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Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

The Mediator

Omaha, Nebraska, August 22, 1919

Senator Hitchcock’s newspaper is getting worried about who Omaha will offer as a gubernatorial candidate next year. It is a safe bet our mayor will be side-stepped at the convention.

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The fact that the entire country has gone “dry” does not appear to interfere with the little game known as “bootlegging.” Fifteen bootleggers were on hand Monday morning in police court.

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After awhile Omaha people will begin to appreciate what the Woodmen of the World is doing for our city. Also what  great, big man is W. A. Fraser.

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Mr. Shotwell says he can find no way to punish food profiteers in Douglas county. He is about the only county attorney in the country that feels that way.

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Some large department stores attempted to corner up the stock of government stores in Omaha, but did not get away with it. One big concern had to return a big consignment of blankets.

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The policemen have organized to secure an increase in pay. It is about time. The firemen got away with theirs – why not the police?

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The attempt of landlords to squeeze the tenant is being looked into. It is about time. A lot of these vicious landlords were preparing to inaugurate a system worse than that in vogue in England.

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There appears to be no lack of rottenness in Omaha, despite the worthy effort of Police Commissioner Elmer Thomas.

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Mr. Ringer will return to the city next week to assist Superintendent Thomas of the police department.

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The Mediator

Omaha, Nebraska, August 22, 1919

No Attempt by City Officials to Curb Vicious System of Rottenness; Growing Up in Last Eighteen Months; Elmer Thomas Gets Share of Easy Money.

When the legislature adopted a law intended to do away with the old system which made prostitution possible it was believed the question had been solved for good. In Omaha, the metropolitan city of the state, the old “red light” district became a thing of the past and the bad hotels were very well cleaned up by the city administration then in office.  It remained so until the people decided to make a change.

Today, under the so-called reform administration, Omaha has more prostitutes, more pimps, more bootlegging, more police court cases, more disregard for law in one day than under the old administration in a week. Police court used to close daily at 11 o’clock at central station. It seldom cleans up now before 1 o’clock in the afternoon, with many cases going over until the following day.

All of this goes on despite the fact that Elmer E. Thomas, acting police superintendent, superintendent of police and city prosecutor, at $300 per month, is daily on the job. Thursday Elmer sat in court for three hours, apparently waiting to hear some hardboiled eggs tell their story of grief. Suddenly the case of a handsome woman, charged with bootlegging, came up and he fronted for her. She was dismissed and, arm in arm with her, he left the court room.

Up and down Sixteenth street, in half a hundred cheap hotels, in many second-class hotels and scores of cheap dumps, some of them isolated, and in numerous so-called “rooming houses” in the residence district, the underworld has been turned loose. The system has become so well organized that honest family life is almost tabooed in hundreds of localities in the city. In our “best communities” the ill-governed houses ply their trade, with bootleg whisky and well dressed members of the demimonde entertaining the vicious element that once confined its activities to Ninth street.

Practically all of this condition has sprung up since the present city administration came into activity. Our good church people have quite overlooked this condition, in their zeal to follow the advice of persons posing as reformers, while they were in reality trying to ingratiate themselves into the operations of the bosses controling the petty grafting system by which these unfortunates exist. Absolute evidence of police officers being paid for protection has been recently unearthed, but no action has been taken against the offenders.

Matters have become almost intolerable for the better class of our people and the present movement for a change is the result. There is a recall movement on  and it is being fought bitterly by those who have secured a taste of graft and are willing to prostitute all decent government to maintain the system recently organized.

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The Mediator

Omaha, Nebraska, August 22, 1919

Mr. Ringer’s $300 Assistant Says Many Names On Petition Are Illegally Entered

Desperation Seizes Officialdom

Recall Petitions for Four Councilmen Throws Big Scare Into Elmer Thomas’ Forces; Prepare to Use Every Legal Means for Its Defeat.

Every effort known to political chicanery is to be used to defeat the recall petition out for four city commissioners – Ringer, Smith, Ure and Towle. That has been shown during the last week when the first attack on these petitions was made. The World-Herald has seen fit to make itself a party to the scrap.

The protestants, led by Elmer Thomas, $300 per month superintendent of police (ex-officio), have undertaken the checking of these petitions. Up to date it has been discovered that fourteen persons are illegally registered, if the check engineered by “Police Superintendent” Thomas is correct. It is alleged by the checkers that several times that number is nearer the proper figure. Their statement may be correct.

This is the first time the recall has ever been attempted in Douglas county. The gentlemen who prepared and had signed these petitions took good care to see that the proper number of bona-fide voters signed it. They understood that, in such an undertaking, a considerable number of names would be discarded because of changes of address, duplication and other such contingencies. The law makes the same provision. As a matter of fact, nearly half of the registered names could be thrown out and still enough would be left to make the petition legal.

