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and other matters of that kind in our city; but we really claim credit more for the constructive work we have done than we do for those matters for which we are the best known outside of our community.
For example, when you speak of constructive work, in our city our council consisted of one hundred and some odd men, the largest council
of any city in the United States regardless of popuWork of the lation as compared with our own. That of course Pittsburgh we found to be an evil. We prepared all of the data; League
we collected information from every other city in the
Union, showing comparisons as to population and the number of councilmen in the respective bodies. We tabulated that in proper form for presentation, and we secured the appointment of a commission to revise and reduce the number, not as low as we had hoped, but as low as we could under the circumstances get, to the number of sixty odd. Now that I consider constructive work. That of course was done between campaigns.
Now we found there were conditions existing with reference to the rules of council by which it was almost impossible for an independent man who desired to have full consideration given to matters that were pending before the council, to get an opportunity to prepare and present his views, so as to have any given question considered. So we took up the question of the revision of the rules of council. We collected data upon that from the various communities throughout our country, and as much information as we could get. We published that, and we submitted it in the form of letters and recommendations to every member of the council; while they said that the Voters' League had no business to interfere in their business, and they did not care a rap for them, nevertheless they proceeded to amend their rules, and did adopt a great many of the suggestions that we made.
So throughout the year we make it our business, officiously, if you please, to inquire into any evils that we consider as existing, and try to get the data and the information upon that subject, and bring it to the attention of the proper authorities, or those who have been elected and are in charge; and we frequently get very good results.
In order to prevent our organization from being wrecked upon the rock to which Prof. Hatton has referred, namely, a possible division of opinion on any great question, we try to avoid questions which are mere matters of policy, questions which are mere matters of theory, confining our attention to such matters as are recognized by the community as requiring attention and requiring correction; and thus, while there may be a division of opinion, there is not such a division of opinion upon this question as affects our influence, or affects our reputation for fairness and candor, when we come to issue our bulletins upon the respective appointees.
MR. WOODRUFF: I should like to ask Mr. Weil a question while he is on his feet. As I understand it, in connection with the last mayoralty campaign, you invited the several mayoralty candidates, Republican, Democratic and Independent, to make a statement; and the statement of the Republican was full, complete and satisfactory, upon the basis of which the Voters' League expressed upon the whole a favorable opinion of his candidacy; and the statement of the Voters' League was considered so favorable to the Republican candidate that he used it as a campaign document. I should like to ask what as the result of that has been the infuence upon the League so far as, on the one hand the independent element is concerned and its opinion concerning the Voters' League; and on the other hand, so far as the Voters' League is concerned and the results to the Republican candidate, who as I understand was the successful candidate?
Mr. Weil: Mr. Woodruff has touched a sore spot. It is true, as he stated, that it has been the policy of the League to invite all candidates before it, both for the mayoralty and other public offices, and interrogate them, at the same time stating to such officials that there is a stenographer present who will take down the conversation and the examination; that it is not a matter of confidence, that the League reserves the right to use these answers or this examination in any shape, or manner that it may choose at any time. The Republican candidate appeared, did the others, and answered the questions put in such a satisfactory way, and gave such assurance by his failure to side-step any question that was put, and by stating what his policy would be, that he impressed every member of the League with his sincerity and candor; and in consequence, when we issued our bulletin, we were compelled-though all of us favored the other candidate personally—were compelled to state the facts as we thought them to be from that examination. The result of that was, not as my friend Mr. Woodruff has implied, that while it did anger at the time many of the independents, while the result was that it has perhaps divorced some of the independents from their former allegiance to our organization, on the other hand it assured the community that the League would deal fairly and squarely with every candidate regardless of their personal preferences for their respective candidates; and instead of injuring us, as many supposed, it has strengthened us with the community, though it is now generally conceded that we were mistaken in our estimate of the man (Applause).
MR. LAWRENCE VEILLER, New York: I have been out of touch with civic matters for the last three years, but my active connection with the City Club of New York for three years prior to that time prompts me to speak, and I shall not be deterred from the fact that I once held a municipal office in the City of New York.
I have been trying to picture to myself what Tammany Hall would think if it was admitted to this conference here and the question was
asked, “What are you going to do between campaigns?" Work Between I wonder what Tammany would think of the bunch Elections
of reformers that would ask that question. Your
voters' leagues have to elect the most efficient and honest men to public office. You are dealing with men, not measures. Now think of the absurdity of sitting down for four years, and at the end of that time going to the public and asking them to recall the adverse acts, or the good acts, of men which occurred three or four years before. It seems to me wholly impractical.
It is a perfectly clear proposition to my mind what a municipal voters' league can do between campaigns. It can stay on the job all the time, just as Tammany does. It can scrutinize in detail the acts of the administration from top to bottom, and if it finds any acts that are defective or bad, or corrupt, it can point them out right from the shoulder. (Applause.]
CHAIRMAN BINKERD: Now considering the discussion upon point three as settled for the time, does any one wish to speak on the question of what offices can properly be treated by a militant good government organization? For instance, we have a varying practice, some treat from the mayor down to the coroner, others omit the mayor but deal with the other officers; others again concentrate entirely upon the city council. Any short expression of opinion on this point will be welcome at this time.
