Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

treatment of labor, and finally commented upon the personality of the candidate. The conclusion of that speech is yet remembered by interested partisans of that time:

I appeal from the hasty conclusions of passion to the sober judgment of those who now condemn me. Leaving

my vindication to the operation of time and the honesty of my own purpose, I press on to the labors awaiting me. I decline to recognize a candidate whose only merit is his obscurity, that I may follow a statesman whose life has made glorious the history of his country. I decline to bow before a graven image because I prefer to follow the teachings of an apostle of the true political faith, preferring genuine ability to dull mediocrity; a true reformer to a sham reformer; a statesman to a hangman;

I decline

an illustrious citizen to a political adventurer. to support Grover Cleveland for the presidency, and here and now in the presence of a leader whom I have always regarded as my political sponsor; in the midst of brethren and comrades with whom I have shared many hard fought battles, and before the eyes of all the country, to whom I have this night laid bare my motives and purposes, I declare myself in favor of Benjamin F. Butler, statesman and patriot.

The principal meeting of the Butler campaign in Albany was held on September 29th in a large wigwam, so-called, which stood on Hudson avenue not far from Hawk street. The leader of the Albany city regular Democratic organization at that time was James McIntyre, for some years the warden of the Albany penitentiary, and a forceful and resourceful politician. It was the purpose of the opponents of Butler and Grady to break up the meeting and prevent Grady from delivering his speech, and for that purpose as early as seven o'clock in the evening the building was crowded to the doors by a howling tumultuous mob of aroused partisans. Promptly at the hour set for the meeting the chairman appeared Mr. David Healey a former member of Assembly, and at this time a deputy commissioner of the bureau of labor statistics. Mr. Healey was quite unable to make himself heard above the outburst of angry protest from the audience. He first introduced General Butler, the Greenback and Labor candidate for president, who delivered one of the first speeches of his campaign. Then the chairman intro

duced the silver-tongued orator of the evening, and Senator Grady came forward. At once bedlam broke loose. Grady surveyed the tumultuous assemblage for a time with a quiet smile and then began the delivery of his speech to the newspaper men immediately in front of him and those of the audience who occupied the first few rows. It was impossible to hear him at any distance out in the auditorium, but as the speech proceeded his voice took on added volume and power, and swinging his head into its well-known aggressive position, he faced the audience with flashing eyes. Then followed a scene which once beheld was never to be forgotten. For nearly an hour and a half he assailed his tormentors with all his splendid power of wit, vituperation, denunciation and persuasion until at last, by the force of his own personality he brought that whole assemblage - mob and all to his terms.

The writer well remembers many of the incidents of that meeting. At the beginning the speaker said he understood that some persons had come to the meeting to show their hostility to him and had provided themselves with missiles to throw at the speaker. Just then a man near the door created a disturbance. "Put him out," someone cried. "Oh, no, don't put him out," said Mr. Grady, "but mark him, mark him, and then when you meet him on the street, button your pockets and protect your valuables." This provoked laughter and cheers, after which the senator went on to say that while there might be persons present for the purpose of causing a disturbance and of trying to interrupt him, he proposed to say what he intended to say if it took until daybreak to do it. Then the first egg of the evening was thrown. It struck squarely the white shirtfront of the chairman of the meeting, who immediately arose, bowed suavely and said: "That makes one vote for Butler." As the eggs continued to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fly toward the platform it seemed as if the votes for Butler were piling up rapidly.

"Three cheers for Grover Cleveland," someone shouted. They were given lustily.

"Three cheers for Senator Grady," someone responded. And the volume of sound was many times that of the former cheer.

"Don't do that again," Grady earnestly pleaded. "It would seem to make me more popular than the governor." At a certain point in his speech Senator Grady proceeded to read extracts from the New York papers in criticism of Cleveland, his purpose being to show that these newspapers had really been opposed to Cleveland's nomination, although they were now friendly to him. The speaker was frequently interrupted and could scarcely proceed with the reading, even with his great power of voice. Finally he stopped the reading and facing the unruly crowd in front of him shouted: "Oh, you fellows need have no doubt about it. I am reading from the Herald and the Times, and if you don't believe it I advise you to go down to the Argus office and look over the files when you go there to get your pay." This shot at the paper, of which the Democratic State chairman was editor and proprietor was recognized instantly and thunders of applause came from the anti-Cleveland men in the meeting. This was the first intimation by the speaker that the disturbers were on the payroll of the State organization. The speaker returned to it again, however, when cries of "Put him out " arose over another outbreak of disorder. “Oh, no, don't put him out," pleaded the senator with a smile, "we are friends of labor. This man may not get his wages if you put him out." For a time the confusion continued to grow worse, and several of the missiles thrown by the crowd were seen to go near the senator's head as he stood facing the tumult: "Never mind," declared he, "it is only a few eggs you ought to see me when they try to fire a house at me. These men are known as well as if they

had handed in their cards at the door and their masters are known also." He also made a retort widely known at the time:

