Cleveland: Confused City on a Seesaw
CHAPTER THREE: Wars of the Roses: 1926-1931
The euphoria of the early 1920s, the feeling that everything was going to be all right and move forward forever, did not last long. It began to fade when the first manager-plan council, first in the country, was elected from four districts, rather than thirty-three wards. It was instantly obvious that the new council was not going to be the answer to prayer that the political scientists and reformers had hoped. Pretty much the same old gang of regular Republicans and Democrats had been elected. The principal difference was that four nonmachine independents were elected -- Peter Witt, Dr. A. R. Hatton (author of the charter), Miss Marie R. Wing, and Mrs. Helen H. Green. They were a tiny minority and had nothing to say about choosing the new city manager. They could complain, and did complain and thus make news, but that was all.
The proportional representative system of voting asked citizens to mark first, second, and third choices, and so forth for council. The total vote in each district mathematically produced a quota required for election. If a candidate achieved this quota on first choices, his surplus was redistributed to second choices. This would continue until all candidates at the bottom of the totem pole were eliminated, and the number of councilmen specified by the charter for that district
achieved the quota or were left. Sometimes the ultimate winners got in on third and fourth choice votes.
The counting was done in the open in the Public Hall basement. The surplus ballots and those of the defeated were moved physically from one box to another, and a second count taken then a third. It was confusing and tiresome, and lasted three or four days. It soon became obvious that the preferential voting had merely divided people into racial, religious, and ethnic blocs. In theory they were supposed to vote for "like-minded" candidates (liberal, conservative, radical, etc.) because of their views on economic and social problems. Actually they voted for candidates because they were black or white, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, and so forth. After the first shifts, the political writers and election officials could predict accurately who would win or lose on the next ballot, and what the ultimate lineups of winners would be.
There were enough like-minded voters to elect one independent from each district, but the rest were mostly incumbent councilmen, old-style pols.
Maschke and Gongwer had frankly confessed before election that they could not forecast what might happen under this new system, but the election board clerk, A. J. (Gus) Hirstius, had figured that the age-old habit of voting by race and religion would continue and a combination of machine-supported Republicans and Democrats would dominate the new council. The two bosses, concluding Hirstius was right, had privately agreed before election that they would have enough council votes to choose a city manager, and that when they did, the city jobholders could be apportioned by a percentage formula, which of course the new manager would be expected to follow. As it turned out, it was 67 percent Republicans and 33 percent Democrats. The independents would get nothing, except a chance to complain.
This was not what Editor Hopwood and Professor Hatton had envisioned. They were still foolishly hopeful that the council would choose a professional, nonpolitical city man-
ager, strictly an administrator, as many smaller cities had done -- a man who would abide by the policies set by council, and simply keep the machinery running. What they got was something totally different.
The council had absolutely nothing to do with the choice of the new city manager. They didn't even know his name until it was handed to them by Maschke and Gongwer. His name was William Rowland Hopkins, but they didn't know him from a bale of hay. Most of them hadn't even heard of him, though he had been a Cleveland businessman, real estate investor, and promoter all his life.
The way he was selected was typical of the old-style political process. For several weeks after election, Maschke and Gongwer hadn't a clew whom to choose and were actually waiting for suggestions. One day before Christmas, Gongwer, then the customs collector, was walking outside the federal building with William J. Murphy, former postmaster, when they met Hopkins, whom both knew slightly. "There could be the new city manager," said Murphy. "You may be right," said Gongwer. Then Gongwer phoned George Moran, business manager of the News, an old friend who was a Republican, and asked him to sound out Maschke about Hopkins. Moran did, and Maschke thought Hopkins could do the job. Then Maschke and Gongwer got together and agreed to recommend Hopkins to their obedient councilmen. Maschke sent his partner, John Orgill, to ask Hopkins if he were interested. He was and, agreed to meet Maschke and Gongwer secretly at the Hollenden Hotel.
