THE PRESIDENCY OF THE STATE ASSOCIATION.
In a recent issue of THE JOURNAL a correspondent questioned the validity of the re-election of Thomas A. Raymond as President of the State Association, on the ground that he was not, at the time of the balloting, a member of the Association, and consequently was not eligible to be a candidate. Commenting on this communication, we said the matter more nearly concerned Mr. Raymond than any one else, and advised the calling together of the Executive Committee to decide the point taken. In a communication published in The Firemen’s Herald Sept 14, Mr. Raymond replies to THE JOURNAL correspondent, and to our editorial comment, taking occasion to bring in several things not pertinent to the issue. Having been absent lor some time in attendance upon Firemen’s Conventions, we were unable to reply to this communication until the present time.
The question is a very simple one, and resolves itself into this : ‘• Was Mr. Raymond a member of the Association at the time he was balloted for, and eligible to hold office ?” The constitution provides that the membership of the Association shall consist of Chief Engineers, delegates of companies, etc., and then provides that a person having once been a delegate may continue his membership on subscribing to the constitution and by-laws, and paying his annual dues. Mr. Raymond, at the Rochester Convention, was not a Chief, was not a delegate from any company’, and had not signed the roll or paid his dues. Under what clause of the constitution, then, could he claim membership or eligibility to office ? At the Convention the previous year, he had, while a duly accredited delegate, been chosen President, but this by no means made him a permanent member. He was as much bound to comply with the requirements of the constitution as any other person desiring membership in the Association. Neglecting to do this, he certainly was not eligible to any of the honors in the gift of the Association. Mr. Raymond says:
Nothing in the constitution or by-laws provides that the President shall sign the roll or pay any annual dues. If the President appears as a delegate to the Convention he certainly appears as the delegate of the Association, and that body is responsible for any annual dues under this construction. Furthermore, the Secretary of the Association should properly transmit the credentials of such delegate and draw an order upon the Treasurer for the payment of his dues. Certainly the President of the Association cannot appear as a company delegate, because the clause relating to the vote of the President would virtually disfranchise the company represented.
The absurdity of the idea that the Association requires a delegate to represent it within itself is as fully appreciated by Mr. Raymond as by any one else, for he is ordinarily a man of sense. It would be equivalent to the State Assembly electing a Member of Assembly to represent that body in the State Assembly. Mr. Raymond talks a great amount of twaddle, but he should not commit such a proposition to writing. It is true that if the President appeared as a delegate from a company, such company would be practically disfranchised, for the President is not expected to vote except in case of a tie. It was not necessary for Mr. Raymond to be elected as a delegate to maintain his membership ; he had only to sign the roll and pay his annual dues to be in full fellowship and eligible to the office he smmuch coveted. Mr. Raymond further says:
If the President he not President, then there can be no other officer or committees chosen at Rochester, for the constitution especially provides that the President or a Vice-President shall preside at all meetings, and if no such officer did preside, no other officers were elected in Rochester, and the officers of the preceding year are entitled to their seats until their successors are chosen.
Mr. Raymond shows, in the above paragraph, that he did not fully comprehend the meaning of the language he uses, or that of the constitution. In presiding over the Rochester Convention, Mr. Raymond did so by virtue of his election the year before, and he had the right to preside until his successor was lawfully chosen. He was so presiding when the other officers were elected, and, consequently, their election was valid. He may argue that, as no successor was chosen for the office of President at Rochester, he is entitled to hold over another year. This may possibly be a correct view to take of the situation ; he may be President under the holdover clause, but that he was lawfully re-elected, we do not believe. The reasonable construction to put upon the tenure of office clause of the constitution, would be that when the Convention failed to elect a President, the incumbent would hold over till adjournment and then retire in favor of the First VicePresident. As Mr. Raymond has taken no steps to continue his membership, we do not see how he is entitled even to hold over another year. Mr. Raymond further says :
Would it not be in better taste for the editor of the FIREMEN’S JOURNAL to rise and explain under what clause of the constitution he was elected to life membership in the Association ?
