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Susan Green

A Stink in the Garden of the “Little Flower”

(25 August 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 34, 25 August 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The New York City mayoralty campaign is getting into its stride. As it swings along, the chorus of pots calling the kettles black becomes ever louder.

Thus Councilman Joseph E. Kinsley, democrat from the Bronx, accuses fusionist candidate, LaGuardia of having misused relief funds.

It was brought out before a special committee of the City Council that salaries in the Welfare Department, which should have been paid out of regular city funds, were taken out of the emergency relief funds.

It was also revealed that one Edward B. Butler, some sort of special counsel, got “his” out of the money collected by the 2 per cent sales tax.

Mrs. Ethel Epstein, who serves as the Mayor’s labor secretary, was likewise remunerated for her exertions out of the money which should have gone to the poor people on relief.

Naturally, the Mayor got up on his hind legs and “denied.”

He claimed that the City Council knew all along about these expenditures – so why do they protest now? And he produced a memorandum by the Corporation Counsel – the guy who knows all about twisting the laws – in which it was stated that everything the Mayor did is jake and strictly in accordance with state and City laws.

By whatever process of crooked politics the Little Flower may try to spread sweet perfume all around, the stink about relief funds still smells to high heavens.

There is excellent authority for the above statement.

Welfare Commissioner Hodson, who knows all about relief, recently issued a statement that the total salary expenditures of his department in 1940 were $13,923,389. ALL OF THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID OUT OF REGULAR CITY FUNDS. However, only $2,011,565 came from regular city funds. The other $11,911,824 – THE GREATEST PART OF IT – came out of the relief tax fund.


Earlier this year, City Controller McGoldrick, who knows all about city finances, reported that actually much more than $11,911,824 was withheld from welfare purposes. He said there was a “surplus” of $21,600,000 of relief funds. Instead of this large sum going to the support of poor people, it all was spent for regular city purposes, including the reduction of the city debt.

The stink is so bad you can hardly breathe.

Mr. Hodson has also informed the public that in all $63,000,000 went to the relief clients of the City last year in one form or another. If you put this figure alongside of Mr. McGoldrick’s surplus of $21,600,000, you see that RELIEF CLIENTS WERE ENTITLED TO 331/3% MORE THAN THEY GOT:

LaGuardia’s campaigners will shout how efficient the Mayor is, and how he “kept down the taxes.” They will not even whisper that HE DID IT BY TAKING $21,600,000 OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF THE POOR.

There are two groups of people who will not fall for this swindle.

One group consists of the people with small purchasing power, who are paying the 2 per cent city tax on commodities UNDER THE ILLUSION THAT THE MONEY IS GOING TO THE UNEMPLOYED.

The other group is made up of the miserable people who rely upon city relief for the wherewithal to live. TO THESE UNFORTUNATES THE IDEA OF A “SURPLUS” OF RELIEF FUNDS IS A GRIM JOKE.

When these relief clients make claims for clothing to meet the needs of changing weather, they are told that “no money has been appropriated” for clothing.

When they request replacement of worn out mattresses, beds and other essential furniture, they hear the same refrain: “No money has been appropriated.”

They wait months and months for urgent dental and medical care because “no money has been appropriated.”

It requires from a year to two before they can get eye glasses that have been prescribed for them, because “no money has been appropriated.”

These are the needy people who have been swindled by LaGuardia and his administration out of what $21,600,000 could have bought for them. This fraud is still being perpetrated against them – and against those who are paying the relief tax in the belief that their money is going to the needy.

When Councilman Kinsley, democrat, points the accusing finger at fusionist LaGuardia, he does not thereby exonerate himself. For four years this sort of swindling has been going on. For at least part of this period Councilman Kinsley, democrat, has been chairman of the Finance Committee of the City Council.

Didn’t he know what was going on? If he did, why did he wait for election before speaking up?

And if he didn’t know – which is hardly believable – he was asleep at the switch and should go home to bed.

To the average worker a blackened pot is no more attractive than a blackened kettle. The politicians of one boss party are just as crooked as those of another.


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