They explained to Hopkins the 67/33-percent deal they had made about jobs, which included the cabinet as well as the street sweepers. Hopkins agreed to this. Then Maschke said he had a commitment to "do everything possible" to expedite the Van Sweringens' plans, and asked Hopkins to go along with it. This, too, he did. (Maschke described the conversations in his diary, published in the Plain Dealer in August 1934. "We were in perfect accord on everything," he wrote.)Thus was the new manager chosen in 1924 by a coalition.
Witt, the new councilman, immediately declared war on Hopkins as well as the Van Sweringens. Dr. Hatton, now also in the council and naive politically, wanted to wait and see. Hopwood, also hoping for the best, praised Hopkins editorially, for he had a good reputation as a businessman, but privately had his doubts. The script for reform and a civic Utopia was not coming out according to Hoyle.
The two bosses had shrewdly foreseen that the newspapers would accept Hopkins as a businessman, and go along with his plans. Almost at once he announced some big ones -- developing a new Cleveland airport, building jetties along the lakefront, which would produce landfill that could be used for baseball diamonds, parks, marinas. He wanted wider boulevards, more playgrounds, air pollution control, and so forth. He soon won the editors, as well as the councilmen, with his platform manner and charm, and began to act in every way as an elective mayor would have. The euphoria returned, and Hopkins became the fair-haired boy of the papers. The big cheeses now were Hopkins and the Vans, and the city was moving again. Even the Press, traditionally opposed to anything the bosses were for, swallowed hard, and went along. The News kept quiet, since their number one business executive had helped get Hopkins chosen.
Hopkins was a unique political figure, an excellent speaker, so eloquent and so frequent in his public appearances that Witt, he of the acid tongue and ready criticism, who was Hopkins' chief bedeviler, nicknamed him "Chautauqua Bill." He had vigor, was easy on his feet, and very persuasive. He spoke with a left-handed chop gesture like that which President Truman later used. He had a deep, resonant voice, excellent diction, and a great command of semantics. In short, a topnotch salesman.
His first cabinet was a good mix of strictly political and pro-bono publico types. As safety director, he appointed Edwin D. Barry, a wealthy real estate operator and former sheriff, who was a close friend of Maschke. For his personal secretary, he chose Billy Murphy, the Democrat who had
first suggested Hopkins to Gongwer. Another Democrat close to Gongwer was Howell Wright, who had the front of a professor but the technique and viewpoint of a politician. A Maschke lieutenant, Alex Bernstein, was service director. As parks and public properties director, he appointed Hugo Varga, a man highly esteemed by the cosmopolitan groups. For welfare director, he chose Dudley S. Blossom, a highly respected wealthy Republican, who once before had been welfare director. These choices carried out the two-to-one deal on a high level; the editors seemed to approve the selections.
Hopkins's first ambitious plan was to fill in the lakefront, behind jetties. When first announced, it seemed too grandiose, but only a few years after Hopkins left office, large acreages of "made land" had been created there and today practically all the eastern shoreway and Burke Airport are on the landfill.
He then proposed to build a large airport ten miles southwest of downtown, and this also seemed fantastic. Air travel was only a dream in those days; even air mail hadn't got far. So when Hopkins urged the immediate purchase of large acreage around Brook Park Road, saying that ultimately huge transatlantic planes would land thousands of people in Cleveland direct from Europe, and that Clevelanders could fly directly to London and Paris, Witt scornfully ridiculed it in council as a pipe dream. Most of the council majority felt the same as Witt, but didn't dare oppose it openly, so some land was purchased. Hopkins's foresight was correct. Today, the Hopkins Airport is one of the busiest in the country and people do leave and return directly from Europe.
