June 1925 – Newspaper clipping – Putting Parks Into Politics


  • June 1925 – Newspaper clipping – Putting Parks Into Politics

The state’s park system has been plunged into politics and its development is to be delayed for a year. That is the net result of the Governor’s veto of the Thayer bill. The major responsibility clearly rests upon the Governor. A minor responsibility rests upon his appointee, Robert Moses, chairman of the Long Island Park Commission, whose blunders stirred bitter opposition and set the Legislature to devising methods of holding the park authorities within reasonable bounds. That those methods were not perfect does not shift the main guilt.

From the point of view of the parks the delay is not without its good side. Delay means debate, further study and the improvement of plans in many cases. It bears hardest upon those communities with able commissions that have exercised their powers diligently and fairly.

The chief significance of the episode is the light it sheds upon the Governor’s greatest weakness, his thirst for political maneuver. His whole handling of the Legislature this winter displayed this quality. He did the state a real service in securing the income tax reduction, but he so handled the contest as to secure a maximum of credit to himself and a minimum of benefit to the taxpayers. He let budget estimates run riot so that he could ride upon the scene as a hero and save the day. And he thereby left the whole fight to be repeated next year. The Coolidge method would have been to hold the estimates down and lay the basis for a permanent income tax reduction. The Smith method was to throw economy out the window, invite politics in at the door and, after effecting a temporary rescue, leave politics permanently in charge.

It is difficult to interpret the activities of Mr. Moses, who is a close advisor of the Governor, in any different light. The excursions and alarums of the Long Island Park Commission inevitably stirred class feeling, which is the raw material out of which a politician like the Governor builds his issues. They made a clash with the Legislature inevitable. Other park commissions, like that in Westchester County, by following sound park principles and displaying an attitude of fairness to established communities, were in the mean time accomplishing far more without stirring any opposition whatever.