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THE NEW YORK PRESS UPON THE NON

ENFORCEMENT OF THE BUILDING LAWS.

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THE “COMMERCIAL, ADVERTISER." There is a capital tract for our campaign of education against Crokerism in the exposé which the Tenement-House Commission made yesterday of the methods that prevail in the Department of Buildings. They simply turned inside out the Tammany system as it is operated in that branch of Mr. Croker's government and showed that it coincides in broad, general principles with the methods that are observed in the police and other departments. They first examined the head of ihe department, Mr. Brady, his deputy commissioner, Mr. Dooner, and his associate commissioners in outlying boroughs. All these authorities were confi. dent that the laws relating to their department were faithfully enforced and thai the general results were in every way satisfactory. Like Mr. Devery and his associates in the Police Department Mr. Brady and his associates were in total ignorance of any shortcomings of their subordinates, or any failure to execute the laws which the city pays them to execute.

Having thus established the complete innocence or complete ignorance of the heads of the department as to what was actually going on under them, the tenementhouse commissioners proceeded to give them a large and illuminating body of circumstantial and exact evidence on that point. They showed that in every one of the boroughs the building laws so far as they apply to the construction of tenement houses, violated in almost every instance. Out of 333 such houses constructed during the past year in the borough of Manhattan, only fifteen, or four per cent, were found without violation of the law. In one house there were thirteen different violations; in another nine different violations ; in seven houses eight different violations in each; in two houses seven different violations; in twenty-one houses six different violations; in forty-six houses five different violations; in fifty-seven hous. es four different violations; in fifty-six houses three different violations; in seventyfour houses two violations, and in fifty-three houses one violation in each. A similar condition of affairs was shown, with equal exactness and clearness, in reference to the other boroughs. The most important provisions of the law, those relating to light and ventilation, were those most systematically and most unscrupulously violated. We reproduce elsewhere the evidence gathered by the Tenement-House Commission on these points, and bespeak for them most careful reading.

What was the defense of Mr. Brady and his associates when these proofs of the incompetence and negligence of their sub

ordinates was laid before them? Mr. Brady said at first that he did not believe the charges were true. Would he investigate the matter for himself if a list of the buildings were supplied to him ? He would, certainly, and if they were found to be true he should be compelled to admit that his inspectors had not doge their duty. He was ready to admit now that he had a good deal of trouble with them, had been com. pelled to discharge at least 100 for faults of various kinds; that he only had 160 anyway, and needed a great many more to have the work properly done. This from a depart. ment chief who had declared a few minutes betore that everything was going on well in his department. Did he know that in ninety-six of the 144 new tenements coming within the class requiring fireproof material in the construction of hallways the floors of the hallways had been con. structed entirely of wood ? He admitted that he did know something about this, and said he had permitted these modifications of the law's requirements on advice of the corporation counsel that he had the right to do

This view of mandatory provisions of law was quite startling to the tenementhouse commissioners, and is likely to be to the public.

The great central fact of the matter is that we see in the building department the same inability that we see constantly in the police department on the part of its head to dis. cover what his subordinates are doing until their attention is called to it by outsiders. Chief Devery and the police board are un able to discover that members of the police force are not enforcing the laws until outsiders call their attention to it, and then they refuse to believe it till proof is adduced. The tenement-house commissioners, assuming that this precedent would be followed in the building department. collected their proof before they made their charges, and the natural result was great embarrassment for Mr. Brady and his associates. They had no suspicion of a “reform trick" of that unusual nature.

Why have the inspectors of the building department so generally permitted the laws to be violated? Why do the police so generally permit the laws to be violated ? Marry come up! Have you forgotten Mr. Croker's definition of his own government? “I am working for my own pocket all the time?" As Governor Roosevelt said, when he cited this definition : “We are not slandering Mr. Croker ; we are quoting him."

THE “ TRIBUNE." The Tenement-House Commission has laid an excellent foundation for a radical reform in the conduct of the Buildings Department. Seldom have officials put them. selves in a more humiliating light than did Commissioners Brady, Guilfoyle and Campbell, when they positively declared that the

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requirements of the building laws were being Strictly enforced in the boroughs under their supervision, only to be confronted by detailed proof that the most essential provisions of the law were violated at wholesale. They can not even find refuge in the excuse of inadequate force to inspect all the work of building. The most flagrant violations are not faults of execution, but are part of the design on which the Buildings Department has passed favorable judgment. So the officials must assume responsibility for consciously and affirmatively consenting to nullification of the law, not merely for neglect to enforce its provisions

The tenement-house law provides that only sixty-five per cent of a lot not on a corner may be occupied by a tenement-house building. The commissioner has discretion to increase that percentage to seventy-five in special cases. This discretion was intended only to meet exceptional circumstances. Some inside lots might be so situated that twentyfive per cent of air space would be ample. Some obviously permanent low building adjoining might give it practically as much light and air as a corner lot. Under such circumstances it was thought wise to give the commissioner discretion to waive what was meant to be the general rule that only sixty-five per cent of the lot should be covered. How has Mr. Brady performed his duty ? An extended investigation, taking account of 286 tenement houses built under this law, shows that what the law intended to be the general rule has been complied with in only one per cent of the buildings. In ninety-nine per cent Mr. Brady has made exceptions.” In thirty-one per cent of these cases his "exceptions" have exceeded the maximum limit of the law. In thirtyone per cent of these houses over seventyfive per cent of the lot is covered, and in ten per cent eighty per cent or more of the lot is covered. In the matter of fireproof stairs and halls, self-closing dumb-waiter doors and hall windows to the outer air similar neglect of duty and even deliberate violation of law is shown on the part of the commissioners, not only of Manhattan, but also of Brooklyn and Queens.

The primary purpose of the TenementHouse Commission is not to investigate Tammany, but to provide proper housing for the poor and abolish the danger to the whole community from disease which is nurtured in the tenement houses and spread abroad through the city. Its discoveries of violated laws and official malfeasance will be used merely as data for the formulating of more drastic rules and the devising of a better system by which to enforce them. Others, however, have a different duty. The exposures, which are merely incidental to the Commission's work, call for the prompt attention of Mayor Van Wyck, the responsible head of the city government.

As Bishop Potter rightfully threw upon him the duty of holding the police to their duty, so on him should be thrown the duty of holding his appointees in the Buildings Department to their duty. It is now a matter of public knowledge that his commissioners are habitual lawbreakers. They do not pretend to obey the statute in the conduct of the Department, but contemptuously ignore its provisions. Their fault is not that abuses escape their vigilance, but that they give affirmalive sanction to violations. They pass on all plans. Without their permission nothing can be built. In this borough ninety-nine per cent of the plans investigated by the Tenement-House Commission must have had detailed attention from Mr. Brady to warrant his making the exception to the sixty-five per cent rule. Yet, knowing the plans, understanding the situation, he deliberately allows the lots to be covered far beyond the extreme limit of the law in almost one-third of the cases under review. Such unfaithfulness calls for the attention of his superiors. Mayor Van Wyck can not ignore this malfeasance without showing the people of this city that it is an approved piece of Tammany misgovernment, and convincing them that landlords and builders, like gamblers and divekeepers, can be lawless for a price. Police Commissioner York has admitted that vice has been protected because it paid for protection. Is Mayor Van Wyck ready to admit that disease and death also pay their price for the freedom of the tenement houses ?

THE “WORLD." The World recently expressed the opinion that New York's bad eminence as the city whose working people are more badly housed than those of any other American city, is due not so much to the lack of good building laws as to the unfaithful, because corrupt, enforcement of those we have.

This opinion is supported by the startling admissions of the building commissioners themselves in their testimony before the Tenement-House Commission. Com missioner Brady, who is supposed to see that the laws are respected in the borough of Manhattan, made the astonishing acknowl. edgment that he had known of and reported to the District Attorney for prosecution no fewer than 11,000 violations of the tenementhouse building laws, of which not over 500 had yet even got into court. And he could give no reason whatever why, instead of permitting these 11,000 lawbreakers to go on with their building contrary to law, he had not exercised his power to stop them by injunction. To heap up cases by the thousand on the files of the District-Attorney's office. which everybody understands will never be brought to trial until the tenementhouses to which they relate have been un

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lawfully constructed, sold and filled with the boroughs of Brooklyn and of Queens and lenants, is a transparent farce and fraud. Richmond, professed not to know of viola

The facts reported by the independent and tions of the law under the very eyes of their unbribed inspectors employed by the Tene inspectors, they found that an independent ment-House Commission could not be denied inspection had been going on which by Commissioner Brady, though he ventured discovered such violations by the wholea' feeble doubt of their accuracy. These sale. The law is acknowledged to be inspectors report that of 333 tenement-houses defective, but

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perfect las built within Mr. Brady's jurisdiction, only would be of little use if those charged with fifteen were found to be built in conformity its enforcement were negligent or corrupt. with the laws Mr. Brady is appointed and Why the builders of tenement-houses are paid to enforce. “The only way I can allowed to go on disregarding the requireaccount for it," he says, “is that my inspec ments for light and air space, safety of halls tors have not reported these cases to me. and stairways, fire-escapes and sanitary And that does not wholly account for it. There arrangements, we do not undertake to say. is a why behind Mr. Brady's because. Why It may be inefficiency or negligence at the do not his inspectors report what they see? head of the department, or it may be inAnd why does he not see to it that they do? capacity or an itching palm among the And why, where he knows of intended inspectors, but whatever it is, the fact is violations of law by the thousand, does he established by the investigations of the not enjoin them summarily?

