Municipal Scandals in San Francisco
Mr. Rudolph Spreckels gave the fifth of a series of lectures on "The Social Problem and its Remedies" yesterday afternoon. Mr. Spreckels's subject was "The Business Man's Remedy."
When only seventeen, Mr. Spreckels entered active business in Philadelphia. Here he learned the corrupt methods used by the trusts in dealing with their competitors. While still a young man Mr. Spreckels moved to San Francisco, where he soon became interested in the San Francisco Gas and Electric Co., and, finding it corrupt, succeeded in causing the retirement of the old board of directors and the election of a reform board. He now turned his attention to municipal reform, aided by Freemont Older, editor of the San Francisco Bulletin, Francis J. Heney, and William J. Burns. Mr. Spreckels volunteered to make himself responsible for $100,000 with which to carry out the work, and the prosecution was begun. The task was particularly difficult, as not only the leading attorneys, but all the detective agencies had been bribed by the gambling interests. After several months investigation, however, enough evidence had been collected to force Boss Ruef, Mayor Schmitz, and others to confess. Nevertheless, in spite of their confession, the men were acquitted by the Supreme Court of the State. The courts in California are open to criticism on the score of integrity and it is often the case that wherever there is political corruption, business corruption is sure to be behind it. Mr. Spreckels suggested two remedies for political corruption: first, that the shareholders in every corporation should see to it that their money is not being used by the corporation for the purpose of corrupting politics; second, that government be taken away from the few, and put into the hands of the many, and to this end, he advocated direct legislation.