This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
1. War ballots for servicemen.
2. Food prices
3. NYC War Emergency Act
4. Subway fare
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 68385
Municipal archives id: LT4041
The original text of the WNYC radio broadcasts are the property of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. This digital edition is made available for research purposes only. The text may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives 31 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 1944
CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
TEXT OF MAYOR F. H. LA GUARDIA'S SUNDAY BROADCAST TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK FROM HIS OFFICE AT CITY HALL, APRIL 16, 1944, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1:00 P.M. FOLLOWS:
Patience and Fortitude. Berlin and Tokyo.
If we do not hurry, those Russians will be in Berlin before we will. They are sure coming through. I understand they have most of the bread-basket of Europe. If they get all of Rumania and control that oil field it will be pretty tough for Hitler this summer.
I received the first card from a veteran, from a soldier, asking for his war ballot. It is on the form issued by the Attorney General's office. Yes, sire, I certainly will turn this over. We are going to follow it up, too, to see that he does get his ballot. You know, I really think the soldiers and sailors are getting a sort of a run around on this ballot business. Some will get the ballot all right. But whether they will get them in time to get them back to be counted, is another thing. In fact, I do not know whether all of them can get the ballot. This is something that will not be forgotten, though. You know, the veteran whose vote is turned away perhaps may live to vote another day. Just a tip, politicians, remember that.
I could not talk about food last week. The meat supply is pretty good. Of course, the announcement that no points will be required on shortening and oils, and lard having been off will make more coupons available for meat. I have noticed that no points are required for shortening, oil and lard, but they are still required for margarine. Now that is just politics - just plain ordinary politics. Say, OPA, come on, give the consumers a chance.
It was two weeks ago that I told you about the price of fish. Well, the retailers just waited and the week before the holidays up went the prices of fish that had no ceiling. It went up to $1.25. We were helpless because the jump in the price of fish, was in a kind not price controlled. Therefore, we could not do anything. But OPA should immediately have slapped a ceiling price on, and we would have enforced it. But no, OPA was busy that week on whiskey - on the size of a glass of whiskey.
Well, we are not going to bother with measuring whiskey glasses. We will continue to measure the loaves of bread. All this excitement about liquor, I just want to say to the consumers, is not going you any good and it is not going to do the retail dealers any good. It is just kind of making it easy for the boys. Get what I mean? Now, don't do that, Dan, don't do it. Come on, we will show you some of the records of the old prohibition days.
WNYC will announce the price of fish every day along with other ceiling prices. I just want to warn you that whitefish is selling wholesale at 80 cents and retail at $1.25 and $1.50. Do not buy whitefish this week. Take my advice, the wholesale price is too high and the retail price is too high, so do not buy it until the prices come down. I also want to remind you that OPA has a program on our station every Wednesday at 10 o'clock and it is a very good program. I have a few criticisms to make about OPA today. However, that does not mean that they are not trying hard and doing a good job on the whole. But there are a few things I want to point out before my time is up today.
Potato Week commences tomorrow. I am going to talk very frankly with you about it, because it is my job to keep you informed and to give you all of the facts. We want to cooperate with the Federal Government in every way we can, and I advise you to go in tomorrow and during the week and buy potatoes if - a great big if - the price is right. You must remember that these potatoes are not in the hands of the farmer. No, the farmer has already sold the potatoes. You must also remember that the government has gone in to support the price. You must also know that we have an enormous quantity of potatoes on hand. You must also know that within a very few days the new potatoes will be coming along. Therefore we are entitled to a bargain price, are we not?
The OPA price ceiling poster quotes potatoes, these are old potatoes at 5 pounds for 23 cents, Idaho baking potatoes at 5 pounds, for 33 cents. These prices are too high. These are the ceiling prices. But if we want to have a potato week, 25 cents for 5 pounds of old potatoes is too high. Don't buy them.