Although the above question is entirely foreign to the issue, we have no objection to answering it. The editor of THE JOURNAL was elected a life member in 1879. under precisely the same conditions that Mr. Raymond was elected a life member in 1882. If there is no authority for such an election, why did Mr. Raymond sign the certificate issued to us ? The facts are simply these : At the Ithaca Convention, in 1879, the editor of THE JOURNAL read an essay on “ The Literature of the Fire Service.” At its conclusion, on motion of Henry W. Mathews, of Rochester, a charter member of the Association, a vote of thanks was tendered us, and we were elected a life member of the Association. The honor was highly appreciated at the time and evi r since by us, and we presume Mr. Raymond has also a just appreciation of precisely the same honor conferred upon him three years later. If our election was irregular in any way, then Mr. Raymond’s was also, as well as that of several other gentlemen. But if Mr. Raymond is familiar with the previous proceedings of the Association, he knows that life members are recognized by the Association, and that authority was given to have certificates printed certifying to their election. Such certificates have been prepared, and we possess one, signed by Mr. Raymond himself, which declares that we were elected a life member of the Association August 16, 1879.
In the same communication Mr. Raymond replies to several correspondents whose letters appeared in THE JOURNAL. Among other things he says:
No bill has ever been sent for space in the Exposition Building, and the only expense not assumed by the Central Committee was for carpenter work and cartage. Exhibitors who neglected to pay the persons employed to build racks for displaying their goods and the cartage upon the same, have been notified of that neglect.
The manufacturers will scarcely relish being told that they left unpaid bills behind them when they left Rochester, especially for labor done in the behalf. Indeed, we are assured by several who have received these bills that they paid for everything they ordered, and had no idea that they were indebted to the Central Committee. Some of the bills sent out are certainly for space in the Exposition Building but whether the word space is intended to mean carpenter work and cartage we leave Mr. Raymond to explain. Such definition of the word is not to be found in Webster’s dictionary. The fact, however, that bills are being sent to exhibitors for space occupied at the late Convention, is calculated to work injury to the Association. The Executive Committee should take occasion as early as possible to notify manufacturers that such charges are not authorized or approved of by the Association.
But all this is outside of the question, “ Is Mr. Raymond the lawful President of the Association ?” We certainly do not believe that he was lawfully re-elected at Rochester, nor do we think he is lawfully entitled to hold over until his successor is elected, because of his neglect to sign the roll and to pay his annual dues. We repeat what we have before said, that a meeting of the Executive Committee should be called to consider the matter and to. set at rest all doubts on the subject.
We regret that any differences should exist between Mr. Raymond and ourself, but he seems determined to force a personal issue upon us, and we shall not hesitate to accept our share of it. Before the Rochester Convention we took occasion to criticize the rules promulgated for engine and hose tests. Our criticisms were approved by every member of the Association with whom we conversed, by the manufacturers, and even Mr. Raymond admitted that the rules were open to criticism. Nevertheless, Mr. Raymond took exception to what we said—published a communication in the columns of a contemporary ” giving us fits,” so to speak. In a private note to us he took the ground that we had no right to criticize the work of the Central Committee, an assumption that, for “ cheek,” is only equalled by the extreme modesty of the individual making it. That Committee was a self-constituted one, having no authority whatever from the Association, and, while it did much vigorous work, also did much that it might far better have left undone. It was open to criticism, and, in the interests of the Association, we made it, precisely as we should criticize the Association itself, if we deemed it open to censure. Mr. Raymond has seen fit to take this as personal, and to do and say many things intended to injure THE JOURNAL. We have no objection to his continuing to do so. We arc convinced that a majority of the persons interested in the Fire Service in this State approve our course, and the enmity of Mr. Raymond and his puny clique has no terrors for us, whether he be President of the Association or a usurper of the office.