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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Not only does he know what the people should think and what they should hear, but he also knows how they should be governed. He is fond of referring to himself as an expert on local government. Though he does not like to have non-residents comment upon his city, he does not hesitate to talk about other cities, even to go to Albany to do so. He thinks the commission type of city government the best devised to date; as might be expected, he can see no good in the city-manager plan, and his legislators have consistently opposed bills to make its adoption easier in New Jersey. They have likewise opposed measures seeking to establish the county-manager system in the state to displace the present freeholder, or commission, type of county government.

As an expert on local government the Mayor apparently sees no objection to the indefinite multiplication of boards and commissions, such as boulevard, bridge, water, and sewer commissions. Each of these agencies provides jobs for the organization, even though it may be virtually useless to the public.

The Mayor's position upon the question of taxes is clear and consistent. He favors a continually increasing public revenue. One of the chief reasons he advanced in his speeches in favor of the horse-racing amendment to the state constitution was that `this amendment will mean an increase in the revenues of the state to help solve the unemployment and relief problem.... We are on the verge of bankruptcy now, ladies and gentlemen, and if this opportunity is permitted to slip by, every man and woman in our state will suffer thereby.' (Speech in Jersey City, June 1, 1939.) It has been pointed out elsewhere in these pages that the tax rate and assessments have gone up and up in Jersey City and Hudson County; while Mayor Hague has never indicated in public that he foresaw any ceiling to the taxes, he has always favored state financial aid to localities with a minimum of state control over them.

It does not matter much to him how the state raises the money, though he liked the sales tax and made his legislators vote for it. He turned against it only when supporting it became politically dangerous. He is said to be opposed to a state income tax, and his legislators voted against one at the time they voted for a sales tax. To oppose an income tax and to favor a sales tax would seem to fit in well with the Mayor's other ideas on democracy.

Public debts, whether local, state, or national, seem not to worry him in the least. The Jersey City debt has gone up almost to the statutory limit under the Hague regime. He supported a recent state bond issue of $'0,000,000 for relief, both through his legislators and through his organization, when the proposal had to be ratified by the electorate. The state officials connected with his machine have never be- longed to any economy bloc.


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