You can get 5 pounds for 15 cents in some of the stores, but the fair price, I would say, in the smaller neighborhood stores would be 5 pounds for 18 or 19 cents but not a penny more. Let me also advise you to watch your potatoes. Some of them have sprouts and shoots on already, and some of them may be soft. In paying 19 cents to your local little store there will not be much of a margin of profit, but you are allowing for the soft potatoes that are not edible. I am talking now to the War Food Administration. We will help you on your potato week, if the price in the big stores is 15 cents for 5 pounds and in the other neighborhood stores from 18 to 19 cents a pound. (Is Novik here? Novik, in announcing potatoes during the week I want the announcer to always quote these prices. Now do not fail on that. I may not have time to be listening in, Morris, but somebody else will.)
The week after next is egg week. You know we have so many eggs in storage that they do not know what to do with them. I want to help, but I want the consumers to get a break. I know that the government has been spending millions of dollars in supporting egg prices. Now be ready. The price of eggs next week although about 6 cents below ceiling, is too high. Yes, too high. Now I said the government has spent millions. Again let me remind you because we always want to help the farmer, that these eggs are not in the hands of the farmer. The farmer has parted with his eggs. I am going to Washington tomorrow, if the weather is good and I can take an early plane, in order to testify before the Senate Committee on this subject. It would be easy to give the differential to the farmer and the benefit of the abundant crop to the consumer. But this way, the government has spent millions of dollars in the support of the price of eggs.
The best quality of eggs last week sold at 45 cents this week 47 cents or smaller eggs at 41 cents and 43 cents. If we are going to have egg week, the prices must be lower than the prices this coming week. Therefore, go easy on buying eggs this coming week, and just watch those prices go down.
You know, there are over 350 eggs in storage for every man, woman and child in this country, and three times as many cases of eggs in storage in our city than there were a year ago this time. Look here, chain stores and retailers, if you want to talk this over with me, I will be glad to meet you on Thursday. Just get in touch with Inspector Harten and he will fix the time, so that we can talk this over as we did before. We have to sell below ceiling prices if we are going to dispose of these eggs. It would be criminal, it would be sinful, not to consume these eggs but permit them to go to rot. But I submit, give the consumer a break.
OPA, in all kindness, what you have been doing about oranges is just yielding to pressure - trying to be a good fellow to the industry, always at the expense of the consumer. You all know how long I have been talking about selling oranges by the pound. It was months and months, yes, over a year ago. Now finally they have put the regulation into effect. But what do they do? They give you the weight per dozen, but it is so confusing that the consumer, the housewife, knows as much about it today as she did before. The trouble is that they are sold by the pound in such an involved, complicated manner as to be entirely confusing to the consumer and places the retailer at an unfair advantage over the consumer. Here is a typical example. Under this setup if you buy little oranges, a dozen should weigh 2 pounds 10 ounces and you pay 39 cents. If you buy large ones, the very largest, a dozen weighs 5 pounds 8 ounces and you pay 79 cents a dozen. That does not make sense. Plain, ordinary impartiality would have dictated a fixed price per pound. If you have little oranges, you get more per pound - if you have big ones, you get less per pound. It is a thing like this that gives the OPA a black eye and makes consumers lose confidence. I am telling you this. Please correct it.
PRICE CEILING ENFORCEMENT
Last week 331 summonses were issued in the Magistrates Court. In this respect we have received a great many letters from consumers' organizations and women's organizations asking for the names and addresses of retailers who violate the ceiling price. Now, we are always fair and the policy of the Department of Markets and my policy, is to give everybody a break, to treat everybody fairly and honestly. This is what we are going to do: For the first offense, you know, the violator is called to the Department, has a hearing there, is given a warning and instructions on ceiling price. On the second offense he is given a summons to appear in the Magistrate's Court.
If he is found guilty, he is fined or given a jail sentence. On the third offense he is brought in again to the Magistrate's Court and we ask for a jail sentence. After a third violation his name and address will be posted in a conspicuous place in the Department of Markets, and organizations are free to come in and copy those names. Now, I am warning the retail trade, and you know I have warned you repeatedly. We want to cooperate with you -together we can do a good job. There is no reason for violating the law, the consumers know all about it. We are going to protect the consumers and we will protect you if you are charged more than ceiling prices.
