« PreviousContinue »
lect enough to understand the English language as it applies to the form in which the alderman on my left has made the motion ; but I do say, Mr. Chairman, that it is the height of folly for a committee to sit here and pass a vote of that kind. I simply, Mr. Chairman assign this ground, that if there is any person who desires to be heard, whether he is for the prosecution or for the defence, I propose, as one member of this committee, Mr. Chairman, to assert my rights here. As I have said, Mr. Chairman, and I think I voice your sentiments as chairman of this coinmittee I desire to have extended to me that right, when I ask it, and I believe every member of the committee would vote with me in that respect. It is siinply a question of whether this committee has any right to ask to have certain parties heard, aside from the rights which belong to the prosecution and to the defence. If this committee have any rights in the premises they have the right to bring in witnesses here and have them testify to what they know, whether for or against the institutions. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that the gentleman made the motion. I think when he takes a second thought he will withdraw it, and stand here and assert bis rights at the proper time.
Ald. LOJASNEY. Mr. Chairmail, I am willing to take Alderman Lee's view of that. I made the motion at the urgent request of Alderman Sanford, who is a lawyer, and who, I thought, understood the question a great deal better than I did. When he said to make that motion, I made it, Mr. Chairman. I have been fighting all along for certain rights. I am satisfied if you leave it
I do not care, only this, Jr. Chairman: I do not want any person afterwards to claim that any unfair advantage has been taken of him, because we have seen all along in this investigation where certain people were refused to take the stand upon the ground that they wanted to know what all the evidence was before they would begio their defence. I certainly agree to that proposition. I think the counsel for the defence should not be called upon to meet something that is not squarely put before them. Consequently I am in favor of allowing them to bear everything that can be said against either side of the case before they shall be called upon to present theirs. That is certainly fair, and that is the reason, Mr. Chairman, why I made the motion at Alderman Sanford's suggestion. Of course, I am willing to take any suggestion from Alderman Lee or any other alderman, if I am wrong. I don't care what you do with the motion, only with the unclerstinding that the counsel and Commissioners shall not feel that any unfair advantage is taken of them if these people are called at any other time. That is all.
Mr. CURTIS. Neither the counsel for the Commissioners nor any superintendent thinks that any unfair advantage bas been taken of them at any time by this comunittee, and have no complaint to make. We will go on and open our case, and proceed with it; and when we get througli, if the gentlemen want to offer anything in reluttal or to call any wituesses we have no objection
Mr. Riley. - Well, but when will you get through?
Mr. CURTIS. — Well, Brother Riley, we haven't put any limitation on you, and your case has been dragging along since the 15th of March. I guess we will get through as soon as you did.
The CHAIRMAN. - Does Alderman Lomasney desire to withdraw the motion ?
Ald. LOMASNEY. Mr. Chairman, with the understanding among the members of the committee that the committee shall at any time have a right before this hearing closes to call any person we may desire to call, I will withdraw that motion.
The CHAIRMAN. Has any member of the committee anything further to-day? (No response.)
OPENING STATEMENT BY WILLIAM GARDNER REED, Esq. MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE: First thanking you for the many courtesies received at your hand since the beginning of these hearings, I will outline as briefly as possible our reply to the charges which have been made here so freely and at times it would appear almost recklessly. At the first hearing the learned counsel for the public-sprited citizens who are so conspicuous in this investigation told us that they were here to throw
upon a very dark spot in Boston,” that they were proceeding against abuses, and if given an opportunity would tell us what the charges were. “Let the charges be heard,” said he, " and if they are improper, if they are unfounded, cross-examination and evidence in rebuttal will dispose of them quickly." Mrs. Roland C. Lincoln, of Manchester, then took the witness-stand and read her charges and testimony, taking you back to the days of the Austin Farm as a poor -house where she had but then “ with sadness and bitterness turned her back upon her old friend' and tenant, Margaret Mulhearn. Passing from Austin Farm to Long and Raidsford Islands you will remember how in detail she criticised the buildings, the food, and the management in general. Were these charges proper? Did they rest on good foundation ? Let us see.
