Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Dennis N. Griffin. The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob. Las Vegas, NV: Huntington Press, 2006.
John McCarthy was elected Sheriff in 1978 after running as a reformer. 17 year incumbent Ralph Lamb was defeated. Sheriff McCarthy promoted several Detectives and Patrolmen to upper level management. Several more senior and experience people sued.
McCarthy believed there was corruption and discriminating actions happening in the Sheriff’s department. McCarthy fired an Undersheriff who ran against him four years later.
McCarthy went after organized crime. Tony Spilotro was a key target of investigation by McCarthy as well as the FBI.
In 1910, Nevada passed a law prohibiting gambling, even disallowing a customary coin flip for paying for a drink. Las Vegas was incorporated in 1911 with a population around 800. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, had a population of 3,321.
The 1930 population of Las Vegas was 5,165. In 1931, Nevada legalized gambling and issued six gaming licenses. Divorce law was changed allowing for divorce after six weeks of residency. The Hoover Dam was built which was a huge factor in improving the Nevada economy. Las Vegans soon was a center of gambling and six week residents in hotels.
The first Las Vegas Strip casino was El Rancho Vegas in 1941. The first casino believed build with organized crime influence was the Flamingo, which was controlled by Bugsy Siegel.
Siegel helped create the Trans-America wire service that wired nationwide horse race results to bookmakers. Since this activity was legal in Nevada, Siegel in the 1940s charged Las Vegas bookmakers $25,000 monthly.
Siegel observed there was an uncompleted and failed casino called the Flamingo. He obtained financing and finished building the Flamingo as a casino and high scale hotel for $6 million. $1 million of that was to provide each guest room its own sewer pipes.
Siegel owed the Del Webb Construction Company $2 million for building the Flamingo. Meanwhile, the Chicago mob took control of Trans-American’s rival. Siegel then told his New York organized crime associated he needed $2 million to keep Trans-American operational. The New York mobsters were stunned by Siegel’s bravado. Around the same time, Los Angeles bookmakers expressed displeasure over the high costs of mob influences forcing them to use two wire services. Siegel reacted angrily toward them and gave them no breaks. The Flamingo opened to small attendance. It was operating at a loss. Siegal closed the Flamingo temporarily after two weeks. A conference of mobsters was convened, and Siegl was not invited. Siegel met with Charlie “Lucky” Luciano. Luciano told Siegel to give his wire service to the Chicago mob. Siegel refused.
The Flamingo reopened in 1947 and began running at a profit. Siegel was shot to death.
Morris “Moe” Daliz arrived in Las Vegas in 1949. He completed an abandoned building project and opened the Desert Inn casino.
Tony Accardo was a member of the Chicago mob who rose to the top of the Chicago mob. Joe Aiuppa became the head of the Chicago mob. Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal was a Chicago odds maker and bookmaker. Ronsenthal moved to work in Las Vegas at the Stardust as casino manager.
Tony Spilotro represented Chicago mob interests in Las Vegas. It was noted money was skimmed from tables and slot machines before it was counted. Scales were altered to misread how much was taken. Managers and employees knew not to question where that money went. Spilotro began loan sharking. He did not directly challenge the leading Las Vegas lonashark, Guspare Anedetto Speciale. Spilotro slowly increased his share of the business and then took control of Las Vegas loansharking when Speciale was imprisoned. Spilotro moved into selling stoen goods. Spilotro sent a share of his earnings back to the Chicago mob.
The Gaming Control Board, aware of Spiotro’s crime connections, had him removed from operating out of the Dunes. He then began operating from a private country clumb founded by Moe Dalitz.
The FBI raided Spilotro yet he was able to destroy evidence before they reached it. A Judge threw out the evidence gathering for going beyond what was authorized in the warrant.
Lefty Rosenthal was denied being hired by a casino due to his associations with mob figures. Nevada law prevented any casino hiring anyone with crime connections expect if the person is an entertainer. Rosenthal was hired as Entertainment Director at the Stardust. He was given a weekly TV show.
