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BENEVOLENT TRUSTEES., Issue 8015, 18 September 1889
Tlio ordinary meeting held this afternoon was attended by Messrs A. Solomon (chairman), J. Carroll, C. Haynes, M. Fagan, W. Isaacs, J. Green, and R. Chisholm.
The Chairman reported that the cost of maintenance for the month of August was L 237 la Id, The average number of inmates was 199, and the cost per head was thus shown to be 5s 44d per week.
THE INSTITUTION BUILDINGS.
On the suggestion of the Chairman it was resolved to lay about 100 ft of glazed piping so as to properly carry off storm water from the newly-erected portion of the building, and also attend to the sanitary arrangements.
A LAWRENCE CASE,
The Charitable Aid Committee of the Borough Council of Lawrence wrote asking why aid had been stopped in a certain case. The Secretary was instructed to reply that the action taken by the Trustees was in conformity with the inspector’s report.
A PECULIAR AFFAIR,
The Chairman : I wish, gentlemen, to call your attention to a matter that has cropped up in connection with our Inspector’s visit to Hawksbury, Some three years ago Mr A. G. Reid was mayor of Hawksbury, and he recommended to us a woman named M'Millan, his recommendation being in these terms : Waikouniti, November 8,1886. The Trustees Benevolent Institution, Dunedin.
A resident o( this place (Mrs M'Millan) has called on me to apply on her behalf to your Board for rolitf. I may briefly state her oaso, as I have known her this last twenty years. Her husband died two years ago and left her with three helpless children. Their present ages are six, eleven, and thirteen years, and the oldest, a girl, is almost blind in one eye. Urs M'Millan has done everything in her power to avoid charitable aid, and she says that she is not able to go out to earn a few shillings, as she has been in the way of doing, Therefore, if your Board would allow say 6s per week for a time, I think it would meet the case.—l a-n, eta., A. G. Rkid, Mayor. You will observe that this gentleman states that ho has been urged by Mrs M'Millan to apply on her behalf. The Board considered the matter and passed a resolution that she should be allowed 5s per week for three months, and Mr Reid, who seems to be a storekeeper, commenced to supply goods; but he continued to supply them for twentythree weeks instead of the thirteen, and then sent in his account. Some demur was made by the Trustees to paying it, but the Hawksbury Borough Council recommended that Mr Reid should be paid in full. It bad reached thirty-three weeks instead of thirteen by that time, and Mr Reid was paid in full. The Borough Council also recommended that this woman’s allowance should be continued, and it has been kept up from then until now, a matter of some three years, or, to be exact, two yeara'and ten months. Mr Reid continued to supply the goods, and has drawn from this Institution about L 37. Our inspector has just been to Hawksbury, and has made a report, from which he will perhaps be good enough to read the extract relating to this affair. The Inspector thereupon read his report, The extract referred to is as follows: This woman said she had never required relief. When it was first given to her she bad plenty of work, and she bad no intention of applying for it, only Mr Reid (who was then mayor) and Mr Drew (collector) told her she ought to have it, and she was persuaded by them. She said she was more in need of it now than she ever was before, but that need appeared to him to be very small. This was a case in which relief never ought to have been given.
Mr Green said that he had been in Hawksbury since the inspector was there, and this same gentleman, Mr Reid, had told him that Mrs M'Millan bad asked him to write to the Trustees specially requesting them to grant relief until her son could get to the shearing. Mr Reid added that Mrs M'Millan had told him she did not need relief.
The Chairman said it seemed to him, and he said it without any desire to reflect upon this gentleman, that the system of applying to local bodies for information and recommendation was certainly open to great abuse.
Mr Chisholm : It is a rotten system.
The Chairman said that while the Trustees were on this subject he would mention another case. In August of 1889 the town clerk of Milton wrote to Mr Clulee a letter, at the request of the Mayor, asking for outdoor relief for a family then lately settled there—a family who were almost starving. Authority was given to supply the family with necessaries, and the case was referred to the Milton Borough Council for report. T’ho form came back from them with a recommendation that the persons referred to should be allowed 7s 6d per week for three months. The frustees’ inspector subsequently went up, and found it was a case in which no relief should he given. To day the Trustees had before them an account for LI 4s Gd for goods supplied by the storekeeper, who happened to he the Mayor himsejf. If the Inspector had not gone up Mr Carroll : And nipped it in the hud.
The Chairman ; Yes, and nipped it in the bud, it would probably have gone on perhaps as long as the other case. Mr Haynes : I think this account for LI 4s fid will have to be paid. The Chairman : Yes. I don’t think it is worth while to dispute the account. It is the principle I am calling attention to. Mr Isaac thought that Mr Reid should have an opportunity of replying to the statements made. He was a man of repute and well respected in the district.
Mr Green would like to know more about the conflicting statements made to himself and to the inspector. He (Mr Green) must have been spoken to only a few minutes after the inspector was there. The Chairman said it seemed to him that the facts favored the woman’s statement. But he quite agreed with Mr Isaac that an opportunity should be given to Mr Reid to explain the matter, and he would move that Mr Reid be written to, telling him the statements made to the inspector and asking for a reply. Mr Carroll : Quite right. We must not convict a man without evidence. Mr Haynes : I think we should leave it alone. If the woman’s statement is correct she can apply in the usual course, but to rake up this matter with Mr Reid, about things that happened three years ago, would bo to open up a large correspondence. The Chairman : I do not agree with you, Either this woman or Mr Reid is making a statement that is not true. The man should have a plain straightforward opportunity of explaining. Her statement, as reported by Mr Green, was made on tho 14th, and evidently, as Mr Green says, within a few minutes of seeing the inspector. Mr Chisholm thought it desirable that Mr Reid should have an opportunity of explaining. These oases seemed to him (Mr Chisholm) to show that the Trustees could not rely on information from local bodies, more especially where the people making the recommendation were the people who supplied the goods. Mr Carroll : It should be made an offence for a man who is a member of a public body to contract for supplies to i another public body. The Chairman said that ho knew of a case where it was discovered that tho person' receiving relief was not entitled to it, and i the party who had forwarded the recom- ’ mendation, on being spoken to about it, replied : “ I know; but what would you have mo do ? I should be hounded down as a mean cuss if I tried to take the Institution’s allowance away.” The chairman’s suggestion as to writing to Mr Reid was agreed to, Mr Chisholm asked what it was proposed to do with the other ease to which the chairman had referred—the Milton affair. A similar course ought to be followed. The chairman should write and ask for an explanation. It was just as necessary in one case as the other.
The Chairman was willing to do so if requested, but might mention that the inspector bad drawn the mayor’s attention to the matter, and he (the mayor) had admitted that he had made a most ridiculous mistake.
By general consent the matter then dropped for the time being; but at a later stage, when considering the Palmerston relief cases,
The Chairman said that he thought it would be as well to ask the secretary to see that the supplying of goods to persons receiving relief should, as far as possible, be kept out of the hands of ■ the person who forwarded the recommendation. This would he the safer course to adopt, even if a slight injustice were done occasionally.
The suggestion was accepted, and the Chairman said that he would see that it was acted on,
Dr Stenhouse reported that a large number of the female inmates were suffering from colds and bronchitis.
BENEVOLENT TRUSTEES., Issue 8015, 18 September 1889
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