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Newspaper Page Text
WHAT THAT PHONE GRAB MEANS
TO PEOPLE OF CHICAGO
BY N. D. COCHRAN
Unless the people themselves find some way to prevent it, their repre
sentatives council will betray the interests of the phone users of Chicago
into the hands of the gigantic phone trust
By a vote of 11 to 4 the council committee on gas, oil and electric
light voted to recommend for passage an ordinance giving the city's con
sent to a sale of the Automatic phone plant to the phone trust
Some small pretense was made of getting something out of the deal
for the city, by providing that Chicago shall get $500,000 of the loot; but
at the same time the Chicago Telephone Go. was authorized to add to its
capital account $1,532,058 on which the users of Bell phones will be taxed
to pay the interest.
For the telephone company has a right to charge rates that will pay
interest on the increased capitalization.
Phone users gain nothing at all by the city giving its consent to this
deal. The city gains nothing. The only gainers are the owners of the
bonds of the Automatic Co. and Og. Armour is said to be the big holder
and the phone trust. For the phone trust will junk the Automatic plant,
remove a possible competitor and establish an absolute phone monopoly
When you get down to brass tacks the ordinance ought to be entitled
"An Ordinance Giving the Telephone Trust Permission to Establish an
Absolute Monopoly in Chicago, and Make Phone Users Foot the BilL"
Before Bill Thompson was elected mayor, Sam Ettelsen represented
the phone interests, and worked and argued with aldermen to get this deal
through council for his clients. He was assisted by his law partner, Dan
Then Mayor Thompson made Sam Ettelsen corporation counsel, in
which capacity he is supposed to give legal advice to the city.
I don't know whether Ettelsen threw up his job with the phone inter
ests when he took the jo'b as corporation counsel, but even if he did you
can bet he don't throw up his friendship for his phone clients, or his
partisanship for them.
It is true that Mayor Thompson appointed Walter Fisher to represent
the city in this phone deal, but it is also true that Fisher was appointed
to represent the city in the traction deal of 1907 and YOU know what
happened to the city in that deal. It made municipal ownership practically
impossible, because of the fact that the price the city would have to pay
for the surface lines undei the unification ordinance of 1907, climbs several
times as fast as the city's 55 per cent piles up as a purchase fund.
For illustration President Busby testified at the street railway arbi
tration hearing that if the city had taken over the surface lines in 1907
when the Fisher ordinance was passed, the price would have been $50,000,
000 BUT, if the city were to have bought the lines last year the price
would have been $145,000,000. That is, the city had saved $16,000,00Q