Governor William P. Lord's Administration
Governor's Message, 1897
Source: State of Oregon, Messages and Documents, 1897, Vol. 1, Page 1.
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly:
You have assembled, in obedience to the requirements of the constitution, for the purpose of enacting such laws as, in your judgment, may be needed, better to protect the rights of person and property, to conserve the public interests, and to promote the general welfare. The important duty is devolved upon you to repeal or modify all laws that unjustly or injuriously affect the citizen in his constitutional rights, and too enact such others as will secure to him the full benefit of the constitutional guaranty of protection to life, liberty, and property, and of the right to dispose of his labor, and to pursue his happiness according to his own judgment. The important duty is also devolved upon you to carry out the mandate of the people, expressed in their platforms, for retrenchment and reform; to apply the knife to abuses and hidden emoluments, if any exist, upon the body politic; to cut off unnecessary expenses; to withhold needless appropriations, or such as will bear delay or can be postponed, and to reduce needed ones to the minimum; to abolish useless offices, boards, and commissions, to the end that unnecessary and excessive taxation may be avoided, and that the public expenditures may be reduced to the lowest possible limit consistent with a wise and economical administration of the state’s government. To qualify yourselves intelligently to perform these duties, it will be essential for you to acquire a thorough knowledge of the true condition of the state and its institutions. This knowledge will be brought to your attention through detailed reports of the various departments of the state and the institutions under their charge, through committees appointed by your body to investigate and report on their condition and needs, and through such information of the affairs of the state as the executive may feel it his duty to communicate for your consideration and action.
Gentlemen, you have imposed upon you grave and responsible duties; duties that you cannot neglect or evade without incurring the just condemnation of the people, and inflicting an irreparable injury upon your state. They are duties that demand, for their faithful and intelligent discharge, the uninterrupted use of every available hour of the forty days allotted for your legislative labors; duties, I repeat, that, if well performed, will afford no time for factional fights, or senseless struggles for mere party advantage, or trades and combinations to fix legislative appointments to office. You are assembled under circumstances fraught with less discouragement than those which confronted your legislative predecessors. The extraordinary financial and commercial depression which afflicted our country and blighted its prosperity is slowly passing away. The clouds which lower on our country’s horizon are lifting; already we can see a rift in the skies, through which is gleaming the light of the better and brighter days coming; already we can feel the pulsations of reviving business, and hear the hum of industrial activity echoing throughout our borders. Such is the recuperative quality of our people that, from the depth of their financial disasters, they are emerging hopeful and courageous. The future that awaits our state is full of promise. The natural conditions that environ it, backed by the energy, intelligence, and skill of its people, and aided by wise legislation for the development of its abounding and varied resources, will make our state a center of financial and industrial activities. Nothing short of a policy that shall handicap its government with debt, excessive taxation, lavish expenditures, and bad laws, retarding its growth and development, and benumbing the energies of its people, drying up the sources of their material wealth, can make Oregon a laggard in the procession of progressive and prosperous states. While, it is true, there are some laws of trade and finance which control business, and which no statute can affect or abolish, it is equally true that legislative enactments often perform an important part in stimulating business and industrial enterprise, in opening the channels of trade and commerce, in protecting life and property, and in preserving many valuable natural resources from waste and destruction. To the extent that legislation may assist in the accomplishment of these objects, without disturbing or restricting trade, it ought to be enacted. Much has been done by past legislatures to aid in the development of the resources of our state, and to preserve others from extinction; much to serve the public interests, by the adoption of measures of retrenchment and reform, which have kept her free from public debt and in the front rank of an advancing civilization; but much still remains to be done to supply her wants and more fully improve her resources, and meet the growing demand for general enlightenment, for higher standards of public duty, for better political methods, and for more economical government. Upon you, gentlemen, rests the responsibility of inaugurating such measures as will effect these reforms. You owe the people conscientious performance of duty according to your best ability. I pray that you may not disappoint these just expectations.
It now becomes my duty to give you such information concerning the condition of the state, and to recommend such measures as may be deemed to be expedient.
Oregon has no debt, but there is a surplus in the treasury of $368,034.42. The following indicates the funds to which the credits belong:
The receipts into the state treasury during the biennial term ending
December 31,1896, including the balance on hand as per last report, were...$2,353,563.85
The disbursements out of the several funds were…………………………… 1,985,529.43
Leaving a balance in the treasury of………………………………………...$ 368,034.42
To the credit of the following funds:
General fund…………………………………………………………………$ 121,986.93
Common school fund principal………………………………………………...150,398.28
Common school fund, interest…………………………………………………...48,696.79
Agricultural college fund, principal……………………………………………….3,704.99
Agricultural college fund, interest………………………………………………...3,624.68
University fund, principal…………………………………………………………1,951.87
University fund, interest…………………………………………………….$ 1,463.43
Five per cent, land sale fund…………………………………………………………69.32
Swamp land fund…………………………………………………………………1,545.10
Tide land fund…………………………………………………………………...15,680.58
Salmon industry fund……………………………………………………………..1,246.08
University tax fund………………………………………………………………15,919.34
Military tax fund…………………………………………………………………..1,747.03
ASSESSMENT AND TAXATION
There is probably no matter of public concern which is the cause of greater complaint, or which is beset with greater difficulty in its practical operation, than the law regulating the levy and collection of taxes. The complaint is caused by the inequality of taxation. To be just, the law must distribute the burdens of taxation equally, and, in this way, insure uniformity of contribution. Equality of taxation is the essence of the right to take the citizen’s property for the support of government. Without it, tax laws are partial and inequitable, producing rank injustice. To insure uniformity and equality, it is indispensable that the law regulating assessments and taxation should be based on some rule of apportionment that operates impartially, and rests on fixed principles of justice. Our law is based on the theory that all property, whether real or personal, should be assessed at its actual cash value, without regard to the income derived from it, or the uses to which such property is appropriated. It has always seemed to me that some reference should be had to the revenue derived from property, in estimating its value. Still, there can be no doubt, if our law was strictly enforced, conformably to its true intent, equality of taxation would result. For, it is plain, where all property in the state is assessed at its actual cash value, there will be equality of taxation. But the same consequences would follow, if all the property of the state were assessed at less than its cash value, provided that the reduced rate of assessment were made equally to apply upon all property. To illustrate: if all the property in the state were assessed at half its cash value-or fifty per cent of its real value; there would be equality of taxation. The assessment being equally distributed upon all property, there would be equality in the payment of taxes. Inequality of taxation, then, is due, not to the fact that property is assessed too low, but to the fact that it is assessed unequally. Where one class of property is taxed, and another is allowed to escape taxation to any great extent, or where one piece of property is taxed at its cash value and another at half its real value, there necessarily results inequality of taxation. In this way, it is thought, that thousands of dollars’ worth of property escapes taxation altogether, and much other is taxed at less than its real value, as compared with property of like character. Where such is the case, the burdens of government are not shared equally, and a flagrant injustice is done some taxpayers. This condition of things is the result of incompetency or dishonesty on the part of assessors, and is the cause of the general complaint about our tax laws. Every assessor should aim to assess all property at its real value, as the law directs, to the end that it shall bear its just proportion of the public burdens. If this were done, though the result might not be absolute equality, owing to the infirmity of human judgment, it would approximate to that end. It thus appears that most of the inequality that exists, and about which there is so much dissatisfaction, could be remedied by selecting assessors qualified by business experience, good sense, and impartiality of judgment, to discharge the important duty of taxing property for the support of government. There is not so much difficulty in framing a law that, in theory, shall distribute the burdens of taxation, as in securing its proper administration. Nor do I think our law, if fairly executed, according to its intent, fails to provide for an impartial assessment of property. The difficulty is not so much with the law itself, as with its administration. If the officers to whom is confided the duty of enforcing our law, should strictly comply with its provisions, there would be little cause of complaint relative to assessment and taxation. There might be some amendments to our law that would operate beneficially, but its general provisions are based on principles, which, if fairly complied with, would proximate to equality of taxation and remove much dissatisfaction. At any rate, be slow in tinkering with tax laws, and above all, be careful to avoid thrashing over old straw, for the result of your labors will be more apt to increase, than remove, the evil sought to be remedied. The framing of a tax law to supplant an old one, is expected to remedy all defects and give universal satisfaction, is a delusion; but, somehow, it is a public service always attractive to youthful and inexperienced statesmanship.
