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Influence of the San Francisco Delegation.
Casts Nearly Twenty-five Per Cent of the Vote in Each House - Majority Invariably Found on the Side of the Machine - Opposed Passage of the Walker-Otis Bill - Instrumental in Amending the Direct Primary Law - Defeated Local Option Bill.
The popular idea that the State outside San Francisco is not concerned about political conditions at the metropolis is not borne out by the record of the legislative session of 1909. The San Francisco delegations in Senate and Assembly had, as they always have had and will have for many a year to come, the deciding voice in practically all important issues.
San Francisco elects within one of 25 per cent of the members of the State Senate, and within two of 25 per cent of the Assembly. In other words, nine of the forty Senators come from San Francisco, and eighteen of the eighty Assemblymen. The nine San Francisco Senators and the eighteen San Francisco Assemblymen join with the outside members in making laws not for San Francisco alone, but for the entire State. Their numbers give them decided advantage. The character of the laws passed at a legislative session almost invariably bears the stamp of the character of the San Francisco delegation. The character of the delegation depends upon political conditions at San Francisco. The whole State, then, is concerned in the efforts of the best citizenship of the metropolis to oust from power the corrupt element that has so long dominated San Francisco politics.
The record of the San Francisco delegation at the session of 1909, while better in the Assembly than in the Senate, is not one for San Francisco - or the State for that matter - to enthuse over. The votes on test questions of the eighteen members of the Assembly and of the nine members of the Senate, will be found set forth in tables in the appendix.
The table showing the votes of the nine San Francisco Senators covers sixteen roll calls, on which the San Francisco Senators cast 128 votes, ninety-nine of which were in support of machine policies and only twenty-nine against. Thus the nine Senators averaged on sixteen roll calls, eleven votes for the machine and three votes against. Had the San Francisco Senators broken even on the issues involved; that is to say, had sixty-four of the 128 votes been cast for the machine, and sixty-four against the machine, and the sixty-four anti-machine votes been evenly distributed among the several issues, the machine would have been defeated on every issue coming before the Senate.
The Assembly showing is not quite so overwhelmingly machine as that of the Senate, but it is bad enough. Eleven roll calls are considered. On these the eighteen San Francisco Assemblymen cast a total of 165 votes, of which 108 were for machine policies and fifty-seven against. Thus, even in the Assembly, the vote was approximately 2 to 1 in favor of the machine. Of the fifty-seven anti-machine votes, eleven were cast by Callan, who made an absolutely clean record, nine by Gerdes and seven by Lightner, a total of twenty-seven for the three. Deducted from the total of anti-machine votes, this leaves only thirty anti-machine votes for the remaining fifteen members of the delegation. Or to put it the other way, Callan, Gerdes and Lightner cast among them only four machine votes, which leaves 104 machine votes cast by the other fifteen San Francisco members.
On the individual issues the San Francisco Senators and Assemblymen made as bad a showing as does their vote in the aggregate. The passage of the Walker-Otis Racetrack Gambling bill for example demonstrates that the poolsellers had little hold upon the legislators of any community of the State outside of San Francisco. In the Senate but seven votes were cast against the bill. Five of the seven came from the San Francisco delegation - Finn, Hare, Hartman, Reily and Wolfe. The two remaining came from Alameda and Shasta-Siskiyou Counties. Leavitt, representing Alameda, and Weed, representing Shasta and Siskiyou, voted with the five San Francisco Senators against suppressing bookmaking and pool-selling.
The record of the San Francisco Assembly delegation on the anti-gambling measure is scarcely less suggestive. Before the Walker-Otis bill could pass the Assembly the proponents of the measure had to win six fights, as is shown by the table giving the several votes taken in the Assembly on the Walker-Otis bill. The three most important of the six were:
1. To prevent the bill being referred back to the Committee on Public Morals.
2. To pass the measure on third reading without amendment.
3. To prevent reconsideration of the vote by which the bill had been passed.
In the first fight twenty-three Assemblymen voted to refer the bill back to the Committee. Of these twelve - more than one-half - were from San Francisco.