Hopkins was not only willing but eager to speak everywhere and anywhere a crowd would gather. Though the council was in theory a policy-determining body, Hopkins soon made it clear that he was setting the course and expected council to ratify it. He assiduously cultivated the numerous and powerful ethnic groups so characteristic of Cleveland, and the foreign-language papers (there were then a half-dozen
with big circulations) backed him to the limit, and kept on supporting him even after his party support wavered. He spoke around town night and day, completely unsparing of his energy. He was married but childless and his invalid wife was in a hospital, so he lived alone in a bachelor suite at the Cleveland Athletic Club. He had plenty of time to make speeches.
The councilmen, always jealous of their prerogatives, took a dim view of Hopkins behaving like a mayor, but the party regulars hid their pique and did not usually tangle with him. Only Witt, Professor Hatton, and Miss Wing challenged his decision and they were such a small minority that the majority just let them rave on, hardly bothering to answer.
Hopkins probably could have been elected mayor had he run during the time he was city manager. He received as much praise from the newspapers as any man who ever held office in Cleveland, and actually he himself was the issue during the antimanager charter campaigns of the late 1920s. For a man whose previous experience in public office had been limited to a term in council twenty years before, and short-term service on the election board and as a federal marshal, Hopkins burst into bloom suddenly after he took office. His forward-looking program attracted prominent citizens who had not previously been connected with organized politics. They stuck with him to the end.
The euphoria over the manager plan began to dissolve early in 1925. With another council election coming up in the fall, a group of young Democrats called the Cuyahoga Club, headed by lawyer Maurice F. Hanning, circulated petitions to repeal proportional representation, but not the manager plan. The two bosses would have been glad to see the system go, but were otherwise happy just then with Hopkins and didn't get actively into the campaign. Dr. Hatton and William C. Keough, a former municipal judge, did most of the speaking against the proposed amendment; a few councilmen who could have been elected under any system, favored it. The newspapers denounced it; they didn't want the sacred
charter tampered with. The public yawned and a small vote turned out. The proposal lost by six hundred votes.
The real battles over the manager plan were not far off. They began in 1927, and the donnybrook that followed was the bloodiest ever in Cleveland. The next five years tore up the political maps and charts completely, wrecked several careers and launched others, produced coalitions that were unbelievable and absurd, and were as fratricidal as the Wars of the Roses. They split the blacks, churches, labor unions, both party organizations, and the business community. Political corpses were left all over the field, yet some miraculously recovered. The infighting went on without letup all through the stock market collapse, the beginning of the depression with its bank failures and welfare problems, and far into the thirties.
The man who touched off the charter wars was Harry L. Davis, the former mayor and governor. Davis had been in Columbus when the city-manager plan was adopted in 1921, busy with his own concerns. After two years as governor, he sensed that he might not be able to win reelection, because a big, handsome, rural Democrat, State Auditor Vic Donahey, whom he had beaten in 1920, was getting stronger. So he dropped out in 1922 and let Colonel Carmi A. Thompson take the anticipated beating from Donahey. He saw his chance to recoup in 1924, however, with a Coolidge landslide in prospect. Maschke warned him that he might win the primary but Donahey could beat him in November, despite the landslide. Maschke was right. Davis lost and dropped out of state politics. But he still had his eye on Cleveland, which had elected him mayor three times in wartime: 1915, 1917 and 1919.
Davis rightly sensed that wide dissatisfaction with the manager plan had already set in. The reformers and do-gooders were unhappy that a professional administrator had not been chosen; the old politics was going on at the city hall as usual. Even the Van Sweringens' plans had been stymied for a while when Hopkins tried to get council to approve changes
in a bridge design that the Vans said would have cost them a million dollars unnecessarily. Only Maschke's intervention had persuaded the council to defeat Hopkins by one vote. A rift was opening between Hopkins and Maschke, but Davis misjudged the size of the rift.
During a golf game at the Chagrin Valley Club, Davis told Maschke that he intended to circulate petitions to dump the manager plan, which would oust the manager within six days of election, and provide for a special election for mayor. Maschke replied that this sudden ouster in six days would be interpreted as an attack on Hopkins, and since he was committed to Hopkins (naturally, having put him in office), he would have to oppose it.
