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Unlike the political sham-battle now raging on Beacon Hill, where hardly a single candidate can be found who combines honesty with great ability, the current mayoralty campaign in New York City sees for the first time in a generation the forces of corruption arrayed in a clean-cut warfare with those who are in favor of honest municipal government. The incumbers mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, backed by the Republican, Fusion, and American Labor parties in the city, has managed the affairs of the nation's greatest city with such honesty and vision in the last four years that, although he rode into office on the wave of a reform movement combined with a split in the Democratic ticket, it now appears that the strongest combine of bosses, Far- of the nation, Flynn of the Bronx Democracy, and the Tammany Tiger will not be able to root him out of office with their compromise candidate for mayor, Jeremiah Mahoney.
The Democratic party in the city has of course been laboring under unusual hardships in the last half decade. It was tragic to have their popular leader Jimmy Walker quit the country under fire on the heels of the Seabury investigation of municipal vice and corruption in 192, and it was even harder to stomach the interference from Washington in the 1933 campaign, when an administration candidate, Joseph McKee split the ticket wide open and led to a Fusion victory. But to add insult to injury only last fall an enlightened electorate voted to adopt an entirely new charter, the final fruit of Judge Seabury's investigations, doing away with the great Tammany stronghold, the Board of Aldermen, in favor of a City Council, and setting up a system of proportional representation, so that no one party could in future gain complete domination of the Citys finances and control.
Thus the Democratic opposition this fall has at best been half-hearted and disorganized. In the primaries Tammany Hall committed the political blunder of putting up Senator Copeland on an anti- New Deal platform and was soundly trounced for its trouble by Mahoney, the hand picked Farley candidate from the Bronx, so that even should the Democratic team come out ahead, it would be a sorry victory for the boys from Union Square.
Fortunately for the whole community, however, Judge Mahoney has been unable to advance a single valid reason why the incumbent Fusion administration should be turned out of office. Vainly searching for an issue, he has charged La Guardia with extravagance, with mismanaging the City's finances, with undertaking "expensive and disastrous" housing projects, with driving businesses from the city, with demoralizing the police, and finally with communion, spiritual and actual, with Communist Russia. In the face of the Fusion record it is hard to see how a normally intelligent man, a justice of the Supreme Court as Mahoney is, can hand out such a tissue of falsehoods and misrepresentations.
Of the charge of extravagance, the Fusion administration might seem guilty on the surface, since the budget for the city has risen. But the causes for this rise were mandatory charges imposed by the new charter, the introduction of the three platoon system in the fire department and the eight hour day for nurses in city hospitals, and the restoration of depression pay cuts. Furthermore, the Tammany Board of Estimate has consistently refused to permit the weeding from office of their political parasites, restoring in the face of La Guardia's explosive wrath sixty-four hirelings of no value to the community only in the last week. As for finances, the city's credit is at a higher level than at any time in a generation. The housing and other public projects to which the benevolent Democrat objects take the form of a series of new dwellings for the working population, as fine and practical examples of governmental paternalism as we have in the country, a number of public parks and playgrounds under the direction of Robert Moses, the Tri-Borough Bridge, new docks for the ocean liners, a health center for the poor in Harlem, and the west side highway on which you can travel from Canal Street to Poughkeepsie with-out stopping. As for driving out business, under the Fusion government the gain in factories from 193-35 was over six thousand, an increase of 35 per cent. And the police protection of life and property, though never perfect in such a city, has been unusually fine, especially in view of the smashing of rackets by Mr. Dewey, the Special Prosecutor appointed by Governor Lehman to do the work which a Tammany District Attorney's office found itself incapable of performing.
This is the record of the man whom Mr. Mahoney asks the electorate to turn out of office on the grounds that he is a Red. Mr. Mahoney fancies himself in the role of a new Messiah, a saviour of the city; he has promised, in his own words, "to save society." And to this Judge Seabury counters that he wants to save it "from the best mayor the city has ever had," and to save it for "that line old Columbian order . . . that certainly . . . believes that charity begins at home."
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