Mary Louise Childs.

Actual government in Illinois online

. (page 13 of 16)
Online LibraryMary Louise ChildsActual government in Illinois → online text (page 13 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


184 ACTUAL GOVERNMENT IN ILLINOIS

thereby kept out of an office to which they are entitled.
When the reform county civil-service commission began
work (March i, 1913), there were 462 temporary appoint-
ees in a charity service of 1,074 positions. By holding in
examinations in six months, they finally reduced the tempo-
rary appointees to 147 out of a charity service of 1,074
persons. This is one of the vital tests of an honestly
enforced civil-service law. Measured by this standard, as
well as other tests, the merit system in Cook County has
gone backward since the change in administration in 1914.
The present commission is of the old-style political type. 1

The Merit System in the State. The youngest of the
civil-service acts of Illinois, that of 1905, is the State Act,
when the General Assembly by statute applied the merit
system to the seventeen charitable institutions of the State.
The present number of such institutions is twenty-one.
This law was a hard-won victory for civil-service reform
after a long struggle in the Legislature, and was only a
shred of the original bill introduced. The only positions
exempt in the charity institutions are the superintendents
of the State hospitals and State schools, whose important
places are still regarded as " spoils of office," to the dis-
grace of the State. A list of the State charitable institu-
tions and their locations will be found in the chapter on
State Charity Service, pp. 196 and 197.

The State of Illinois cares for about 22,000 dependents
in the State institutions. By far the largest number are
insane patients, cared for in the nine State hospitals, and

x The valuable Eighteenth Annual Report of the Cook County Civil-
Service Commission was largely the work of its president, Robert
Catherwood. Other members of the commission were Miss Anna E.
Nicholes, secretary, and W. F. Corby. (4)



THE MERIT SYSTEM IN ILLINOIS 185

these helpless state wards are especially in need of wise and
experienced care. The protection of these helpless men and
women from political employees, and their wiser, more hu-
mane treatment, were the principal reasons for the adoption
of the Illinois Civil-Service law of 1905. The entire treat-
ment of the insane in our State has been revolutionized since
that year.

Illinois was the first State to introduce oral examinations
in connection with the written and physical tests required.
For such positions as house-father and house-mother at
the reform schools the personal qualities, tact, and common-
sense of the applicants count far more than any mental test.
These qualities can be determined better by a personal in-
terview than in any other way. The Illinois commission
has developed a practical system for such interviews, always
providing a stenographer to record every question and an-
swer, and keeping all such records as part of the examina-
tion.

At the State Eye and Ear Infirmary in Chicago the entire
staff of oculists and aurists, about eighty, serve without pay,
and yet submit to a hard written examination, and then are
taken on some designated day into the clinic room and all
the cases for that day, nearly one hundred, are put under
their charge to test their practical skill. These applicants
perform all operations under the eye of skilled specialists,
who of course take care no harm comes to any patient
through the awkwardness or ignorance of the candidate
for a staff position. The doctors estimate it is worth ten
thousand dollars a year to be known as a member of the
operating staff of the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, so
they can well afford to give their services to the State for a
term of years.



1 86 ACTUAL GOVERNMENT IN ILLINOIS

The most recent example of a practical examination con-
ducted by the State Civil-Service Commission was one for
grain-inspectors. The management of this examination
was turned over to the grain-committee of the Chicago
Board of Trade, and they were told to give exactly the kind
of test they would in their own private business. After
writing on certain questions, the .applicants were given
twenty-seven samples of wheat, oats, barley, corn, and rye,
and were obliged to test them and grade them according
to their knowledge gained through previous experience in
handling grain. The type of grain-inspector selected
through such an examination shows its practical common-
sense. (5)

Conclusion. A good law is recognized by its foes as
well as its friends. The professional politician, the man
who desires office solely for what he can get out of it, the
old-time spoilsman, these men of course will fight the merit
system. But in their opposition, if they only can be com-
pelled to come into the open and declare their real senti-
ments, they will reveal themselves so unmistakably that their
constituents will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what
manner of public servants they are. Here lies the great
benefit of a roll-call vote on an important measure, in the
General Assembly, and why the legislators avoid its tell-
tale black and white evidence whenever possible. To the
mass of private citizens there is much calm satisfaction in
watching the struggles of certain unfortunate law-makers,
impaled like flies on pins, when they are caught in a roll-
call vote.