The day of the second fight, only ten Assemblymen voted on the side of the gamblers. Every one of the ten was from San Francisco.
In the third fight, on the motion to reconsider, nineteen Assemblymen voted for reconsideration. Of these, ten, more than fifty per cent, were from San Francisco.
Or, to put it in a lump, in the three most important fights over the Walker-Otis bill in the Assembly, in the aggregate fifty-two votes were cast against the measure. Of these, thirty-two were from San Francisco Assemblymen. Only twenty were from outside San Francisco.
The universal demand throughout the State for the passage of an anti-pool selling measure offset the influence and the vote of the San Francisco delegation in both Senate and Assembly. But in the issues more involved, where the lines were more closely drawn, San Francisco practically made the laws for the whole State. This could be demonstrated by many instances. The most striking perhaps are shown by the histories of the Direct Primary measure and the Railroad Regulation bills.
When the first fight over the Direct Primary bill came up in the Senate, it will be remembered, the anti-machine forces defeated the machine by a vote of twenty-seven to thirteen. Of the thirteen Senators who voted to amend the bill to the liking of Wolfe and Leavitt, six - almost fifty per cent - were from San Francisco. They were Finn, Hare, Hartman, Kennedy, Reily, Wolfe.
When the machine element had succeeded in amending the Direct Primary measure to its liking in the Assembly and there came a new alignment on the bill in the Senate, eight of the nine San Francisco Senators voted with Wolfe and Leavitt for the amendments, which denied the people of California State-wide vote on candidates for the United States Senate. One San Francisco Senator only, Anthony, voted with the better element in the Senate, against the amendments.
Had only two of the nine Senators from San Francisco voted for the bill in its original form, the measure would have been passed by a vote of twenty-one to nineteen without the machine amendments.
The influence of the San Francisco members in shaping the Direct Primary law was even more forcibly illustrated in the Assembly. Of the eighteen San Francisco Assemblymen, fifteen voted for the Assembly amendments, two, Callan and Gerdes, voted against them, and Hopkins is not recorded as voting.
It will be remembered that the amendments were read into the bill by a vote of thirty-six to thirty-eight. Had the San Francisco delegation divided even on this vote, had nine voted for the amendments and nine against, the vote would have been forty-three against putting them in the bill, and thirty-two for, the bill would not have been amended in the Assembly; it would have become a law in the same shape that it had originally passed the Senate. It is noticeable that in an Assembly of eighty members, only twenty-three of the Assemblymen who voted for the Assembly amendments to the Direct Primary bill were from outside San Francisco. In the Senate eight of the twenty Senators who voted for the amendments were from San Francisco, only twelve were from outside that city. Thus, out of 120 members in the Legislature, ninety-three of whom were from outside San Francisco, only thirty-five from districts outside the metropolis voted for the Assembly, or machine amendments to the Direct Primary bill. But twenty-three of the twenty-seven San Francisco Senators and Assemblymen did vote for them, and only three of the San Francisco members voted against them.
It will be seen that the people of California who live outside San Francisco are decidedly interested in the character of Senators and Assemblymen whom that city sends to the Legislature.
The people of San Francisco are, of course, as much concerned over reasonable regulation of the transportation companies as Californians living outside that city. But the San Francisco Senators were a unit in their opposition to the passage of an effective railroad regulation measure.
The fight over the railroad regulation came in the Senate. The final line-up showed eighteen Senators for the effective Stetson bill and against the ineffective Wright bill; while twenty-two Senators were against the Stetson bill and for the Wright bill. The Wright bill was accordingly passed. Every one of the nine San Francisco Senators voted for the Wright bill. Only thirteen Senators who voted for the Wright bill were from outside San Francisco.
In a word, the proponents of the Stetson bill were from the start handicapped by a solid delegation of nine from San Francisco which they could not overcome. Had three of the nine San Francisco Senators been for the Stetson bill, that measure would now be the law of California.
The transportation issue was fought out in the Assembly over the Sanford Senate resolution endorsing Bristow's plan to establish a line of Government steamers between San Francisco and Panama. The fruit growers of Southern California are particularly interested in this project. The Assembly, however, amended all reference to the Bristow report and all criticism of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and the railroads out of the resolution.
