Excerpts from Ida Tarbell’s Reporting. Plain Dealer 12/12/2004

 

Excerpts from Tarbell’s reporting
Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - Sunday, December 12, 2004
Author: The Plain Dealer

Ida M. Tarbell’s “The History of the Standard Oil Company” packs two volumes with examples of the company’s business practices and the tenacity of its founder. Some passages, by topic: 

Advantages 

“Its chief competitors began to suspect something. John Rockefeller might get his oil cheaper now and then, they said, but he could not do it more often. . . . Where was his advantage? There was but one place where it could be, and that was in transportation. He must be getting better rates from the railroads.” 

“It was the [railroad] rebate which had made the Standard Oil Trust, the rebate, amplified, systemized, glorified into a power never equaled before or since by any business of the country. The rebate had made the trust, and the rebate, in spite of ten years of combination, Petroleum Associations, Producers’ Unions, resolutions, suits in equity, suits in quo warranto, appeals to Congress, legislative investigations – the rebate was still Mr. Rockefeller’s most effective weapon.” 

Competition 

“A few of the refiners contested before surrendering. Among them was Robert Hanna. . . . The Standard Oil Company asked an interview with him and his associates. . . . ‘But we don’t want to sell,’ objected Mr. Hanna. ‘You can never make any more money, in my judgment,’ said Mr. Rockefeller. ‘You can’t compete with the Standard. We have all the large refineries now. If you refuse to sell, it will end in your being crushed.’ ” 

“Other refiners burst into the market and undersold for a day; but when Mr. Rockefeller began to undersell, he kept it up day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, until there was literally nothing left of his competitor.” 

Spies 

“A Cleveland refiner, John Teagle, testified [to a congressional committee] . . . that one day in 1883 his bookkeeper came to him and told him that he had been approached by a brother of the secretary of the Standard Oil Co. at Cleveland, who had asked him if he did not wish to make some money. . . . 

“For twenty-five dollars down and a small sum per year he was to make a transcript of Mr. Teagle’s daily shipments with net price received for the same; he was to tell what the cost of manufacturing in the refinery was; the amount of gasoline and naphtha made and the net price received for them; what was done with the tar; and what percentage of different grades of oil was made; also how much oil was exported. This information was to be mailed regularly to Box 164 of the Cleveland post-office.” 

Contradictions 

“Mr. Rockefeller was ‘good.’ There was no more faithful Baptist in Cleveland than he. . . . He was simple and frugal in his habits. He never went to the theatre, never drank wine. He gave much time to the training of his children, seeking to develop in them his own habits of economy and charity. 

“Yet he was willing to strain every nerve to obtain for himself special and unjust privileges from the railroads which were bound to ruin every man in the oil business. . . . Religious emotion and sentiments of charity, propriety and self-denial seem to have taken the place in him of notions of justice and regard for the rights of others.” 

Contracts 

“The contract was signed at night at Mr. Rockefeller’s house on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, where he told the gentlemen that they must not tell even their wives about the new arrangement, that if they made money they must conceal it – they were not to drive fast horses, ‘put on style,’ or do anything to let people suspect there were unusual profits in oil refining. That would invite competition. They were told that all accounts were to be kept secret. Fictitious names were to be used in corresponding, and a special box at the post-office was employed for these fictitious characters.” 

Perceptions 

“Scores of boys and girls grew up in the Oil Regions in those days with the same feeling of terrified curiosity toward those who had ‘sold to the Standard’ that they had toward those who had ‘been in jail.’ ” 

“Years of war with a humiliating outcome had inspired the producers with the conviction that fighting was useless, that they were dealing with a power verging on the superhuman – a power carrying concealed weapons, fighting in the dark, and endowed with an altogether diabolic cleverness. Strange as the statement may appear, there is no disputing that by 1884 the Oil Regions as a whole looked on Mr. Rockefeller with superstitious awe. Their notion of him was very like that which the English common people had for Napoleon.”