Keep a sharp lookout on the State senator and the three
representatives from your district for their vote on every
civil-service bill. Watch their record on the roll calls as



THE MERIT SYSTEM IN ILLINOIS 187

reported in the daily papers and the bulletins of the Legis-
lative Voters' League, and judge the men by this touchstone
of good citizenship.

PERTINENT QUESTIONS

1. Why are so many politicians against the merit system?

2. How will the tax-payer be benefited by an honestly enforced
civil-service law?

3. Give six arguments in favor of the merit system.

4. Can you give any good argument in favor of the spoils sys-
tem?

5. Why is this method of office-holding called the " spoils sys-
tem"?

6. Show how the name fits the act.

7. How does the merit system protect the office-holder?

8. What are political assessments?

9. What is meant by electioneering? Can you give an actual
illustration of it ?

10. What do you consider the best way to select a civil-service
commission ?

11. If the civil-service commissioners are mere political ap-
pointees, what evils result?

12. Whom does the "exempt" office-holder obey? Whom does
he serve? Who pays his salary? What kind of public service
will he give?



CHAPTER XIV

STATE CHARITY SERVICE

REFERENCES :

1. Revised Statutes, ch. xxiii, 1-50.

2. Annual Reports Board of Administration, Address Secretary,

James Hyland, Springfield, 111.

3. Annual Reports State Charities Commission, address Secretary,

A. L. Bowen, Springfield.

4. Institution Quarterly (Official organ of the public charity service

of Illinois) : published jointly by Board of Administration,
Charities Commission, and Psychopathic Institute; editor, A.
L. Bowen, Springfield. The quarterly is furnished free of
charge to any citizen of Illinois who wishes regular informa-
tion regarding Illinois' public charity service.

5. Greene : Government of Illinois, ch. xii, " Wards of the State."

(Read this chapter if possible.)

THE PLATFORM OF PRINCIPLES OF ILLINOIS' CHARITY LAW

" To provide humane and scientific treatment and care
and the highest degree of individual development for the
dependent wards of the State ;

" To provide for delinquents such wise conditions of
modern education and training as will restore the largest
possible portion of them to useful citizenship;

" To promote the study of the causes of dependency and
delinquency and mental, moral, and physical defects, with
a view to cure and ultimate prevention ;

" To secure the highest attainable degree of economy in
the business administration of the State institutions con-
sistent with the objects above enumerated, and this Act,

1 88



STATE CHARITY SERVICE 189

which shall be known as the code of charities of the State of
Illinois, shall be liberally construed to these ends." (Rev.
Stat., ch. xxiii, sec. 2.)

State Board of Administration. The amended char-
ity law of Illinois, in force July i, 1912, is worth study.
It is necessary first to understand the legal machinery pro-
vided in the Act to carry out its purpose as stated in the
preamble. At the head stands the State Board of Admin-
istration of five members to manage the twenty-one char-
itable institutions supported by the State. The five mem-
bers of this board are appointed by the governor with con-
sent of the Senate, for six years, and not more than three
can be of the same political party. They are each paid
$6,000 per year and actual traveling-expenses. The exec-
utive secretary and all the employees of the board are un-
der civil-service rules, but not the members of the board
itself. These positions are still part of the governor's
patronage. Headquarters are at Springfield and the mem-
bers of the board must give their entire time to their duties.
Illinois began the experiment of a single board instead of
one for each institution, January i, 1910, and the success
gained in more economical, efficient management is bring-
ing the State charity service slowly but steadily to a higher
grade, (i)

State Charities Commission. The same law that es-
tablished the Board o<f Administration (January i, 1910),
also created a State Charities Commission of five members,
appointed by the governor, with consent of the Senate, but
serving without compensation except necessary traveling
expenses. Their term is five years. The secretary of State
must provide the commission with an office, stationery, and
office supplies. Their headquarters are at Springfield and



190 ACTUAL GOVERNMENT IN ILLINOIS

they have a paid executive secretary who is under the civil
service. Their duties are " to visit and investigate the
whole system of public charitable institutions of Illinois."