The penitentiary is a badly located institution. With so many excellent sites near it, it is amazing that its present location should have been selected. It is said in explanation, that the present site was chosen on account of the necessity of securing a water power; but there are several other places in the neighborhood much more desirable, as locations, where there are water powers, or to which water could be brought with convict labor at little expense. All institutions of this character ought to be located on elevated ground, so that sufficient fall may be secured to afford good sewerage, and to enable the inmates, who are confined a large part of the time in their cells and within the prison walls, to enjoy the benefits of wholesome air and plenty of light. Where an institution is located, like our penitentiary, adjoining a creek, on low, wet ground, which extends many acres around it, there cannot be cleanliness, or fair drainage, or wholesome air, without constant care and attention and considerable expense. The institution will always be confronted with obstacles to its sanitation and sewage that would be easily removed from locations more wisely selected. To aid the sanitary conditions and the sewerage of the buildings, it is indispensable that the adjoining lands, when low and wet, should be drained in order to ward off miasmatic conditions during certain seasons, and to promote general healthfulness. In view of the location of the penitentiary, and the conditions surrounding it, it would be supposed that, as a matter of ordinary care, such improvements would be made; that the building would be kept in good condition, and that its outbuildings and appurtenances would not be allowed to get out of repair, or in a state of dilapidation and decay. I regret to say, that, when the prison and its belongings was received by the present superintendent, this condition of things did not exist, and, while it is true that many things had been done in this direction, they had not been prosecuted to the extent demanded by the plain necessities of the situation. The condition of the prison was such that the superintendent was compelled to make many repairs, though without funds for this purpose, the necessity of which had existed some time, and could not longer be delayed. Notwithstanding the difficulties which confronted him, the superintendent, by practicing rigid economy and intelligently utilizing the prison labor, was able to make pressing repairs and needed improvements, such as mending the floors, putting in new window sills, planks in porches and guard walks, where they were rotten and broken; painting portions of the building and fences, where needed for their preservation, and especially a large structure built of corrugated iron, that was rapidly going to decay from exposure to weather, and the iron fences in front of the prison. Besides which, he built a new flume for the water race, cleaned up and improved the prison yard and the channel of the stream and its banks therein, improved and renovated a portion of the sewerage escape, which, when opened, disclosed that it had been illy constructed of unfit material, that made it a hotbed of filth and a breeder of disease; reclaimed several acres of wet lands, and tiled and drained others, to prevent malarial conditions, and render such lands profitable for agricultural uses. It is believed that the prison and its belongings are in a fair condition, considering the limited means for its repairs, though there are other improvements needed, especially with references to its sewerage. I ask special attention to the report of the superintendent, and believe that his recommendations should receive favorable consideration. I reiterate the recommendation, that the penitentiary, through its own agency, be intrusted with the transportation of convicts. I especially request that you examine the bills for transportation, under the present system, filed in the office of the secretary of state, and ascertain whether this recommendation deserves again to be disregarded.
No more perplexing problem presses for solution than the working of convicts. The penitentiary has always been a serious charge on the state, because the maintenance of convicts is necessarily expensive, unless they are profitably employed. Thus far, the result of working convicts in any enterprise, either by the state or by leasing them to private parties, has not proven entirely satisfactory or very remunerative. It is thought, though, that the leasing of convicts, as is now authorized, for the carrying on of some industrial enterprise within the prison, would largely help to pay the expenses of the institution. It is better for the present, at least, than that the state should undertake to conduct an industrial enterprise with its convicts. It was a serious and expensive mistake, when the state bought the foundry plant and undertook its operation. Its profitable management was, no doubt, greatly handicapped by the financial depression, but, generally speaking, such business enterprises are more profitably conducted by private parties. Shortly after entering upon my official term, it was found that the foundry was working only a few convicts, who were piling up goods on those already manufactured, not any of which could be sold, owing to the lack of demand occasioned by hard times. To have continued the operation of the foundry under these circumstances would necessarily have resulted in putting the state at heavy expense for the purchase of raw material and the pay of superintendents and foremen, and, at the same time, left on its hands an overstock of manufactured goods for which there was no sale. Of course, the board could have made an excellent showing on paper by setting up these unsold manufactured products at a good price rate, and counting them as cash assets. The last legislature authorized the governor to lease the convicts, and to carry this law into operation would necessarily have deprived the board operating the foundry of its convict labor. This statute was considered to repeal, by implication, the statute authorizing the board to operate the foundry with convict labor. A short while after the enactment of this statute, Mr. J. Loewenberg proposed to lease the foundry plant and a specified number of convicts, but he was unwilling to take the stock of manufactured products on hand at the price valued, or to pay the price for convict labor specified in the statute. After several consultations, it was agreed that a lease should be made for a certain number of convicts, and a request was made by the board of managers that “the governor detail twenty-five convicts for the care, custody, and protection of the foundry plant, subject to ratification by the legislature,” to which request the governor acceded. The board then leased Mr. Loewenberg the plant and sold him the manufactured stock at reduced prices, on time, secured by chattel mortgage and endorsed notes; but, owing to the continuance of the general depression, Mr. Loewenberg has been unable to sell his manufactured products or to pay his notes and the rent of the plant.
If the legislature shall deem it proper to ratify this agreement, upon Mr. Loewenberg’s promptly paving his indebtedness due the state, or at some other time upon reasonable extension, I suggest that the superintendent of the penitentiary be substituted for the governor in the contract, under an act amending the law for that purpose. This will not change the terms of the contract, but will make it more satisfactory for the conduct of the business to all concerned. This is an outline of the transaction, and for further particulars, I invite your attention to the report of the board of managers of the foundry.
It is thought by those who have given much consideration to reclaiming youthful criminals, that reformatories are useful and beneficial institutions. It is much better for the state to make an effort to reform its wayward youths than to send them to the state penitentiary to associate with hardened criminals. The effect of such association during their term of confinement usually is to develop their evil tendencies, and to cause them to become confirmed criminals. When criminals of this class are placed in reformatories, they are separated from the society and influence of hardened criminals, and, with proper care and treatment, they may be impelled to turn from their evil habits and lead useful and exemplary lives. The effect of punishment on criminals of the depraved class is seldom to cause them to reform or to lead better lives; but for the youthful criminal, whose evil habits have not become confirmed, it is better for society to make an effort to reform him, and, in recognition of the wisdom of this policy, our state has established a reform school. The practical operation of this school indicates a considerable degree of success. Many improvements have been made during the biennial term, which have required considerable outlay of money, and have increased the difficulties of the management of the institution; but, as the farm shall be improved and made a productive adjunct, and as the boys at the school are given industrial training and their work is utilized more and more, the cost of the school will fall, notwithstanding its membership is rising. For all purposes, the superintendent now asks $51,000 for the current biennial term, which sum is a marked decrease to the appropriations for 1893 and 1895; yet, I am constrained to think, the farm may be so utilized, as well as the work of the boys, that a less sum ought to suffice. The report of the superintendent may be consulted with profit for details which a want of space will not permit me to call to your attention.
I desire to recommend that the wooden building now occupied by the farmer at the reform school be converted into a girls’ reformatory. There are not many young criminals of this class, and the location of the building is favorable for their care and safety. Two or three cells might be fixed in it for the reception of female convicts, of whom there are seldom more than one or two, and oftener none. There is n place for this class at the penitentiary, and the necessity of the case requires them to be kept strictly confined to their cells, which is an unnecessary hardship. The additional cost will be slight, as the present management will not be disturbed.
It is not simply a dictate of duty, but of humanity, that the tenderest care and best provision should be made for the comfort and recovery of that unfortunate class of our people, who are wholly or in part deprived of their reason. What class can more justly appeal to our sympathies, or have better right to ask that our best thought and skill be devoted to the amelioration of their condition? No reasonable expense should be spared to furnish them with the best medical attendance and to make their surroundings agreeable. There is no better test of the progress of civilization in a state, than the adequacy of its provisions for the care, support, and protection of insane. The progress made in the study and treatment of nervous diseases has been rapid and successful, being based on the idea that insanity is a disease, and should be treated, as other diseases, with a view to recovery, except where conditions exist that render such a result impossible. n conformity with this idea it is suggested that the words “Oregon State Insane Asylum, “ descriptive of our institution, should be changed to “Oregon State Hospital.” Our state has not been backward, nor spared expense to provide suitable places for the comfortable care and treatment of its unfortunates. A good building with the best improvements, good surroundings, excellent care, and the best medical attendance, is provided for them. The asylum is, as it should be, a public generosity rightly directed, but it should not be abused. There is no doubt, owing to the laxity of our laws, that many persons are sent to the asylum and remain there, who are not proper subjects for its charity, and that, if the defects in our law in this particular were remedied, and fuller powers conferred on the superintendent, it would greatly diminish the number accounted insane, and reduce the expense of the institution. The practice of some county courts in sending persons who are not insane, but simply affected with the infirmities of old age, to the asylum, often through the pressure of relatives, is wrong in principle, and often tends to encourage filial ingratitude. The hospital (as we shall prefer to call it) is intended for the care and treatment of the diseased in mind, and not those merely afflicted with senility. There is also another class, known as the “ morphine fiends,” who have reached that point of personal degradation where the habit is fixed and a permanent change is improbable, that ought to be excluded. Nor is a hospital the proper place for the idiot. Cheap buildings, with large dormitories and few attendants, under the superintendent, as an adjunct, would answer every purpose.
