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Hudson County Corruption in the Kenny Era – Investigation Of The Hudson County Mosquito Extermination Commission
Treasurer Nearly Blind

Hudson County Politics

The testimony disclosed that the Mosquito Commission's treasurer, David Straus, was nearly blind, and signed his name to agency checks and vendor vouchers on direction of Mr. C. Harry Callari, the Executive Director of the Hudson County Mosquito Extermination Commission, even though in many instances Mr. Straus was unable to read what he was signing.

Mr. Straus, operator of a food market, has served as treasurer for 20 years. He first began having trouble with his eyes 12 years ago and could, it is understood, be classified today as legally blind. He described his ailment this way:

Q. Now, Mr. Straus, before we get into any specific procedural aspects of the operations of the Mosquito Commission, I wonder if you can tell the commission something about the difficulties that you have had of late with respect to your vision. Have you had trouble seeing recently?
A. I nearly broke my neck out there just now. I thought I had an assistant with me.

Q. Why is that, Mr. Straus?
A. This counselor here came after I fell. I don't see too well. I have a detached retina in one eye and I have fluid on the cornea of my good eye.

Q. And I take it, then, that you can only see from one eye? A. Sometimes.

Q. And you have fluid on the cornea of your one good eye?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Mr. Straus, when you get up in the morning what do you have to do to your eye before you can go out and go to work?
A. Well, first thing I do, when I get up in the morning everything is very hazy. I have trouble putting two drops in my eye. Then I have to use a hair dryer to dry the fluid in my eye for at least five minutes.

Q. And that's before you go out of the house?
A. Before I can do anything. Before I get dressed.

Q. And for how long have you had this problem, Mr. Straus?
A. Well, the detached retina I've had twelve years now.

. . .

Q. Excuse me. Do you ever sign things without reading them?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you ever sign checks without reading them?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you ever sign vouchers without reading them?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you ever sign things and not find out if the goods were delivered?
A. Well, when I sign the voucher I always make sure there's other signatures on the voucher.

Q. Have you signed any backdated vouchers since we commenced investigation last summer?
A. Will you repeat that, please?

Q. Have you signed any vouchers which were backdated prior to the summer of 1970?
A. No, not that I remember, no.

Q. You don't recall doing that?
A. No, sir.

Q. Your testimony is you have not done that since we commenced investigation?
A. I don't remember doing anything like that.

Q. When you sign checks in blank, to whom do you give the blank check?
A. I leave them right on the sheet.

Q. Who tells you to sign the blank? A. Well, when I come in, the checks will be – excuse me – the checks will be on my desk.

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