This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Members of the press ask questions of Mayor Robert F. Wagner.
Topics discussed include:
-tuberculosis control in the city of New York
-fluoridation of drinking water
-Robert Moses' suggestion that regional matters (such as anti-pollution laws and construction of the Brooklyn Athletic Center) should be dealt with at a state level rather than by the metropolitan regional congress
-possible need for an code of ethics to supplement the city charter
-possibility of television stations filming public proceedings of the Board of Estimate
Members of the press questioning Mayor Wagner include: Marvin Sleeper, Gabe Pressman, Frank McMaster,
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 69707
Municipal archives id: LT723
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
In the News this is Mayors Conference is the twenty ninth in the series of monthly programs designed to help you better understand the problems of the city of New York and how the city government is meeting these problems today Mayor Robert F. whitener meet with metropolitan newsman to answer their spontaneous questions answered a fair questions from Paul Kroll of the New York Times Mr Merrick when is the board of espers going to hold that public hearing on the question of putting floor and drinking water from right back master of the Long Island Mr Man City coordinator Robert Moses indicated when the last hour in a press conference that he thought all of the regional not of such as how to approach and so forth should be handled by the state level and not by the Metropolitan regional conference Marvin sweeper of the New York Journal American Mr Mayor within the last couple of weeks your commissioner Tennessee has cited one councilman for an apparent violation of the city charter and another for a technical violation and view is that do you favor a code of ethics to supplement the city charter as it reads. From radio and television newsman gave President Mr Mayor do you have any objection to the T.V. cameras filming public proceedings of the Board of Estimate. Thank you gentlemen for questions before we get into the answering of those questions and any further questions that I'm sure you have just like to take this opportunity to indicate to the people of the service that we have been using and I think very effectively over the past few years in the field of health we all know that health is a very important phase of our life and we do know that one phase of our medical program has been most successful as most of them have been but fight against tuberculosis has been a continuing one and we must continue to relentlessly to try to eradicate TB from our city. We do know that TB is the tenth. Cause of places a cause of death among our population and we do know too that the disease itself is one that causes great disruption in family life very costly to the wage earner. And also very costly to cure and now what we have been trying to do is to get at the. Incipient stage we do know roughly that there are some ten thousand people walking around the city with some stage of TB without knowing it themselves and therefore what we have done is to attack this problem in two ways One is to see that we X. ray Ah patients in our hospitals and the other way is mass surveys mass X. ray treatment in one nine hundred fifty six for instance we gave over seven hundred thousand chest X. rays fifty two percent increase over fifty five and in that way we're now beginning to be able to get to these people who not knowing they had this disease being cured in a number of ways in our hospitals. And at home or bed patients in hospitals many of them of course as I said first in hospitals come to the hospital for their cure every few days or depending on what the doctors prescribe but we have been able to in that way attack this problem and I asked the cooperation of all of our people because we have had instances where people are told that they have incipient TB or in a more advanced stages who are frightened and fail to come for the treatment we wish they would because in that way we can catch this disease. Right at the beginning and they have to give that person the opposite. To have a healthy life and also prevent that person from spreading it to others and I know if we have that help we're going to have a finer and healthier city and I know that Dr Leona Baumgartner in the health department who are doing a good job with the cooperation can do an even better one and I want to take this opportunity if I can before we get into the question period because sometimes we have been too much time left at the end. Of fellow citizens here in the US A very very happy and holy Christmas and a new year of prosperity and peace here and throughout the world now I'm ready for the questions. Last summer you express yourself personally in favor of adding Florence to US cities drinking a lot of the peace of the residents of cities New York particularly children prevent tooth decay and you said the matter would be taken up by the Board of Estimate and a little later indicated that the board wouldn't pass it along for referendum which would take the responsibility you indicated then that there would be hearing on it before the board sometime in October. What is the prospect for. First of all there was some there was a request for the hearing during the summer and I think everybody agreed both the propellants and the ponens that the summit would not be the best time because many people and therefore would not have had the opportunity to express themselves then there was some talk of. There was a campaign going on as I think some of you remember I remember anyway and. Everyone felt that that wouldn't you couldn't consider the proposition and the objective light problem such as this deserves and I believe that within the next few weeks the board meetings will indicate that we should have that hearing very shortly as feeling that the board should settle as a matter of policy without a referendum when I do there was some question raised as to whether. It was legally proper now that someone said they had an opinion from the Cooperation Council as I understand it though he has not rendered an opinion as to whether that is a proposition which we could submit to the people on a referendum and there is some question too as to whether that is the kind of a problem which the governing body must take the responsibility for now I believe that we in these hearings the board will take an object of point of view and we'll want to hear all sides both sides full opportunity to discuss it. For you. The city to have a referendum would you favor a referendum I don't know unless Let's hear the arguments I'm not one of those who feel that as an elected official that if I can find some out from taking a position on the matter thing to send it to the people if there are good arguments for such a referendum it's legal I'm sure would be glad to but I don't think it should be used as a device for a public official from shirking his responsibility of making a decision those questions from sleeper now Frank McMaster Mr Merrick within the hour. Indicated regional problems such as salutes and then the. Construction of. Should be met at the state level and not taken up by the Metropolitan regional conference do you agree with that but I don't know what they said it had to do with a regional conference and athletic. Well. So far I have great admiration as I've said before of Bob Moses I don't agree with him on everything and sure he doesn't agree with me on everything but we still have that friendship and admiration and he's done good commission and. I do feel that the regional conference is something that. Is here to stay we all realize the elected officials of the metropolitan New York metropolitan