« AnteriorContinuar »
it :-A. That is all except the general conversations that we bave had. I have talked with Mr. Cheney about the matter, and I may have talked with others about it-I mean abont his absence.
Q. What was the character of the conversation about Mr. Cheney's absence ?-A. My first advice to Mr. Cheney was to take leave of absence and go to some place where he could recover. The most of the talk that I had with bim was when he said that he thought he was better and able to attend to his duty. I told him to go ahead, and to give his attention to it.
Q. Tbere was an employé (who is now in the post-office) by the name of Stahl, under Mr. Cheney, about whom there has been some evidence given before the committee as to a leave of absence being granted to him. Mr. Stabl himself was on the stand and testified to the fact of his having gone to Bowdoin College to study medicine, during which time he had a substitute employed at $50 a month, while he himself was drawing $116 a month; that he returned to the office, sent in his resignation, and at the same time made an application for a leave of absence for another month; and that the resignation was accepted, and the leave of absence granted. The whole time that Mr. Stahl was absent amounted to six months, two months of the time being an absolute leare of absence and four months with a substitute. Application was made to your department for the letters, and two of them could not be found. Is it not customary to keep on file applications for and letters granting leave of absence ?-A. There has not been any regular record about that. Our office has not been an office of record, and the files have not been kept perfectly until within the past year. I think that now anything of that kind could be found on the record, but I know that if you go back any time it cannot be found.
Q. Have you any personal koowledge on the subject from which you can testify A. I have no knowledge sufficient to testify upon. I reinember something about it, but not enough to speak positively. I was in the office at the time, but what the action was I cannot say.
Q. Is Mr. Cheney regarded by the department and by you as a diligent and competent officer!-A. Mr. Cheney is regarded as being as competent an officer as we bare.
Q. Is he regarded as a diligentone ?-A. With the exception of the time be was sick, we regarded him as being as diligent an officer as any of them. I have never called upon Mr. Cheney yet when he has not responded promptly.
Q. How long did this sickness to which yon refor last ?-A. It has been from time to time. I do not think it has been continuous.
Q. And you tbink that, unless when he was sick, he has been diligent in the attention to his duties -A. I think so.
Q. And his duties reqnire him to be absent from the office as much as to be at the office ?-A. Yes, sir. They require him to have a general personal supervision of the affairs of his division.
Q. Do you consider a superintendent of the railway mail service who is absent from his office half the time as one who attends diligently to the discharge of his duty ? A. Certainly, if he is absent in the discharge of bis duty.
Q. If he is not occupied in his duty on the road at ihe time he is absent from the office, what would be your opinion as to his diligence ?-A. If he is not occupied in the performance of his duty and is absent from his office, he certainly is not diligent.
Q. Would not such an amount of absence, both from his office and from the lines of road, be sufficient, in your judgment, to require the dismissal of such a superintendent from the service ?-A. Certainly, if he was not attending to his business. Q. Do you conduct your correspondence directly with Mr. Cheney ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you recognize Mr. Holmes as the locum tenens for Mr. Cheney ?-A. He is the chief clerk in the office.
Q. Does he not run the office ?-A. He runs the office in Mr. Cheney's absence. Q. Do you correspond directly with him!-A. No, sir; except personal notes. All official correspondence is addressed to Mr. Cheney.
Q. But it is attended to by Mr. Holmes ?-A. A portion of it, of course. The duties of a superintendent's office are divided up among several clerks. Some of it is attended to by Mr. Holmes and the rest by other clerke.
Q. You state that you regard Mr. Cheney as a diligent and competent officer !-A. I regard him as fully competent for the duties of his position.
