Turnbull Out of P.U.C. Post

James L Turnbull - 1938-02-02

Camden Courier-Post – February 2, 1938

Second Time in Year’s Service

Coalition Freeholder Told Inspector Job Will End on February 15



Freeholder James L. Turnbull, Republican member of the coalition group in the Camden County Board of Freeholders, for the second time in a year has lost a position with the State Board of Public Utility Commissioners. Turnbull, who represents the borough of Collingswood, admitted yesterday his job of assisting in a survey of South Jersey railroad crossings will terminate February 15. The letter so advising him was written by Emmett T. Drew, secretary of the commission, and was sent to Turnbull’s home in Collingswood.

Commissioner Mary W. Kobus was angered when she heard Turnbull was dismissed and said she was going to take the matter up with Governor Moore.

“I’m going to get right on the job with Governor Moore tomorrow,” she said last night, “and I’m going to have some things to tell him. I’m going to fight for Jim Turnbull all the way up.”

“That’s right,’” asserted Freeholder Raymond G. Price, of the Eleventh Ward, one of the coalition members.” You can tell them, too, that it’s funny that Turnbull was the only one of the employees who was fired, the others didn’t get a notice, for Turnbull told me that himself.

“You better tell them, too, that they need us a whole lot more than we need them..”

Which remark Price refused to amplify.

After Turnbull spurned a personal plea and the entreaties of others politically affiliated with former U.S. Senator David Baird, Jr., not to join the Kobus-Brunner coalition coup which wrested I control of the Board of Freeholders from the Baird organization, it was freely predicted Baird “would get Turnbull’s job.”

However, Turnbull denied Baird influenced his removal from the state job.

“I know that everybody is saying that Dave Baird knifed me because I refused to go along,” Turnbull said. “I don’t believe Dave Baird had anything to do with my losing the job. Furthermore, Baird on New Year’s Day in the Court House told me I would not lose the job.

“On New Year’s Day Baird came to me and asked me if I intended to join the coalition group. I told him I had pledged my vote for a coalition movement because I thought by doing so I would be doing my duty by the citizens of Camden County.

“I said to Baird that I knew by doing this I would lose my job with the utility commission. He told me that he wouldn’t stoop so low as to try to take my job or anyone’s job because of political differences. Baird told me that and I want to emphatically say that I believed him then and I still do.”

Turnbull said he was employed with four Atlantic county men, recommended by Harry A. Bacharach, president of the utility commission, to make a survey of South Jersey railroad crossings.

Asked Leave of Absence

Further he said he asked Earl Caldwell; field supervisor for the utility commission for a two weeks’ leave of absence, beginning February 15.

“I heard nothing from my request,” added Turnbull.” The letter written by Mr. Drew gave me quite an extended leave of absence. However, I believe that it is possible I may be re-employed. Certainly there doesn’t appear to be any political significance or bias in the letter.”

The letter to Turnbull reads:

“I am directed by the board to inform you that owing to the fact that the particular work for which you were engaged is finished and no other work of a temporary nature is available, your services will be no longer required beginning February 15, 1938.

“The board regrets the necessity of this action, as the experience gained with our commission has made you of value to us.

Later Job Hinted

“Your name, however, will be kept upon our list, and if an opportunity arises to afford you once more temporary employment, in the event you have not secured permanent employment, public or private, your name will be given preference automatically.

“In view of this may we suggest that you look over the examinations being held by the Civil Service Commission with a view to taking those for which you feel yourself qualified.

“The board may then be in a position to offer you permanent employment in some line in which you are especially qualified.” Signed, E.T. DREW, Secretary

Turnbull said Baird had nothing to do with his berth with the utility commission, but that former Governor Harold Hoffman recommended his appointment to Bacharach.

Earlier last year the Collingswood freeholder held a job as a highway inspector for about two months and finally was dropped.

‘No Political Job Certain’

“I know how I lost that first utility commission job,” Turnbull said, “The Courier-Post newspapers raised the devil in its news columns about so many inspectors being appointed.

“I am not blaming Dave Baird for this and as a matter of fact the whole thing came like a bombshell. Not hearing anything since the first of the year, and remembering Baird’s promise, I thought I was sitting pretty securely.

“They can blame Baird for a lot of things but this time I don’t believe he is to blame. No political job is certain in these days.”

As a member of the Board of Freeholders, and for his action in joining the coalition forces, Turnbull was given the job as chairman of the road committee. He receives $600 in addition to his freeholder’s salary of $750. Use of an automobile also goes with the road Committee chairmanship.


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