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BY AN IMPARTIAL OBSERVER.
TWO years ago the voters of Chicago, by
Dunne stood, nor for an early, promising, practical attempt to apply those principles.
A strictly impartial review of the developments of the traction situation since April, 1906 (see my review of Mayor Dunne's first year, in the REVIEW OF REVIEWS for May, 1906), will show exactly what the results of the election signify, positively and negatively.
a majority of nearly 25,000,-a decisive one in the political conditions of that city,elected Judge Edward F. Dunne Mayor on a platform of "immediate municipal ownership" of the street-railway system. One year ago a plan designed to carry into effect Mayor Dunne's traction policy barely escaped defeat. The majority for the proposal After various false starts, mistakes and to issue certificates for the purchase of the failures, Mayor Dunne, early in 1906, in street railways was a little over 3000, while view of the splendid victory of the city over the proposal that the city, in the event of the the traction companies in the so-called ninetysuccessful purchase of the property, proceed nine-year case,-a victory that wiped out alto operate the system, was actually defeated, leged franchise rights valued at $150,000,000 the vote in favor of the proposition falling or more, a figure that would have made purshort of the three-fifths majority the law chase by the city or condemnation of the required. properties under eminent domain financially This year, after a mayoralty campaign of impossible,-decided to reach the goal of unusual virulence, Mayor Dunne, running municipal ownership and operation via a for the same office and professing the same temporary compromise with the companies on principles, has been defeated by a plurality of about 13,000, though the candidate who opposed him, Mr. Fred A. Busse, postmaster and machine politician, was regarded as no stronger, at least with the "better elements" and the independents, than the Republican nominee for Mayor of two years ago, Mr. Harlan. At the same time the Dunne traction policy is repudiated by a much heavier majority,-33,000.
What do these results mean? Has Chicago repented and abandoned municipal ownership as a solution of her traction problem? Is the fall of Dunne to be construed, without qualification, as a defeat and repudiation of municipal ownership?
In the daily press of the country this is the view generally taken. Certain Chicago newspapers, in a position to "know better," put the same construction on the outcome of the municipal election and referendum of April 2. There is, however, no intelligent, honest foundation for that view. Chicago has not repudiated the policy of municipal ownership. She has rejected the Dunn method of realizing that policy. The verdict was against the Dunne traction platform, the Dunne alternative to the "settlement traction ordinances that were before the voters; it was not against the principles for which
the basis of an indeterminate grant or revocable license. He invited the companies to resolve themselves, as it were, into reconstruction or rehabilitation companies, and to agree to operate the lines under contractordinances providing for municipalization at the option and convenience of the city, for a fair division of profits, and for the payment of an ascertained fair price to the companies for their plant and assets, plus the full cost price of all improvements and extensions. This was accepted by all, or practically all, parties and "schools as an eminently sensible modus vivendi. The radical municipalizationists at first suspected some trick, and were disposed to criticise the Mayor for conceding too much to the companies and dropping the "immediate" from his formula for municipal ownership; but reflection and argument satisfied them that no treason or surrender was involved in the plan, and they consented to support it. Mayor Dunne thereupon asked Mr. Walter L. Fisher, an able lawyer, a vigorous champion of public rights and good government, a believer in municipal ownership at the first practical opportunity, to become his special traction adviser and open negotiations with the chastened companies.
Mr. Fisher accepted the duty and respon
sibility. He prepared a lucid statement of the fundamental principles of the proposed settlement, and the Mayor, as well as the city council and the independent press, cordially approved it. The question was, Would the companies do business with the city on the Mayor's terms? Refusal meant a fight to a finish, with condemnation proceedings under the energetic direction of Mr. Fisher. The companies reflected and announced that they would accept the proffered terms, the city's peace basis.
The negotiations began. They lasted over eight months. It was necessary to secure, first of all, a scientific valuation of the assets, tangible and intangible, which the companies. had at the time. A commission of experts was created for the purpose, and after a painstaking investigation that body reported that $50,000,000 was a fair price to pay for the companies' assets and rights.
When the companies, whose own estimates were much higher, agreed to accept the commission's valuation, Mayor Dunne was enthusiastic and jubilant. He said in interviews: "Had I predicted one year ago that we could secure a settlement with the traction companies on a $50,000,000 basis, I would have been laughed at and called a fit subject for a lunatic asylum."
THE" SETTLEMENT" ORDINANCES.
The next task was to draw up the provisions of the ordinances covering rehabilitation, division of net profits, supervision of construction to prevent juggling, and the terms of conditions of purchase by the city. This was a difficult process, but in December so much progress had been made toward an agreement that the Mayor declared that all danger points had been passed; that the ordinances then in course of elaboration safeguarded the city's interests to the highest possible degree," and "would bring about municipal ownership in the shortest possible time."
(Mayor Dunne's special traction counsel, retained in the city's service under the new administration.)
nances a Wall Street steal and a fraud on the city.