Q. I ask you if you regard him as diligent and competent ?-A. Yes; urless when he is laid up by sickness.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. Here is a letter furnished by your office to the committee, dated January 29, 1875, being the copy of a letter addressed by Mr. Cheney to Mr. Bangs. I will read it to you:
“Post OFFICE DEPARTMENT, “OFFICE OF THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF RAILWAY MAIL SERVICE,
"Washington, D. C., January 29, 1875. “SIR: You will remember of my speaking to you last fall about iny giving Mr. A. F. Stahl, head clerk, and detailed in this office as chief clerk, a leave of absence. He
has been very faithful for several years without any leave of absence, and now wishes to be gone one month from February 20tb instant. I propose to fill his place by taking Mr. George S. Blant into the office as chief clerk, and filling bis place by taking some head clerk on the Boston and Albany railway post-office for chief clerk of that line. "Sball I be authorized to give him such leave of absence ? "I am, very respectfully, &c.,
" THOS. P. CHENEY, "Assistant Superintendent Railway Mail Service, First Division. "Hon. Geo. S. BANGS,
“General Superintendent Railway Mail Service." Here is a letter from Mr. Bangs, also furnished by your office, dated February 2, 1875:
“Washington, D. C., February 2, 1875. "SIR: You are authorized to make arrangements for a leave of absence for Mr. A. F. Stabl, as suggested in your letter of the 29th'ult., provided no additional expense to the department is incurred thereby. " The runs of tbe railway post office clerks can be easily arranged to do this. “Very respectfully,
"GEO. S. BANGS,
“General Superintendent. "Thomas P. CHENEY, Esq.,
"Superintendent Railway Mail Service, First Division, Boston, Mass.” Is it usual in the department, in a case of this sort, that there should be an understanding between the general superintendent and an assistant superintendent that an additional leave of absence of two or three months more should be given to a party (he furnishing a substitute), and that there should be no record evidence made of that faet 1-A. Not now.
Q. Was it ever proper in your judgment that that should be done?-A. Of course it is always better to keep the records complete.
9. Wbat could be the object of not having any record of such a transaction ?-A. This office is of a comparatively recent date. Originally, the superintendent had only ore clerk, and there were no records at all. All the orders were issued from the Second Assistant Postmaster-General. Q. There seems to have been a record kept of one month's leave being granted 1-A. That bappened to be on file in the rooms of the First Assistant Postmaster-General, otherwise we might not bave been able to find it.
Q. And you think that Mr. Bangs may still have authorized Mr. Cheney to grant an additional leave of absence to Mr. Stabl on his furnishing a substitute without any record evidence of the fact being made in the department ?-A. I think so, under the circumstances.
Q. You were superintendent of the railway mail service in the New England division some years ago !-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Here is a letter of August 26, 1875, from Mr. Cheney to Mr. Bangs:
Boston, August 26, 1875. "SIR: Inclosed I hand you letter of resignation of Mr. A. T. Stabl, head clerk Boston and New York railway post-office. It will be observed that he asks that his resignation shall take effect on the 1st day of October next.
" Mr. Stahl bas been in the service now ten years, and for the past three years has been detailed for duty as chief clerk in my office. During all this time he has never had a leave of absence except for thirty days without furnishing a substitute.
"I therefore respectfully request that his resignation be accepted, to take effoct from Detober 1, next, and that he be allowed a leave of absence during the month of September, 1875. "Shall I be authorized to give him such leave of absence ? "I am, very respectfully,
" THOS. P. CHENEY,
• Superintendent Railway Mail Service. "Col. GEORGE S. Bangs,
“General Superintendent Railway Mail Service."
And here is the letter of resignation by Mr. Stahl to the department:
“Boston, Mass., August 26, 1875. “SIR: I bave the honor to resign my position as head clerk on the Boston and New York railway post-office, to take effect October 1, 1875. “Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"ALBERT T, STAHL,
“ Head Clerk Boston and New York Railway Post Office. “ Hon. MARSHALL JEWELL,
“ Postmaster-General United States, Washington, D. C.”
There is a letter from the department accepting Mr. Stabl's resignation, but there is no letter showing that the leave of absence was granted. I suppose you will make the same reply in reference to that I-A. Yes, sir. These were all the papers in the
Q. Inasmuch as the letter accepting Mr. Stahl's resignation is on file, would it not be reasonable tbat the same letter would say something about his leave of absence !A. No, sir.
Q. Would the leave of absence come from one officer and the acceptance of resigpation from another!-A. Yes, sir.
Q. The leave of absence would come from Mr. Bangs's office and the letter of acceptance of resignation from the First Assistant Postmaster-General I–A. Yes, sir.
By Mr. TOWNSEND: Q. As your department has grown and increased you have deemed it best to make everything a matter of record, and to file papers away 1-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And that has been so for the past year?-A. For about a year. We have incom. plete records dating back farther than that, but we think that now we keep a complete record.
Q. That has been inaugurated since you have been general superintendent !-A. Yes, sir.
By Mr. MONEY: Q. What disposition has been made of the mail matter received at your office 1-A. The letters were generally referred to the various departments of the office to which they belonged.
Q. Were they ever destroyed ?-A. No. I do not think they were ever destroyed.
Q. Then these letters have been necessarily preserved somewhere?-A. They must be preserved somewhere, but all the records of our office from a year back are very imperfect, owing to the lack of filing, so that it is very difficult to find letters there.
Q. I understood you to say a few moments ago that your business communications with Mr. Cheney were promptly answered ?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Has there never been a case wben you bave had to send a telegram to the office at Boston asking attention to business ?-A. There may be such as that possible. I do not recall any such case now. That is so with all the offices frequently. Things accumulate and press upon them and we have to ask for immediato attention to some particular matter. That is a frequent thing.
Q. What proportion of the replies which you have received from Mr. Cheney's office at Boston has been signed by Mr. Cheney?--A. I cannot say what proportion. A very large proportion of them has been signed by some of the clerks for Mr. Cheney. Q. A very large proportion ?-A. I suppose a majority of them.
By the ChairMAN: Q. Is it customary for other assistant superintendents in the railway mail service to answer such letters tbrongh clerks 1-A. Sometimes.
Q. Is not Mr. Cheney's an exceptional case !-A. It is an exceptional case, as we stated in the letter to the committee.
By Mr. MONEY: Q. You said a moment ago that this $5 per diem is considered almost as part of their salary.-A. It is pretty nearly; but if a superintendent or a special agent should take a regular leave of absence, I do not think he would draw his per diem or that it would be allowed him.
Q. But you think that on the construction given by the Attorney-General, a superintendent draws pay whether in his oftice or on his roads 1—A. Certainly, so long as he is actually performing the functions of his office.
Q. But if a superintendent is sick and absent from his office, has he a right to draw bis per diem --A. That would depend upon how sick he was.
Q. If he is so sickly he cannot attend to his business at all?–A. I do not know but that under the construction of the Attorney-General he would still be entitled to per diem.
Q. Is that per diem intended to cover all expenses ?-A. It is a sort of commutation for expenses of all kinds. Q. Then you would hardly approve an account for expenses outside of that? The WITNESS. What kind of expenses ? Mr. Money. Incidental expenses. Mr. Cheney has an account here for incidental expenses ontside of his per diem.
The WITNESS. It is quite likely that it was for stationery, ink, pens, pencils, &c. Q. Are these things put down to the personal expenses of the superintendent ?-A. They are charged to the office, but he has to put in an account for them.
Mi. MONEY. This is put into an account with salary?
Tbe WITNESS. Up to six months ago it was all paid upon the same voucher. Now it is paid on two voucbers, one for the salary and per diem, and one for the incidental expenses.
Mr. MONEY. Does the superintendent put in a voucher for salary the same as for per diem ?-A. It is all drawn on a warrant." He puts both on precisely the same blank, except that there are two blanks. He puts in two vouchers instead of one. That is done for the convenience of the Auditor-not that there is any difference at all in the nethod of paying, but they are charged to two separate appropriations.
Mr. Money. I understand you, then, that when a superintendent of the railway mail service draws his salary and per diem, be always draws for the expenses incurred by his office for stationery, &c.? The Witxess. Certainly.
By the CHAIRMAN : Q. You say that Mr. Stahl may have had leave of absence with permission to furnish a substitute and no record be kept of that fact?-a. Yes, sir.
Q. I see on the margin of this blank in red ink these words: “Sums paid to substitute agents must be receipted for by regular agents."—A. Certainly.
Q. Šo that there must be some record in the department that there is a substitute A. Not necessarily. Tbe Postmaster-General requires to be satisfied that the service is performed. Under the old blank, postmasters were authorized under certain conditions to pat in substitutes, and that marginal note is so that they shall not send in pay-rolls signed by substitutes, as there is no record at the department of the substitutes, and consequently the regular agent must sign for the pay even though it is drawn by the substitute. That is simply because the department has no record of substitutes.
By Mr. CANNON: Q. Does the usage obtain to a considerable extent of allowing postal clerks and route agents to employ substitutes ?-A. Under certain circumstances we allow them.
Q. Do you not thiok it better (in order to avoid scandal and promote the efficiency of the service), either by regulation or by positive law, to probibit the employment of a sabstitute except on the full pay which the regular appointee receives ?-A. That is now provided unless in the case where a man is sick. If a man is sick, and he has become sick or injured in the performance of his duty, we allow him tbat privilege sometimes.
By Mr. CALDWELL: Q. The employment of a substitute without permission of the department or without permission of the postmaster at a terminal office !-A. Tbat is under the old regulations, but the regulations have been changed since. I sent that blank because that regulation prevailed at the time Mr. Stahl was absent.
Q. Do you regard it as a proper proceeding, then or now, for a clerk receiving compensation at $116 a month to be allowed an indefinite leave of absence in order to study medicine, and to employ another substitute at $50 a month to perform duties of a different and inferior character ?-A. That is a mere matter of judgment.