A voice cried: "You are John Kelly's poodle dog.” Senator Grady: "Oh, no, I am no one's poodle dog, but I would not mind it if you had said I was Tammany's bull dog."

A strong-lunged individual over to the right of the speaker interrupted him with some insulting remark which could be heard high above the general uproar. Grady stopped and faced him. There was comparative silence just then, and a smile came over the speaker's face: "A long time ago," he said, "in a meeting just like this a man interrupted the speaker precisely as you have just interrupted me now and the speaker turned to him and said (and the Senator pointed his hand right into his interrupter's face) 'Sir, your yelp sounds natural, but you are in the wrong position. get down on all fours.'" there was absolute silence. admiration for the speaker's wit and courage those who had before been fighting him swung to his side. The laughter, applause and cheers were deafening and it was minutes before the speaker could proceed.

You ought to For a moment Then in sheer

From that moment Grady's superiority began to be recognized, and against the concerted and inspired opposition which manifested itself not only by yells and cat calls, but by arguments of a harsher and harder nature except the eggs the orator made the speech that he came there to make to the very last sentence.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

There is in such work an electric thrill immensely stimulating to popular interest. It was so of the meeting we are recalling. During his long and active life Thomas Francis Grady made many noted speeches, but it is doubtful, whether, because of the adverse circumstances under which he spoke

BUYING SUPPLIES FOR THE STATE

Movement afoot for establishment of a central purchasing agency
for supplies to take the place of the present costly system

BY EUGENE M. TRAVIS, State Comptroller

The State comptroller has been chosen chairman of a special commission, created at his suggestion, to in vestigate the methods of purchasing material and supplies for State departments and institutions. In this article Mr. Travis explains some of the problems upon which the committee is required to report to the legislature this month.

C

NE of the most striking phenomena in State government is its increasing cost and the soaring rate of public expenditures. This is particularly true of states where disbursements have increased during recent years more rapidly than population or the assessed valuation of property. According to a special census report, the total governmental cost of the states from 1903 to 1913 increased from $186,000,000 to $383,000,000, or 106 per cent, while the total revenue receipts increased during the same period only 94 per cent.

he ever won in the popular mind a more genuine oratorical triumph.

Mr. Cleveland's plurality in New York State that year was so small that for a week or ten days following the election the result was uncertain but it was finally declared that he had carried the State.

This rapid increase of state expenditures, far in excess of either national or local government, does not necessarily indicate the existence of extravagance, but rather the growth of state activities. Many new functions, and even those performed by the localities, have been taken over by the state. By far, the largest proportion of state funds are now being expended upon the so-called regulative and developmental commissions,

like curative charities, which in New York State constitute the largest single item, or over 20 per cent of the total general fund expenditures.

Moreover, in New York, there were only five such commissions in existence up to 1881, when the total expenditure for State government did not reach $11,000,000 annually. Since that time, the number of State commissions has increased five times, while the annual appropriation has soared to over $60,000,000. This increase is thus, to a considerable degree, due to a legitimate growth of state activities, the cost of these commissions totaling four times that of the so-called administrative departments.

However, these conditions in State disbursements necessitate the finding of new sources of revenue or a more economical spending of that derived from existing sources, and it is here that great responsibility for actual conditions must be laid to the administrative disbursing authorities. To be precise, the present methods of purchasing departmental supplies tends largely to increase the high cost of government, and economy in expenditures cannot be fully attained while each state department, board and institution purchases its own supplies separately.

The money appropriated for the use of various State institutions has frequently been more than necessary for the reason that each institution was allowed to purchase its own supplies. This system divided the power of expending the State money into so many hands that higher prices had to be paid for necessary supplies.

