National Affairs: Scandals of New York (Cont'd)

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James John ("Jimmy") Walker, New York's glib little Mayor, returned last week from his California vacation, during which the City Affairs Committee had requested Governor Roosevelt to remove him from office (TIME, March 23). Ostentatiously the Mayor got to work. The newspapers carried pictures of him wearing horn-rimmed glasses, posed busily at his desk. It was announced that on the first day of his return he got to the City Hall at 10:22 a. m., a record. Suddenly abandoning the role of wisecracking playboy for that of the diligent chief executive of the nation's largest city, Mayor Walker spoke gravely at a Board of Estimate meeting on "Saving the Taxpayer's Money." He said that he would need no Tammany lawyer to prepare his defense, that he would do it all by himself. "What would a lawyer know about it?" he asked. "It's my answer, and no one else's."

Jimmy's Janet. To the harried Mayor's support last week went his wife, Janet Allen Walker, plump, double-chinned & fun-loving. Unlike Alfred Emanuel Smith and his Katie, Jimmy Walker and his Janet are not inseparable companions and mates. Nevertheless, at her Miami Beach, Fla. home where she has been since December, Mrs. Walker made known that she was going back to New York— though she wasn't sure exactly when—"to stand by Jim and our guns."

She spoke volubly of her and her husband's affairs: "Charges accusing Jim of political discrepancy are about as ridiculous as rumors of his association with Betty Compton [British-born musicomedienne with whom the Mayor's name has been repeatedly coupled]. . . . The Compton affair is not worth commenting upon. Everyone in public office must go through the same ordeal unfortunately.

"People wonder why Jim and I vacation in two different parts of the country. . . . We understand each other perfectly. We love each other but we have been independent. This independence has caused people to talk.

"Jim and I have been married 19 years. ... In many ways I was much happier before Jim became so prominent in politics. There has been talk of Jim being Governor some day, but I don't believe he will continue in politics after he is through as Mayor of New York. There is too much trouble connected with the job."

Crain. Meantime began the first public hearings of ouster proceedings urged on Governor Roosevelt by the City Club against Mayor Walker's District Attorney Thomas C. T. Crain. Presiding was Samuel Seabury, also Referee of the city's longlived police and judiciary investigation, also counsel for the legislative inquiry (for which the Legislature last week voted a second $250,000) into the municipal administration.

Inquisitor Seabury's staff introduced scores of witnesses to show that, among many other things, District Attorney Grain had been glaringly lax in prosecuting racketeers at the Fulton Fish Market (where Alfred Emanuel Smith once worked). Facts not brought out in Mr. Grain's half-hearted grand jury investigation of conditions in the market last year: More than 600 fish retailers were forced to pay $35,000 a Year for "protection," otherwise they were not permitted to buy fish. Wholesalers were assessed $82 per year per employe by Joseph S. ("Socks") Lanza, delegate of the fish dealers union, for "insurance" against property damage.

During the hearing, smart Lawyer Samuel Untermyer, stanch Tammany man who always wears an orchid in his buttonhole, objected to the admission of privately secured testimony, accused Referee Seabury of "prejudging the case." Tall, patrician Inquisitor Seabury flushed and said quietly: "I consider that remark grossly impertinent."

Mr. Grain's defense was that his witnesses last year would not talk. From 150 complaints he got ten grand jury indictments.

Policeman. As a result of Mr. Seabury's police investigation, last week one member of the vice squad, Policeman Sydney D. Tait, was sentenced to from two and one-half to five years in Sing Sing for perjury.

Gordon Case. Five days after the Mayor's return to the city came the first explanation of the killing seven weeks ago of notorious Benita Franklin Bischoff alias Vivian Gordon, racketeering courtesan (TIME, March 9). Her death was first connected with the Seabury investigation because she died just after accusing a policeman, since dismissed, of framing her. Last week, however, the police brought forward a mass of circumstantial evidence pointing to simple robbery, not police corruption, as the motive behind the crime.

Having personally directed the sleuthing, Commissioner Mulrooney announced that Miss Bischoffs murderer was one Harry Stein, 32-year-old footpad. He was found to have had in his possession a mink coat, from which the lining and identifying tags had been torn, and an unmounted diamond. (Miss Bischoffs mink coat and diamond ring were missing when her corpse was found.) Four others were arrested as his accomplices.