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SOME INTERESTING FACTS
ABOUT JPHONE COMPETITION
By Harold D. Stroud.
In '1899 Chicago, by almost a
unanimous voice, declared that she
wanted telephone competition by
means of automatic telephones.
She gave the Illinois Tel. & Tel. Co.
a franchise and fixed a maximum
rate of $84 a year, believing that
company would carry out its pledge
and give Chicago telephone users bet
ter service than was being given by
the Bell Co.
The Illinois Tel. & Tel. Co. has fail
ed miserably even to put up a show
of competition. It has collected the
people's money for a second tele
phone, which they continue to keep
and pay for year after year, believing
that they were making investment
for the future. Instead of going ahead
and putting in enough automatic
telephones so that the people could
get some real use out of this superb
service they spent nearly $40,000,000
of investors' money, or a large part
of $40,000,000, in boring tunnels un
der the streets of Chicago. -At first
they told the people that these tun
nels were to accommodate telephone
cables, and it was a,long time before
the Chicago people awoke to the fact
that this company was really building
an underground railroad.
They have paid but little attention
to the telephone part of the business,
yet have kept up a pretense.of secur
ing telephone-subscribers. "On July 9,
1912, thy entered into a secret agree
ment with the telephone trust tcrsell
out the telephone plant, but this was
not known until over a year later,
By entering into such an .agreement
they directly violated the forfeiture
clause in te telephone ordinance,
and the people of Chicago should
compel them to go forward and carry
out their agreement, or- forfeit 'the
plant to the city, who can lease it to
someone who will give real telephone'
Hundreds of poor investors were
frozen out and a little over a year ago
the assets of the entire company,
supposed to represent $40,000,000,
were bought at auction by agents of
J. P. Morgan & Co., for $5,000,000,
presumably in the interests of the
Bell Telephone Company; and they
now wish to sell the telephone plant
to the telephone trust for $6,300,000
and retain' the tunnels to do a rail
road business and incidentally to se
cure from the city of Chicago con
tracts for hauling out subway exca
vations. This is a fine state of affairs, is it
not this telephone 4eal? Figured
out it means this: On a pretense of
giving Chicago telephone competition
valuable subway rights have been
given away by the city of Chicago.
It sanctions the robbery of hun-
dreds of unsuspecting stockholders,
the company or its accomplices step
in and buy a $40,000,000 property for
$5,000,000 and wants the right to sell
it for $6,300,000, or that portion of
it representing the telephone plant,
while it keeps the railroad property in
the tunnels, out of which, to make a
further profit at the city's expense.
The telephone users of the city who
gave the valuable franchise to get
telephone competition will, in the fu
ture, have to pay rates based on at
last $5,000,000 worth of water in the
monopoly's capital account and yet
have no sign of competition in sight.
By entering into a contract to sell
out to a competitor for the purpose
of destroying competition the Illinois
Tel. & Tel. Co. has put its head in a
noose, and if the decent people of
Chlcaeo fail to Dull it tight we might
as well give up all hope of municipal
honesty, turn our civic affairs over
to the agents of high finance and be
thankful for the right to exist.
o o .
Vicar Amid all your troubles, Mrs.
Smith, I am pleased to see that your
sense of gratitude does not fail. Mrs.
Smith No, sir. Rheumatiz is-bad in-,
deed, but I must be thankful I still
'have a back to have it in!