Gentlemen of the assembly, I here and now reiterate my recommendation of two years ago, that the asylum, through its own agency, should be intrusted with the responsible duty of conveying these unfortunates to the institution. To serve this purpose, there should be two attendants, a man and a woman, appointed to go after patients and bring them to the hospital, who should receive a fair salary as compensation for their services, and actual expenses for themselves and patients. These agents should be persons of intelligence, of kindly disposition, steady habits and decision of character. They would soon become experts in handling patients, and quickly learn how to attend their wants and spare them unnecessary pain or mental distress. The difference in the cost, as compared with the present practice, is much greater than generally known. It is the same policy which is recommended for the state prison. Under the system proposed, it would not cost a dollar for the transportation of intended inmates from Salem to either place while under the existing system it costs $8.50. Under the first, they would be taken in groups, to save expense, where several awaited transportation, while under the latter they are taken separately to fatten the job. In defense of the practice it is said that the law allows it; but the fact that such practices may exist under a law is the best reason for its repeal. There is another reason for its repeal and the adoption of the system recommended that is unanswerable. No man should be permitted wholly to have charge of conveying an insane female patient to the hospital. The law, which authorizes such commitments of female patients, is a relic of barbarism. What act can be more barbaric, what spectacle more revolting, that an officer dragging from her home an unfortunate woman, frantic and helpless, through crowded thoroughfares, before gaping crowds, and over the railroads, to her destination at the asylum? Several hours at least, and sometimes days, must be occupied with her transportation, and during this interval of time, think of the indignities to which she is unavoidably exposed; think of what in many instances must be her pitiable, indescribable condition when she arrives. Common decency demands that this insult to womanhood shall cease.
The report of the medical superintendent of the asylum is a carefully prepare4d and able document, and it will furnish you in detail all information appertaining to the management of the institution. His recommendation to build a wing to accommodate the increasing number of inmates deserves your immediate attention. I commend the report to your careful consideration.
I also recommend the acceptance of the offer of the Oregon Children’s Aid Society to donate to the state the Orphan’s Home, at Salem, which consists of fifteen acres of excellent land and good buildings, containing at this time over twenty inmates. In the near future the state will be compelled to make provision for this class of friendless and helpless humanity, whose care and right bringing up concerns the public welfare as well as their own, and the present offer of the buildings and grounds, without cost, as a home for them, is a liberal gratuity that ought to be accepted with alacrity. In the event you should adopt this recommendation, the law should provide for the appointment of a board, to be composed of women, and not to exceed five in number, to whom would be committed the management of the affairs of the home, and to receive only actual expenses for their services.
STATE LAND DEPARTMENT
The successful management of state lands depends upon laws enacted to promote the object for which they were granted, and their strict administration. Oregon has been the beneficiary of large land grants for various objects, and much legislation has been devised and enacted in regard to them, but our state has not realized the benefits and advantages which it should have received from them. All that can now be done is to take care of and dispose of what remains, so as best to promote the objects and distribute the benefits of these grants. It is greatly to be regretted that the law did not make better provision for the segregation and mapping of state lands, for indexing all sales of them and disclosing their location, and further providing that the officers in charge of the land office, when requested by a purchaser, or other interested person, should give the information asked, as appears from the record. It would have saved purchasers much unnecessary expense, and greatly aided in conferring the benefits, designed to be given, by the grants. But, without legal provision, the land department office ought to have adopted rules and regulations that would have served this purpose. The records of the office ought to have been kept in such a way that a person desirous of purchasing a certain piece of state land could easily ascertain its location, whether it was taken or was for sale, without incurring the unnecessary expense of hiring a third party. By neglecting to do so, it was only possible for its officers, or those who had acquired special knowledge of the location of state lands, to consult the record as kept and ascertain the desired facts. Such a mode of doing public business offers too much temptation for wrongdoing and scandalous practices to justify its existence or continuance. Some of our statutes, however, seem to have been expressly designed to encourage despoliation of state land purchasers. Our statute, repealed in 1895, was framed in such a way that a party desiring to purchase a piece of indemnity land, was compelled to take the risk of title to the land which he selected, but, as he could obtain no assistance from the records of the land office as kept, he was forced by the necessity of the case to seek a land attorney who could find a base before he could make his selection and consummate the purchase. This usually involved the payment of fees, often equal to the price of the land desired, and was a service that, under proper practice, was wholly unnecessary. What was the result? It now appears that many of the bases selected by these land agents were not subject to be taken, and, the title failing, the purchaser falls back upon the state and asks to be indemnified for his purchase money. The case is a hard one. He has paid for his land and the state has his money, but he has received no title to such land, and he is out the price of the land and the other sum, whatever that may be, paid to the land attorney. Even if the person whom he hired to select the land were liable, which is perhaps doubtful, he would probably prove a poor resource for his losses. The case is one of a bad statute working in combination with a bad office practice. The state, under such circumstances, imposed upon the purchaser an impossible task, if it desired to sell its land; which is reasonable to presume. When it imposed the risk of title upon the purchaser of the land he selected, the state ought to have required that the records of its land office should be kept in such a way that he could consult them, and obtain all necessary data about the land, and then, if he made mistakes, the fault being with him and not in the office, he should take the consequences. But when the fault lies not in him but in the practice of the office, forcing him to seek outside agencies, the responsibility of risk of title is inconsistent with the duty imposed upon the purchaser, and he should not be held answerable, and his purchase money should be returned to him without interest. The aim of the present land board has been to make the land office serviceable and inexpensive to those having business with it, and, under the direction and management of its efficient clerk and his subordinates, the records have been classified and arranged, indexes and notations on the maps have been made, and rules and regulations have been adopted, designed to simplify and expedite the public business, and make inexpensive the doing of business in the land department.
LOANS OF THE SCHOOL FUND
In connection with the state land, it needs to be mentioned that loans of the school funds, in many instances, owing to the hard times and overvaluation of the land, have proven bad investments and entailed losses upon the school fund. In many of these loans the borrowers have defaulted in payment of interest, and the state has been compelled to take the security and to pay the cost of foreclosure proceedings. These judgments represent, in addition to the principal loaned and the costs of suit, a large accumulation of interest, which lessens to that amount the school fund interest to be annually distributed for the education of children in our common schools. Another source of loss and annoyance is the sale of lands for taxes two or three years overdue, without notice to the board, thus entailing further expense in redeeming them. This loss ought to be obviated by such legislation as would make it unlawful to sell for taxes any securities held by the state, without proper notice to the land board in all instances, where the taxes are in default, and in such cases making it the duty of the board, upon such notice, to cause the taxes to be paid and charge the same to the interest account, and at once proceed to procure a decree with the tax included. In making collections, it has been the policy of the board to deal as leniently as circumstances would permit with debtors to the school fund, on account of the financial and industrial depression prevailing over the country, which has seriously affected the values of property and contracted the means of earning money. To loan the school fund and avoid losses is difficult. The persons composing the board, though they are capable in other walks of life, may not possess that business sense and judgment that is especially required in making loans. Their sources of information, respecting the value and sufficiency of the security offered for the loans, are through agents in the different counties, upon whose judgment they must depend, and who are liable at times to recommend loans that are not desirable, through entreaty of friends and a yielding disposition. Owing to the business depression, and the provisions of the act of 1895, which withholds indemnity school lands from sale for two years, the sale of lands has greatly fallen off. Some legislation is needed to provide for the sale of these lands, and to facilitate the selection of all lands to which the state is entitled as indemnity school lands, before these valuable lands are disposed of by the general government.
The special agent appointed to select lands under the act of 1895, has been busily engaged in this work, but the act omitting to provide for his salary and expenses should be amended in this particular, and there should be an appropriation to pay his salary and expenses for the past two years. It is highly important to the interests of the state that a proper selection of these lands shall be steadily pushed, as when confirmed to the state, the funds derived from their sale will add a very considerable sum to the irreducible school fund. Some legislation is also needed for the disposition of lands known as sand islands, in the Columbia river, which have considerable value and are much sought after for fishing purposes. For matters in regard to state lands and the school fund, I recommend to your careful consideration the reports of the clerk of the land department and the special land agent, which offer valuable suggestions and are pregnant with matters of public interest.
