This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
1. Record of N.Y. State Legislature
3. Ceiling Prices
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71113
Municipal archives id: LT4037
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 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, MARCH 19, 1944, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1:00 P.M. FOLLOWS:
Patience and Fortitude.
CLOSING OF STATE LEGISLATURE
Our State Legislature closed yesterday. Closed with a new record. It accomplished less in less time than any of its predecessors. New York City fared very badly - more so than usual. The additional revenue that I asked for was not granted. Of course they are not spiting the Mayor - they are only hurting their own city. There is complete harmony between the Democrats and the Republicans up there, in doing anything that could injure the City of New York. If anybody is proud of that arrangement, he is entitled to it. Say, you boys and you big shots up in Albany, read the history of Tweed! He got along with the Republicans upstate very nicely, too.
STATE AID AND CITY BUDGET
A great deal has been said about the surplus in the State of New York. Well, no one can take any special credit for that. It was not effected through economy or efficiency. It was
just because of war time business in the State of New York, and the income was much greater than all of the revenues estimated. That is all there is to it. In fact, it was $81,982,500 more than was estimated. But here is something interesting - most of this money comes from the City. And with all that was said about State Aid to Cities, the Cities received $13,763,058 less than in 1941 and out of this enormous increase in revenue, the cities will receive only $7,189,401 more for the next year than they did this year.
I said that most of this $81,982,500 comes from the city. Let me give you the figures of this increase in this estimated revenue. Business corporation taxes show an increase of nearly $27,000,000. Now you know where that comes from. Inheritance and estate taxes are up $8,500,000. The Motor Vehicle Tax and Motor Fuel Tax are up $24,800,000 and some of that does come from the rural districts. Stock transfer tax is up $6,000,000. Unincorporated business tax is up $4,500,000. Alcohol Beverage and License Tax is up $6,170,000. Cigarette Tax is up $2,200,000 and the Pari-Mutuel Tax (if anybody can take any pleasure in that blood money) is up $14,800,000. So you see that most of this money came right from the big city here. As a matter of fact, according to the State Comptroller's own estimate, 79% of all of the State revenue comes from the urban centers or the urban contributions, while only 21% from the rural areas of the state.
After all, it is the cities that make up the state. I say that to clarify certain statements made up in Albany. Well, as I said, we did not get the additional revenues we asked for, but I will make our budget some way this year. I am going to start on Tuesday. I am going over to the Budget Bureau and work there until it is completed. We will have to economize, but 1945 and 1946 are going to be even a more difficult task. I will have more to say about these things in my budget message.
AIRPORT AND LOW COST HOUSING BILLS
We got one good bill - the airport bill. It extends the time of amortization. I thank the Legislature for that. I am pretty sure the Governor will sign that bill, and also the bill authorizing $35,000,000 for low cost housing. We might have got more, but we are grateful for that. We will be ready to go as soon as manpower and material are available.
ARTERIAL HIGHWAY BILL
Of course, we did not get the Arterial Highway bill. Pretty rotten shame, I think.
ATTITUDE OF STATE LEGISLATURE
It was a funny thing - this Legislature. It was a Legislature based on spite and hatred. If they did not like someone they would not pass a bill - the funniest thing you ever heard. One who was very high in the council's of the Republican Party, and who now holds a high office, told me, "Fiorello, you will not get a certain bill that we were discussing." I said, "why", and he said, "they do not like you." I said "What has that to do with it." "Well," he said, "they are not going to pass any bill that is helpful to the city to spite you." That was from a very high official in the ranks of the Party. I thought you would like to know that. I have spent fourteen years as a legislator. I think I met intimately most of the Legislators and Congressmen of this generation - those who served before my time and those who served after. I have never, in all my life, heard of any such basis for considering legislation - whether they liked a person or not, and disregarding the interests of the people of the city.
Let us see what else we did not get. We did not get one of the gambling bills. Not one. Well, of course, it is pretty hard for just the Mayor of a City of seven million people or hundreds of thousands, yes, millions of decent, clean living families, to buck the power of the gamblers, tinhorns, thieves and chiselers with the politicians. Well, anyhow, the result is that not a single solitary bill to clarify the law or to protect the victims of these thieves was passed. One of the Senators said the other day, I suppose we will hear about this Sunday from the Mayor. Well, you are hearing from him now and you are going to continue to hear all of the time.
