. M. T. can buy buses without any 
down payment at all. 

Mr. Delaney in making his "studies" of the bus industry 
did not take these facts into account but reckoned the 
entire investment of bus operator and bus manufacturer 
as necessary capital outlay upon which a bus company 
could rightfully earn as much as 22 per cent in perpetuity. 
Why a bus operator should be allowed to earn any profit 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 221 

upon a bus manufacturer's investment is more than we can 
understand, and why it should be permissible to earn 22 
per cent when courts are setting 8 per cent as a fair return 
on a public utility investment is a riddle that Mr. Delaney 
should be called upon to solve. 

Delaney, like Walker, has heard his master's voice and 
so has failed to fight for a constructive city bus policy. 
He could have had a municipal bus system in operation 
by this time if he had worked half as earnestly for it as 
he worked for the Equitable Coach Company. 

As a holding company the B. M. T. is an amateur com 
pared to the corporate octopus which is now seeking a bus 
monopoly of Manhattan, the New York Omnibus Cor 
poration. This company is the local arm of the corporate 
hierarchy which is best known in New York as the Fifth 
Avenue Coach Company. The top of the hierarchy is 
controlled by four Chicago business men whose removal 
from the operating companies puts them in a position to 
escape local regulation and at the same time to milk those 
operating companies through parasitic intermediaries. The 
story of the success of this bus combination is amazing. 

At the top of the combination is the Omnibus Corpora 
tion of Chicago which is controlled by a voting trust held 
by seven trustees, four Chicagoans and three New York 
ers. The Omnibus Corporation owns the Fifth Avenue 
Bus Securities Corporation, which owns the New York 
Transportation Company, which owns the Fifth Avenue 
Coach Company, which owns the New York Railways 



222 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Corporation. The New York Railways Corporation owns 
a whole nest of feeble and half bankrupt street car com 
panies including the Bleecker Street and Fulton Ferry 
Railway Company, the Broadway and Seventh Avenue 
Railway Company, the 23rd Street Railway Company, and 
the 34th Street Crosstown Railway Company. As far as 
actual service is concerned, the New York Transportation 
Company, the Fifth Avenue Bus Securities Corporation, 
and the Omnibus Corporation are simply leeches upon the 
Fifth Avenue Coach Company, since the coach company 
passes on its earnings to the upper members of the hier 
archy without getting any considerable service in return. 
The New York Transportation Company, the Fifth Ave 
nue Bus Securities Corporation, and the Omnibus Cor 
poration are drones which pay dividends out of the earn 
ings of the working bee, the Fifth Avenue Coach Com 
pany. 

The various corporate members of the hierarchy have 
approximately the same boards of directors. The pathetic 
street car companies at the bottom of the hierarchy are 
paupers, but the upper members of the hierarchy are not 
obliged to come to their assistance, and continue to declare 
enormous dividends out of the profits of the Fifth Avenue 
Coach Company while asking privileges from the city for 
the railway companies because they are virtually bankrupt. 
The Transit Commission has no power to go behind the 
Fifth Avenue Coach Company in this hierarchy because 
it can regulate only operating concerns. 

Courts have commonly ruled that a public utility is 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 223 

entitled to an 8 per cent return on investment, but the 
Fifth Avenue Coach Company, whose stockholders' orig 
inal investment was $50,000, has received $3,600,000 in 
dividends in the last eight years, an average return of 
950 per cent annually on its original investment. The 
company's officials have admitted that the stockholders 
never put a dollar into the company except the original 
$50,000 and the earnings thereon. In defense of these 
astounding dividend figures it is contended that the com 
pany plowed back its dividends over a long period of 
years, since no dividends were paid prior to 1923, but 
this contention is nullified by the fact that the company's 
surplus and fixed capital have increased far in excess of 
any normal dividends which might have been plowed 
back into the company. If the company had started at the 
beginning of its existence and plowed back 10 per cent 
dividends every year, paying dividends upon the plowed- 
back dividends, it still would have been worth only $600,- 
000 in 1923 when it started its big dividend splurge. Actu 
ally it was worth approximately $8,000,000 in 1923. 

The stockholders invested only $50,000 in the company 
and all subsequent additions to the capital have come 
from the dimes of New York passengers. These dimes 
have not only given the stockholders almost 1,000 per cent 
dividends in recent years, but they have piled up a surplus 
which totaled $10,780,613 in 1930. In 1930 the company 
actually earned almost one and one-half million dollars, 
since it declared a dividend of $500,000 and put $994,000 
into its surplus. 



224 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

In the lean years when dividends were not being paid 
the loss of dividends was more than balanced by tremen 
dous increases in fixed capital. Even during recent years, 
when prodigious dividends have been paid, the fabulous 
appreciation in the fixed capital of the corporation has 
continued. During the eight years past when the company 
has paid an average dividend of 950 per cent on its actual 
investment, its capital value has doubled. 3 

There is one fly in the ointment of the Fifth Avenue 
Coach Company, however. Its legal claim to operate 
buses on Manhattan streets is not at all clear and the city 
is now at last contesting that claim in the courts. Accord 
ing to the reports of John A. McCollum, Chief of the 
Division of Franchises of the Board of Estimate and the 
1917 report of Lamar Hardy, the Fifth Avenue Coach 
Company received its franchises originally through a legal 
blunder, since it applied for these franchises as a business 
corporation whereas it should have applied as a railroad 
corporation. The legislature attempted to rectify this blun 
der by a special act but, according to Mr. McCollum, the 
act itself was an unconstitutional grant of a special privi 
lege. If Mr. McCollum' s opinion is accurate, at the pres 
ent time 46 per cent of the Fifth Avenue Coach Com 
pany's lines are illegally operating under the legislative 
grant, 16 per cent are operating by revocable consent, and 
25 per cent are operating with* no consent or franchise 
whatsoever. This leaves only about 13 per cent of the 
present franchises held by this company which are not 
questioned by the city. 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 225 

Behind these Fifth Avenue Coach franchises lies a net 
work of old street-car franchises, some of them perpetual 
and some of them bought by bribery in the days of Tweed, 
now reposing in the hands of the new bus hierarchy by 
virtue of its purchase of the New York Railways Cor 
poration. A fascinating history of New York capitalism 
could be written about these franchises. Most of them do 
not have a going value of one penny but they have been 
bought up by the bus hierarchy at a bargain because of 
their nuisance value. A street-car company may be losing 
money steadily and still have a certain practical value if 
it possesses a perpetual right to New York streets. It can 
demand a good price to get off the streets and permit the 
operation of buses, or it can demand valuable bus fran 
chises for itself. 

This latter demand is now being made upon the city 
by a collection of half-bankrupt street-car companies 
which have been gathered together by the bus hierarchy. 
These companies, subsidiaries of the New York Railways 
Corporation, have applied for the right to motorize their 
lines and get both longitudinal and crosstown bus lines 
under franchises which would yield them 145 per cent 
profit, about $2,066,000 annually on an initial investment 
of $1,431,500. One of their claims to these franchises is 
that they have certain ancient and heavily moist street-car 
securities which they may "sacrifice" for eleven millions 
of capitalization in the new bus monopoly. The city is in 
an embarrassing position because some of the street rail 
way companies can stubbornly hang on to their ancient 



226 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

perpetual franchises a long while and still make enough 
money to pay operating expenses. 

We of this generation are now being asked to pay for 
the city's recklessness in the days of Tweed and before. 
We are refused the right to have municipal operation by 
the state law and we are prevented from starting with a 
clean slate and granting the Manhattan bus contracts to 
the highest bidder because of franchises, many of which 
were purchased by bribery in the days of Tweed. If in the 
early days the profits of the street-car lines had been fairly 
distributed, much of the present outstanding stock would 
never have been issued and no one would now be attempt 
ing to foist it upon the present generation. For many 
years the companies which later united to form the New 
York Railways Corporation were milked by insiders who 
controlled subsidiary lines and holding companies. In 
some cases the subsidiary lines were rented to holding 
companies for more than their total annual revenue. The 
overcapitalization goes back to Civil War days. In the 
period after the Civil War electric car lines which should 
have been capitalized at not more than $40,000 a mile 
were forced up a Jacob's ladder of heavenly finance until 
they reached the peak of $2,000,000 a mile in 1903.* 

One bond issue of $700,000, a fraction of which the 
City of New York is now asked to validate, may be used 
as an illustration of the way in which fake services have 
been saddled upon the city and later investors as real 
obligations. Its history has been traced by E. Michael 
White. It is the 4% bond issued in January, 1865, by the 



CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 227 

Bleecker Street and Fulton Ferry Line which later became 
and is now part of the New York Railways Corporation 
structure. That bond never did represent more than 
$268,000 of real investment. The other $432,000 of the 
$700,000 together with $900,000 worth of capital stock 
were distributed to insiders for the franchise of this 
Bleecker Street Line which the city gave away for nothing. 
That $700,000 bond had paid $1,828,000 in interest on 
an actual outlay of $268,000 up to July 1, 1931, when the 
first default in interest payments took place, although 
part of the line had been abandoned for many years. 

According to the prevailing ethics of capitalism the men 
who are now trying to get a bus monopoly in Manhattan 
are quite irreproachable. Some of them are capable ad 
ministrators, and here and there among the security 
holders can be found the usual widows and orphans in 
whose name any exploitation of the public is excused. 
The genuine investors who made a sacrifice to purchase 
securities are now inextricably tangled up with the pirati 
cal insiders who contributed nothing. The big financial 
manipulators at the top of the bus hierarchy are no more 
parasitic than most of the owners of U. S. Steel or A. T, 
and T. their misdeeds are simply better advertised be 
cause they are manipulating a public utility which must 
make some of its contracts in the open. 

Fortunately there are three factors favorable to the city 
in the present fight against a Manhattan bus monopoly for 
the Fifth Avenue Coach Company. Both Controller Berry 
and Joseph McKee are opposed; the legality of the com- 



228 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

pany's present franchises is in dispute; and a formula for 
municipal operation is possible. 

The formula for municipal operation is this. The city 
is not allowed to inaugurate a municipal bus system itself, 
but under section 73 of the city charter, it may recapture 
a bus line by paying adequate compensation and operate 
it thereafter. Thus far Tammany has made no use of this 
power. It has stuck stubbornly to definite-term franchises, 
which would block the efforts of the city to include the 
buses in a comprehensive municipal transit system. We 
believe that a unified municipal transit system is the only 
sane way out of the present bus tangle and we believe 
that the logical next step toward that end would be the 
granting of terminable franchises only, and then only to 
the highest bidder, so that the city might take over the 
system at the earliest practical moment and get the maxi 
mum return for its streets. Such a municipal bus system 
is doubly important in view of the pending move for city- 
wide transit unification. 



13 
RACKETEERING IN LAND 

WE have pointed out that the corruption of New York 
political life can be traced back in large part to the prac 
tices of our business world. Mayor Walker, if his own 
story is to be believed, gambled in Wall Street with Paul 
Block and cheerfully took $246,000 from his friend 
without a qualm because he lived in an atmosphere of 
speculation where such things were part of traditional 
conduct. Among his friends no stigma was attached to 
getting something for nothing as long as the larceny 
laws were avoided. 

This wholly uncritical attitude toward money made 
by speculation in Wall Street is even more evident in 
the conservative politician's attitude toward land values. 
Everywhere in America local politicians acquire their 
fortunes quite largely by speculating in land, and no 
sense of guilt disturbs their consciences. The realtor is 
America's typical business hero. He creates almost noth 
ing. He shrewdly studies the changing currents of popu 
lation, directs those currents on occasion by tremendous 
ballyhoo, and steps in to take for himself the increment 
created by the influx of the crowd. 

New York City is the most perfect model of the real- 

229 



230 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

tor's heaven. The little strip of land called Manhattan 
Island, which was sold to Peter Minuit for $24 three 
hundred years ago, is now assessed at more than five 
billions. The land in the whole five boroughs of Greater 
New York was "worth," in 1930, $8,731,778,851 that is 
to say it was assessed at that amount and probably had a 
market value of ten billions. 1 

The people of Peter Minuit' s little island pay fortunes 
to the owners of the island for its use. Some of our great 
est New York fortunes, such as the Astor fortune, were 
made largely by sitting tight (or cruising on yachts) while 
the millions crowding into New York increased the land 
values. For a time New York City land increased in value 
at the rate of $600,000,000 a year. The most conspicu 
ous unearned fortunes have been won by the holders of 
certain "golden corners" in Manhattan. The land on 
which the Stock Exchange was located was assessed at 
$500 a square foot we speak in the past tense because, as 
we write this book, a movement is on foot to reduce assess 
ments one to three billions. One realtor in the boom 
years claimed that the land on the northeast corner of 
Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street was "worth" 
$36,000 per front inch. Of course he never persuaded 
any one to agree with him. The land on which the Em 
pire State Building is located, which sold for less than 
$10,000 a hundred years* ago, was valued at seventeen 
millions before the depression began. 

The size of the toll extracted from the productive work 
ers of New York by the* land-owning class can best be 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 231 

appreciated by imagining that the first settlers in New 
Amsterdam had been Socialists and had imposed upon the 
whole region a Socialist system of land tenure under which 
the users of land leased their plots from the government. 
(The community, of course, has the natural claim to land 
since no person's labor has created it.) If that had been 
the case, the people who live in New York would have 
had few tax worries, for most of the costs of government 
would have been covered by land rentals. Many of the 
great unearned fortunes that form the basis for cruel 
snobbery would never have been created. The city would 
have been planned to give the maximum of light, air and 
happiness to its inhabitants rather than to increase the 
profits of downtown landholders. 

These imaginative reflections are not, of course, new. 
Henry George, when he ran for mayor of New York, told 
the people what private land speculation cost them and 
advocated the single tax to recapture for the community 
the values of the land which the community created. He 
made a profound impression upon his generation, the 
young Samuel Seabury being included among his dis 
ciples. Given our system of private ownership of land the 
corruption of New York politics by land speculation is 
inevitable. The average American would be disgraced in 
the eyes of his fellows if he knew in advance of a com 
ing increase in the value of a certain plot of land and did 
not take advantage of that knowledge. The Tammany 
politicians, in harmony with American morals, have 
worked out a system of advance knowledge and under- 



232 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

cover manipulation that deserves to be called a land 
racket. It was partially exposed in the years 1927 to 1930 
by the Citizen's Union, the City Affairs Committee and 
Controller Charles W. Berry. Its final exposure came in 
the report of Leonard M. Wallstein, as a special corpora 
tion counsel, on land condemnation in January, 1932. 

The law says that when the city government wants a 
certain piece of land for a school building, a court house, 
or a street it may condemn the land for a public use and 
compel the owner to sell it. The owner may negotiate for 
the highest price obtainable with the Finance Department 
or he may refuse that price and appeal to the State Su 
preme Court to set a price. The procedure sounds inno 
cent enough and would be innocent enough if our city 
fathers were men who could keep secret their plans for a 
public improvement and if the judges who preside in our 
Supreme Court were not land gamblers in their philosophy 
and good friends of Tammany realtors. 

New York was shocked in 1930 when the City Affairs 
Committee announced that it had made a study of the cost 
of land bought by the city for school sites from 1925 to 
1928 and had discovered that the city had paid 3.2 times 
the assessed value of these sites, although the assessment 
officers were sworn to value each piece of property to the 
best of their ability at its true market value. Figuring the 
excess expenditure over market value on school sites as 
typical waste, the committee estimated that New York 
citizens were losing about $29,000,000 a year on the con 
demnation racket. They pointed to the site of the public 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 233 

school at 115th Avenue and 201st Street, Queens, which 
was sold to the city for thirteen times its assessed value, 
and to several other school sites which were sold at six, 
seven and eight times their assessed value. 

These revelations came shortly after Justice Dunne had 
awarded $12,500,000 to certain Rockaway Beach property 
owners for land which was assessed at about one-tenth of 
this price when the project was authorized in 1924 s 

Mr. Wallstein in a long series of hearings and in a 
subsequent report, showed the public how it is high 
jacked out of millions of dollars every year by a ring of 
real estate dealers, city land "experts," condemnation 
lawyers, judges and political bosses. Through the activi 
ties of the ring the city threw away during the boom years 
of 1926 to 1930 at least $20,000,000 a year. The ring 
was not an illegal conspiracy as the ring of lawyers and 
bail bondsmen in the Magistrate's Court was. It was, and 
is, a group of sharp-practicing lawyers who got advance 
tips from insiders in city departments, solicited trade from 
the land owners on a percentage basis, and proceeded to 
win from indifferent judges and mildly protesting repre 
sentatives of the city awards that were tantamount to a 
raid upon the public treasury. The exposure of the racket 
indicated how futile our criminal laws are in the case of 
established exploitation. A judge who sends a thief to jail 
for stealing an apple will calmly award a lucky land 
owner five times the assessed value of his property with 
out any careful examination of the owner's claims, and 
the city may lose the price of a million apples. 



234 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

In the case of the Libby Hotel and the Chrystie-For- 
sythe Street widening, Justice Philip McCook awarded the 
owners $2,850,000, although shortly before this event a 
corporate mortgage had been foreclosed on the hotel with 
the contention that the site was valueless, causing the 
stockholders to be wiped out. 

The city government is involved in the condemnation 
racket in three ways, through political leaders who sell 
undesirable land to the city at a high profit, through city 
officials who trade on their inside knowledge of construc 
tion plans, and through Tammany realty experts who get 
prodigious fees for overvaluing land to be purchased. 
Pink-cheeked, benevolent Boss McCooey of Brooklyn, for 
example, apparently made $69,656 profit on a Brooklyn 
school site located across from some gas tanks, as re 
vealed in hearings before Mr. Wallstein. 

He worked through a business associate named Charles 
D. Cords who bought certain pieces of land in Bay Ridge 
at 5th Street for $57,500 with the help of a $15,000 loan 
from Mr. McCooey, whose name did not appear as owner. 
A committee of the Board of Education was looking for 
a school site, and the committee, naturally enough, in 
cluded some good friends of Mr. McCooey. On its first 
trip of inspection, however, it apparently did not know 
that Mr. McCooey was interested in the Cords' property, 
so it recorded a frank opinion in its field notes about 
another site that was two full blocks away from the gas 
tanks: "Too near the gas tanks Out." But on a later 
field trip the committee included Miss Margaret J. 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 235 

McCooey, a sister of the Brooklyn boss and one of the 
superintendents of our school system. The report on the 
Cords' land was more favorable. In fact, the Board of 
Superintendents with Miss McCooey present, finally con 
cluded that the Cords' property, situated in the middle of 
gas tanks, incinerators, heavy industrial traffic, and a 
sparsely populated neighborhood, was "especially adapt 
able to school purposes." 

But the parents of the locality raised such a furore that 
the local school board of District 36 in Brooklyn was 
moved to protest against the site to the city Board of 
Education. Mr. McCooey was undismayed. He called in 
the chairman of the local school board who was the re 
cording secretary of the Ninth Assembly Regular Demo 
cratic organization and converted him on the spot into an 
enthusiastic proponent of the gas-tank land. He called 
in the secretary of the local school board, a Miss May 
Golden, with equal success. He was quite frank about the 
basis of this success. It was not sex appeal. It was "friend 
ship." Mr. McCooey had gotten her brother appointed a 
magistrate. "I would start off with this premise," he con 
fided, "that inasmuch as I had a great deal to do with the 
appointment of her brother as magistrate, that she natu 
rally would be friendly to me if I wanted her friendship 
for this site." His premise was correct. 

The local school board reversed its position and begged 
the Board of Education to use this choice land. Dr. Wil 
liam A. Boylan, since promoted to the presidency of 
Brooklyn College, and Dr. William J. O'Shea, the pliant 



236 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

gentleman who now presides over New York's public 
schools, heartily favored the site and Dr. Boylan pushed 
it before the Board of Estimate with the declaration that 
the property had "a delightful outlook." In spite of some 
unpleasant remarks by the Controller the city finally took 
title and the question of price went to the courts. 

The judge in the case was Mitchell May, a regular 
machine Democrat and friend of McCooey. The city's 
real estate expert, Edward J. Gaynor, who had known 
Mr. McCooey for twelve years and had been appointed 
an expert for the city with McCooey' s recommendation, 
valued the whole piece of land at $264,000, more than 
three times the assessed valuation and $120,000 higher 
than the valuation of the controller's office. Of course 
the Cords-McCooey experts shot higher than Mr. Gay 
nor to establish the well-known principle of balance, and 
set their estimate at $353,000. The assistant corporation 
counsel representing the city, who had been approved for 
his appointment by Mr. McCooey, handled the experts 
with a perfunctory gentleness, forgetting to bring out the 
fact that neighboring lots were selling for about half of 
what the claimants were asking. Justice May tolerantly 
split the difference and set a price of $303,000. A touch 
of lovely charm was added to the whole proceeding by the 
revelation that Mr. McCooey's profit in the deal was a 
wedding anniversary gift to his wife! 3 Incidentally, the 
land still stands idle, since no one wants to use it for 
school purposes. 

Mr. Wallstein's investigation also revealed that certain 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 237 

positions in the offices of the Board of Education and the 
Board of Estimate have been used as listening posts for 
acquiring advance knowledge of city purchases. Usually 
the listening posts are handled with such caution and the 
connection with the land racketeers is so carefully camou 
flaged that no one can be convicted of a crime. The 
favorite device for land manipulation is a small corpora 
tion with an innocuous name created by the inside poli 
ticians and realtors to buy up land in anticipation of a 
demand for it by the city. Usually the corporation is con 
trolled through dummies or relatives. 

Francis T. McEneny was removed as chief examiner to 
the president of the Board of Aldermen after it was dis 
covered that he and his friends had engaged in "substan 
tial and apparently profitable transactions in connection 
with school sites," and his crony Morris Warschauer was 
transferred from his position as secretary of the committee 
on buildings and sites of the Board of Education for simi 
lar reasons. But Mr. Warschauer is still assistant secretary 
of the Board of Education after making explanations of 
his bank accounts that Leonard M. Wallstein called "fan 
tastic," and Perry Winston is still assistant engineer on 
the staff of the secretary of the Board of Estimate after 
it was disclosed that his friends had made handsome 
profits by dabbling in school sites and then thrown away 
their check books and canceled check vouchers. Mr. Win 
ston gets advance knowledge of the plans of the Board 
of Education for all its new buildings. Just before he 
recommended a school site on 23d Avenue in Brooklyn 



238 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

some friends of his brother-in-law organized the Ralmac 
Realty Corporation which sold the recommended land to 
the city at a profit of $13,000 in ten months on an invest 
ment of $12,000. At about this time the sister of Mr. 
Winston's brother-in-law (the women of this family are 
also brilliant business promoters) was making $20,000 
on a cash investment of $4,000 in the site of the Abraham 
Lincoln High School. This high-school site, incidentally 
was assessed by the city's tax experts at $321,800 but 
when the city attempted to buy it the city's own real estate 
expert, Charles Schiffman, valued it at $300,000 higher 
than the tax valuation, which explains in part the aston 
ishing success of the distant relatives of Mr. Winston in 
the real estate business. 

Mr. Schiffman received $4,600 as an expert's fee for 
his optimism in valuing this land for the Abraham Lincoln 
High School and a rebuke from Mr. Wallstein for im 
proper business dealings because he helped to get a loan 
for some of the claimants in this very case from an assist 
ant corporation counsel.* 

We should not be unduly severe in judging the Mc- 
Enenys, Warschauers, Winstons and Schiffmans. Perhaps 
they believe that there should be more business in govern 
ment. The almost universal rule in big business is for the 
insiders to take advantage of what is called "business 
opportunity," which means foreknowledge of dividend 
statements and purchase needs. 

The expert racket dovetails into the condemnation law 
yer's racket. The important condemnation cases in the 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 239 

city are handled by the firms of Talley and Lamb, and 
Skinner and Bermant. Alfred J. Talley, the big gun in 
condemnation proceedings in New York, was a close asso 
ciate of Charles F. Murphy and was urged as a possible 
successor to Murphy in the leadership of Tammany Hall 
in 1924. 

The condemnation law firms actively solicit business 
from owners of prospective city land "like salesmen sell 
ing lead pencils and suspenders," as one witness testified 
in the hearings before Mr. Wallstein, although this solici 
tation is specifically forbidden by a court rule which 
applies to Manhattan and the Bronx. The rule says: "No 
attorney shall directly or indirectly solicit a retainer or 
employment to present, settle, prosecute or defend any 
claim or action, or employ or authorize any person so to 
solicit on his behalf." Far from observing this rule the 
law firms of the city swoop down like vultures on the land 
owners of any neighborhood where a civic improvement 
is planned, sometimes fifteen years in advance of actual 
sale, and "sign them up" in a house to house canvass 
with an agreement that the law firm shall receive 5 per 
cent of the total award. That means, of course, $50,000 
for a million dollar award which can often be secured 
from friendly courts with very little labor. 

The labor, in fact, is nearly all in getting the clients 
and holding them together. The actual condemnation 
cases are perfunctory affairs. The claimants have an ex 
pert who has become known as a professional optimist. 
The city has an expert who is only slightly less optimistic. 