That brings me up to a very fine piece of work and tie-in. You see, we learn from the law violators. Just as the wholesalers have tie-ins in sales, we have tie-in cooperation between the Sheriffs Office and the United States Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York. U. S. Attorney James B. M. McNally informed us yesterday that he was filing 17 informations against 17 individuals and companies for violating maximum price ceilings and for tie-in sales of apples, lettuce, carrots, peas, oranges and lemons. These are wholesalers. Good work, Sheriff's office. Good work U. S. Attorney's office.
Say Miss Marian Stewart, remember you wrote me sometime ago about that pair of nylon stockings that you bought and paid $5.50 instead of the ceiling price of $1.85. Well, Marian, you just keep those stockings because they are the most expensive stockings in the City of New York, for the dealer who sold them to you, the Salem Hosiery Co., has been fined $3500. Why those stockings could be worn by Marlene Dietrich and still be expensive. So keep them as a souvenir Marian, and thank you for calling it to our attention.
WAR EMERGENCY ACT EXTENDED
I want to say to some of the lawyers who have been saying that the New York State Emergency Act has expired. It has not expired. it has been extended another year by Chapter 412 of the Laws of 1944.
EMERGENCY COAL STATIONS CLOSED
We have closed 52 emergency coal stations, through which were distributed 5000 tons to 100,000 individuals. I want to take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Salmon, Health Commissioner Stebbins and the Department of Markets. It was the employees of the Department of Markets that manned these stations and did real, manual, laborious work.
Did it cheerfully and did it willingly -- sometimes having to absorb punishment from the very people they were seeking to assist. But it was a good job, and it was very necessary and saved some very critical situations.
We are preparing for next year. We had a conference with the Solid Fuel Administration this week and some plans are being prepared now. It is sincerely to be hoped that the system remains under the complete control of the Solid Fuel Administration as to coal. I hope that OPA does not come into it. I have so informed Mr. Chester Bowles as well as Secretary Ickes.
FIVE CENT FARE EDITORIAL
I would have called attention to an editorial appearing in the Journal American of April 5th, only I was otherwise programmed. I want to read it. It says - "Where the Cost Belongs" - It is an editorial concerning the five cent fare and it has this paragraph: "If the subway deficit were to be met by special taxation, the City Government would be able to use for other purposes the $40,000,000 a year which it now uses to subsidize cut-rate transportation for residents and non-residents alike." That statement is incorrect. That statement is not accurate. That statement is not true. I cannot believe that an editorial writer for a great newspaper would have written it under misinformation. It seems to me more like an attempt of a conniving ignoramus or an ignorant conniver, I do not know which. Any schoolboy knows that the $40,000,000 saved could not be spent by the City Administration for anything else. Let me explain it to you. It is so easy that anybody but seemingly an editorial writer of the Journal American can understand it. All expenses of the City must be kept within a constitutional tax rate of 2% on the assessed valuation, plus the general fund. The interest and amortization of our bonded indebtedness is not included in the tax rate. Therefore the debt service, that is, the interest on our bonded indebtedness and amortization, to have the money ready at the maturity of the bonds, is over and above the tax rate. The $40,000,000 represents interest and amortization charges, sinking funds, and therefore is above the tax rate. If we save that money, we could not spend it, because we could not tax. I am glad that this misstatement was made, because I think between now and next year, or between now and election time, the people should have an intelligent understanding of the situation.
If the 5 cent fare is to be maintained, there are only two ways to do it -(1) by continuing to tax the real estate as we do now and (2) by a special transportation tax which I am going to submit to the people before the coming election. The way to eliminate it is by an increased fare. The people must decide that, and they have the intelligence to decide it and are entitled to accurate and true information.