Of the eighteen San Francisco Assemblymen only one, Callan, voted against the amendments; fourteen - Beatty, Beban, Coghlan, Collum, Cullen, Hopkins, Lightner, Macauley, McManus, Nelson, O'Neil, Pugh, Perine and Wheelan - voted for the amendments, while three - Black, Gerdes and Schmitt - did not vote at all.
The Local Option bill was also killed by San Francisco votes. This measure was strongly backed by the rural districts. The various counties, particularly those engaged in farming, dairying and fruit growing, sent representatives to the Legislature instructed to vote for Local Option. The issue in all ways concerned the country districts rather than the large cities. But the votes of the San Francisco Senators defeated the Local Option bill.
The first fight over the Local Option bill came when in the ordinary course of events it reached third reading. Instead of letting a vote be taken on the measure, Wolfe moved that it be referred to the Judiciary Committee. This was clearly a move against the passage of the bill, for it meant delay which might prove fatal. But Wolfe's motion prevailed by a vote of twenty to fifteen. The nine San Francisco Senators voted to refer the bill to the committee, only eleven Senators from outside San Francisco voted with them.
The nine members from San Francisco continued consistent in their opposition to the measure. When the Local Option bill did come to a vote their nine votes were cast against it.
The people of Del Norte county and the people of San Diego county are denied the privilege of voting "Wet or dry" because of the opposition to the Local Option bill of the solid San Francisco delegation in the Senate. It will be seen that the people of these distant counties are decidedly interested in political conditions in San Francisco, for in a large way the character of the San Francisco delegation in the Legislature is unmistakably reflected in the laws which are passed for the government of the entire State.
Taken as a whole, the San Francisco delegation in Senate and Assembly were nothing for that city to be proud of, and at a critical moment San Francisco came near paying dearly for her Hartmans, Hares, Macauleys and McManuses. But for the intervention of the country members the Islais Creek bond project would have been defeated.
The improvement calls for the purchase of sixty-three water blocks at Islais Creek to be converted into an inland harbor. The future development of San Francisco depends largely upon this improvement. But private interests demanded that nineteen of the sixty-three blocks be excluded from the plan, which would have rendered the whole project impracticable. When the fight came on, San Francisco Senators and Assemblymen opposed the purchase of the sixty-three blocks.
To begin with, Senator Wolfe, as member of the State Harbors Committee, had signed a report which recommended that forty-four blocks only be purchased. But Wolfe afterwards insisted that he had signed the report not knowing what he was doing.
When the fight for the improvement came up in the Senate, only two Senators, Hartman and Reily, both of San Francisco, opposed the project. They were in the end ignominiously defeated, every Senator present voting against them. But both Hartman and Reily did the best they knew how to defeat the purchase of the area necessary for the improvement.
The San Francisco delegation in its opposition to the Islais Creek project had better success in the Assembly. Nine San Francisco Assemblymen, Beban, Black, Cullen, Lightner, Macauley, McManus, O'Neil, Perine and Wheelan, united against the measure as it had passed the Senate. They succeeded in throwing doubt upon the necessity of the purchase of sixty-three blocks, and finally won twenty-two outside members over to their way of thinking. Had it not been for the efforts of Assemblymen Callan, Beatty and Nelson of San Francisco, backed by the Los Angeles delegation, the Islais Creek Harbor project would unquestionably have been defeated in the Assembly, solely because of the opposition of nine San Francisco Assemblymen.
But there is plenty of evidence of improved political conditions at San Francisco. An anti-machine Board of Supervisors is standing out manfully against the demands of machine-protected interests. The District Attorney's office is, indeed, pressing representatives of those interests pretty close to the doors of the penitentiary, although the District Attorney is handicapped by laws for which San Francisco is largely responsible, because of the character of the men whom session after session she has sent to the Legislature.
There is, however, enough to warrant the belief that San Francisco will improve the character of the Assembly and Senate delegation. Upon such improvement, the well-being of the whole State largely depends.