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marks a great advance in the effort to make effective the enforcement of the factory inspection law.
The particular bill under consideration, however, though doubtless well-intentioned, would have accomplished little or nothing even had neither of the other laws been passed; and if enacted into law now it would, as I have already said, be an act of retrogression (aside from the question of its possible unconstitutionality, which I need not now discuss). On no subject is it more important to have wise and sound legislation than where the interests of labor are concerned. When such legislation is good, it probably accomplishes more real benefit to the community than can be accomplished by any other kind of law, but crude and hasty labor legislation either wholly fails to accomplish anything — being so drawn as to be ineffective — or else works harm instead of good to the very people supposed to be benefitted. In the two Costello bills, the Legislature has put through measures which are certain to accomplish good of the most far-reaching kind and which mark a long stride forward in our treatment of labor questions — although I have little doubt as regards the sweatshop bill that it will have to be amended in the line of rendering it more stringent and more certain of enforcement. But the present bill comes under the category of measures which are loosely drawn and are pushed without serious consideration of the objects sought to be attained. Had such serious consideration been given the subject the futility of passing a measure which in part nullified the Costello bill, at the very time the Costello bill was on its passage, would have been evident.
MESSAGE RELATING TO FUNDS FOR USE OF
STATE OF NEW YORK
Albany, April 7, 1899 TO THE LEGISLATURE:
I herewith transmit a copy of a letter received by me from Messrs. Fox and Macfarlane, whom I appointed as counsel to take up the matter of the charges in reference to the canal contracts under the Acts of 1895 and 1896. I earnestly request your careful consideration of this letter and immediate action upon it. It is obviously in the interest of the administration of justice that funds be immeditely made available to enabie the counsel to carry out the work which they were appointed to perform. Delay in furnishing them the means so to proceed may result in guilty parties being protected by the statute of limitations. It is equally obvious that only by enabling counsel to find out the exact facts is it possible to settle whether or not indictments should be found against any persons connected with the canals. There can be nothing more important to the State than the punishment of any man, contractor or public official, who has done wrong, on the one hand, or on the other, than the clearing of any man who has been wrongfully suspected. And the only method by which either of these results can be reached is by providing funds sufficient to enable the counsel to prosecute to a conclusion the work on which they are now engaged.
I therefore call your attention to the urgency and importance of the matter.
Hon. THEODORE ROOSEVELT,
Governor of the State of New York, Albany, N. Y.: SIR:- In reply to your request to be informed what progress we have made in examining the testimony taken by the Canal Investigating Commission and reported by them to your predecessor in office, with a view to advising you whether or not criminal prosecutions should be instituted against any of the persons involved, we beg to report that we have, during the two months which have elapsed since we were appointed, carefully read the voluminous testimony taken by the Commission and their report, besides the report of Judge Countryman and the statements published by the former State Engineer and Surveyor, Mr. Adams, and the former Superintendent of Public Works, Mr. Aldridge. We have also examined a large number of exhibits and documents relating to these transactions in the offices of the Comptroller and State Engineer.
In the testimony taken by the Commission are disclosed and partially examined many transactions which are suggestive of wrong-doing by the parties engaged in them and which we think should be more carefully examined.
The purposes for which the Commission were appointed did not require that exhaustive and precise examination of witnesses with reference to particular transactions which should in our judgment precede criminal prosecutions. We must make the examination now if our work is to continue. Most of the witnesses, assistant engineers, inspectors and others employed by the State on the canal contracts under the Acts of 1895 and 1896 are no longer employed by the State. The addresses of most of them, however, are known and they can in all probability be found. Before bringing together a grand jury for the purpose of considering charges against anybody connected with the award and performance of contracts for improving the canal under the Acts of 1895 and 1896, we consider it essential to find these witnesses, and obtain from them statements of their knowledge of the transactions which we have selected for examination. This will require the expenditure of considerable sums for travelling expenses of witnesses and counsel, for stenographers' fees and other ordinary disbursements of preparing a case. Until we shall have seen and talked with these witnesses, we shall be unable to determine whether or not a grand jury should be called upon to consider specific charges against anybody involved.
We have selected a number of specific transactions mentioned in the proceedings of the Commission upon which to concentrate our work, and if supplied with the funds necessary to prosecute the inquiry, we hope to be able within a few weeks to advise you definitely whether or not we think any cases should be presented to a grand jury. Any appropriation that is to be made for the purposes indicated in this letter should be made without delay. The statute of limitations against misdemeanors, such as wilful neglect of duty, or wilful omission to perform it, by a public officer, or wilful disobedience of statutory prohibitions, is two years, and many of the most important and most criticised of the canal contracts under the Acts of 1895 and 1896 were let much more than two years ago.
Very respectfully yours,
AUSTEN G. FOX
WALLACE MACFARLANE Dated April 7, 1899.
CERTIFICATION OF THE NECESSITY OF THE
PASSAGE OF ASSEMBLY BILL No. 2185,
STATE OF NEW YORK
Executive Chamber TO THE LEGISLATURE:
It appearing to my satisfaction that the public interest requires it,
THEREFORE In accordance with the provisions of section fifteen of article three of the Constitution and by virtue of the authority thereby conferred upon me, I do hereby certify to the necessity of the immediate passage of Assembly bill number 2185 entitled “An act in relation to the Civil Service of the State of New York and the cities and civil divisions thereof”, as amended by the copy of said bill hereto annexed.
GIVEN under my hand and the Privy Seal of the
State at the Capitol in the city of Albany this [L s] thirteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT By the Governor: Wm. J. YOUNGS
Secretary to the Governor