Now all this bunk about legalizing gambling. Who is going to legalize it? I ask, who is going to legalize it? The Legislature cannot do it because the Constitution of the State of New York prohibits it, and the Legislature is helpless - cannot do it - even as much as they try to befriend the tinhorns and the gamblers. It would require Constitutional amendment in this State to make bookmaking legal, to legalize gambling and there are just too many decent people in this State and in this City to authorize any such Constitutional amendment.
The fact remains that we did not get any of the needed legislation to suppress gambling, and many of the people of this city are somewhat surprised. They expected something different from this Legislature. Why, I even get letters from people out in Iowa, and Kansas and Nebraska and Indiana and Southern Illinois, wondering what it is in New York State that gives the gamblers so much protection.
LOW INTEREST AND JEWELRY BILLS
You know how much I have been talking about the loan sharks. Just think of a legal interest in this state of 36% a year in the year 1943. Just think of anything like that. It is legal - 36% for a small loan, 18% is nothing unusual. While they flagrantly advertise loans amounting to 12, 13, 18%, not one bill to bring our state in line with modern trends on low interest was considered. The jewelers lenders bill was not even considered. Of course, I know that these loan sharks, they are chiselers, they are the first cousin to the tin-horn gambler. In fact, many of them are related in business and otherwise - yes in marriage and blood. Strange, but it is a bad gang. I know these loan sharks, these usury interest fellows, they are powerful in many ways. They are mazumically powerful, too.
MANDATORY SALARY INCREASES
Well, I will tell you what the Legislature did. They imposed some more mandatory salary increases, but they did not provide The money for them. They provided for increments for school clerks, which, I am informed, will eventually amount to a $700,000. increase. I would like to use that for teachers and have less paper work in schools.
CUSTODIAL ENGINEER SCHOOL BILL
Then there is a queer bill for custodians and janitors. Under it we have to appropriate anything that the janitors certify and to make it even worse, the vicious condition that we have to have janitors' permission to use the school building after hours is perpetuated even under more severe conditions. We do not know what the cost of all this will amount to but it will be several million dollars a year. I do not think our great Governor is going to sign those bills because they impose additional expenditures over which we have no control and do not help the classroom situation at all.
BILL PROVIDING ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONERS OF ELECTIONS
But here is a good one - four new additional Commissioners of Elections to help the four present Commissioners of Elections who haven't enough to do. That is a good one, isn't it? Why one Commissioner could do all the work very comfortably. We have four now and this would add four more - a Republican politician up in the Bronx, a Knewitzer, who would be a Flynn man of course, and a Democrat, and in Queens a Republican and a Democrat. That would cost $32,000 more. They are no more needed, in fact, they are not needed at all. I do not think Governor Dewey will sign that bill, at least I hope not.
SUBWAY FARE INCREASE
Well, I told you a couple of weeks ago, you remember, that nothing would happen on this subway talk. I told you it would not. Did the politicians do anything? They did not. Of course not.
I was right there, just as I am right now. The people who were talking about that are pretty strong in the two parties, aren't they? Well, nothing happened.
BOARD OF TRANSPORTATION
But this did happen. The Wicks Bill, which would increase the vacation time of employees of the Transportation system by giving them benefits for sick leave if they are not sick passed. Now in the first place, the manpower situation is such that we cannot enforce that. We just could not do it. We do not have the personnel. Besides, it would just add $1,300,000 additional expense, which means 26,000,000 additional fares. That is the kind of help that Albany gave us on the transit situation.
OFFICE OF LEGAL ASSISTANT IN CITY COURT
And here is a bill to create an office of Legal Assistant in the City Court. I have not been able to examine that IN bill, but I have here the 1944 report of the Judicial Council which shows that the business in the City Courts is off 16%. I do not know what the bill is for, but it looks kind of funny to me. I must look into it.