REAL ESTATE ACTIVITY
Well, I guess the laugh is on those fellows who tried to tear down values in New York Real Estate. You remember the calamity howlers - the boys who were crying about assessments being too high. There was a lot of propaganda last year, you remember. We will not go into that now. There are more activities in the real estate market today than there has been for the past 25 years. Values are going up, up, up. The percentage of vacant apartments is the lowest that it has ever been. There are some vacancies in store properties, because of the shortage in consumers' supplies but very little in desirable lofts and office space. Only yesterday, it was yesterday, wasn't it, Betty, I got a letter from Washington asking for additional space and sent it over to Commissioner Platzker to see if he could find it.
We have had some interesting experiences of late on assessed valuations. One case where the court lowered the assessment and there was still another cut of over a million dollars by the Appellate Division. Well, we appealed the case and negotiations follows. As a result of the decision and the negotiations the very wise and prudent property owners, recognizing that the reduction by the Appellate Division was unreasonably too large, agreed to a settlement over and above the amount fixed by the Appellate Court. Interesting, isn't it. In other words, the settlement of a total of accrued assessments for 4 years over and above the decision of the Appellate Division was $3,260,000.
There has been great deal of squawking by the Trustees of the Equitable Building - that is the big building down here at 120 Broadway. It is a fine building too. It has been assessed for 1944-1945 at $28,000,000. The company owning the building is, I believe, undergoing reorganization and is in the Federal Court somehow. At any rate it has had several reductions in preceding years.
Well, there has been so much talk about it and after the $28,000,000 it occurred to me to write to my friend Tom Parkinson of the Equitable Life Assurance Company, because it holds the first mortgage. You know they have a mortgage for $20,500,000 at 4.4%. Mr. Parkinson is a very prudent and fine, conservative President of an Insurance Company, which, under the law, can make a mortgage up to two-thirds of the value. Therefore, the property must be worth at least $30,750,000, instead of the $28,000,000 assessed. Say, Wirt Mills, you had better look into that. Perhaps you have under-assessed them. Maybe you had better slap that $2,000,000 more on them. Those are typical instances.
WORLD FASHION CENTER
I have a letter here asking what has happened to the World Fashion Center. Just have a little patience. We are working on it and have some air views of the mid-town section of Manhattan. I think it is going to go ahead. We have no engineering problems just now and I do not think the financial problem is a difficult one. Of course, you know some of the promoters want to make a regular promotion job of it. Well, they are out, out, out. They cannot come in at all. We had enough of that at one time. You remember those old certified mortgage bonds, and all that stuff. Well, there will not be any of that. It is a good investment and I want to be sure that it is soundly financed.
This is interesting, we had two groups that opposed the Center bitterly, and when we inquired, what do you suppose the opposition was - they did not like the location, they wanted it in their part of town. But of course, you know, we cannot put a building in two places at the same time.
SCHOOL AGE WORKERS
I received a letter and I think it is worthy of a reply. It says: "I am taking the liberty in writing you this letter. It is in reference to my 12 year old boy who had a job delivering orders after school. He was let go because he is under age. I don't think it is fair." Well, now Mother, you sign Mother, and you have a Mother's interest in your boy. Paper delivering is not easy. Your boy is only 12 years of age and he needs rest and proper care. If he rushes off to do this job after school,, and some times has to work late into the night, he will not be in good physical or mental condition the next day. Just take the advice of the schools on that. Working papers were refused him and I think properly.
I will be very happy to talk to the boy if he would come down here any time. I like to talk to the boys in these cases. We are generally able to work it out. As for that other part of the letter, what you were planning, I think we can help you in that. So, if you have time, and you can come down, do so and see Miss Weil of my office, my Educational Aide and we will talk it over. I want to assure you that the decision was in the best interest of your boy.
By the way, we are very much encouraged. There has been an increase in enrollment in our high schools. Boys and girls see that it does not pay to sacrifice an education for a temporary job, and they are coming back. It gives us a great deal of encouragement.
A great many of the mouthpieces of the tinhorns have got the idea that the law requires that a bet on a horse be in writing. Just let me read Section 986 of the Penal Law. It says that "any person who records or registers bets or wagers or sells pools or makes books, with or without writing, *** is guilty of a misdemeanor." I am afraid that the so-called Richardson case has just been worked to death. There is no opinion in the Richardson case, so there is no law known as the law in the Richardson case. The decision in the Richardson case applied to that case and no other case, because there is no opinion in that ease. Then there is reliance on the Soshtain case. Well, there is no opinion there. Incidentally, I want to say for the benefit of the gentlemen of the Court of Appeals, that their cause celebre, the defendant in the Soshtain case, well we picked up the bum twice, since the first of the year, making bets in a back lot.