240 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Both are paid handsomely for brief service; the city usu 
ally pays its experts $100 a day, and in the Chrystie Street 
condemnation case their bills totaled $124,065. In that 
case Nicholas F. Walsh received $40,000, Samuel Augen- 
blick, $40,000, and Walter T. Murphy $32,000 as city 
land experts. In the Rockaway Beach condemnation case 
Congressman John J. Boylan who represents John F. 
Curry's district at Washington, included in his $39,000 
bill to the city five days for "attendance at court" which, 
according to the Congressional Record, he had spent in 
Washington. 6 Part of his bill was disallowed but he still 
kept a nest egg of $200,000 which he had received as an 
expert in condemnation cases between 1924 and 1930. 

The experts in the past have not been permitted to 
bring in to condemnation proceedings the assessed value 
of the property to be bought although such value is the 
only index which the city can use in deciding to purchase 
the property, and they have likewise been prevented by 
idiotically narrow court rulings from bringing in the most 
pertinent evidence of all, the recent sales price of the 
property to be bought. In some states assessments are bad 
barometers of value but not in New York City, since the 
state equalization tax tables show that here the assessed 
value of property comes very close to the market value. 

The story of the way in which New York Supreme 
Court judges have refused to permit assessed value to be 
noticed judicially in condemnation cases is to us one of 
the most startling proofs of the dry rot in our legal pro 
fession. Because some judges had misinterpreted the law 
on this subject, succeeding judges and succeeding lawyers 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 241 

fell in line and duly quoted their predecessors' foolish 
ness. The aim of a condemnation proceeding, to deter 
mine actual value, seems to have been quite lost sight of. 

When the experts had finished their testimony in a 
condemnation case, the judge, who may or may not have 
been listening to the proceeding, usually "split the differ 
ence" between the competing optimists. Mr. Wallstein 
just for fun tabulated 164 of these split-the-difference 
decisions on school sites and found that the judges in 
making twenty-five million dollars worth of judgment 
came within seven hundredths of one per cent of splitting 
the melon exactly in half. To suspect collusion in such 
cases would be as irreverent as to question the conspicuous 
guilelessness of the average New York divorce case. 

Mr. Wallstein has suggested a number of reforms for 
condemnation proceedings and some of them have been 
adopted at Albany. Condemnation proceedings, as soon 
as another legislature has approved a pending constitu 
tional amendment and the people have voted for it, will 
be taken out of the hands of a single Supreme Court judge 
and given to a special condemnation tribunal of three 
judges to be periodically assigned by the Apellate Divi 
sions. Assessed valuations may be considered by judges 
and must be considered by the Corporation Counsel who 
represents the city. More complete publicity is provided 
for. 

All these reforms are good in themselves and Mr. Wall 
stein deserves the public's thanks for initiating them, but 
he would probably be the first to admit that they will be 
useless unless there is some honest will to serve the public 



242 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

interest in the government that rules New York. And in 
this case the reform legislation will be handicapped by one 
of the oldest traditions of American capitalism, the allo 
cation to private owners of the increased value of land. 

A proper philosophy and practice of taxing land values 
would solve all these problems. The trouble starts when 
the community allows a land owner to keep the land value 
which it (the community) has created. Realtors will con 
tinue to be economic highwaymen as long as they are 
honored in proportion to their success in capturing these 
values. Judges will consistently give the benefit of the 
doubt to private speculators rather than the government 
in the purchase of land until our ethics of land ownership 
have changed. What we need, if Mr. Wallstein's reforms 
are to have more than a temporary effect, is more judges 
on the bench who have read Karl Marx and Thorstein 
Veblen and Henry George, and taken them seriously 
enough to understand that there is a difference between 
earned and unearned wealth. Which is to say that we 
need more socialist and fewer conservative judges. Inci 
dentally, we are not sure that Mr. Wallstein himself 
would make the very best judge. He saved the city 
$4,459,000 in the Rockaway Beach condemnation case, 
then took a $160,000 fee for himself in addition to heavy 
expenses for a few months' work. His criticism of the 
land racketeers lost some of its force thereby. 

Meanwhile New York's transit construction program 
has reached an impasse because the city government did 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 243 

not undertake to pay for subway construction out of the 
unearned wealth of the land owners along the subway 
lines. There is no reason why taxpayers as a whole should 
pay for all subway costs when specific pieces of land are 
trebled and quadrupled in value by the subway. These 
specially benefited pieces of land should be stripped of 
their extra unearned increment added by the construction 
of the subway, especially since the extra expense involved 
in building subways rather than elevated railroads is in 
curred chiefly because the elevated would injure land 
values along its course. At present 82 per cent of the 
cost of new subways is added to the burden of the tax 
payer. 

John H. Delaney, chairman of the Board of Transporta 
tion, originally favored special assessments to aid in build 
ing the new Eighth Avenue subway but the pressure of 
the real estate interests was too strong for him. The idea 
of special assessments for subway construction is sound 
and practical if properly applied just as sound and prac 
tical as the special assessment for park and road construc 
tion. It was heartily endorsed by Mayor Walker's own 
committee on budget and finance in 1928. The committee 
felt "that the location of new subway lines and particu 
larly the location of stations result in an entirely fortuitous 
gain to the owners of certain pieces of real estate. This 
gain might be recovered through the adoption of the spe 
cial assessment method."* 

New York's first subway, started in 1904, might have 
been paid for entirely out of special assessments upon 



244 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

benefited land without any injustice. That subway which 
cost $43,000,000 added $80,000,000 in value in seven 
years to one section of Manhattan and the Bronx in excess 
of the increase which was considered normal in the city 
as a whole. The increases in the value of land adjoining 
other subways have not been so consistent, but they have 
been sufficient to underscore the need of special assess 
ments. Certainly a large part of the city's investment of 
$386,000,000 in the old subways could have been cap 
tured quite painlessly by special assessments. 

The City Affairs Committee made a study of the in 
crease in land values along the new Eighth Avenue sub 
way from 1924, when it was first announced, to 1930, two 
years before it opened. The committee's figures for the 
thirty blocks from 13th Street to 43d Street show that the 
two adjoining blocks on each side of the subway rose 
$94,000,000 in value in that time, an increase of 78 per 
cent. The general rise in land value in the rest of Man 
hattan was 64 per cent during those years. It is very con 
servative, therefore, to say that the subway itself added 
$17,000,000 (the difference between 78 per cent and 64 
per cent) in excess value to the Eighth Avenue region 
between 13th Street and 43d Street from 1924 to 1930 
very conservative because, while this method of calcula 
tion is not accurate in itself, the subway also added mil 
lions in value to the blocks west of Ninth Avenue, which 
we are not including in the total increment. The subway 
between 13th Street and 43d Street cost $21,000,000. If 
$10,000,000 of its cost had been paid by special assess- 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 245 

ment, the owners of the adjoining land would still have 
had a handsome margin of excess increment. 

It is not too late to apply this principle even now to the 
Eighth Avenue subway, and it is certainly in order to 
apply it to the construction of all new subways. We be 
lieve that it is the only logical way to save the five cent 
fare on New York transit lines. The objection commonly 
made to special assessments for subway construction is 
that the increase in value due to such construction is 
impossible to calculate in advance, the factors involved 
being so complex. The logical way to avoid this difficulty 
would be to adopt an adjustable special assessment which 
can be increased or decreased on each specific piece of 
land according to its rise in value. 

If, for example, the city in building the Eighth Avenue 
subway between 13th Street and 43d Street, had decided 
to assess ten millions of the cost on neighboring land, it 
could have drawn a line about the territory it considered 
specially benefited and then based its assessment year by 
year on the assessed value of 1924. Let us say that it took 
$1,000,000 a year out of this area. Each annual levy 
would be based on the rise in value of the land since 1924. 
All land which had failed to rise since 1924 would be 
exempt. A piece which rose $10,000 in 1925 might pay 
$100; a piece which rose $20,000 might pay $250; a piece 
which rose $30,000 in 1925 and went back $20,000 in 1926 
might pay $375 in 1925 and $100 in 1926; and so on. 
This system of adjustable special assessments is applied 
now to the Westchester County sewer system. It avoids 



246 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

the immense difficulty of calculating in advance the pre 
cise increment that the subway will add to any given lot. 7 

If this method had been applied roughly to New York 
land many years ago there would be no difficulty in financ 
ing subways to-day. In the last twenty-five years two sec 
tions of Manhattan, the financial district below Fulton 
Street, and the mid-town section around the Pennsylvania 
Station and the Grand Central Terminal have increased a 
billion and a quarter dollars in value. 8 In both cases the 
new values have been due very largely to good subway 
facilities. These areas have paid higher taxes because of 
the higher values, but they have not paid their fair share 
for subway construction in view of the immense increase 
in their value. 

Next to a special assessment on land near subways the 
most logical way to finance new traction lines would be a 
land increment tax. The city could consider the valuation 
of each piece of land at a certain date as the base, and tax 
the owner two per cent of the excess value above that 
amount each year. That plan (a one per cent increment 
tax) was recommended in 1912 by Mayor Gaynor's com 
mittee on taxation. If it had been put in force then the 
yield from a two per cent tax would have been $58,000,- 
000 in 1928 and $68,000,000 in 1929. 

Behind these suggestions of ours for subway financing 
lies a philosophy of taxation for all civic improvements. 
We believe that all taxes in the last analysis should be 
based upon the ability of the taxpayer to pay in short 
upon income, but that the income which is unearned 



RACKETEERING IN LAND 247 

should be taken by the government first. No income in 
capitalist society is more fundamentally unearned than 
the income from city land values, and therefore a program 
of increased taxation for civic improvements should begin 
with those values and end with the public ownership of 
land. One way to bring about that public ownership 
would be to appropriate the rental value of land apart 
from its improvements. 



14 
HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 

THAT the richest city in the history of the world should 
have some of the world's worst slums is not a fact that 
annoys or surprises the average New Yorker. Gross in 
equalities in housing are such an accepted part of our life 
that, to borrow an analogy from Bernard Shaw, we be 
come accustomed to them as we become immune to the 
taste of water because it is so constantly in contact with 
our mucous membranes that we believe it has no taste. 
Most men who live in New York do not stop to wonder 
why some men live in palaces and some in hovels because 
they have never even raised the deeper question why some 
are rich and some are poor. 

The poor, we say, are entitled to as good water as the 
rich even if they cannot afford it, as good public school 
education, and as good fire protection. This communistic 
attitude toward education, water, and fire protection was 
not, of course, an innate idea. It came after long struggle 
and agitation and the usual pronouncements by the rich 
that these public beneficences would undermine the ster 
ling independence and initiative of the poor. 

To-day we are on the threshold of an era when we will 

248 



HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 249 

recognize housing, at least in cities, as a sociai responsi 
bility in the same sense that education is. Hitherto a 
man's house has been his chief symbol of social success 
or failure, almost as individualistic a thing in his economic 
life as food and clothes. But with the building of great 
cities houses have become less and less individualistic. The 
very right to have a home has become a restricted privi 
lege instead of a right. A man's living quarters have come 
to depend more and more on the accidents of work loca 
tion and the density of surrounding population. 

In modern megalopolis the very men who make the 
city, who clean its streets and shovel its coal and run its 
subway trains, may be exiled from it when they quit work 
at night. To-day in New York the average worker simply 
cannot provide a decent home for himself on the average 
wage. We have been so victimized by the spirit of the 
real estate speculator that we have almost forgotten the 
logical ideal of a city as a pleasant place for common 
people to live together. 

At the outset of this discussion of housing let us say 
frankly that we see no satisfactory solution within the 
limits of our present economic system. So long as the 
distance between rich and poor remains what it is, there 
will be palaces on some Park Avenue and slums on some 
East Side. It would require a complete social revolution 
to establish the perfectly sound and obvious moral prin 
ciple that in a sanely organized city every human being 
willing to work is entitled to good lodging. And it would 
require just as complete a social revolution to effect the 



250 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

planning of a city without regard to the private profit of 
land owners. 

But we do not despair of moving rapidly in the direc 
tion of those ideals even within our present economic 
order. And in the process we shall nurture a finer genera 
tion to establish a nobler order. Housing in New York 
has become a sorry tragedy for both rich and poor and 
so at last New York's intelligentsia are beginning to talk 
about it. On Park Avenue the unpaid and unpayable 
mortgages lie as thick and deep as the Persian rugs. All 
over the city the architects are hungry and the builders are 
bankrupt while hundreds of thousands of building trades 
workers walk the streets. All this in a city which needs 
cheap apartments badly. 

The basic difficulty lies in providing homes for the low 
est paid third of the population. The rich and the middle 
class can always find lodging that is adequate even if too 
expensive. 

The Committee on Plan and Survey appointed by 
Mayor Walker said in 1927: "A third of the city's popu 
lation over two million people live under unsatisfac 
tory conditions, many under distressing conditions, some 
under disgraceful conditions. For thousands home is a 
mockery. It consists of two or three small rooms of which 
but one is adequately lighted and often even not that 
one and none of which is adequately ventilated; rooms 
that in the hot summer day become an inferno of torture 
to little children, the sick, and the weak. 

"For the persons living in these homes there is little 




Reproduced by permission of 
Rollin Kirby and the New York World-Telegram. 

GETTING HIS CUT 



HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 253 

privacy; there are no reticences; they must share the 
process of living with other families; they must use a 
common water closet; they must get all the water they 
use from a common faucet in the public hall; the fire peril 
menaces them at all times. . . . 

"This is the state of two million people, over a third 
of the city's population, viz., those who live in the so- 
called old-law tenements or those erected before the tene 
ment house law of 1901 worked its beneficent changes." 

For these lower two million of New York's population 
this tenement house law destroyed some of the worst inde 
cencies of the old slums but it did not provide good houses 
for workers within the reach of their incomes. It nomi 
nally prevented the construction of interior bedrooms, it 
compelled the landlords to provide a toilet for every fam 
ily, and it reduced the building coverage on each lot so 
that tenements could no longer occupy 90 and 95 per cent 
of the plot on which they stood. But of course it was put 
in force very gently, and at the present rate of demolition 
these old-law tenements will not be cleared from New 
York for 134 years. Louis H. Pink of the State Housing 
Board points out that from 1920 to 1925 the old-law 
suites decreased only 2.8 per cent and that there were still 
566,000 of them in the city in 1925. * Years ago an inves 
tigation proved that the infant death rate and the tuber 
culosis death rate in rear tenements were double those in 
regular tenements in the same neighborhood, but there are 
still many rear tenements in New York. 

When the tenement house laws had been passed the 



254 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

question arose: where can an ordinary worker live in New 
York? 

The average industrial worker in New York does not 
receive more than $30 a week in good times and the aver 
age family requires four rooms to live decently. To allow 
a minimum for food, clothing, and sickness that family 
should never spend more than one week's income for one 
month's rent, which means a maximum of $7.50 per room 
per month. Where is such housing to be found in New 
York to-day? The answer is that it is not to be found at 
all except in the old-law tenements of the slums where 
over 1,500,000 people still live. The New York working 
class family must therefore crowd too many people into 
each room or spend more than a proportionate share of its 
income on rent. Usually that means the psychological or 
physical degeneration of the family. 

The obvious answer is government housing at cost 
and possibly some subsidization of housing for the very 
lowest of the income groups. The chief reason for the 
high cost of housing to-day, aside from the antiquated 
methods of production which we shall discuss later, is the 
cost of credit. When a private builder constructs a house 
he must pay 9, 10 and 11 per cent for his money, and 
when these costs are passed on to the tenant they mean a 
rental too high for the average worker. The government 
can borrow money at 4 and 5 per cent, and so reduce the 
cost of housing at least $3 per room per month. To 
launch a government housing program, therefore, seems 



HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 255 

the surest way to provide fit housing for the average 
worker. 

The economic reasons for such a program in New York 
are almost self-evident. Private builders have failed to 
provide the houses that the workers need within the range 
of the workers' income. Almost all the housing in New 
York in recent years has been built to rent at $15 a room 
a month or more. When presidents' conferences and 
building congresses meet to discuss housing they conceal 
or ignore this simple fact and print pictures in handsome 
booklets of model tenements renting at $5 and $10 a room 
a month more than the workers can afford to pay. 

The most flagrant ballyhoo artist in the field of housing 
was Mayor Walker. His heart beat more noisily for the 
slum dwellers of the East Side than for any other part 
of the population. He made enough speeches about hous 
ing at election time to float a balloon. For our own amuse 
ment we checked up the headlines that Mayor Walker 
received on his imaginary housing program in the New 
York Times, and here are some summaries, mostly in the 
words of the Times Index, of the first two years of his 
housing headlines. The headlines began even before he 
was mayor. If we had included the housing headlines of 
his whole administration there would have been room for 
nothing else in this chapter. 

October 27, 1925 Walker outlines housing program for 
relief legislation. 

November 19, 1925 Walker says in Miami speech he 






256 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

studied development there as aid in relieving New York 
City congestion. 

December 11, 1925 Walker plans to have commission 
he appoints for survey of population look into housing con 
gestion also. 

February 5, 1926 League of Mothers Clubs of United 
Neighborhood Houses urges Walker to support program for 
better housing and cheaper rents. 

February 9, 1926 Advisory housing commission formed 
at meeting of representatives of 50 organizations, in response 
to Walker's suggestion. 

May 23, 1926 Walker pledges aid of city administration 
to relieve housing shortage, in speech at opening of Sunny- 
side Gardens. 

June 26, 1926 Walker appoints August Heckscher spe 
cial emissary to investigate European housing and recom 
mend reconstruction to relieve congestion in New York City. 

December 2, 1926 Walker invites "old east siders" to 
dinner in honor of August Heckscher, to enlist aid for re 
building of congested areas of New York City. 

December 3, 1926 Walker appoints August Heckscher 
head of commission to plan construction of model tenements 
on New York City's east side at dinner at Libby's Hotel. 

December 5, 1926 Walker appoints August Heckscher 
chairman of Commission to start work of rebuilding East 
Side with model homes. 

March 11, 1927 Walker introduces bill in Estimate 
Board for 20-year tax exemption on model tenements built 
by limited dividend companies organized and existing under 
state housing law. 

May 27, 1927 Board of Estimate passes Walker's hous 
ing bill for tax exemption. [This was the one achievement 
of his administration in this field, and it was entirely the 
result of the efforts of others.] 

June 23, 1927 Walker signs tax exemption housing bill. 

July 8, 1927 Walker outlines plan for city to take land 



HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 257 

in crowded districts by condemnation action and become 
partner in erection of model houses; conference with bankers, 
realtors and philanthropists. 

July 28, 1927 Walker will introduce resolution into 
Board of Estimate branch of municipal assembly, calling for 
popular referendum on amendment to city charter to remove 
ill barriers to his condemnation plan. 

July 29, 1927 Board of Estimate votes favorably on 
Walker's resolution and proposes local law introduced by 
lim to aid his housing plan. 

August 19, 1927 Walker radiophones message on his 
Dill and tenement study in Europe from London. 

August 23, 1927 Walker talks with J. V. McKee by 
radiophone on London tenements. 

September 11, 1927 Walker inspects Rome's tenement 
district. 

Not a single brick was laid or a single plan for a house 
:ompleted as a result of this prodigious volume of bally- 
100. Seven blocks of cleared land still lie sprawling in 
:he heart of the East Side where Walker dreamed about 
i housing development at Chrystie and Forsythe Streets. 
The city has had the title to this land for years and the 
Walker administration could have developed a plan for 
t in a month. 

To get back to the economics of housing, a room which 
:ents for $12 a month when built by a private speculative 
xiilder can rent for about $9 a month when built by a 
imited dividend corporation, and $7.50 to $8.00 a month 
vhen built by the city. The City Affairs Committee took 
he Brooklyn Garden Apartments as a sample in 1931 and 
produced figures to show just how such apartments could 



258 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

be built on $3 land (per square foot) in Brooklyn and 
Queens to rent for $7.50 to $8.00. 

The reason for the cheapness of public housing, of 
course, is the cheapness of government borrowing plus 
the exemption from taxation. The principle of tax ex 
emption is not new since it was the basis of the State 
Housing Law of 1926. That law seems to us now a most 
feeble instrument but it did mark a great forward step 
in public opinion concerning housing. It allowed housing 
corporations which limited their dividends to 6 per cent 
to have all their buildings exempt from taxation for 
twenty years if they built houses under the supervision of 
the State Housing Board that would rent for a maximum 
of $12.50 a room a month in Manhattan, $11 in Brooklyn 
and the Bronx, $10 in Queens and Richmond, and $9 else 
where in the state. 2 

The theory of this law was excellent and the men who 
sponsored it were men of lofty purpose, but the benevo 
lent capitalists who were supposed to come forward with 
their wealth did not materialize in large numbers. All the 
projects coming under the law have housed only about 
6,000 people while private builders in the same period 
have built housing for at least 600,000. And even those 
projects which have been built under this law have con 
sisted largely of cooperative projects which probably 
would have been built without the law and several of 
which were planned before the law was passed. The two 
splendid housing projects of the City Housing Corpora 
tion at Sunnyside, Long Island, and Radburn, New Jersey, 



HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 259 

do not come under the tax exemption law because they 
are colonies of fairly high-priced, privately owned homes. 
The beautiful and admirably managed cooperative apart 
ments of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers in the 
Bronx and on Grand Street require an investment of 
$2,000 for each four-room apartment before the tenant 
can enjoy the $ll-a-room rent. This investment can be 
paid in small installments but it stands as a barrier against 
the workers who need good housing most. Probably the 
best example of limited-dividend housing which does not 
require a down payment by the tenant is the Brooklyn 
Garden Apartments with an average rental of $10.75 a 
room a month. 

Probably we must look to Brooklyn and Queens for the 
model housing of the future, for there good land can still 
be procured for less than $3 a square foot, and large 
enough plots are available to develop regional projects. 
Slum clearance is a fine phrase to toy with but with our 
present condemnation procedure it will probably come 
last in a municipal housing program. The city paid 
$16.50 a square foot for the land which it captured on 
Chrystie and Forsythe Streets in the heart of the East Side 
after Mayor Walker had decided that a housing program 
would be a good campaign diversion. It is not the most 
suitable land for a model housing experiment but even 
here apartments could be built by the city to rent at $9.50 
to $10.00 a room a month and still pay 4 per cent on 
the city's investment. 

We visualize the New York of to-morrow as a city 



260 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

with relatively few private homes. The notion that para 
dise begins with personal home ownership is one that has 
been drummed into Americans for so long by presidents 
(bank and otherwise) and realtors that it is hard to dis 
lodge. Nevertheless for the average American industrial 
worker home ownership is a chain that may bind him to 
a poor job or no job, and that may limit his right to fight 
against unjust conditions. Moreover, New York in our 
time is not likely to become a place where any but the 
upper economic third of the people can afford to own 
individual homes with open land, and still have enough 
money left to travel to work. The rich will continue to 
crowd out the poor no matter how valiantly some of the 
technicians of the Regional Plan work for a better spread 
of the population. 

It seems that the only way out for housing is the con 
struction by public funds in the outlying boroughs of 
great apartment projects surrounded by open space. The 
projects could be self-supporting so that the money for 
construction could come either from the Reconstruction 
Finance Corporation or from a city bond issue. The tax 
payers would not lose a cent in either case. The tenants 
would pay the bill just as the car-riders pay for the 
Hudson Tunnel. Europe has demonstrated that such 
dreams are as practical as public schools. Socialist Vienna 
has led the way. 

In New York Socialists, also, have been pioneers in the 
fight for such a program. Now many civic groups are 
taking up the fight. Recently the Public Housing Con- 



HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 261 

ference and the City Affairs Committee have proposed 
a plan for realizing the ideal of municipal housing with 
the least waste motion. They proposed a city department 
of housing for local responsibility and a constitutional 
amendment to give the city power to go into the housing 
business. They frankly recognize that housing must be a 
public utility if the average worker of New York is to 
have a decent apartment within the reach of his income. 
The plan will be fought by the realty interests and dis 
torted by the politicians, but it is bound to be tried some 
day because there is no other way out of the housing 
muddle. 

Along with the revolution in housing finance there is 
likely to come a revolution in housing construction, and 
perhaps the latter will in the end be the more important 
factor in bringing down prices. The building industry is 
to-day almost the only great industry that has not adopted 
mass production methods. Perhaps the New York of the 
future will be made up almost entirely of buildings that 
have standard wall panels, and standard ceiling strips, and 
standard everything else, all made on moving belts in 
great factories. 