Commission. THE “EVENING POST." A fresh revelation of misgovernment in UNITED HEBREW CHARITIES STATISTICS FOR this city was made at the session of the

NOVEMBER. Tenement-House Commission yesterday, when the building commissioners for the various boroughs and the superintendent of In the month of November the rethe department were examined. Each insisted at the start that the building laws

lief committee of the United Hewere faithfully and vigorously enforced, and

brew Charities held five regular each was then confronted with a mass of detailed evidence that these laws, in point of meetings and acted upon seventyfact, had been flagrantly violated in a host of cases. For example, the law allows only seven cases. New applications, 75 per cent of a lot as the proportion which

numbering 602, were received by a tenement-house not on corner may occupy, and Mr. Thomas J. Brady, Com the society, and there were 2,494 remissioner for Manhattan and the Bronx Boroughs, declared that he strictly en

current cases; 536 applications were forced this rule. Proofs

immedi refused for sufficient cause; 356 ately submitted that out of 286 tenements inspected, 88, or nearly one-third, pensioners received their usual ceeded this limit, twenty-nine of them covering eighty per cent or more. The com

monthly allowance. The nationalmissioner has the power to stop by injunc- ity of the new applicants was as foltion work on buildings where the law is violated in any particular, but Mr. Brady

lows: Russian 356; Austrian, 141; was forced to confess that he had not exercised this power. The law expressly pro

Roumanian, 47; German, 37; Engvides that dumb-waiter doors shall be self lish, 2; United States, 12; Bohemian, closing. Only six out of 207 tenements examined in this respect had such doors, and 4; African, 1; Indian, 1; Turkey, 1. Commissioner Brady coolly excused this on the ground that he did not consider self

Length of time new applicant has closing doors necessary. In short, all the been in the country: Under one officials who were examined convicted them. selves out of their own mouths of the grossest

year, 282; under two years, 31; negligence and disregard of the law.

under three years, 21; under four THE "MAIL AND EXPRESS."

years, 13; under five years, 16; The Tenement-House Commission wisely prepared itself for the examination of the total, 602. heads of the building department of the city

The following foreign transporby gathering information for itself as the manner in which tenement-houses now tation tickets were granted : To under construction are being built. When Commissioner Brady and his colleagues, for Berlin, 31; to London, 9; to Ham

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burg, 1; to Liverpool, 5; total, 36. under one year of age; 4 between Domestic transportation tickets were one and sixteen years, and 8 over granted as follows: To Colorado, sixteen years. The following arti14; to Georgia, 3; to Illinois, 7; Mis cles were distributed : 163 bottles of souri, 10; New York, 3; Michigan, whisky, 28 bottles of maltine, 22 1; Wisconsin, 1; Indiana, 2; Ohio, bottles of cod liver oil, 23 orders for 2;. Pennsylvania, 2; California, 3; surgical supplies, 37 grocery orders, Texas, I; Nebraska, 2; total, 57. 587 pairs of shoes, 287 pairs of

During the month there were 31 pants, 281 coats, 188 vests, 176 free burials, of this number 19 were dresses, 75 overcoats, 655 pieces of

underwear, and 3,533 articles of perform a prescribed amount of household furnishing and wearing work for which he was paid apparel. Seventeen bundles of cloth- fifty cents in cash; of this ing, containing 340 pieces, were dis

number 231

were brought by tributed among mothers with in men with homes in the city. Eightfants. In addition to the above dis

een women were employed in the tributed articles, 106 persons were laundry, and were given a total of supplied with nourishing food, and seventy-one days' work. Fifty209 meals and 60 nights' lodging eight days' work

eight days' work were given to were furnished to homeless men and women employed at the workrooms.

women.

The physicians of the United

In the week ending December 10, Hebrew Charities received 589 of

474 persons were admitted to Bellefice calls and made 310 calls at the

vue Hospital, 430 were discharged, homes of those desiring medical

and thirty-five died. The number treatment. The nurses paid 1,370

under treatment on December 10, visits to 106 patients.

During the

was 774. month fifty-four members enrolled, contributing $940.

During the week ending December

8, the Association for Improving the THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 8.

Condition of the Poor added 153 The Joint Application Bureau of

cases to their lists, making a total of the Charity Organization Society 1,066 cases actively in charge. All and the Association for Improving the new applications were for relief, the Condition of the Poor received

and the majority were requests for 392 applications for aid in the week

coal. Fifty-nine came through the ending December 8. Eighty-eight: Joint Application Bureau. For food homeless persons were taken in supplies, $243-35 were disbursed; charge. The investigating agents for rent, $35.50, and for other relief, from the central office of the $164.84, making a total disburseCharity Organization Society made

ment of $443.69 for relief. Forty606 calls to obtain information con five woodyard tickets were given to cerning the needs of those asking

and forty-four workroom for assistance, and 197 new names tickets to women. One hundred and were recorded in the registration

twenty garments, old and new, were bureau.

given away from the storeroom. The new families taken in charge The staff of fifteen visitors made 935 by the district committees num visits. ber fifty-one. At the woodyard 264 tickets were presented, each From the Department of Public of which entitled the bearer to Charities eighteen children

men

were

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