Davis felt he had enough strength among the regulars in both parties to win anyway, and went ahead with his repeal. So it became a contest for power between Davis and Maschke who, though they had previously been allies, had never really trusted each other. The battle became more than a party power struggle. Before the election was held, it developed into what was represented as a moral Armageddon, a crusade in reverse, with the angels on one side and the devil on the other. Somehow in the confusion, some devils sprouted wings and some angels grew horns.
The thought of Davis possibly returning to power in Cleveland sent the Plain Dealer and Press editors into a tizzy. He had been their number one nonfavorite when he was mayor. He was a smooth article, good-looking, energetic, a crowd-pleaser who could dream up plausible campaign slogans, but a poor administrator who had left deficits and loaded the payroll with loafers. To the do-good, reform-minded editors he was the next thing to Satan.
On the other hand, Maschke and Gongwer, the bosses were regularly chastised and cartooned by the papers as evil influences, not good for the city. Yet Maschke and Gongwer were now actively supporting Hopkins, who at that moment was the newspapers' favorite. The editors had to make a choice, but they didn't wince. They chose Hopkins, which put them in the same bed with Maschke and Gongwer.
Davis had hidden strength, which Maschke had realized. The Cleveland Federation of Labor president, Harry McLaughlin, was openly for Davis. Many of the blacks in the Central-Scovill-Woodland district, the bulwark of Maschke's strength in Cleveland, remembered Davis's glory days as mayor, when everyone had a job at city hall, and secretly hoped Davis would win; Maschke had to really turn on the heat to keep them in line. A strong force of ethnic Democrats from Davis's home neighborhood, Newburgh, were also backing him. It was hard to top Davis's campaign slogan, "Return the Government to the People."
Maschke resorted to an old trick. He got George B. Harris, a Republican lawyer, to also file petitions for another charter amendment. The ballot the voters received on this was identical to Davis's charter except for a different set of numbers in the long legal text near the bottom. Result, confusion, particularly among those who couldn't read, and an encouragement to vote against both of them.
The most effective thing Maschke and Gongwer did was turn the campaign, with the help of the papers, into a moral crusade. They got the clergy into it on Hopkins's side -- Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, Bishop Joseph Schrembs, the Reverend Dan T. Bradley, and the Reverend D. Ormonde Walker, a young Negro with a big following. They contended Hopkins ought to be allowed to complete his fine program, and the attempt to go back to mayors was a cheap political trick. Hopkins, though the principal issue, kept out of the fight, and let others carry on. But he left no doubt his pride was hurt and he wanted to continue in office.
It was a dirty, bitter campaign. Davis's charter lost by only six thousand votes, and he claimed that Maschke's men had stolen enough ballots in the black wards to beat him. The papers did not dig into it; the editors couldn't stand Davis.
Davis still wanted to keep the pot boiling. He had another slightly revised charter amendment ready to go in April 1928, date of the presidential primary, which would normally not bring out much of a vote. This time Maschke said, if Davis would remove the six-day ouster of the manager, he would
stay on the sidelines. (Davis did remove it.) Maschke said also that Hopkins ought to run for mayor, if the new charter should carry, and he recommended to Davis that he flatly disavow any personal intention to run for mayor. (Davis did not flatly disavow it.) Maschke did sit out this campaign, but Hopkins himself got busy, rounded up the same array of preachers and prominent citizens, and with strong help from the newspapers, defeated this charter, too, by three thousand votes. Gongwer did not sit it out; he gave strong help to Hopkins. (Maschke believed that if Davis had made clear his disavowal, the amendment would have carried.)