Las Vegas population reached 400,000 in 1978 with about 11 million tourists during the year. In 1973, the Clark County Sheriff and Las Vegas Police merged and became the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, or Metro. Sheriff Ralph Lamb led Metro, with John Moran, former Las Vegas Chief of Police, as Undersheriff. The merger did not go smoothly between officers.
IN 1977, Sheriff Lamb was indicted for income tax evasion for unprepared loans from Benny Binion, a casino owner. Also, Lamb had connections and used them. His brother’s bar supply company had a contract with almost every resort hotel. The head of Vice, Narcotics, and Juvenile Bureau, John McCarthy decided to run against Lamb
McCarthy won the support of the Clark County Republican Party. Lamb was acquitted and ran for reelection. McCarthy won. Gary Lang, the new Metro Legal Advisor, received a bomb threat. Officers passed over for promotion brought a class action law suit against McCarthy. The Intelligence Bureau was reorganized with people suspected of mob relations removed.
Metro investigated Spilotro with constant surveillance. Metro and the FBI agreed to work together.
McCarthy was criticized for his handling of a situation where three prisoners took three corrections officers as hostages. McCarthy stayed in the background, stating he would let professional negotiators handle the situation. Two prisoners died as the prisoners fought amongst themselves.
The NAACP charged Metro with abusing African Americans. McCarthy replied that the instances were of disrespect, not abuse. He met with NAACP officials regarding their concerns.
The Intelligence Bureau was claimed to have used suspicious tactics and to have threatened those who complained.
Metro suspected Spilotro was behind murders, including the killing of someone whose testimey could have brought others to testify against Spilotro.
McCarthy had some personal problems. He divorced his wife. His son was arrested for selling drugs to an undercover agent.
A Judge ruled that creating Metro was unconstitutional. Metro had a year of uncertainty while the case was on appeal.
The local newspaper reported Metro had under surveillance John Moran, former Undersheriff, and Beecher Avants, the Clark County District Attorney’s Chief Investigator. Moran and Avants were potential opponent to McCarthy’s reelection. McCarthy believed Moran created the story.
Spilotro’s attorneys and others filed a class action suit against the surveillance program. They claimed it was harassment and that they used false pretensions to imprison people in violation of their rights.
The state legislature passed legislation that resolved legal concerns on the creation of Metro. The lawsuit to dissolve Metro was dropped.
John Moran defeated McCarthy. Moran ran on a promise to bring street prostitution under control in 90 days. This was done. McCarthy left office noting the difficulty in fighting organized crime.
Tony Spilotro was charged in torture murders in Illinois. He was tried and acquitted, even to the surprise of his attorney. Ten years later, the Judge in the case was convicted of taking bribes in a different murder case.
Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael was beaten to death in Chicago in 1986. No one was charged with their murders until 2005, when members of the Chicago mob were charged with their murders and for 16 other murders.
A Lesson or More Here and There
Diane Ravitch. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (revised). New York: Basic Books, 2011.
The author questions recent school reforms. They were not succeeding. In past critiques, the author found irony in school reformers in the 1890s fighting for centralized school authority with professional administration to improve low performing schools versus school reformers in the 1960s fighting for a return to decentralization of school administration arguing that community leaders and parents better know how to improve under-performing schools.
The author argued schools are not capable of solving soclal problems although they are necessary for individual advancement and societal good. She criticized the loss of cultural memory from what schools were failing to teach. She served as Assistant U.S. Education Secretary where she helped create “voluntary national standards” for every school subject. There was a belief that better managed schools would perform better and that poorly scoring schools should be closed. Ravitch, though, believes that “curriculum and accountability” are more important than school choice. Further, she realized that too much emphasis was being placed on testing as “an end itself” rather than an evaluative tool.
The movement for standards became improperly fixated on standard test scores of students. This was a system easy to administer and required little background knowledge of education. There was a focus on punishing schools that perform poorly but few proposals on improving scores. Things that could not be measured were not considered. It was ironic seeing conservations who believe in less government supporting strong government control of schools and seeing liberals favoring free market principles, allowing people to choose better functional schools, in school choice.
