Brandeis Urges All Boston Citizens to Be on the Lookout

Brandeis Urges All Boston Citizens to Be on the Lookout

Conviction Has Come to Many Minds, Says He, That Misrule Has Reached the Danger Point in This City

"Conviction has come to many minds that misrule in Boston has reached the danger point, and it behooves good citizens to be on the lookout," said Louis D. Brandeis, who was the guest and principal speaker at the monthly meeting and banquet of the Unitarian Club at Hotel Vendome last night. The subject of the evening was "Boston Municipal Government."

"Why are good citizens indifferent?" continued Mr. Brandeis. "They are indifferent because they are ignorant of the facts. They could not be indifferent if they knew the facts. Mayor Collins laid the path to good government when he had experts make the reports of affairs in the different departments which have been given to the public from time to time. I fancy the Mayor wanted to remove the cause as well as cure the evil.

"The expenditures of the city of Boston are about $30,000,000, out of which $12,000,000 is used for the pay roll. About 12,000 persons draw this money, and, with the exception of the school teachers, they were nearly all men. It is often charged that many of them are employed because they are voters, and not because they are men. Efforts have been made to have a list of city employees printed, with their places of residence and where they vote, but the attempt has been unsuccessful."

Criticizes a Committee

At this point Mr. Brandeis assailed the committee on public improvement of the Board of Aldermen, which is really the board in private session in committee of the whole.

"Think of the kind of things done by that Board of Aldermen which we give the Mayor for a board of directors," he exclaimed.

"On Hale Street, in Ward 8, always the storm centre of city wickedness, there is a bay window that extends eleven feet over the street. The owner of that bay window asked for permission to extend it fifteen feet over the street and the committee on public improvement voted that the permission be granted. The Mayor vetoed it and the board passed it over his veto.

"Then you come to the small matters, such as the licensing of dance halls in South Boston. The police and the Alderman from the district opposed an order granting those licenses, but the board passed the order over the Mayor's veto.

"Look at the men who are managing our large corporations! The Boston and Maine railroad has financial operations amounting to about the same as the city of Boston; the Boston Elevated not half that; the Edison Company only one-sixth. Men who are unknown and ought to remain unknown are selected for the Board of Aldermen.

Being Wrongly Educated

"We are now developing in the North, West and South Ends a class of citizens from all of the countries of Europe, and even from Asia. These men who are to be our citizens are being wrongly educated by such acts. They have never known liberty before, and now they are learning that liberty is to loot the city and get a day's pay without a day's work.

"The question is: What are we going to do about it? We want a diffusion of knowledge on these matters and then we want men who will take office as a sense of duty. Boston will furnish good men for any office that needs them in peace or war. We want the demand, and the moment we have the demand we can get the supply.

"We want a government that will represent the laboring man, the professional man, the business man and the man of leisure. We must have good government, not because it is good business, but because it is dishonourable to submit to a bad government."

Mr. Brandeis also referred to the exorbitant carriage bills contracted by certain Aldermen, some of them amounting to $1200, and complimented Mayor Collins for his attitude in dealing with the Franklin Fund and the attempt to purchase Kelly's Ledge.

Laurence Minot, the other guest of the club, said that Boston could have a good city government if the citizens elected the right men to run it. He said the process of a city election would begin in about three weeks, and he hoped the citizens would work as hard as they could to get a good city government.

[Originally published in the Boston Morning Journal on April 9, 1903.]

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