During 1928 the mayor-manager controversy simmered on the back burner. Plenty of high-octane politics was going on, however, and a backfire from the 1927 campaign finally flared up. Davis's charges of fraud were picked up by the Cleveland Bar Association, which asked Governor Donahey to look into them. Donahey appointed Attorney General Edward C. Turner as a special prosecutor to investigate, through a special grand jury. It happened that the current president of the Bar Association was former Judge Maurice Bernon, one of Gongwer's closest cronies, a man who rivaled Maschke in shrewdness. (Attorney General Turner was also no friend of Maschke's, since Maurice had declined to endorse him for governor in a previous campaign year.) The net of all this was that the grand jury indicted a few minor election officials for fraud, and recommended that almost the entire election board, and the two chief clerks, be fired. Secretary of State Clarence J. Brown, also no friend of Maschke's, fired them. Mrs. Bernice S. Pyke, women's Democratic chairman and national committeeman, and right-hand gal to Gongwer, was allowed to stay on.
This might indicate that Maschke and Gongwer were now not quite on the same wave length, and it was true. Maschke had cooled on Hopkins, but Gongwer hadn't. Gongwer was also trying to get a bright young Democrat, Ray T. Miller, elected county prosecutor in November 1928. He did, too, with the help of the election scandal, and the refusal of the paper to support Maschke's choice, Arthur H. Day. Maschke was
going big in national politics, having been elected national committeeman for Ohio and being one of the first leaders to declare for Herbert Hoover, who was nominated, and elected. But he was beginning to have other big problems locally.
There was more trouble at city hall, and it was not of either Hopkins's or Maschke's making. It came from greed and the euphoria of boom times. Fortunes were being made in the stock market, and in real estate speculation. Candidate Hoover was predicting two cars for every garage for every family. Some city councilmen felt they ought to get rich, too. A few saw an opportunity to turn a personal profit by buying land which the city would need for playgrounds, then selling it to the city. The new county prosecutor, Ray Miller, arrived on the job just in time to make political hay, since early in 1929, an indictment for land fraud was returned against Councilman Liston G. Schooley, and an attempt to bribe a policeman against Councilman Thomas W. Fleming. (Councilman William E. Potter and City Clerk Fred W. Thomas were also indicted, but acquitted.) Schooley and Fleming were sent to prison. Both men were wheelhorses for Maschke and held important council chairmanships. Though Maschke and Hopkins were not involved, the daily hoorah in the newspapers soured even more people on the manager plan.
It wasn't long before more antimanager amendments came off the back burner and boiled over again. This time, a new force did the boiling -- the disciples of Peter Witt, who had wanted him to run for mayor again. The principal disciples were Saul S. Danaceau, a young, idealistic lawyer, and Edward T. Downer, registrar of Cleveland College, who worshipped Witt daily at the City Club. Danaceau, an excellent legal draftsman, had concocted a charter that removed all the bugs from Davis's previous document but was still similar to it. The Witt group circulated petitions for an election in August 1929, and this time persuaded Davis to join with them but not participate in the campaign. It came to be known in the headlines as the Three-D Amendment. It looked at first like a sure shot to win. This time Hopkins was out in front as the leader. He or-
ganized a civic group that called itself the Progressive Government League and raised $70,000. Gongwer and Mrs. Pyke joined (they still wanted to keep 33 percent of the jobs), but Maschke, though asked, declined. The same lineup of ecumenical ministers also participated. Hopkins and the league campaigned hard. Although the newspapers screamed as usual (even though Davis was not on the stump), Hopkins was again victorious, by about three thousand votes. However, this victory had in it the seeds of Hopkins's eventual ouster.
Hopkins's ego by this time had swelled to unbelievable proportions. Though Maschke had cooled toward him, the city manager was surrounded by a gaggle of obsequious amateurs and yes-men, particularly from the ethnic groups, and they got him to believe that he could dethrone Maschke by winning a majority in the next council. So the Progressive Government League entered a slate to run against Maschke's old standbys in council. It was a fatal mistake.
This meant war, and Maschke at once accepted the challenge. He went on the stump personally, and won the election hands down. The final count was almost the same as before, fourteen Republicans, nine Democrats and two independents. Maschke regarded it as his greatest triumph. It was obvious now that Hopkins wouldn't be around long.