Assessing education is a complex process. Standardized testing was an easier but less useful alternative. Despite an emphasis on improving standardize test scores, SAT scores decreased at steady rates for a decade. Students were testing better yet learning less. Further, SAT scores have been declining since 1963. Further research found students did less homework and were studying less math and science.
San Diego moved to centralized education policymaking. It was theory that central planners knew what best to do. The system was run on command and control. Teacher input was not considered. 90% of principals left and teacher resignations doubled such that one third of teachers left from 1998 to 2005.
The teachers union tried to oust School Board members favoring this system but did not elect a majority. IT is noted that school reform should have trust between teachers, principals, and administrators.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought to control his New York City School Board. In 2002, the state legislature gave Bloomberg that managerial control. Numerous expert consultants were hired. Many non-educators were administrators. Curriculum changes were made only in Math. Strict standards on how to teach were implemented. Test preparation companies received contracts for test practicing among students. Still, two thirds of New York public schools were found to be “below basic” skills (the lowest skill level). Only 4% of New York schools met minimum requirements. Teachers emphasized Reading and Math, which were tested, but neglected Science, History, Civics, Arts, and Physical Education. The author had supported Bloomberg taking charge for it is easier to implement reforms when decisions are made by one person. The numbers of students that passed from level to level increased only by lowering the requirements to pass levels. As of 2007, there were little practical changes in New York’s test scores. The author concludes that Mayoral control is not a sure means of improving education.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was implemented during the George W. Bush Administration with few previous trials in states except in Texas. Testing of students was paramount. Critics argued that test scores’ averages increased in Texas because drop-out rates increased, such that their lack of participation in taking the tests caused the rise in average test scores. By 2006, the author realized NCLB was not working. In many failing schools, 98% to 99.5% of student preferred to remain at those schools. Few wanted the school choice option. The author realized that it was not working to either sanction bad schools or to give incentives to schools that were successful. NCLB also de-emphasized courses other than Reading and Math, which she argues is a serious mistake.
Vouchers use public funds to help low income families pay tuition to private schools, which could be religious schools. Vouchers exist in Cleveland, Milwaukee, and the District of Columbia. Charter schools are charted by the state and need not meet state regulations in achieving performance goals. These two types of schools gained popularity in the 1990s. Minnesota created the first charter school in 1991. Baltimore in 1992 hired a non-profit enterprise to manage its schools.
Charter management in some schools were reported to be poorly managed with hires and contracts involving conflicts of interest. Some charter schools showed higher test scores, yet they also had accepted fewer low achieving students, thus negating the seeming improvement. Charter schools have been found to be good, medium, bad, and some failed. A 2009 national study conducted by Stanford University researchers with data from 2,403 charter schools covering 70% of charter school students concluded there was little difference in performance between charter schools and public schools.
Ravitch argued the charter schools that did have higher test scores had more hours of school per day, more weeks of school per year, more class offerings, as well as enthusiastic administrators, teachers, and students.
Ravitch argued that accountability based on test scores is wrong, She argues for using judgments form professional evaluators on how education programs work. Tests are prone to error and even manipulation and they do not provide a complete sense of what occurs.
American schools are falling behind compared to the rest of the world in understanding Science, Politics, History, and Literature. Education requires support from teachers, communities, and society. Yet we are a society that seeks quick and easy solutions to complex problems. Relying on test scores to evaluate schools will not work. The scores are useful, yet only as part of a greater analyst that should be required.
Ravitch recommends setting goals for what we wish to achieve. We need to look at curriculum is required for meeting these goals. It should be a broad based curriculum that includes Liberal Arts, Science, History, Literature, Geography, Civil, Math, Art, foreign languages, Health, and Physical Education. Textbooks full of facts but lacking readability should be improved upon. Science should be taught at every grade level. Massachusetts has one of the strongest curriculum and its students test about the best in the world in Science.