Early and Mid 20th Century History of Regional Government in Cuyahoga County from The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Regional Government from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Covers early and mid 20th century efforts towards Regional or Metropolitan Government in Cuyahoga County

The link is here

REGIONAL GOVERNMENT – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

REGIONAL GOVERNMENT. The regional government movement was an effort by civic reformers to solve by means of a broader-based government metropolitan problems arising from the dispersion of urban populations from central cities to adjacent suburbs. When suburban growth accelerated after WORLD WAR II, reform coalitions proposed various governing options, with mixed results. In the 1950s approximately 45 proposals calling for a substantial degree of government integration were put on the ballot. However, supporters failed to make a compelling case for change in areas where diverse political interests had to be accommodated, and less than one in four won acceptance. The most successful efforts to create regional government occurred in smaller, more homogeneous urban areas such as Davidson County (Nashville), Tennessee (1962), and Marion County (Indianapolis), Indiana (1969).

Cleveland was Cuyahoga County’s most populous city by the mid-19th century, and as it continued to grow adjacent communities petitioned for annexation in order to obtain its superior municipal services. As Cleveland’s territorial growth slowed after the turn of the century, a movement was launched by the CITIZENS LEAGUE OF GREATER CLEVELAND to install countywide metropolitan government “while 85% of the area’s population still live in Cleveland and before the problems of urban growth engulf us,” as the League put it in 1917. These reformers believed that the conflicting interests present in the city’s diverse population encouraged political separatism and helped create a corrupt and inefficient government controlled by political bosses. They argued that consolidating numerous jurisdictions into a scientifically managed regional government would improve municipal services, lower taxes, and reconcile the differences within urban society under the aegis of a politically influential middle class. In essence, their proposals were designed to remedy the abuses of democratic government by separating the political process from the administrative function.

Local reformers were unable to achieve their goals by enlarging the city through annexation. The lure of better city services was not an incentive to those prosperous SUBURBS which could afford to provide comparable benefits to their residents and which preferred to distance themselves from the city’s burgeoning immigrant population, machine politics, and the pollution generated by its industries. Cleveland’s good-government groups focused on restructuring CUYAHOGA COUNTY GOVERNMENT either by city-county consolidation or by a federative arrangement whereby county government assumed authority over metropolitan problems, while the city retained its local responsibilities.

Originally, county government in Ohio had been organized as an administrative arm of the state, with three county commissioners exercising only those powers granted to them by the state legislature. To obtain the, metropolitan government these progressive reformers envisioned, a state constitutional amendment was needed to increase the authority of these administrative units to a municipal level. The Citizens League submitted such an amendment to the Ohio legislature in 1917, allowing city-county consolidation in counties of more than 100,000 population. It was turned down, but was resubmitted at each biennial session until it became clear that opposition from the rural-dominated legislature required a new approach. Regional advocates then proposed a limited grant of power under a county home-rule charter allowing it to administer municipal functions with metropolitan service areas, establish a county legislature to enact ordinances, and reorganize its administrative structure. Despite backing from civic, commercial and farm organizations, Ohio’s General Assembly still refused to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, but its backers secured enough signatures on initiative petitions to submit it directly to the voters, who approved it in 1933.

The amendment required four separate majorities to adopt a home rule charter which involved transfer of municipal functions to the county: in the county as a whole, in the largest municipality in the county, in the total county area outside the largest municipality, and in each of a majority of the total number of municipalities and townships in the county. The fourth majority allowed small communities to veto a reform desired by the urban majority. Ostensibly designed to ensure a broad consensus of voters if the central city was to lose any of its municipal functions, this added barrier satisfied Ohio’s rural interests, a majority of whom were unwilling to open the door for a megagovernment on the shores of Lake Erie.