No other country has salmon fisheries so extensive and profitable as the states bordering the Columbia River. Oregon’s fishing interest is justly regarded as one of our leading industries. Salmon fish, canned or cured, constitute one of our principal exports and an important part of our commerce. The industry affords employment to many persons, and is the source of great revenue. Its growth and preservation is a matter of the highest importance to the welfare of our state, and no further delay, from any cause, should be permitted to obstruct the enactment of appropriate legislation to protect salmon fish from wastefulness and threatened annihilation. The present law is not satisfactory. It ought to be repealed and a law enacted that shall be sufficiently restrictive in its provisions to enforce the close seasons, and so protective in its regulations and restraints as to guard natural and artificial propagation of salmon from waste and destruction. Such a law ought also to contain a provision for joint jurisdiction over the Columbia River, if the consent and cooperation of our neighboring state can be secured. The failure to secure appropriate legislation, to this end, in 1895, emphasizes the duty of the present legislature to make an active effort to reach this result.
The report of the fish commissioner is an able and interesting document, giving in full detail all matters of importance and interest connected with the fishing industries, and making many valuable suggestions for your consideration, including remedial legislation, that are of the utmost moment to the preservation of this source of our revenue. It gives me great pleasure to commend the whole of his report to your attentive consideration, and to bear witness to the fidelity and ability with which he has performed the onerous and difficult duties of his office.
There have been several barrels of eastern oysters shipped to our state by the general government upon request of the fish commissioner, and transplanted in Yaquina bay for the purpose of propagation, with a view of ascertaining whether the oyster industry could not be made profitable in this state. There will probably be more of such oysters sent when the season is favorable for planting in other suitable places in the bays and rivers of our coast. It is important that proper legislation for their protection should be enacted at once. I recommend, also, that there be an appropriation of $1,000 for uses connected with their planting and care.
The fact is manifest that our National Guard is a well disciplined and an efficient body of troops, and that, if an emergency should arise requiring their service, the guard would respond with alacrity and behave with courage and firmness. The general government recognizes the necessity of the National Guard by its cooperation in maintaining the system in each of the states. It supplanted the old militia, and is considered to be a more economical system, and to furnish in every way a more efficient body for the suppression of riots and mobs, or other organized opposition to the law, during periods of turbulence and public disorder. The National Guard is intended as a reserve force, to be used by the state always with caution, but nevertheless with firmness, for the protection of life and property, when the civil authorities are powerless in the presence of disorderly uprisings or mob violence. There has been but one occasion when its presence was thought unnecessary and demanded by the civil authorities. This was at Astoria during the past summer. To the call the guard promptly responded, and though no collision occurred, by reason of wiser counsels prevailing, their conduct was marked by excellent discipline and soldierly behavior. Their presence at Astoria involved a fundamental principle of government. It is the duty of the state to protect personal liberty as well as property. A man may work or not work, as he may choose, not under penal restraint. He has a right to make his own contract and serve whom is his pleasure, consistent with public policy: and any man, or organization of men, who, through menace, threat, or force, interferes or prevents him from the enjoyment of these privileges, is a violator of the law and an enemy of his country. Such interference is a deadly blow at personal liberty, guaranteed by our constitution, and its toleration is inimical to free government. It will not be possible for our state, so greatly in need of capital, to develop it varied and abundant resources and to offer an inviting field for the investment of capital, unless it steely maintains its constitutional guaranty to protect alike all property and secure to every man the right to pursue his daily work without molestation. But, in saying this, I must add, that I favor conciliatory methods of interference through state officials to bring about an adjustment of differences between capital and labor, which shall be fair and honorable to all parties.
It is to the credit of the National Guard that, to save any additional expense to the state, the suggestion that its expenses, while doing duty at Astoria, be taken out of the fund for their maintenance, was acceded to, requiring the troops to forego an encampment and other military matters quite essential to their comfort, equipment, and discipline. The guard is composed of excellent young men, who come from the people, and their enlistment is prompted by a patriotic spirit to serve and defend their state and its institutions. Their presence is a pledge for good order and an assurance that the executive is able faithfully to execute the laws. Their officers are capable and discreet men, to whom much credit is due for the discipline and high state of efficiency of the guard. Time will not permit me to make personal reference, and for details I respectfully invite your attention to the report of the adjutant-general, which gives a full account of military matters.
The merits of this institution, and its benefits to the old soldiers, are too well known to require comment. The management of its affairs through a board of trustees has been careful and economical. But, in my judgment, there is no need of a board to overlook its condition and affairs. The board ought to be abolished, and some of its members concur in this opinion. It would be much better that the executive should appoint the commandment upon whom would devolve the duty and responsibility of the management of the affairs of the institution, subject to supervision by the governor, who would make regular inspections through some member of his staff, thoroughly qualified for the duty. This system would put the home in contact with the department to which it is related, without being subject to military law, and secure a thorough inspection of its affairs at regular intervals, or on special occasions, as might be necessary, by a competent officer. This plan would doubtless be more satisfactory to all concerned, would enforce strict accountability of its officers, and secure an economical and efficient administration of its affairs, consistent with the needs and comforts of its inmates.
One of the largest interests of our state, and the source of much of its wealth, is the cultivation of the soil. Anything that increases its productions, aids in the development of the state. As connected with farming, horticulture is a profitable adjunct, and the interest now being manifested in the culture of fruits promises to develop a leading industry, diversifying farming, and adding greatly to our wealth. Such being the case, horticulture should be encouraged, under such regulations as will be productive of the best results. For a comprehensive treatment of this subject, I invite your attention to the able report of the board of horticulture, and recommend that sufficient funds be appropriated for the continuance of this valuable work, as essential to the best interests of the state.
The frequent destruction of our forests by firs, caused by carelessness or design, should be stopped. Their preservation is a matter of great importance, and, if something is not done to prevent it, great injury will result to our timber interests. This is a subject that demands your attention, and some means must be devised for better enforcement of our laws.
This is a subject of considerable interest to the people of the eastern part of our state. We have many acres of land, known as arid lands, that could be made wonderfully productive and profitable under the fertilizing influence of irrigation. The problem of water supply for these waste places is becoming every day more pressing, but its solution is confronted with many difficulties. Whatever law should be enacted, great care should be taken to protect the interests of the people and prevent them from being seized under the guise of public good by private corporations for speculative purposes.
There is at this time an active interest being taken in the subject of good roads. The movement should be encouraged. Good roads are of such public utility and importance, and are of such general interest, that measures, designed to secure them, will be submitted for your consideration and action. Our present law is lamentably behind the age in the matter of road improvements; it ought to be gotten rid of and some other adopted looking to a systematic effort to improve our public highways. A new system should be provided. All road taxes should be paid in money, and the present system of working out road taxes at extravagant wages, under supervisors often selected without reference to their qualifications, should cease. I earnestly beg your attention to this subject, in the hope that you will bring about some legislation that will result in securing the improvement of our roads.
The general diffusion of knowledge is the best guaranty of the stability of republican institutions. Their safety and prosperity depends on the spread of knowledge among the masses. The fact is now recognized that intelligence in communities is essential to social progress and political reform, is conducive to sobriety and industry, and serves to establish justice and promote the public interests. As a means of disseminating intelligence, our common schools are most active and potent factors. There are no other instrumentalities comparable with them for the accomplishment of this object. They seek to increase the general average of human intelligence by the education of the rising generation, and in this way to elevate the citizen and strengthen the state. The state cannot neglect its educational interests, without loss of public intelligence and detriment to its well-being. It is gratifying to know, that the subject of education always attracts much attention from the legislature, on account of its importance in the development of an intelligent citizenship and a progressive civilization. How to devise a system of education that shall extend its opportunities and benefits to all the children of the state, without entailing too heavy a load on the taxpayer, is a problem not often easy of solution. A law, simple in its provisions and inexpensive in its arrangements, is what our state needs for the attainment of this object. Our present school law has become a clumsy and costly contrivance from too frequent patching by way of amendments, some of which seem to have no reference to its symmetry or general design, and always providing, as a condition precedent, for the payment of fees that serve no educational purpose, and are an unjust tax on the teacher. The whole law ought to be repealed, and a new law enacted, embracing its meritorious provisions, leaving out what is defective and useless, and including such other provisions as will make an efficient and an inexpensive common school system, relatively considered.
