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THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM.
THEODORE F. MILLER, Chairman of the Committee on Commercial Education, presented the following report and moved its adoption:
To the Chamber of Commerce :
Bills are pending in the State Legislature involving certain changes in the control of the Public School system of the City of New York. These bills have been considered by your Committee on Commercial Education ; and it is its opinion that there should be no legislation upon this subject until all the reports of the recent expert inquiry shall have been completed and made public and opportunity afforded for careful examination. Moreover your committee believes that there should be no legislation until after a thorough investigation of the whole subject. In expressing this conviction, your committee does not attempt to pass upon the provisions of the pending bills, nor does it assume to indicate in what manner the investigation should be conducted. It recommends the adoption of the following resolutions :
Resolved, That the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York recommends that all proposed legislation affecting the public school system of the City of New York, or its administration, be postponed until there has been an investigation and report upon the problems involved, by competent persons specially selected for that purpose; and it makes this recommendation without regard to the merits, or otherwise, of the bills now pending; and be it further
Resolved, That copies of these resolutions be sent to the Governor, the State Legislature, and the Board of Education.
THEODORE F. MILLER,
Of the Committee on Commercial Education.
NEW YORK, March 18, 1913.
JOSEPH L. BUTTENWEISER.—May I suggest that to my mind the committee have not evidently gone into the subject matter of this bill very thoroughly. There is no question but that the educational system of the City of New York needs vital changes, but I think it would be far safer for this Chamber to let matters alone unless we are prepared to endorse some particular recommendation.
MR. MILLER.—The committee has very carefully considered the matter, and is of the opinion that there must be a wise revision of the statutes relating to the Board of Education and the course of study in our schools; but, these bills with which our report deals are piecemeal legislation, and we simply recommend that there be no action until the subject, which is now under investigation by a committee of the Board of Estimate, is acted upon.
JOSEPH M. PRICE.—I think the action of the committee is a very proper one. I have some familiarity with those bills in the Legislature. The city bas just had a very extensive and thorough report on the public school system. Elements in the Board of Education are now trying to amend the educational law piecemeal without regard to the commission which has been investigating the subject. think the report of the Hanus Commission should be very seriously considered before any piecemeal legislation affecting the schools of this city is recommended.
The report was unanimously adopted.
EUGENIUS H. OUTERBRIDGE, Chairman of the Special Committee on Rapid Transit presented the following report and moved its adoption:
To the Chamber of Commerce :
Your Special Committee on Rapid Transit submits this brief review of circumstances relating to its appointment and the final adoption of a comprehensive plan for Rapid Transit Lines by the city and the conclusion of contracts for their operation.
Your committee was appointed at the meeting of the Chamber in November 1908 and submitted its report on Rapid Transit conditions at the meeting of March 4, 1909.
The obstacles which had prevented progress in rapid transit development were therein stated and suggestions made both as to amendment of the Rapid Transit Law, and methods for securing capital for construction, equipment and operation upon terms fair alike to the city and to private enterprise.
The unanimous adoption by the Chamber of these recommendations and its subsequent activities met the hearty approval and co-operation of the Public Service Commission for the First District, and the amendments to the Rapid Transit Law subsequently secured contained the principles advocated by the Chamber, and empowered the Public Service Commission and the City authorities to enter into contracts for construction, equipment and operation by private enterprise in cooperation with the city on principles not previously legalized in this city, and which, when first suggested by the Chamber, were severely criticised by a considerable portion of the press and by many of those active in public life or civic endeavor.
It was indeed only after a period of several years and the complete failure of the proposed Tri-Borough route, because no one could be found to equip and operate it, that it became fully apparent and generally recognized that one of the chief obstacles, if not an insurmountable one, had been correctly stated in the report of your committee as
“the lack of unanimity existing among the various controlling officers and bodies in the city and state as to what policy and legislation the city should favor, and the lack of co-operation between them and those engaged in the business of city transportation.”
The Chamber of Commerce did pioneer work in helping to bring about such co-operation and in breaking down the ideas prevailing at the time of its committee's first report, first, that the city, unaided by the existing transportation companies, would be able to cope with this vast project, and second, that the existing transportation companies were too poor to be expected to offer any effective assistance in the solution of the problem.
The Chamber rendered further a signal service in proclaiming its well defined views that co-operation between the city and private capital would form the solution; that the credits of the city and private capital would have to be joined in order to carry the burden and that for unproductive work, redounding primarily to the benefit of the city and its future developement, the city logically would have to bear the heavier burden.