When the ordinances were finally presented to the council for passage, subject to popular ratification by referendum (there had been a bitter incidental controversy over the necessity of a referendum, to which the Mayor and the council were explicitly pledged, but on this issue the Mayor triumphed and forced a referendum), Mayor Dunne presented six additional demands. which he sought to have incorporated as amendments. He made acceptance of these At last the ordinances were ready. The amendments the sole and absolute condition city's traction adviser was satisfied with them, of his own approval of the ordinances. All though he had had to make concessions to the were refused by the companies, and declared companies that were not to his taste. The unnecessary, trivial, and purely obstructive council and the press were pleased, and some by the majority of the council and by the of the radical municipalizationists were in- city's traction adviser. None went to the clined to favor them. But the majority of the root of the settlement plan, and some were of last element had by that time changed their small importance from any point of view. attitude, and the Mayor had likewise become However, the attitude of the companies distrustful and uncertain. The two news- caused Mayor Dunne to veto the ordinances papers published by Mr. Hearst were out- as passed and make the amendments his tracspoken in opposition, and called the ordi- tion platform in the campaign for re-election.
CHICAGO ELECTION AND THE CITY'S TRACTION OUTLOOK. 583 ου
Now, what are the main features of the ordinances that the people accepted at the polls? This, after all, is the important question. Chicago imperatively needs good transportation service; her present service would disgrace a town of one-tenth her size. She needs a subway immediately, at least in the central section, which is suffering from extreme congestion, and she needs, as a condition of such improvements, peace and cooperation. Will the ordinances give her these things?
This, then, was the situation: Ordinances judgment. This may be utterly unjust, but were before the people which the great ma- the belief existed, and was a factor of conjority of the city council, the leading civic siderable moment. and mercantile bodies, the press (with the exception of the two Hearst papers), the city's traction counsel, the Republican organization, one influential faction of the Democratic party, and a number of strong independents and trusted advocates of clean government and pure politics assured the voters were not only fair and favorable to the city, but entirely compatible with the cause of municipal ownership, to which, indeed, they were halfway houses. There was not the slightest reason, all these interests argued, why any believer in municipalization should hesitate to accept the ordinances. On the other hand, the Mayor and the "radicals," with a few prominent citizens of no particular "school," told the people that the ordinances were full of "jokers," that they did not even provide effective guaranties of improved service, and that municipal ownership was postponed under them to the Greek calends.
Which side were they to believe?
ISSUES OF THE APRIL ELECTION.
But there was another and more practical and controlling argument before the voters than that drawn from mere weight of opinion and authority.
What, it was asked, was the Mayor's alternative?. Granted that the ordinances were not perfect, what had he to offer in lieu of them? Nothing but the plan he had himself abandoned many months before,—“ condemnation proceedings." That, it was urged, meant nothing but litigation, delay, uncertainty, and continuation of wretched, unendurable traction service. Having wasted two years, the Mayor proposed to return to the starting point and begin all over again; begin, too, in the teeth of many legal and financial obstacles to "immediate " ownership.
These were the" arguments that won" in the campaign. It should be added that the Mayor's own attacks on the ordinances were by no means as vigorous and aggressive as were those of observers whose objections to the settlement were deeper and stronger than his, and who fought it along entirely different lines. It should further be added that many were persuaded that Mayor Dunne had repudiated the ordinances that he had helped to frame under political pressure, by threats of a third candidacy on a municipalownership platform, against his own better
RENOVATION OF THE CITY'S TRACTION SYS
The ordinances provide for immediate reconstruction and electrification" of the present traction systems. All cable cars and conduits are to be removed at once; 2000 new cars of approved design are to be placed in service. Car-houses and power-houses are to be erected. Existing lines must be extended at the command of the city. The work of rehabilitation and extension is to be supervised by a board of competent engineers, and the city appoints two of the three members of the board. One of the city's engineers is made by the ordinances president of the board. The city, through this board, is to control the financial operation of the companies, their operating agreements with other companies, and their accounting system. Full publicity is provided for..
To insure proper maintenance and renewal, the companies must set aside 6 per cent. of the gross receipts for maintenance and 8 per cent. for renewals and depreciation. No part of this fund can ever be returned to the companies; any unexpended sum is to be turned over to the city in the event of municipalization of the system.
The companies must furnish $5,000,000 toward the construction of a subway in the downtown or central section, title to such subway to be vested in the city. The subway system may be extended by the city at any time, the companies being bound to pay. for the use of the additional subway facilities.
Through routes are established to enable passengers to ride, for one 5-cent fare, from one end of the city to the other, and except in the "Loop district," the central section, universal transfers are provided for.
The companies are allowed 5 per cent. annually on the capital actually invested, but
the remainder of the earnings or net receipts. must be divided with the city, the latter getting 55 per cent. and the companies 45 per cent. of such earnings. Every year an accounting and settlement must be made with the city, and the books and records of the companies are to be open at all times to examination by the city comptroller.