LODGING HOUSE BILL
And then, of course, the lodging house bill. You remember Christmas Eve. There was a fire at a lodging house and 24 men were burned - burned alive. Well, that has been going on for some time. Every year we try to get law to protect human life, but we cannot. The lodging house people are rather powerful and we just cannot get any legislation. Of course, their case was very well presented to the Legislature. They retained a well known former Legislator, very able, and through his ability they just convinced the Legislature that Fire Commissioner Walsh and Housing & Building Commissioner Wilson did not know what was needed, but the lodging house people did. A good bill was introduced by Senator Desmond, who is a conscientious, fine and honest legislator. Well, we sent up the bill which was the result of work and experience, forty years of experience of Fire Commissioner Walsh and also recommendations of the Housing & Building Department Commissioner. But our bill was not passed. Oh, no - the other bill was passed. And this is funny, well it is not funny at all - the mathematics of it is rather simple. The fire insurance people recommended the other bill, which I call the 'no good' bill, 'fake' bill, and disapproved ours. Now here is the reason - as a rule you find the fire insurance people and the Fire Department in full accord. But the situation as to lodging houses is just a little different. In the first place, because the fire insurance companies are protected the rates on lodging houses are high and the losses are low. You see, the buildings are old and it does not make much difference, since the fire insurance companies do not have to pay on the loss of life, get the point? We were trying to protect lives and all they were trying to protect was property. I am surprised that the Legislature did not take our bill. Now if we have any fires, and we will have fires in lodging houses, every man that is burned alive is on the conscience of these legislators.
MUNICIPAL COURT VACANCIES
Here is another good one - Municipal Court Judges - there are five vacancies. I am not making appointments to any of them. The Mayor has the power to appoint up to the time of the next election. The reason I did not appoint any of them is because President Justice Keyes Winter told me that he does not have enough business in the courts to keen the judges busy. So I am just saving that money and have not made any appointments.
Well, Judge Winter tried to get a bill introduced so that these five vacancies would not be filled by election this year, but he could not even get the bill introduced.
That is a hot one, isn't it? In the first place, there is no business for them. I did not appoint them and they have not been missed at all. And in the second place, it would be a good idea if we would postpone the election say until one year after the war, so that some of the boys who are in the Army and Navy, when they come back, might have a crack at an election and be elected a Judge. That would be rather nice. Don't you think so? Especially, if we do not need them now. This instead of electing five men from the political clubhouses, which I expect they will do.
STATE O.P.A. REGULATIONS
I tried hard to get some real enforcement of our State O.P.A. regulations but it was impossible. I am very much worried about it because the technique of evading the law is improving even though the City is using every effort through the Department of Markets and Sheriff's office to enforce the law - the OPA just does not have the personnel to do it. But we could get no relief for the consumers of the city, for the millions of families who feel the pinch of profiteering and violation of ceiling prices.
RAPP-COUDERT COMMITTEE REPORT
Here is something else that I can not understand. I thought I knew something about legislation. You know, we have a Rapp-Coudert Committee studying our schools. They make reports, and mind you this is a legislative committee, but they do not pay any attention to their own reports - isn't that funny. Of course, we have spent thousands of dollars - this committee has - so the reports are for public consumption, political use, but nothing happens. Now they prepared a report on our city colleges, containing some very good recommendations, which we knew about months ago, but they did not submit the report until a few days before the Legislature adjourned. Isn't that funny - I don't know - maybe it is a result of the War - it is a sort of legislative delinquency, wouldn't you say so?
Well, our city is getting along in spite of all this political opposition. This year I am happy to report we had 9,145 cases of certiorari less than the previous year. These are the cases, you know, taken into court, attacking the assessed valuations of property. This figure shows that our tax department is carrying out the mandate of the law very carefully and conscientiously. This is funny. Down here the property owners tell us we are overassessing, but up in Albany, the State Tax Commission in the equalization rates for 1944-45 said this, we underassess.
Answer that one, if you can.
WASTE PAPER COLLECTION
The collection of paper this week was somewhat less than last week, but that was to be expected. It was 184 tons less. I think we have reached the peak of people cleaning out and bringing all their paper. From now on we might maintain this level. I again want to express my thanks to all the people for their help and cooperation which have made our collections so much easier.
