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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, December 13, 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/sn83045487/1916-12-13/ed-1/seq-7/

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ALD MERRIAM SHOWS HOW THE NICKEL
SNATCHERS ARE RUNNING THE TOWN
Chicago's invisible city hall the
real inside government that runs Chi
cago for the benefit of traction, gas,
electric and telephone! millionaires
was shown up, analyzed, taken apart
and put under a spotlight in one of
I its big angles yesterday.
Aid. Charles E. Merriam testified
before the McCormick legislative
commission. He gave the figures on
property, debt, income and number
ofemployes of the public service cor
porations of Chicago.
These corporations own more
property, command more cash, hire
more people than all the combined
city and county governments of Cook
county. In money and job control
these corporations drive a power
that gives an economic whip hand
over the city of Chicago. Merriam's
figures were from official statistics.
Women who cook with gas, as well
as people who hang on straps in
street cars and people who drop
nickels into phone slots, may find
these figures worth a second
thought:
The city of Chicago, Cook county,
sanitary district, the Lincoln, South
and West Chicago park commissions,
control property aggregating $217,-992,382-with
a total debt of $68,324,
500, total income of $92,089,004
(1915), and a total of employes num
bering 38,820. The city with its 31,
937 employes and-Cook county with
2,900 and South Park board with
1,600 are in the lead in number of
people they hire. The city with a
debt of $31,924,000 and an income of
$70,557,323 leads all others.
The army of voters and wage earn
ers on the payrolls of the Chicago
utility kings numbers 42,145. This
is abouj: 4,000 more than all the peo
ple on the governmental payrolls of
Chicago and Cook county.
People's Gas Co., Commonwealth
Edison, Chicago Telephone Co., Chi
.cago Utilities Co., Chicago Elevated
Railways, Chicago & Oak Park Ele
vated and Chicago Surface Lines are
the corporations Merriam takes into
his reckoning. Their total capitali
zation is $596,809,644.
In property as expressed in capital
ization, the utility corporations hold
more than twice the power of all city
and county governments. ,
Where the latter have a combined
annual income of $92,089,004, the
utility kings with their massive
nickel-snatching machinery take In
and take away from the people of
Chicago $96,840,123 a year.
Power over voters in elections and
influence with aldermen who ask jobs
f or constituents Is shown in the num
ber of employes on the payrolls of
each of these corporations: People's
Gas, 5,000; Commonwealth Edison,
4,867; Chi. Tel. Co., 14,000; Chi. Util
ities Co., 278; elevated roads, 5,000;
surface lines, 13,000.
"The'se figures indicate the im
portance of the relation between the
municipality and the public service
corporations," Merriam told the
committee. "The- weight of these
companies is so great, numerically
and financially, that they can be met
effectively by one power only, and
that is the combined force of the
community they serve."
Mayor Thompson, Bob Sweitzer,
Carter Harrison and party platforms
In local politics were quoted to show
that Sam Insull's proposition to have
a state commission run the Chicago
utility corporations is treason to the
best interests of Chicago. Chicago
straphangers and not downstate
farmers ought to run Chicago utili
ties, according to Merriam.
"Users of gas and electricity, tele
phone and street railway service are
familiar with the work done and the
prices paid," he said. "They are or
ganized to express their will only in
the goyernment of the city, and un
der our law should be given fullfow

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