Counsel has named the test. Here it is: “If the charges are improper, if they are unfounded, cross-examination and evidence in rebuttal will dispose of them quickly.” At tbe second hearing we began the application of this test. Mrs. Lincoln was cross-examined. It then appeareil that many things criticised by her as improper had at the time of her criticism long ago been changed, as, for example, the old institution hospital at Rainsford Island. That, as you know, gentlemen, is a thing of the past, and one who calls attention to it now does so only for the purpose of finding fault and not to aid the unfortunate poor. Long before the beginning of this investigation, the institution had outgrown that old hospital, and a new hospital had been built on Long Island and was in full operation. The old hospital building on Rainsford Island, after remaining unoccupied for more than a year, has been transformed into a summer hospital for children and stands there a mute witness to the kindness, the forethought, and the excellent judgment of the Commissioners of Public Institutions. Let me read what the Boston “ Transcript,” of August 8, 1894, said of this :
THE CITY DOWN THE HARBOR.
The real enthusiasm with which all concerned have thrown themselves into the fitting up of the old Rainsford Island Hospital, the Acropolis-like structure, always a picturesque object in the lower harbor for the ailing babies and poor mothers of the city, has resulted in a demonstration of the resources of Boston in men and material that ought to gladden and make proud all who have the best interests of the municipality at heart. At the call of Dr. Ernst, whose hospital duty made him specially aware of the crying need for more than one-day outings on a floating hospital for the dying infants of the poor, Dr. Jenks has so effectually employed the machinery and materials of the city islands that in four days' time the new institution has arisen freshly whitewashed or painted, equipped and furnished to the last bottle of the dispensary. The enthusiasm of young doctors and of the good sisters of St. Margaret's has sufficed to organize the force in readiness for the first instalment of patients to-day. The public will do the rest, as Dr. Ernst's report of subscriptions to-day sufficiently attests. Dr. Jenks' habits of intense and indefatigable personal attention to details has certainly stood the public in good stead in this emergency.
Neglect, improper treatment, uninviting food, squalor and wretchedness are charged, while at the head of the institution was a man whose very name is synonymous with kinduess and faithful performance of every duty, a man well known to the citizens of Boston as a tried and true public servant, a man than whom no one has received more abundantly the blessings of the poor. Mrs. Lincoln herself discredited these charges when, in answer to the question put to her on cross-examination, “ Can you tell me who was superintendent then at Long Island ?" she replied, "John Galvin."
It was during his term as superintendent at Long Island that, on a certain day in March, 1893, as Mrs. Lincoln says, “Two patients, both belplessly ill, are to be landed on Long Island. The weather is stormy, blowing a gale. No ambulance is ready to meet the boat. The unfortunate women have to remain on board while it goes to Rainsford Island and returns to Long Island because of the delay in preparing the ambulance. A little foresight, a little consideration, would have appraised the authorities that two sick and helpless patients were expected.” That is her statement, and that her criticism. Both are unfair and unjust. Mrs. Lincoln, and Mrs. Lincoln alone, was responsible for that occurrence. She tok those women to Long Island on that stormy dar. She was met at the boat by the playsician in charge of the hospital at Long Island. She was told by him that the hospital was full and these two women would be cared for at Rainsford Island, but she insisted that becis be provided in the hospital at Long Island, and Superintendent Galvin yielded to her demand and crowded two more beds into the wards where Mrs. Lincoln decided these patients must go. It was not the work of a moment to provide these beds and to crowd together still further the alrearly crowded patients in the ward selected by Mi's. Lincoln for these two women. What was to be done? Should the boat be held at Long Island pending these preparations ? Certainly not. The proper thing to be done under the circumstances was done. The boat made her trip to Rainsford Island and returned, and then these unfortunate old women were properly
and kindly taken on shore at Long Island. The original plan of the physician to send them to Rainsford Island, where they woulil have been just as kindly cared for as at Long Island, was the proper plan. Out of consideration for Mrs. Lincolu, Superintendent Galvin changed that plan to conform to her wishes, although against the judgment of the physician in charge, and now she shows her appreciation of that kind treatment by publicly charging the management of the institution with that for wbich she alone was responsible.