NCLB and Race to the Top follow the scientific management philosophy begun by Frederick Winslow Taylor that employers can measure employee’s work. Rewards and punishments will improve employee output. Education is difficult to measure. Ravitch believes incompetent educations should be removed, but they need to be identified by supervisors and peer reviewed before dismissal. Tenure means a right to due process, not a right to permanent employment.
One reality is social conditions need to improve for schools to improve. Poor schools will continue to exist where social conditions are poor.
How Public Policies and Sausages Should Not Be Made
Jack Abramoff. Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist. Washington, D.C.: WND Books, 2011.
Abramoff was an inactive member of the College Republicans while a student at Brandeis University. Brandeis hosted the state College Republican convention and had the largest delegation there. The Brandeis delegation realized they could elect one of their own as state College Republican President. No one in the room of Brandeis students volunteered to run until Abramoff raised his hand, and his life changed. He was elected and decided to then excel at politics. He met Grover Norquist. They planned canvassing college campuses and registered Republicans to vote. They helped create 41 College Republican chapters in Massachusetts.
Abramoff and Norquist worked to successfully get Abramoff elected national College Republican (CR) President. He met Ralph Reed during this campaign. Abramoff made Reed the CR’s Executive Director as Reed agreed to work for little pay and for living on Abramoff’s couch. The CRs demonstrated in front of the Soviet Embassy, gathered signatures supporting Lech Walesa in Poland, and conducted mock smashings of the Berlin Wall. Norquist then served as CR’s Executive Director after Reed returned to college.
Abramoff and Norquist had $12,000 annual salaries working for CR. Abramoff also had part time work as Executive Director of Howard Phillips’ Conservative Caucus.
Reed managed Abramoff’s campaign for reelection. He had a spy enter the opposition campaign who then denounced Abramoff’s opponent before the vote. Abramoff was reelected and notes he was “drunk on the quest for what passed as power in those days. I ignored my inner voice and marched forward.”
After serving with the CRs, Abramoff became Executive Director of Citizens for America, a pro-Reagan organization. Norquist became Field Director.
While lobbying in favor of Reagan’s proposal to fund MX missiles, Congress was six votes shorts when Rep. Albert Bustamonte promised to switch 13 votes of the Hispanic Caucus in support of the bill if a naval base was placed in Busamonte’s district. Abramoff told this to the White House who then approved Abramoff telling Bustamonte they had a deal.
Abramoff became involved in film producing. He used Canadian tax credts in making one movie.
Republicans became the majority part in Congress after the 1994 elections. A need to hire more Republicans as lobbyists emerged. Abramoff was hired to a $150,000 annual salary as a lobbyist for a law firm representing Microsoft as their largest client.
Abramoff lobbied for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to be exempt from Federal minimum wage laws and other labor laws while being permitted to use “Made in the U.S.A.” on their labels. Chinese agencies charged high agency fees for people to obtain jobs in the CNMI. This was a problem for some members of Congress. Abramoff took any member of Congress and Congressional staffers who wanted to do so to visit CNMI. CNMI paid for the trips to get around Congressional travel rules since government bodies were exempt from the rules.
The CNMI legislature met in the morning and would typically break at mid-afternoon to play golf.
Abramoff also represented Indian tribal gaming against efforts to place a 30$ business tax on their gaming revenues. Abramoff’s firm billed clients $20,000 a month. Most other firms charged $10,000 a month.
Abramoff received Norquist’s assistance in arguing that taxing gaming was still a tax. Norquist formed a group that fought new taxes and higher taxes. Abramoff also argued that Republicans could be charged with racism for trying to tax only Indian enterprises. They helped kill this. Abramoff suggested the Indian tribes make contributions to members of Congress who opposed the tax proposal. Abramoff notes that “contributions from parties with an interest in legislation are really nothing but bribes.”
Abramoff’s lobbying technique was to become close to the power source in most Congressional offices, which is the Chief of Staff. Abramoff would indicate he would be interested in having the Chief of Staff work for him. Abramoff knew 90% of Congressional staff seek to become lobbyists, which have higher pay. Abramoff admits this was a “perfectly corrupt” means to get access to Chiefs of Staff and influence them.
