Discussing the Issues

H.L. Mencken

Baltimore Morning Herald/April 22, 1899

German-American Voters Hear Arguments in Behalf of Good Government.

In spite of the warm weather a large crowd of German-American voters filled Dushane Post Hall last night at 2 mass-meeting in the interest of the Democratic municipal candidates. Edward Raine presided, and addresses were made by Ex-Mayor Latrobe, George Savage, F. W. Kranz, Hugo Steiner and Dr. George Strauss. Messrs. Savage, Kranz, Steiner and Strauss spoke in German.

“The issues of the present campaign,” said General Latrobe, “are good government and a lower tax rate. One follows the other as night follows day. If we have a poor administration of the city’s affairs we shall have a heavy tax burden, and when we have high taxes it requires no extensive search to discover rottenness and inefficient municipal management. The people of Baltimore, I am sure, are more interested in this question of taxation than they are in expansion, free silver or the tariff. This fact was recognized by the farmers of the new city charter, and the municipal election day was purposely fixed in May in order that the voters might calmly give undisturbed consideration to the affairs of the municipality without having State and national issues to consider at the same time.”

The ex-Mayor then briefly explained the duties of Mayor, Comptroller and President of the Second Branch City Council under the new charter and denied the credit claimed by the Republicans for its passage. “The new charter,” said he, “first saw the light in 1892, when, through the efforts of a Democratic city administration, an act authorizing the appointment of a Commission to draft it was passed by the Legislature of Maryland. On that Commission, as selected by a Republican Mayor, were there Democratic ex-Mayors—William Pinkney Whyte, Robert C. Davidson and myself—and the man whom I believe will be our next Mayor—Thomas Gordon Hayes. To Mr. Hayes the voters and taxpayers of Baltimore are indebted for many of the charter’s wisest provisions, and the best and most fitting way in which they can discharge this debt and at the same time honor an efficient, honest and faithful public servant is by voting for him at the election next Tuesday.”

Mr. Hugo Steiner said, in part:

“We can only judge political parties by their records. We must look to the facts for our guidance. The promises of the Malster Republicans whenever made have always resulted in disappointment to those who believed them. They doled out the offices to workers and henchmen who were neither able nor willing to properly administer them. The recent record of the Water Department furnishes an object-lesson. Last year there was done 60 per cent, less work than during the year before, yet the payroll of the department was increased 30 per cent. If this money was not wasted, what was done with it?”

The speaker said that the present excessive cost of street repairing must be considered as due to a peculiarly subtle species of highway robbery. Throughout the other city departments, he said, like inefficiency and needless squandering of the public resources may be noted.

Germanus France, the secretary, read a letter of regret form Carl Arendt, of New York, who was unavoidably prevented from coming to Baltimore in time to make an address at the meeting. The remarks of all of the speakers were much applauded.


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