The History of the New York City Legislature

By Frederick Shaw | Go to book overview

4. A MUNICIPAL LODGINGHOUSE

The defunct Board of Aldermen might have been called a municipal lodginghouse, a place for a weekly nap at the city's expense.

-- The Searchlight, October, 1939

A New Yorker was showing the sights to his friend from out of town. As they entered the aldermanic chamber, while the meeting was going on, the stranger stared in amazement. "Are these the aldermen?" he asked. "They are.""But they're all fast asleep--oughtn't we do something about it?""Leave them be, leave them be," counselled the New Yorker. "While they sleep, the city's safe."--HENRY H. CURRAN, Former Majority Leader of the Board of Aldermen


MEMBERSHIP

AT MEETINGS of both the Board of Aldermen and the Aldermanic Branch of the Municipal Assembly the president of the board acted as chairman, and in his absence the vice chairman presided. Occasionally the president was prevented from fulfilling this duty when he acted for the mayor, for the charter directed that in the absence of the mayor, or when the mayor's office was vacant, the president of the board would become acting mayor. In this capacity he usually attracted little attention, for the acting mayor could sign or disapprove ordinances or resolutions only after he had served for at least nine days, nor could he exercise his powers of appointment or removal until at least thirty days had elapsed. Most acting mayors contented themselves with ceremonial public appearances, but Joseph V. McKee was a conspicuous exception. The resignation of Mayor Walker placed him in the mayor's office for the last four months of 1932, during a critical period in municipal affairs. Previously the fre

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