Metropolitan home rule proved to be a durable issue in Cuyahoga County; between 1935 and 1980 voters had 6 opportunities to approve some form of county reorganization. When an elected commission wrote the first Cuyahoga County Home Rule Charter in 1935, the central problem was how much and what kind of authority the county government should have. Fervent reformers within the commission, led by MAYO FESLER†, head of the Citizens League, wanted a strong regional authority and sharply restricted municipal powers. Consequently, they presented a borough plan that was close to city-county consolidation. The proposal crystallized opposition from political realists on the commission who advocated a simple county reorganization which needed approval from Cleveland and a majority of the county’s voters. Any transfer of municipal functions required agreement by the four majorities specified in the constitutional amendment. The moderates prevailed, and a carefully worded county home rule charter was submitted to the voters in 1935, calling for a county reorganization with a 9-man council elected at large which could pass ordinances. The council also appointed a county director, a chief executive officer with the authority to, manage the county’s administrative functions and select the department heads, eliminating the need for most of the elected county officials. HAROLD H. BURTON†, chairman of the Charter Commission, and popular Republican candidate for mayor, promoted his candidacy and passage of the home rule charter as a cost-cutting measure. Both Burton and the charter received a substantial majority in Cleveland, and the charter was also approved by a 52.9% majority countywide, supported by the eastern suburbs adjacent to Cleveland and outlying enclaves of wealth such as HUNTING VALLEY and GATES MILLS. Opposition came from voters in the semi-developed communities east of the city, together with all the southern and western municipalities in the county. The countywide majority was sufficient for a simple reorganization, but before the charter could be implemented its validity was contested in the case of Howland v. Krause, which reached the Ohio Supreme Court in 1936. The court ruled that the organization of a 9-man council represented a transfer of authority, and all four majorities were required–effectively nullifying the charter, since 47 of the 59 municipalities outside Cleveland had turned it down.

A county home rule charter continued to be an elusive goal. After World War II the accelerated dispersion of Cleveland’s population to the suburbs encouraged reformers to try again. When the voters overwhelmingly approved the formation of a Home Rule Charter commission in 1949 and again in 1958, it was viewed as another projected improvement in municipal life: an improvement comparable to the construction of a downtown airport; the expansion of Cleveland’s public transportation system; and the creation of integrated freeways. Metropolitan reformers agreed. They were concerned about the growing fragmentation of government service units and decision-making powers in the suburbs and the unequal revenue sources available to them. This made the need for regional government even more urgent. In addition, Cleveland was hard pressed to expand its water and sewage disposal systems to meet suburban demands for service, making those municipal functions prime candidates for regionalization.

Democratic mayors THOMAS BURKE† and Anthony Celebrezze counseled a gradual approach to the reform efforts. The elected charter commissions, however, pursued their own political agenda, unwilling to compromise their views on regional government to suit the city’s ethnic-based government. The commissioners, a coalition of good government groups and politicians from both parties, wrote strong metropolitan charters calling for 
a wholesale reorganization of Cuyahoga County which would expand its political control. Two key provisions in each charter demonstrated the sweeping changes in authority that would occur. An elected legislature would be chosen either at-large (1950) or in combination with district representatives (1959),, isolating ward politics from the governing process and ensuring that the growing suburbs would acquire more influence over regional concerns. The reorganized county would have exclusive authority over all the listed municipal functions with regional service areas and the right to determine compensation due Cleveland for the transfer without its consent (1950), or in conjunction with the Common Pleas Court (1959). If approved, these charters could significantly change the political balance of political power within Cuyahoga County.

Charter advocates, led by the Citizens League and the LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS (LWV) OF CLEVELAND, argued that a streamlined county government with efficient management could act on a score of regional improvements which would benefit the entire area. However, they were unable to articulate the genuine sense of crisis needed for such a change. The majority of voters who had elected the charter commissions approved county home rule in theory; but, faced with specific charters, they found the arguments for county reorganization unconvincing. Cleveland officials successfully appealed to city voters, forecasting that the charters would raise their taxes and “rip up” the city’s assets. Many suburbs also were skeptical, viewing comprehensive metropolitan government as a threat to their municipal independence. As a result, the 1950 and 1959 charters failed to receive a majority. Three more attempts were made by the same good-government groups. An alternate form of county government establishing only a legislature and an elected county administrator was turned down by voters in 1969, 1970, and again in 1980 with opposition from a growing number of AFRICAN AMERICANS, unwilling to dilute their newly acquired political authority by participating in a broader based government. In 1980 only 43.7% approved the change, and there were no further attempts to reorganize Cuyahoga County government. It was clear that a majority of voters cared little about overlapping authorities within the county, they were not persuaded that adding a countywide legislature would produce more efficient management or save money, and most importantly, they wanted to retain their access to and control of local government.