I hope that there will be a clarification of this, otherwise we will have to proceed in taking the bettors along with the tinhorns and thereby prove the case. But there is nothing in the Richardson case. I do hope though, at the first opportunity the Court of Appeals will clarify that situation and we will be guided accordingly.
Talking about gambling, here is an interesting letter from an official of the United States Public Health Service. He inspected the Seaman's Club in Port Arthur, Texas and after praising the appointments of the Seaman's Club down there, the comfort, and all that, he said, "There is one more thing -one could readily observe that the Seaman's Club in Port Arthur is not operated for profit, as I noticed there were no 'slot' machines in the Club to steal the hard-earned money from them that they have earned in risking their lives for their country."
Well, Mr. U. S. Public Health Service you will not find any slot machines in any of tho Seaman's Clubs in New York City either. We are very happy to get a statement from such an authoritative source, that these slot machines are nothing but mechanical thieves.
Oh, yes, Mr. Policemen's wives, I think the 15th check included the cost-of-living bonus for the first 15 days of April, but you have an accumulated cost-of-living bonus for January, February and March. At $35. a month for three months, it amounts to $105. So you will get a check for $105., less Uncle Sam's tax. You know, there is nothing I can do about that. But the check ought to be coming any day next week, perhaps the latter part of the week, so be looking for it.
AMERICAN RED CROSS
I want to make one last appeal for the American Red Cross. Their drive is about over and it is still short. We must not fall down on that. I am going to announce another drive, but let us send a check to the American Red Cross today or not later than Tuesday when the other drive starts. I have here a check for $5,529.35 from the employees of the Department of Sanitation. Of course, the employees of this Department recognize the fine work of the American Red Cross, because they have learned to look after their own. They also have learned what it is to live properly and decently in spite of the cheap, dirty little politicians who try to embarrass the Commissioner and prevent the continued operation of their splendid summer camp. I am very happy to send this check in the name of the employees of the Department of Sanitation to the American Red Cross and I appeal again to the People of this City. If you have sent a check and you can afford another, do so. If you have not, be sure and send a check to the American Red Cross.
I want to say something today about baseball. The season opens at the Polo Grounds on Tuesday, and at the Yankee Stadium and at Ebbets Field on Friday. We must all be thankful and grateful that we have baseball. We do not want to interrupt a single season of baseball. We owe it to young America to keep it going. We owe it to hundreds of professional baseball players who are now in the armed forces and who have many years of baseball life after they will be discharged. Therefore, I do not think it at all sporting to go to games in a critical frame of mind, just to find fault, just to criticize.
Perhaps the games will not be as good as usual. I think it will, I think it will be every bit as good. It is still baseball and mighty good baseball at that. So let us approach the season in a good, sportsmanlike attitude. Let us give the players a boost. Let them know we still appreciate the game. Let the little boys of America pick their baseball heroes of this season. Incidentally, I want to say to mothers of young boys, boys from 8 to 13 years of age. If your little boy happens to be interested in baseball, do not discourage him. In fact this may be a little hard to ask of you but keep posted yourself, so you can discuss the games with him. You will find it will provide a very good link for closer relations with your boy. I am going to see what we can do through the Police Athletic League in getting boys to the various games during the coming season. I have been promised cooperation, and Commissioner Kent is working on it now.
CONTRIBUTION TO CITY CENTER
I want to express my thanks to Mr. Hyman Bloom for his contribution to the New York Center of Music and Drama
in memory of his son, David. David was very much interested in the enterprise. He was in the service and was killed in a railway accident coming home on furlough. Thank you Mr. Bloom. This is a real tribute. Please accept our heartfelt sympathies for your loss.
Patience and fortitude.