Abramoff hired many Chiefs of Staff, who themselves had access. This also bolstered Abramoff’s influence with other Chiefs of Staff.
Abramoff kept Imelda Marcos out of jail. He negotiated a deal with a threat Marcos and he would lobby to destroy the Philippine Presidency’s foreign influence if she wasn’t kept out of jail. A deal went through where she avoided jail.
Abramoff lobbied for online gambling. He argued the bill prohibiting online gambling had exceptions. Abramoff had these exceptions removed knowing this would kill support for the final bill.
Abramoff moved to another firm. Clients typically paid $100,000 a month while several paying $150,000 a month. Abramoff argues his firm spent more time on clients that those that charge $10,000 a month. Further, Abramoff claims, “we delivered.”
Senator John McCain tried to reverse the Indian Chief Welfare Act that allowed tribes to prevent non-Native Americans from adopting Native American children. Abramoff represented the tribes by opposing McCain’es efforts.
Abramoff learned the Indian Affairs Bureau failed to complete placing some Choctaw land into trusteeship in 1927. Abramoff successfully lobbies to have the land declared “original reservation” which gave the Choctaw more flexibility in economically developing the land.
Abramoff worked with various tribes on gaming issues. He helped win gaming rights for them. Cryptic legislation that understood passed providing gaming rights to his client rather than to other tribes.
Senator McCain and the press were critical of Abramoff’s high fees and maneuverings as a lobbyist. McCain subpoenaed his law firm’s 800,000 emails. Abramoff was then fired from his firm.
Abramoff was indicted and convicted for bank fraud. In retrospect, he realized members of Congress should do away with getting projects for their districts for supporting each other’s bills. He also believes Congress should not be allowed to exempt itself from legislation.
When a Good Democrat Slipped By Republicans
Kenneth C. Wolensky with George M. Leader. The Life of Governor George M. Leader: Challenging Complacency. Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2011.
George Leader’s father, Guy Leader, was a farmer who developed a farming method of corn rows with strips in between where chickens were placed without destroying the corn. The chickens were shaded, ate more, and became plumper. Being successful at farming that was legal meant the Leaders were not tempted to grow marijuana, which was one of the area’s leading area cash crop. The Leaders likely would not have had a political career has they emerged from illegal farming.
George Leader was born in 1918 during the Spanish Flu epidemic. Guy Leader, taught school and was also a State Senator. George graduated high school at age 16, the youngest in his class. He went to Gettysburg College and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania as a junior. He graduated with an Education degree. He served on a Navy aircraft carrier during World War II. George bought his own farm using the G.I. Bill.
George Leader was elected to the State Senate in 1950. He opposed requiring a loyalty oath as unconstitutional, which was politically unpopular at that time. Leader was the Democratic Party’s nominee for State Treasurer in 1952. He was drafted to run after first declining to run. He ran in what proved to be a losing campaign that resulted in the Eisenhower-Republican landslide. During the campaign, Leader was accused of being a communist for opposing the loyalty oath.
Leader was nominated by the Democratic Party to run for Governor in 1954. Many Democratic leaders wanted Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth to run, yet Dilworth and many others felt 1954 would be a difficult year to have a Democrat elected as Governor. Only one Democrat, George Earle, had served as Pennsylvania’s Governor prior to then (1933-1939) in the 20th century. Dilworth declined to run.
The Republican nominee was Lt. Gov. Lloyd Wood, who enjoyed the support of the Republican Party machinery. Leader campaigned by speaking three or four times daily across the state. Leader’s upset victory gave him the Time magazine cover.
On Leader’s first day as Governor, he directed his Welfare Secretary Harry Shapiro to improve the horrible condition of Allentown State Hospital.
Leader’s brother, Harry, graduated law school from Yale. Henry Leader served as his brother’s Legislative Secretary. Henry Leader observed that state courts were known for protecting business interests. He recalled when one judge on a three judge panel awoke another judge during a hearing by stating “Wake up. They are trying to screw the Pennsylvania Railroad.” Governor Leader sought to change government’s emphasis on protection business, end corruption, and make government more representative of the people. Leader vetoed a bill that would have helped corporations, calling it a special interest bill.