But in order to secure further economy in respect to this class of disbursements, as well as to obtain a better quality in the supplies purchased, experience has shown it to be necessary to create a central purchasing agency. Two states so far, New Hampshire and Vermont, have provided for the appointment of such an agent who purchases supplies for both State institutions and departments. California recently adopted a similar system.

The State of New York purchases annually $9,000,000 worth of departmental office supplies. The present organization permits over 169 different officials to execute this function. Would a private business corporation buy under such an arrangement? An answer is unnecessary. Experience in commercial fields and in other state governments shows the need of central purchasing in the conduct of our State's business. For a number of years past there has been agitated a constructive investigation of the methods employed in the purchase of supplies by the various State departments. From the records compiled by the State Comptroller's office, it is apparent that existing methods are absolutely archaic, grossly wasteful and hopelessly inefficient. In fact, the present system makes impossible the application of those fundamental principles which underlie all modern effective systems for the purchase of supplies in use by the large commercial corporations of the country.

The annual budget that has been introduced into our State Legislature calls for the purchase of over $9,000,000 worth of supplies, materials and equipment. There

are few other corporations that annually spend more for this purpose. This is the taxpayers' money, and with the possibility of the tax rate mounting still higher it might be well to question some of our present governmental methods of doing business. We are all in favor of good, sound business methods of running our State and are refusing to believe that it cannot be run at least as efficiently as other large corporations.

Purchasing supplies is a function common to both government and private business. The same principles should guide both. Centralization of buying is the customary procedure in private business, and there is plenty of evidence available to warrant its adoption in public business. Large corporations are founded on the principle of centralization, and to allow each department or bureau to do its own purchasing would be in direct violation of this theory. A central purchasing agency was the natural result, and such a system is to-day employed in all the big industrial organizations in the world.

The principal desire in the adoption of such a system is to secure economy and avoid experiments fraught with great waste and scandal. At present there are no two departments in State government adopting the same method or plan of purchasing supplies. Moreover, each proceeds in utter ignorance of what the other is doing and there is absolutely no means of making the experience and knowledge acquired by one department of practical value to another. Not only does the present method ignore the fundamental economic law of supply and demand, but it also means that the State is buying at retail prices millions of dollars worth of supplies annually which it should purchase at wholesale prices or even less.

But government experience in central purchasing has already been tried in man^ cities throughout the country with good results. This indicates that commercial

72

practice is entirely applicable to affairs of government and whatever our large cities have done toward efficient purchasing of supplies, we can at least expect as much from our State. Before considering, however, the problem in this State, it may be of interest to point to the situation as it exists in other commonwealths where central purchasing is in force. This array of states includes nearly one-half, and certainly indicates a dissatisfaction with the present decentralized scheme, or at least, a belief that so far as good management and economics are concerned, the central plan as now proposed is far superior to the present method.

In reviewing the present situation in New York one finds much the same system of decentralization that existed in its largest city previous to the adoption of the present plan. Under the method of decentralization no responsibility is possible, with the result that the State is buying over two-thirds of her supplies in the open market, which means at retail rather than wholesale prices, which naturally prevail under such circumstances. Moreover, buying in small quantities results in little or no competition. At the same time, an organization the size of the Empire State, purchasing annually supplies to the amount of $9,000,000, is entitled to wholesale prices. This point alone is sufficient to indict the present system.

But a careful comparison of the enormous volume of vouchers used for the payment of supplies, which have to be prepared by the several departments and recorded in the State Comptroller's office, presents a striking example of the present wasteful method. This system of splitting up of the quantities of supplies purchased without contract, and the flagrant abuse of the open market order method of purchasing, both emphasize the tremendous importance of the establishment by law of a State purchasing board. Under this proposed plan, all purchasing, other

than that provided for by law, would be done by this board, and all supplies required by the State department would be requisitioned by this board and purchased in gross quantities.

Thus, instead of different lines of supplies being purchased upon 169 or more different contracts at widely varying prices for delivery to as many different departments, entire lines will be bought upon a single contract covering the gross quantities required for all departments at the lowest possible price. In substance, the putting in effect of this proposed plan of central purchasing of supplies for the State of New York would entail no additional expense, and at the same time would accomplish the unification of all purchases, thus enabling the State to buy at minimum prices in gross quantity instead of purchasing as at present through over 169 departments at different prices. It would also mean greater competition and a large reduction in the number of vouchers for payment, with a consequent reduction in the time required to make payment for the supplies purchased.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »