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NEW YORK CITY, January 14, 1918. To the lIonorable, the Legislature of the State of New York:
The Public Service Commission for the First District herewith presents to the Legislature its Eleventh Annual Report for the year ended December 31, 1917, in conformity with the Public Service Commissions Law.
The term of Commissioner Charles S. Hervey, appointed by the Governor in 1916 to fill out the unexpired term caused by the resignation of Commissioner George V. S. Williams, expired on January 31, 1917. Commissioner Hervey was reappointed by the Governor for the five-year term ending January 31, 1922.
The Commission lost two of its members by resignation during the year, Colonel William Hayward and Colonel Henry W. Hodge, each now serving with the United States forces in France. At the end of the year the Governor had not filled their places.
Colonel William Hayward was mustered into the United States service at the head of the Fifteenth New York Infantry. This regiment was organized under direction of Colonel Hayward within the City of New York.
Colonel Henry W. Hodge left for France upon the urgent request of the War Department that he take charge of important engineering work on the staff of General Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces. Colonel Hodge was first offered a commission in the National Army, but declined, Governor Whitman insisting that he remain on the Commission to lend his great engineering knowledge and his administrative ability to the completion of the task of subway construction, one of the functions of the Commission. Later, however, the call for his services was so insistent that he felt obliged to tender his resignation to the Governor, and it was reluctantly accepted. Colonel Hodge went to France as Major of Engineers and has since been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and recently to Colonel.
In accepting the resignations of both Commissioners, Governor Whitman specifically announced that those he should appoint to the vacancies would hold office only during the absence of Colonels Hodge and Hayward.
Colonel Hayward was appointed Public Service Commissioner on March 30, 1915, to succeed Milo R. Maltbie, for the term ending January 31, 1920, while Colonel Hodge took office in 1916 for the unexpired term of Robert C. Wood, ending January 31, 1919.
Several important amendments to laws affecting the Public Service Commissions were enacted by your Honorable Body in 1917. Some of these measures were particularly pertinent to the activities of the Commission for the First District. Foremost in importance among these enactments was the passage of Chapter 719 of the Laws of 1917, amendatory to Chapter 777 of the Laws of 1911. Under this Chapter, referring only to the First District, provision is made for the approval by the Public Service Commission of the agreement between The City of New York and the New York Central Railroad Company in relation to the solution of the West Side track problem, and providing for procedure by the Commission in default of such agreement. By virtue of the authorization granted by this Law the Commission has taken important steps looking to the ultimate removal of the tracks from the grade of the streets.
Another new law greatly facilitated the work of the Commission in reference to forfeited or abandoned contracts on municipally-owned rapid transit lines. By Chapter 625, Laws of 1917, which amended the Rapid Transit Act, the Commission is permitted to carry on work direct and to purchase necessary materials in such emergencies with the consent of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. The Act also permits the informal award of contracts involving not more than $25,000, instead of $10,000, the previous limit. Elsewhere in this Report will be found an instance of the practical working of this law in reference to a contract which the Commission was obliged to declare forfeited. In this particular instance the authority granted by Chapter 625 permitted the work to be speedily taken up and carried forward under the Commission's direction.