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Background photo of the beach at Whale Cove was made by Bryce Buchanan in 2004. (Via WikiMedia Commons, cc/by/SA)
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The city marshal was compensated more or less on a piecework basis, like an independent contractor. This, of course, saved lots of money during quiet times, but as the town grew bigger there were more criminals to deal with, and the marshal’s budget was growing steadily.
Holmes thought Hoyt was deliberately stirring up trouble to pad his billable-hours account — basically, abusing his position to hit the cash box harder and more often than was necessary to get the job done. So he complained about him to the city council.
One of the city councilors, A. Rosenheim, was all ears. Hoyt may or may not have been taking advantage of the open-ended nature of his job to enrich himself; but Rosenheim clearly intended to do just that. He schmoozed and bargained with his fellow City Councilors for support, then presented himself as a candidate to replace Hoyt. With his four friends’ votes added to his own, he “won” the election, defeating Hoyt.
Only problem was, Hoyt declined to step down, claiming Rosenheim’s election had been illegitimate.
The council filed a suit against him to force him out. But when the case was presented to the Oregon Supreme Court, the court ruled — not unreasonably, it must be said — that, yeah no — it was not OK for a member of an executive board to use his appointive power to place himself in a lucrative job.
Having made his point, Henry Hoyt stepped down a few months later.
In 1881, upstart attorney Joseph Simon was running for mayor against incumbent (and establishment darling) David Thompson. When the polls closed, the electors declared Simon the winner by a margin of 9 votes out of 3,570 cast.
Naturally, there had to be a review of the ballots, with the race that close. So the city auditor, the county clerk, and the justice of the peace sat down to do it.
They determined that Simon hadn’t won — he had, in fact, lost by one vote — 1,784 to 1,785.
Ignoring this piece of bad news, Simon started loudly proclaiming victory and demanding to be inaugurated. Meanwhile, Thompson’s friends were not idle, and soon the Morning Oregonian was righteously thundering forth demands that Thompson be seated without further delay. Clearly a full recount was in order.
But before that could happen, there was a problem — several problems, actually, but they were nestled together like one of those Russian dolls.
First, it seemed at least one of the city council’s members had a little money riding on the outcome.
Councilor William Andrus denied it, but five people swore out affidavits swearing that he’d bet on Simon to win. Andrus responded by getting a couple friends to file affidavits swearing that, yeah, he’d placed a couple bets, but the bets had been on their behalf and not his. This sounded just as plausible in 1881 as it sounds today.
Irregular though this was, it wasn’t the real problem. But it took Andrus’s vote away from the City Council — of course, he had to recuse himself — at a time when it was going to be sorely needed to resolve the real problem, which was the recount results.
Those results confirmed that Thompson had won by one vote, but it excluded two disputed ballots that had been cast for Simon. If those two votes were added back in, of course, Simon won. If not, Thompson did.
The Council met to discuss the issue, and to review the disputed ballots one at a time. The first one had Thompson’s name written on it, with Simon’s overwritten over it. Close inspection showed that Simon’s had been the second name written on the ballot, so they gave that one to Simon. The race was now tied.
The second ballot was harder to figure out. Eventually it was put to a vote, and the result was a tie — four votes to keep it, four to throw it out. Andrus, who ordinarily would have broken the tie with his ninth vote, had been forced to recuse himself because of his bets.
Great wrangling ensued, and a clumsy and futile attempt to toss this hot potato over to the state supreme court. Finally the council voted again, and this time it was 5 to 3 in favor of throwing the ballot away.
The race was now tied, with 1,783 votes each. Thereupon, the council tabled Simon’s request to be declared Mayor, and went home. Thompson was left in office by default.
The record is silent about whether or not Andrus lost his money.
We’ll continue this whirlwind tour of mayoral misbehavior in next week’s column.