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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Wed., March 28, 2012

From our archives, 100 years ago

Sensational allegations of corruption in Spokane’s city street and water departments were bandied about in a city commissioners hearing.

Laborers and contractors testified about an array of questionable practices, including:

• Water department employees were forced to chip in to buy clothes, rings and watches – for their foreman.

• Several laborers were forced to go to the home of a subforeman on Sundays and work on his house for no pay. If they refused, they lost their jobs.

• The subforeman’s house project included large pieces of timber taken from city construction sites.

• A foreman on a rock-crushing crew was paid $25 for a double shift, when the city could have simply hired two men for $8.

• City crews drank liquor and slept during work hours.

• Union men were given preference in hiring, contrary to city policy.

The commission chambers were packed during the hearings, and “applause greeted some of the most telling points.” The hearings were the result of numerous complaints about graft in city labor.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1979: America’s worst commercial nuclear accident occurred inside the Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island plant near Middletown, Pa.

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