Criticisms Were Not Warranted

December 10, 1914

Attack Made on the Management of Springfield State Hospital Fell Flat

Experts Riddle the Charges Made

Deputy Auditor, In Office Less Than a Year, Tries to Make Mountains Out of Mole-hills and Gets Bumped–Farm Good Paying Proposition–Unwarranted Statements Set Right

The criticisms of the management of Springfield State Hospital, recently made in the report of a Deputy State Auditor, has not only drawn out a withering reply, but the management has been completely exonerated in a report just submitted by Haskins & Sells, a noted firm of accountants. This first installed the accounting system at the Hospital, did the same thing for the State Roads Commission and for many of the most prominent business concerns in Baltimore and other cities.

Just what inspired the attack on the part of the subordinate Auditor, who has only held his job about a year, has not yet appeared. Perhaps he went upon the theory that if he did not find something to criticise somewhere in the State institutions, he might lose his job. At any rate he proceeded to rip up things in general at the Hospital, which is the pride of Maryland and the most noted institution of its kind in the country. Among Sykesville people, who are near enough to the Hospital to have intimate and accurate knowledge of what goes on there, the criticism excited only indignation.

The report was dated October 12 and stated that the audit and examination of the books and accounts of the Hospital had been made and “have found same to be correct.” The investigation revealed conditions, says the report, “which should call for immediate remedial action.” The report then goes into detail as to the farm, declaring that the articles most essential to an institution of the kind are either not produced at all or in negligible quantities: that cattle and hogs are slaughtered, the values of which are not shown in the accounts, “due to the defective system of bookkeeping.” It is made to appear that the farm is a losing proposition.

It is also stated that the Industrial shops and sewing room cost more than $16,000 and that the total return on them is only $51.90.

The statement is made that the power plant furnishes power to Sykesville for three and one-half cents per kilowatt, which, the report says, is extremely low, and according to the information of the auditor, below the cost of production. The system of accounting is very severely criticized at some length.

The Board of Management thus criticized by an official understrapper of about a year’s experience in his place, is composed of Governor Galdsborough, the State Comptroller and State Treasurer, who are members ex-officio, but share the responsibility of the institution. Shyrock, John Huber, William S. Evans and W. W. C. Robinson, all well known and prominent and reliable citizens of the State. When the report was submitted to the Board of Public Works, a hearing was held at which all the officials were present. The reports of the firm of accounts was also laid before the meeting.

Mr. Gillespie, the Deputy who made the criticisms, was not trough a grilling cross-examination and is reported to have admitted that he was mistaken in some of his statements.

The report of the expert accounts to Vice-president Miller on then answers them with explanation and figures that constitute for the most part flat contradictions of the allegations. Speaking generally, the report says:

“The criticisms are unwarranted, and indicate a misconception of local conditions and regards, with recognized accounting principles. Certain of the Deputy State Auditor’s statements are apparently false, and some of the financial statements submitted by him are incorrect and misleading.”

Of the farm the accounting firm says that instead of being an expense it showed a profit for the year of more than $5,000, or about $12 an acre, for the part under cultivation. The industrial shop and sewing room also showed a profit nearly as large, it is claimed, although most of the products, as well as those on the farm, are used in the institution and credit given at the lowest market prices for the same stuff. It is also denied that power is being sold at a loss.

The accounting systems is defended at some length and some of the statements of Mr. Gillespie are flatly contradicted. It is claimed that no such thing as a second payment of an invoice could have taken place without its producing a discrepancy in the cash, which had not occurred.

The accountant’s report states that the Deputy Auditor had made some changes in the form and classification of certain expense items from the Hospital report of last June and that “certain of these changes are incorrect and might create false impressions.”

A number of instances are given, among them one charge for deviled crabs, chicken and ice cream, under the head of “Entertainment, Board Meetings,” whereas the item was in connection with the graduating exercises of the nurses.

Another item for liquor and cigars which was also charged to “board meeting” was, it was was stated at the hearing, expended in connection with the biennial visit of the committee from the Legislature. The report continues:

“These and other items are trivial matters and are unworthy of note except to indicate the evident intention of the Deputy Auditor to convey an unfavorable impression.”

The report concludes by saying that the criticisms “are not worthy of serious consideration.”

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