Q. Is it, in your judgment, a substitution in the sense in wbich the word is understood at the department !-A. So long as the duties are performed through the employment of that substitute, he is a substitute. It would be impossible sometimes for a substitute to perform the particular duties of the person for whom he is a substitute. Take, for instance, a head clerk in the railway mail service. He has to be perfectly familiar with the business, and a substitute cannot perform bis duties. The substitate must take some other position and let another clerk perform the duties of the bead clerk.
Q. Do you think it would be proper to take an inferior man, at $50 a month, in place of a superior man, receiving $116 a month ?—A. If that man was justified in having leave of absence, and if the duties were performed, I should think it perfectly just.
Q. Do you think that a man would be justified in baving leave of absence to go and study medicine!--A. That depends altogether upon circumstances.
By the CHAIRMAN : Q. Are there any circumstances which would justify an officer of the government in being allowed to go off to graduate at a college wbile he furnished a substitute for $50 a month ?–A. If a man was employed in the department for ten years, being on duty every day, and never having leave of absence (and in all the departments regular leave of absence is given to the clerks), and if, to equalize things, you give him a couple of months' leave of absence, I do not see any objection.
By Mr. CALDWELL:
Q. You do not think it improper to give a man eight months' leave of absence in a year ?-A. Yes, at one time.
Q. Would you consider it improper to give a clerk five months' leave of absence ! Does he not waive his right to leave of absence every year by not asking for it?-A. We have no rules in our office about leave of absence.
By Mr. TOWNSEND: Q. In the case of a superintendent of railway mail service being confired to his house, sick, for a week or two-perbaps not so sick but that he can attend to his business-is it not entirely possible for him to keep a supervision over his division !-A. Certainly. I know of times when I have called upon superintendents of divisions while lying on sick beds, and have received communications from them. Still, that would depend again on the nature of the sickness.
Mr. MONEY. I wish to make a statement, as a conflict of recollection exists between Mr. Vail and myself as to the interview I had with him in the Post-Office Department. I went to the Postmaster-General at the instance of the subcommittee of which I have the honor to be chairman, in order to lay before him the charges furnished by Mr. Temple against Mr. Cheney. We thought it due to the department to ask whether those matters had been brought to its attention, and, if so, what action had been taken. I went to Mr. Key and told him my business. He remarked, “ There has been considerable newspaper war in Boston about this matter, and we have not paid much attention to it. I do not know anything about it myself, but I will send for Mr. Vail." He sent for Mr. Vail, and I told him my business. Mr. Vail said, “Yes; we have heard that often. It is nothing but a lot of lies. Mr. Cheney is as good a man as there is in the service.” I said, " Mr. Vail, yon had better read these charges; probably they are not what you refer to." He said, " They are the same old thing." I asked if he had investigated the matter, and he said that there had been no investigation. I asked him why not, and he said, “We know more about this matter than the people of Boston do, and we have not thought it necessary." I then suggested that he should take the charges and read them and make some sort of reply in writing to me that evening. He remarked that he would not be able to do so that evening, but would do so the next day, and on the next day I received the answer from the department which has been filed with the committee.
Mr. Vail. I should like the chairman to address a note to the Postmaster-General and ask for his recollection of the interview, because I may be mistaken.
Mr. Money. In the midst of the conversation with Mr. Vail, another gentleman came in and Mr. Key withdrew. He did not hear the last half of the conversation between me and Mr. Vail.
Mr. Vail. I have no recollection of the conversation as expressed by you now.
Mr. MONEY. That is my distinct recollection of that conversation, and I think I reported it at once to my colleague, Mr. Caldwell, who was a member of the subcommittee.
Mr. CANNON (to Mr. Vail). Whatever the conversation may have been, I want you to state whether the business of the railway mail service in the first division has been neglected or has suffered, so far as you know, since Mr. Cheney has been superintendent?-A. We consider that the service in New England is now in as good a condition as it ever has been previously-and better.
Q. How does that division compare with other divisions ?-A. Very favorably, indeed.
Mr. MONEY. I want to state here that I am informed that Mr. Vail made the same statement to a gentleman who writes for the Washington Post, and I would like to have him brought before tbe committee to-morrow.
Mr. CANNON. What is the object of this side investigation ?
Mr. Money. So far as I am concerned, it is to settle this controversy between me and Mr. Vail.
The CHAIRMAN. If you desire me to get the recollection of the Postmaster-General on the subject, you are entitled to it.
Mr. Vail. The circumstance is at all events unpleasant if nothing more.