H. G. Wells with his uncannily prophetic imagination 
said thirty years ago: "I find it incredible that there will 
not be a sweeping revolution in the methods of building 
during the next century. The erection of a house wall, 
come to think of it, is an astonishingly tedious and com 
plex business; the final result exceedingly unsatisfactory. 
. . . Everything in this was hand work, the laying of 



262 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

bricks, the dabbling of the plaster, the smoothing of the 
paper; it is a house built of hands and some I saw were 
bleeding hands just as in the days of the pyramids, when 
the only engines were living men. . . . Better walls than 
this and less life-wasting ways of making them are surely 
possible." 3 

If better walls are to be built into better homes it will 
be necessary to have better regional planning as New 
York's population grows. Thus far the city has not lacked 
planners but they have been, for the most part, private 
realtors disguised as civic leaders. The Russell Sage Foun 
dation tried to supplant the hit-and-miss planning of these 
private realtors with a comprehensive survey and plan 
of the whole New York region including ten million peo 
ple, 5,528 square miles, and 436 local government authori 
ties. The 12 volumes of the Regional Survey and Plan 
of New York and its Environs constitute an impressive 
piece of work in almost every field except housing. Here 
the regional planners were cautious and noncommittal, 
regretting the slums but shying away from a public hous 
ing program. They propose, however, one useful reform 
which the cities of Europe, particularly Berlin, have found 
of immense value, the giving of the right to the city gov 
ernment to buy outlying land for future development. 
Such a right would make possible the planning of decen 
tralized public housing developments in the suburbs as 
part of a gigantic regional plan. 

As we approach the third bitter winter of unemploy 
ment the plea for a great public housing program comes 



HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 263 

with treble force. Some day the rotting old-law tenements 
of New York must be cleared away and new housing 
built. Why not now? A housing program that would give 
new apartments to one million of New York's two million 
unsatisfactorily housed inhabitants would give work to 
30,000 in the building trades for five years. What more 
intelligent way could be thought of to fight the depression 
with constructive relief? 



15 

THE CONSUMER PAYS 

THE average New Yorker is almost wholly dependent 
for daily comfort on several great corporations which 
have monopolies or near monopolies of the things that he 
must have. He must have milk, and the chances are nine 
to one that he will buy from one of the two great dairy 
firms of Borden's or Sheffield's. He must have electric 
light and gas, and in both cases he is likely to buy them 
from one great holding concern, the Consolidated Gas 
Co. He must have a telephone, and again he has no 
choice. His bill must be paid to the New York Telephone 
Co., which is owned in entirety by the American Tele 
phone & Telegraph Company. If he is an ordinary man 
he must ride in a subway or an elevated train, and con 
tribute to one central consolidated monopoly of the 
B. M. T. and the Interborough. He must have water and 
mail, but here the private profit and the private monopoly 
have been destroyed and he shares in two of the safest 
and fastest distributive systems in the world without the 
annoyance of any scandals about inflated values. 

New Yorkers pay a price of untold millions to the 
great private monopolies every year an excessive price 
because these monopolies use their power to defeat effec- 

264 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 265 

tive regulation. Theoretically the law protects the con 
sumer completely. The State Public Service Commission 
is supposed to regulate all telephones, gas and electric 
light companies; the State Transit Commission is ordered 
to do likewise in the field of subways and surface cars. 
In practice the public is in a state of continuous defeat 
because the private utilities have enough money and 
power to thwart the agencies of control. 

The biggest dragon of all in the utility field is the Con 
solidated Gas Company, which owns the New York Edi 
son, the Brooklyn Edison, the New York and Queens 
Electric Light and the United Electric Light and Power 
corporations. It also owns most of the gas companies 
of New York City and is so wealthy that it can afford 
to fight for years in the courts against any order to reduce 
its rates. It is so extensive and powerful that the expert 
who testifies against it rests under a cloud in the pursuit 
of his professional career. (The utility interests are fond 
of saying that there is no such thing as a power trust, and 
in the national field there is some plausibility in their 
claim, but New York has a power trust in both name and 
fact.) To-day in the middle of the depression when the 
prices of every other commodity on the market have gone 
down, gas prices and electric rates are only a little below 
the 1920 level. 

The City Affairs Committee in a brief filed with the 
Public Service Commission early in 1932 showed how 
ridiculous the electrice rate schedule was in the face of 
falling costs. Since 1920 the cost of almost everything 



266 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

that the electric companies buy has been reduced. Coal, 
copper and labor have come down. The operating ex 
penses of generation per kilowatt hour dropped, from 
1920 to 1930, 58 per cent for the New York Edison, 
71 per cent for the Brooklyn Edison, and 50 per cent 
for the United Electric Light and Power. The lower costs 
of operation for the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens 
companies since 1920 have resulted in a saving of 
$13,389,000. Of course there was a most substantial fur 
ther decline in prices during 1931 and 1932. 

When companies save so much money at the expense 
of the consumer, it is natural that they should pay large 
dividends. Dividends have increased as operating econo 
mies have been realized. Even during the depression, the 
New York Edison, the United Electric Light and Power 
and the New York and Queens Electric paid 12 per cent 
for both 1930 and 1931. The Brooklyn Edison continued 
its usual 8 per cent dividend, which seems innocent 
enough in itself but is not so innocent when we note that 
it tucked away many unnecessary millions in its surplus. 

Being a holding company Consolidated Gas is able to 
use certain familiar little tricks to step up its profits. For 
example, it sells money to its subsidiaries at a much 
higher price than it must pay, and pockets the difference. 
This result is accomplished by selling its own preferred 
stock to the public to yield 5^ per cent and passing the 
money on to subsidiaries for common stock which pays 
the Consolidated 12 per cent. The differential of 6y 2 per 
cent goes to the Consolidated stockholders and costs the 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 267 

consumers of New York $3,900,000 a year. This capital 
could just as well be obtained directly from the public 
by the New York Edison Company, for example, at 5^ 
per cent and so eliminate the extra profit to the Consoli 
dated. Or the Consolidated itself could raise this money 
by selling preferred stock at 5^ per cent and passing on 
the money so raised to its subsidiaries without a huge 
brokerage fee. 

A holding company should be a mechanical conven 
ience and a genuine aid to economical management. In 
the case of the Consolidated the device has been used for 
parasitism. 

The Consolidated reduced its rates in 1931 with a great 
fanfare of trumpets, announcing a voluntary cut of 
$6,000,000. Upon examination the gift horse appeared 
not so attractive as advance notices indicated. Even after 
the reduction, about 50 per cent of New York residential 
users paid more for their electricity than they did in the 
boom year of 1928. The new rates put a disproportion 
ate burden upon the poorest users, taxing every customer 
a one dollar monthly minimum. These rates in New York 
are still inexcusably high. In Ontario under public owner 
ship of the electric industry the customer's minimum 
charge is 33 cents. For 100 kilowatt hours a month a 
New Yorker pays $5.55 while residents of Toronto, even 
after a 10 per cent allowance is made for the taxation of 
a public plant, pay $1.73. Let the comparative figures for 
small and large users in various American and Canadian 
cities speak for themselves: 



268 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

COMPARATIVE MONTHLY BILLS 

40kwh. 100 kwh. 250 kwh. 500 kwh. 

New York City 2.55 5.55 13.05 25.55 

Toronto (adjusted 10% to 

allow for taxes) ..... 1.13 1.73 3.23 5.73 

Jamestown, N. Y 1.40 3.25 6.63 12.25 

Los Angeles, Calif 1.92 3.42 6.82 11.82 

Seattle, Wash 2.20 3.40 6.30 8.80 

Washington, D. C 1.88 4.70 11.75 23.50 

(Jamestown, Los Angeles and Seattle have publicly owned 
plants.) 

Whether rates are reckoned comparatively or by cost 
analyses we pay too much for electricity in New York 
City. We pay approximately $19,000,000 a year more 
than we need to in order to give the electric companies 
a fair return for their capital. That means an average 
excess charge of $12 a year for every domestic consumer 
in New York. 

If we judge New York's electric rates by the standards 
of public ownership rather than the standards of conven 
tional investment the overcharge is $17 a year for each of 
the 1,600,000 domestic consumers of New York City. A 
publicly owned and operated electric industry would not 
need to pay more than 4 per cent interest to attract capi 
tal in normal times, and this reduced interest rate would 
save New York consumers $26,500,000 a year. 

Under the present electric rate schedule the small light 
users partially subsidize the large power users. The argu 
ment was formerly made that these residential users 
should bear the chief burden because they were respon 
sible for the peak load (the largest amount of electricity 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 269 

needed at any one time) and this peak load forced the 
companies to spend many millions for equipment adequate 
to meet it. That argument does not hold to-day. The big 
industrial users are responsible for the peak load that 
demands great equipment and yet they are still favored in 
the rates. The residential consumers with their steady 
demand are the backbone of the trade, but they are still 
discriminated against. It has been charged that the small 
retail consumer who pays the maximum rates is actually 
paying the entire cost of producing and distributing New 
York's electrical energy and that if the system were run 
on a non-profit basis, the current used by the big power 
consumers could be given away. 1 

Gas consumers are in the same plight as electricity con 
sumers. The Brooklyn Union Gas Co., which serves 680,000 
domestic consumers, has actually increased its rates for 
small users in the middle of the depression (August, 
1931). It is paying steadily 10 per cent dividends on a 
stock capitalization that is forty per cent water. 

Whenever the state Public Service Commission under 
takes to reduce electric, gas, or telephone rates, the Con 
solidated Gas or the New York Telephone Co. takes its 
case to the courts, presents an array of experts to support 
its claims, and appeals and appeals and appeals from all 
adverse decisions. In March, 1932, the commission prac 
tically admitted in accepting the new electric rate schedule 
that it did so because of the hopelessness and expense of 
fighting the Consolidated. When the commission grap 
pled with the New York Telephone Co. in the last great 



270 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

rate case 62,864 pages of testimony were taken with 
4,323 exhibits in the first ten years. 

The telephone monopoly is one of the most respectable 
and efficient of our utilities. It spends enormous sums 
in good-will advertising in the newspapers and magazines. 
While its head, Walter S. Gifford, was chairman of the 
President's Relief Organization it was revealed that the 
New York Telephone Co. (owned entirely by the Ameri 
can Telephone and Telegraph Co.) had given $233,000 
to charitable causes in three years and charged it to operat 
ing expenses, which means that the consumer would ulti 
mately be asked to pay it. The company did not take 
cheerfully the suggestion of one stockholder that all chari 
table contributions should be taken from the company's 
surplus, and when the Public Service Commission's chair 
man asked it to do so the company refused. It took the 
case to the courts where it is still in litigation. 

At the present moment the telephone monopoly is mak 
ing itself extremely unpopular by assessing all users of 
hand-set telephones an extra charge of twenty-five cents a 
month in perpetuity. In Washington, Baltimore and Vir 
ginia other branches of the American Telephone & Tele 
graph Co. allow their customers to pay $4 cash or $4.50 
in twenty-five cent monthly installments for a hand-set 
telephone, and then all extra charge is discontinued. The 
difference between the New York and Washington 
methods of charging means an extra payment of $8,540,- 
000 in the next five years by New York's 813,000 users 
of hand-set phones. Even if the company's own figures 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 271 

of the extra cost of the new hand-sets were accepted, the 
cost of interest and amortization would be only 3 cents 
a month. The telephone monopoly is skimming almost 
$2,000,000 worth of extra cream each year from New 
York consumers by its hand-set rates. 8 

When the telephone company is faced with facts like 
these it falls back for defense upon the conservative rul 
ings of the courts. It maintains that the courts have given 
it the legal right to receive a fair return upon its capital. 
What is a fair return and what is capital? The answers 
to those questions are so divergent that a corps of lawyers 
and experts can quarrel over them ad infinitum for a 
good price. The common-sense answer seems to be that 
investors in a protected public monopoly even under the 
ethics of capitalism should never be paid more than a fair 
dividend on prudent investment. The courts, however, 
have taken a "larger view" and have permitted the com 
panies to reckon the reproduction cost of their present 
equipment as an important factor in setting rates. Here 
a whole world of guesses and hopes enters into the cal 
culation of value. 

The New York Telephone Co. in 1926 asked for an 
8 per cent return on an intra-state valuation of 615 mil 
lions. 3 According to the New York Public Service Com 
mission that was an overvaluation of about 250 millions. 
The rates asked by the company were 24 millions a year 
higher than those suggested by the public body. The New 
York Telephone Co. went to the most ludicrous extremes 
in padding its valuation figures. Its own engineers had 



272 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

estimated its fair value at 160 millions above the figure 
of the Public Service Commission, but it was not satisfied. 
It hired another group of utility engineers from Stone and 
Webster who shoved the valuation up 106 millions more. 
The difference in telephone rates based on these two esti 
mates would be $7,400,000 a year for the telephone cus 
tomers of New York State. And the cost of all this statis 
tical juggling, which in the case of these two sets of 
experts was one million dollars, and which in the case of 
the whole rate fight of the telephone company totaled 
over six millions, was added to the costs of operation and 
must in the long run be paid by the consumer. 

The telephone company denies that it ever has tried to 
get a penny on watered stock or inflated estimates. The 
Public Service Commission is relatively helpless to protect 
the consumers in such a situation because neither the 
Republican nor the Democratic Party is willing to support 
an aggressive fight on the utilities, and because the com 
panies can always appeal any adverse ruling to a reac 
tionary court. Moreover the Public Service Commission is 
undermanned and undersupplied with money so that it 
cannot, even if it would, take an aggressive attitude 
toward the utilities. Some of its members, notably George 
R. Van Namee, who was political manager for Alfred E. 
Smith, have taken an aggressive attitude in defense of the 
utilities on almost every possible occasion. Chairman 
Milo Maltbie and George R. Lunn, the fairly progressive 
members of the commission, often find themselves out 
voted. 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 273 

A similar situation in more acute form exists in the reg 
ulation of transit lines. The city has had to fight through 
every court in our judicial hierarchy to maintain a per 
fectly obvious provision in our subway contracts for the 
five-cent fare. Having defeated reactionary judges the city 
must now engage in another long struggle to recapture its 
subway lines at a fair price from traction interests that 
have the support of a conservative regulatory body, the 
State Transit Commission. (The Board of Transportation 
appointed by the mayor builds subways ; the Transit Com 
mission appointed by the governor regulates them.) 

The moral of all these painful struggles is that when a 
city surrenders its public utilities to private monopoly, its 
troubles begin. The city and state had sense enough when 
the Holland Vehicular Tunnel and the George Washing 
ton Bridge were built to make them public enterprises 
under the Port Authority, so that profiteering at the ex 
pense of taxpayers was avoided. Would that our prede 
cessors had had as much sense when they started the 
subways ! 

The city after building nearly all the subways and part 
of the elevated lines was foolish enough to turn over its 
original system to several great corporations which are 
now united in one combination under the chairmanship of 
the B. M. T. head, Gerhard M. Dahl. The city put 
$386,000,000 into the old systems while the traction inter 
ests put in $325,000,000. In order to raise the $325,000,- 
000 from private sources (the city was too close to the 
legal debt limit then to borrow all the money itself) 



274 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Mayor Gaynor signed the famous dual contracts in 1913 
which turned over the transit system to the predecessors 
of the present B. M. T. and Interborough on terms highly 
favorable to the companies. The companies and the city 
were supposed to get 8.7 per cent on their investment but 
in practice the profits went to the companies. 

They had prior claim to the interest on all investments 
in the system except $2,650,000 annual interest on the in 
vestment made by the city in the first subway. Aside from 
this interest the city never received a nickel on its invest 
ment until in 1929 the Interborough began paying inter 
est. The B. M. T. has never paid the city a cent on its 
investment and it is likely that the Interborough, having 
gone into the hands of a receiver, will soon stop all inter 
est payments except the obligatory $2,650,000 a year. The 
system is $223,000,000 behind in its schedule of payments 
due to the city but only $5,000,000 behind in its payments 
to the private owners. 

What a partnership ! The city pays for more than half 
of the subways, gives the companies prior claim to almost 
all payments, takes almost nothing in return for its invest 
ment, and then is fought year by year in the courts by 
company lawyers whose huge bills are charged to operat 
ing expenses. The only thing that has made the situation 
tolerable is this, that New Yorkers can ride 27 miles for 
a nickel in the subway system if they are not smothered 
or crushed by their fellow strap-hangers before the end of 
the journey. 

We are paying the price now for the bad bargaining 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 275 

of Mayor Gaynor. He did not even force the companies 
to contract for an intelligent plan of recapture by the city. 
It is true that the city can buy back most of the subway 
system by serving notice on the companies of its intention 
to recapture and by paying them their total investment 
plus 15 per cent minus an agreed annual deduction. But 
this right of recapture is not inclusive of any one major 
system of subways. In Manhattan the city can recapture 
either the East Side subway or the West Side, but not both 
at least not until 1963. It cannot recapture the elevated 
lines at all for they have long-term franchises. 

The incompleteness of the right of recapture gives the 
companies the chance to make an expensive nuisance of 
themselves by refusing to give up the non-recapturable 
parts of the system unless the city pays a handsome price 
for the whole. The city does not want an octopus with 
some of its most useful legs cut off, especially since in this 
case some of the legs might come to life independently. 

Now, at last, the need of unifying all the transit lines 
in the city has become acute because the new municipally 
owned Eighth Avenue line must be coordinated with the 
existing lines. There are three major problems involved: 
how much shall the private investors in the B. M. T. and 
Interborough get for their stock, how much fare shall the 
passengers pay, and who shall run the unified system. We 
believe that if the situation is properly handled by the city 
the whole system can be unified under city operation with 
out disturbing the five-cent fare. Thus far the city, the 
State Transit Commission, and the companies have been 



276 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

jockeying for position. Walker was obviously favorable 
to unification under the B. M. T. but he dared not aban 
don the five-cent fare voluntarily because of the tremen 
dous loss in votes it would entail. 

Also he had to reckon with Samuel Untermyer. Unter- 
myer, however reactionary his political connections may 
be, has been a terror to the B. M. T. and to the adminis 
tration officials who are friendly to the B. M. T. Chair 
man John H. Delaney of the Board of Transportation is 
afraid of Untermyer 's scorching vocabulary and great per 
sonal prestige. "The line-up of Mr. Delaney and the 
B. M. T.," says Mr. Untermyer, "is just another Equitable 
Bus experience on a vastly bigger scale." 

The B. M. T. will not say exactly how much it expects 
for its lines but at one time it was holding out for more 
than $500,000,000. Untermyer sought to compromise 
with the company by suggesting $489,000,000, although 
he admitted that the estimate was many millions too high. 
The company refused to negotiate on this basis and finally, 
in December, 1931, the Transit Commission by a vote of 
2 to 1 offered a plan that set a net price of $474,500,000.* 
Nobody has accepted the plan yet. Untermyer declared 
that the commission price was really more than $500,000,- 
000 when all the company's obligations were reckoned in, 
and he denounced the figure as fifty to seventy-five mil 
lions too high. 

It is easy to demonstrate that this $474,500,000 price is 
too high, although the traction companies are still pre 
tending that it is too low. The City Affairs Committee 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 277 

made a study in March, 1931, which set $420,000,000 
as a fair price. Since then the decline in stock prices and 
in the number of passengers makes $400,000,000 an 
ample price. 

At the moment that the Transit Commission presented 
its plan to the public it proposed to pay the traction com 
bine $150,000,000 more than the market value of the 
stock. The proposal meant a payment of $80 a share for 
B. M. T. stock which in August, 1932, was selling for 
$25, of $100 for B. M. T. preferred which was selling 
for $61, and of $50 for Interborough stock which was 
selling at $7. B Some of the most ludicrous exaggerations 
of value crept into the estimate. The inventory included 
773 wooden cars a generation old at $7,998 each, although 
these cars probably cost about $9,500 originally, and some 
of them have recently been sold for $100 to $350. For 
almost obsolete elevated lines, some of which are actually 
losing money, the traction combine was to receive 
$70,000,000 more than cost less depreciation. This was a 
high price even if the elevated lines had had a bright 
future. 

Fortunately the recent scandals involving Walker, the 
Equitable Coach Co. and the B. M. T. have frightened 
some of the Tammany officials and there is hope of an 
agreement on unification at a fair price. Speaking bluntly, 
neither the Transit Commission nor the Board of Trans 
portation as now constituted can be trusted to drive a fair 
bargain for the city except through fear of a scandal if 
they do not. The one good official that the public has had 



278 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

to watch its interests in traction affairs, Charles C. Lock- 
wood of the Transit Commission, has resigned to accept 
a Supreme Court judgeship, sardonically enough as a part 
of the notorious judicial deal for 12 judges engineered by 
the Democratic and Republican bosses. Lockwood made 
a brave fight against the domination of the Transit Com 
mission by the B. M. T. but was uniformly outvoted by 
his conservative colleagues William G. Fullen and Leon 
Godley. 

In resigning Lockwood wrote a stinging attack upon his 
colleagues' attempt to pay the B. M. T. half a billion 
dollars for its interests. He said that the company had 
already spent at least a million dollars for lawyers and 
engineers to puff up its value for bargaining purposes. 
"The prices and values of these properties," he said, 
"seem to have gone higher and higher since 1929, while 
the prices and values of about everything else in the world 
have gone lower and lower." He estimated that under the 
plan which Delaney and the conservative transit commis 
sioners were trying to jam through, the city would pay 
$37,000,000 each to the Interborough and B. M. T. in 
excess of the estimates of original and reproduction cost 
by the commission's own engineers. 6 

The hope of getting municipal operation of a unified 
subway system grows. Mr. Delaney has already indicated 
a partial surrender on that point. The revelation of Mr. 
Dahl's $675,000 bonus and salary in four years has indi 
cated to the public where its money goes under private 
operation 13,500,000 passengers could ride on that sum. 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 279 

The new arrangements for the municipal operation of the 
Eighth Avenue subway are excellent, with experienced 
engineers in charge at reasonable salaries, with higher 
wages for the workers, and with the abolition of the 
seven-day week. It is not likely that Tammany will dare 
to risk a traction disaster by putting inexperienced favor 
ites in responsible positions. Whatever petty favoritism 
may exist it will be trivial compared to the parasitic 
manipulations that have occurred and occur under B. M. T. 
control. 

Meanwhile the transit battle of the century will not be 
finished until it is decided whether we shall continue the 
five-cent fare. 7 The struggle boils down to this: if all the 
costs of construction are taken into account, the New 
York passenger who pays a five-cent fare does not pay 
for his ride. About three cents comes out of the taxpayer. 
We believe that this sharing of subway costs by the tax 
payer is perfectly just because the subways have added 
billions of dollars of value to New York land, but in time 
of depression the question rises whether the taxpayer 
should still bear this burden, especially since a $50,000,- 
000 annual outlay is involved in paying for the new 
Eighth Avenue subway in a hurry. Mr. Delaney wants to 
pay for the new subway quickly because it is much cheaper 
to pay for it that way. It saves many millions in interest 
rates that the city would otherwise have to pay on long- 
term loans. The real estate interests are fighting the 
Delaney plan bitterly because it means higher taxes now. 
If they win, taxes will be reduced and we will have the 



280 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

seven-cent fare. If Mr. Delaney wins, taxes will stay high 
for a few more years, but the five-cent fare may continue 
forever. 

We believe that the Delaney plan is far sounder than 
the plan of the real estate interests. These interests are 
always willing to skim for themselves the heavy cream 
that comes from rising land prices but when those land 
prices begin to fall, they seek to push the burden of sub 
way maintenance onto the strap-hanger. They fought and 
defeated the plan to pay for the subways by special assess 
ments on neighboring land, which plan would have saved 
the city from its present financial embarrassment. 

From the strap-hangers' point of view the elevated 
trains are approximately as good as subways, but the tran 
sit system has been submerged at tremendous expense to 
the city so that it would not ruin the value of adjoining 
property. The strap-hanger has a right to insist that a large 
part of this added cost should come from such adjoining 
property. 

For thousands of working people in New York, espe 
cially in time of unemployment, a difference of three 
cents in transit fare is a serious problem. Often it is the 
difference between walking and riding. The life of the 
working people has been built on the stable fact of the 
five-cent fare. If the real estate interests have their way 
the extra three cents paid by a passenger will go to 
bankers and bondholders for increased interest on city 
loans in order to relieve the present generation of tax 
payers. 



THE CONSUMER PAYS 281 

Putting it mathematically, the real estate interests would 
have us borrow money for the subways on fifty-year bonds 
which means that for each dollar we get we must pay 
$2.53 in interest and amortization. Mr. Delaney wishes 
to pay for the subways in four-year bonds so that for each 
dollar we spend we must pay $1.111 in interest and amor 
tization. The difference in interest is the difference be 
tween 11 per cent and 153 per cent. Mr. Delaney's scheme 
is cheaper in the long run while the business men's scheme 
will be $38,000,000 a year cheaper in the next few years. 
If the Delaney plan is abandoned in favor of fifty-year 
bonds the five-cent fare must be abandoned too because 
the State Legislature has decreed that the New York sub 
way system must be self-supporting and it could not be 
self-supporting if we paid $2.53 for each dollar of sub 
way construction. 

All of which reinforces what we said under the head of 
the land racket. If the city had levied special assess 
ments against adjacent land originally, the subways would 
never have been a financial nightmare, and the gentlemen 
who ride to work in limousines would not now be attack 
ing the five-cent fare as uneconomical. 



16 
THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 

OVER and over during this recital of the facts that are 
known about New York's government to say nothing of 
the facts that are suspected the reader must have been 
tempted to cry: Why has New York loved Tammany so 
long and so well? Why did a whole city take to its heart 
a playboy mayor so completely that he won an overwhelm 
ing victory at the polls in 1929 in spite of the vigorous 
and well-grounded attacks of his Republican and Socialist 
opponents? 

Whatever our final answer to these questions, neither 
authors nor readers have any right to formulate it until we 
have specifically considered some aspects of New York 
City's life to which we have referred thus far only in 
passing. 

New York City, physically, is a monument to the might 
of a machine age and to the crimes of capitalism. Artists 
and architects may quarrel over the New York sky line, 
city planners may well deplore the folly of concentrating 
so great a population on the tip end of a narrow island, 
but to the average layman that sky line is an outward and 
visible sign of the power and glory of human achievement. 
Neither height nor depth has deterred Man the Builder. 
He has bored under great rivers on which can float the 

282 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 283 

commerce of the world; he has spanned them with bridges. 
The traveler by rail enters the city through splendid tem 
ples such as the ancients built for the worship of the gods. 
And yet if he arrives at the Pennsylvania station by night, 
he has to pick his way out of some of its underground 
exits past sleeping men who have nowhere to lay their 
heads except upon concrete steps. These men are workers, 
some of them perchance the very workers who have built 
the towers which lift the traveler's eye up to the night 
and its stars. This is what the richest city in the world 
has done to its most useful human beings. 

In the dreary, man-made deserts of most of residential 
New York men live not from love of noise and dirt and 
ugliness but from necessity. That necessity is not the work, 
primarily, of New York City's government or of Tam 
many Hall. It is born of the capitalist system which turns 
over land to the landlords and great industries to the profit 
takers. The sins of Tammany are dwarfed when com 
pared to the monumental injustice of that system with its 
palaces and slums. 

One despairs of giving halfway accurate figures on 
wealth and poverty in New York in the depression of 
1932. A conservative estimate of the number of unem 
ployed, based on figures of factory employment and the 
data of the Welfare Council, is one million. That is one- 
third of all those gainfully employed. The needle trades 
which are centered in New York are almost idle; build 
ing is at a virtual standstill. Even the luxury of great 
Babylon is less apparent than a few short years ago. But 



284 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Fifth and Park Avenues still flaunt an opulence that one 
would not think could exist less than half an hour away 
from the poverty of Harlem and the rookeries of Sullivan 
Street and Avenue C. 

We shall, however, go back to the last year of the 
golden epoch of vaunted prosperity 1929. In that year, 
according to the State Department of Labor, the average 
wage paid to men in city factories was $36.86 weekly. If 
men worked 52 weeks a year that would mean an annual 
wage of $1,917. But New York work, especially in the 
needle trades, is highly seasonal. It is conservative to say 
that for such workers a forty-two-week year is a good aver 
age. That brings the annual average income to $1,547 for 
factory workers. Below them are day laborers and semi- 
casual workers. The estimate of the Housing Commission 
in 1926 was that one-third of the families in New York 
had incomes less than $1,500 annually. 

The lowest official estimate in 1926 for the cost of 
living was that made by the National Industrial Confer 
ence Board, the employers' organization. It was $1,752 
for a family of four supported by an industrial worker; 
$1,907 for a family of five. Compare these figures with 
the figures of income! Nor is this all. The Conference 
Board figure, checked by figures of social workers, and by 
the actual budget studies of the Heller Committee for 
Research and Social Economics in San Francisco, was far 
below a decent standard on rent, medical care, recreation 
and savings. A truer estimate of a standard which would 
allow for health, decency and a high school education for 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 285 

the children would, in 1929, have fixed a level of $2,700 
for a family of four $1,200 above the average income of 
factory workers. 

Since 1929 the average weekly wage has dropped ap 
proximately 17 per cent for those still working. Living 
costs have declined 17 Y 2 per cent. But it is notorious that 
the chief burden of relief has fallen on the poor; that it 
is the generosity of the poor to the poorer far more than 
any organized charity or public relief which has averted 
wholesale starvation. That unknown factor of sharing 
which has saved life has terribly reduced the standard of 
living. The gains of a decade in housing have been lost 
by the enforced doubling up of families. Such in dry sta 
tistical terms is the situation for workers in New York. 
It means that men grope in garbage cans for extra food; 
that babies swelter and die in the summer heat of the 
slum. 

It is hard to explain why New York labor has been so 
docile in the face of these conditions and why it has been 
so much less effective in party organization than European 
labor. In England the working class grew in political 
experience after 1832, while an aristocracy, which had 
seen the democratic handwriting on the wall, gave the 
government a leadership that was competent even though 
selfish. Few labor leaders were drawn out of their class 
because there were few prizes they could win in an upper 
class. In America the prizes have been more abundant and 
the desertions to the army of upper-class and lower-class 
racketeering more common. There has been no disinter- 



286 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

ested group to give us clean or efficient government, and 
no homogeneous base for our democracy. 

Our pioneer psychology and our scores of national 
groups have complicated the situation in New York. 
Millions of immigrants have taken New York only as a 
place to pass through. Others have seen their village 
habits and customs break up with such bewildering speed 
that the second generation has little in common with the 
first. Unfortunately the forces present in New York life 
have not made for labor solidarity. Peasant groups have 
come from many nations without labor background. By 
the end of the nineteenth century New York had become 
one of the largest Irish, Italian, German, and Greek cities 
in the world. The religions and the languages were bases 
of division. The tug of American bourgeois psychology 
(what Hoover would call "individualism") was against 
labor political solidarity. 

We record these facts merely to show the difficulties in 
building a politically-conscious labor movement in New 
York, not to blame the sins of Tammany upon our for 
eign population. Native-born Americans can play as dirty 
politics as any immigrant group that ever came to New 
York. Philadelphia, one of the most corrupt and ill-gov 
erned of American cities, has always had a comparatively 
low per cent of foreign born. 

For the owning class New York City is still not only the 
economic but the social capital, seat of the enormous con 
centration of wealth in Wall Street and of fashion on 
Fifth and Park Avenues. In 1929 New York with five 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 287 

per cent of the population had 26 per cent of the mil 
lionaires. In that same year an inquiry which one of the 
authors of this book undertook to get some idea of the 
upper range of rents the lower he knew elicited from 
a woman realtor the information that a "ducky apartment" 
could be had for $75,000. It is fair to say that $40,000 
pent houses and $20,000 apartments under the roof were 
more usual. To-day, while 200,000 New Yorkers are liv 
ing on a relief allowance of about five cents a meal, the 
restaurants and night clubs of the rich ask enough for a 
meal to maintain a starving family for a week. 

During the golden age of Calvin Coolidge the Park 
Avenue Association did some boasting which Stuart Chase 
put into an illuminating picture of how the upper half 
lives or perhaps we should say the upper fortieth. Along 
the avenue, it appeared, lived 3,000 to 4,000 millionaires 
whose money was in many cases earned for them by coffee- 
growers in Brazil, cattle men in Nevada, and miners in 
Africa. They spent perhaps $280,000,000 a year. The 
average family income was over $100,000 a year, enough 
to keep a worker's family alive on its average wage for 
66 years. One Park Avenue apartment boasted sixty mil 
lionaires under a single roof. 

How Thorstein Veblen would have relished these illus 
trations for a new chapter on Conspicuous Waste! Park 
Avenue found that it was extremely difficult to furnish an 
apartment at all adequately for less than $100,000. Stuart 
Chase tells of a single bathroom in jade and gold costing 
$35,000. 



288 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 



A TALE OF TWO DINNERS 



HOTEL PIERRE 

NEW YORK 

DINER 
Monday, Sept. 19, 1932 

HORS D'OEUVRE 
Imported Caviar $2.50 

POTAGES 
Green Turtle .70 

ROTIS (to order) 
Long Island Duckling 5.00 

LEGUMES 

New Peas .80 

Broccoli .80 

SALADES 

Calavo Alligator Pear (i/ 2 ) .65 

ENTREMETS 

Stewed Fresh Peaches 



.50 



Hotel Pierre Special Coffee 
with Cream 

Total 




New York City's Official Food 
Budget for a Family of Five 
for One Week. 

Milk 7 bottles "B" $ .77 
15 cans Evaporated 1.00 

Bread 13 loaves .91 

Oatmeal 1 box .08 

Cornmeal 2 Ibs. .10 

Macaroni 1 Ib. .08 

Brown Rice box .15 
Wheatsworth Cereal box .13 

Flour 31/2 lbs - - 10 

Potatoes 17 lbs. .25 

Cabbage small .10 

Onions 2 lbs. .12 

Turnips iy 2 lbs. .10 

Carrots 1 Ib. .05 

Dried Lima Beans 1 Ib. .10 

Green Split Peas i/ 2 Ib. .04 

Tomatoes 2 cans .17 

Kidney Beans 2 lbs. .16 

Prunes 1 Ib. .05 

Apples 3 lbs. .10 

Oranges 7 .14 

Stewing Lamb 2 lbs. .26 

Cheese 1/2 Ib. .11 

Eggs 1 doz. .25 

Salmon 1 can .12 

Butter 1 Ib. .29 

Lard 2 lbs. .16 

Salt Pork 1/ 2 Ib. .05 

Sugar 5 lbs. .23 

Coffee 1 Ib. .19 

Molasses 1 can .14 

Cocoa 1 box .10 

Salt 1 sack .05 

Matches 1 box .04 

Soap 3 bars .10 

Scouring Soap .06 

Total $6.85 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 289 

And how Park Avenue adorned itself in those golden 
days! Four thousand daughters of the rich spent annually 
$21,000 apiece on clothes. Enraptured with the music of 
the opera they invaded the boxes at the Metropolitan, 
exposing their expensive backs. Outside of the opera door 
hungry men stood watching. They still stand watching. 

The Park Avenue Social Review advertised a sable coat 
for $70,000 absolutely in the mode! The gracious leaders 
of the charity set appeared at Beaux Arts balls in golden- 
leaved dresses, all for the benefit of the poor. Mrs. So 
and So gave a benefit performance on her Long Island 
estate for vacations for the poor little children of the East 
Side. Mrs. Graham Fair Vanderbilt spent a fortune in one 
night and displayed to her delighted guests the entire cast 
of Earl Carroll's Vanities. It was estimated that a good 
coming-out party for a debutante of the social register 
cost at least $20,000. Mrs. Paul Dubonnet, social arbiter, 
gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times. 

"On a $10,000 a year clothes budget a woman can easily 
be nicely dressed if she buys no furs or jewels," Mrs. 
Dubonnet said. "It costs a tremendous amount of money 
to be among the best-dressed women in the world. Most 
of these women spend at least $60,000 a year. ... A 
decent sable wrap costs $50,000, and you simply can't get 
a mink coat that you would wear under $12,000." 

It is in this accepted contrast of wealth and poverty 
that the real crimes and tragedies of New York are rooted. 
What is most wrong with New York is capitalism near the 
end of its epoch, not Tammany Hall. Indeed Tammany 



290 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Hall can only be understood as one of the tools of capital 
ism in dealing with masses of workers who must be man 
aged because they have votes and who might use them to 
claim real power if they were aroused by a sound politi 
cal movement of their own. 

Previous chapters have described the nature of the polit 
ical machine, the sort of favors it renders and the basis of 
its appeal to masses to whom it offers some sense of pro 
tection and human power in the cruel jungle we call civi 
lization. The condition of this appeal to the masses is, of 
course, that they should not effectively take economic 
power into their own hands. If Tammany is to be what 
former Ambassador Gerard told the Harvard Club it was, 
a bulwark against municipal socialism, it must keep alive 
the illusion of friendship for the people and, at the sam< 
time, cultivate among the workers an acceptance of the 
inevitability of capitalism and its ethics. It must temper 
the poverty of the city masses with bread and circuses and 
opiates. 

Tammany does not so much rob the rich to give to the 
poor as rob both rich and poor. Yet from another angle 
it can hardly be said to rob the rich at all. It exacts only 
a moderate commission for keeping the masses quiet ai 
confirming landlords, bankers, public utility owners an< 
the whole House of Have in their favored position. That 
is why our repectable classes are so cautious and fearful 
in their attacks on Tammany. That is why we do not know 
of a single powerful millionaire in New York to-day who 
is fighting Tammany aggressively. 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 291 

Tammany's methods simply reflect the prevailing busi 
ness ethics. The rule of capitalist business is to capture 
as much unearned wealth as possible regardless of social 
welfare. In politics that may be called graft but in busi 
ness it is called the reward of sagacity. Wall Street has 
charged the people of New York far more than Tammany 
for its sagacity. Nothing that Judge Seabury has uncov 
ered matches in the way of arrogant corruption the South 
American loans, the oil scandals, or the amazing case of 
Kreuger and Toll. No tin boxes have produced such magic 
fortunes as the bonus Bethlehem Steel gave to its presi 
dent, without knowledge of workers or stockholders. The 
flaunting luxury of New York comes not from political 
extortion but from the legalized extortion of a profit sys 
tem that gives huge rewards to absentee owners and suc 
cessful manipulators regardless of their service. The poli 
ticians are weak imitations of the business men. The 
estimable folk who want to keep high standards of public 
service in city government without touching the basic eco 
nomic wrongs of our time expect the unreasonable. An 
electorate genuinely aware of the evil of all unearned 
wealth would strike at Wall Street long before it reached 
Jimmy Walker. 

So general is the poison of the racketeering standard 
in our civilization that it is hard to say how much cynicism 
or consciousness of ill-doing is possessed by the individual 
politician, business man, lawyer or gangster. Mayor 
Walker, Sheriff Farley, Magistrate Silbermann, Al Capone, 
and Harry Sinclair, when some measure of justice over- 



292 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

took them, were probably sincere in thinking themselves 
abused. Doubtless they felt that they had done what 
everybody else would do in like circumstances. It is on 
the whole a cause for some hope that there is as much 
of a standard as there is of "public office as public trust." 
That standard has been sorely battered by the impact upon 
urban democracy of those who want for themselves things 
that belong to society. Many a landlord seeking tax reduc 
tion and many a public utility magnate seeking a franchise 
has bribed the government whose venality he outwardly 
deplores. Then he has told the world that corruption 
would make socialism unworkable! 

It is clear enough, on this view, that the remedy for 
New York's ills in government as for the deeper ills of 
mankind in these years of crisis is a change in system. 
Social revolution is the ultimate social reform, not neces 
sarily a revolution of violence but a thorough reconstruc 
tion of the control of our lives. City government under 
capitalism can be improved but it cannot be wholly re 
leased from that exploiting class which uses it as a tool. 
Of course no city under our scheme of things can change 
a social order by itself. We need an international move 
ment for that. 

What municipal socialism can do in New York we shall 
suggest more fully in our final chapter. Here we would 
point out the impotence of the conventional good govern 
ment movement to capture the imagination of the elector 
ate or reach its deep-seated ills. We need a greater vision 
and a practicable plan to make exploited workers see that 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 293 

they can win for themselves infinitely more than any 
friendly district leader can give them. 

We shall be better able to consider the task and possi 
bilities of municipal socialism in this city of riches and 
poverty if we examine briefly two aspects of Tammany's 
relation to the working masses which conclusively show 
how it uses its power to divert their attention from funda 
mental issues. 

First, let us discuss Tammany and organized labor. 
New York city workers are better organized than in most 
American cities. The building and printing and needle 
trades are, or were up to the depression, sufficiently organ 
ized to exert a high degree of power over hours, wages 
and working conditions. The story of the rise of the 
needle trade workers by organization out of their most 
wretched sweat-shop condition is one of the most heroic 
chapters in American history. Also that story is an illus 
tration of the limitations of labor unionism in so capital 
istic an environment as ours where the contagion of the 
racketeering spirit spreads to all sections of society. 

Our concern, however, is with the relation of Tammany 
and its city government to the workers, organized and 
unorganized. In a word, these relations are eminently 
"practical." Tammany in cosmopolitan New York in 
order to survive has had to acquire a capacity for racial 
and national tolerance and inclusiveness. It has always 
had to be at the farthest pole from snobbishness or the 
high-hat manner. Its voting strength is among the masses. 
Hence Tammany and Tammany's government have been a 



294 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

little quicker than some other political machines to yield 
well before the breaking point on certain measures of 
social amelioration. Tammany has seen the wisdom of 
having a "liberal" labor policy which has become more 
liberal in proportion to Socialist pressure. 

In public work Tammany's government has been less 
tight-minded and sadistic than the government in some 
coal, steel and textile regions. It has been wise enough 
not to get an anti-labor reputation, but always hard-boiled 
in suppressing "the radicals." The strutting Grover 
Whalen was not led to resign as police commissioner be 
cause of his stupid and brutal handling of strikes and 
Communist demonstrations, but because he crowded 
Jimmy Walker from the spotlight. His successor, Com 
missioner Mulrooney, has done a better job because he is 
a "practical cop," not because of any theories on civil 
liberties or the rights of labor. Every great strike in New 
York sees plenty of jailing of peaceful pickets. Workers, 
accordingly, do not trust for protection to the justice of 
their cause but to the influence they can get by "practical" 
means. Tammany is always ready for business, ready to 
grant justice from the police for political support. The 
justice is needed by radicals and conservatives alike and 
there are many ways of paying for it. Arnold Rothstein, 
according to indications, was probably a "fixer" with 
police and magistrates in the Communist-led fur and 
cloak makers' strikes of several years ago. 

Tammany's great tie, however, is not with the workers 
as workers but with a certain type of labor leader. So 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 295 

far has this tie-up gone that we have heard a prominent 
labor man declare privately in a burst of candor that "the 
Central Trades and Labor Council (dominated by these 
labor leaders) was Tammany first and labor afterwards." 
This council scarcely makes a pretense of nonpartisanship 
in its endorsements. A Tammany candidate would have 
to be caught red-handed in blacklisting labor not to be 
endorsed. Joseph P. Ryan, president of the Central Trades 
and Labor Council, has been Mayor Walker's stanchest 
defender. He was one of the only two citizens who ap 
proved the salary grab which raised the pay of members 
of the Board of Estimate after the depression began. He 
publicly advised the mayor to ignore the socialist recom 
mendations for unemployment relief in 1930. For this it 
is said that Mr. Ryan has had his reward in certain valu 
able extra-legal privileges. Some of his predecessors and 
associates have got jobs. Ex-Sheriff Farley got his start 
as business agent of the Cement and Concrete Workers 
Union. J. P. Holland was called from the presidency of 
the State Federation to a well-paid post on the malodorous 
Board of Standards and Appeals. Leadership in the typo 
graphical union helped John H. Delaney's rise to the 
chairmanship of the Board of Transportation where his 
real ability and industry are subordinated to orders from 
the Hall. Other leaders get less conspicuous favors. 

What the workers got and get is something very differ 
ent. In 1926 Mayor Walker used both force and mislead 
ing promises to help break the exceedingly well justified 
strike of the subway workers on the Interborough. Then 



296 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

he approved a bill, or rather agreed to forego claims 
against the company on behalf of the city, which included 
$1,600,000 spent for strike breaking and anti-union 
activities. 

All through his administration, as through Hylan's, the 
city avoided paying the prevailing rate of wages required 
by law to carpenters, painters and others on jobs done 
for the city under contract. It continued the vicious 
padrone system of hiring help in public schools and the 
exploitation of firemen in city schools who work 10 and 
12 hours a day. It lifted not one finger to help the 25,000 
subway and bus employees who work seven days a week 
on jobs over which the city has at least some indirect con 
trol. No provision against such work on the new 8th 
Avenue subway or on the bus routes was made or even 
suggested by Tammany or by the labor leaders themselves 
until Socialists and the City Affairs Committee had made 
it an issue before the Board of Estimate. Meanwhile 
"fixers" waxed fat on labor cases in magistrates' courts. 

Tammany's record on unemployment is equally "prac 
tical." The richest city in the world has made a pitiful 
showing on unemployment relief. This we say without 
denying that in a national emergency like ours the federal 
government with its power of credit and currency and its 
power to tax incomes and inheritances over the entire 
country has a responsibility for providing means for un 
employment relief greater than the city's. The city is 
handicapped by limitations on its power to tax. But this 
should not free the city government of responsibility, espe- 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 297 

dally in a crisis. The whole policy of the Walker admin 
istration toward unemployment relief was that of casual 
and reluctant generosity under pressure. The poor were 
supposed to cry loudly and long, and then perhaps City 
Hall would listen. 

The first coherent and practicable program for unem 
ployment relief for the city was presented by Louis Wald- 
man and Norman Thomas in behalf of the Socialist Party 
and a number of labor unions in March, 1930. It was 
thrown out by the mayor on the plea that under state law 
the city could spend no money for "outdoor relief" except 
for the veterans and the blind. Repeatedly Socialists called 
attention to the fact that the city did have such power 
under Section 404 of the laws of 1919. Morris Hillquit 
supported this position in a notable argument before the 
Board of Estimate. It was finally upheld by the Attorney 
General of the State. But Mayor Walker on the basis of 
an opinion of his corporation counsel an opinion that no 
one has ever been able to find in written form held that 
no such power existed and finally acted on the basis of 
special legislation procured from the Legislature. All that 
the city did for the first year and a half of the great depres 
sion was to collect a fund from its employees under pres 
sure and belatedly open a few municipal employment 
bureaus long after they had been demanded by socialists 
and civic reformers. 

Actual direct appropriations for work relief from the 
city did not begin until April, 1931, and for home relief 
until January, 1932, the third winter of the depression. 



298 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

From then on even the conservative Welfare Council 
fought earnestly for more adequate appropriations be 
cause the situation was getting out of hand. Private char 
ity was wholly inadequate to meet the need. In the fall of 
1931, 125,000 families in America's capital of wealth 
were in need and could get no relief from city or private 
charity. The mayor's heart bled for the unemployed but 
they continued to starve. Why there were no more riots 
we do not understand. A mayor getting $40,000 a year 
was allowed to use the poverty of the taxpayers as an 
obstacle to adequate relief. All taxpayers, it appeared, 
were small home owners! The enormous unearned incre 
ment of landlords in good years was wholly forgotten. 

To make a long and painful story short, under pressure 
of bitter events, Communist demonstrations, detailed and 
practicable socialist demands and pleading from the Wel 
fare Council and other groups, the city did increase its 
gifts. Somehow the unemployed pulled through, although 
the hospitals were overtaxed with those whom worry and 
undernourishment had laid low. But the lesson of the 
winter of 1932 did not penetrate Tammany skulls. In the 
worst months of the whole depression up to that time, the 
spring of 1932, the city home relief stations stopped regis 
tering the names of hungry people who came to apply for 
aid. At that time new families in distress had been regis 
tering at the rate of 5,000 a week, the private agencies 
had stopped taking new cases, and the city had cut its 
allowance for work relief from $15 to $10 a week. 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 299 

How does a family live in New York on $10 a week? If 
that question seems difficult it might be well to relieve 
the brain by asking: How does a family live in New York 
on nothing at all? For many thousand families in New 
York this last year the only answer has been begging and 
slow starvation. The city's great bankers and Controller 
Berry put a damper on city aid by their warnings about 
increasing the budget. The precaution was quite unnec 
essary since the city could have borrowed millions on good 
terms if the fervor of Liberty loan campaigns had been 
reproduced. The plain truth was that New York's upper 
class never was half so much concerned about starving 
babies in city tenements in 1932 as it was about starving 
babies in Belgium in 1917. The notorious Block-Aid plan 
created a tremendous ballyhoo and a pretense that the 
situation could be met by private charity. The Social 
ist Committee on Unemployment authorized Norman 
Thomas to support the plan in a radio address largely 
because it believed that some money for the starving was 
better than no money, but the drive was almost futile, 
raising only $1,300,000 after a campaign that obscured 
the real picture of inadequate aid. 

Now, as we approach the fourth winter of depression 
the situation is more desperate than ever. Henry J. Ros- 
ner of the City Affairs Committee sums up the crisis by 
saying that we must have $6,000,000 a month for unem 
ployment relief while the city is appropriating only 
$3,000,000. The 50,000 families receiving home relief 



300 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

from the city are trying to live on $1 a day, and the 
33,000 families who have work relief must live on $1.50 
a day. Outside of the pale there are at least 50,000 fami 
lies in desperate need who are getting no relief at all. 

As Mr. Rosner points out, this situation could be met 
by a perfectly simple and direct plan. The city could pro 
vide the necessary $6,000,000 a month for unemployment 
relief by selling five-year unemployment bonds to its own 
sinking fund at a low interest rate, and the cost to the 
taxpayer would not be more than 2 per cent of the city 
budget in 1933, and 4 per cent in 1934. New York has 
the money; it is simply a question whether the unem 
ployed will get it by riots or legislation. 

