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American pork and kindred American products, I transmit herewith a report from the Acting Secretary on the subject, with the accompanying correspondence.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, September 3, 1890. To the Senate and House of Representatives:
I transmit herewith a letter from the Secretary of State, which is accompanied by three reports adopted by the conference of American nations recently in session at Washington, relating to the subject of international arbitration. The ratification of the treaties contemplated by these reports will constitute one of the happiest and most hopeful incidents in the history of the Western Hemisphere.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, October 1, 1890. To the House of Representatives:
I transmit herewith, in answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of August 20, 1890, concerning the enforcement of proscriptive edicts against the Jews in Russia, a report from the Secretary of State upon the subject.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, To the Senate:
Washington, October 1, 1890. In response to the resolution of the Senate of September 17, 1890, I inclose a report from the Secretary of State, transmitting all the correspondence found among the files of his Department relating to the claiin of Thomas T. Collins against the Government of Spain.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 26, 1890. To the House of Representatives:
I return herewith without my approval the bill (H. R. 7170) “to authorize the city of Ogden, Utah, to assume an increased indebtedness.” purpose
and effect of this bill is to relieve the city of Ogden from the limitation imposed by the act of July 30, 1886, upon all municipal corporations in the Territories as to the indebtedness which they may
lawfully contract. The general law fixes the limit of 4 per cent upon the last assessment for taxation; this bill extends the limit as to the city of Ogden to 8 per cent. The purposes for which this legislation is asked are not peculiar or exceptional. They relate to schools, street improvements, and to sewerage, and are common to every prosperous and growing town and city. If the argument by which this measure is supported is adopted, the conclusion should be a repeal or modification of the general law; but in my opinion the limitation imposed by the act of 1886 is wise and wholesome and should not be relaxed.
The report of the governor of Utah for 1889 states the population of Ogden to be 15,000, the valuation for taxation $7,000,000, and the existing indebtedness $100,000. It will be noticed that under the existing limit the city has power to increase its indebtedness $180,000, which would seem to be enough to make a good beginning in the construction of sewers, while the cost of street improvements is usually met in large part by direct assessment upon the property benefited.
It is assumed in the report of the House committee that any city in the States similarly situated “would have the making of the needed improvements within its own power,” while the fact is that almost all of our States have either by their constitutions or statutes limited the power of municipal corporations to incur indebtedness, and the limit is generally lower than that fixed by the act regulating this matter in the Territories. A large city debt retards growth and in the end defeats the purpose of those who think by mortgaging the future to attract population and property. I do not doubt that the citizens of Ogden will ultimately realize that the creation of a municipal debt of over half a million dollars by a city of 15,000 population-being $37 per capita—is unwise.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 29, 1890. To the House of Representatives:
I return without my approval the bill (H. R. 848) “to authorize the construction of an addition to the public building in Dallas, Tex.”
The bill authorizes the construction of a wing or addition to the present public building at a cost of $200,000. I find that the bill as originally introduced by the member representing the Congressional district in which Dallas is situated fixed $100,000 as the limit of the proposed expenditure, and it was so reported from the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds after conferring with the Supervising Architect of the Treasury. A bill of the same tenor was introduced in the Senate by one of the Senators from that State, fixing the same limit of expenditure.
The public building at Dallas, for which a first appropriation of $75,000 was made in 1882, subsequently increased to $125,000, was only completed in 1889. It is probably inadequate now to the convenient transaction of business, chiefly in that part assigned to the Post-Office Department. The material and architectural style of any addition are fixed by the present building and its ground area by the available unoccupied space, as no provision is made for buying additional ground. The present building is 85 by 56 feet, and Mr. John S. Witwer, the postmaster and the custodian of the building, writing to the Supervising Architect, advises that to meet the present and prospective needs of the Government an addition at least two-thirds as large as the present building should be provided. It will be seen from the following extract from a letter of the Supervising Architect to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds, dated February 17, 1890, that a building larger than that suggested can be erected within the limit of $100,000. He says:
From computations made in this office based upon data received it is found that an extension or wing about 40 by 85 feet in dimensions, three stories high, with basement, giving 3,400 square feet, in addition to the 4,760 square feet of the first-floor area of the building, of fireproof construction, can be erected on the present site within the limit of cost proposed by said bill, namely, $100,000.
It may be possible that an expenditure of $325,000 for a public building at Dallas, if the questions of site, material, and architecture were all undetermined, could be defended, but under existing conditions I do not see how an appropriation of $200,000 can be justified when one-half that sum is plainly adequate to such relief as the present site allows.
The legislation for the erection of public buildings has not proceeded, so far as I can trace it, upon any general rules. Neither population nor the extent of the public business transacted has always indicated the points where public buildings should first be built or the cost of the structures. It can not be expected that, in the absence of some general law, the committees of Congress having charge of such matters will proceed in their recommendations upon strict or equal lines. The bills are individual, and if comparisons are attempted the necessary element of probable future growth is made to cover all apparent inequalities. It will be admitted, I am sure, that only a public need should suggest the expenditure of the public money, and that if all such needs can not be at once supplied the most general and urgent should have the preference.