The principles upon which private capital has been secured for this great work and the profit-sharing basis with the city were the principles advocated by this Chamber in 1909, and it must now be clearly apparent to all that it was by such means alone that the city could secure within any reasonable period of time any such comprehensive development
The fact that even now the city to provide its share has been obliged to absorb more than three-quarters of the credit released by the exemption of self-supporting dock bonds, must be conclusive evidence even to those who argued otherwise, that the city alone could not undertake this great work.
The long delay in accomplishing this led to increasing congestion and larger necessities and no doubt contributed in a measure to the growth of the plan from time to time until when the “Dual System was finally adopted it provided for more and longer extensions into the four principal boroughs than had been previously contemplated.
Had it been adopted five years earlier it might well have been laid out to be accomplished in fifteen years instead of five as now proposed, constructing it step by step as needs developed, without the necessity of unduly crowding the city's budget.
In closing this review your committee cannot refrain from expressing regret that some practical method was not found possible to permit applying the principle of building elevated extensions into undeveloped sections by assessment on the property to be benefitted. While there were undoubtedly many difficulties of detail, this prin. ciple has been applied successfully in other places to other classes of public works, and had it been found possible to apply this principle at the start of this new great constructive work, it probably would have been established firmly for the future.
In submitting this review your committee feels that there no longer remains any functions for it to perform and asks for its discharge.
E. H. OUTERBRIDGE,
Special Committee on Rapid Transit.
NEW YORK, March 27, 1913.
THE PRESIDENT.—Gentlemen, you have heard the admirable report of the Special Committee on Rapid Transit. The Chamber and the community are greatly indebted to this committee for the work it has done during these five years; and the result, that seems to be pretty nearly now in sight is in large measure due to the work of the committee of this Chamber.
The committee now wishes to be discharged, and I am sure that you will all wish to extend to it a vote of thanks for its splendid work.
The vote of thanks was given unanimously.
JAMES Talcott moved the adoption of the following resolution :
Resolved, That the Committee on Finance and Currency be instructed to examine the income tax provision of the new tariff bill, which has been introduced into Congress, and report to the next meeting of the Chamber, not as regards the question of the advisability of the tax or the proposed rate of tax, but with special reference to the method of collecting the tax and other administrative features.
Isaac N. SELIGMAN.—I second the resolution. I think it is a very wise one.
Many of us have read the bill, perhaps some more carefully than others; but doubtless there is a great deal of confusion in the minds of many as to some of the questions involved which interest all merchants and financiers, as for instance, whether or not Europeans can be taxed on the American securities which they hold. I think that the time has come when this Chamber should take some action on the matter, as our voice is generally of influence.
WILLARD V. King.— I contemplated introducing a somewhat similar resolution, with this difference, that I thought it would be wise for the committee to pay special attention to the proposed exemption of incomes under $4,000 a year, for the reason that that exemption will create a situation where practically the entire electorate will be exempt from the payment of this tax. As I understand from friends in Washington, that it is likely that the bill will be acted upon speedily by Congress, I thought I would suggest to the Chamber that in its discretion, if it seemed to the committee likely that the bill was to be passed or action taken upon it by Congress before our next meeting, that the committee see members of Congress, or perhaps go to the President of the United States, and present their conclusions in regard to the matter.
MR. SELIGMAN.—I think what Mr. King has stated is entitled to great consideration, but it occurs to me that inasmuch as the bill will probably pass before very long, it is rather more important that we should deal with the administrative features of it. I think find that three people out of four will disagree as to what is the proper minimum or maximum exemption. I think this Chamber can exert more influence upon the administrative features of the bill.
Louis WINDMULLER.—I think that the income tax will be very unpopular. On the other hand, I believe it will become a necessity on account of the large reductions that are contemplated in the tariff. Whether this Chamber should take the initiative in this matter, however, I very much doubt. I think it would be considered that we were interfering with something that we have at present no business to interfere with. Certainly we must have revenue, and the revenue will be much smaller than it has been if anything like a reduction of the tariff such as is contemplated by this bill takes place. Whether it is absolutely necessary for the Government to raise money by an income tax or not I am unable to say; but it seems to me that we are treading on rather dangerous ground when we oppose a change in that feature of the bill.
MR. KING.-I moved to amend the resolution by adding at the end of it the following words: