OCR Interpretation


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, February 08, 1916, LAST EDITION, Image 7

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1916-02-08/ed-1/seq-7/

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RICHBERG TO BARE ANCLES IN
GAS LITIGATION
High finance, the kind that deals in
millions and billions, is watching the
outcome of the Chicago gas litiga
tion. If the city wins, $10,000,000
overcharges are going to be refunded
to the people and the books and rec
ords of the company will be thrown
open a thing the gas company has
dpdged for years.
But outside the court another fight
is going on.' Somebody is going to
be "nipped." The deal is one of those
which never reach the public. Both
'the winner and loser keep silent
They play with the public's money.
It wouldn't do to air their "dirty
linen." The "Shadow Men" know
there is more money in the public's
pocket and when their little game is
over they get out to get it.
The People's Gas Light & Coke Co.,
a $85,000,000 corporation, wants the
city's sanction to make and sell a
new kind of gas, which will be made
without oil. For some mysterious
reason this production is put forward
to the city at this time, when the
present rate is about to expire and
when the city is on the verge of get
. ting back its $10,000,000 alleged to be
'filched from the public by the gas
company.
Donald Richberg, att'y for the city
in this litigation, doesn't see how the
city can lose from the way things
stand now. He has got the gas com
pany going and coming. The case
has been taken away from Judge Gib
bons, and he has blocked all escape
by filing a cross bill, which keeps the
company from going into the federal
court.
Sam Insull, who's one of the few
Englishmen making money in Amer
ica, get's $50,000 a year from the gas
company to act as chairman of the
board of directors. Sam says oil has
gone up and that they aren't making
as much money as formerly. He
offers cheaper gas if the city will only
let him have the heat unit instead of
the candle power standard.
Sam allows the gas company to
buy its oil from the Standard Oil Co.
This billion-dollar corporation man
ages to keep its fingers in the affiairs
of U. S. public utility corporations
through the National City Bank of
New York, which it controls. Insull,
public utility king of the middlewest,
"sometimes co-operates" with the
National City bank in floating the
bonds of the gas company.
Somewhere in this delicate secret
machinery a cog is loose. Insull hints
at this when he says the gas com
pany may have to pay a higher price
for oil. He comes to the city and
asks for a new gas standard.
The gas company purchases mil
lions of gallons of oil yearly. It's a
big custfimer. The price of oil would
be affected if it ceased to buy. The
Standard Oil Co. would lose a few
millions.
But Insull has to go back to the
National City bank to get money to
build this new oiless gas plant Is
he trying to cut down their "percentage-"
on his bonds, or are they trying
to get at his fat profits?.
The real cause of the disturbance
may be a thousand miles away from
Chicago. For Insull runs nearly a
hundred other public-milking corpo
rations besides the gas company.
In 1911 the ordinance fixing the
gas rate at 75 cents was passed by
the council. The gas company en
joined this ordinance, Judge Gibbons
allowing them to soak the public 80
cents per thousand cubic feet for gas.
The court impounded the difference
between the ordinance and the
amount allowed. This now amounts
to $10,000,000. The city says it be
longs to the people; the gas company
s ,f doesn't
When Judge Frederick Smith de
cideu to vacate Judge Gibbons' or
ders "because they denied the city
substantial rights," he included in
his opinion a very significant sen
tence. "If it Is a proceeding in equi
ty," he said, "the city must be ac-
1 corded the right to a discovery and
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