Meanwhile, the record of the last three years has dem 
onstrated how hollow is the claim of Tammany that it is 
a friend of the poor as a class. It owes its "popularity" 
among the poor to the fact that it rewards certain chosen 
leaders of labor who betray their class for personal gain. 
It distributes food baskets and work tickets from district 
headquarters in return for votes. It is practical, always 
practical, never disturbing the balance of power between 
rich and poor, and so winning support or tacit acceptance 
from the rich because it teaches the poor to stay in their 
place. It can always beat the "good government" groups 
in appealing to the poor because those groups have no 
economic vision of the way government can be used to 
give security to workers. In fact for the workers the 
average "good government" movement with its anxious 
taxpayers pleading for economy offers no relief from star- 



THE CITY OF RICHES AND POVERTY 301 

vation. These business-men reformers do not impress the 
workers as being really interested in their fate. Why 
change from Tammany with its occasional food baskets to 
budget commissions of realtors? Why indeed bother 
about civic reform when the question is: When do I eat? 



17 

THE CITY MANAGER AND PROPORTIONAL 
REPRESENTATION 

ASK the average good citizen who concerns himself 
with municipal affairs what he thinks is the most con 
structive thing to do in the war against Tammany and 
nine times out of ten he will tell you: "Install the city 
manager plan." Ask him just what the city manager plan 
is and what it may mean for New York and the chances 
are that his reply will be a bit vague, but probably he will 
tell you, correctly enough, that the city manager plan 
means that under it the voters elect a council which in 
turn chooses an efficient executive as administrative boss 
of the city government, leaving questions of policy for the 
council to determine. The mayor, if there is a mayor, is 
only chief among equals on the council, a presiding officer 
who usually takes over the ceremonial side of the work 
of a chief magistrate the luncheons, corner stone layings, 
reception of more or less distinguished visitors and similar 
activities which absorbed so many of the Hon. Jimmy 
Walker's working hours and which he so adorned. Mean 
while the city manager, a trained official, can attend to 
business, relatively immune from politics and politicians. 

Theoretically there is much to be said for the plan. It 

302 



THE CITY MANAGER 303 

makes the business of being a city executive something of 
a career to which earnest and ambitious youth may look 
forward without the uncertainty and dread which attend 
the vicissitudes of modern politics. The city's chief execu 
tive officer can attend to business without the distractions 
of campaigning. Presumably he will have been chosen 
for an executive capacity which does not always charac 
terize the man who can win the support of the dominant 
city organization and the approval of a majority of his 
fellow citizens. Deeds will count more than honeyed 
words and performance more than wise cracks. This effi 
ciency, those who still care for democracy may argue, is 
not purchased at the price of democracy. The council, 
the policy forming body, is democratically elected. In 
deed, it may be claimed the city manager plan is a happy 
solution of the necessary marriage of trained ability in 
administration to popular choice of the policies under 
which we are to be governed, without which political 
democracy is doomed. Nevertheless emotionally a good 
deal of the enthusiasm for the city manager plan in New 
York springs less from the desire to make democracy effec 
tive than from the desire to obtain that efficient dictator 
for whom so many sons and daughters of the American 
Revolution now yearn. 

Practically, the city manager plan has to its credit rea 
sonable success in small and medium-sized American cities 
some 400 of which now enjoy its benefit, conspicuous 
success in the large city of Cincinnati, no success in Kan 
sas City, and not enough success in Cleveland, the largest 



304 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

city in which it has been tried, to hold popular favor. On 
the basis of all this is the city manager plan the way out 
for New York, or even an important part of the way out? 
If so, under what conditions is it likely to be effective? 

There is a danger that Tammany's almost certain oppo 
sition to any city manager plan will persuade some earnest 
souls that what Tammany hates or fears they must love. 
It by no means follows that, because Tammany would 
prefer to let well enough alone and would regard the 
change to a city manager plan as the kind of reform 
which would damage its prestige, therefore the adoption 
of the city manager plan would be the beginning of the 
end of Tammany. Very much to the contrary, any form 
of the city manager plan under which the council was not 
elected by proportional representation would in the long 
run be more easily manipulated by Tammany and its allied 
organizations than the present mayor and board of esti 
mate form of government. The easiest thing Tammany 
now does is to keep the Board of Aldermen in the boss' 
or bosses' vest pocket. Generally the citizens pay no atten 
tion to the qualities and records of minor candidates for 
office. New York has a voting population of three million 
of whom about one-third stay away from every election 
and about one-half from minor elections. 

To a lover of New York nothing is more discouraging 
than an off-year municipal election when no mayor or 
other important city- wide official is to be chosen. In 1931, 
for instance, not even the Seabury inquiry could shake off 
the apathy of an off-year election, to which newspapers 



THE CITY MANAGER 305 

and public gave only perfunctory and routine attention. 
That was the year when in three of the five counties 
Supreme Court justiceships were coolly bartered between 
the Democratic politicians and their Republican boy 
friends without effective protest. Tammany was far less 
put to it that year and educational discussion of the city's 
needs was far less heeded than in the mayoralty cam 
paign of 1929 before there was a Seabury inquiry. If in 
1931 a mayor had been elected, no doubt Tammany would 
have won, but not by so wide a margin. Unquestionably 
a vigorous candidate for mayor, even if defeated, would 
have carried a few of his supporters into minor offices. 
As it was, Tammany elected every alderman but one and 
made a clean sweep of almost all other offices. 

The plain truth is that for better or worse the American 
electorate as a whole is psychologically attuned to the 
presidential, not the parliamentary form of government. 
It personalizes issues. One man may arouse it; a dozen 
or a score in different districts cannot. If the triumph of 
the council and city manager plan in so many cities seems 
to disprove or weaken this generalization it does not fol 
low that there would be similar success in New York 
City. The immense size of the city, its local divisions, its 
well-developed regionalism, its lack of homogenity, make 
it peculiarly necessary that its form of government and 
manner of election campaign should make it easy to con 
centrate the attention of the electorate on a responsible 
official. This would be far harder to do in New York in 
the election of a council than of the mayor and board of 



306 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

estimate. With election of the council by proportional 
representation the advantages of the plan might make it 
worth trying. Of this more later. But the election of a 
council by plurality votes, whether by districts as the alder 
men are elected now, or by city-wide vote, would make it 
easier, not harder, for the political machines, once the 
first ardor of reform had passed, to perpetuate their 
power. Responsibility in the eyes of the average voter 
would be diffused rather than concentrated. 

Nor is the case for the city manager plan any city 
manager plan strengthened when one examines what it 
has accomplished or the particular weaknesses of the pres 
ent situation in New York. 

Here are two cities in the same state: Cincinnati and 
Cleveland. Both had city manager plans. In Cincinnati 
the plan has thus far been very successful; in Cleveland 
its most loyal friends could claim for it only a modest 
degree of success and in 1931 the city reverted to the 
mayor and council form of government. Cincinnati is 
politically speaking far less progressive than Cleveland in 
national politics, and Cincinnati unlike Cleveland never 
had a Tom Johnson interlude of intelligent and mod 
erately successful municipal radicalism! On the contrary, 
it was one of the worst boss-ridden cities in the country. 
Perhaps the very shame of Cincinnati's plight prompted 
its municipal awakening! The chief difference, however, 
between Cincinnati and Cleveland was this: in Cincinnati 
the city manager plan was the achievement of the so-called 
charter group or party which did not disband after it had 



THE CITY MANAGER 307 

carried its new charter but continues to this day as an 
active, well-organized municipal party which has been 
fortunate in the quality of the men and women it has 
attracted and peculiarly wise and fortunate in the men its 
council has chosen as city manager particularly the pres 
ent incumbent, C. A. Dykstra. 

In Cleveland, on the other hand, the old party machines 
had no such organized opposition. They did business at 
the old stand. A city manager declared publicly that he 
could carry on only by apportioning patronage 60-40 
between the Republican and Democratic organizations. 
Nor were the two city managers in Cleveland's experience 
any outstanding proof that under this plan one gets abler 
executives than under popular elections. The home of 
Tom Johnson, yes, even of Newton D. Baker, has had 
mayors fully up to the standard of its city managers. Un 
der these circumstances the failure of the city to continue 
the city manager plan was, if not a triumph for good gov 
ernment, at least not a victory for the powers of darkness. 
It most certainly was a warning to city manager zealots 
that a plan without a party to carry it out is a vain 
thing. 

This conclusion is ten times strengthened by an exam 
ination of New York's needs. New York City does not 
suffer primarily because of the incompetence of its high 
executives. Take the mayors during the 20th century: 
McClellan, Gaynor, Mitchell, Hylan, Walker. With the 
exception of Hylan any one of them was able enough to 
fill the post quite as able as the average city manager. 



308 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Even Walker had the ability if he had cared to use it. All 
of them in varying degree were subject to political pres 
sure. If they were men of courage they could stand out 
against such pressure better with an independent mandate 
than could the manager for a Tammany council. 

Let us go a step farther: New York does not suffer pri 
marily from incompetence or even from structural faults 
in its governmental system. Of the latter there are plenty 
but they are minor faults. The charter should be simpli 
fied, superfluous officers should be eliminated, the counties 
should be consolidated and so should most of the admin 
istrative functions of the borough president's offices. These 
things should be done with or without a city manager 
plan. They are not done or have not heretofore been done 
precisely because the present arrangement gives the poli 
ticians more jobs. They get a good brokerage fee for dis 
charging their primary function as brokers between the 
masses with a vote and the classes with power and privi 
lege. It is from this source that most of our municipal 
evils spring. 

On the whole the structure of the Board of Estimate 
and the various departments is excellent. There is a good 
deal of routine competence in New York City's govern 
ment. With all its faults, its budget is more honest and 
more illuminating to its citizens than most great corpora 
tion reports to stockholders. And by great corporations 
we do not refer merely to Dahl and the B. M. T., the 
Bank of United States, or Insull's house-of -cards holding 
companies! 



THE CITY MANAGER 302 

Where New York goes wrong is in the underlying ar 
rangements: to whom does the government belong, what 
ends does it serve, what is its policy? Its scandals arise 
out of the attempt to carry over the profit ethics of busi 
ness into government. Behind every significant abuse un 
covered by Judge Seabury, and some not uncovered, is the 
demand of some organized special privilege for power and 
profit. Sometimes that special privilege is illegal, an un 
derworld racket, but the most costly rackets are in them 
selves legalized. Landlords want low taxes and great con 
demnation awards, privately owned public utilities want 
franchises that are gold mines, and so it goes. New York 
could have efficient administration in the ordinary narrow 
sense of the term without disturbing any of the real 
sources of exploitation of the toiling producers and 
consumers. 

Since the great problem is to capture the government 
for the service of these workers with hand and brain the 
vital question becomes one of policy. Our aim should be 
to use government as an instrument of economic service 
and the redistribution of wealth. We should visualize the 
city hall as the center of municipal socialized ownership 
of those public utilities that now make some rich at the 
expense of workers and consumers. That means a direct 
conflict with the real estate and other property interests 
who conceive of government as a nuisance, a burden, or 
an ally in exploitation. 

No city manager worth his salt could do a significant 
piece of work in New York without challenging the pri- 



310 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

vate utility and real estate interests. If he tried to carry 
out efficiently and honestly a policy concerning wages and 
hours o city workers, the right to organize, methods of 
unemployment relief and taxation, he would find himself 
blocked completely by both old parties. And if he de 
sired to be what every great executive must be, a shaper 
of policy, he would probably go farthest with a direct 
mandate from the electorate. 

At a conference on political problems an outstanding 
American historian remarked that in the small city where 
he lived there was a fairly satisfactory city manager plan 
in operation but that when all was said and done its chief 
use was that the real estate and public utility interests got 
almost what they wanted more cheaply than when they 
had to pay illegal graft! New York City can hardly be 
roused to so inglorious an achievement as that! 

The real thing that some cities have which New York 
needs is not the city manager plan but proportional repre 
sentation. It might be worth trying the city manager plan 
if by some psychological quirk or practical turn of politics 
it was tied up to proportional representation. 

Our present single-member district plan of electing 
aldermen has the practical effect of disfranchising all 
minorities. If the Democrats by using the office-holders 
in each district as a machine can win a plurality of ten 
votes in every district in the city, the Board of Aldermen 
is 100 per cent Democratic. In the election of 1931 the 
Democrats polled 65 per cent of the votes and elected 
98.5 per cent of the aldermen 64 out of 65. Under 



THE CITY MANAGER 311 

proportional representation this is what would have hap 
pened: 

Aldermen 

elected 

Party Votes Cast under P. R. 

Democratic 851,216 (65%+) 42 

Republican 339,020 (25.9%+) 17 

Socialist 110,254 (8.4% + ) 6 

Others 8,773 (.7%) 

1,309,263 

As a matter of fact under proportional representation 
the Socialists and Republicans might well have had a 
majority because hundreds of thousands who stayed away 
from the polls would have voted if they had had any hope 
of electing a candidate. Less than half the eligible voters 
went to the polls in that election. 

When we speak of proportional representation we refer 
to the Hare system of the single transferable vote. Under 
this system a voter who is voting for five members of a 
city council, for example, puts the figure 1 in front of 
his first choice, the figure 2 in front of his second choice, 
and so on. If there were 100,000 votes cast and 5 were 
to be elected, the * 'quota" for electing any one man would 
be 20,000. The voters would vote by boroughs instead 
of small districts, so if the minority parties could con 
centrate on one man enough to get 20,000 votes for him 
in the whole borough, he would be elected. 

This end is accomplished under proportional represen 
tation by the system of transferring votes. When a voter 
votes for one candidate as his first choice and that candi 
date is elected without counting his vote, or hopelessly 



312 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

defeated, then the voter's second choice is counted. Under 
proportional representation no primaries are held and no 
party labels are put on the ballot. Candidates are nomi 
nated by a petition signed by a certain number of voters. 
The effect of the voting according to choices is to give 
each party or group representation on the council in pro 
portion to its vote. 

This system of proportional representation is simple for 
the voter but difficult and complex for purposes of count 
ing. The result of an election in New York would not be 
known for several days after the vote. Hence the machine 
politicians attempt to misrepresent the idea as unwork 
able, whereas it has been successful in thousands of elec 
tions throughout the world and it offers no great difficul 
ties to a set of independent experts who could be hired to 
supervise the count. 

Under proportional representation minority parties could 
nominate their strongest men and put forward their 
strongest programs. There would be genuine, wholesome 
and constructive opposition in governmental bodies. More 
over there could be a certain sort of cooperation against 
Tammany which would not require the impossible and 
wholly undesirable attempt to bring Socialists and other 
radicals together with nondescript reformers who do not 
accept the Socialist platform. 

On no other terms is effective action against Tammany 
possible. Every politician and political writer knows it, 
but proportional representation cannot be realized for 
New York without legislation at Albany giving the city 



THE CITY MANAGER 313 

the chance to revise its charter and install this system. For 
that right all good citizens must fight if they wish to throw 
off the Tammany yoke. 

One thing more besides proportional representation, 
Cincinnati also possesses which New York needs. That 
is a permanent party interested in good government. But 
New York needs and we suspect that Cincinnati will 
soon find that she needs a party not confined to the mu 
nicipality or to avowedly municipal affairs. As we have 
repeatedly pointed out, no program for using city gov 
ernment as the real servant of the people can get far with 
out going to the state legislature. Even if the nature of 
American constitutional systems did not make this true, 
it would be true that there is no logic or compelling power 
in a good government appeal to the masses which does not 
require community control over the private corporations 
which now exploit them. That means in the long run 
municipal socialism. 



18 
THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 

IN the first chapter of this book we asked the question: 
Are investigations worth while? We answered the ques 
tion affirmatively with the tremendous qualification that 
in our present society no mere investigation of inefficiency 
or corruption could go to the deep roots of misery in that 
amazing jumble of splendor and squalor, luxury and pov 
erty, which is New York. The city of the future requires 
more than house cleaning; it requires a new house. 

Now, what of that future? How shall the house be 
built? 

Properly to answer the question, or even to try to answer 
it, would require another and different book than this. 
We should have to consider the work of the city planners, 
the monumental report on regional planning of the com 
mittee which the Russell Sage Foundation set up, Lewis 
Mumford's criticisms of it, Frank Lloyd Wright's drastic 
prophecies of the end of cities, and a host of other 
material, German, French and English. Some things in 
harmony with the scope of this book we shall point out. 

The city of the future, if it makes use of the skill now 
available, can be a city of order, convenience, and beauty 
such as no amount of individual wealth can buy for its 

314 



THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 315 

possessors in our present jungle. Planning for such a city 
in physical terms is obviously a regional rather than an 
urban problem. In such planning for New York, we are 
handicapped by a governmental structure and a state divi 
sion which long antedated modern New York. A regional 
plan for New York, involving as it must the three states 
of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and 436 local 
government authorities, will be no easy matter to carry 
out. Evidently the whole problem of effective govern 
ment for such areas will have to be reconsidered with an 
eye to the changes wrought by the machine age. If we 
were commissioned by a Socialist government of the 
United States to establish governmental efficiency in the 
New York region we would erase the state lines that now 
surround New York City altogether and create a new 
unit with half of the overlapping machinery of govern 
ment abolished. 

Until such obvious common sense overcomes present 
inertia such an instrument as the Port Authority of New 
York is the best example of regional administrative ma 
chinery that may create cooperation between states. We 
may soon come to an official planning commission set up 
by agreement between New York, New Jersey and Con 
necticut and guiding by expert advice the physical develop 
ment of the New York area. Certainly we cannot satis 
factorily trust to chance or to purely selfish interests the 
solution of the problems of parks, breathing spaces, food 
and water. The water supply for New York City has al 
ready been a matter of controversy not only between the 



316 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

counties and towns in New York State but also with Penn 
sylvania. 

More difficult even than the physical problems of the 
city of the future are the economic problems involved. 
On the whole the Russell Sage Foundation planners 
evaded the landlord issue. They simply accepted the exist 
ing economic order, landlordism and all. How you can 
accept it and get a city worthy of the love and pride of 
free citizens we cannot see. There are things that can be 
done, for instance, about the essential process of land con 
demnation which we have pointed out, but how can we or 
our children afford to build even such a modest improve 
ment on New York as the Sage Foundation planners de 
sire, if the right of absentee owners to rental values on 
land goes virtually unchallenged? Those rental values 
were created by society and must be reclaimed by society. 
And how can any city by itself be anything but an ameli- 
oriative agency in relieving a poverty that is rooted in an 
international order of society? 

Our communist friends would answer that question by 
saying that almost all attempts to build a new city are 
fruitless except through a social revolution. We share the 
communist's scepticism concerning the adequacy of ordi 
nary civic reform, but does it follow therefore that there 
is no use in doing anything until we can do everything? 
Is no minor change for the better in the quality and extent 
of New York City's service to its people worth the effort? 
We think that it is. Properly to arouse New York requires 
the inspiration of a great challenge and a great ideal, but 



THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 317 

that ideal cannot be put on ice or otherwise conserved for 
one great revolutionary moment. A community utterly 
incapable of moral indignation against the sort of thing 
that has been set forth in this book will not suddenly dis 
close a capacity for effective action in some great moment 
of crisis. Fathers and mothers taught to endure with 
cynical complacency the kind of housing, the police meth 
ods, and the gangs of New York which combine to invite 
their children into a life of crime are very poor builders 
of some future cooperative commonwealth. 

Of course preparation of even the most tentative pro 
gram for a future New York brings home to the authors, 
as it must to the readers, the limitations inherent in a 
decrepit and dying economic order. It is hopeless to build 
the city of the future as we would want it within the con 
fines of the lunatic world that a dying capitalism gives us. 
The city and the social order must be changed together. 
The program for the city must be part of a larger program 
of social change. And experience has shown that this 
municipal socialism is vital in itself and in addition is an 
excellent education for the larger international task. In 
Europe and in such American cities as Milwaukee and 
Reading the workers have found an admirable field for 
experience and experiment, not to mention their very 
solid accomplishments in civic reconstruction. With all 
the limitations on our cities, city government, and espe 
cially New York's city government touches daily life, as 
we have seen, more intimately than any other govern 
mental agency. There is no loss or diversion of energy, 



318 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

then, in formulating a plan and fighting for municipal 
socialism as part of the general campaign for a new social 
order. 

What is more important just now for the city of the 
future than static plans or blue prints of its streets is 
dynamic power directed on right lines to achieve it. We 
need first of all the awakening of a vivid consciousness 
among the apathetic masses that there can be a city which 
would do more collectively for all the great company of 
workers of hand and brain than any "boss" can do for 
them individually. Next, we need a general policy and a 
program for immediate advance. Finally we need definite 
organization of a party to carry it out. 

A policy for the New York of the future might be 
stated thus: (l) organize the city governmental machine 
so far as possible without waste, favoritism, or inefficiency; 
(2) let the people through their government own and 
operate the great natural economic monopolies without 
private profit or special privilege; (3) let the workers of 
hand and brain share in the control of those monopolies. 

In practice such a policy means first the complete reor 
ganization of New York City's government to eliminate 
every chair-warmer and political favorite, every superflu 
ous bureau and parasitic nephew. Then it means the im 
mense expansion of the government to include the owner 
ship and control of the industries of electric power, gas, 
subways, telephone, buses, and at least some housing. No 
man could prophesy the exact limits or the exact sequence 
of such a program. It would depend largely on the devel- 



THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 319 

opment of a national socialist movement. It would de 
velop step by step as the collective activities of the city 
have already developed schools, fire departments, 
museums, traffic police, ferries, road building, hospitals. 
For many of these changes we have already sketched a 
program in the preceding chapters. Let us recapitulate a 
little, fill in some gaps, and comment as we go along. 

1. Structural and administrative changes. County lines 
should be abolished within the city, some county offices 
eliminated and others consolidated. There should be one 
district attorney's office with the necessary bureaus and 
district branches rather than five. Now criminals can 
dodge around the five counties. This device was one of 
several to which men involved in the milk scandals some 
years ago resorted in order to escape full justice. 

The administrative work of the borough presidents' 
offices, notably the building and highway bureaus, should 
also be consolidated into city departments. This would 
not automatically cure the inefficiency and graft rampant 
in them, but it would permit centralized planning and 
make more difficult the pressure of local politics. 

There should be a scientific study of the entire city 
administration looking to the elimination of purely politi 
cal jobs and a dollar's worth of work for a dollar's pay. 
On the face of it in such departments as Health and Hos 
pitals the work of experts is starved while political 
deputies of no technical or administrative competence 
draw big salaries. 

The city manager plan and our doubts concerning it we 



320 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

have already discussed. Emphatically there should be pro 
portional representation. To accomplish this and the other 
structural changes necessary the citizens of New York of 
all political faiths must unite to get new power from the 
legislature to rewrite their own charter. The revision of 
the home rule act is the necessary first step. 

2. Election machinery. New Yorkers are entitled to 
more information on the conduct of their government. 
During election campaigns, the city radio station should 
be open impartially at stated times for a constructive state 
ment of the platforms and purposes of the different 
parties. 

The present general dishonesty of elections requires 
machinery that will automatically print the totals on the 
voting machines or photograph the backs of them for offi 
cial records. It might also help the situation to stiffen the 
law on assistance to voters, and possibly to impose civil 
service tests on election officials. Only a strongly organ 
ized party, not controlled by Tammany, as the Republican 
machine is controlled, can use the necessary pressure to 
end election frauds. 

3. Police and courts. Here again what is wrong lies too 
deep for change by law or administrative fiat. We do not 
believe that power over the police should be taken from 
the mayor as some have suggested. The police commis 
sioner, however, might well be regarded as a permanent 
administrative official, to be removed only by the mayor 
for cause, which cause should include a failure to carry 
out the program as to police methods adopted by the re- 



THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 321 

sponsible city executive. The third degree might be 
checked to some extent by providing for immediate ex 
amination of the prisoner before a designated investigat 
ing magistrate, as we have already suggested, and a sys 
tem of Public Defenders should be established immedi 
ately for all poor defendants. 

As to the courts, we know of no panacea either by elec 
tion or appointment of judges. Approval of magistrates 
or municipal court judicial nominations by bar associa 
tions means next to nothing as these associations are 
among the chief sinners in regard to the low standard of 
legal ethics and practise. Public ownership of the bail- 
bond business would help the poorer victims of shyster 
lawyers and the police. 

4. Social services. New York's penal institutions and 
her almshouse on the ironically misnamed Welfare Island 
in the East River are a disgrace. They should be removed 
to a region not so needed for a public park and not so 
available to the drug trade which seems according to 
reports of former inmates to flourish in the prisons under 
high political protection despite the vigilance of Commis 
sioner Patterson, one of the best of the Walker cabinet. 

The trouble with other departments like Health, Hos 
pitals and Sanitation, as we have indicated, is not that we 
do not have in them some expert and loyal servants, but 
that they and their service are starved while political 
office holders fatten. In these social services the require 
ment is efficient administration of one branch of what 
should be a great cooperative community. 



322 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Unemployment relief we have already discussed. The 
principal initiative in large scale relief, public works, and 
the five day week belongs to the federal and state gov 
ernment. The city under present conditions should in 
crease its appropriation, keep politics out of the relief 
picture, and push public works, including a housing pro 
gram. 