The duties of the Board of Administration and of the
Charities Commission are not the same. The members of
each are required by the law to visit at unexpected times,
both day and night, all the charitable institutions of the
State at least every quarter. But the field of work for the
Board of Administration is principally financial and execu-
tive, the buying of all supplies, care of the land and build-
ings, the business and property side of the institution ; while
the Charities Commission is charged with the oversight of
the patients, inmates, and children cared for ; to see that they
are humanely treated and placed where, if improvement is
possible, they may have a chance for recovery. Such mat-
ters as the physical condition of patients, their food, cloth-
ing, cleanliness, medical care, recreation, employment, if
able to work, course of study in the schools, kind of teachers,
discipline, all these things are inspected, complaints heard
and investigated by the Charities Commission and their
secretary, who gives his entire time to this work and is a
man thoroughly trained in public charity service. To see
that the kitchen, dining-room, dormitory, laundry, bath-
room, cellar, storeroom, hospital ward, and schoolroom of
every State charitable institution is in good condition and
suited to the needs of the patients and inmates is a very
important work, difficult to do. The Charities Commission
investigates and reports to the Board of Administration
what they find and how conditions may be improved at the
twenty charitable institutions now established. The new
State hospital for the insane at Alton has not yet been
opened, nor the Surgical Institute for Crippled Children



STATE CHARITY SERVICE 191

even located. A State colony for improvable epileptics is
also being built at Dixon. After a campaign of nearly
twenty years, the Legislature (1912) made a suitable appro-
priation for the site and buildings and the colony will be
opened in 1916*

The State Board of Administration appoint the superin-
tendents of all the charitable institutions and may remove
them at pleasure, as they are not protected by the civil
service a point that needs reform. The legal power of
control, of course, is vested in the Board of Administration,
while the Charities Commission has only visitorial and ad-
visory power. The law states that " five persons " and
" reputable citizens " are to compose the board and commis-
sion. At present no woman is a member of either, but
there is nothing in the wording of the law to prevent a
woman serving, and these positions are ones particularly
adapted to women, and where the services of the mother,
the housewife, and home-maker would be of special benefit
to the unfortunate wards of the State.

Boards of Visitors. In addition to the Board of Ad-
ministration and the Charities Commission just described,
the law provides a board of three visitors, one of whom shall
be a woman, for each one of the twenty charitable institu-
tions; to be appointed by the governor and serve without
any pay except actual traveling expenses. These three
visitors must make thorough monthly inspection of the in-
stitution and report their findings to the State Charities
Commission within ten days of their visit. Generally the
board of visitors live near the institution and therefore will
feel a local pride and interest in helping the superintendent
through kindly suggestion and advice to keep the institu-
tion up to the best standard of service. Any unkindness to
patients and inmates will be more quickly detected and
i See pp. 193-194, 197-



192 ACTUAL GOVERNMENT IN ILLINOIS

stopped if these monthly inspections are conscientiously
made.

Complete State Care of the Insane. July i, 1912, the
Board of Administration assumed control of the Cook
County asylum for the insane at Dunning. There are
about 3,000 patients in the asylum. The legal name is now
the Chicago State Hospital. At last Illinois has complete
care of the insane within her borders. Even those in pri-
vate sanitariums are supervised by the Board of Adminis-
tration, as no such private hospital can receive patients suf-
fering from any mental or nervous disease without a license
from the State Board, which can be revoked at any time the
hospital fails to come up to the standard of care set by the
board.

There are at present (October, 1916) over 16,400 insane
men, women, and children in the nine State hospitals, out
of more than 22,000 State wards in all the charitable insti-
tutions. (See The Institution Quarterly, June, 1916, p.
8.) (2) When the new hospital being built at Alton is
finished, it will provide for 1,500 more. It is unfortunate
that the opening of this fine new hospital for the insane has
been so long delayed. All the State hospitals are badly
over-crowded and that means adequate care cannot be given
to the patients no matter how earnestly the hospital staff and
attendants may try to relieve the situation. By far the
heaviest burden on the taxpayers for the charity service of
the State is imposed by the care of this unfortunate class.

