Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Oakland Tribune, 02 Oct 1915, Sat, Page 3
The article below is shocking in parts and so outrageously arrogant to seem like satire.  But it isn't.   It makes clear, taken with the admissions of Horace Albright, that felonies just come naturally to those in charge.  As you read it to remember the Currys and other concessionaires were not allowed to have a license to business for more than one year at a time and so could not get financing for their operations.  Here, you see the shadowy Stephen Mather manipulating events in a bald attempt to steal the equity the Curry Family had created despite the conditions forced on them.  
        This was only the beginning.  

Mark Daniels "Gives' Blustering Interview, in Which He Threatens to Close Yosemite Park to the Public

Stephen T. Mather, assistant-secretary of the interior in charge of -national parks, is on his way to Washington, P. C.', to have an iron clad contract drawn up by me Attorney-General giving the Desmond Park Service Company an exclusive hotel privilege in Yosemite for twenty years, with a possible codicil giving the. company supremacy- power over all the concessions in the park. David C. Curry, propriet6r. for the past 17 year of Camp Curry, in Yosemite. has also left San Francisco for Washington to make a fight against the contract being entered into and to lay his case before  secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane. Captain Curry fears that he is going to be put out of 'business, and he is ready to lake his fight to congress or to the courts. If he learns there is any  redress to be had from either of these sources.   
Mark Daniels. superintendent and landscape 'engineer of national parks, stated today that he thinks it will require 60 or 90 days before the contract can be formally entered into, and in the meanwhile Curry plans .to prosecute his fight with the assistance of a large army of friends whom, he has interested in his cause.
The threat 1s made that if Curry occasions too much trouble by stirring antagonism and controversies Yosemite be closed by Secretary  Lane to and camp concessionaires, and only camping parties will be-permitted. This would mean that the no one, of moderate means could visit the park next year.
Whatever happens, a great change is due in the management of affairs at Yosemite Valley, and the old "go-as-you- please days" will be no more. Curry and his friends. believe that the result, will be an air-tight monopoly for the benefit of D. J. Desmond, head of the Desmond Park and Service Company and the catering to exclusive tourist trade in the valley. He even goes so far as to intimate that Desmond, assistant-secretary Mather, and Superintendent Mark Daniels have been governed by selfish, personal motives in negotiating for the closing of the 20-year hotel privilege contract.  Curry and Desmond came to blows over the matter last Saturday, and the feeling between Curry and Daniels not particularly amicable.  Daniels declares, however, that he gets along with Curry better than the previous park superintendent. "When I know Curry is wrong and that he knows it too." said Daniels. "I tell him he's a d--m liar without mincing any words. When he thinks 1 am wrong - he comes and tells me so in a manner that leaves no doubt In my mind." Daniels admitted that a plan had  been under consideration to place all the camps and concessions under the direction of Desmond, with an arrangement by which Desmond should"-pay fifty per cent net to the government, while each subordinate concession must pay Desmond 50 per cent net for his superintendence performed by him. The plan was abandoned when it was shown that this would make It possible for Desmond to run his own place at a loss, while making the subordinate concessionaires pay the difference. Daniels stated that some form of organization, bringing ail the concessions' under, one head, must be worked out, or the concession privilege in the valley might be dispensed with altogether.
Daniels- frankly admits that the plan of handling the park in future, if he has his way, is to be along the lines of a governmentally controlled monopoly.  Desmond is to have the monopoly.  
Desmond has no permit at present. He is in possession of a letter from Secretary Lane in which the Specific promise is made that he will be. given this 20-year concession as soon as the details of the contract can definitely agreed upon and the contract drawn up.  "Is this an exclusive privilege for a hotel In Yosemite Valley?" Superintendent Daniels was asked. "No, it is not an exclusive privilege," answered Daniels. ''Then if another company applied for a. permit to conduct a hotel, that would be granted?"  "No," answered Daniels. "We believe one hotel is enough in Yosemite Valley." "Then it is a practical Monopoly?''  
“The tendency toward publicly owned property is toward governmentally controlled monopoly," said Daniels.  "That is the policy along which the state-controlled railroad commission is working.  It has been found to give the best results in service to the public.  The government regulates the rates and the conditions of service, and that brings about a condition in which the company holding the franchise or permit gains a fair return upon its fair investment, but no more than a fair retum. “'The trouble with Curry is that if had to be cut down to a fair return he would lose half his profits." "What is the "method of getting competition in the letting of such a contract as this for a 20-year exclusive privilege? Did you call for bids?"
“The government has found it is inadvisable to call for bids on a proposition of this kind." Daniels replied. "The highest bidder to such a privilege to such a privilege might be the last man to whom government would wish to let the contract to.”