PLAN FOR PAPER CONSERVATION
I have always said that the best way to save any critical material is not to use it. The Retail Dry Goods Association, and I want to thank them for this - since I have said some pretty hard things about them and I meant everything I said about them when I said them because what they did is still wrong and not nice, but in this instance they are really cooperating splendidly - and I want to extend my thanks to them for their fine cooperation in the saving of paper. This is the best way to conserve critical material. The big department stores cannot do it alone. The consumers must cooperate and I ask all consumers not to have their purchases wrapped in paper but to carry out whatever they can without it being wrapped. I must also make an appeal to all small stores, independent stores, to follow the lead of the large department stores by (1) handing to customers small items without wrappings that can easily be placed in the customer's purse or pocket; (2) use of a stockbox, without wrapping where this type of merchandise comes into the store packed in individual boxes or cartons; (3) using small prepacks that can be easily carried by the customer; (4) using bag of original purchase to enclose later purchases and (5) salvaging and reusing all folders and bags that come back oh customer credits. There is a long list of different kinds of merchandise that can be bagged without wrapping and if the independent stores will either write to the Retail Dry Goods Association at 71 West 35th Street, or if you will write here, I will be glad to mail to you the rules of the large department stores, as well as the various articles and suggestions made. The small stores will find that very helpful.
FREE MATERNITY CARE FOR SERVICEMENT'S WIVES
Here is something that is very interesting. I know you will all agree that we can not do too much for our gallant service men. The EMIC is a great service. It stands for Emergency Maternity & Infant Care Plan. It provides free medical care for servicemen's wives during the prenatal period as well as free hospitalization and care of both mother and infant after the child is born. The Emergency Maternity and Infant Care Program of the U. S. Children's Bureau is one year old today. Miss Katherine F. Lenroot, Chief of the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, has informed me that in this first year about 250,000 wives and babies of service men had the benefit of this very splendid plan. Health Commissioner Stebbins of New York City Health Department, who administers the program in New York City, informs me that 9,035 mothers and babies have shared in the benefits of the program here in New York City. As you know, the wives of servicemen in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, may obtain this maternity care by applying to their own physicians or to the Department of Health of New York City. This is paid for by the Federal Government and New York City contributes only the cost of administration.
CONGRATULATIONS TO WELFARE EMPLOYEE
I want to congratulate Lieutenant Jacob Rusoff. He is a clerk in the Department of Welfare on military leave. He has just received the Distinguished Flying Cross. While on a mission over Germany he rescued a wounded tail gunner from certain death while flying at 28,000 feet. In aiding the gunner, Lieutenant Rusoff exposed his own hands and face to a 65-degree below zero temperature and was seriously frostbitten. He also gave the wounded gunner his own oxygen mask. We are very proud of you, Lieutenant Jacob Rusoff and I join with your colleagues in the Department of Welfare in sending you congratulations and hopes for a very speedy recovery.
There is plenty of butter in town, if you have the coupons, so I hope you have the coupons. As I have said, the coupons for fats and meats should be separated. They will do it later on. It takes them about a year and a half or a year to follow suggestions.
Cod, flounder, dab, porgies, haddock and carp are plentiful and at good prices. I told you about butter and eggs. Eggs should be selling about 7% below ceiling prices. By the way, do you see how we brought those egg prices down. That shows that you and I can work together. If we just hold off from buying, it will bring the prices down.
The butter and egg people, not the exchange - the exchange is composed of the more reputable dealers in butter and eggs - but another association, has brought an action to restrain the city from enforcing the law. That is a new one.
ESTABLISHMENT OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CEILING PRICES
Regional Administrator Woolley of OPA informs me that OPA will establish maximum ceiling prices on several varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables for the City of New York beginning Thursday, March 23rd. I am very grateful. I have been recommending this for well over a year and a half. The prices will now be established by the pound. Do you remember how I have been pounding that one? They will be changed every week in consonance with the fixed wholesale prices for the same items. Weekly prices will be mailed to the retail stores every Tuesday and they should be received every Wednesday. I am going to ask Mr. Woolley to give the City a supply so that we can post them conspicuously in all public places. WNYC will make a feature of these weekly vegetable prices. The season is coming now and the more vegetables we can give to the children, the better for them.
Talking about vegetables, I think the price of potatoes is too high. There is an enormous supply of potatoes on hand and the price ranges from 17 to 25 cents for 5 pounds. I think that 3 cents a pound ought to be the maximum amount. I would not pay more if I were you. If you do not pay more, I am pretty sure that in a day the price will come down.
Mrs. Rosen, I got your letter. I got busy and you are going to get those coupons for the children's shoes. It is in accordance with the arrangement I made with Administrator Bowles. In addition, the inexpensive shoes for children will be available next month without coupons. You will remember I went into quite some length about this some time ago.
