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Of the amount expended for this department in 1866, some $600,000 was for the pay of the force. The force now numbers about 600 men. Under the old system the number was about 3,700.
The Metropolitan Department has already turned over to the city authorities engine houses, &c., worth at least $150,000.
If there be any extravagance or fraud or improper expenditure in this department, let its opponents call public attention to the fact. Under the present Commissioners, the public have every guaranty that the management of this department will give entire satisfaction as regards economy, honesty and efficiency.
THE EXCISE BOARD. This board, so unpopular with the liquor dealers and criminal classes, and so popular and dearly cherished by every good citizen, is composed of the same able men who compose the Board of Health. The excise law last year brought about one million of dollars into the treasury of this city, and the same amount this year, upon the sound principle that those who, by their occupation and habits, add so largely to the burdens of taxation, must themselves bear their full proportion of that tax. The necessity of an excise law has always been admitted. Is not the only complaint against this board, that it has fearlessly, fully and efficiently enforced the law? Under the old system, less than $20,000 per year was collected from excise. Admitting, for the sake of the argument, that the Commissioners have the control of the expenditure of large sums of money, no complaints have as yet been made of their spending this money improperly, which is the main point; unless some specific complaint can be substantiated in this respect, the present system should not be departed from, unless the city or local athorities show that they can do better in the expenditure of the money. V
To show with what economy the Common Council and the Board of Supervisors husband the money and other property under their control, we refer to the following instances :
THE COMMON COUNCIL. On the 14th day of June, 1866, a resolution was rushed through both branches, giving away, in fact, to the Harlem Railroad Company, the whole of One Hundred and Twenty-fifth street. It was [Con. No. 126.]
pushed through with such indecent haste (passing both boards the same day), that Mayor Hoffman, in bis veto, if not in form, yet in substance, strongly rebuked the Common Council for the extraordinary rapidity with which it was ready to sacrifice the best interests of our people. Of course no public notice was given, for those who had the management of the little affair wished to keep as quiet as possible.
? A resolution passed the Common Council directing the Street Commissioner to make a contract for twenty years for lighting our streets with coal gas. Mayor Hoffman vetoed this scheme, but it was only effectually stopped by an injunction; had the Common Council been able to deliver our people, bound hand and foot, to the gas monopolies, we should have been saddled with the sum of ten millions of dollars per year for very poor light.
The Common Council, in violation of the city charter, leased to the Sisters of Mercy about three-quarters of a block of ground between Fourth and Lexington avenues, in the neighborhood of Eighty-third street, for the term of ninety-nine years, at the nominal rent of one dollar per annum.
This is only a specimen of how the Common Council deals with its trust property, with property pledged to the creditors of the city. It gives it away for ninety-nine years, whereas the charter prohibits leases for a longer term than ten years. And similar grants have been made to other charities.
The matter of the Corporation Manual shows how the Common Council spend the public money. In the early part of 1866 they passed a resolution directing the clerk to prepare and cause to be published ten thousand copies of this volume. The mayor vetoed this resolution, because he thought, first, that there was no propriety in publishing ten thousand copies, and secondly, because there was no limitation upon the expenditure to be made.
The bills for this Manual in 1865 amounted to $53,672.30.
The mayor stated in his veto that, upon inquiry made of respon. sible publishers, he had ascertained that ten thousand copies could be prepared for $30,000.
The Common Council refused to be guided by the mayor, and to give out the work to the lowest bidder, but passed the resolution over his veto; and, as a matter of course, the bills for publishing the Manual amounted to about $60,000.
This job was attempted to be put through in 1867, but it was prevented.
The leasing of a few rooms of Fernando Wood in his building in Nassau street for ten years, at the enormous rent of $18,000, when they were not worth more than $6,000 per annum.
In 1865 the Legislature appropriated $160,000 for printing and stationery for Common Council. However, in that year the Common Council spent some $315,000 for those items.