"I received, offers from three persons. We Investigated them thoroughly, as to their ability to carry out the plans of this department as to their financial responsibility and as to their general standing.  All three were satisfactory.  But Desmond offered the highest percentage. He was not, however, the one I recommended." “Was Curry asked to present a proposition?" "Curry was not invited to make a proposal," Daniels explained.  '"This work is beyond his capacity. lie 1s a good man in his line. He has done much for Yosemite Valley. He has advertised It well. But he has his limitations, and they unfit him to undertake a proposition of this character. In some ways he has done more harm to the valley than good. He is a fighter, and he is always' stirring things up. That sort of thing does harm. He makes people go away dissatisfied. These men must get together and co-operate, or nothing can be, accomplished.”  "Who were the other two bidders?" "I should prefer not to. give their names," Daniels answered. "They are men of excellent standing in the community, and it might be considered to reflect in some way upon them that they were not given the privilege.”
“Only one man could get it,” it was suggested, "and you say that Desmond offered the best percentage. If I understand you it was clearly because he made the best offer that he was successful. He thought he could make a profit while offering the government a better percentage; while the others possibly figured more conservatively. “
"That Is the, case." Said Daniels. But I did not wish, there, to be any misunderstanding,” Desmond offered to return to the government 50 per cent Of his net profits. One. of the others offered 33 per cent, and the other only 25%. "The two others who submitted proposals, which are in letters filed with the secretary, were Harris Weinstock and C. A. Hawkins, chairman of the .finance committee of the Merchants  National Bank.
“Curry intimates that there is something wrong in this contract to be entered int0 with Desmond, that the secretary,' his assistant, Mr. Mather, and you might have ulterior' motives In the matter of favoring Desmond. How about that?"
"That is nonsensical," Daniels declared. "In the first place. Mr. Mather is a man of national reputation. He has contributed his services to the public in many ways. He worked out the solution to the traction problem for the city of Chicago, doing pioneer work presenting an intelligent plan for the granting of a franchise whereby the municipality would gain an adequate return. His standing would make such a suggestion absurd. I’m losing money on this job.
"But even more than that, the contract will be one of such a character that thereby the government will retain absolute control. Let me explain to vou the general terms of the contract.  Desmond agrees to pay the government 50 per cent net, but, this is based on the returns after writing off depreciations. maintenance, and operating expense and interest on the investment. The manner in which these items are to be established set forth in the contract so that the holder of the privilege will not be able to pad his payroll, make an unjust allowance for depreciation, or reduce the net showing in any other illegitimate manner."
 "The government reserves the exclusive right to regulate all prices charged at the hotel for, all classes of service from year to year. The books, by the terms of the agreement, may be kept by a government expert, or may be kept by the company. If the secretary of the interior so decides, but must be open to inspection at all times. "With these facts in the possession of the government, and the right to fix rates for service, we can reduce the rates to the public to the minimum which will give the concessionaire a fair return on his investment.” 
“I told Desmond we would expect him to get his rates down to two figures.  He has promised that if it is physically possible this will be done.  It may be to do this it, he will have to fix it at 98 cents.”
This will of course affect these other camps.  But we intend to popularize Yosemite and give good accommodations.  Desmond is the man who can do it.  He has an interest in some ten hotels.  He is one of the most experienced man for catering to great crowds in the United States. He organizing the feeding of the earthquake and fire refugees, and was highly complimented for his work, and he handled the catering for the force on the Los Angeles Aqueduct.  If any man can give service and get the rates down, he can.”
That the people of the east have avoided the Yosemite because of inadequate and antiquated hotel accommodations, and that this state has been the loser by five to ten million dollars annually is the result, is the declaration of Daniels.  It is Daniels opinion that 200,000 people could be persuaded to view the wonders of Yosemite each year if they could be assured of the luxuries of a modern hotel during their stay in the valley.
The old Sentinel Hotel, which was formerly a government barn, is to be torn down after the present season closes, and the new hostelry will be erected just across the river.  Whether or not the various camps now operating under grants will be allowed to remain in the valley has not been definitely determined, said Daniels. 
“California has lost millions of dollars and we been deprived of hundreds of thousands of tourists in the Yosemite by the lack of a proper hotel today,” declared Daniels today.  “Californians do not mind sleeping in a tent or putting up with poor attendance when they go seeking a vacation, but Easterners are different. 
“They are not willing to rough it and the report has gone abroad that  is just what they have been told they will have to do if they visit the Yosemite valley.  This is the only reason we have not been getting the crowds.  Montana, with its relatively small population, drew more people to Glacier National park than we had in Yosemite, and a greater number entered one gate at Yellowstone this Exposition year that visited our own great valley. The Sentinel Hotel is a barn.  It will be destroyed.  The new hotel which it is now proposed to build, will be constructed of stone or plaster with the latest improvements.  It will be essential fire-proof.  The building is to contain from 100 to 125 rooms.  The plans have already been submitted, but must finally be passed upon by the secretary.”