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The Boss

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

When the author asked to see the payrolls of Jersey City and Hudson County, he was politely but firmly refused. The State Civil Service Commission also declined to permit the examination of their copies and even refused a state senator who attempted to see them on the author's behalf; and references to the New Jersey civil service law, which requires that they be open to public inspection at all reasonable hours, were unavailing. It was possible to see the payrolls of any other city or county, but not those of Jersey City or Hudson County. Public records, if they bear on the Hague organization, are not always public in New Jersey. From a man whose name cannot now be revealed, however, a copy of the 1939 payroll was, fortunately, obtained. The salary items quoted throughout this book were taken from that copy.

The 1932 payroll that was published in the newspapers listed two 'cuspidor-cleaners' at $1950 a year. They do not appear on the 1939 payrolls, but there are other items equally curious. At the courthouse, for instance, the county employs a William Downes as `foreman of vacuum cleaners' at $4000; two plumbers at $2600; and a carpenter at $3000. The super intendent of the building, Mr. Martin Cooke, is paid $6000, and the chief engineer, Charles D. Myers, $3500. The services of ninety-one persons are required to keep the court- house – a structure of no extraordinary size – cleaned, heated, and repaired. In 1940 these people are to be paid $235,000.

There are so many clerks, confidential clerks, investigators, special agents, court criers, and sergeants-at-arms connected with the county courts that it is remarkable that they can all get into the courthouse at once. Their salaries run from $1900 to $4000.

No one who works for Hudson County is underpaid. The county prosecutor, Daniel T. O'Regan, receives $12,000, and his first assistant, $10,000. The clerk of the county board of freeholders is paid $10,000, the chief inspector for the mosquito revolver permits, who issues perhaps a hundred a year, has a extermination commission, $6000. The inspector of salary of $2353.

The Jersey City payroll has on it some items just as strange. There is, for example, a John F. Saturniewicz, a `senior clerk-stenographer' in the Mayor's office, at $4000; he is also judge of the Second Criminal Court at $7000. One Robert A. O'Brien, clerk to the board of taxation, is paid $7000. James A. Hamill, corporation counsel, receives $12,500. He has a `legal assistant,' Inez Hoagland, whose salary is $6000. Although she has held this position for many years, City Hall reporters cannot remember seeing her at work there.

The chief of the fire department – whose health compelled him to go to Florida during the investigations of the Case Committee, but who recovered as soon as it was overpaid $9000. There are ten battalion chiefs who receive 500 each, fifty-eight captains at $3700, and two hundred and ninety-three firemen at $3000. It would not be surprising if all Jersey City boys wanted to grow up to join the fire department.

Most of the city and county employees do not have to work very hard at their jobs:

An outstanding case was that of Alfred H. Mansfield, an employee of the Hudson County Board of Health, who served as a health inspector at a salary of $4000 per year. He has worked in that capacity for twenty-five years. He was unable to give the Committee the name and address of the owner of any place that he had ever inspected, and testified that he had never made a complaint or arrest, and that if a man has a job he is `supposed to get the vote out.' (Case Committee Report, Senate Journal (1929), p. 1104.)
`A street laborer' was discovered by the same committee who was `paid $1700 per year for keeping two blocks of the highway clear. He testified, "If boxes would fall off a truck and block the road, it would be my job to keep the road clear." ' (Ibid., p. 1106.) Rates have gone up somewhat since that time, however; Daniel Turi, Democratic leader of the Ninth District of the Third Ward, president of the district political club and a bartender in his own saloon, told the Young Committee in 1938 that he received $2200 a year with rating as a laborer at the bath-house, 9 Coles Street. (Transcript, p. 983.)


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