WISCONSIN: Marxist Mayor

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When the old-line parties got together and beat the Socialist Mayor at the next election, it looked as if Milwaukee had gone the way of other night-blooming reform movements. But popular young City Attorney Hoan, whose term was for four years, was re-elected in 1914, meantime kept the Socialist organization alive & kicking. In 1916 he got himself elected Mayor.

Good Things. Under Mayor Hoan, Milwaukee has grown famed as a paragon of cities. Among cities of more than 500,000 population, only Baltimore has a lower per-capita cost of government, only St. Louis has a lower per-capita bonded indebtedness. Throughout Depression it has kept notably solvent, has not once defaulted on a payroll or interest payment. It has set up an amortization fund which at the present rate of growth will wipe out its entire bonded indebtedness by 1943, put all city operations on a cash basis.

Its election system insures absolute honesty. Under rigidly-enforced civil service regulations, the merit system holds good in all city departments. Last year Milwaukee had only one murder, one manslaughter. Famed for incorruptibility, its police department, under a non-political chief removable only for malfeasance, has rid the city of gangsters, given it rock-bottom burglary insurance rates. Its fire department and fire prevention program have reduced fire losses from an average of $1,440 to about $256 per fire, secured for its building owners about the lowest fire insurance rates available.

Milwaukee's 107 superbly equipped and managed schools provide ordinary, vocational and leisure education for every citizen over 4 years of age. It claims the biggest & best part-time vocational school in the world, the nation's largest municipally-owned educational museum, the largest per-capita adult night-school enrollment in the U. S. It has a magnificent system of 67 city parks, 68 city playgrounds, 21 city social centres, produces outdoor opera, maintains free bathing beaches, operates dance halls in the parks, uses 47 of its school buildings every night for drama clubs, bridge games, chess tournaments.

Is It Socialism? Conceding the excellence of a government which has produced these results, observers may well wonder what Socialism has to do with it. The answer is that Socialism as an economic doctrine has nothing to do with it.

The majority of Milwaukeeans decidedly do not want Socialism. Out of about 250,000 voters there are only about 35,000 who vote the straight Socialist ticket, and hence presumably believe in the Party doctrines. Never until 1932 did Mayor Hoan have a Socialist colleague in one of the city's other three major elective jobs. The city has never given him a working majority of the Common Council; he has had one since 1932 only because two opposition members went over to his side. The votes which have returned Dan Hoan to the City Hall five times have come from conservative citizens who wanted him there in spite of his Socialist ideas.

Socialism, as no one knows better than Mayor Hoan, is a job for the state and nation, not for the city. Let Milwaukee move to confiscate big incomes and inheritances or take over private industry and it would be stopped dead in its tracks by the U. S. Constitution.

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