Coming down to more recent times, as she says, her first complaint is of the food, and she would have you believe that she presents to you a sample of the tea, and along with it a specimen of the breakfast. She does not, in fact, present either a sample of the tea or a specimen of the breakfast. She presents she knows not what, two bottles given her by a man who has served term after term in the penal institutions of this county and of this city, a man in whom she herself bas looked in vain for some capacity to tell the truth; and with these vials she brings to you the statement of this man as evidence to support her charges. We shall show you just what kind of food is supplied for the inmates of this institution and low it is prepared. We say they have had nothing but good food and plenty of it, and that it is and has always been well prepared and served.
By Mrs. Lincoln's own statements, it appears that her complaints have usually met with attention, and she leaves the witness-stand with the following complaints disregarded :
Nothing done to remedy the absence of fire-escapes, not enough assistance, too many people in one ward, institution building not ventilated, bot as inuch improvement in cleanliness as she would like, 110 telephone connection, imperfect watersupply, and firepump not connected with water-supply.
We take issue with Mrs. Lincoln on her statements, except so far as they apply to the telephone, water-supply, and ventilation of the main building, and as to these matters, we say: First, that the telephone is in working order, and was put in order with all possible despatcli. Neither the Commissioners nor the superintendent were guilty of any negligence in that respect, and no responsibility attacbes to them, or either of them, for the interruption which occurred in the service. Even before the cable became eutirely useless the Commissioners took action. You have before you the letter of the Telephone Company, dated July 22, strongly advising against undertaking to repair the old cable, and declining to assume any responsibility, whatever, in case it should be detira mined 10 try the experiment of repairing. In this letter the Company reiterates a recommendation previously made that a new cable be laid. The matter was then considered by the Commissioners and the Board of Health, and it was decided to ask for an appropriation sufficient to defray the expense of laying a new cable from Deer Island to Long and Gallops. Accordingly the following communication was sent to the Mayor by the Commissioners of Public Institutions and Board of Health:
12 BEACON ST., BOSTON, September 29, 1893. HON. NATHAN MATTHEWS, JR., Mayor :
Dear Sir: The Commissioners of Public Institutions and the Board of Health respectfully request an appropriation of $4,500 to defray the expenses of laying a new cable hetween Deer Island and Long Island, thence to connect with Gallops and Rainsford for the purpose of supplying telephonic facilities on these islands. The cable that was laid four years ago has been broken and is unfit for further service, and it is no longer possible to obtain telephonic communication from the city to either of these islands.
We are advised by the telephone company that it will not be possible to repair the present cable.
THOMAS L. JENKS,
FOR THE BOARD OF HEALTH,
As soon as the money could be obtained that fact was communicated to the Commissioners of Public Institutions, the new cable was supplied, and telephonic communication with Long Island restored, to continue, we hope, indefinitely. It is not at all certaio, however, that it will continue ten days. No one can tell how soon some vessel anchoring near the cable may again injure it and make it useless.
Next, as to the water supply, that is no more within the control of the Commissioners of Public Institutions than is the supply to your own houses under your control. The institution at Long Ísland is a purchaser of water from the Water Department exactly as any other water taker in the city. The pipes which supply Long Island are not the property of the Public Institutions Department, were not laid by that department, and are not under its control. They were laid and are controlled by the Water Department of the city, precisely as are all other water-supply pipes in the city. Upon failure of the supply at Long Island the Water Board has at once been notitied and the trouble remedied as soon as possible, and meanwhile the water boat has supplied the island with water. Everything has been done that could be done by the Commissioners, and there is no foundation for any complaint against them on this score.
Then as to the ventilation of the institution building. That bis bein improveil, and will, at no distant day, be made as nearly perfect as possible. The Commissioners, with the aid of the best esperts, bare devised a remedy for that defect in the constructiou of the building for wbich no paid commissioner can be held responsible, the building having been erected prior to 1889. They have perfecteil a plan for the better rentilation of the entire building, avd as soon as the money can be obtained to pay for it, the plan will be executed.
That there might have been more perfect protection against fire is true, and recognizing tliat fact the Commissioners obtained authority to expend money in providing standpipes throughout the