A new figure in city politics had appeared in the 1929 council campaign, State Senator George H. Bender, who had previously confined himself to state issues. Bender stumped for Maschke's slate in the black wards, saying it was unfortunate that the Republican party had ever tied up with Hopkins. This infuriated Hopkins, who retorted with a celebrated blooper, saying he had been a Republican regular when Bender's ancestors were "roaming the plains of Bohemia or Hungary or somewhere." (Bender's antecedents were Czechs.) Hopkins's crack backfired badly; even his admirers the Press and Plain Dealer, scolded him for it.
The movement to unseat Hopkins came quickly. It was led by Councilman Alexander L. (Sonny) DeMaioribus, a close friend of Senator Bender. Before the council would bounce
Hopkins, it needed to agree on a successor. Maschke told DeMaioribus he'd better be sure of enough votes, because the regular Democrats would oppose him, and four of the Republicans who were scared of the newspapers would stand by Hopkins. Thirteen votes were needed. The problem produced a Byzantine series of maneuvers.
It soon became clear why Bender had injected himself into the council campaign. His friend DeMaioribus wanted Bender for city manager. But he could only line up twelve votes. John A. Cline, a former county prosecutor, and a man always close to Maschke (something that could not be said about Bender), was a strong possibility, but his backers could line up only ten votes.
Maschke's shrewdness finally broke the deadlock. He would have been satisfied with Cline, but couldn't get him. He did not consider Bender qualified. Yet he had to produce a candidate who would be accepted by the Bender bloc and also appeal to the newspapers. The man he proposed was State Senator Daniel E. Morgan. Morgan was much admired by the editors, since he had almost single- handedly maneuvered an election reform bill through the 1929 legislature. After an all-night caucus, the Benderites finally agreed to support Morgan.
It was still necessary to pick up two more votes to make sure of the ouster. One was certain in Dr. F. W. Walz, an independent who had taken Witt's place in council. The other came from Jimmy McGinty, a regular Democrat who had been practically the Van Sweringens' personal councilman; he represented the downtown wards, which included the new Terminal. The Vans were glad by now to be rid of Hopkins.
Hopkins refused to resign. The newspapers yelled loudly in protest, but the die was cast. Hopkins was suspended 13 January 1930 despite his impassioned appeal to council in defense of his work. An unruly crowd of seventy-five hundred outside the crowded council chamber had to be held back by police. The official ouster took place ten days later and meanwhile Law Director Harold H. Burton was ap-
pointed temporary city manager. On January 27, Morgan was chosen city manager. Maschke was right -- the newspapers did speak well of Morgan. But they really poured the vitriol on Maschke for engineering the ouster.
Morgan replaced the Democrats at city hall with Republicans. The two-to-one deal was now ended. He made Bender manager of Public Hall. Burton remained as law director. It was obvious that the city-manager plan could not remain long. The depression began in earnest in 1930 and Morgan at once had trouble finding enough money to take care of poor people on relief. In November 1931, Danaceau and Downer circulated another anti-manager amendment. This time it carried with little real opposition. So, at last, goodbye manager plan.
Morgan, though a regular Republican had a fine record of responsible civic leadership, and progressive tendencies toward social reform. He was the first president of the City Club, a former president of the Citizens League and of the Consumers League, and active in settlement-house work. As a city executive, however, he had one serious drawback: he was a dull speaker. He always knew what he was talking about, but he had no charisma. He made the most of it, however, and spoke little, devoting himself primarily to the increasing problems of depression.
Morgan's honeymoon with the papers did not last long. They scolded him about the Bender appointment, and they were on him regularly about the welfare mess. The number of families on relief had zoomed from two thousand to seventeen thousand within a year, and the funds available from the Community Fund- supported charitable agencies were completely insufficient. He did what he could to raise money from bond issues and spread the load county-wide, but he was compelled to ask the legislature for emergency assistance. Getting money out of the appleknockers who controlled it was like pulling teeth, despite the valiant efforts of A. V. Cannon, a big corporation lawyer who dedicated himself to this cause, and practically lived in Columbus.
