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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 48, no. 1235: November 14, 1891

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November 14,1891 Record and Guide. 6117 De/o7ES) to fW- Estate . BuiLoiKc Afi^rfiTECTJi^E .KoiisnJoiD Deomv^tioiI. BKsit/Ess A^to Theme? of GESEi^il I; the stockholders complain: (1) That the proxies given to certain directors at the request cf the com¬ pany's secretary, to be used at a special meeting of the strckholders, to be held at Bloomington, III., on June 25, 1890, to authorize the acquisition of the Fort Wayne, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad, and the placing of a first mortgage thereon of the same amount per mile as on the re-t of the line, were used at an adjournment held three days afterwards to put a second mortgage on tfae entire line, including tbe acquisition, thereby increasing the mortgage debt per mile by 50 per cent. (?) Stockholders complain that after the wording of the proxy bad been strained so as to give a colorable right to use it for a purpose which bad been concealed from the stockholders when solicited, all news of the action was suppressed. Not only were the stockholders not informed of the intention, but they were not informed of the action until a fortnight ago. Nothing is said about a second mortgage in tbe president's report for the year ending December 31, 1S9U, nor in the company's statement appearing in Poor's Manual for 1891, issued only last Juue. The news only reached Wall street last month, and the shuCk was expressed by a decline of 'i.i per cent in the market value of the common shares and nearly 10 per cent in the preferred. (3) Stockholders complain because the bonds have bean privately dis¬ posed of to brokers on what they believe to be terms ruinous to the company. (4) They complain that the mortgage does not protect them, inasmuch as the bonds are to be delivered by the trustee on demand of a majority of the Board of Directors, tbe trustee not being bound to know to what u=e the bonds or their proceeds have beeu or are to be put. Calvin S. Brice, President of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad Company, makes an effort to answer these complaints in a circular letter to the stockholders this week, and we have the lawyer and politician combined in his attempt to do the best he can with a difficult case. So far as he quotes from the proceedings taken, he only confirms the facts stated by indignant stockholders. There were but two courses before him when he wrote this circular ; one was to own up frankly, make the best excuse possible and announce that the question of ratifying the increase of 50 per cent in the mortgage debt would be regularly submitted at a meeting of stockholders to be called for that purpose, and that if the majority was opposed to the mortgage, why theirs was the sovereign will. This would have been the manly course, would have silenced all opposition and have placed the responsibility with the owners of the property' and settled all question of validity of the bonds, but instead he attempts to throw dust in the eyes of the stockholders and befog the public by aproduction which evidences a low opinion of their intelligence, and will only tend to provoke the growing opposition to more determined action. The more the issue is forced between the deceived stockholders and the management, the worse it will be, not only for the management, but for the parties who have contracted to buy the new bonds. India, Australia and South Africa. Of course, among the colonial investments those most sought after have been the issue o£ the colonial governments, and among the colonial governments none have stood higher than the Australian States. Recently a number of these colonies have been borrowing too largely in the English market, and cries of warning are being heard against lending so readily in the future. The prices of the issues of the various governments have declined and are declining. Nevertheless, the fever for borrowing still continues. Undeterred by an unfortunate experience only a few months since, Victoria has announced her intention of bringing out a Public Works loan aggregating $30,000,000. The new Premier of New South Wales, in a recent speech, also foreshadowed a largely increased outlay of money on public works. The finances of tbis second colony are in a far better shape than those of her neighbors ; but the speech has, nevertheless, made the holders of her issues somewhat nervous. Tbe smaller Australian colonies are pursuing a very similar policy ; and at present it looks as if the result would be what it was in New, Zealand. That is, the colonies will exhaust their credit in London, and then settle dawn to a period of depression, while the country grows up to its improvements. We mention these facts, because tbey may in the future affect the readiness of Englishmen to purchase American securities. Probably for the next couple of years the Australian demands on the English market will be met, but having been met, they will not therefore cease. On the contrary, the more that the Australians fet the more they will want; they will come to crave the artificial stimulus added to trade bv the spending of the bor¬ rowed money. Finally, of course, English investors will stop lending, and it will be increasingly easy to float American securities in that market. In this connection it is interesting to note that several of tbe Australian colonies are undergoing at present a period of reac¬ tion from a rather excited real estate speculation. The years of 1889 and 1890 were, the world over, years of a certain amount of inflation ; but the recovery from it has been raore rapid in Amterica than in any other country. IS it tben true that Boss Croker is converted to ballot reform? In that case we can consider it to be assured that the voters of this State will have, in time for the next election, a blanket ballot as the sole legal medium of voting, the said ballot to be printed and distributed at the expense of the State. It is true that the elections have been won by a party _ whose record has not been favorable to balldt reform and whose recent declarations on the subject, through its candidate, have been, to say the least, equivocal. Nevertheless, no matter who controls the Legislature, there is no doubt that Boss Croker could, if so he chooses, have the ballot law brought to a pitch of Australian perfection, for the Republicans are committed to such a measure. But what does this mean ? We have been told that the voters of this city were to such an extent the unwilling slaves of corruptionists that, if once we could get an absolutely secret ballot, which could in no way be tam¬ pered with, we should thereby put an end to any delivery of votes according to order. Furthermore, as " deals " and other dubious political technicalities are dependent for success on the ability of dealers successfully to deliver the votes, we were to expect that in the future tbere would be no more " deals" and that an era of honest politics would begin. So the secret ballot was loudly pro¬ claimed to mean the downfall of the "practical" politician. Well! we obtained a ballot which is nearly secret; and in the fall of 1890 a candidate was placed in the fleld who was committed against " deals," and who, if he was elected, was to sit in the mayoralty chair as an embodiment of Virtue. Alas, however. Virtue seemed to bave as little chance to enter the City Hall through the rather secret ballot boxes as through those which were open as the ambient air. This trial of the Australian system made its advocates still hotter for a blanket ballot, and during the campaign of this year tbe issue for and against this reform was vigorously pushed by the People's Municipal League. But what we should like to know is this: If the blanket ballot is going to be so effective as a squelcher of "deals," how is it that Boss Croker, whose political life, according to good authority, derives its susten¬ ance from such fruity material, comes out in favor of so ob¬ noxious an improvement? If Mr. Croker does bring about the pas¬ sage of a blanket ballot act we may be sure that it is not going to harm Tammany. In truth, every election but provides additional confirmation of the contentiin so often advanced in these columns, that Tammany will never be dislodged by the employment of merely political methods. TT'NGLISH investors have always preferred the colonies of their ■^ own country to all the available fields for placing their money; and consequently have enormous interests in Canada, ASININITY, at last, has had its day, and the newspapers of this city are now adopting the right tone about Chicago and the World's Fair. By and by, perhaps, even the Herald will recognize that it is both silly and in very bad taste to endeavor to belittle what, be it a success or a failure, is a great national enterprise involving the credit of the country. The petty spirit which the journals of New York have