TEN MONTHS OF REFORM
The Citizens’ Union of New York has recently published a resume of the work done in this city under the administration of Mayor Low, in which it puts before the public various details, the majority of which certainly make for the credit of those in whose hands has reposed the management of municipal affairs. Without indorsing all the conclusions arrived at by the Citizens’ Union, we would assuredly be among the first to award the present administration a deserved meed of praise for whatever it has done towards bettering municipal conditions. The street cleaning department, for instance, has been a success, so far as the aldermen would allow Commissioner Woodburv to carry out his plans, which are modeled very much upon the same lines as those of the late Col. Waring. Supt. Stewart, of the buicau of buildings, has proved himself an able and conscientious officer, and has been the means of preventing many abuses in his department, which, under the regime immediately preceding the present, were allowed to pass by unrebuked. The tenement house department, although, owing to the difficulties under whicn it labored in the way of obtaining enough of competent inspectors, has worked quietly, hut efficiently, and has seen (1) that the provisions of the law have been obeyed as to causing the alterations n the old tenement houses necessary for the health and morale of the tenements to be made; (2) that die erection of new tenement houses of whatever description, whether the costly apartment houses, the ordinary flat houses, or the tenement in the accepted sense of the word. was conducted in strict conformity with the letter of the law; and (3) that the clauses which stand in the way of allowing tenement houses to be used for immoral purposes are rigidly carried out. With respect to the department of water, gas and edectricity: In consequence of the consolidation of the several departments, “much reorganising had to he done (says the Citizens’ Union’s representative). An act of the legislature was procured allowing the condemnation of the Westchester Water company, and proceedings have been commenced to acquire such portions of the property as will place all the water supply of the Rronx in the possession of the city. The receipts of the department have increased $703,407.63 in ten months—partly by arrearages, which the late administration had not collected from favored individuals.” There is, however, still much to be begun by the department in the w’ay of practical action, and, not least, in seeing that the gas companies live up to their engagements, among which is to supply illuminating gas that illuminates. As to the police department: Here the Citizens’ Union admits in so many words that the expected measure of success has not been achieved. And, since the police department forms an important adjunct to that of fire, it is within the province of this journal to express the hope that, aided by the strenuous endeavors of Capt. Piper, the citizens of Manhattan and the Bronx, at least, mav see the efficient minority and those who would willingly be free from their present evil environment and join the ranks of the better class of officers strengthened by the weeding out of the old time, conscienceless policemen of whatever rank. In this way only can there be created a better spirit and a worthier element in the force. With respect to the fire department, the Citizens’ Union is not so happy in its remarks. It is, of course, good for the fire service that “since January I. no promotions have been made except for merit.” This statement, however. is open to dispute, and certainly should not have been made in such dogmatic and unqualified terms Then, again, it speaks of a conspiracy in the repair shop of the department to defraud the city, in which the chief of construction and several foremen were implicated. The Citizens’ Union forgets, however (whether conveniently or in reality), (1) that the evidence against these men was all on one side; (2) that there is a well defined and widespread suspicion among many outside of, as well as within the fire department, that politics underlay the proceedings taken against Chief Ryan and those who were accused with him; and (3) that, as the whole matter is probably to be ventilated in the courts, it is bad form, to say nothing of its being unfair, to take for granted that all the testimony given before Fire Commissioner Sturgis was true. On that point it would have been more prudent and less indiscreet for the Citizens’ Union to have observed a golden silence.