5. Public utilities. Subway lines should be unified under 
public operation. The general plan should include the 
correlation of city owned and operated bus lines. Opera 
tion should be under boards which give the users of the 
service the majority control, but with representation also 
for different categories of workers. 

In connection with providing power for subways the 
city should also provide itself and its citizens with elec 
tricity at cost to break the strangle hold of the electric 
and gas monopoly with its outrageous charges, and when 
experience in public operation had been gained the city 
could buy out the electric and gas monopolies at a price 
that included no watered values and pay for them with 
municipal bonds yielding a low interest. 

Milk should be declared a public utility and its distribu 
tion should be taken over by a stated municipal corpora 
tion working in conjunction with bona fide farmers' co 
operatives. Only so can the outrageous spread between 
farmers and transportation companies and the ultimate 
consumer be prevented. Few things cost the public more 
than the control of the milk situation by two great hold 
ing companies whose competition rarely reduces prices to 



THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 323 

consumers or raises them for farmers, but simply adds to 
the evils of private monopoly the costs of competing 
agents and milk wagons. 

6. Housing and taxation. Public housing, as we have 
already argued, is the only answer to slums, tenements and 
their evil consequences. The best plan in the present 
emergency would be to set up a public housing depart 
ment which could borrow from the federal government 
for large-scale housing operations at the same rate that 
the government borrows. Limited dividend companies 
which pay six per cent on invested capital invested capi 
tal under the housing law must be one-third of the total; 
the other two-thirds can be raised by mortgage cannot 
and will not provide homes for the workers who need 
them most. Housing, moreover, must be related to parks, 
playgrounds, transportation, and above all taxation pol 
icies of the city. 

The city's principal tax dependence could be a tax to 
expropriate the rental value of land not the improve 
ments on the land. Thus the city in behalf of society 
would become the landlord. Taxation should be shifted 
to this basis within a decade. The state may also make 
allowances to the city from income and inheritance taxes 
for specific purposes during a transitional period. 

7. Education. New York's public schools have a cum 
bersome, bureaucratic management which is shot through 
with all kinds of politics, not excluding ecclesiastical pol 
itics. Its highest executives are usually mediocrities, and 
Chamber of Commerce ideals predominate. In spite of 



324 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

some devoted teachers, the system grinds out robots and 
Babbitts. Again the spirit and ideals of the system are 
more important than structural and administrative changes 
in achieving the city of the future. The thing that is the 
matter with our schools is the blight of Tammany control 
and no perfection of educational machinery can overcome 
that blight. 

We can imagine some gentle reader who has just 
scanned this program looking up in surprise and asking: 
"But how about graft? You have just written a book in 
which you have piled instance upon instance of ineffi 
ciency and corruption in New York's government, and 
now you propose to give to that corrupt government more 
and more power over our lives." Yes and no. We propose 
to give more power to city government but not to a Tam 
many government. What is much more important, we 
propose to take away from speculative business the pri 
vate profit which now causes corruption in city politics. 

Look back over this book and you will see what we 
have repeatedly emphasized, that the money which buys 
politicians comes from private profiteers who have bus 
franchises to buy, transit stock to manipulate, and well- 
located land to sell. If the city owned the franchises, the 
transit stock, and the land, the pool of profits that now 
buys the politician would be taken away. The socialist 
answer to graft is not to clap the grafter into jail, although 
a socialist government would punish grafters ruthlessly, 
but to remove the spoils from private exploitation. 



THE CITY OF THE FUTURE 325 

If there were no Equitable bus franchise to give out 
it would pay nobody to supply a very generous letter of 
credit to a city official. If there were no unearned profits 
to be made out of an advance tip on land there would not 
be the immense graft connected with condemnation pro 
ceedings. Graft in connection with the Dock Department 
arises not primarily from building the docks but from rent 
ing them. New York's marvelous publicly owned and 
operated water system has been far freer from scandal 
than has been the relation of the city to privately owned 
gas and electric supply. 

This is not to argue that municipal or any other kind of 
socialism will automatically end all graft. There is no 
political machinery which gluttons, fools and cowards can 
drive with perfect safety. But socialism by the new point 
of view which it inculcates and its steady destruction of 
opportunities to make immense unearned private profits 
strikes a mortal blow at the racketeering spirit which cor 
rupts both government and business to-day. 

All of which makes it doubly clear that what New York 
needs is a program for regeneration that is part of a 
national program. Few of the major reforms we have 
suggested could be accomplished against the opposition 
of reactionary state and federal governments. It should 
be even more obvious that the things that matter most to 
the workers cannot be attained by mere good govern 
ment. No good government program in our memory has 
ever gone to fundamentals or promised exploited workers 
anything to shake them loose from their dependence of 



326 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

fear and favor on the district leader. The Mitchell fusion 
government had certain administrative virtues which it 
failed to capitalize in the minds of the voters. It had no 
program at all to break the grip of public utilities or milk 
companies or to conquer slums. Is it any wonder that 
masses of workers were indifferent to it and would not 
have continued it even if its end had not been compli 
cated by the passions of the World War? 

The city of the future, if it is to be a city of beauty and 
well being, will be part of a cooperative commonwealth 
in which all our great productive powers are dedicated 
to the needs of men rather than to the profits of absentee 
owners. And to dream that there will be cities or urban 
areas in which man's collective power will combine with 
nature to give him comfort and beauty is not Utopian. 
The collective control of our cities is increasing year by 
year. Our schools and libraries, our improved public 
health service, such cooperative houses as those that the 
Amalgamated Clothing Workers have built, the marvel 
ous park system of Westchester, the state park board on 
Long Island, especially at Jones Beach, and the work of 
the Port Authority of New York these things are not 
Utopian. They are joyous realities. Other great cities can 
show other successful experiments in cooperative economic 
government. When we have made it generally possible 
to expand this work all along the line in every city in 
America then the social revolution will be assured. To 
make that possible is the inescapable debt we owe to 
our children. 



REFERENCES 
1 

CITY PROBLEMS AND INVESTIGATION CURES 

1 Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, by William L. Riordan. 

2 We are indebted to Werner's excellent book for much of the mate 
rial in this chapter, including the quotation from H. G. Wells. 

8 See Current History, November, 1928, article by D. T. Lynch. 
* My Forty Years in New York, by Charles H. Parkhurst. 
5 Werner, p. 335, from Mazet Investigation, Vol. I, p. 336 ff. 



HOW NEW YORK'S GOVERNMENT WORKS 

1 Harvard Graduate's Magazine, March, 1930. 

2 Joseph McGoldrick's article, "The New Tammany," in the Ameri 
can Mercury of September, 1928, is, in our opinion, the best description 
ever written of the operations of Tammany Hall. 

3 See the 1932 report of the Executive Committee of the Civil Service 
Reform Association for the full corrected list which was largely reprinted 
in the New York Times of May 18, 1932. 

* McGoldrick, supra. 

5 See paragraph 11, Section IX of Rule V of the rules of the 
Municipal Civil Service Commission. 



3 

THE NEW TAMMANY AND THE TIN BOX BRIGADE 

1 Testimony of the Joint Legislative Investigating Committee, p. 
1034. Hereafter this will be referred to as Seabury Minutes. 

2 Intermediate Report to Samuel H. Hofstadter of Samuel Seabury 
as counsel to the Joint Legislative Investigating Committee, dated Janu 
ary 25, 1932, p. 127, hereafter referred to as Intermediate Report. 

3 Intermediate Report, p. 196 and Exhibit B, 15. 

327 



328 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

4 An open letter to Mayor Walker from the City Affairs Committee 
on the Board of Standards and Appeals, July 19, 1931. 

5 Intermediate Report, p. 13 ff. 
ibid., p. 51. 

7 This and the subsequent quotation are from an article by Dennis 
Tilden Lynch in the Herald-Tribune, July 17, 1932. 

8 Intermediate Report, p. 94. 



4 

MORE TIN BOXES 

1 Seabury Minutes, p. 1162ff. 

* The Seabury charges against Mayor Walker, p. 19. 

8 New York Times, June 2, 1932. 



JUSTICES AND THE LAW 

1 Seabury Minutes, p. 2435 ff. 

8 Final Report of the Page Commission, New York State Assembly, 
Document 54, April 4, 1910. 

3 New York Times, Oct. 6, 1930. 



7 
THE SHAME OF THE COURTS 

1 Final report of Samuel Seabury to the Appellate Division, First 
Judicial Department, March 28, 1932, p. 31. 

* Ibid., p. 35. 
8 Ibid., p. 48. 

* Quoted in the Brooklyn Eagle, May 19, 1925. 



8 
THE LOWER WORLD OF THE LAW 

1 Report on Lawlessness and Law Enforcement of the National Com 
mission on Law Observance and Enforcement (Wickersham Commis 
sion) No. 11, p. 86. 

2 New York Sun, July 28, 1932. 



REFERENCES 329 

3 P. 242. Quoted in Wickersham report, p. 92. 

* Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Annual Report 
of the Committee on Criminal Courts, Law and Procedure for 1927-28. 

B See that excellent book "Our Lawless Police," by Ernest Jerome 
Hopkins. 

6 Wickersham report, p. 95. 

7 New York Times, August 28, 1932. 

8 Seabury Magistrates' report, p. 96. 

9 Ibid, p. 87. 

10 Ibid, p. 109. 



10 
ROOSEVELT AND TAMMANY 

1 New York Herald-Tribune, January 8, 1932. 

2 New York Times, July 15, 1929. 

3 New York Times, November 2, 1930. 

* New York Times, April 2, 1932. 

12 

CITY STREETS AT A BARGAIN 

1 Report of Controller Berry on the Proposed Contracts for Bus 
Franchises in the Boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, October 9, 1931, 
p. 25. 

2 See "The Truth About Queens Bus Franchises," a pamphlet pub 
lished by the City Affairs Committee. 

8 Poor's Manual of Public Utilities, p. 504 jff., and the original reports 
of the Fifth Avenue Coach Company on file with the New York Transit 
Commission. 

* The history of the capitalization of the present street-car system is 
taken from a report by Corporation Counsel William P. Burr, based 
upon an investigation made by the Board of Estimate in 1919, approved 
by the Board, and embodied in the minutes of May 20, 1921. 

13 

RACKETEERING IN LAND 

1 A valuable discussion of land values in New York with statistical 
tables is contained in Land Values in New York in Relation to Transit 
Facilities, by E. H. Spengler, Columbia University Press. A general 
discussion is contained in the Regional Plan of New York and Its 
Environs. 



330 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

2 New York Times, September 23, 1930. 

8 This whole story is outlined in the report of Leonard Wallstein 
as Special Corporation Counsel on Land Condemnation, January, 1932, 
p. 22 ff. 

*lbid., p. 24, 26, 27. 

B New York Evening Post, October 15, 1930. 

6 The Finances and Financial Administration of New York City, 
1928, p. Ivi. 

7 This system is permitted by Chapter 603 of the Laws of New 
York of 1926. 

8 Spengler, supra, p. 128. 



14 

HOUSING HUMAN BEINGS 

1 Louis H. Pink, The New Day in Housing. 

a For an excellent discussion of recent developments see Recent 
Trends in American Housing, by Edith Elmer Wood. 

8 "Anticipations," quoted by Grosvenor Atterbury in Regional Survey 
of New York, Vol. VI. 

15 

THE CONSUMER PAYS 

1 Brief filed by the Community Councils with the New York Public 
Service Commission in Case 6367. 

2 Petition of the City Affairs Committee to the New York Public 
Service Commission. 

8 Report of New York State on Revision of the Public Service Com 
mission Law, 1930, Vol. I. These and the following facts are taken from 
the minority report, p. 265 ff. 

*The plan was outlined in The Times of December 21, 1931. 

6 Based on Untermyer's analysis, The Times, September 27, 1931, 
and stock market quotations of August 18, 1932. 

* The Times, January 1, 1932. 

7 An excellent summary of the whole transit unification problem was 
written for The Times of March 6, 1932, by Harold Phelps Stokes. 



APPENDIX I 

A CALENDAR OF SCANDALS DURING THE 
WALKER ADMINISTRATION 

(We acknowledge with gratitude the fact that this cal 
endar is based in fact and partially in language upon that 
invaluable guide to current events, The New York Times 
Index. We have, however, condensed many items from the 
index for purposes of brevity, and in a number of places we 
have frankly interpreted facts in our own language, so The 
Times should not be held responsible for opinions. Where 
several events in sequence are grouped together under one 
date, the date chosen is that of the earliest event.) 

1925 

October 21: Walker praises Tammany's records in dra 
matic speech at rally at Tammany Hall; vows clean city. 

November 15: Walker in radio speech at Miami says 
Southern women and children may visit New York with 
safety in his administration. 

December 9: Walker says Olvany will settle patronage 
disputes throughout city. 

1926 

January 2: Walker urges reorganization of city government 
and simplification in inaugural speech. 

January 6: Judge O. A. Rosalsky says crooks will have no 
chance under Walker government. 

331 



332 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

January 6: Patrolman Brennan kills S. Kranin in station 
house while intoxicated. 

January 9- 112 arrested on gambling charges; formation 
of squad by Police Inspector Lahey indicates means of check 
ing up action by district inspectors. 

January 11: Magistrate Vitale frees 30 arrested in raid on 
Oriona Social Club on ground of illegal arrest; Magistrate 
Glatzmyer frees 41 of 44 taken in pool-room raids. 

January 13: Democrats in Board of Aldermen defeat 
efforts to put Mrs. Pratt, only Republican, on important 
committees. 

January 13: President McKee introduces custom of having 
Board of Aldermen business session opened with prayer. 

January 13: Walker pledges rule for people's interests, 
with no politics. 

January 25: Courts free over 200 taken in raids on Trilby 
Inn, Amex Dist. Dem. Club and Elmore Social Club, Inc., 
for lack of evidence. 

January 29: Leonard Wallstein, counsel for Citizens 
Union, asks New York State Supreme Court to block former 
Commissioner Enright's pension on charge that former 
Mayor Hylan granted it in violation of home rule act. Pension 
finally stopped. 

January 31: Mclaughlin scores handling of welfare and 
contingent fund, organized by Enright for emergency aid to 
policemen; investigation shows that badges for honorary 
officials, European trips of officers to study conditions, ex 
penses of sessions of international police conference, salary 
of E. E. Hart as publicity man, fees of A. Honiger for teach 
ing "Eye Language," T. R. Gaines for teaching breathing 
and other expenses came from fund. 

February 6: Walker opposes, as against principle, pro 
posal to transfer some authority of New York City Standards 
and Appeals Board to State Public Service Commission. 



APPENDIX 333 

February 25: Police Commissioner Warren says city has 
lost $500,000 already in street cleaning graft and figure may 
reach $2,000,000. 

March 2: Automobile Graft Twenty summonses issued 
in investigation of Attorney J. I. Cuff of forgery and bribery 
in Brooklyn Traffic Court, involving two members of motor 
cycle squad and many motorists; rubber stamps with fac 
simile signatures of judges used and motorists paid from 
$10 to $30 to have cases dropped. 

March 6: Citizens Committee appears before Board of 
Education to ask restriction of size of high schools to 2,000 
pupils each; Pres. G. J. Ryan says it would be too expensive. 

March 16: Mayor Walker describes bad condition of 
Bellevue psychopathic ward to Committee of Whole of 
Board of Estimate; says money for new buildings should be 
spent on it; will make personal survey of city hospital con 
ditions. (The Bellevue psychopathic pavilion was not voted 
until three years later.) 

April 3: Patrolmen J. Feit, P. Murray and J. Alutto placed 
on trial in graft and bribery case connected with snow re 
moval. Convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to three 
months in workhouse. 

April 14: Walker rises early to ride horse, Cedar King, 
in Central Park. 

April 27: Supreme Court Justice Proskauer, in Citizens 
Union suit against granting ex-Mayor Hylan's pension, holds 
pension void, rules home rule amendment grants city no 
power in matter of pensions. Sustained by Court of Appeals. 

May 19: Brutality New York County Lawyers Assn. 
complains to Commissioner Mclaughlin and District Attor 
ney Banton of third degree methods; McLaughlin reported 
to have replied, approving "strong arm" methods in such 
cases. 

May 20: Gambling and vice Police raid Tammy Central 



334 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

Club, Democratic organization of 12th Assembly District, 
for second time in three days; 35 arrested but freed in night 
court. 

May 22: Application of American Civil Liberties Union 
for use of Stuyvesant High School for free speech meeting 
denied by Board of Education. Denial approved by patriotic 
societies and State Chamber of Commerce. 

June 10: Walker tells newspaper men he favors putting 
buses on streets of city as soon as possible. 

June 12: Controller Berry writes letter to Mayor Walker 
charging him with habitual tardiness at the Board of Estimate 
meetings. This was six months after he had taken office. 

June 14: Walker names 472 persons to city planning and 
survey committee. 

June 22: Harris suspends three inspectors of the Food and 
Truck Bureau as result of investigation into adulteration of 
butter. 

August 7: Mayor Walker appoints Judge C. H. Kelby to 
head centralized investigation of milk graft covering five 
boroughs. 

August 31: Harry C. Perry Democratic Club, Tammany 
organization of Second Assembly District, raided. 

September 6: Reports that Tammany is annoyed by raids 
on district clubs by Commissioner McLaughlin, Governor 
Smith's appointee, with resultant resentment to Smith. 

September 18: Controller Berry's report on passenger cars 
used by divisions of city government, exclusive of policy, 
fire and street cleaning vehicles, puts expense in 1926 at 
over $3,000,000; calls it factor in budget increase. 

October 27: Freedom of thought Teachers Union cites 
records of J. W. Hughan, R. G. Hardy and A. Lefkowitz in 
charge of discrimination in promotion, due to personal views 
on public questions. Superintendent O'Shea says public 
opinion backs refusal to promote three radical teachers. 



APPENDIX 335 

October 27: W. G. Krane urges high school teachers' asso 
ciation of New York City to "enroll as Democrats but vote 
as you please." 

December 7: Controller Berry refuses to authorize payment 
of $3,500 for scrolls, badges and other items in connection 
with welcomes to crown prince and princess of Sweden and 
of crew of President Roosevelt; scores "bad English" of 
scrolls. 

December 8: W. Bernard Vause, Brooklyn judge, urges 
grand jury to show no Christmas leniency toward criminals. 

1927 

January 6: Women's night court of Brooklyn condemned 
as unfit by New York State Prisons Commission. 

February 11: Schieffelin says that Governor Smith evades 
duty in milk graft prosecution in deference to G. W. 
Olvany's wish. 

February 20: Ex-Mayor Hylan bets E. F. Foley that Walker 
will not pose for picture at Palm Beach; loses. 

March 31: Commissioner Harris declares millions of dol 
lars' worth of bootleg cream was smuggled into city during 
season of scarcity. 

May 24: Walker in speech at Institutional Synagogue, 
New York City, says he is "pro- Jewish Gentile." 

July 1: Dr. William H. Walker threatened with loss of 
post on medical board of New York City Board of education 
for failing to take required civil service tests. 

July 21: Conviction of T. J. Clougher on graft charge 
upheld in court of appeals. 

July 29: Bus franchise awarded to Equitable Coach Co.; 
Service Transportation Corp. and Tompkins Bus Corp. also 
get franchises; Walker signed contract August 9 and sailed 
for Europe August 10 with $10,000 letter of credit arranged 
by J. Allen Smith of Equitable. 



336 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

August 10: Kelby in report to Mayor Walker shows evi 
dence of graft in food inspection division of Health Depart 
ment prior to present administration in 148 criminal cases 
sent to district attorneys in four counties. 

August 17: Mrs. R. B. Pratt demands ousting of C. L. 
Kohler, budget director and former secretary of Health De 
partment, as result of graft expose; Citizens Union assails 
his record, calls Kelby inquiry a fiasco. Kohler still in. 

December 16: Harvey submits charges concerning Queens 
sewers to Governor; Governor Smith appoints Scudder head 
of inquiry. Max Steuer defends Connolly. Shearn later 
succeeds Scudder. 

1928 

May 6: W. J. Lougheed voluntarily offers affidavits charg 
ing huge graft in connection with alleged padding of pay 
rolls of temporary employees. 

May 15: Investigator for Commissioner of Accounts Hig- 
gins uncovers thefts in Manhattan and Brooklyn; Lougheed 
and three others plead not guilty. Lougheed later pleads 
guilty. 

May 29: Assistant District Attorney Ryan charges $2,600 
of $3,390 weekly went to "dummies" on street cleaning 
payroll. 

June 9: Oswald found guilty of grand larceny in street 
cleaning case; McGee acquitted. 

June 1 6: Taylor dismisses three in snow graft case. 

July 4: J. M. Phillips, alleged head of Queens ring, dies 
while under indictment for graft. 

July 11: A. Courtney, W. McClutchy, B. Barone, A. 
Casenza and E. Dunnegan convicted of payroll padding in 
street cleaning scandal. 

July 17: State Socialist Party asks Governor Smith to in 
vestigate administration; makes 11 charges. Smith declines 
to grant inquiry. 



APPENDIX 337 

July 22: Commissioner of Health Harris resigns as result 
of lack of cooperation from mayor in cleaning up health 
evils. 

September 3: W. L. D'Olier, president of Sanitary Corpo 
ration, regarded as important witness in forthcoming prose 
cutions, found dead of shot; police uncertain of suicide. 

September 28: Grand jury returns murder verdict in 
D'Olier inquiry. 

October 18: Connolly and Seely found guilty; former 
sentenced. 

October 19: Connolly at Welfare Island. 

November 6: Arnold Rothstein murdered. 

December 14: Warren resigns as police commissioner. 
Grover Whalen appointed. 

1929 

February 1: W. Schroeder assumes office as commissioner 
of hospitals, and appoints Cadley and Fay as deputies. 

February 4: Women's City Club report scores lateness in 
opening magistrates' courts. 

February 12: City Trust Co. doors closed. 

March 14: Annual police parade revived by Commissioner 
Whalen. 

March 16: G. W. Olvany resigns as Tammany leader. 
Governor Roosevelt praises Olvany 's service. 

March 28: F. Brieger resigns from Harvey cabinet; 
charges borough president caters to politicians. 

March 29: Whole official legislative program of New 
York City slaughtered. 

March 29-' L. G. Godley of Transit Commission rejects 
Equitable plan on funds and company will lose franchise. 

April 24: Curry elected Tammany leader; defeats E. J. 
Ahearn, in whose favor McCue resigns; old Tammany idea 
victorious; Mayor Walker becomes dominating force; influ 
ence of Smith and Foley regarded as destroyed. 



338 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

May 12: Mrs. M. Sullivan, leader of raid on Birth Con 
trol Clinical Research Bureau, demoted by Whalen. 

September 28: La Guardia declares Magistrate A. H. 
Vitale received loan from Rothstein. Thomas scores Vitale. 

October 4: Walker pays surprise visit to Tammany 
Hall; reaffirms fealty; promises to follow leadership of J. F. 
Curry. 

October 10: General Sessions Judge Mancuso resigns from 
bench in City Trust Co. case. 

October 11: Supreme Court Justice T. C. T. Crain, Demo 
cratic nominee for district attorney, says powers of office 
will not lie dormant if he wins. 

October 12: Mancuso, Frederico Ferrari, A. Di Paola, 
I. Siegeltuch, L. Rose, S. Soraci and F. S. Paterno indicted 
on charges of violating penal law relating to misconduct of 
directors of moneyed corporations. 

October 16: Alfred E. Smith appeals for reelection of 
Walker on his record. 

October 18: Amadeo A. Bertini appointed to fill Judge 
Mancuso' s place until January 1; later refused to waive 
immunity before grand jury. Died March 2, 1931. 

October 19: Central Trades and Labor Council endorses 
T. M. Farley, Democrat, for sheriff. 

October 26: Thomas makes public report on school con 
struction, prepared by Cooperative and Constructive School 
Survey in 1924; says Walker has ignored findings. 

October 30: J. P. Ryan, president, Central Trades and 
Labor Council, says labor is for Walker; only "red" group 
backs La Guardia. 

November 2: More than 100 indicted on charge of 
registration frauds. 

November 6: Walker elected by 497,165 plurality; hails 
vote as vindication. 

November 6: Jury finds Frank H. Warder, former state 



APPENDIX 339 

bank superintendent, guilty of accepting $10,000 bribe while 
Superintendent of Banks in City Trust case; sentenced to 5 
to 10 years in Sing Sing. 

December 6: Judge Nott directs jury to acquit McManus 
of the murder of Arnold Rothstein. 

December 17: Resolution fixes mayor's salary at $40,000, 
controller's at $35,000 and president of Board of Alder 
men at $25,000, offered by Harvey. Harvey denies seeking 
Democratic favor by measure. 

1930 

February 16: Bar Association asks removal of Vitale. 

March 7: One hundred injured in riot of Communists in 
Union Square. Thomas, Civil Liberties Union, and others 
protest police brutality. Thomas presents petition for 
Whalen's removal March 17th. 