While the future of county home rule was being debated during the postwar period, other means were found to solve regional problems. Cuyahoga County quietly expanded its ability to provide significant services in the fields of public health and welfare by agreeing to take over Cleveland’s City Hospital, Hudson School for Boys, and BLOSSOM HILL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS in 1957. Independent single function districts were established in the 1960s and 1970s to manage municipal services such as water pollution control, tax collection, and mass transit–services that existing local governments were unable or unwilling to undertake. These districts had substantial administrative and fiscal autonomy and were usually governed by policymaking, boards or commissions, many of them appointed by elected government officials. Most were funded by federal, state, and county grants or from taxes, and several had multicounty authority. These inconspicuous governments solved many of the area’s problems, but their increasing use also added to the complexity of local governance. Critics maintained that districts, using assets created with public funds, were run by virtually independent professional managers, making decisions outside public scrutiny with no accountability to the electorate. Nevertheless, in Cuyahoga County the limited authority granted to them was an acceptable alternative to comprehensive metropolitan reform–one that did not threaten existing political relationships.

The comprehensive charters written in 1950 and 1959 represented the apogee of the regional government movement in Cleveland. However, the elitist reformers who wrote them eschewed substantive negotiations with the city’s cosmopolitan administrations and failed to appease the political sensibilities of county voters who preferred a “grassroots” pattern of dispersed political power. Carrying on the progressive spirit of the failed CITY MANAGER PLAN, they attempted to impose regional solutions that would significantly change political relationships in the area–a single-minded approach that constituted a formidable obstacle to any realistic metropolitan integration.

Mary B. Stavish

Case Western Reserve University

Last Modified: 21 Nov 2009 01:53:20 PM

Carl Hirsch, Architect of WMMS’ Heyday, Dead at 64 (Cleveland Scene)

Courtesy of Cleveland Scene March 1, 2011

The link is here 

Carl Hirsch, Architect of WMMS’ Heyday, Dead at 64

Former Cleveland radio executive Carl Hirsch died suddenly Monday of a heart attack in Florida, where he had been living in recent years. He was 64.

Hirsch was president/CEO of Malrite, WMMS-FM’s parent company, from 1974-1985, the years in which WMMS became the most influential rock station in the country. He ran Legacy Broadcasting from 1986-1990. In the 1990s, he was president and CEO of OmniAmerica, which made WMJI-FM one of Cleveland’s dominant stations. In 1999 he founded NextMedia, which owns and operates broadcast properties around the country. Most recently, he had been doing consulting through his Legacy Management Group.

“There wouldn’t have been a WMMS without him,” says John Gorman, who was the station’s program director during its glory years. “The only thing he demanded of you was that you be as creative and innovative as possible. He didn’t ask a whole lot of questions. He just said, ‘Go out and do something that hasn’t been done before.’”

WMMS was legendary for its cohesive, stable staff of talent — unusual in radio, with long-running personalities like Denny Sanders, Matt the Cat, Kid Leo, Betty Korvan, Jeff Kinsbach, and Ed “Flash” Ferenc. “Carl was a big reason why that staff not only stuck together 12-13 years,” says Gorman. “It wasn’t like coming to work. It was like walking into a dot.com start-up. People were coming up with crazy, creative ideas nonstop.”

“He was the right man at the right time to take over the upper management of the radio station,” says Denny Sanders. “He was young; he understood what we were doing in programming and marketing more than the ownership itself. He possessed a certain dynamism that was infectious.”

Gorman also points to how Hirsch took Malrite, a small, Cleveland-based broadcasting company, and built it up, adding television and cable to its portfolio. “He bought a little station in New Jersey, WVNJ, that played what he used to call ‘chicken jazz,’ and turned it into Z100. He made it the biggest top 40 station in the nation, and he did it in one month — one ratings book. That was the way he was.”