This is one instance of the many in which the Common Council has exceeded the appropriations.
ANN STREET MATTER.
A resolution was passed in the Common Council, on the last day of its official existence in 1865, directing the Corporation Counsel to take proceedings to widen Ann and Fulton streets. This alteration would have destroyed over 400 places of business, thrown over 3000 persons out of employment, and have cost millions of dollars. Four. fifths of the surprised owners of property on the line of the proposed alteration, used every argument and presented every remonstrance, but without avail. The Common Council, however, was forced to rescind its action.
Such is the insecurity of the tenure of property in this city that a man may go to bed at night believing himself safe in the enjoyment of private property for many years, and making plans for its future improvement, but wake up on the morrow and read in the morning paper that it has been secretly confiscated by the Common Council, to furnish jobs for its dependents, and the corruptly interested railroad corporations, wbich desire to have a wider thoroughfare.
The well known Fort Gansevoort swindle, by which the city paid some $500,000 for its own property. The above are a few instances only in which the Common Council has of late abused its trust.
The association has observed with pleasure the efforts of Mayor Hoffman to check the reckless legislation on the part of the Common Council, although it regrets that those efforts have been ineffectual.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS.
The Board of Supervisors has of late abused its trust in the following instances, among many others :
What was paid for enrolling the militia of the city ?
In 1864, on the plea of correcting the enrollment of this city, so as to reduce its quota under the national drafts or conscriptions, the Volunteering Committee of the Board of Supervisors set about making up a new list of persons liable to military duty.
When it was done peace was declared, and it was utterly useless; $800,000 had been wrung from the tax payers and thrown to a horde of hungry office seekers.
But this was not all. The committee of the Board of Supervisors resolved that Mr. Blunt had so efficiently served the tax payers, that they must pay him something more. So they voted bim a service of plate worth $6,000, and they voted him a purse of $50,000.
The service of plate was given him.
The $50,000 was given him.
In December, 1865, the mayor sent the following veto to the Board of Supervisors :
“I return herewith, without my signature, a resolution of your Honorable Body, directing the Comptroller to draw his warrant in favor of the New York Printing Company for the sum of $1,500, for printing five thousand copies of the New Election Law,' and for printing and delivering circulars to inspectors and canvassers.
"I am constrained to regard these charges as grossly exorbitant. Five thousand copies of the 'New Election Law'can be printed at a fair profit, and on as good paper, and in the same style as those furnished by the New York Printing Company, for less than $250, 'eaving an extra gain of over three hundred per cent.
“The printing and delivery, by messengers, of the circulars alluded to, amount to $500.
“These charges are equally excessive, especially as I have learned from the police authorities, that the circulars were not delivered by the messengers of the printing company, but through the agency of that department.
"Only two thousand copies of the 'New Election Law' were received at the police headquarters, and I have reason to believe that not more than half the number of copies charged in the bill were printed.”
“C. GODFREY GUNTHER, Mayor.”
Notwithstanding this expose, the board took up the bill and passed it over the mayor's veto, without explanation, as appears from the following extract from the published proceedings:
“Supervisor Roche moved that the resolution, adopted November 28, 1865, and vetoed December 12, to pay the bill of the New York Printing Company for printing the Election Law, be taken up and considered; which was carried.
"The same was then adopted, notwithstanding the said objection, by the following vote: "Affirmative-Supervisors Fox, Roche, Shook, Smith, Stewart,
Tweed and Willmann-7.
Therefore, under the provisions of the act, passed April 15, 1857, relative to the Board of Supervisors of the county of New York, the same became adopted.
The County Court House job, by which over $3,000,000 have been squandered in this building, which does not yet approach completion. This scheme is too familiar to the public to need particular mention.
For armories and drill rooms in the first eight months of 1867, the Board of Supervisors spent over $200,000, and this was spent chiefly for fitting up the armories with the most expensive carved