Leader inherited a budget deficit. He attempted to create a type of graduated income tax. Instead, the sales tax was increased. Leader was successful in moving numerous patronage jobs into civil service positions.
Leader reversed the trend of increasing the number of people committed to mental hospitals. He removed three doctors from mental hospitals who lacked necessary requirements and had been hired because they were political party committeemen. Treatment in these hospitals was nonexistent. Many wives of unhappy marriages found themselves institutionalized in these hospitals. Leader toured these hospitals and found they had had no magazines, newspapers, radio, or TV for patients as patients sat all day on wooden benches.
The Leader Administration implemented a program where delinquent youth worked in forest conservation jobs. They learned fulfilling responsibilities while improving forests.
Littering became illegal during Leader’s tenure. Leader was strongly against littering as he wanted clean highways.
Leader opposed racial discrimination. He successfully fought to create the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Leader also appointed the first African American to a Cabinet position. These were very controversial actions a decade before the Civil Rights Act was passed.
Leader supported and directed building a superhighway across the northern part of the state. A highway was built connecting the Erie Thruway to the West Virginia Turnpike.
Leader signed death warrants that executed 11 people even though he was not comfortable with the death penalty.
Leader signed a law allowing women property right if there was no will. Prior to then, a woman could not inherit property without a will.
Leader could not succeed himself as Governor in the 1958 election. Leader had wanted to run for Lieutenant Governor and be in a position to run for Governor again in 1962. He was persuaded to run for the U.S. Senate instead against U.S. Rep. Hugh Scott. Scott was supported by the powerful Mellon business family. Scott won.
Leader was driven by what he saw in mental hospitals while Governor to make long term care as his next career. Leader started and operated several nursing homes.
Life for Republicans Was Once One Big Oyster
Mark Kurlansky. The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007.
There were once so many oysters around New York City that they could have processed all of the city’s drinking water. Yet they have virtually disappeared, killed off by too much pollution before a time they could have used their natural process that could have provided New Yorkers with clean drinking water. The loss of New York’s oysters also seriously disrupted estuaries through New Jersey and Connecticut.
The author criticizes New York for not planning and for only reacting to problems as they arise. Paris successfully acted to preserve its oyster beds while New York and London did nothing. New York and London lost most of their oysters. This lack of planning is noted as typical in other areas of New York’s policy matters, including economic and housing problems.
Until the 20th century, New York was known for its oysters. Millions of oysters from New York used to be sent around the world. New York could boast of having the best oysters.
Before Europeans arrived, it is estimated that 15,000 Lenape livied in what is now New York City and that perhaps 50,000 Lenape lived in the surrounding area form Delaware to Connecticut. Archeologists have found they ate many oysters, as hills up to 30 feet high of oyster shells were left behind. Oysters shall can last a thousand years.
The Lenape buried their dead, including dogs, covered with oyster shells. It is not known why they did this.
European arrivals used oyster shells to neutralize the acid in soil which improved the land’s agricultural uses. They also derived lime paste for construction use from oyster shells.
The Dutch traded the Lenape currency of conch shells for pelts. The Dutch sold the shells in Europe.
The Dutch purchase of Manhattan from the Lenape was viewed differently by the two cultures. The Lenape had no concept of land ownership and saw this as an alliance and allowance for the use of land. Indeed, the Lenape remained in Manhattan after the sale.
In 1626, some Dutch robbed and some Lenape. A Lenape boy survived the attack. Under Lenape tradition, the boy exacted revenge upon reaching manhood. In 1641, this survivor beheaded a Dutchman. In the midst of tensions, the West India Company, a Dutch company, obtained a peace settlement with the Wieckquaesgecks, a section of the Lenape. Troops of the Dutch colony’s Director ignored this treaty and later killed approximately 80 Wieckquaesgeck men, women, and children. Warfare broke out between the two groups.
In 1653, a protective wall for the Dutch was built by African slaves. This wall was to guard against a British naval invasion. The wall was of little use as the British attacked by land.