Psychopathic Institute. This fact makes the scien-
tific study of the cause and cure of insanity carried on at
the State Psychopathic (mental disease) Institute of very
great value. The institute also provides invaluable train-
ing for the doctors at the State hospitals, who are all



STATE CHARITY SERVICE 193

encouraged to take a six-weeks' course in the institute every
year. They are working toward a solution of the big
problems, "What causes insanity?" "Is it curable?"
" If so, how? " The facts just stated from the records of
the State hospitals emphasize the importance of sound men-
tal habits to every one. The constant practice of a few sim-
ple, well-established rules of mental hygiene would help de-
crease this great Illinois army of the mentally sick by
diminishing the supply. " Beware of alcohol ! Be clean
in mind and body. Be temperate in work and recreation.
Don't worry. Look on the bright side of all your troubles."

All the State hospitals have training schools for nurses
and attendants. Dental service is now provided in all the
State institutions.

State Institutions for Children. The State of Illinois
has assumed complete care of the blind, deaf, delinquent,
feeble-minded child, of the dependent child in the pool
house, and of the soldiers' orphan. A list of all these insti-
tutions is found at the end of this chapter and should be
studied. The Surgical Institute for Crippled Children (i)
is another much needed State charity. A law has been
passed creating such an institution under certain conditions
as yet unfulfilled.

The Colony for Epileptics is to be a farm colony located
on a thousand-acre tract of suitable land to give all the
out-door employment possible to the inmates. The build-
ings are to be only two stories and of fire-proof construction.
There are to be inclines instead of stairs in all the buildings
and every possible precaution used to prevent the epileptics
housed in these cottages from injuring themselves in their
seizures. It is hoped the Board of Administration will make
all reasonable speed in getting this much-needed institu-
tion ready for use. (3) It is estimated there are now in



194 ACTUAL GOVERNMENT IN ILLINOIS

Illinois at least ten thousand persons suffering from epilepsy,
and their need of State care is very great. (4) Only young
people and cases possible to cure will be cared for at this
new farm colony near Dixon.

Care for the Blind. In addition to the State school
for blind children at Jacksonville and the Industrial Home
for the Blind in Chicago, there is a new work being
undertaken throughout the State to teach blind men and
women in their homes. Teachers are sent to these adult
blind on request and a very excellent work has been begun.
Illinois has an excellent record for its very humane care
of the blind. (5)

Soldiers' Homes. Illinois is generous in her care of
the old soldier and sailor, too feeble to work. The State
also makes special provision, in separate homes, for the
widow of the man who has fought for his country, and for
his orphaned children. " These provisions for veterans
and their families may be regarded not as charity in the
ordinary sense but as the discharge of a public debt."
(Greene, Government of Illinois, p. 168.)

Delinquent Boys and Girls. The St. Charles School
for Boys is on the cottage plan ; has a large farm connected
with the institution and cares for about six hundred delin-
quent boys. A few miles away, at Geneva, is the State
Training School for Girls, where delinquent girls are cared
for, educated, and trained for some useful occupation when
they leave the institution at twenty-one. By good conduct
a girl may earn a much shortened sentence.

Poor Relief. The State requires the counties to care
for the pauper class, or dependent poor. This includes all
persons who for any reason are not able to support them-
selves and have no family or relatives to care for them.



STATE CHARITY SERVICE 195

The county may build an infirmary, or poor house, located
on a farm owned by the county ; or the persons to be pro-
vided for may be " boarded out " with some citizen of the
county. This method is rapidly being abandoned as ex-
pensive and not very humane, because of the natural desire
to make all the money possible out of the county paupers.
Instead the counties are building county infirmaries to house
and feed their poor who must be cared for in an institution.
In counties under township organization, the town super-
visors act as overseers of the poor and may give " out-door
relief " in their homes, or send the dependent poor to the
County Home, or infirmary, as seems best. The universal
dread of this institution in the minds of the self-respecting
poor is the best comment on its general reputation and
plainly shows where public charitable methods need revision.
Where poverty is the result of sickness, accident, or mis-
fortune, why should the victim feel so disgraced if com-
pelled to enter the county poor house that many times an
assumed name is given on entrance for fear some former
acquaintance may discover the compulsory retreat ? On the
other hand, public charity is too often abused by the vicious,
the lazy, and the " political poor," who are able to care for
themselves, or have relatives who should be compelled to
assume the burden of their support. The sensible, humane
poor master has a difficult problem to solve in sifting, out
the " wheat from the chaff " in the human rubbish heap
with which he must deal. In the non-township counties,
the county board appoints a " justice of the peace or other
suitable person " to serve as overseer or poor master.