The object of the men who are protesting the petition is not against the sufficiency of the petition, in fact, but they are looking for some excuse to prevent the recall proposition actually going to a vote of the people of Omaha. It is a cold turkey proposition.

There has been a very general dissatisfaction with the manner in which the municipal government has been operated under the present regime. The people have become disgusted in a measure uncomputable. They have asked for a recall of the officials they believe are responsible for the conditions now existing, in opposition to the general principles of what is considered the proper government of this cosmopolitan and metropolitan city. They have asked, in lawful form, for a recall for those officials. A hired man, paid a salary of $300 per month by men with ulterior motives, is attempting to stop the action of the law.

The last two or three months has shown beyond question that the men in office have done everything in their power to promote the position of the “squeezers” as against the common people. The abortive food profiteering investigation has been a farce. While cities like Chicago were sending profiteers to jail, Omaha has been hanging a medal on them. This has been shown during the last week when hungry citizens have flocked to food sales to save themselves from highway robbery.

It is everlastingly too late. When this recall petition came on to the market a bunch of interested city commissioners immediately showed themselves in front with an alleged investigation. Last Monday it was shown that city warehouses and cold storage plants had enough food in them to last the city five years. No arrests were made. No person was forced to sell his holding for the benefit of the people. On the other hand, a superficial examination was made, reports received and, not in words, but by action, the profiteers have been told to shoot right along.

And these same city officials are attempting to retain office by alleging that some 150 signers to the recall petition out of nearly 7,000 are irregular.

Get the idea?

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The Mediator

Omaha, Nebraska, August 15, 1919

Police Courts Bring Out Evidence Against Several Ringer Officers

One Poker Player Relieved Of $180

Seven Witnesses Testify They Saw Policeman Take Money Which Was Not Returned: Crap Shooter Says Herdzina Got Sack With $23 and Returned $6.

High Jacking has become the big game in our fair city and everybody is doing it. Our city officials wink at reports, always sworn to, that their hirelings are in the business and getting away with it. Innumberable reports are being heard daily of doings of this sort. Not less than four policemen have been caught at it recently.

The business is said to be profitable. Last Monday morning there appeared in central police court a coterie of fellows who were picked up the night before in the midst of a poker game. The story was that they all grabbed their money and jammed it in their pockets. One fellow, however, who was said to have an interest in the game, slipped out for a moment, but was grabbed before he could escape. Seven witnesses testified that a police officer took this fellow’s watch and $180 in money from his pockets. When the visible evidence was turned loose on the court the watch was there, but the $180 was missing. No steps have been taken, so far as known, to either punish the offending officer or to secure the return of the $180 taken from the man’s pockets.

On the South Side another crowd was picked up. They were shooting craps, it is alleged. The fellow taking the rake-off had $23 in the bag which the proprietor of the game had taken in. When the bag was produced in court only $6 was in evidence. Morals Squad Officer Herzina took the bag from the prisoner.

The high-jack game began with the sequestering of hard liquor. A lot of officers learned how easy it was to grab a bunch of booze and ease things up and retain the booze. It was valuable and with a “family fence” in good working order it was not hard to dispose of the booze at fancy prices, to say nothing of the amount they retained themselves. Numerous instances of such actions have been brought to light. The result has been that a large number of officers, whose integrity could not be doubted, have come under suspicion with the high-jackers.

Witnesses have testified under oath that more than one officer has been active in the high-jack game. In one instance an officer is declared to have gone into partnership with one of the booze peddlers. They pulled off a high-jack game together and then the bootlegger high-jacked the officer himself. Chief Eberstein and Superintendent Ringer have both been given information about this deal, it is stated, but nothing has been done. The officer is pretty sore about getting trimmed at his own game, it is said, but is afraid to squeal on the other fellow.

Under the new state-wide, city-wide and nation-wide bone dry law the way to fast fortunes has been easily learned and everybody who has become active in the movement of contraband liquor has been building new homes or buying those already built. On the South Side are a number of fellows rolling in money and the law has become a joke. Hundreds of persons who formerly preserved good reputations for fair dealing are now under cover or are still grabbing off the soft money that comes with law violation.

It is a remarkable truth that whereas police courts used to clean up the daily grist in an hour, it is seldom before 1 o’clork that these courts are adjourned and many afternoon sessions are necessary to hear the hundreds of cases that are now before these courts. Seldom a morning passes that the clerk of the police coort does not have $1,000 in the safe put up for appearance bonds. Sometimes it quite exceeds this amount.

Among habitues of the police court the presence of hundreds of faces regularly is becoming a joke. Fellows who are presumed to be devout church goers may be seen there nearly every day. they mingle with the riff-raff and pay their fines when their cases are called. Newspaper men could write a book about them each day.