It is impossible to enter upon details, and probably unnecessary at this time, as there are assurances that some of our educators will present these matters to the consideration of the legislature. There is, however, serious need for reform in the method of issuing state certificates, diplomas, and life diplomas. If the number of these documents issued by the present board even approximately represents the number issued by our predecessors, they must be scattered over the state “thick as leaves in Vallombrosia,” and worth but little more as evidence of capability for teaching. The original design of the law was simple and excellent. It contemplated that the board of education should appoint a board of examiners, composed of men trained in practical teaching and of scholarly attainments, who were to meet at the capital twice a year, for the purpose of examining applicants for teachers’ certificates and diplomas, and recommend to the board such teachers as became entitled to them. By this method the state secures the service of trained men to select teachers, and the diplomas issued on their recommendation by the board would be of value to their possessors, as affording some guaranty of their fitness and qualification. Such examinations would tend to weed out incompetence and secure a high grade of teachers for our public schools, and thus prove of incalculable benefit to the children of our state. To pay the expenses of these examiners, the law provides fees of $10, $6, and $4, respectively, for life diplomas, state diplomas, and state certificates, and, if any money remain, after the payment of such expenses, it is to be held, or appropriated, the board for educational purposes. Though examiners have been appointed, they were never convened, as a body, but have examined applicants at their respective residences, under instructions from the superintendent of public instruction. Nor do they furnish the board with lists of questions for distribution to the county superintendents. The authority for this mode of administering the law is without validity, and receives its chief warrant from the custom or usage of the superintendent’s office. The fees paid by the teachers are appropriated by the superintendent, after paying such sums to the examiners, as may be agreed upon between them. These fees in the aggregate amount to a large sum yearly, over $3,00, and their proper disposition has been the cause of controversy between the superintendent and the other members of the board. In consequence of this, in the fall of 1895, a rule was made on the superintendent, requiring him to report to the board the number of diplomas and certificates issued, the amount of fees collected for them, what disposition, if any, had been made of such fees, and to turn over to the board any and all fees that he had on hand, in order that the board might appropriate then to the objects contemplated by the school law.
To this order the superintendent replied that he had kept no record of the number of diplomas and certificates issued, nor the moneys that he had collected for them, but that the sums retained by him did not exceed in the aggregate $1,000; that the fees belonged to him, and that, in taking them, he was sustained by the practice of former superintendents. He also disclaimed any intention of violating the law, or of wrongdoing, of which we freely acquit him, basing his right to appropriate them on the custom of the superintendent’s office, which he thought justified his right to them. There can be no doubt, if the law, expressly or implied, intends that the superintendent shall have these fees, they belong to him; but, unless it does so, no practice or precedent of the superintendent’s office can give validity to his converting them to his own use. To my mind there is not one iota of authority to use these fees for any other purpose than indicated by the law, under the direction of the board, and every dollar diverted into the private pocket of the superintendent is a misappropriation of educational funds, notwithstanding the custom or practice of his predecessors. This is not a case where fees are authorized by law, which the officer is entitled to collect and appropriate until the law is repealed or declared unconstitutional. I regret the necessity which compels me to make reference to these matters, and I only do so because, under my interpretation of the law, there arises a responsibility for the performance of a public duty which I cannot ignore or disregard. At any rate, these fees are too large, if the present practice of their distribution and appropriations to be continued, and ought to be reduced one half, namely, to five, three, and two dollars, respectively, for life and state diplomas and certificates, in justice to the teachers who pay them out of their hard-earned money. On the other hand, if the law is to be carried out, and the state is to have a board of trained examiners, whose expenses are to be paid out of the fees derived from the diplomas and certificates issued upon the recommendation of such examiners, the fees are not too large and no alteration should be made in them. It is to be hoped this matter, and all others connected with the school law, will receive that attention and consideration which its importance to the public interest demands. It gives me pleasure to say that the superintendent has entered with enthusiasm upon the performance of his duties, and that he has successfully conducted institutes in all sections of the state, by means of which teachers have been stimulated to greater activity. For details of school matters, I refer you to the superintendent’s report, which deals comprehensively with them.
The object of the normal schools is to furnish teachers for our common schools. The scope of their work includes special instruction in those branches of education which are taught in the public schools, and thorough training in the science of teaching. The effect of their work, when successfully prosecuted, is to increase the usefulness of the teacher and elevate the standard of our public schools. Our normal schools are a useful and indispensable adjunct to our common school system. Without them we cannot expect to have young men and women trained and equipped to supply the demand of our local schools. It is gratifying to know that the value of normal training is recognized by our people, and that the work of the normal schools is progressing satisfactorily, and resulting in great benefit to our common schools. Let them be held strictly to the true object of their work, and aloof from educating in other branches, or for other purposes, than training experts for teaching; then their success is assured and their expense will probably be greatly reduced.
There are those who think our university should not receive financial support, while there are others who think it is bad policy and worse economy to withhold from it any needed aid. It is no doubt true that taxation is for the general benefit, and that objects of its fostering care should conserve the public good. But the fact that comparatively few can enjoy the university’s advantages is not conclusive that its benefits are not for the public welfare. If the university is an essential part of our educational system in conducing to the progress and development of our state, and to the prosperity and intellectual greatness of the people, it is of general benefit and entitled to receive public support. The university aims to furnish such an education as will enable those, always the few, who possess the requisite abilities, to become useful citizens and leaders of thought in the professions, in statesmanship, in the various branches of learning, in philanthropy and works of charity, in promoting industrial projects and conducting commercial enterprises, and in devising methods for the moral and political advancement of the people. Its existence is due to recognition of the fact that the state needs captains in every department of life, affecting human happiness and welfare, and that, as a means to this end, it should provide an institution of learning whose course of study would lay the foundation to supply them: and perhaps too, some of those benefactors of our race, whose enlightened influences shall hereafter be traced in the improved condition of our species, and in the increased prestige and power of our state. The state cannot afford to wait or depend on local enterprise, or church organizations, to establish and maintain institutions of learning, splendid and worthy as have been their efforts and success, for the accomplishment of these great objects of public concern. The crown of our educational system is the university. We should strive to lift it to a plane where it may compete with similar institutions of other states, and save our children the necessity and expense of going abroad to acquire a higher education. It is entitled to receive the financial aid and fostering care of the state. Money spent to further its legitimate aims and ends, is not a gratuity but a good investment for the state. These do not include a preparatory department or school, or commercial adjuncts for bookkeeping, but the curriculum should be confined strictly to a university course. The use of money to pay the expenses of such departments is a diversion of the funds of the university and ought to be discontinued. At the present time there are over three hundred students at the university, and only about one hundred, or a third of them, are pursuing a university course. The other two thirds, or two hundred, are students in the preparatory department. This is all wrong, and in conflict with the idea of a university, and involves expense which, if taken from the funds appropriated to the university, is a misappropriation of such funds, and an unjust burden on the people. These departments, not included within the aim of a university, should be cut off and disestablished, and the university made to fulfill its true mission in education. It will then become an active, compact, and potential factor in advancing the cause of civilization and the betterment of man. It will also have the effect greatly to reduce expenses, and put the institution upon an economical working basis. There will then be ample room and accommodations in the present buildings for all purposes, and the work of the professors can be distributed, and their number reduced by cutting off all supernumeraries. Free scholarship should be abolished, and a reasonable fee should be charged for tuition. The student, who wants something for nothing, lacks the stimulus and pride for a university education. It is to be hoped that, under the wise administration of its able president and his accomplished coadjutors, such measures will be inaugurated as will give the right direction to the true aims of the university, and make it a splendid, successful, and famous institution of learning.
It is the life and prosperity of our country to keep up and maintain its institutions, dedicated to the work of education in all its departments, to their utmost efficiency, although it may require some expenditure of the public revenue. Our people, to a large extent, are engaged in agricultural and industrial pursuits. A sound, practical education along the lines of these callings or vocations is a need of our people, and its benefits to the state cannot be overestimated. To fill this want is the object of our agricultural college in our educational system. Its chief end and aim is to give its students a thorough agricultural and mechanical training, as distinct from college or university courses. It is a different education in practical results from a university education, but is not in conflict with it. In this age when so many industrial projects require mechanical or scientific education for their management, the agricultural college affords excellent opportunities for acquiring such an education. It is gratifying to know that the present management of our agricultural college has been attended with unusual success, and that its results in all departments are highly satisfactory. The increased attendance is evidence of its popularity, and a forecast of its usefulness. While the recommendations of the officers for the various institutions of learning are entitled to much consideration, you must keep constantly in view the finances of the state in granting appropriations to them. The appropriations should be limited to the strictest economy consistent with the usefulness of the institutions.
DEAF-MUTE AND BLIND SCHOOLS
It has often occurred to me that it would have been far better for the deaf-mutes and blind, and cheaper for the state, to have delayed several years the building of our present institutions for them, and to have sent these unfortunates to some old established school, fully equipped in all its departments, embracing many branches of art and trade, presided over by skilled teachers, always difficult to procure in a new country, and affording many advantages that new institutions cannot provide. Some states find it much cheaper and more satisfactory to pursue this policy than to maintain such institutions. Among the causes leading to the premature building of such institutions, are the creation of new offices and places, and the increase of appropriations that serve to stimulate local business, These are considerations, though, which come too late to be of benefit, but they may serve to show the necessity of intelligent and economical management of the affairs of such institutions. It is not contended that these unfortunate people are not entitled to the deepest sympathy and liberal support, because of their helpless and dependent condition. This is especially true of the blind, who are shut out from all recourse to the beauties of nature, or works of art, which are a source of so much mental elevation and pleasure, and must grope their way through life in darkness and ignorance, except as by training they may be made to advance in learning, and to comprehend the beautiful in nature and in art. Not quite so unfortunate, but equally worthy of your kindness consideration, are the deaf-mutes, some of whom possess great quickness of parts, and a mental capacity that, when trained, makes them useful and self-supporting citizens and leaders in some departments of business. It is the duty of the state to make ample provision for these unfortunates, and to afford them every facility for their improvement and the betterment of their condition, consistent with an economical management. The superintendents of these institutions are strenuously endeavoring to carry out the objects of their schools, for the benefit and improvement of the pupils, and the results thus far are satisfactory.
