Whether the Political Machines of the late 1800's and early 1900's were good or bad is a difficult question to answer. Certainly there were advantages to the system. Immigrants who had no one else whom they could ask help from turned to the Machine. It was an efficient way to run government, organizing city or state processes without the need for political red tape. However, with this control came a cost.
Political machines were apt to become corrupt. Many times, to stay effective, a little illegal "oiling" of the Machine was required through kickbacks and bribery. These illegal activities soon turned from a technique which was for the benefit of the public to a scheme whose only purpose was to make a profit.
Many city bosses justified their practices with the Makiavellian statement that they just "Took opportunities where they saw 'em". Others believed it was stealing from the rich and giving to the poor (Never mind they were making themselves quite wealthy in the process). Therefore, it seems that no distinction about the morality of Political Machines can be made. Some were perfectly legal and only for the benefit of the people, some were ruthlessly corrupt, and many were in the grey. One thing is certain, though: They were fantastically successful.