Greatest Need of the Charity Service. The charity
service of Illinois costs over three million dollars a year,
exclusive of the large sums spent by the counties in poor



196 ACTUAL GOVERNMENT IN ILLINOIS

relief, and the Board of Administration is responsible for
the wise use of this large sum. The board is trustee for all
the property of these twenty institutions, which is valued
at fourteen million dollars. This large investment in land,
buildings, equipment, and the millions spent each year from
the taxes, represent the sincere effort of this great State to
give wise, kindly care to the twenty-two thousand unfortu-
nate wards within its borders. There should be no politics
allowed in this care for the insane, blind, deaf, feeble-
minded, and delinquent. Public opinion should demand of
the governor absolutely non-partisan, merit appointments
to the Board of Administration. Citizens should serve
notice on every governor of Illinois that the positions on
the board can not be used to reward his political friends.
The Board of Administration never ought to be considered
a part of the " spoils of office." It goes without saying
that no superintendent of any State charitable institution
ought to be dependent on the election returns for his tenure
of office. Yet this has always been the case, and it is true
now. The superintendents of these institutions usually con-
form to the politics of the party in power and change with
the downfall of the party. The sooner Illinois protects the
heads of her charitable institutions, particularly the superin-
tendents of the State hospitals for the insane, by a civil-
service law, the sooner the State institutions will move
toward the place Illinois ought to take in the care of the de-
pendent wards of the State.

STATE CHARITY SERVICE
State Charitable Institutions and Their Locations

Lincoln State School and Colony (for feeble-minded) ... .Lincoln
Illinois School for the Deaf Jacksonville



STATE CHARITY SERVICE 197

The Illinois School for the Blind Jacksonville

Illinois Industrial Home for the Blind.

Chicago, cor. Douglas Boulevard and iQth St.

The Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors' Home Quincy

The Soldiers' Widows' Home of Illinois Wilmington

The Illinois Soldiers' Orphans' Home Normal

The Illinois Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Chicago, 904 W. Adams St.

The State Training School for Girls Geneva

The St. Charles School for Boys St. Charles

State Psychopathic Institute (for study of the causes and pos-
sible cure of insanity. A similar institute is needed at the

Chicago State Hospital at Dunning) Kankakee

Illinois Surgical Institute for Children Not located

(The law creating this "Surgical Institute for Crippled Children"
requires a donation of 160 acres of land for a site from the community
where it is located. No city, village, or country district in the State
has yet offered this prize. There is great need for this institute where
a crippled child under fourteen could be placed for surgical treatment,
which would probably save such a child from becoming a public
charge.)

111. State Colony for Improvable Epileptics. Opened 1916 . .Dixon

For Care of the Insane

Elgin State Hospital Elgin

Kankakee State Hospital Kankakee

Jacksonville State Hospital Jacksonville

Anna State Hospital Anna

Watertown State Hospital Watertown

Peoria State Hospital (for chronic or incurable cases) Peoria

Chester State Hospital (criminal insane) Menard

Chicago State Hospital (since July i, 1912) Dunning

Alton State Hospital (being built) Alton



CHAPTER XV

AMENDMENT OF THE ILLINOIS CONSTITUTION
Constitution, Article XIV

I. FIRST, OR CONVENTION METHOD.

A. Proposal.

1. By a two-thirds vote in both houses of the General Assem-

bly to submit the question of a constitutional conven-
tion to the people at next general election.

2. Submitted to people at such election: total majority of all


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16

Online LibraryMary Louise ChildsActual government in Illinois → online text (page 13 of 16)