The need of a registration law in our larger towns is so manifest that there is almost a universal demand for the enactment of such a law. There seems to be an impression that our Supreme Court, in White v. Commissioners, 13 Or. 317, laid down a rule that would render any registry law might be devised unconstitutional. Though I do not concur in the reasoning of the opinion, (which I think is able, and which, I believe, has been the subject of undue criticism,) it is manifest, from the concurring opinion in the result and the dissenting opinion, that the majority of the court thought that a registry law could be enacted that would be constitutional. My own view is that where the constitution confers a political right without designating the manner in which such right is to be exercised, it carries by implication sufficient procedure to ascertain in whom the right exists, for its orderly exercise or enjoyment; but that procedure must be subordinate to the right; it must not impair or destroy it. In other words, that the legislature may regulate the exercise of such political right, but in doing so, it must not embarrass, impair, or destroy it. This is what I understand to be the effect of the decision in Capen v. Foster, 12 Pick. 488, to which reference was made in the concurring opinion. The constitution of Massachusetts confers the right of suffrage, but does not designate the mode of its exercise. In construing the constitution so as to warrant the legislature in adopting reasonable regulations for the exercise of the right to vote, Mr. C. J. Shaw, in that case, was careful to put this limitation on the power of the legislature. He said: “Such a construction would afford no warrant for such an exercise of legislative power as, under the pretense or color of regulating, should subvert or injuriously restrain the right itself.” This is what I thought our law did, impair, injuriously restrain, etc., the right itself, and hence the law was unconstitutional, and necessarily I concurred in the result, though through a mode of reasoning which was not inconsistent with a registry law. I think a registry law could be enacted that would be constitutional.
The business of the Supreme Court has increased so rapidly that the court is now behind more than two years in the hearing of cases. It is imperative that some relief should be afforded the court, so that a prompt hearing and adjudication of causes may be obtained. It is thought that our constitution limits the Supreme Court to three judges, and, if this is so, there is no means of increasing the number of judges, except by amendment, which would require too much time for its adoption, to afford the desired relief. To remedy this condition of affairs, the appointment of a commission is proposed, to serve for a term of four years, to assist the court in hearing and deciding cases, in the expectation that within that period its docket will be cleared, and, in the mean time, if the proper steps are taken to secure the adoption of an amendment, so as to increase the number of judges, then there will be no future accumulation of causes. This proposition does not impress me favorably. Such a commission, will double the expenses of the court, and its creation should be avoided on the ground of economy, if there is any other way of affording the court immediate relief. My own plan is: first, to enact a law that shall limit appeals in civil cases to the Supreme Court to those involving title to real estate, or matters affecting the public revenue, the construction of the constitution of the state or of the United States, or where question of franchise is raised, or where the amount of the judgment exceeds $500; second, require the court to file written opinions only in cases where the judgment or decree of the lower court is reversed, leaving it optional with the court to write and file opinions in cases affirmed. The records of the Supreme Court show that about thirty per cent of the cases appealed are under $500, varying from less than $50 to that sum. The fact that the court is over two years behind in its work, serves as an inducement to appeal cases in many instances, to delay justice, or cause vexation and expense. It thus tends to encourage litigation and breed discord in the community. That chronic argument that every citizen should have the right to appeal, no matter how small the sum, is entitled to little consideration. The community should not be taxed several hundred dollars to gratify two obstinate men in bandying some trivial matter through the courts when its merits can be fully considered and decided in the circuit court as a court of last resort. The effect, then, of limiting appeals to the Supreme Court as indicated, would be to cut down one third of the appealable cases, which would be a great gain. The second proposition, namely, that of leaving it optional with the court to write opinions in cases affirmed, would rapidly relieve the court of the present congestion of cases, and enable it to keep pace with its work, and afford it more time for the preparation of opinions in cases where important principles are involved. Of the value of this plan and its effectiveness for relief of Supreme Courts, Mr. Justice Kinne, of the Supreme Court of Iowa, in an address delivered before the Iowa State Bar Association, said: “ This plan is followed in several states with much satisfaction to all parties, and it is impossible to discover any valid argument against it. Take a recent Iowa report, and we find one hundred and fifty-three cases therein, of which one hundred and eleven were affirmed, and forty-two reversed. Of those affirmed, more than three fourths of the opinions were based upon and following previous cases, and the opinions contain nothing of value as precedents. The only excuse for writing opinions in such a multitude of cases is that our statute requires it. If the legislature in its wisdom would so change the law as to permit, in all cases of affirmance, a note of the decision to be entered in the announcement book without more, the vexed question of relieving the Supreme Court of this state of the great burden of cases which come to it would be solved for many years to come, and that without the creation of an additional office, or the addition of a dollar’s expense to the burdens of the taxpayers.”
Under this plan, the sum for appealable cases might be reduced to $250, though the sum named is better, and still relief be furnished the court, without the creation of an additional office or the addition of a dollar’s expense to the taxpayer. The reason I recommend that the legislature authorize the court to dispense with the writing of opinions in affirmed cases, is to give the practice the weight of legislative sanction, and spare the court the dissent that possibly might be made by some members of the bar, accustomed to the present practice, if the court should adopt the practice of its own volition. I do not understand that the section of our constitution, requiring that “the judges shall file with the secretary of state concise written statements of the decisions made,” prohibits the adoption of this practice. The “decision” of a court is its judgment; its “opinion,” the reasons given therefore. The difference is marked. The decision is recorded upon its rendition, and can be changed only through an application to the court. The opinion is the property of the judges, subject to modification until transcribed in the records: Huston v. Williams, 13 Cal. Our judges may, if they so chose, adopt the practice recommended, without violation of the constitution, and without legislative authorization. It is better, though, that the act which shall limit appeals to such sum as you may specify, should direct the adoption of this practice, for the reasons mentioned, which, I am sure, would be more satisfactory to all parties.
The organization of new counties and an increase in the population has led to the creation of more circuit judges than are warranted by the requirements of public justice or the interests of economy. The work of the different judges is notoriously unequal. In the first district, where the population is rural, and (according to the state census) numbers only twenty-three thousand five hundred and thirty-seven, there are two judges, while in the adjoining district, which has much greater business activities, there is a population of fifty-two thousand and seventy-nine, with one judge. In the sixth district there are but two counties with only fifteen thousand nine hundred and sixty-eight inhabitants, and one judge, while in the third district there are seventy-five thousand and nineteen people, with two judges. Again, in the ninth district there are only three counties, with a population of nine thousand two hundred and forty-eight and no large town, with one circuit judge, while in the fifth district there is only one judge to a population of fifty-three thousand six hundred and thirteen, almost six times as great, and including towns of considerable size, full of business activities, and much more exposed to criminal litigation. There is needed but one judge in the first district, with another county added, and then his work would not be equal to the work of the judges in the second and fifth districts. Two circuit judges only are needed in the fourth district, with another county added to it. The powers of the municipal judge in Portland might be increased and broadened. Instead of fourteen, there are only ten circuit judges needed to do judicial duty, if the districts were readjusted and the labor equalized. Upon this subject I know my recommendations are practical, feasible, and economical, but I own, I am not confident of their adoption.
The office of attorney general is important in its relations to the public service and its abolition would be detrimental to it. The supposition that its duties are not arduous and not needed is a serious mistake. This officer is kept almost constantly employed in advising and furnishing written opinions to the various officers, boards, and commissions, and in trying appeal cases in the Supreme Court. It is true that his opinion is only advisory, but that fact makes it none the less valuable nor furnishes a reason for dispensing with it. He has administered his office with promptness, fidelity and ability, and its continuance is required by the interests of the public service.
As a matter of economy and justice, the state salary of the district attorneys ought to be abolished. These officers are paid fees, whenever they appear for the state or county, which, in some of the districts, amount to a sum far in excess of the combined salaries of all the judges of the Supreme Court, and no injustice would be done them in cutting off their state salary. This would compensate for the office of the Attorney General, upon whom devolve many of the duties that formerly were wholly attached to their offices. In the interests of economy, I think, the district attorneys will sanction this suggestion.
Between the appointment of a commission, and the continuing of the present number of circuit judges, and the salary of district attorneys, and the system I recommend for the Supreme Court, the reduction of circuit judges, and the abolition of the salaries for district attorneys, there will be a saving to the state of $30,000 a year, and equally as faithful and efficient service.
At present our law requires a unanimous verdict of the jury in civil and criminal cases. The failure to obtain a unanimous verdict is often the cause of mistrials, which greatly increase the expenses of the courts and of litigants, would not be better conserved, if the agreement of two thirds or three fourths of a jury upon a verdict should be sufficient in civil cases.
The burden on our taxpayers under our system of taxing costs has become so grievous that some relief must be afforded them by this legislature. It is not believed that our officials are not honestly performing their duties, or that the evil complained of lies in the administration of he law, but in the law itself, and, until it shall be radically changed, there can be no effective reform in the system, or relief afforded our overburdened taxpayers. Under our laws, in all criminal prosecutions before a justice of the peace, or before the grand jury, with a few slight exceptions, where the prosecution is unsuccessful, or where, if successful, the costs cannot be made out of the defendant, which is commonly the case, all the legal costs, including officers’ fees, jail fees, and fees of witnesses, are paid by the county; and to these costs must be added the costs in all misdemeanors and felony cases where there is a dismissal or nolle prosequi, or where, for any cause, the defendant is discharged before indictment, or after indictment and before verdict. It thus appears, except in the few cases where costs may be disallowed because of the frivolous or malicious nature of the prosecution, that the costs of criminal prosecutions are practically guaranteed by the county, with the obvious result of encouraging useless prosecutions, which is a radical fault of the system. As a matter of fact, the costs are taxed to, and paid by, the county, even in cases where the prosecution is successful and the judgment for them is enforceable against the defendant, but, as the county can only be indemnified for its costs by the collection of such judgment through its officers, and as they, having already been paid their fees, are apt to forget its existence, the judgment is allowed to become dormant or fall into “innocuous desuetude.” Another fault of the system, which is the cause of much expense, comes from multiplying hearings or trials. Before a defendant can have a trial which is to determine his guilt or innocence, he must pass through three stages of examination or trial. First, there is the preliminary hearing before the justice of the peace, who, if he finds evidence of probable guilt, binds the accused over to the court; second, the hearing before the grand jury; and, if they find a “true bill,” then comes, third, his final trial in the criminal court. Nothing short of a radical reform in our system of criminal costs can furnish the relief demanded: how to accomplish this result is the question. I would recommend that a joint committee of three or five persons be appointed, composed of men able and competent to examine the laws of other states, such as Georgia and some others, where important reforms have been effected, greatly decreasing the expense of costs in criminal cases, to report what changes, if any, are needed in our system, or report a bill making such changes as will furnish the desired relief.
BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND LEGISLATIVE APPOINTMENTS TO OFFICE
Our scheme of government contemplates a division of powers into three great departments, known as the legislative, executive, and judicial. It is intended that these departments shall be separate and independent in the exercise of their functions, and any infraction of the principle which confines each to its own appropriate sphere of action, is inconsistent with the spirit of our institutions, and an encroachment on the prerogatives of the department affected by it. Moreover, where this division of power and responsibility is strictly maintained, no department interfering with the action of any other, but each moving in the circle of its activity in conformity with the general design, there can be no confusion of authority, and every department will be answerable for the conduct of its own affairs. But, while these departments act independently, and exercise different unctions, in subordination to the general plan, they constitute one government, whose strength and symmetry lies in the preservation intact of this division of power and responsibility. Hence, any action of one department in assuming duties that belong to another, or in transferring to some board or commission duties that belong to one of the other departments, whether sanctioned by custom or otherwise, is a usurpation which is inexcusable, and ought to be summarily condemned. This confusion of authority, too, has the tendency to divide responsibility, which, experience has proven, is inimical to good government.
At the present time there are several boards, composed of the executive, the secretary of state, and the state treasurer, and the two former with the superintendent of public instruction, who are invested with authority to appoint superintendents to the various institutions of the state, and these superintendents, under the supervision of such boards, manage these institutions and administer their affairs. These boards are known as the trustees of the asylum, of the reform school, of the deaf-mute school, of the blind school, the domestic animal commission, and others not now recalled. These boards are invested with the power of appointing the superintendents, (who cannot appoint their subordinates without the board’s consent,) and of making rules and regulations for the government and management of the affairs of the institutions not inconsistent with our laws. In effect, the board administers the law regulating the management of such institutions through the superintendents, when the full responsibility of the administration of their affairs under the law ought to devolve on the superintendents, subject to such supervision by the governor as may be embraced in his constitutional duty “ to take care the laws be faithfully executed.” Every officer, in discharging his duties under a law, is its administrator. Upon him ought to rest the full responsibility of the faithful discharge of his duties, and the economic management of the institution committed to his charge. There can then be no bandying of responsibility between him and the board. The superintendent will be personally accountable for his conduct in the discharge of his trust. He will be rid of the ugly task of trying to balance his official conduct to suit the idiosyncrasies of three members of a board, which is always impossible of performance; for, it is a scriptural saying that a man cannot serve two masters; ergo, he cannot serve three. The truth is, a divided authority is inimical to economic and responsible government. Nor is there a public need of such boards, which fact, of itself, should be sufficient to demand their abolition. There is no place in the scheme of our government for their existence. The legislature has no authority to create boards and invest them with authority to appoint public officers to discharge important duties that concern state affairs. The power to appoint belongs to the executive department, or to the people, by election. The legislature has no legal right to exercise such power, much less to delegate it to a board or commission. It goes to the full extent of its powers, when it provides by law for the election of officers by the people, or their appointment by the governor, as may be deemed best, when not prescribed by the constitution, and to declare their duties and responsibility in the conduct and management of such institutions. It is on this principle that the superintendent of the penitentiary is appointed and discharges the duties of his office. He directs, manages, and superintends the affairs of the penitentiary on the same principle that others discharge the duties of their office. He appoints his subordinates, who are subject to his direction and authority. The responsibility of managing the institution, economically and effectively, devolves upon him, subject to the supervision of the executive. What possible use, then, can there be for a board? There is none. A board is a mischievous administrative instrumentality, because its effect is to divide responsibility, destroy the symmetry of our governmental system, trench on the prerogatives of the executive, and injuriously affect the management of the institutions.
But, it has been said, the object in creating these boards was to increase the salary of the governor, (although the other members of the board are allowed the same compensation), the implication being that, to raise it directly and commensurately with the duties and responsibilities of the executive office, would be unpopular and unconstitutional. The supposition is absurd. The passing of an act to effect indirectly an increase of the salary of an officer ought to be more unpopular than the passing of an act which directly increases it. If the people will consent or submit that the increase should be effected through the agency of a board, they will not object that it should be accomplished by a direct increase of salary, which only affords him reasonable compensation for his services. Nor is the objection to an act directly increasing the salary of the governor of any constitutional weight. It is entirely within the constitutional province of the legislature to raise the salary to such sum as is just and proper in its judgment, and the best lawyers and judges, some of whom served in the convention that framed the constitution, have expressed opinions on this subject with a unanimity that could not exist if there were any doubt of the constitutional power of the legislature to do so. It is not the salaries of officers that embarrass the operation of government, or burden the people with excessive taxation. It is “jobs,” wasteful practices, lavish and unnecessary public expenditures, pillaging state contracts, useless boards and commissions, freebooting the treasury with fictitious claims and needless appropriations, that put an unjust burden upon the people, and serve to retard the growth, development, and prosperity of the state. The state is entitled to honest, efficient, and intelligent service, and no detriment comes to it, or disadvantage to its people, by awarding a high compensation for such service. But, so far as I am personally concerned, if you cannot give me a reasonable salary without continuance of these boards, then I say, abolish the boards and let the salary go. It is vastly more important that these boards be abolished, and that an end be put to a system that affords temptation to favoritism and opportunity for the existence of abuses.
The offices of food and dairy commissioner and veterinary surgeon should be consolidated into one office under the latter, at his present salary, and the domestic animal commission should be abolished. This would secure a better service and effect a saving alone of $2,000 a year. Nor is there any need of a railroad commission, composed of three members. One commissioner, with a clerk, is enough, if the office is of any public benefit. In any event, either abolish the commission, or cut its number down to one. There is, too, the board of equalization, which is composed of excellent men, desirous of serving the interests that was the object of its creation; but it is greatly doubted whether the board is rendering a useful service and its abolition is not desirable. Its expense is considerable, but that is a consideration for which the public receives an equivalent, if the board is successful in equalizing taxes. It seems to me that it would be better to have a board composed of three members, appointed by the executive, whose duties should be confined to equalizing the state tax between the counties, leaving the matter of taxation for county purposes wholly to the counties. A board, composed of representatives from different districts, may be swayed by influences that are disqualifying for the impartial duties of equalization, because its members are apt to feel a local pride in guarding the interests of their respective districts. At any rate, the equalization of taxes is a matter of high importance and interest, and it is for you to determine, after careful consideration, whether the present board merits a continuance or deserves extinction of official life. To avoid further enumeration in detail, I earnestly recommend that you abolish all boards, commissions, and offices that do not serve a useful public purpose, and thus cut off the unnecessary expense of their longer continuance.
Let me repeat that, while the appointment of officers by the legislature is not so objectionable, as empowering boards to exercise such authority, it is nevertheless wrong in principle and of doubtful validity, though sanctioned by custom and sustained by some judicial precedents. The courts, as the cases will disclose, have sanctioned legislative appointments with reluctance, and under circumstances which furnish the explanation and justification of their decision. In the late case of Eddy v. Kincaid, 28 Or. 559, where the question involved was the power of the legislature to appoint railroad commissioners, Chief Justice Bean said: “we feel constrained to hold the act constitutional, although, if the question was one of first impression, the court, as at present organized, might probably hold otherwise.” It was on account of the reasons and circumstances to which the chief justice alluded, and the hesitation which a judge always feels in declaring an act of the legislature unconstitutional, that the court was induced to uphold the act and thus sanction legislative appointments to office. That the court felt such appointments to be of doubtful constitutional propriety, as an original question, is emphatically announced, and it must be conclusively inferred that the court felt that all laws authorizing the legislature to exercise such function ought to be repealed. How much more objectionable, then, is the delegation of such power to a board. The truth is, the power to appoint to office, when not lodged in the people, belongs to the executive. It is a prerogative of his office, and needs no express declaration in the constitution to establish it. The legislature ought not to make any appointments, except of officers of its own body. The logical consequence to which the exercise of the power by the legislature may be carried furnishes the strongest argument for its abolition. For, if it be a legislative function, then there is no limit to the power of the legislature to select officers, or to create offices and fill them, when required for the public service, except such officers as derive their title from the constitution. Upon this theory, the legislature may absorb all power to appoint officers for the public service, or to manage the state institutions, except the few named in the constitution. Instead of appointing, as now, the railroad commissioners, the state librarian, the game warden, the food commissioners, etc., the legislature could extend the list by appointing superintendents of the penitentiary, the asylum, the reform school, and others, when required for the public service. Such a grant of power to the legislature was never contemplated by our constitution, and is consistent with its spirit and letter, and the further exercise of it ought to be stopped at once and vested where it properly belongs, either in the people or in their executive. Such a change would be of incalculable importance to the members of this legislature. Your every step would not be hounded by the persistent office seeker; much of your time would be saved for legislative service, which is your legitimate duty; vote-trading, and combinations to assist political friends or pay off political debts, would come to an end; you would find yourselves in the possession of the disposition, and the opportunity, to perform your legislative duties with fidelity and deliberation, which, I hope, would include the adoption of the reforms already suggested, and to be mentioned, which reforms, I confidently believe, when enacted into law, would be so pregnant with public benefits as would embalm the memory of this legislature in the hearts of a grateful constituency.
Bills for the appropriation of public money should be submitted to your body a sufficient length of time before the end of the session to afford ample opportunity for their scrutiny, and the exclusion of all unnecessary disbursements. The practice of delaying their introduction until the last hours of the session, when the members have no time carefully to examine the items, not the executive to exercise his veto, without defeating needed appropriations, is thoroughly vicious, and a fraud upon the public service. In this way unnecessary appropriations are secured, lavish public expenditures are encouraged, and the interests of the people are disregarded. The conditions, which confront us, emphasize the necessity of rigid economy. No money should be appropriated that is not essential to the public service and the necessity for which is not clearly shown to your satisfaction. The practice of distributing the public money to various institutions of a private character, or, at least, nor under state control, nor responsible to the state for the manner of its expenditure, meritorious as may be the object of such institutions, is an inducement to multiply their number, and encourage every imaginable scheme for obtaining funds from the public treasury. Where appropriations for such purposes are permitted to pass unchallenged, there will always be the temptation to organize various enterprises, as institutions of a quasi-public character, and fasten them on the body politic, to secure appropriations for stimulating local interests, or booming speculative projects. All such appropriations are wrong in principle, and ought to be discontinued. Not a dollar of the public funds should be appropriated for the support of any institution not accountable to the state, and organized to serve the public interests. Not a dollar should be appropriated even for the support of public institutions whose existence and maintenance are essential to the public welfare, until the necessity of the appropriation asked is made plain, and its amount is clearly shown to be indispensable to the general welfare. Adopt this rule, and apply it to the purposes for which you are asked to make appropriations, and there will be no funds to use for lavish expenditures, or to support wasteful and extravagant practices; and, from the necessity of the case, economy and good business management will pervade every department of the state and its institutions.
When appropriations are limited to actual public needs, and the state’s expenses are rigidly kept within the appropriations, the state is conducting its business on the same principles of economy and good judgment as govern prudent men in the management of their private affairs. It is pursuing methods which will secure good government, economically administered, as certainly as the same practices will bring prosperity and stability to private business establishments. We may affirm, then, that, when the institutions of the state and its affairs are conducted on business principles, there will be no deficiencies that are not the result of unforeseen exigencies or mistaken judgment, no debts contracted that can be avoided, or that are not demanded for the public good, no expense permitted that is not authorized, no employment where none is needed, and all employment will be based on reasonable compensation for the services rendered.
To reach this desirable condition of affairs, there is no way so direct and efficient, as the limitation of appropriations to the actual needs shown to exist, and the denial of appropriations for deficiencies, unless caused by some unexpected emergency, or a plain showing that the amount appropriated was insufficient for actual and necessary expenses. The custom or habit of allowing deficiencies to occur, in the expectation that the legislature will, without inquiry, and as a matter of course, make appropriations to cover them, ought to receive a good, hard bump against the bedrock of legislative economy and good sense; and another custom, thought lately to be in vogue, of devising schemes to expend an appropriation when its legitimate uses would leave a surplus to lapse in the treasury, is still worse, and deserves the severest reprehension.
When the legislature shall take any effective mode to ascertain how many persons are employed in a department or institution, the salaries or wages paid its officers and employees, the nature and amount of work performed by them, the kind and quantity of food consumed, the methods of procuring supplies, the extent and variety of purchases, the expense of growing grain or stock, the cost of raising a head of cabbage or a beet, the means for economizing food, clothing, fuel, and drugs, and carefully scrutinize all matters and things connected with the support and expenditures of such department or institution, as a business man would who expected to provide funds for the same, you will then get at the bottom of their needs, and be prepared to estimate their expenses and the amount of appropriation necessary for their support and maintenance. This kind of scrutiny is always beneficial to the public service. It tends to weed out the incompetent or corrupt official, and reward the capable and honest. An upright official stands in no dread of a rigid scrutiny of his affairs. If any of our heads of department or superintendents of institutions, have pursued vicious methods in doing the public business, or have been guilty of reckless expenditures, let them be exposed; but, on the other hand, if they have discharged their duties with fidelity and economy, give them the credit due a faithful public servant. I believe and assert, taken as a whole, the administration of these officers in their respective spheres of duty has been in general economical and honorable; that expenses have been in the main curtailed; that the public service in many respects has been considerably improved, and that the public interests have been steadily guarded and maintained. For them, I challenge the most searching inquiry that you may institute. I assert that they stand in no dread of you or your power to investigate the truth, and I say that they despise, as every honest man should despise, the perfunctory or “fixed” committee, constituted to gloss ugly facts and manufacture fraudulent reputations for dishonest, worthless, or incompetent officials.
Gentlemen, as representatives of the people, it is your prerogative to enact legislation, to better our laws, to promote our growth and development, and to enhance the cause of civilization and good government. It is my duty to cooperate with you in this laudable and needful work. It is likewise our joint duty to make a resolute effort to reduce expenses and lighten the burdens of taxation, to promote reforms, correct abuses, if any exist, and protect the public interests. We owe the people a conscientious performance of duty and must fulfill our obligations. We cannot overestimate the responsibility of our positions. Our oaths will not rest lightly on our consciences if we neglect our duty and abuse our trust. We are brought together under circumstances that emphasize the necessity of the redemption of pledges. Animated by a high sense of duty and unselfish loyalty, let us strive to discharge our public duties in a way that shall meet the approbation of Him who is the giver of all good, that shall maintain the best interests of the people and contribute to their happiness and advancement, and that shall add to the glory and redound to the honor of our beloved state.
WM. P. LORD, Governor.