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were not uninformed. They took pains to have every bill sent them as soon as printed.100 Trained experts went over every paragraph. Ingenious clerks 101
prepared plausible arguments to show that bills beneficial to the special interests were beneficial to the general public; that bills calculated to restrict the activities of special interests would work the general public injury.
These arguments were, during the recess period, spread broadcast throughout the State. Every mail brought to the newspaper offices scores of neatly printed pamphlets, setting forth why this or that measure should not be passed, or why this or that measure should be. After the Legislature re-convened well instructed lobbyists appeared at Sacramento by the scores, to present the arguments to the various members.
All this costs money, but public service corporations permitted to charge such expenditures to “operating expenses," and collect them as "rates” from the general public, give no thought to the expense of it. The public pays.
Thus, the public cannot afford the machinery to carry on campaigns for the defeat of bad bills and the passage of good, but it can be made to pay the expenses of cam
100 The public will sometime awaken to the folly of permitting attaches of the Legislature, State Printing Office, Secretary of State's Office, and other State departments keeping individuals and corporations informed of State business. Corporations in particular make it a practice of keeping public servants in their employ. When, for example, the public service corporations wanted information on property values, they paid deputy county assessors generously to secure it for them. The scandal of the Secretary of State's office, which was made subject of Legislative investigation at the 1913 session, originated in the selling of information, which should be furnished to all applicants free, or if paid for, at fixed fees to be turned over to the State Treasurer.
101 For the "clerk's" part in the work of the 1913 Legislature, see Chapter VIII, page 116.
paigns for the defeat of bills which for the best interest of the public should be passed, and for the passage of measures which, for the best interests of the public, should be defeated.
In the agitation for and against measures in which large concerns were interested, Chambers of Commerce throughout the State took prominent part. One of the various features of their attitude was that Chambers of Commerce of widely separated communities took practically the same action on the measures considered.
For example: Senator Kehoe's bill to conserve the productive soil of California against sacrifice by gold dredging, was generally condemned, even in Southern California. But there is no gold dredging in Southern California ; it is doubtful if many Southern Californians have any clear conception of what gold dredging is. But Southern California Chambers of Commerce condemned the Kehoe bill in much the same terms as did Chambers of Commerce of northern communities. But some of the Southern Chambers, later on, when members of the Southern California legislative delegation had shown what dredge mining means, modified or reversed their action.
Chambers of Commerce were particularly active in condemning the Boynton Workmen's Compensation Act; the Kehoe Insurance Bill; measures reducing the hours of labor of women; measures reducing the hours of labor of children, or increasing the age at which they shall be permitted to engage in gainful occupations.
The unanimity of action on the part of the various Chambers showed them-or at least their Boards of Directors—to be in close touch with one another, and ready to act in accord on matters of legislation.102
At the close of the thirty-three days' recess, the special interests were thoroughly informed on the pending measures. They had, to a large extent, "sized up" the various members. They were prepared to meet the new conditions.
They could no longer, through the "machine," have orders issued that this or that bill be defeated, or that this or that bill pass. They could not bribe enough members of either House to insure their purpose. It was well said of the 1913 Legislature, that before any bill could be enacted forty-one Assemblymen and twentyone Senators-a majority of each House—had to be convinced that it was a good bill. The special interests prepared to meet the new conditions. They sent to Sacramento attorneys, experts, corporation officials, men well informed on the issues in which their principals were interested. These agents made the most numerous, the most powerful, the most remarkable lobby that ever assembled at Sacramento. They were there not to bribe —for bribery at the 1913 session would have been unsafe.103 They were there to explain and educate.
102 For the contract made between the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to work San Francisco substantial injury by blocking an important harbor improvement on the San Francisco water front, see "Story of the California Legislature of 1911," Chapter XXV, page 297. The activity of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce against development of the San Francisco municipal railroad system, has brought general condemnation upon that body. It is noticeable that one of the principal functions of not a few of the Chambers of Commerce of the State is to collect funds to pay for local advertisements in the Southern Pacific magazine-Sunset.
103 The fear-driven agent or clerk of a special interest, to gain his principal's end, will do for his corporation what he would never start to do for himself. Men who would not misrepresent
And they "explained" and "educated" until they had the well-intentioned members of that Legislature involved in a tangle which, for a time, threatened the defeat of most good measures, and made possible the passage of not a few bad ones.
to gain advantage for themselves, do misrepresent to gain advantage for their corporations. Men who would not bribe to accomplish a purpose for themselves do bribe to carry out the purposes of their corporations. See Chapter VIII.
The LOBBY AND ITS WORK.
The old Southern Pacific "machine” was made up of various privilege-seeking corporations and elements, ranging from the most powerful railroad corporation on the Pacific Coast to the San Francisco brothel and dive industry.
The lobby that dogged the 1913 Legislature, in large measure represented the various elements of the repudiated "machine."
As the large public service corporations had been the backbone of the old "machine," so were the lobbyists who appeared at Sacramento to "protect” the interests of such corporations the main dependence of those whose purpose it was to block progressive policies. About these more important lobbyists the legislative representatives of lesser privilege-seekers grouped, much the same as the lesser privilege-seekers themselves had, in the old days, been drawn to the support of the then powerful corporation-controlled political organization.
But whether agent for transcontinental railroad, Eastern insurance trust, prizefight-promoting combination, or tenderloin dive, the lobbyists who assembled at Sacramento to oppose progressive policies, were there for like purpose, namely, to hold for their principals, if they could, the privileges they already had, and to grab more privileges if opportunity offered.