Friday, February 01, 2013

125 years of corruption commissions

   In case you've missed it, we're having a big time corruption commission with a lot of explosive disclosures and amazing allegations.
   But that's really nowt new.
In 1888 Montreal had a commission on corruption in the construction industry very much like the one that's taking place now.
  The inquiry was known as the Boodle Commission, apparently named after a similar one held a few years earlier in New York City,* and further bolstering my suspicion that such commissions are a little contagious and that our current investigation will lead to a spate of similar affairs elsewhere.
   The commission was prompted by a petition signed by 10,000 and dragged on for at least five years, it would appear and one New York Times article noted just days before the 1893 civic election, that the corruption had led the city into a debt of $19 million, pretty huge money at the time for a city of 206,000.
   Allegations flew everywhere, and those accused included Mayor Jimmy McShane, whose side saw it as a way to subvert the elections. McShane was accused by J.P. Wheland of taking $7,000 in cash bribes and he retaliated with a $50,000 libel suit in 1891.
   The French newspapers were alleged to have taken kickbacks to overlook the contract fixing that included a major electrical contract. And an Inspector McMahon was sued for alleging that one of the Alermen had purjured himself.
  In short, the Boodle Commission was far ranging and resulted in loads  ofallegations and denials and all other sorts of things, the final result we're not yet entirely sure of .
   Except that it didn't prevent the same thing from recuring 125 years later.
*Rather entertaining Montreal connedction to  be detailed in an upcoming post. 

1 comment:

MTLaise said...

Once was said: "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely?!