I am not unfriendly to a liberal annual expenditure for the erection of public buildings where the safe and convenient transaction of the public business demands it and the state of the revenues will permit. It would be wiser, in my opinion, to build more and less costly houses and to fix by general law the amount of the annual expenditure for this purpose and some order of preference between the cities asking for public buildings.
But in view of the pending legislation looking to a very large reduction of our revenues and of the urgency and necessity of a large increase in our expenditures in certain directions, I am of the opinion that appropriations for the erection of public buildings and all kindred expenditures should be kept at the minimum until the effect of other probable legislation can be accurately measured.
The erection of a public building is largely a matter of local interest and convenience, while expenditures for enlarged relief and recognition to the soldiers and sailors of the war for the preservation of the Union, for necessary coast defenses, and for the extension of our commerce with other American States are of universal interest and involve considerations, not of convenience, but of justice, honor, safety, and general prosperity.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 4, 1890. To the Senate of the United States:
I return without my approval the bill (S. 1306) "for the erection of a public building at Hudson, N. Y.” Hudson, from the best information attainable, is a city of only a little more than 10,000 population. If the postal receipts are a fair indication of the growth of the city, it has not been rapid, as they only increased about $4,000 in ten years. The gross postal receipts for the year 1888 were but $14,809, and the office force consists of three clerks and five carriers. There are no other Government officers at Hudson entitled under the law to offices or to an allowance for rent, unless it be a deputy collector of internal revenue.
It appears from the bill and the correspondence with the Supervising Architect that it is proposed to erect a two-story building, with fireproof vaults, heating and ventilating apparatus, and elevators, 40 by 80 feet in dimensions. The ground-floor area of 3,200 feet, to be devoted to the post-office, would give 400 square feet to each of the present employees. The second story and the basement, each having the same area, will be absolutely tenantless, unless authority is given by law to the custodian to rent the rooms to unofficial tenants. It seems to me to be very clear that the public needs do not suggest or justify such an expenditure as is contemplated by this bill.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, june 12, 1890. To the House of Representatives:
I return without my approval the bill (H. R. 7175) to provide for the purchase of a site and the erection of a public building thereon at Tuscaloosa, in the State of Alabama.
Judged by its postal revenues and by the force employed in the ofice, the post-office at Tuscaloosa is not an important one. It has one clerk, at a salary of $450, and no carriers. The report of the Postmaster-General shows that the gross receipts for the year 1888 were $6,379 and the net revenue less than $4,000. The annual receipts have only increased about $3,000 in ten years. The rent now paid for a building affording 2,200 square feet of floor space is $275.
A general proposition to erect public buildings at this scale of expense in cities of the size of Tuscaloosa would not, I am sure, receive the sanction of Congress. It would involve the expenditure for buildings of ten times the present net revenues of such offices, and in the case under consideration would involve an increased cost for fuel, lights, and care greater than the rent now paid for the use of a room of ample size. I would not insist that it must always be shown that a proposed public building would yield an interest upon the investment, but in the present uncertain state of the public revenues and expenditures, resulting from pending and probable legislation, there is, in my opinion, an absolute necessity that expenditures for public buildings should be limited to cases where the public needs are very evident and very imperative. It is clear that this is not such a case.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 17, 1890. To the Senate of the United States.
I return without my approval the bill (S. 1762) "to change the boundaries of the Uncompahgre Reservation."
This bill proposes to separate from the Ute Indian Reservation in Utah and restore to the public domain two ranges of townships along the east side of the reservation and bordering the Colorado State line. It is said that these lands are wholly worthless to the Indians for cultivation or for grazing purposes, and it must follow, I think, that they are equally worthless for such purposes to white men.
The object, then, of this legislation is to be sought not in any public demand for these lands for the use of settlers—for if they are susceptible of that use the Indians have a clear equity to take allotments upon them—but in that part of the bill which confirms the mineral entries, or entries for mineral uses, which have been unlawfully made “or attempted to be made on said lands.” It is evidently a private and not a public end that is to be promoted. It does not follow, of course, that this private end may not be wholly meritorious and the relief sought on behalf of these persons altogether just and proper. The facts, as I am advised, are that upon these lands there are veins or beds of asphaltum or gilsonite supposed to be of very great value.
Entries have been made in that vicinity, but upon public lanas. which lands have been resold for very large amounts. It is not important, perhaps, that the United States should in parting with these lands realize their value, but it is essential, I think, that favoritism should have 110 part in connection with the sales. The bill confirms all attempted entries of these mineral lands at ihe price of $20 per acre (a price that is suggestive of something unusual) without requiring evidence of the expenditure of any money upon the claim, or even proof that the claimant was the discoverer of the deposits.