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of the treasurer's office, than that they made it necessary or justifiable to disregard the provisions of a positive statute.
The manner of obtaining the voucher from John Buck, dated 8th August, 1829, for $3,410 is also deemed to have been entirely objectionable; and the necessity which the treasurer labored under, as described by himself in his deposition, of resorting to this indirect mode of obtaining vouchers for the public money he had drawn, shows still more strongly the manifest wrong of indulging in the practices before complained of, to wit: of making loans of this money and of advancing it to the commissioner, in violation of the sta
Another accusation has been made against the commissioners, arising out of the following circumstance.
At some period during the time Negus was acting as the agent of Perce, suspicions were excited as to his faithfulness in the disbursement of the money paid to him, and by an arrangement with the commissioners, he consented to give bail for his good conduct in this respect. Accordingly, a bond was executed by Negus, with sureties considered sufficiently responsible, conditioned for his faithful expenditure upon the work, of all the money advanced to him.— After he left the work, as before related, this bond was a subject of settlement between the sureties of Negus and the commissioners. In reference to that settlement, John Jackway testifies as follows:— (See the closing paragraph of his deposition.) “When the settlement was made with the bail of Negus, witness, with Mr. Wood and others, spent three days in a careful examination of the accounts; and the result of their inquiries was, that he had done more work, by several hundred dollars, than he had drawn money, and for that reason it was, after taking the advice of counsel, that they gave up the bond.” The subject of this bond will also be found mentioned in the deposition of Royal Torrey; and Torrey expresses the opinion that Negus paid upon the work the money left in his hands, after the commissioners had taken the $1,000 from him, with the exception of about $70, “which he thinks he carried away with him.”
Still the accusation has been made, that Negus went away with a large sum of money advanced to him remaining in his hands unexpended, and that the commissioners surrendered to his sureties the bond they held, without obtaining indemnity for the money thus taken away by him. This charge, however, would seem to be refu
ted by the testimony of Jackway, while it is believed that it will not be found to be supported by any part of the evidence taken.
The contract with Buck to lower the bed of the river at Jack’s Reefs has been made the subject of much conversation and much accusation in reference to the commissioners, and especially in reference to Mr. Wood. The grounds of complaint have been, principally, that John Wood, the son of the commissioner, was made a partner with Buck in that contract improperly, and through the interference and favoritism of his father; and that in the manner of settlement of that contract a greater price was paid than the contract would have allowed, had the settlement been made according to its terms. The testimony of the commissioners upon these points, so far as relates to the history of the making of the contract, the manner of the settlement made of it, and the reason for adopting that mode of settlement, will be found in the deposition of John Jackway, confirmed by Wood in his deposition. John Buck also gives the relation of all the particulars in regard to the making of -this contract, to the admission of John Wood as his partner in it, and to the execution of the work under it, and he will be found substantially to confirm the relation given by Jackway.— Jethro Wood in his deposition expressly denies the charge of favoritism or improper influence, in obtaining the admission of his son as a partner; and the engineers, David Thomas and Noah Dennis, give an estimate of the work made by them, not from an actual measurement or examination made at the time, but from their knowledge previously obtained, of the character of the work, and from a measurement made by Daniel D. Thomas.
If their estimate be correct, and allowance be made for the work done, not included in the estimate, the cost of the work, upon a settlement made according to the terms of the contract, would have been considerably greater than the sum actually paid according to the mode of settlement adopted. Other witnesses, however, among whom are Royal Torrey, Daniel H. Richardson, and some others, value this excavation at a much less price per yard than the estimate of these engineers, and the question whether the sum actually paid, was more than the contract would have allowed, or was less than that sum, must depend very considerably upon the weight to be given to the respective opinions of the witnesses as to the value per yard of the excavation. Another question, however, will be found to involve itself in the determination of this point, which is
as to the work not included in either of the estimates. It is the opinion of some of the witnesses that the manner of constructing the dams to turn the water off from this work, was unnecessarily expensive, and that the whole cost of putting in and working the bailing-wheel, was useless and entirely lost. Others testify that the plan pursued was the only one practicable, in the state of the river when the work was commenced, and that the contrary opinions entertained, proceed from having visited the work when the water in the river was very low. The most material part of the testimony, upon these points, is to be sound in the depositions of Buck and Torrey, and in some respects, their recollections of the facts vary materially, while, as to the main question, they differ entirely in opinion ; and the one seems not only to believe that the design was to prosecute the work upon the best plan and most economical mode, but that it was in fact so executed, while the other supposes he could have done the work at much less cost, and in a much more simple manner.
It is presumed, in a controversy of this description, that the question of good fath in the commissioners and contractors, as to the plan of the work, will be considered the material point to be decided, and the testimony herewith transmitted, presents to the Legislature the same means of forming an opinion upon that point, which are, or have been presented to the Comptroller.
The charges of some of the commissioners, and especially of Mr. Wood, for official services, present still another point which will occupy the attention of the Legislature. In order that the charges themselves may be easily examined, and that a comparison may be easily made, if this should be desired, between the charges of the different commissioners, a full abstract of each voucher, showing the time charged by each commissioner, the time covered by each voucher, and the whole amount paid to each commissioner for his services, will be found under its proper head in the annexed statement of the accounts and expenditures. The depositions of the commissioners themselves, so far as they were examined, will show the account they give of their respective services, and of their respective charges therefor, and the depositions of several other witnesses, and especially of Royal Torrey, will express their opinions upon the propriety of these charges, and will detail the facts upon which those opinions were founded.
The dates, also given in the abstract of the vouchers, will show the time, or about the time, from which to which each person has aeted as commissioner.
It will be seen that most of these payments have been made to John Jackway and Jethro Wood, and that about three-fifths of the whole amount paid for commissioners’ services has been paid to Jethro Wood. Jackway was appointed a commissioner, by the act of the 17th April, 1826, and has acted from that time to the present, and Wood was appointed early in the year 1827, and has continued in the office from that time. The whole sum paid for commissioners’ services, is $3,960.09, and of this sum there has been paid to Jackway, $1,056.25, the last payment having been made on the 10th June last, and to Wood, $2,337.50, the last payment having been made on the 9th June last. It should also be noticed that, since the time of the appointment of Mr. Wood, there has been but two commissioners acting for any considerable portion of the time, a Mr. Richmond having been appointed, who declined altogether to accept the office, and Mr. Howland having charged but four days' services. This would necessarily leave the whole services to be performed by the two, and of those, it will be seen from all the testimony, that Mr. Wood was made the acting officer. He removed from his residence, in the town of Cato, to Montezuma, to be near the work, and he had the continued and immediate charge, so far as the presence and services of a commissioner were necessary, and where one alone could discharge the duty. Mr. Jackway lived at some distance from the work, and was called when consultation and advise were desired, or when Mr. Wood was unable to attend to the business.
It should also be observed, that much more of the personal attention of a commissioner would seem, from the whole history of the work, to have been necessary, after Perce left his second contract, and after that work was carried on by agents, than could have been required when the business was progressed in regularly under the superintendence of the contractors in person. The same may be also said of the work which was done by the day, without any contract, and of the work doing in this manner at several points, remote from each other, at the same time. These considerations will not be overlooked in forming an opinion upon the justice of these charges.
Still, however, it must be confessed that the charges of Mr. Wood, during most of the period in which he has held the office of commissioner, have made his pay more nearly a salary, equal to $2.50 per day, for the year, than could ever have been contemplated by the Legislature. Indeed, he states in his deposition, what is evident from his charges, that, for a considerable period, he had designed to charge the whole time, except Sundays, but that he had not designed to charge those. His deposition furnishes the only reasons for his so charging his time, which have been given, and it is believed they will appear to be too general to prove perfectly satisfactory. The work stopped entirely in January, 1830, and it is surely somewhat difficult to see how it could have been necessary for Mr. Wood to have occupied the whole, or even a majority, of his time from that date till the 9th of June. Yet it will be seen that one of the reasons he assigns, to wit: that he had law suits to attend to, had some foundation in fact. The expenses incurred for these, and for an arbitration with Perce, are classed under a separate head, and such remarks are made, in the annexed statement, as will direct the attention of the Legislature to this class of these expenditures.
All the charges made by any of the commissioners for services have been passed to their credit at this office, and should the Legislature consider those credits improper, it will be necessary for them to direct the alteration to be made.
It may not be improper for the Comptroller to take this occasion to remark, that officers of this description are frequently appointed by acts of the Legislature and otherwise, whose compensations are regulated by a stipulated per diem allowance, for the time actually and necessarily employed, while no mode is prescribed of ascertaining either the time expended or the necessity of the service. In these cases the official certificate or signature of the officer, to the charges he makes, has been considered at this office all the evidence upon these points which could be required. It is, in the nature of the ease, impossible that the Comptroller can know any thing of the correctness of the amount of time charged, or of the necessity of its employment; and he has therefore considered the official responsibility of the officer the guard which the Legislature intended to establish against improper claims of this description. Yet complaints are not unfrequent, and probably not always unfounded, against abuses in these allowances.
.There are probably many other subjects arising from the testimony herewith transmitted, which might justify remark, but the Comp