Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it -- George Santayana, 1905
The following clipping was discovered May 8th, 2006 pasted inside the back cover of a journal ... belonging to E.D. Kahl of Plainsburg, Merced County, CA
SCANDAL STIRS MERCED COUNTY
Special Dispatch to The Call – Oakland California
MERCED Jan. 28, 1905 – A tremendous scandal has arisen in Merced County. Seven public officials have been indicted on felony charges, and accusations of bribery and corruption are spread broadcast. The superintendent of construction of the new County Hospital is on trial for alleged wholesale graft, and the Grand Jury is openly declared to have been packed in the interest of certain politicians. Members of the Board of Supervisors are in danger of going to the penitentiary; and the District Attorney has been committed to jail. The people of the county are all agog over the exposures, and there may be bloodshed before the trouble is ended.
The difficulties have arisen over the building of a county hospital. The expense of construction has been so great and the results so incommensurate that charges of theft have been bruited about for weeks. Superintendent of Construction F. W. Robinson was the first one called upon to explain when it was discovered that the county was purchasing iron and stone for about their weight in gold. Robinson was placed under arrest to render further explanations to a jury.
Then it was rumored that some of the Supervisors were in on the alleged theft. Four of them were indicted. The accused said that the Grand Jury was packed for political purposes and nine members of the inquisitorial body were summoned as witnesses for the prosecution. A new venire was demanded and then the fight was on in earnest.
Robinson was placed on trial and District Attorney Hoar partly, it is said, showed his hand to the defense and was immediately placed on the witness stand himself by the defendant’s lawyers to show that an illegal conspiracy had been formed between public officials for the purpose of sending the indicted men to the penitentiary.
Attorney Ostrander for the defense put the question openly to Hoar in court and he refused to answer. After much argument the District Attorney was ordered to jail for contempt.
Hoar’s lawyers immediately went to San Francisco and applied to the Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. An alternative writ was granted, returnable Monday morning. The court at that time will hear what reasons the prisoner has for thinking he should be released. Attorney Ostrander has also gone to San Francisco to be present at the hearing and to attempt to have Hoar kept in jail until he chooses to answer the important question. Meanwhile the county is on tiptoe with expectancy.