AN INEXPLICABLE DISCRIMINATION.
CAPTAIN Edgar O’Meagher Condon, building superintendent in this city’s fire department, has resigned his position and his resignation has been accepted. This act was not voluntary on the part of Mr. Condon, but enforced, and the result of an investigation in to certain charges that were brought against him in May last. It was then alleged that five contracts, averaging $900 each, had been made without the authorization of the fire board, and that in several cases work had been begun and nearly finished in repairs to firehouses before requisitions had been submitted to the board. It was also charged that very few contractors had done carpentry work when repairs were necessary, and Capt. Condon had admitted that he had never asked others for their estimates. Irregularities in the records were also charged, and it was found that in some contracts the date had been left out, and in others simply the month put in. Nearly-all the work had been done under a rule that allowed contracts for less than $1,000 to be given without advertising for bids. Capt. Condon urged in his own defence that much of the work was emergency work, and could not be delayed till requisitions were sent in to the board. The resignation was the result of a compromise. President Sheffield and Fire Commissioner Sturgis were for summarily dismissing the accused official from the service, while Commissioner La Grange was in favor of the adoption of a more lenient course—his advice prevailing in the end. Yet, in the case of Superintendent Smith, which was tenfold more glaring in the way of dereliction of duty and involved much more serious consequences, the balance of opinion and the resultant outcome were just the other way. Commissioner La Grange had no words strong enough in condemnation of Superintendent Smith—and deservedly so; while President Sheffield and Commissioner Sturgis—the latter of whom had to form his judgment on merely written testimony, taken when he was not a member of the board, and interpreted to him by President Sheffield in ex parte fashion (rather, as it would seem, out of opposition to Gen. La Grange than from any other motive)—applied a most plenteous coat of whitewash to the accused superintendent and reinstated him in his office. Yet, if the testimony of experts amounts to anything, and that of those who know anything about contracts and the method of awarding them is to be deemed conclusive, Superintendent Smith was by far the more worthy of deposition of the two. Each deserved to be deprived of his position; but, while Capt. Condon’s derelictions in duty entailed at worst only loss to the public purse, those of Superintendent Smith were of such a sort as not only to cost the taxpayers money, but also to endanger the lives and property of the citizens. Yet the one is abased, while the other is exalted! Presuniambly, “inflooence” was available in the one case which was wanting in the other. But these are “ reform ” commissioners—the appointees of a “reform” mayor. They are supposed to do justly by the city and not to allow any outside influence to have any weight with them. Such, however, is not the case. There is some power behind the throne which pulls the strings—to the great hurt of the morale of the fire department. Who is that power?