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October 31—28, 1882
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE.
Officje, 191 Broad-way.
OCTOBER 21—28, 1882.
Our columns this week will be found full of interesting matter
for all who do business in the metropolis. Sir Oracle discourses
upon the future of prices. Our Washington correspondent throws
a side light upon the famous River and Harbor Bill, and fore¬
shadows the trouble the m.ajority will have in organizing the next
Congress. Is the decision of the Court of Appeals in the Story case
to be so interpreted as to give Jay Gould a lien on all the property
on each side the elevated roads 9 This query will be found discussed
editorially. Architects will read with great interest the article on
apartment houses, while p)eople who are furnishing their houses
will be instructed by the illustrated article on ivall paper. The
great real estate sale of last Wednesday is fidly described, and a
great variety of imformation on other topics will be found in the
columns of this journal.
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THE YITAL POINT.
It does not matter much who is elected Governor, Messrs.
Folger and Cleveland are both excellent candidates and the
State would be safe in the hands of either. Nor will there be
much choice between the rival would-be Mayors. Two very
worthy gentlemen will be in the fleld and the one elected will
certainly endeavor to make a good record while in office.
The real point of interest for the voters of this city is not who
shall be Governor or Mayor, but will it be possible to secure a
legislature that will pass a charter, giving New York city
responsible home rule. On this point the local platforms of
the opposing parties indulge in "glittering generalities," and
there seems no honest intention in any responsible quarter to
give the metropolis the amended city charter it so urgently
The Mayor of New York should be the official head of the
city instead of a mere clerk as he is at present. All commis¬
sions should be abolished and single heads of departments
substituted, who should be appointed by the Mayor, subjectto
removal by the same officer if they failed to perform their
duties to his satisfaction.
The authority of the Board of Aldermen should be reduced
to zero. It should not be permitted to thwart the Mayor in his
appointments or removals. In view of the lessons of our past
municipal history the legislator who would vote to leave this
power with the aldermen should be regarded as a public
enemy and made to understand by press aud voter that he was
a marked man among our municipal politicians.
The vital point, then, is a new charter or such amendments
to the present one as will give the Mayor of New York the
same authority and responsibility as that now wielded by the
Mayor of Brooklyn. The heads of departments under our
Mayor should have power to get rid of holders of sinecure
positions, as well as to diminish salaries, but not increase
them. A reform city government with a responsible Mayor
could easily save $2,000,000 per annum, and yet every depart¬
ment of the city government could be more efficiently admin¬
istered than it is to-day.
'1 he editors of the city papers, Messrs, Reid, Bennett, Jones,
Dana, Hastings, Schurz and Hurlbut all know that it does not
make the slightest ditft-rence except to politicians which of the
opposing candidates shall be chosen Governor or Mayor. At
the same time tliey are alao aware that a charter which would
give us responsible home rule would be an unmixed public
beneflt. This can only be secured by the election of a It^gisla-
ture pledged to vote for the right kind of a charter. Will ihey
second The Eecoed AND Guide in tryiug to flnd out the vif ws
of the various Assembly candidates upon this most important
" Gigantic Jobs."
One of the miseries entailed upon us by the reign of riugs was a
miserably sordid way of looking at great enterprises, public and
private ; and this legacy is much worse than the cosfc of all the rings
in money. It is the tendency to regard every oostly public work as
a *' gigantic job."
Take the case of the river and harbor bill. There was a go"eral
and just impression that the House of Representatives last winter
was disposed to be a very profligate body. The character of lis
organization and its leadership prehgured this, and the public l»ad
an uneasy feeling that there wei-e jobbers in Congress and that the
jobbers had their way. The river and harbor bill was the scape¬
goat upon whicli this feeling was visited. It appropriated a large
amount of money—avast amount of money from the point of view
of the average citizen, though a mere trifle in comparison with the
wealth of the nation, if the appropriation was needful—and its
passage was secured by log-rolling. Everybodv says it was a' 'gigan¬
tic job." Perhaps it was. We do not pretend to any detailed
knowledge of its provisions, or to any other guarantee that they
were proper than is furnished by the certificates of the army offi¬
cers, who are by long odds the most competent and conscientious
class of men in the public service. Perhaps it was, but that is not
the point. The point is, that the first man you meet and the first
newspaper you pick up will tell you that it is a gigantic job with¬
out g ving you any evidence and without showing any more
knowledge than we have just claimed for our own parfc. People
are so anxious to believe the bill was a job that they will believe it
Come nearer home. The two most costly public works iu this
State are the Albany capitol and the Brooklyn bridge. People in
general know nothing about them except that they are very costly,
and on that knowledge alone denovmce them as "gigantic jobs."
The argument seems to be something like this : Nothing ought to
cost more than half a million, or, if the syllogizer is liberal, a mil¬
lion. Argal, all above that amount is stolen and the only remain¬
ing question is, by whom? It does not occur to any hostile critic
to compute the amount of material and the cost of labor in a public
work. It is less onerous to describe the work as a gigantic job and
let it go at that.
Now we are not concerned to defend either the Albany capito.
or the Brooklyn bridge. It is very possible thafc a smaller and
simpler building than the capitol would equally have served the
needs of the State ; it is very possible that the public convenience
secured by the Brooklyn bridge may not be great enough to justify
the construction of so very costly a means of communication, even
between the first and third cities of the Union. But to call a pub¬
lic work a misjudged or extravagant enterprise is one thing ; to call
it a gigantic job is quite another. The latter epithet charges mis¬
appropriation of public money agamst the trustees of one work
and the commissioners of the other, and since this can scai cely be
possible without the connivance of the professional men in control
of the works, it charges connivance upon architects and engineers
and superintendents, who are all, so far as we know, men of un¬
spotted personal reputation and some of whom are men of the
highest professional reputation. To make such a charge without
evidence is either very cruel or very selfish; and where is the
Since the Albany capitol was begun every branch of its adminis¬
tration has been changed—commissioners, architects, supeilntend-
ents—and every change has been accompanied by an investigation.
When Governor Tilden came in, in 1875, there was a Democratic
investigation of a Republican administration; when Governor
Cornell came in, in 1880, there was a Republican investigation of a
Democratic administration Last winter there was another Demo¬
cratic investigation, by a committee of the Assembly, of the second
Republican administration. Every set of administrators have had