The wall did become a site over which people threw their garbage and sewage. This harmed the rivers, including killing many of the oysters.
The British conquered the Dutch in what is now New York. The British sarcastically called the Dutch “Jankees”, a combination of John and cheese.
Jan Rodriquez arrived on a Dutch ship in 1613, becoming the first Black in Manhattan. A free Black community was establishes. Blacks were 18% of Manhattan’s population in 1750. Black slaves were brought to New York between 1701 and 1774. Only Charleston, at that time, had more slaves in America.
Blacks sold oysters on street carts. New York was known for alcohol, oysters, and prostitution. Captain William Kidd, a pirate, was a 17th century New York celebrity, living at 119-121 Pearl Street. New York was then British but with strong Dutch influences.
In 1770, the largest American ports were Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, and New York. Boston was known for trading salt cod, agriculture, and manufactured goods. New York was known for piracy. Both sold lumber, salted fish, pickled oysters, and flour to the West Indies and southern Europe. The profits from these sales were often used to buy British goods. New Yorkers bought slaves in the illegal market in exchange for pickled oysters and food.
New York oysters were up to a foot long. They were cunt into pieces to be more saleable when pickled and shipped. They were plentiful and cheap in price. Some poor people lived by eating mostly bread and oysters.
In 1671, there was concern that oysters were being overharvested. Laws passed limiting Staten Island oyster beds to Staten Islanders. New Jersey oyster beds could only be harvested from May 10 to September 1. These laws were hard to enforce as anyone caught could claim they were only looking for clams.
In 1769, New Jersey banned using oysters for producing just for lime. They were considered as an important food source for the poor.
Rockaway imposed a fee of one shipping per 1,000 oysters with a 40 shilling penalty for not paying the fee.
In 1770, it is estimated the population of New York City was 21,000 with about 500 prostitutes.
The Revolutionary War produced conflicts in oyster fishing. There was a boundary drawn separating Revolutionary oystermen and Loyalist oystermen. Gun battles over these allegiances while searching for oysters.
Delmonicos was the first fancy New York restaurant. It served New York’s first business lunch. Oyster houses served “all you can eat” oysters.
Oyster fisheries were created in New York waters before most other types of fisheries. New Yorkers learned to seed oyster beds with flat objects to which young oysters would attach, then remove smaller oysters in the second and third years to provide the larger oysters ore room, to harvest four year old oysters, and then to dredge to remove objected detrimental to oysters.
There were numerous oysters bars created in response to advertisements suggesting oysters are aphrodisiacs. These oyster establishments used red outdoor lighting that was similar to what house of prostitution used for their lighting.
Oyster prices did not fluctuate much from 1830 to 1880. An oyster bed yielded $500 per acre for harvesters. Oysters were then sold at around $1 to $1.50 per basket.
The Fulton Market was overrun by some many red meat butches that few could make an income. The fish sellers become dominant there. Ice was an important $4 million annual industry in New York.
The Civil War helped the New York oyster business. Competing oyster sloops were prohibited from being on the Chesapeake Bay to guard against their possibly aiding Confederate commerce.
A chlorea epidemic hit New York City. People did not understand what caused chlorea, a water borne illness. Eating raw oysters infected by sewage was one of the causes of chlorea. New Yorkers concluded the slums of Five Points caused the outbreak. Five Points was torn down.
New York saw oyster sales increase as European oyster supplies decreased. Europe was a large oyster market. In 1851, 500 million oysters, or 185 oysters per capita, were sold in London.
New York captured one third of domestic oyster sales circa 1872. In 1872, Americans bought $25 million of oysters.
In 1909, 13 U.S. states had 88% of the global oyster market. In 1915, sewage contamination led of closing Jamaica Bay oysters. They were closed again in 1921. By 1927, pollution brought an end to New York’s commercial oyster industry. Those oysters that survived the pollution were rendered contaminated and inedible. Ironically, if oysters were as plentiful today as they once were, they could serve as a natural means of cleaning the water.