CHAPTER VII
TRICKING THE CITY

IMMEDIATELY after Schmitz' installation as mayor of San Francisco petty graft began to crop up on every side. Scraps of talk, small bits of evidence, little intimations, came in to me at my office. I heard of bootblack stands, houses of prostitution, gambling joints, that were being forced to pay small graft money. Nothing definite, merely hints here and there, a glimpse of something not quite clearly seen, an atmosphere that began to envelop the city. The big graft did not develop at once, but the times were ripening for it.

From the time of Schmitz' message to me I was bitterly in pursuit of him, doing my utmost to get hold of something he had done or was doing that would uncover the underground truth of his activities. It was something like playing blindman's buff. Constantly I clutched at something that I could feel, but could not quite get hold of.

The graft within the Bulletin office was a different matter. I saw it clearly, and I felt more and more intensely that we must clean our own hands if we were to be at ail consistent in our attitude toward other grafters.

The fact that we were taking money from the railroad, the gas company and other public-looting corporations was known in the business office. As a result that department had become permeated with an atmosphere of chicanery and dishonesty. There was petty graft in the circulation department as well as in the business office. Bulletin men, by various shady pretexts, were getting rugs, pianos, bicycles, furniture, jewelry, everything they could get hold of, in trade for advertising. The books were juggled.

That this was a more or less common practice at that time made no difference to me. I was intensely desirous of cleaning up the whole office, in all its departments, so that I could go after Schmitz with clean hands.

Every step I took was combated, within our own organization, by Crothers. He took that attitude not for any reason of inherent dishonesty, but because, like all men, he wanted money, and because he was by temperament opposed to any change in existing conditions.

He came from the middle class in Canada, of a family that was well enough off to educate him at McGill University. He graduated from McGill with high honors, excelling

-36-

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