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Newspaper Page Text
The tune to lock the stable door is before the horse is stolen. Council
will meet next month, and that telephone steal will be put over if the folks
don't look out.
The Illinois Telephone & Telegraph Co. got a franchise from the city
in 1899 to build tunnels, conduits, wires and poles for phone purposes. In
1903 the ordinance was amended giving the company until 1909 to get
20,000 phone subscribers.
At the same time the tunnel company was given permission to transmit
newspapers, merchandise, etc, through its tunnels, and began neglecting
the phone end of it and building up the tunnel freight business.
In 1909 the company got another extension to June 1, 1911. The city
was protected by a provision that if the company didn't have a phone sys
tem working by that time with 20,000 bona-fide subscribers the tunnel
company would forfeit to the city all rights under the franchise, together
with its phone plant.
As a further protection to the city of Chicago, the following pro
vision was made part of the franchise ordinance:
"It shall be expressly the condition of this grant that if the Illinois
Telephone & Telegraph Company, or any of its successors or assigns, shall
either sell out to or enter into any agreement with any existing telephone
company, or any of its successors or assigns, doing business in the city of
Chicago, which agreement would tend to make competition inoperative,
this ordinance shall become null and void, and the plant of said company,
together with the conduits, wires and poles then in the streets belonging to
said company, shall be forfeited to the city."
There can be no reasonable doubt that the tunnel company has failed
to comply with the terms of that franchise. It has not only failed to have
20,000 bona-fide subscribers, but has entered into" an agreement with the
Chicago Telephone Co., or its parent, the Bell phone trust, known as the
American Telephone & Telegraph Co., to sell the so-called automatic plant
to the opposition.
Attorneys for both theBell and the Automatic have appeared before
council committee asking council to grant the city's permission for the one
company to buy out the other.
For this consent, which would enable the phone trust to buy and then
junk the automatic plant, and establish an absolute phone monopoly in
Chicago, THE CITY GETS ABSOLUTELY NO CONSIDERATION.
In fact, under the terms of the Chicago Telephone Co.'s franchise,
that company can add to its capitalization whatever it pays for the auto
matic, and make subscribers pay the debt by paying the interest on it.
That means, that if the council gives its consent to this merger, the
phone users of Chicago can be taxed in phone charges to pay for the pur
chase and Junking of the automatic.
There Is no good public reason why council should consent to this pro
posed job. There is no good reajpn for council helping to establish a tele
phone monopoly by giving consent.
Under the terms of the tunnel franchise the automatic plant now right
fully belongs to the people of Chicago.
And instead of junking it and taxing subscribers to pay back to the
phone trust what it pays to the tunnel company for the automatic, the CITY
OF CHICAGO SHOULD TAKE OVER THE AUTOMATIC PHONE SYSTEM
AND OWN AND OPERATE IT FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE OF
The Penny Phone League has been organized to protect the interests