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The Men in the Telegraph Hill Job

    The bill to loot the treasury for the benefit of a corrupt ring who are putting through the so-called “Telegraph Hill Claims,” ought to land somebody in the penitentiary for fraud and conspiracy. The amount of the claims is monstrously excessive. There never was and is not now a shadow of a claim against the State, either in law, good morals or equity. The property owners’ claim, if any, was against the contractors, and they knew it. Their remedy was to enjoin the contractors from blasting the rock to their injury, and at the time they availed themselves of that remedy and won their case in the courts. But they were persuaded to stay their hands on the representation that the contractors, who had great political influence, would see that they were more than compensated by the legislature. In fact, a gross job was there and then devised, and the property owners having abandoned their true remedy, in order to grasp at the bait held out to them, do not deserve any consideration from the State which they have conspired to cheat. The bill, which is ostensibly theirs, but of which they know about as much as an elephant does of algebra, was one of the many money-making bills which the Boss took in his grip sack to Sacramento, and which his committees and collar-marked members are putting through for what there is in it. Of course, the Sea-wall contractor who did the damage, if any, and is amenable therefore, is working might and main for the bill. He specially contracted to build the wall according to the plan and specifications and to deliver it when completed to the Harbor Commission free from all liens and claims for damages, and he gave a bond of a friend, whom in kindness he ought to have kept free from entanglements in State contracts. The mixing up of fat contracts with a Democratic Harbor Commission, a Democratic chairman of the State Central Committee as contractor, and a still more important Democrat as bondsmith, is only too well calculated to give rise to suspicions that all the parties should steer clear of. When out of this mixing up of things monstrous claims against the Harbor Commission arise, the result is certainly unfortunate. In this connection there is a matter in which Governor Bartlett will doubtless feel necessitated to give heed. W. D. English is a candidate for Harbor Commissioner. In view of his past and present relations with the Harbor Department, his appointment would be so unseemly that it is now out of the question, and good taste-not to say decency-requires that the Governor should be spared the painful necessity of refusing this particular request of one who has done much to earn some fitting recognition. The Sea-wall contract was a job and the claims which have arisen in connection with it are a swindle.

San Francisco News Letter
February 5, 1887