After his short tenure as manager, Morgan ran as a Republican in the special mayoralty election in January 1932. He finished first in the primary (in which Witt was unexpectedly eliminated) but lost in the runoff to Ray T. Miller, the Democrat. He remained active in Republican politics, however, supported Harold Burton's successful bid for mayor in 1935, and was appointed later to the court of appeals by Governor John W. Bricker. He was one of the few Clevelanders who served with distinction, as legislator, city executive, and judge.
Dr. Thomas F. Campbell of Cleveland State University, has written an excellent book on Morgan, The Good Citizen in Politics. He was indeed a good citizen, a courageous official. While he was city manager, and long before such an action became the politically "in-thing," he insisted that the medical and nursing staffs of City Hospital include Negroes, though it met much resistance then. While he was still on the appeals court, he took part in a parade to protest lynchings.
Time was soon to run out on the powerful Maschke, too. The Democrats started winning state and county offices in 1930, and in 1932, Roosevelt won the presidency in a landslide and the Republican state ticket was a disaster. There were no jobs for him at city hall, either, after Miller became mayor. So he stepped aside as county chairman when Davis made his comeback in 1933. But Maschke encouraged Burton to run in 1935, and Burton won.
Maschke was much maligned, and unfairly so, by the Plain Dealer and Press editorial writers, but he bore the criticism philosophically. Reporters, on the other hand, learned that he always told them the truth, or nothing at all. He was respected by two generations of political writers. (An interesting paradox was that Maschke, a brilliant bridge player, one of the best in the country, was for years the favorite partner of the late Carl T. Robertson, the number two man among the PD editorial writers. Robertson, a determinedly independent man, refused to take part in writing denunciations of Maschke). Maschke was astute, well respected by other lawyers, by
businessmen and even by his Democratic opponents. Tom L. Johnson praised him as a worthy opponent. Witt, though he professed a strong dislike of all bosses after Johnson died, praised Maschke publicly as a man of integrity (in contrast to his frequent aspersions against Hopkins). Gongwer respected and liked him. He was a ripe target for cartoonists and editorial writers. The name Maschke had a harsh, grating sound. He was bald, except for a wisp of hair on the back of his skull. He was not handsome. His large nose increased the prejudice of bigoted anti-Semites. He had a thin, reedy voice and seldom spoke in public until his later years, which was probably wise, for he was a poor public speaker.
Maschke went to Harvard (though he grew up in a poor neighborhood) both to the basic college and law school, and soon afterward gravitated into politics. He realized that the Republicans would have a tough time as long as Tom Johnson was running for mayor, so he concentrated on helping friends get elected to state and county offices. Two he helped were Ed Barry, who was elected sheriff, and Theodore E. Burton, elected to Congress, both despite a Democratic trend. Maschke sensed that Johnson's popularity was beginning to erode and he rightly surmised that a respectable, colorless candidate might beat Johnson next time around. So he got his friend and protege, County Recorder Herman Baehr, to run for mayor in 1909. Maschke's intuition was right. Baehr was the man nobody knew. He wouldn't debate the brilliant campaigner Johnson. The people didn't vote for Baehr; they voted against Johnson. (It was the old story of the Greeks deposing Aristides the Just, a man who was too good to be believed.) Maschke was now in the saddle as boss, after only twelve years as a practicing politician. He was appointed county recorder, to succeed his friend Baehr.
In 1911, Maschke was appointed customs collector by President William Howard Taft. In 1915, he was replaced by Burr Gongwer and began to practice law with John H. Orgill.
When Harry L. Davis was elected mayor in 1915, Maschke got back quickly into the city hall picture. The hall remained
Republican all through World War 1. It was obvious that 1920 would be a Republican year nationally, too. Maschke sensed it early, and saw a chance to get into the national picture by coming out for Senator Harding. (The always Republican News endorsed General Leonard Wood, but Maschke's delegates stuck with Harding, and won.)