March 13: Vitale continues testimony, admitting he made 
$165,000 in 4 years while on bench and that he had $125,- 
000 when he got loan from Rothstein. 

March 14: Vitale removed by Appellate Division on 
account of Rothstein loan. 

April 22: Governor Roosevelt vetoes bill to transfer cus 
tody of registration books from election inspectors to police. 

May 7: W. Vause indicted on charge of using mails to 
defraud. Also indicted for perjury by Federal grand jury 
on testimony relating to fees for pier leases. Guilty on 13 
counts, sentenced to 6 years in Atlanta. 

May 12: U. S. Attorney Tuttle subpoenas income tax re 
turns of Doyle and investigates bank accounts; extensive 
investigation planned. 

May 14: Discovered that Dock Commissioner Cosgrove 
has filed no report since 1926, though annual accounting is 
required. 



340 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

May 21: Whalen resigns as Police Commissioner. E. P. 
Mulrooney appointed. 

May 22: Citizens Union opposes appointment of J. F. 
Geraghty as commissioner of licenses; cites criticism of de 
partment during his previous administration. N. Thomas 
charges him with leniency toward private employment 
agencies. 

June 10: Judge W. B. Vause resigns from bench. 

June 11: Civil Service Reform Association charges viola 
tion of law in paying salaries to Dr. W. H. Walker, R. E. 
Walsh and 8 clerks in Brooklyn Municipal Court. 

June 21: Roosevelt rejects Socialist Party's plea for 
investigation. 

June 27: Chairman Walsh of Board of Standards and 
Appeals indicted by New York County grand jury on charge 
of accepting gratuity while holding public office, and by 
Federal grand jury for failure to file income tax return for 
1929. Resigns as chairman. Acquitted. 

August 5: Witness testifies to Federal grand jury that 
George F. Ewald paid $12,000 to be a magistrate. 

August 17: Association of Bar of City of New York asks 
Governor Roosevelt to investigate charges of corruption in 
appointments of magistrates; S. S. Wise and Norman 
Thomas also appeal. 

August 21: Doyle cleared of perjury charge, jury dis 
agrees on tax evasion. 

August 23: Budget calls for 10 additional sergeants-at- 
arms for Board of Aldermen; positions pay $2,280 a year 
and require services of employees only 1 day a week. 

August 24: Roosevelt drops idea of city-wide inquiry. 

August 26: Appellate Division votes to investigate magis 
trate's court in Manhattan and Bronx; Thomas calls investi 
gation ludicrously inadequate. 

September 18: Ewald and Healy refuse to waive immunity; 



APPENDIX 341 

grand jury examines their bank accounts; Ewald, wife and 
Healy indicted. 

September 24: Seabury and Kresel get wide powers to 
investigate courts. 

September 25: J. F. Curry and C. H. Kohler and other 
Tammany leaders refuse to waive immunity; Mrs. Healy 
refuses to be sworn. 

September 29: Governor Roosevelt in letter to Mayor 
Walker asks that Tammany men testify; mayor promises to 
demand that aides answer questions. 

October 4: Seven Tammany leaders to waive immunity 
partially; Special Prosecutor H. C. Todd objects to limi 
tation to official acts only and rejects offer because office- 
buying is excluded. 

October 5: Roosevelt acquiesces in Tammany leaders' de 
cision and C. H. Tuttle charges Roosevelt with attempting 
to bury investigation by limiting immunity waivers to official 
acts. 

October 6: Tammany lawyers back J. F. Curry's stand on 
refusing to sign immunity waiver. 

October 7: Roosevelt, in letter, refuses to authorize wide 
investigation of courts. 

October 8: Roosevelt refuses* to make public files relating 
to appointment of Bertini. 

October 13: City Affairs Committee reports enormous 
wastes in condemnation of school sites. 

October 18: Board of Estimate votes $40,000 for inquiry 
into past and present condemnation proceedings, to be con 
ducted by Leonard Wallstein. 

October 28: Roosevelt says allegations of wholesale corrup 
tion are made for partisan purposes. 

November 4: H. Riegelman charges that 35,000 have 
registered fraudulently in New York County. 

November 25: Appellate Division opens public hearings 



342 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

on magistrates court; J. C. Weston, former process server, 
exposes vice ring of bribery, graft and corruption in Women's 
Court. 

November 26: At Appellate Division hearings girl tells 
how she was "framed" in Women's Court vice ring; wit 
nesses tell of Magistrate Silbermann's alleged favoritism on 
bench; bail bond "racketeering" revealed. 

December 4: Acuna identifies 13 policemen as "framers" 
in vice cases; girl victims testify at Appellate Division hear 
ing; cost of "ring" to taxpayers estimated at $50,000 to 
$100,000 annually. 

December 10: Magistrate McQuade resigns as Seabury 
moves to investigate his conduct on bench. 

December 12: Bank of United States closes. 

1931 

January 7: Magistrate Goodman resigns under fire; pleads 
illness. 

January 17: Magistrate Simpson resigns as he faces 
inquiry. 

January 23: Ewald case ends in dismissals. 

January 31: Magistrate Brodsky cleared of any wrong 
doing. 

February 8: Forty witnesses in vice frame-ups vanish. 

February 11: Isidor Kresel resigns as special counsel in 
Appellate Division inquiry because of indictment (later 
acquitted) as director of Bank of United States. 

February 25: Levey tells of speakeasy graft collected by 
Quinlivan and O'Connor; got $40 a day as collector. 

February 26: Walker's administration defended by Harvey. 

February 27: Roosevelt signs bill providing contingent 
fund for investigation. 

February 28: Appellate Division of Second Department 



APPENDIX 343 

opposes extension of court inquiry to Brooklyn, Queens and 
Richmond. 

February 28: Jean Norris got $1,000 for testimonial ad; 
admits to Seabury it was unethical; admits convicting women 
on unsupported word of policemen. 

March 8: Governor Roosevelt, in reply to charges by City 
Club, says he will order investigation of District Attorney's 
office; appoints Seabury to head investigation. 

March 18: City Affairs Committee files formal charges 
against Mayor Walker. 

March 24: Roosevelt sends copy of charges to Walker with 
request for reply. 

March 24: Legislature puts through resolution providing 
for general inquiry into New York City affairs with Seabury 
as counsel of legislative committee. 

March 26: Tammany warns Roosevelt that it will con 
sider it an unfriendly act if he refers charges against Walker 
to legislative investigating committee. (Roosevelt did not.) 

April 12: Borough President Harvey orders public hearing 
on charges of City Affairs Committee against Klein, Queens 
superintendent of highways. 

April 17: Mayor's Committee recommends abolition of 
Board of Standards and Appeals and substitution of 2 units. 
(Nothing was ever done about it.) 

April 20: City Affairs Committee asks Roosevelt for oppor 
tunity to file rebuttal. 

April 21: Walker files answer to City Affairs Committee's 
charges. 

April 22: Holmes and Wise characterize Walker's reply as 
reckless and superficial; ask governor to preside at trial of 
mayor, or appoint commissioner. 

April 22: District Attorney Crain says he was satisfied with 
his own investigation of courts. 



344 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

April 26: F. Brieger files charges against Harvey in third 
plea for action by governor. 

April 29: Roosevelt dismisses City Affairs Committee 
charges against Walker; rejects rebuttal plea. 

April 29: Board of Estimate votes to grant franchise to 
Brooklyn Bus Corp. for 20 lines, 17 Brooklyn and 3 Queens, 
and Mayor Walker signs franchise. 

May 2: Slot machine profit $20,000,000 inquiry shows; 
witnesses describe organized system. 

May 16: Supreme Court Justice MacCrate accuses Queens 
Borough officials of assisting New York Air Terminal, Inc., 
to close part of Old Bowery Road, public highway, for de 
velopment of air field. 

May 17: Testimony suit in New York Air Terminal, Inc., 
reveals that L. Halleran, brother of J. J. Halleran, received 
$10,000 fee for airport deal; Commissioner Halleran ex 
plains deal. 

May 26: Irving Klein and F. H. Shepheard indicted on 
bribery charges; Klein dismissed from post as superintendent 
of Queens Highway Bureau. Both acquitted but Klein later 
convicted on separate indictment. 

May 28: M. Mager, Queens politician, indicted on charge 
of having conspired with Klein; not convicted. 

June 9: Attorney General Bennett orders investigation of 
stock selling methods of New York Airport, Inc. Borough 
President Harvey and Commissioner J. J. Halleran are 
directors. 

June 9: As result of fight against tentative awards in 
Rockaway Beach condemnation case, city saves $4,459,643; 
L. M. Wallstein receives $160,000 fee for service. 

June 16: Assistant Attorney General P. J. McCauley 
alleges gross misstatements in stock selling of New York 
City Airport, Inc.; Harvey resigns from board of directors 
but later withdraws resignation. 



APPENDIX 345 

June 18: Prosecutor shows letter from Harvey, accepting 
place on board of New York City Airport, Inc., was used as 
basis for advertising promoting stock sales. 

June 23: L. B. Halleran admits no board action on sale to 
New York City Airport, Inc., for $80,000 of land costing 
$22,000; J. J. Halleran concedes advantage was taken of 
Harvey. 

June 26: Magistrate Jean Norris found guilty on 5 charges; 
removed from office as unfit. 

July 3: Halleran admits he does not agree with some of 
promotion methods of New York City Airport, Inc.; secre 
tary of state issues dissolution certificate for corporation. 
State ends inquiry. 

July 3: Magistrate Silbermann removed from bench by 
unanimous vote, for giving political favors. 

July 11: Board of Estimate hearing on Queens bus fran 
chises; dissension between Controller C. W. Berry and Mayor 
Walker over forms of grants to North Shore Bus Corp. and 
Jamaica Buses, Inc.; Walker attacks N. Thomas and refuses 
to allow P. Blanshard to ask questions. 

July 20: City Affairs Committee asks Mayor Walker to 
exclude Doyle and McCooey and Conroy from further prac 
tice before Board of Standards and Appeals. 

July 24: Justice Sherman of Appellate Division grants 
stay to Doyle; Seabury says stay was obtained by trickery and 
deceit. 

July 26: Seabury traces telephone call from J. F. Curry 
apartment to Lake Placid, N. Y., where Justice Sherman 
granted stay to Doyle. 

July 28: Doyle jailed as appeal is denied on contempt 
charge. 

August 5: Roosevelt dismisses charges against Harvey with 
severe censure. 

August 15: Doyle denies having bribed officials. 



346 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

August 15: Blanshard, of City Affairs Committee, sues to 
annul Brooklyn Bus Corp. franchise, and asks writ to bar 
service. 

August 18: N. Thomas asks bar Association to investigate 
action of Justice Sherman in granting stay to Doyle. 

August 26: Governor Roosevelt, in message, presents pro 
posed bill to give Hofstadter Committee immunity power, 
and proposed revision of penal code; immunity bills passed 
August 28. 

August 31: City Affairs Committee attacks Fifth Avenue 
Coach Co. and says 4 Chicago men "milk" revenues through 
system of holding companies. 

September 1: Seabury, in report on District Attorney Crain, 
recommends dismissal of charges, but criticizes conduct of 
office; Governor Roosevelt follows recommendation. 

September 26: Investigation reveals that out of 514 per 
sons arrested in gambling raids of 1926 and 1927 only 5 
were held for Special Sessions. 

October 5: G. W. Olvany, refusing to testify on fees in 
cases before city departments, pleads confidential relation 
between lawyers and client. 

October 15: Supreme Court refuses to dismiss Blanshard's 
suit on Brooklyn buses. 

October 16: Central Trades and Labor Council endorses 
almost all Democratic candidates. 

October 17: Sherwood in Mexico on honeymoon. 

October 29: Mayor, in campaign speech, transforms revela 
tions into vindications of administration. 

November 2: Sherwood arrives at San Antonio; disappears. 

November 5: Promoters agree to stock-sale injunction of 
New York City Airport, Inc. 

November 5: N. Thomas charges vote theft in 2nd, 4th 
and 17th Assembly Districts; sending complaint to Board of 
Elections. 

November 10: Olvany's income reported to have totaled 



APPENDIX 347 

more than $2,000,000 during 4y 2 years of Tammany Hall 
leadership. 

November 13: Tammany club leaders testify falsely dated 
relief cards were distributed during registration week. 

November 16: City Affairs Committee charges Borough 
President Levy with having used unemployment relief fund 
to get votes. 

December 2: Chairman of 23d district election board re 
moved as result of N. Thomas' charges; others censored. 

December 18: J. T. Quinn admits that as Sheriff he re 
ceived $32,000 from late J. M. Phillips, sewer contractor; 
Deputy City Clerk J. J. McCormick attributes larger part of 
his income to tips from bridegrooms. 

1932 

January 13: Sale of fugitive Russell Sherwood's assets 
brings $310 after court seizes his property as punishment 
for evading Seabury. 

January 22: Mayor Walker acclaimed at Tammany victory 
dinner says investigations seek only self-glorification. 

January 25: Seabury makes Intermediate Report. 

February 25: Sheriff Farley removed by Roosevelt after 
hearing. 

February 27: Seabury in speech indirectly attacks Roosevelt 
for delay and deference to Tammany. 

March 1: Roosevelt appoints District Leader John Sheehy 
to succeed Farley as Sheriff with approval of John F. Curry. 

March 3: H. C. Perry, chief clerk of City Court, tried by 
City Court judges for falsification of bank accounts and 
acquitted. 

March 6: City Affairs Committee files charge against W. L. 
Kavanagh of Department of Water Supply for unexplained 
bank accounts. Charges later dismissed by his superior, John 
Dietz, after whitewash. 



348 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

March 10: Former Sheriff Farley acquitted by jury of 
taking interest on funds in his care. 

March 1 7: William J. Flynn of Bronx revealed as making 
huge profit by building garage on area he had made 
restricted. 

March 18: City Affairs Committee asks removal action 
against John Theofel, boss of Queens. 

March 27: City Affairs Committee asks Roosevelt to re 
move Sheriff J. A. McQuade of Kings County. 

March 31: Roosevelt in letter to Holmes and Wise refuses 
to remove McQuade and attacks City Affairs Committee 
officers. 

April 1: R. C. Bastress and J. I. Cohalan convicted of 
accepting bribe and get four-month terms. 

April 2: City Affairs Committee through Holmes and 
Wise reply to Governor Roosevelt. 

April 13: J. J. (marriage license) McCormick indicted for 
evading taxes. Never convicted. 

April 15: Seabury shows that laxity in Bureau of Weights 
and Measures reported to Mayor Walker and Commissioner 
Higgins was punished only by scolding. 

April 27: C. B. Rose testifies that Senator Hastings de 
manded contribution to Mayor Walker's campaign in 1925 
as step toward obtaining Equitable franchise. Hastings to 
get third of Equitable' s stock without investing anything. 

May 5: Surrogate Hetherington dismisses City Affairs 
Committee charges against John Theofel. 

May 5: Controller Berry charges that Commissioner De- 
laney fixed reports on bus franchises to suit Mayor Walker, 
and mayor forced Board of Estimate to approve Equitable 
franchise. 

May 7: Queens bus franchises defeated in uproarious 
meeting of Board of Estimate; Walker calls N. Thomas and 
P. Blanshard enemies of the public. 



APPENDIX 349 

May 12: Evidence about bonuses of Gerhard M. Dahl by 
B. M. T. ruled out of order by Hofstadter. 

May 13: ]. A. Sisto admits giving $26,000 in bonds to 
Walker. 

May 23: City Affairs Committee asks Sheriff John Sheehy 
why he does not remove Deputies Curran and Flaherty be 
cause of unexplained bank accounts. 

May 26-27: Walker testifies before Seabury and entire 
testimony is published in press. 

May 21 to June 4: Governor Roosevelt is silent about 
Walker testimony. 

June 1: Seabury reveals that Russell Sherwood drew large 
sums from secret account before Mayor Walker sailed for 
Europe. 

June 2: Dr. W. H. Walker revealed as splitting fees with 
physicians handling workmen's compensation cases. 

June 9: Seabury sends charges against Mayor Walker to 
Governor Roosevelt. 

June 18: Irving Klein convicted of falsifying records in 
Rosati road oil case. 

June 20: Samuel Levy, Tammany henchman and borough 
president of Manhattan, elected president of National Jewish 
Orthodox Congregations of United States and Canada. 

June 23: Roosevelt orders Walker to answer removal 
charges. 

July 29: Walker replies to Seabury charges. 

August 4: Governor Roosevelt orders Mayor Walker to 
answer Seabury charges at public hearings in Albany. 

August 12: Walker hearings begin. 

August 29: Supreme Court Justice E. J. Staley rules that 
Roosevelt has power to try and remove Walker, but severely 
attacks governor for method of conducting hearings. 

September 1: Mayor Walker resigns. 



APPENDIX II 

THE SEABURY CHARGES AGAINST MAYOR 
WALKER 

1. That he has failed properly to execute the duties 
which, as Mayor of the City of New York, it was incum 
bent upon him to discharge; that he has so acted in his 
official capacity as to prejudice the best interests of the people 
of the City of New York; that, in the course of his official 
conduct, he has been actuated by improper and illegal con 
siderations; that he has while holding the office of Mayor, 
been guilty of gross improprieties; and that his explanations 
of circumstances seriously reflecting upon the manner in 
which, as its chief executive, he has conducted the affairs of 
the City of New York, have been either so incomplete or 
so unworthy of credence as not to constitute acceptable 
explanations. 

2. That the Mayor accepted ten $1,000 Reliance Bronze & 
Steel Corporation bonds, ten $1,000 Parmelee Transporta 
tion Company bonds, and thirteen $1,000 Hygrade Food 
Products Corporation bonds, said thirty-three bonds being 
of the aggregate value of approximately $26,000, from 
J. A. Sisto, who then had a large financial interest in bring 
ing about a limitation of the number of taxicabs operating 
in New York City and who was desirous of inducing the 
Mayor to bring about such a limitation of the number of 
said taxicabs; that thereafter the Mayor actively sponsored 
and caused to be enacted legislation, the passage of which 

350 



APPENDIX 351 

was, to his knowledge, desired by the said J. A. Sisto and 
by certain corporations, in the securities of which the said 
J. A. Sisto and Samuel Ungerleider & Company were sub 
stantially interested. 

3. That at a time when Samuel Ungerleider & Company, 
in association with the aforesaid J. A. Sisto, was substan 
tially interested in the future of Parmalee securities, the 
value of which would be increased by a limitation of the 
number of taxicabs operating in New York City, Samuel 
Ungerleider & Company paid Russell T. Sherwood, the 
Mayor's financial agent, $22,000 more than the then market 
worth of shares of stock which Ungerleider & Company 
purported to buy from Sherwood; that thereafter the Mayor 
actively sponsored and caused to be enacted legislation, the 
passage of which was, to his knowledge, desired by the said 
J. A. S'isto and by certain corporations, in the securities of 
which the said J. A. Sisto and Samuel Ungerleider & Com 
pany were substantially interested. 

4. That the Mayor, in violation of the provisions of Sec 
tion 1533 of the Greater New York Charter, was the owner 
of ten $1,000 debenture bonds of Reliance Bronze & Steel 
Corporation, convertible into stock of the corporation at the 
election of the holder thereof, with which corporation the 
City of New York, on or about February 3, 1931, entered 
into a contract for the purchase of 104 traffic light standards, 
at a purchase price of approximately $43,000. 

5. That, to the great detriment of the City of New York 
and its inhabitants, the Mayor, in violation of his duty, 
advocated and used the influence of his office to procure an 
award of a bus franchise for the Boroughs of Manhattan, 
Brooklyn and Queens to Equitable Coach Company, Inc., a 
corporation which he knew was not fit or qualified to 
receive it. 

6. That the Mayor advocated and used the influence of 



352 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

his office to procure said award of said bus franchise to the 
Equitable Coach Company, Inc., in furtherance of a plan 
to benefit a group of persons of whom his friend and asso 
ciate, Senator John A. Hastings, was one. 

7. That the Mayor improperly made possible and facili 
tated the purchase of 300 shares of Interstate Trust Com 
pany stock, which stock was received by or on behalf of 
J. Allan Smith, Frank R. Fageol and John A. Hastings, 
promoters of the Equitable Coach Company, Inc., and May 
Arter Smith, wife of J. Allan Smith, prior to the date when 
that company was granted a bus franchise by the City of 
New York, but while its application therefor was pending, 
and that 200 shares of this stock were used to secure a loan 
of $23,000, which sum was deposited in the account of 
J. Allan Smith, Trustee, the account which was used to 
defray the expenses of procuring said franchise. 

8. That on or about the day prior to the signing of the 
Equitable franchise, the Mayor was provided with a Letter 
of Credit, in the amount of $10,000, which was paid for in 
cash by J. Allan Smith, one of the promoters, and the agent 
of all of the promoters, of the Equitable Coach Company, 
Inc., and that subsequently, and after the exhaustion of the 
said Letter of Credit, but while the Equitable Coach Com 
pany was and continued unable to comply with the require 
ment of its franchise that it commence operations thereunder, 
and during the period when the Equitable Coach Company 
was, from time to time, applying for and receiving from 
the Board of Estimate and Apportionment extensions of the 
time within which to commence such operations, the said 
J. Allan Smith paid a draft in the amount of $3,000, plus 
interest, for the payment of which the Mayor was liable. 

9. That the Mayor permitted himself to be placed in a 
position inconsistent with the position which he, as a public 



APPENDIX 353 

officer, should at all times have maintained, by accepting 
substantial gratuities, which he calls "beneficences," from 
persons who might seek benefits from the municipal author 
ities. In the case of Paul Block, such "beneficences" were 
accepted from a person who subsequently became interested 
in a corporation which sought, and procured, approval from 
the Board of Transportation of a tile which said Company 
intended to manufacture for use in the subway. 

10. That during the period of five years next succeeding 
his entering the office, Mayor Walker, for the purpose of 
concealing his interest therein, caused his financial transac 
tions to be conducted through, and in the name of, Russell 
T. Sherwood; that this agent, during said period, deposited 
in bank and brokerage accounts close to a million dollars, 
of which upwards of $700,000 was in cash, and that the 
Mayor has failed and refused satisfactorily to explain the 
sources of the moneys belonging to him and deposited by 
Sherwood in said accounts. 

11. That as soon as it became known that the Joint 
Legislative Committee desired to examine the said Russell 
T. Sherwood with respect to his financial transactions on 
behalf of the Mayor, the said Sherwood disappeared, and 
the Mayor has failed and neglected either to cause his agent 
to return, or to cooperate with the Committee in its efforts 
to locate him, thereby preventing the disclosure of facts 
essential to a complete investigation of the conduct of his 
office by the Mayor. 

12. That on May 23, 1932, a subpoena duces tecum of 
the Joint Legislative Committee was served upon Mayor 
Walker, calling for the production, on May 25, 1932, of all 
records of his personal financial transactions from Janu 
ary 1, 1926, to date. When the Mayor appeared on 
May 25, 1932, for examination at public hearing, he brought 



354 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW YORK 

with him, in response to this subpoena, the following 
papers: 

Cancelled vouchers of his account with the Chatham & 
Phoenix Bank & Trust Company for one month in 
1930 and 3% months in 1931; 

Stub check books for the same account for one month 
in 1930 and eleven months in 1931 and for 1932. 

When questioned as to his failure to produce check books 
or cancelled vouchers for the years 1926, 1927, 1928 and 
1929, he stated that if any records were in existence they 
were in the law office with which he was connected before 
he assumed the office of Mayor, but that he had not per 
sonally made inquiry as to whether or not those records were 
in existence. 

He was examined in public a second time on the day 
following, but produced no further documents or papers in 
response to the subpoena. 

On June 2, 1932, ten days after the service of said sub 
poena upon him, and seven days after the conclusion of his 
examination, he produced, in further compliance with the 
subpoena, cancelled vouchers of his Chatham & Phoenix 
Bank & Trust Company account for the period January 5, 
1927, to June 21, 1927. At this time he also produced 
check stub books on the same account for the period begin 
ning June 21, 1927, and ending with November, 1930. 

That the Mayor has not produced a single record showing 
his financial transactions during the year 1926 nor for the 
first five and a half months of 1927. 

That he has not produced the cancelled vouchers of his 
Chatham & Phoenix checking account for the period from 
January 1, 1926, to January, 1927; for the six months, 
June 21, 1927, to December 30, 1927; for any part of the 
year 1928; for any part of the year 1929; for the first eleven 



APPENDIX 355 

months of the year 1930; for the eight and a half months 
from April 16 to December 31, 1931, nor for any part of 
the year 1932, of which nearly five months had elapsed at 
the time when the subpoena was served. 

13. That Mayor Walker, in his testimony before the Joint 
Legislative Committee, was neither frank nor truthful, and 
that his purpose in being evasive and untruthful was to 
hinder and obstruct the Joint Legislative Committee in the 
prosecution of the investigation which the Legislature 
directed it to make, and to prevent an effective investigation 
of his activities as Mayor of the City of New York, and a 
complete disclosure of his conduct in such office. 

