PRISON BARS CLOSE BEHIND LOUIS KUEHNLE
“Jersey Justice” which has so long been heralded with vaunted ostentation and arrogant presumption is quite often tempered with unjustifiable patience. This has been true in the case of Louis Kuehnle, who for years has cracked the political whip at Atlantic City—the absolute dictator and controller of “big business” along the southern New Jersey coast. Something like two years ago Kuehnle, who was president of the local water commission, awarded a three hundred thousand dollar city contract to a company in which he was interested. For this he was convicted and sentenced to a term of one year in the State prison and to pay a fine of one thousand dollars, but with his immense wealth and the backing of political friends he has managed to retain his freedom and defy the law. Kuehnle looked upon this form of graft as the rightful perquisite of political leadership, and despite the fact that he had been branded a felon deserving of service behind prison bars with ordinary criminals thousands signed his petition for executive clemency. He was not a repentant wretch, expressing contrition for his sins, but with the brazenness of a conscienceless lawbreaker, he upheld his course and practically demanded that the courts, which he tried to control, take the same view. But mercy was not needed so much as example, and last Wednesday Kuehnle was taken to Trenton prison. As quite frequently happens, he carried with him into disgrace a number of his subordinates, who were more or less victims of his “system.” No permanent reform can be carried out unless reputable men are always “on the job.” Spasmodic outburst or reform or hysterical expression of virtuous indigation can never defeat the political grafter. A relentless and consistent campaign for civic decency, minus bitterness and malice, is what counts. It would be less difficult for a celluloid dog to catch an asbestos cat in Dante’s Inferno than for the amateur reformer to corner the professional shark in the field of rotten politics. When reputable citizens labor for good government with the same zeal that political crooks labor for their own pockets the millennium of civic purity will have come.