THE DEMAND FOR IMPROVED SERVICE BEFORE MUNICIPALIZATION.
There are various detailed provisions designed to insure efficient service, prompt remedying of grievances, and enforcement of legitimate public or municipal demands. As to municipalization, the city reserves the
right to purchase the system at any time on six months' notice. It obligates itself to pay for the same $50,000,000 plus the cost of all improvements and extensions. The city may designate a pro bono publico holding company as its agent and have the latter take over the lines on the same terms. It may also authorize another company to purchase the lines for profit, but in that case a bonus of 20 per cent. must be paid.
These, in brief, are the features of the ordinances that the people have ratified. They are undoubtedly the most "advanced" and
MR. BION J. ARNOLD.
(The distinguished engineer, who will head the new supervising board to which is intrusted the solution of Chicago's traction problems.)
radical ever agreed upon between a city and private companies in the public utility field. If the promises made by the companies and for them are kept, and if the ordinances are indeed what they seem, Chicago, for the first time in fifteen years, may look forward to good transportation and to the benefits to commerce and real estate attendant upon such an improvement. It is practically impossible that the drastic and numerous provisions for regulation and control, as well as the provisions for municipalization at the option of the city, should prove futile and worthless. The companies are on trial; they have their last chance. Failure on their part would create an irresistible demand for municipalization, as they have every reason to know. Thousands who profoundly distrust them voted for the ordinances because they believed that the right to municipilize is fully secured, and that the companies have been converted into tenants at will or during good behavior. The majority of the voters are more interested in immediate good service than in ultimate municipalization, but the fact remains that, in the opinion of many absolutely honest men, the ordinances are not in the least
incompatible with municipalization at the transportation needs. He has studied them earliest opportunity. This belief doubtless at the instance of the city council, and has saved the ordinances.
How soon Chicago may be financially able to take over the street railways no one knows. Just now all eyes are on the companies, and rehabilitation" is the thought in every mind. The companies have no further fear of politics and litigation, and they must go to work at once and give the city a modern, adequate, and satisfactory traction service. The city is particularly fortunate in having the president of the engineering board of supervision named in the ordinances, and in having secured the services of Mr. Bion J. Arnold for that position. Mr. Arnold is not only a distinguished and public-spirited engineer, but one well acquainted with Chicago's
submitted valuable reports on street railway reconstruction and on the system of subways that are absolutely necessary to any permanent solution of our traction problem. His integrity and independence are unquestioned. His legal adviser, and that of the city, on traction matters, will be Mr. Fisher, Mayor Dunne's traction counsel and the real author of the ordinances. These two men will be a tower of strength to the city, and its interests are safe in their hands. Whom the companies will put in charge of the reconstruction work remains to be seen. The city's supervision will be actual and thorough, so long as Messrs. Arnold and Fisher hold the positions to which they have been appointed.
CHICAGO'S NEW MAYOR.
CHICAGO'S new Mayor is a man of
action rather than of words. The campaign that brought him into office is notable for the fact that during it the successful candidate never once appeared in public nor made a speech. On the evening of February 22, when he was returning from Washington, Mr. Busse was seriously injured in the wreck of the fast Pennsylvania train, near Altoona. It was several days before he could return to Chicago, and when there he did not once leave his home until election day, when he hobbled out to vote. This relieved him from the necessity of a speechmaking campaign, which would not have been at all to his liking. He rarely talks in public. But it also prevented him from going about among the people, which was a distinct handicap, for Mr. Busse is a good "mixer" who can make votes wherever he goes as a handshaking candidate.
Mr. Busse is a man of large frame and rotund figure, but notwithstanding his size he is quick of action physically, and mentally is alert. He was born in Chicago forty-one years ago, in the neighborhood where he still lives. His mother is also a native of Chicago.
His father, Gustave Busse, came out of the Civil War a captain. The new Mayor is a bachelor, and lives with his parents in a flat over the office of the Busse Coal Company, at 391 Sedgwick street. Fred Busse
did not remain long in school. His boyhood was spent in various occupations, much of the time helping his father. The young man's kindness of heart brought him an opportunity, through another's misfortune, to go into business for himself in a small way. One day an old expressman whom he had befriended was found hanging to a rafter in his stable. In the pocket of the dead man was this note: "I want Fred Busse to have my horse and wagon." With this outfit Mr. Busse went into the express business, which rapidly broadened into a general teaming business. Later the sale of coal was added, and to-day the Busse Coal Company is among the largest retail dealers in that line in Chicago.
Mr. Busse began to take an active part in politics as soon as he was able to vote. He was elected clerk of the town of North Chicago in 1891. After that he served as bailiff in Judge Brentano's court, and later was a deputy sheriff. In 1894 he was elected to the lower house of the Illinois Legislature, where he served two terms. In 1898 he was elected State Senator, and held the office for one term of four years. In that body he was an influential member of the so-called "Senatorial Combine," which for years has been the dominating factor in determining which bills may and which may not become laws. It was during the period of service in the