It is a case now of catch-as-catch-can, with the high-jackers leading the aravan in securing the big take-off.

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The Mediator

Omaha, Nebraska, August 15, 1919

Will Be Filed With City Clerk at Once to Be Checked Up; Election Commisioner Says Only 3,936 Petitioners Are Needed.

Intimations last week that Election Commissioner Morehead might rule the recall petitions out because of an alleged lack of signatures had the effect of holding up the filing for a week. The question of how many signatures were necessary to make the petition legal appeared on the surface a week ago, but since that time the election commissioner has denied that it will be held up on what was threatened to be a serious technicality.

The petition is now ready for filing and will contain about 7,000 names when it is presented for certification. As stated last week, the recall election must be held not more than sixty days after the petition is filed. The city clerk is the official entrusted with the handling of the petition and the action that will bring about such an election. Billy Hunter, city clerk, will be the man to attend to this duty. Hunter is an appointee of the present city administration, but the law governs his course, which is made plain.

The job of checking 7,000 names is not a small one, as has been learned by Attorney Lones, who has had a force on the job for some time, getting it ready for filing. The city clerk has ten days in which to do the checking. He will then certify the petition to the election commissioner. That official is empowered to call the special election. He can take not less than thirty nor more than sixty days. The election commissioner is not considered favorable to the recall and it is expected that he will not make an extraordinary effort to have an early election.

It may be said of Mr. Morehead, however, that he has been fair in his rulings and it is not believed that he would arbitrarily attempt to delay an election in such an important matter. It is, therefore, fair to expect an election within the next six weeks, barring court action by those effected.

The actual number of signers necessary to perfect the recall is 3,936, according to the law. The petitions thus far have been signed by practically 7,000 voters. Of this number it is estimated that possibly 1,000 names may be deducted because signers have changed residences without registering these changes with the election commissioner. All of them, however, will qualify before election time. That will still leave a margin of at least 2,000 more names than are needed.

There has been considerable political wire-pulling at the city hall since this recall business started. Party lines have been drawn to a certain extent with the result that Ringer, Ure and Towl are said to have formed a political combination against Mayor Smith. In other words, this big three is preparing to ditch the “big four” combination.

Whatever may come of this double-crossing business, the fact remains that the personnel of the majority of the present city commission has become a nonentity in the eyes of the public and it is going to make one of the best fights that Omaha has had along political lines for many years.

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The Mediator

Omaha, Nebraska, August 15, 1919

Not less than 100 active, live gambling houses are doing business in the city of Omaha today. The old system of “wide open gambling” has been done away with and the business is now distributed  over a wide area, with the little fellow getting his share of the swag.

Under the regime of years ago cities and towns had a boss, whose particular line of adventure, endeavor, usefulness and uselessness was the operation of the gambling privilege. Politicians got in on the swag and it all ended up in one or two gamblers dying of old age with a cottage and a garden and a fumigated backhouse.

Today it is all different, In Omaha, for instance, instead of the old Diamond and a policy game with fifty gents, the back room pinochle players, a pool table and a pair of dice and such familiar devices furnish the entertainments for the green cloth devotees. Within the week one of these pool tables has come under the observation of the writer. A score of persons stood around the table, each with a roll of from five to five hundred dollars in his hand. A “lookout” and a “take off” man sat opposite each other. The game was “on the square,” as such games go.

It was just one instance in a hundred that are operating in Omaha. some of the men who are officially employed by Police Superintendent Ringer know they are in operation. This paper will prove this assertion if that is necessary. Will Mr. Ringer meet the issue?

Somebody is getting the protection money that is being paid for the operation of these games. If that is not true, the Ringer police administration is a joke. We have got the goods. Will Mr. Ringer meet the issue?

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The Mediator

Omaha, Nebraska, August 15, 1919

Gus Hyers’ Men Find Good Things Dull and Pinch Charlie Lewis With Home Stock of Wet Goods.

A pack of Gus Hyers’ booze hounds dropped into Omaha Wednesday and visited the home of Charlie Lewis, former saloonkeeper, where they found a basement well stocked with liquors he had stored at the time the state went dry. He carried a big stock of liquors, but sold all but a few hundred dollars worth, which he saved for his own use.

The fact that Lewis had this private stock has been no secret. Mr. Hyers apparently thought things were getting quiet and that it was time to pull off something. If all reports are true the government might do a good thing by getting out a search warrant for the Hyers premises in Lincoln and also do a little inside investigating of the Hyers methods.

Mr. Lewis has once before been before the courts in the matter. At that time he was given a clean bill and permitted to retain his wet goods. The action of Hyers is apparently vindictive and it is seriously suggested that an investigation of Mr. Hyers himself might not be a bad thing.

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