region feel that they can do a great deal working together rather than. Separately and many problems that they can bring up and work out without going to the state and there are other problems that they can bring to the states attention and the various states the three states New Jersey Connecticut and New York and that. The greater opportunity to receive consideration from those states legislatures understand that the public officials the elected local officials are vitally interested in the solution that we can't possibly even working voluntarily as we are among ourselves solve these problems without state help but I think they must take a good part of the initiative the elected local elected officials and I may say too that in many instances we need help from the federal government but again with a unified group of public officials working as I say voluntarily together I think they have a greater opportunity of getting federal and state legislation Marvin's sleep getting back to my opening question about the two councilman who've been cited by your commissioner just a Geisha and one for an apparent violation of the city charter another for a technical violation conflict of interest private businesses and their duties as a councilman would you favor a code of ethics that's been suggested on an earlier radio show today by Harris Kline a former member of the transit authority that might be the answer to it just like it is on the state level well I suppose code of ethics are all right. I've often said that. I remember the code of ethics business in the state was started by Tom Dewey a little while ago after they had scandals up there in Albany and we never had codes of ethics during the administrations of Smith and Roosevelt and Lehman in Albany. Because it's up to the individual code of ethics if everyone feels that's proper is fine I think everyone should have high ethics in public life as well as in private life but some people think that's helpful that's all right what I do think more important phase and that sets an easy out this code of ethics business is for the council as they say they're going to resolution which was overlooked I think by the public that they are now going to sit down and have public hearings here public officials here groups. That are interested in government or individuals. Drawing up and clarifying in the charter just what Councilman can and cannot do as far as private businesses are concerned everybody knows clearly what he can or can't do we have an instance here with the councilman Murphy where it was purely a technical violation there was no wrongdoing involved and the commissioner of investigations has so stated and their stated that this should be clarified as to what he can and cannot do now I think that that's very important and I do believe that then councilman will know exactly where they stand and of a code of ethics is a good idea and it's been suggested not by Mr KLEIN It's been suggested by many others over the past few weeks the council feels that that's proper. About the city charter in the city try to make it. Very clear that a councilman cannot be employed by a firm that does any business with the city Well I think you've got to clarify. And I don't want to at this time judge what the council should do it's not my position to do that I'd be glad if they asked me in their meetings to get some thoughts from me I'd be glad to do it but here you have an instance as I understand it councilman Murphy who was working for a company long before he was elected to the council in an area and that company's business that had nothing to do with the city's business and then apparently his company did some work in another phase of their operations is no indication that the councilman in any way tried to influence anybody he just happened to be in the plots and phase of their operation on another phase of their operations for the city on I think it has to be clarified because you're going to find if you. Just have no room for people. Who are successful in business in the professions to run for the council in the whole purpose is to try to get a higher level person in the council if possible and people who just want to rely on that. Amount of money. Not think of it as a public service on the case of the other councilman councilman Quinn who did appear before the board of standards and appeals. In the interests of his private real estate business that was a. Parent file ation of the city charter I said. Tonight the more specific. Should make it just as specific as possible so everybody would counsel in the public how far they can go. The commissioner of investigations said it was a parent he said it was a violation. Well apparently this report what do you think ought to be done about councilman Clint Well I don't think it's fair for me to comment on that right now because express my support of the commissioner of investigations report and the matter is now before a grand jury and I think in all fairness and on the American system we shouldn't comment on it while it's in that position certainly I'm not a member of the council He's a member of that body. I ask you a hypothetical question leaving Mr Quinn out of it do you think that Stern disciplinary action should be taken against any councilman or other city official violates the city charter and I don't think we should. We should limit any question of taking action against the councilman. Public elected public officials I have said and my philosophy and policy is that if anyone does anything wrong in the city of my jurisdiction we should take stern action and. The elected officials to and I'm sure that's the failing of the council as a matter of fact interesting to note that the proposal of the majority members of the Council two weeks ago was much stronger for an investigation than the one adopted the other day when they adopted the Republican policy everybody the press and everybody else was talking about the fact that it was a whitewash and so forth and urged them to adopt the proposal of Stanley Isaacs and they turned around and adopted a policy of the proposal to stand the Isaacs and all I said was three reiterate what the commissioner of investigations can do anyway. But Mr Mayor and Mr Isaacs original amendment to that resolution he called for the investigation of each and every city councilman and is written and then when it finally came on the floor of the council the EACH AND EVERY had been crossed out and any had been substituted which waited a much weaker resolution with this resolution so you have had a private caucus with the Democrats before they came out onto the floor and when he was asked if he had been pressured to change the if in any to any he said I won't say but I had never heard of any pressure do you know of any pressure Well we asked him and he wouldn't say Well I got it pretty rough to make an accusation without any backing if you know that he pressure well why didn't the passengers original film you had on which was I a good for I don't know what you have to ask Mr ISAACS I think but unless you know of some pressure that's a pretty rough accusation from what I told my heart I think that the list councilman Isaacs dealt with he had made his point and that the council was not going to investigate itself he had the feeling and I personally think with some justification the committee of five Council is going to investigate. Each and every member of the council somebody might say How about the five. Well I think that they accepted the other the other men yes that we have caused and said that we were willing to. Talk ministration to give them full service is a commission of investigation and the services of the cooperation council or any other department or any individual to assist in any way that I take it your policy. Matters a call to