Hirsch was also known for his philanthropy. He was generous to his alma mater, Kent State University, giving $500,000 for the Carl E. Hirsch Media Convergence Lab. Last year he gave $1 million to the Cleveland Clinic Florida Health and Wellness Center, its largest single donation ever, which named its main lobby was named after him. — Anastasia Pantsios

Maurice Maschke, a tribute written by Roelif Loveman, Plain Dealer (11/20/1936)

MASCHKE, MAN OF KINDNESS, CHARM 

Symbol of Bossism, but to Reporter He Was One Who Bore No Grudge. 

BY ROELIF LOVELAND, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Friday November 20, 1936


I don’t know much about editorial opinion or what constitutes a great public servant or a fair-to-middling one. But I do know something about people, as all reporters do who have been in the racket for more than a year.

You get so you can spot the phonies, and the average buys, and the better than average guys—and every so often you run across a fellow who grows with acquaintance and who never lets you down. And you are inclined to call them great guys, and sometimes you call them great men.

You can kick a heel around, and his bellows will fill the air, guilty or not. You can kick an average guy around, and he’ll smack you the first chance he gets. But when you kick a great man around, and he takes it, unconvinced of his error, but grinning, you’ll know he’s a great man.

A Man Kind and Gracious.

We all booted Maurice Maschke around—and he held no bitterness against us. Why did we kick him around? God only knows. Maurice Maschke was the symbol of party bossism. Maurice Maschke this, Maurice Maschke that. Maurice Maschke wore horns a foot long. So what?

To think of him—and we who knew him are not likely to forget him in a hurry—to think of him is to think of a man who was kind and gracious; who loved his city and his family and his party and truth and personal decency. To be sure, he gave the city about what its citizens wanted. If they wanted the town cleaned up, it was cleaned up. If they wanted it less rigid, it was less rigid, I do not attempt to claim that Maurice Maschke was a Boy Scout.

I can see him as he sat in a court room. Flash bulbs exploded all about him. One exploded. and the glass hit him in the face. Maschke was mad. Not mad about the bulbs, but burned up because he was being kicked around. He was acquitted.

Chatting With Foe’s Wife.

I can see him on a platform in Public Hall, graciously trying to make conversation with the wife of one of his political enemies. The lady looked scared to death until Maschke began to talk with her. Only a gentleman to his shoetops could have done it.

I can see him in his office going over the proof of the history of his life which he wrote for the Plain Dealer. A comma out of place was a matter of moment for him. He would consider the break of a paragraph for minutes. He liked words, and he fished for them diligently, until he had the right one. He had a lot of fun. I do not recall that most of the gross Tammany bosses ever gave a comma or a paragraph a thought.

I recall him on election nights, with his hat on his head, and his glasses on his forehead, looking up and pretending to growl at his assistants. They pretended to be frightened by the growl, but they weren’t, because they loved him. And I really believe he knew he wasn’t scaring anybody.

Eyes That Then Were Happy.

And I remember that night, not so long ago, when Maurice Maschke marched down the aisle of the former Women’s City Club where, on the eve of the greatest Democratic victory in history, Republicans had gathered to honor him. The hall was packed. Maschke’s scarf was flying free from his coat. His face was flushed. His eyes were happy, and a little moist. He did not seem to be very strong.

One by one, they got up, great and small, and told Maurice Maschke of their regard for him.

His heart was full—full almost to bursting.

It is a comfort today to those of us who booted Maurice Maschke around, to know that he bore us no iIl will. He never quite understood it—and neither did we. It was wicked to be a party boss, in spite of what Lincoln Steffens said on the subject. And Maschke let it go at that. Let it go at that, and took us into his confidence and, whether he knew it or not, sometimes into his heart.

And what we saw there was shining silver and pure gold.

For Maurice Maschke, diabolical party boss, was one of the kindest and gentlest and finest gentlemen I have ever known.

Read more about Maurice Maschke here

“Personal & Professional” Memoirs of Sidney Z. Vincent

“Personal & Professional” Memoirs of Sidney Z. Vincent.

Mr. Vincent was Executive Director of The Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland for many years during the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s. He was also a national leader in Jewish education and communal affairs.

We are grateful to Mr. Vincent’s daughter, Jill Caslin and son, Norman Vincent for giuving us permission to offer this book

The pdf file is here (please be patient, the file is approximately 10mg in size)