T. J. EDMONDS, Erie, Pa.: We are concentrating our attention now upon the school board. The Secretary of the Child Labor Association of Pennsylvania swooped down on us recently and exposed very rotten conditions there. He held the president of the school board, and more remotely the voters of the various wards of the city-for we have the ward system in school board elections-responsible for the lack of enforcement of the child labor law and the compulsory attendance law.
We have a very peculiar situation in the City of Erie. The Republican president of the Council is the president of the Erie Brewing Company, and the Mayor of the city, a Democrat, has amassed a large fortune out of his interest in the Erie Brewing Company, so which ever way the election goes it is the Erie Brewing Company either way. We tried to reform about four or five years ago, and our candidate was beautifully snowed under. So that is the situation we are up against. So I think we must get after the councilmen, the aldermen and the school board.
THE CHAIRMAN: I am going to call on Mr. Childs to talk upon the point raised by Mr. Wishart, to tell of the experience in this last campaign of the Manhattan Congregational Church of New York
MR. RICHARD S. CHILDs, New York: This movement is so young that I did not intend to have the church named here. I hope to make a real report next year. But there are signs that we are developing in that church in New York a weapon for the public welfare which this League ought to know about.
This Congregational church is on Broadway, and at its evening services last year had an insignificant attendance, mostly of ladies—not a unique
condition, of course. It was decided that the trouble The Work of a lay in the fact that our Christianity was not being Church
applied, and that applied Christianity after all was the
only kind of up-to-date Christianity. So this year we started off on a civic programme which is completely out of the nature of evening services. We are at present applying it only to the evening services. It is made up of a series of sermons deliverd by laymen on various subjects connected with the common welfare of the city, but differentiated from lectures by the fact that each speaker is supposed to lead up to a definite moral involving immediate action by the congregation; and the outcome, so far as possible, of every evening's study of a subject is supposed to be the appointment of a committee from the congregation, to take up the subject more in detail and carry through some definite propaganda.
We produced a report entitled, “Our Assemblymen and Aldermen, Published by the Congregation in the interest of the Common Welfare," and followed by the text, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” On the back of the title page there is shown a map of the districts. On the back of the entire leaflet we have this statement: “The Sunday Evening Civic Services at 8 o'clock are devoted to the development of practical methods by which we, with our political and moral strength, acting in concert, may help to lighten the burdens of our fellowmen."
In announcing one of the meetings, we issued this notice:
“ Manhattan Congregational Church has inaugurated in its Sunday Evening Services, a practical campaign for the common welfare.
"It favors, for instance a national tariff in which no special interests are fostered at the expense of the people, a state legislature which will not authorize absurd pensions for the sake of strengthening a party; judges who will not appoint commissioners who make fortunes out of dilatory condemnation proceedings; a city government that will not enrich a few bosses at the expense of the rent-payers.
“The cost of living should be as low as intelligent political action can make it. We need your vote and your influence in working toward the reduction of poverty, much of which actually results from causes that can be removed. Such work needs men rather than money. We have work for every voter, and work that does not end with Election Day.”
We also have a committee just starting work to investigate the question
as to whether there is a milk trust controlling the City. We have only issued one report. We are holding meetings, of course, every Sunday night. The attendance has increased rapidly, and it now consists almost entirely of men, and we are developing a lot of real enthusiasm. I believe that by the time we have worked this out for a year that we shall devise a weapon which can be useful to such bodies as the National Municipal League, and to the local reform political bodies, in making a connection between their information and the people.
CHAIRMAN BINKERD: I will next call upon one whose work has been a very strong factor in the Republican politics in his city, and always for good. I am going to ask him to say a word to you with regard to working within party lines—Mr. Dwight F. Davis of St. Louis.
Mr. Davis: I am afraid that I cannot plead guilty to all the indictments you have brought against me; but I am very glad that our Chairman has put this subject upon his programme. It seems to me that in discussions of this kind we are rather inclined to give too much credit to independent organizations which are working outside of, and generally contrary to, the parties, and not to give enough credit to the work of the men
who are working inside of party lines, who are doing Work within a much more difficult task and sometimes a much the Party more valuable one.
My experience has been very often on both sides; first, as an active member of the Civic League, where I worked outside of party lines. Although we were successful in the movement for playgrounds, in which I was especially interested at that time, I found that our influence, real constructive influence in the city, was not as great as I desired to see it.
Later some of us got interested in ward politics. In the Twenty-eighth Ward in St. Louis, which is the supposed silk stocking ward, and which was at that time in the hands of a crowd who ran it much along the lines adopted in what we call the river down-town wards. It was one of the crookedest wards in the city; a few of us got together and the first election we were snowed under by a majority of something like 700, but the next primary we beat that crowd by 7 votes, and since then have put them absolutely out of business.
I have found in my brief experience inside of the party lines that we have been able to develop a really quite extensive influence, through the active political work which we have been doing in the ward, and I think have attained a position of much more influence than we should have had if we had gone out and fought the party organization outside.
I was interested in the discussion which the gentleman from Grand Rapids brought up about the work of some of the church societies in the last campaign. We made an active fight in several of the wards against