The 1920 election, however, produced a temporary estrangement between Maschke and Governor Davis. Davis got the idea that Maschke had let him down in Cuyahoga County, which he almost lost. Maschke retorted that Davis had lost strength because his pro-labor attitude during the war had alienated businessmen in the suburbs as well as his home area, Newburgh, where the steel mills are located.
Maschke's law practice was now making big money and he was on his way to becoming a wealthy man. His fees came largely from corporations, particularly from utilities, which were always deeply interested in getting legislation passed or killed. This type of law practice was, and is, the standard way for political bosses, and lobbyists, to make politics pay. Political law practice and political insurance business are the most familiar means, and they depend almost entirely on friendship and influence. If everything else is equal, few legislators, state, city, or national, will refuse a request from a party chairman to vote his way on a routine bill. And often on important bills, too. The boss makes promises, and holds the public officials to theirs. It has been a way of political life for centuries and still is.
The personal bitterness between Maschke and Hopkins continued even after Hopkins was ousted as manager. In the fall of 1931, when Hopkins was running for city council (to which he was later elected), they traded insults before the City Club Forum. Hopkins charged that Maschke had profited from city contracts, that contractors had hired him, that city employees were paying him for promotions, and that he, Hopkins, knew nothing about the 67/33-percent deal for jobs. Maschke retorted that Hopkins was a liar and an ingrate, "false, mendacious, spurious, a phrase-maker with an inherent capacity
for deception," and "I put him back on the sidewalk where Gongwer and I had picked him up in 1923." It was a sensation.
Maschke in 1934 wrote his memoirs for the Plain Dealer, a remarkable thing for a political boss. In the final chapter, he described what qualities brought success in politics:
"Truthfulness, candor, foresight, courage, patience and a deep understanding of human nature. There is as much scheming in business as in politics, but in business it is mostly kept quiet. Politics is everyone's business and it comes out. Truthfulness is supposed to be a normal quality of man, but somehow, truthfulness in politics distinguishes you."
He was totally realistic about fame and fortune in politics. "When you win you are a great leader," he said. "Lose a couple and people are ready to consign you to the ashheap."
Maschke was way ahead of his time in understanding the value of racial integration in politics. He was the pioneer in backing such outstanding Negro public servants as Harry E. Davis for the legislature, school board, and civil service commission; Perry B. Jackson for the legislature, council, and municipal court; Clayborne George for council and the civil service commission. As long as Maschke was in charge, the black population of Cleveland remained Republican and stable. Today it is 95 percent Democratic and restless.
Maurice was also wise in his selection of first-rate candidates for the legislature. Not since the Maschke era has Cleveland been represented by legislators of the caliber of Dan Morgan, Harold Burton, John A. Hadden, John B. Dempsey, Herman L. Vail, David S. Ingalls, Ernest J. Bohn, Dudley S. Blossom, Chester C. Bolton, Laurence H. Norton, Mrs. Maude Waitt, and Mrs. Nettie M. Clapp. Choosing rich men like Blossom, Bolton, Norton, and Ingalls did Maschke no harm at campaign times, and it did the Establishment of that day no harm in having them on hand to make laws, but they were all first-rate, intelligent, concerned men, who took the lead in public affairs. Today it is hard to get men of real stature to run for the legislature and even harder to get them elected. In the Democratic era of the thirties, the Cleveland
legislators were largely a bunch of zeros, hardly known beyond their neighborhoods, with little influence in Columbus. Later, the law was changed to elect legislators by districts, and the caliber of the candidates has improved some. It still is nowhere as high as it was in the twenties.
Maschke died of pneumonia in October 1936. His widow, Mrs. Minnie Rice Maschke, died at age ninety-five in March 1972. A son, businessman Maurice (Buddy) Jr., and a daughter, Mrs. Helen Maschke Hanna, still live in Cleveland.
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