SUSPENSION OF TICKET BROKERS LICENSES
Commissioner Moss informs me that he suspended the licenses of four ticket brokers - the Louis Cohen Ticket Agency, Oscar Alexander, Rialto Theatre Ticket Office and the Supreme Ticket Office. Commissioner Moss informs me that the increases above box office prices ranged from about 50% to just about double the legal amount. We must get the cooperation of clubs. I am happy to say that most clubs cooperated, but I am sorry to say that the Union League, the Yale and the Harvard Clubs did not cooperate until they were served with subpoenas. Now, Yale and Harvard Clubs, you should know better than that. Just think of it! We are just trying to help your members, that is all. If you will cooperate with us, we will be able to stop these overcharges and this chiseling that is going on in the sale of theatre tickets.
I want to say this, if Moss doesn't get you, McNally will. The Federal law is even more severe than our laws and much more simple to enforce, because the price of the ticket and the name of the agent must be written on the back. We are going to work out an arrangement. Look here, Treasury Department, and Mr. Morgenthau - I am going to write you a letter tomorrow. I would like a little more cooperation from the Internal Revenue Bureau. The U. S. District Attorney is all right, and with a little more help from the Treasury Department, we will be able to clean it up. You know we have some good shows in town, and it is just a pity that people are chiseled.
Look here, theatre owners, you know that you and I are friends. We have been friends a long time, but, we were not born yesterday. You had better look around in your own box office and keep an eye open to see how these chiselers get your tickets. It is not doing your house any good. It is not doing our City any good when people have to pay $10 or $15 for a ticket. That is not nice. You are not getting the money, and I wish you would cooperate as much as you possibly can.
I want to say this about that case in Brooklyn - that Navy Street affair. Yes, you are a sucker. Yes, I want to get the entire book on the guy and the quicker I get that entire book the better it will be. I received a report from the Police Department in this case, but I like your version better. I think your version is more accurate than that of the Police.
I wish I could do more than I will be able to do in the school budget. The Legislature would not help very much. There is rather a bad situation as to substitutes. Did the Legislature help? It did not. Do you know that the list from which we have to appoint teachers is 14 years old and that it has an extension for 3 more years, that is 17 years. When we appoint a teacher now, and we must appoint them from the list, in accordance with their place on the list, that teacher has been waiting 14 years - she qualified 14 years ago. We tried to have that amended, because I think the extension is unlawful and unconstitutional. We tried to have that amended, so that these eligibles who have been on the list for 14 years would have to submit to a qualifying examination. After 14 years you can forget a whole lot, and some of them are not as well as they were 14 years ago. Well, we could not get it done. The Legislature would not do it. I do not think that that list should be eligible. Unless there is a change made, in 5 years from now, we will not have any young teachers in our whole Education Department in the City of New York, for which the people of this city spends $180,000,000. But we have to continue to do the best we can in the face of all this opposition. They think more about an index card and put mandatory increases on us. However, constructive help is difficult to get. Yet we are doing the best we can.
BEHAVIOR OF CHILDREN
I say and I still stress that good manners and behaviour and good conduct on the part of children is a very important part of education. I got a very encouraging letter from a class. They write: "Last Sunday, when you spoke on the radio and mentioned good manners for children, our class decided upon a plan which we hope will encourage other children, to practice good manners at all times. We decided to have a party for the children in our class who had practiced good manners with the result that our entire class had their first party Friday, March 10th, 1944. We hope to continue this record every month. Respectfully yours, Marilyn Karp, Class 5-1-2, PS 253, Brooklyn, 12, N.Y." Thank you, Marilyn. I think that is just fine. Now if only other classes would do that.
I received a letter the other day. Perhaps it will illustrate what I have in mind. The writer wanted to know why a certain playground of a certain school was not used after hours. Well, I took it up with the proper school authorities and received the reply that they could not use their own playground for their own school children after hours because they had no attendant to supervise it and if they did not have an attendant there, the school children would destroy all of the play facilities, would break windows and smash property. What kind of a school is that? If it were one child, well, you would blame the parent. But it was the entire enrollment of a school. What kind of a school is that, where children can not be entrusted with their own playground. It is a very sad commentary for the principal of that school. It reflects on the school, not on the children. That is why I stress the necessity, particularly in these days, of good manners, courtesy, proper speech on the part of the children. Parents of this city are entitled to that. Of course, parents, you must cooperate, too.
Patience and Fortitude.