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The Boss

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

Had the association been well established, however, different means would have been necessary for dealing with it. The usual practice, with a group that may make trouble and that cannot well be broken up, is to use a method that may be called infiltration: loyal organization men become members and soon elect the officers. The association then cannot do anything to embarrass the city regime. The recent history of the Hudson County Bar Association is a good example.

For many years there has been criticism of the administration of justice in Hudson County. It has been pointed out in the newspapers that the same names appear over and over on jury lists; a police officer went over the lists of recent years with the author and was able to identify in every one a majority composed of minor politicians, relatives of important politicians, or contractors dealing with the city. He asserted that for fifteen years not a petit or grand jury has been drawn that has not had on it enough dependable jurors so that the organization could prevent if not dictate a verdict.

As recently as January 18, 1940, former Judge August Ziegener urged the Hudson County Bar Association to investigate the juries of the county: `Someone is putting something over on all of us. I hope we can "get" some of the crooked manipulators and the crooked juries at the courthouse. (Jersey Observer, January 19, 1940.) Nothing was done, and nothing will likely be done, though an active and militant bar association can do a great deal to censor the bench and bar. The reason may be deduced from the story of the election of officers in 1937.

The nominating committee submitted a slate with James A. Tumulty as candidate for vice-president. Under the traditions of the association, he would have become president the following year; but Tumulty, although one of the most distinguished members of the local bar, was opposed to the Hague regime and its methods. Edward O'Mara, then employed in the office of the city counsel, was put up as the organization candidate. He was in Wildwood, Cape May County, at the time, investigating a corrupt election for state senator in which Mayor Hague was deeply interested, because the control of the state senate was at stake. O'Mara had never taken any particular interest in the work of the bar association, and his dues were in arrears at the time of his nomination. Tumulty and his friends were aroused by the nomination of O'Mara, and a bitter contest followed. Word went out from City Hall that all lawyers on the public payrolls and all who hoped for favors must go to the meeting and vote for O'Mara. The campaign produced the biggest meeting in the history of the county bar association; lawyers who had not paid dues in years appeared and settled up. O'Mara was overwhelmingly elected. The following year Tumulty was again nominated and again defeated. There appears to be no likelihood that the Hudson County Bar Association will demand any investigation into the judicial processes of their locality.

This story might be repeated with appropriate variations for the medical society, the chamber of commerce, the teachers' association, and even for lodges and clubs. Spectacular election disputes are usually avoided; the organization men move in quietly and take over. The chamber of commerce is only half alive; it has nothing to say about important matters, such as taxes; but if the Mayor needs some business front for some activity, such as the opposition to the C.I.O., it furnishes him with plenty of statements by business men. With the board of education appointed by the Mayor, the teachers' association never gets interested in civic virtue.

The officers of the veterans' groups, as was shown at the C.I.O. trial, are almost all public employees or relatives of public employees, so that the veterans could be counted upon to produce as needed resolutions praising the Mayor or damning the C.I.O. and the Reds. One of the most vociferous of the veterans was Colonel Hugh Kelly, the private secretary to Governor A. Harry Moore. Mayor Hague testified in the C.I.O. case about the veterans' organizations, and how they moved at his command:

A. Now, as far as the veterans is concerned they move very rapidly; they are Minute Men. So don't be surprised if you find them in action two days after the receipt, or the publication, of any communication because they can muster three or four thousand veterans in twenty-four hours.

Q. Unquestionably.
A. They work fast over there [in Jersey City].

Q. You have no difficulty in marshaling veterans when you want them for your parades, do you?
A. No, I don't.

Q. Do you think you could have prevailed upon the veterans to have been a little less aggressive if you had asked them to?
A. Well, I wasn't desirous of asking them that. (Transcript, p. 1059.)

With the Mayor not being desirous of asking the veterans to be law-abiding, the Veterans' Committee for Law and Order published in the Jersey City newspapers early in May, 1938, full-page advertisements calling upon all World War veterans to assemble in Journal Square to prevent Congressmen O'Connell and Bernard from speaking, `to show the imported gathering of long-haired reds from New York and elsewhere out of this state that their presence will not be tolerated in New Jersey.' And one of the officers of the Catholic World War Veterans told a meeting of eight hundred men to come armed each with two feet of rubber hose.


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