14. That the Mayor neglected his official duty in per 
mitting his Corporation Counsel to designate, in City com 
pensation cases, doctors who split their fees with the Mayor's 
brother. 

15. That in the matters above referred to, and generally 
since he assumed office, the Mayor's conduct has been char 
acterized by such malfeasance and nonfeasance in disregard 
of the duties of his office as Mayor, and he has conducted 
himself, to the prejudice of the City of New York and its 
inhabitants, in a manner so far unbecoming the high office 
which he holds, as to render him unfit to continue in the 
office of Mayor. 



INDEX 



Abraham Lincoln High School site, 

238. 
Accomplishments of New York, 

civic and private, 326. 
Acuna, Chile, 144. 
Administration, changes proposed 

for, 319. 

Aldermen, see Board of. 
Amalgamated Clothing Workers' 

apartments, 259. 
American Telephone and Telegraph 

Co., 270. 

Apartments, cooperative, 259. 
Association of the Bar, 107, 125; 

report on third degree, 133. 
Astor, John Jacob, and Tweed, 7; 

family fortune, 230. 
Augenblick, Samuel, appraisal fees, 

240. 
Automobiles, city-owned, 34. 

Bail-bond racket, 150-152. 
Barbato case, 134-135. 
Barnard, Judge George, 7. 
Battle, George Gordon, 110. 
Berry, Controller Charles W., 20, 

115; administrative record, 162; 

on Queens bus franchise, 214; 

exposure of land racket, 232. 
Bertini, Amadeo A., 116; ap 
pointed by Roosevelt, 179. 
Black, General William, on pier 

leases, 58. 

Black, Justice William H., 124. 
Block, Paul, beneficence to Walker 

173. 

Block-Aid Plan, 299. 
Board of Aldermen, 20. 
Borough Presidents, powers of, 21- 

22. 
Board of Education, hiring of Dr. 



Walker, 41 ; purchase of land for 
schools, 234-238. 

Board of Estimate, 18-20; a source 
of information on city purchases, 
237; structure of, 308. 

Board of Standards and Appeals, 
49; decisions of, 50; investiga 
tion of, 52. 

Boylan, John J., fees for land 
appraisals, 240. 

Boylan, Dr. William A., 235. 

Boyle, John N., 53. 

Brieger, Fritz, fight against Harvey, 
203, 206. 

Brooklyn Bus Corporation, 212, 
217-219. 

Brooklyn bus franchise, 211, 217- 
220. 

Brooklyn Edison Company, 265. 

Brooklyn Garden Apartments, 257. 

Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corpo 
ration, 171-172; owner of Brook 
lyn Bus Corporation, 212; sub 
way, 274. 

Bryce, Lord, on city government, 6. 

Buchler, William Paul, 205. 

Budget, see Kohler, Charles L. 

Building permits, secured by Doyle, 
49-50. 

Burr, Aaron, leader of Tammany, 
6. 

Bus franchises, 13, 54-55, 167-174, 
210-228; business and Tammany, 
11. 

Cardozo, Judge Albert, 7. 
Carrington, Edward C., 61. 
Catholic Church, 116-117. 
Catholics in politics, 29-30. 
Chamber of Commerce, share in 
Lexow investigation, 8. 



357 



358 



INDEX 



Chase, Stuart, 3, 287. 

Chrystie-Forsythe Street widening, 
234. 

Cincinnati, government in, 313. 

Citizen's Union, in Equitable Coach 
scandal, 167; exposure of land 
racket, 232. 

City Affairs Committee, strength 
of, 14; charges against Curran, 
48; charges against Walker, 59, 
163, 166, 183-185; charges 
against Dr. Walker and asso 
ciates, 74; charges against Theo- 
fel, 106, 188; attack on judges' 
vacations, 121, 123; charges 
against Farley, 186; charges 
against McQuade, 188; reply to 
Roosevelt, 190-194; fight on 
Brooklyn bus franchise, 211, 217, 
219; in Queens bus franchise, 
213; exposure of land racket, 
232; study of increased land 
values, 244; on housing, 257- 
258, 261; on subway recapture 
price, 277; against seven-day 
week, 296; in unemployment re 
lief, 299. 

City Club, pamphlet on Croker, 
10; report on court reform, 127; 
charges against Grain, 183. 

City manager plan, 302-304. 

Civil Service Commission, Munici 
pal, 35. 

Civil Service Laws, evasion of, 37- 
40. 

Civil Service Reform Association, 
34, 41. 

Claessens, August, elected on re 
count, 90. 

Cohalan, Daniel F., 110. 

Columbia Finance Corporation, 55. 

Committee of Fourteen, hoodwink 
ing of, 144. 

Committee of One Thousand, 
charges against Farley, 186. 

Committee on Plan and Survey, 
quoted, 250-251. 

Condemnation proceedings, reforms 
for, 241. 

Connolly, Maurice E., 198-199. 

Controller, powers of, 21. 



Consolidated Gas Company, 265- 
269. 

Cooley, Edwin J., resignation of, 
152. 

Copeland, Royal S., 115. 

Cords, Charles D., 234. 

Cosgrove, Dock Commissioner, 61. 

Courts, laxity in enforcing election 
laws, 87; cases covered by, 103- 
104; importance of Magistrate's, 
105. 

Crain, Thomas C. T., investigation 
of pier leases, 56; investigations 
of magistrates, 93, 115, 180; 
charges against by City Club, 
183. 

Crime, Society for the Prevention 
of, 8. 

Croker, Richard, exposure of, 6; 
testimony of, 9-11. 

Cropsey, Justice, 50. 

Culkin, and building permits, 44. 

Curran, Peter J., in Seabury investi 
gation, 47-48; no action against 
by Roosevelt, 189. 

Curran, Rev. Edward Lodge, 
quoted, 117. 

Curry, John F., 22; at Tammany 
Hall, 27; support of district 
leaders, 28; private activities, 
45; support of Doyle, 52; in 
sulted, 109; intervention for 
Doyle, 124-125; refusal to waive 
immunity, 182; consultation with 
Roosevelt, 189. 

Cuvillier, Louis, conduct in Sea- 
bury investigation, 77. 

Dahl, Gerhard M., 171, 212; sal 
ary, 217-218, 273. 

Delaney, John H., report on Equi 
table Coach Co., 169; in Queens 
bus franchise, 215-216; report 
on bus franchises, 220; on spe 
cial assessments, 243; fear of 
Untermyer, 276; from typo 
graphical union, 295. 

District-leader government, income 
of leader, 24; County Executive 
Committee, 27; selection of 
county leaders, 27; centering in 



INDEX 



359 



Tammany Hall, 27; promotion 
in, 30-31; salaries of, 31-34. 

D'Olier, W. L., 198. 

Dore, Edward S., 110. 

Doyle, Dr. William F., and zoning 
privileges, 44; building permits, 
48-50, 51-52; stay of sentence, 
124; Harvey's charges against, 
165. 

Dreyer, August, testimony before 
Seabury, 113. 

Dubonnet, Mrs. Paul, on clothes 
budget, 289. 

Dunn, Philip J., 110. 

Dunne, Justice, 233. 

Education, changes suggested for, 
323-324. 

Elder, R. H., on third degree, 
quoted, 133. 

Elections, district leader's role in, 
27-28; abuse of voting machines 
at, 80-83; lobbying at, 83-84; 
violence at, 84-85; illegal prac 
tices at, 86-87; colonization in, 
88 ; Tammany technique at, 89 ; 
off-year, 304; changes proposed 
for, 320. 

Electric rates, 265-269. 

Elevated lines, recapture price offer, 
277. 

Employment agency scandal, 163. 

Equitable bus franchise, 13, 167- 
174. 

Ethics, 291-292. 

Ewald, Magistrate George F., resig 
nation of, 107-110. 

Fageol, Frank R., 168-172. 

Falk, Samuel, 124. 

Farley, Sheriff Tom, 5; charges 
against by Committee of One 
Thousand, 186; gambling rights, 
44; and tin box, 45-47; investi 
gation of, 185-186; started in 
Union, 295. 

Fiaschetti, M., You Gotta Be 
Rough, 132. 

Fifth Avenue Coach Company, 222- 
227. 

Five-cent fare, 279-280. 



Flaherty, Joseph, in Seabury in 
vestigation, 47, 189. 

Flynn, Edward J., 22. 

French, Fred F., testimony before 
Seabury, 53-54. 

Fullen, William G., 278. 

Future, policy for, 318-324. 

Gas rates, 269. 

Gaynor, Edward J., 236. 

George, Henry, campaign for 
mayor, 231. 

George Washington Bridge, 273. 

Geraghty, James F., exposure of, 
163-165. 

Gifford, Walter S., 270. 

Godkin, E. L., quoted, 63. 

Godley, Leon, 278. 

Golden, Miss May, 235. 

Goodman, Henry M. R., resigna 
tion of, 112. 

Gottlieb, Maurice, testimony before 
Seabury, 114-115. 

Gould, Jay, and Tweed, 7. 

Government, general impotence of, 
292 ; fundamental soundness of 
city, 308; present weaknesses in, 
309. 

Hall, A. Oakey, 7. 

Halleran, John J., 199-205. 

Halleran, Laurence B., 204-206. 

Hare system of voting, 311-312. 

Harper's Weekly, 7. 

Harris, Fred C, 212. 

Harvey, George U., on Board of 
Estimate, 158; charges against 
Doyle, 165; friend to Tammany, 
199-207; in Queens bus fran 
chise, 213-216. 

Hastings, Senator John A., in Equi 
table Coach scandal, 168-172. 

Healy, Martin J., in Ewald case, 
108-110. 

Hearst, W. R., in campaign against 
McClellan, 90; attitude toward 
Walker, 157. 

Herald Tribune, 58; attitude toward 
Walker, 157. 

Hetherington, Surrogate, 106, 188. 

Hickin, William H., 60. 



360 



INDEX 



Higgins, James A., investigation of 
pier leases, 56. 

Hillquit, Morris, support of "out 
door relief," 297. 

Hoffman, A. Joseph, 217. 

Holland, J. P., 295. 

Holland Vehicular Tunnel, 273. 

Holmes, John Haynes, 183, 188. 

Housing problem, solution for, 254- 
255, 323. 

Hudson River Navigation Corpora 
tion, 61. 

Hylan, administration of, 6; ap 
pointed judge, 105; as mayor, 
160. 

Income of families, 284. 
Interbprough subway, 274. 
Investigations, effects summarized, 

12-15. 
Irving Trust Building, 53. 

Jamaica Bus Co., 212. 

Jews in politics, 29, 30, 115, 116. 

Jones, George, fight against Tweed, 

7. 
Judges, reason for appointments, 

94; quality of, 104; salary and 

tenure, 104. 

Kelby, Judge Charles H., quoted, 

164. 

Keller, F. Traugott, 62. 
Klein, Henry, 199. 
Klein, Irving, 199-203. 
Koenig, Morris, elected judge, 89. 
Kohler, Charles L., Director of the 

Budget, 21; exposure of, 163- 

164. 

Labor, American Federation of, 4. 

Labor, docility of, 285; and Tam 
many, 293-296. 

La Guardia, Fiorello, in investiga 
tion of magistrates, 92 ; demands 
for removal of Vitale, 107; at 
tack on Roosevelt, 179. 

Land, values, 230; condemnation 
racket, 232-242; appraisal fees, 
239-240; values increased by sub 
ways, 243-245. 



League of Women Voters, 42, 110. 
Legal Aid Society, 120-121; report 

on third degree, 133-134. 
Legislature, in judgeship deal, 94- 

95. 

Levy, Samuel, 116. 
Lehman report, 161. 
Lexow Committee, 6-9. 
Libby Hotel, damages, 234. 
Linville, Dr. Henry R., 75. 
Lippmann, Walter, on Roosevelt, 

178. 

Living expenses, 284. 
Lockwood, Charles C, 278. 
Low, Seth, mayor, 12, 13. 
Lunn, George R., 272. 
Lynch, Dennis Tilden, 58. 
Lynch, John A., and bus franchises, 

54-55. 

McCauley, Paul J., 205. 

McClellan, George B., Tammany 
mayor, 12; elected over Hearst, 
90. 

McCooey, John H., 22 ; private ac 
tivities, 45; profit on land deals, 
234-236. 

McCooey, John, Jr., and zoning 
laws, 50; in judgeship deal, 102. 

McCooey, Miss Margaret J., 235. 

McCook, Judge Philip, 234. 

McCormick, and marriage licenses, 
44; indictment and acquittal, 48. 

MacCrate, Justice, decision quoted, 
202. 

McEneny, Francis T., 237. 

McGoldrick, Professor Joseph, 
quoted, 25, 30. 

McKee, Joseph V., as mayor, 13; 
reduction of city automobiles, 
34; on Board of Estimate, 158; 
on Queens bus franchise, 214- 
216. 

McManus, Terence J., 110. 

McQuade, James A., testimony be 
fore Seabury, 63-67. 

McQuade, Francis, resignation of, 
112; testimony before Seabury, 
114; charges against, 188. 

Machine, city-wide political, 26. 

Mager, Martin, 199-203. 



INDEX 



361 



Magistrate's Court, importance of, 

105. 

Mahoney, Jeremiah T., 110. 
Maier, David, in pier lease deals, 

44, 60-61. 

Maltbie, Milo, 272. 
Mancuso, Francis X., 116. 
Manhattan, bus franchises in, 221- 

228; street railways, 222. 
Manhattan Elevated Railroad Co., 

favors to Croker, 10. 
Mathews, Miss Annie, 110. 
Mayor, powers of, 21. 
May, Mitchell, 236. 
Mazet Committee, 6, 9-11. 
Meyer Legislative Investigating 

Committee, 6, 163-165. 
Miller, Julius, 115. 
Milwaukee, government of, 317. 
Moley, Professor Raymond, 141- 

142. 

Mooney, William, founder of Tam 
many, 5. 

Morris, vice squad profits of, 147. 
Moss, Frank, quoted, 106-107. 
Mulrooney, Commissioner, 294. 
Mumford, Lewis, 314. 
Murphy, Charles F., 57. 
Murphy, Walter T., appraisal fees, 

240. 

Nast, Thomas, fight against Tweed, 
7. 

National Industrial Conference 
Board, 284. 

Nevin-Queens Bus Corporation, 
213-216. 

Newspapers, and elections, 85; on 
Roosevelt's refusal to remove 
McQuade, 189. 

New York Air Terminals, Inc., 
202. 

New York and Queens Electric 
Light Co., 265. 

New York City, results of investi 
gations of government, 11-12; 
improvement in government, 12; 
state supervision of, 16-18; 
budget, 22; persons on payroll, 
22; real government of, 22; re 
muneration of employees, 35-37; 



annual loss in land condemna 
tions, 232. 
New York City Airport, Inc., 204- 

206. 

New York Edison Company, 265. 
New York Omnibus Corporation, 

221-228. 
New York Telephone Co., 270- 

272. 
Norris, Jean, removal from office, 

112. 
North German Lloyd, pier lease, 

10, 59-61. 

North Shore Bus Co., 212. 
No. 1 Wall Street, 53. 

Olvany, Judge George W., and 
zoning privileges, 44 ; and build 
ing permits, 48, 52-54; praised 
by Roosevelt, 179. 

Omnibus Corporation of Chicago, 
221. 

O'Mara, Dr. T. J., fee splitting of, 
69-74. 

O'Neil, William, 168. 

O'Gorman, James A., 110. 

O'Shea, Dr. William J., 235. 

Page Commission, report quoted, 
106-107; on detention of pris 
oners, 140. 

Panken, Jacob, campaign for re 
election, 81. 

Park Avenue Association, 287. 

Parkhurst, Dr. Charles H., 6, 8. 

Phillips, J. M., 198. 

Pier leases, 44, 55-62. 

Pink, Louis H., 253. 

Platt, Republican boss, 9, 13. 

Plunkitt, George Washington, 4. 

Police, interference at polls, 8 ; and 
disorderly houses, 8 ; use of third 
degree, 130; brutality of, 135- 
136; character of, 139-140; and 
speakeasy protection, 142-144; 
vice squad, 147; Mulrooney, 
Commissioner of, 294. 

Politics, organized, necessity of, 14. 

Port Authority of New York, 315. 

Potter, Hamilton, 80. 

Potocki case, 148-149. 



362 



INDEX 



Prial, Deputy Controller, Frank J., 
21, 202; report on Queens bus 
franchise, 214. 

Probation Department, incompe 
tence of, 152-154. 

Proportional representation, 306- 
313. 

Prostitution, 8. 

Protestants in politics, 30, 115. 

Public Housing Conference, 261. 

Public utilities, 265-281. 

Queens, situation in, 197; bus 

franchise in, 213-216. 
Quinlivan, vice squad profits, 147. 

Ralmac Realty Corporation, 238. 

Reading, government of, 317. 

Realtor, the, a business hero, 229. 

Regional Plan, 315. 

Reliance Bronze and Steel Corpora 
tion, 174. 

Religion, deference to, in appoint 
ments, 115-116. 

Republican party, and reform, 1 3 ; 
in judgeship deal, 102; request 
for investigation, 180; acts to 
force investigation, 183; coop 
eration with Tammany, 196. 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., and Farley, 
46-47; and charges against Cur- 
ran, 47; and judgeship deal, 
103; investigation of Ewald case, 
107; authorization of investi 
gation of courts, 111; dismissal 
of City Affairs Committee's 
charges, 166; attack on by La 
Guardia, 179; attitude toward 
Tammany, 178-195; rebuke to 
Harvey, 206-207. 

Rose, Charles B., 168. 

Rosner, Henry J., 213; on unem 
ployment relief, 299. 

Rothstein, Arnold, loan to Vitale, 
107; "fixer," 294. 

Rowley, Park, 212. 

Russell Sage Foundation Regional 
Plan, 262, 314-315. 

Ryan, Joseph P., 4, 295. 

Schiffman, Charles, 238. 

School system, politics in, 75-77. 



Seabury, Judge Samuel, 44; and 
Farley, 46; on bus franchises, 
55; cross-examination of Mc- 
Quade, 63-66; and Dr. W. H. 
Walker, 68-74; Intermediate Re 
port quoted, 77-78; cross-exami 
nation of Theofel, 95-102, 208- 
209; investigation of Magis 
trates' Courts, 111-112; final re 
port, quoted, 117-118; report on 
Magistrates' Courts, quoted, 122- 
123; plan for reforming courts, 
125-128; on third degree, quoted, 
140-141 ; Potocki case record, 
148-149; exposure of bail bond 
racketeering, 151; weakest charge 
against Walker, 174; investiga 
tion of Farley, 185-186; investi 
gation of Queens, 196-197; ex 
amination of Dahl, 217. 

Seasongood, Murray, quoted, 23. 

Sheehan, William F., 178. 

Sheehy, appointed by Roosevelt, 
189. 

Sherman, Justice Henry L., 124. 

Sherwood, Russell T., 175. 

Silbermann, Jesse, removal, 112; 
appointment, 116. 

Simpson, George W., resignation 
of, 112, 203. 

Sinking Fund Commission, 56. 

Sisto, J. A., gift to Walker, 175- 
176. 

Smith, J. Allan, 169; telegrams to 
Fageol, 170-171 ; letter of credit 
for Walker, 172. 

Smith, Alfred E., 5; support of 
Roosevelt, 179. 

Socialists, in elections, 81, 82, 84, 
88, 90 ; in investigation of magis 
trates, 92 ; solution of liquor 
problem, 144; attack on Roose 
velt, 179; request for investiga 
tion, 180; program for unem 
ployment relief, 297; Committee 
on Unemployment, 299. 

Social service, improvements sug 
gested for, 321-322. 

Speakeasy, protection, 142-144. 

Stark, Hyman, case of, 130-131. 

State Housing Law, 258. 

Steffens, Lincoln, on Parkhurst, 8. 



INDEX 



363 



Steinbrink, Meier, on judges, 
quoted, 125. 

Steuer, Max D., 110. 

Stool-pigeons, 146-147. 

Street railways, 222. 

Strikes, 294. 

Strong, William L., reform mayor, 
12. 

Subway, costs of building, 243; 
method of financing, 243-246; 
problems of recapture, 273-275; 
recapture price, 277; hope for 
municipal operation, 278 ; five- 
cent fare, 279-280; financing of, 
281. 

Supreme Court, in condemnation 
cases, 240-241. 

Talley, Alfred J., 239- 

Tammany, investigations of, 4-15; 
spoils system, 9-11; and busi 
ness, 1 1 ; comeback after investi 
gations, 12; underlying economic 
base, 1 5 ; dominance of, 26 ; 
Curry at, 27; district leaders of, 
28; evasion of civil service laws, 
35-42; legal graft of, 44; sup 
port of Doyle, 52; importance 
of elections to, 90; mistake 
in judicial scandals, 93; consid 
eration of religion in appoint 
ments and nominations, 115-117; 
influence on practice of law, 119- 
121; support of Walker, 176; 
hold on the people, 290 ; attitude 
toward labor, 293-296; ties with 
labor unions, 295; record on un 
employment, 296. 

Tammany Hall, see Werner, M. R. 

Tammany Society, 27. 

Taxation, plan for, 323. 

Teachers Union, 75. 

Telephones, 270-272. 

Tenements, 253. 

Theofel, John, 22 ; private activities, 
45 ; testimony on judgeship deal, 
95-102; acquitted of charges, 
106; charges against, 188; testi 
mony before Seabury, 208-209; 
sale of automobiles, 209. 

Third degree, 130-141. 

Thompson, William Hale, 155. 



Times, The New York, against 
Tweed, 6; attitude toward 
Walker, 157; attitude toward 
Roosevelt, 189. 

Tin Box Brigade, 44. 

Todd, Hiram C, 108, 182. 

Tompkins Bus Corporation fran 
chise, 54-55. 

Tompkins, Leslie J., 110. 

Tompkins, Justice A. S., quoted, 
202. 

Trades and Labor Council, Central, 
4, 295. 

Transit Commission, offer on sub 
ways, 276. 

Trusts, 265. 

Tuttle, Charles H., 55-56; in in 
vestigation of magistrates, 92; 
charges against Ewald, 107; at 
tack on Roosevelt, 179; dis 
closure of Ewald scandal, 181. 

Tweed, fight against, 6-7. 

Unemployment, 283, 296-300. 

United American Lines, payments 
to Vause, 56. 

United Electric Light and Power 
Co., 265. 

Untermyer, Samuel, 110; and sub 
ways, 276. 

Utilities, public, plan for operating, 
322. 

Van Namee, George R., 272. 
Van Wyck, Robert A., Tammany 

mayor, 12, 13. 

Vause, Judge W. Bernard, 55-57. 
Veblen, Thorstein, 287. 
Vice, 145. 

Vitale, Magistrate, removal of, 107. 
Voting machines, drawbacks of, 80- 

83 ; misreading totals of, 89. 

Waldman, Louis, 217; program for 
unemployment relief, 297. 

Walker, James J., resignation of, 
1, 4; administration of, 6; on 
party politics, 34; salary raises, 
35; action on investigation of 
Board of Standards and Appeals, 
52 ; appointment of magistrates, 
92; appointments of, 160-161; 



364 



INDEX 



political background, 1 59- 1 60 ; 
machine-made mayor, 156; aided 
by publicity, 156-157; Seabury 
charges against, 166; City Affairs 
Committee's charges against, 166; 
in Equitable Coach scandal, 168- 
172; gifts from friends, 173- 
174; attitude on bus franchises, 
211; in Queens bus franchise, 
213-216; on housing, 255-257; 
in subway strike, 295. 

Walker, Dr. William H., employ 
ment of, 41 ; compensation fees, 
44; fee splitting, 67-75. 

Wallstein, Leonard M., exposure of 
land racket, 232-233, 238. 

Walsh, Frank P., 110. 

Walsh, Nicholas F., appraisal fees, 
240. 

Walsh, William E., indictment and 
acquittal, 52. 

Warschauer, Morris, 237. 

Wealth in New York, 287-289. 

Welfare Council, on unemployed, 
283, 298. 

Wells, H. G., on American politics, 
6 ; on housing and building, 261- 
262. 



Werner, M. R., Tammany Hall, 5, 
11, 63. 

Weston, John C, 146; profits from 
vice racket, 147. 

Wickersham Commission, quoted, 
129-130. 

Winston, Perry, 237. 

Wise, Rabbi Stephen S., 183, 188. 

Whalen, Grover, on nightsticks, 
136; on speakeasies, 143; resig 
nation of, 294. 

White, E. Michael, 226. 

Women, in New York politics, 42- 
43; framing of, 144-149. 

Women's City Club, 42, 122. 

Worker, housing requirements, 
254. 

World, New York, quoted, 57-58; 
attitude toward Walker, 157. 

World-Telegram, quoted, 132; atti 
tude toward Walker, 157. 

Wright, Frank Lloyd, 3, 314. 

Zoning laws, 48-49 ; evasion of, 49- 
54, see also Doyle, Dr. William 

Zorn, Joseph, gasoline station per 
mit, 50-51.