Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Mayor Departs From His Prepared Remarks

Jan. 4, 1907
Los Angeles

Mayor-elect Arthur C. Harper stood before 200 members of the Municipal League and their friends in a dinner at Levy’s who were eager to hear what he planned for his incoming administration.

Harper took his typewritten speech from his pocket, showed it to the crowd, and laid it aside. Harper said he changed his mind “and would wait a little longer before telling the public exactly what he intended to do,” The Times says.

In brief comments, Harper promised to look at every department in city government and said he had complete faith in the Owens River project.

Niles Pease, the incoming president of the City Council, was likewise evasive. “He said that he could not tell what the council would do and he doubted if anyone in the world could predict that body’s actions,” The Times says. “He declared that good men had been elected and prophesied a careful, businesslike administration.”

The star of the evening was William Mulholland, the moving force behind the Los Angeles Aqueduct, who received a five-minute standing ovation.

J.A. Anderson, head of the Board of Public Works, pleaded for unity among the branches of government, while City Auditor W.C. Mushet urged the council to study accounting systems of other cities and adopt one of them to ensure better financial reporting.

“He said that he had found in a slight examination of the books of the city that practically nothing except a daily cash book had been kept as a record of the business done. He explained that there were no arrangements for accounting for liabilities or assets of the city and that the expenditure of $100,000 ($2,052,357.03 USD 2005) for any one purpose would appear only as a disbursement with no other record kept of the sum.”

It turns out that Mayor Harper indeed has plans, but they involve kickbacks from one of the local heads of the underworld involving profits from a bordello in the Tenderloin.

Above, City Hall on Broadway, located on what is now the vacant lot next to the Victor Clothing Building, which was originally built as a City Hall annex.

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