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space big enough for their conduits, on provision that 'they install 20,000
telephones. They failed to live up to thisagreement, and, though by not
living up to it they forfeited their franchise, the city council allowed them
to get away with it and now propose to allow them to sell the automatic to
the Bell Company for $6,000,000.
The Illinois Tunnel Company were bitterly scored for using the auto
matic telephone as a cloak for their real design, which was tp get ultimate
control of the subway. It was clearly pointed out that they had used a
telephone system as a mask with which to get underground space.
"And now that they have violated the terms under which they got
the underground space," said Sen. Jones, "these same men have the au
dacity to come before the city council
and ask the .right to sell out their au
tomatic, which they never wanted, to
the telephone trust for $6,000,000,
and that they be permitted to retain
the. tunnel, which was all they ever
wanted, but which, without a tele
phone system, they couldn't have
"The Bell Company doesn't want
the automatic except to dismantle it
and destroy competition that they
might have absolute control over the
"And why have the newspapers
kept so strangely silent about this
theft? Why are the people kept in
the dark concerning this sinister
scheme? Why don't the members of
the city council take the people into
their confidence? Is it because the
scheme is so rotten clean through?
"Nothing proves the need ,of a
referendum more clearly than this
present case. With the referendum
we could make the aldermen stand
by their pledges to guard the people's
interests and refuse to be parties to
this nefarious plan.
"The automatic right now stands
forfeited by their refusal to comply
with their contract. If the aldermen
do the right thing they will take over
the automatic and in that way block
"I sincerely hope that this will be
only the first of a series of .meetings
so that the people may know how
they're being victimized. The news
papers seen singularly afraid to re
veal the plot.
"We must have publicity, and if we
gan't get it through the papers we
must shout it from the platforms
throughout the city.
"In 1895 'the. Bell patent expired.
Before that time the Bell Company
had a monopoly. After 1895 several
independent companies were started.
Competition was keen and the people
got better service at cheaper rates. .
Then the Bell Company started grab
bing off Its rivals. But there are still
independent companies in Philadel
phia, Buffalo, Kansas City, Omaha
and other large cities. Competition
is the only safeguard of the public.
You can see the effect of it in the
war between the Western Union and
the Postal Telegraph companies.
"They are constantly improving
service and underbidding each other
in the race for business. For instance,
the Western Union starts the night
letter and the Postal Telegraph
comes through with the lettergram.
And so on.
"And the same conditions could be
true In telephone service on a com
petitive basis. In some places where
there are two systems you can get
both for the same price that one
"Recently the city granted the
telephone company a new contract
for five years. Even supposing the
rates in that contract are. fair, that's
no argument against competition.
It's the future we have got to look to.
But here in Chicago we're not only
up against the desire of the telephone'
company to control rates, we are also
up against the desire of a" few men to
steal the tunnel and eventually con
trol the subway system'