Mary Louise Childs.

Actual government in Illinois online

. (page 2 of 16)
Online LibraryMary Louise ChildsActual government in Illinois → online text (page 2 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


1. Duty.

a. Receives special assessments or special city taxes
for some particular improvement, to be paid by
property benefited; as a street paved or sewer
put in. Also fees for licenses and permits.

2. Salary.

E. Comptroller. Who? When appointed?

" Watch-dog of the city treasury."

1. Duties.

a. Audits all accounts of treasurer.

b. Furnishes estimates expenses for every depart-

ment of city government.

2. Salary.

F. Commissioner Public Works. Who? When appointed?

1. Departments under his supervision.

a. Water works.

b. Streets and alleys.

c. Walks and cross walks.

d. Public parks; playgrounds; parkways. (Some-

times controlled by an elected park board.)

e. Public buildings, city hall, library, fire and police

stations, etc.

f. Street lighting.

g. Sewers.

2. Salary.


G. Health Commissioner? Who? When appointed?

1. Duties.

a. Inspects water, milk, ice, meat, plumbing.

b. Attends to quarantine notices.

c. Is responsible for fumigating houses after con-

tagious disease.

2. Salary.

H. Fire Marshal. Who? When appointed?

1. Duties.

a. Charge of firemen, who are often under civil-serv-

ice rules.

b. Charge of police force needed in any quarter

where there is fire.

2. Any salary?

I. Chief of Police. Who? When appointed?

1. Duties.

a. Keeps the peace and protects all citizens.

b. General control of policemen, who are often under

civil service.

2. Salary.

J. Library Directors. Nine. How chosen?

1. Duties.

a. To manage free public library.

b. To appoint librarian and assistants.

c. To purchase all books.

d. To make rules and regulations for use of library.

2. No salary.

K. Civil Service Commission. Three. How chosen?

1. Duties.

a. To conduct examinations for policemen, firemen,

library cadets, clerks, and stenographers em-
ployed by the city.

b. To certify standings of those on eligible list to the

appointing officer.

2. Any salary?


VII. Judicial Department.

A. Police Magistrate. Who? When elected?

1. Duties.

a. To try all violations ordinances.

b. To examine any case and bind person over to

grand jury.

2. Salary.

B. City Attorney. Who? When elected?

1. Duties.

a. Prosecutes and defends lawsuits for the city.

2. Salary.

C. Corporation Counsel. Who? When appointed?

1. Duties.

a. Legal adviser for city officers.

b. Draws up ordinances, if so requested.

c. Draws contracts, leases, deeds, all legal papers for

city departments.

2. Salary.


1. Copy of Revised Statutes of Illinois, edition 1915 if possible.

2. Copy city charter if one has been granted.

3. Copy of city ordinances.

4. Map of city showing wards and precincts. (Indispensable.)

5. Maps of separate wards. If these can not be had, make your
own blue prints from regular map of city. Or use tracing paper
to get your separate ward maps. On these mark all government
buildings, as fire and police stations, schoolhouses, library station,
small parks, and field houses.

6. Get the statistics from the Health Department and make
" spot maps " showing where death rate was highest during the
last year, and why. These ward maps can be used in various ways
to illustrate municipal and social facts.

7. City manual for complete list of officials and their terms.

8. Impression of city seal.

9. Bulletin board for newspaper clippings and cartoons. Illus-


trate every point possible by some recent fact in your city govern-
ment. . Study your local papers to find these illustrations.

10. Have you a camera? Form a camera squad and take a
" camera tour " through your ward and the city. Photos of the
alleys, parks, waterworks, your city dump, the garbage crema-
tory, or the reduction plant will be valuable comments on your city


1. Compare the organization of your city with the one outlined
in the text. You should know the name of every elected and ap-
pointed official in your city. (2) Why?

2. Make out a list of the services performed by the National,
State, and municipal governments respectively. Which govern-
ment touches your daily life most closely?

3. Some citizens declare they never vote at a city election; only
at the State and National. What is your opinion of such a citi-
zen? Give three reasons for your answer.

4. Bryce says that city government is the " blackest spot " in
American politics. Why?

5. Why should municipal elections be absolutely non-partisan?
How can they be made non-partisan?

6. What societies, clubs, and organizations are at work in your
city to make it a better place to live in ? How can you help them ?

7. Does your city have a civil-service commission? If so, what
employees are covered by its examinations?

8. What public utilities are owned and operated by your city?
If none, then what are the terms made by the franchises granted
the private companies furnishing your gas, water, electric light,
and street-car service? Do these companies pay the city for the
privilege of using the streets, which are the property of the peo-
ple? If not, why? How long do these franchises run?

9. How does your city dispose of garbage and all kinds of house-
hold and factory waste?

10. What kinds of business does your city license? How would
you secure a license? What would you have to pay for it?
(Consult the Revised Ordinances.)


11. Does your city need a city manager? (3)

12. What are the advantages in the commission plan of city
government? What disadvantages? Would it be a good thing
for your city? Give reasons.




1. The Chart of the Organization of the Government of Chicago,

prepared by Chicago Bureau of Public Efficiency, p. 25. All
their charts are of very great value for accuracy.

2. Chicago City Manual, 1915.

3. Efficiency Charts prepared by Civil Service Commission to show

organization of all city departments.

4. Rev. Stat, 1915, ch. 24.

5. " History and Gov. of Chicago." Educ. Bi-Mo., Chicago Normal


OUR Civic CREED. " Chicago does not ask us, her citizens, to die for
her welfare; she asks us to live for her, and so to live, and so to act,
that her government may be pure, her officers honest, and every corner
of her territory shall be a fit place to grow the best men and women
who shall rule over her." Adapted from a Wisconsin City.

" Where ' we will,' there 's a way." Chicago's new motto. From
The Tribune.

Early History of Chicago. The famous treaty of
Greenville (1795) made by the United States with the
western Indians, ceded a tract of land six miles square
a congressional township at the mouth of the Chicago
river, to the Government. No use was made of this ces-
sion until the winter of 1803, when Fort Dearborn was
built at the mouth of the river. A tablet marking the site
of the fort has been placed on a building at the foot of Rush
Street bridge. The Chicago Historical Society has a good
model of the fort. Most of the land once occupied by the



old fort is now the bed of the Chicago river. There is
great difference of opinion over the meaning of the word
" Chicago," but none over its Indian origin. It was prob-
ably derived from the Indian word for the " wild onion "
that flourished over the prairies and marshes around the
lake. Consult J. S. Currey's History of Chicago, Vol. I,

PP. 3 2 -34.

The first town of Chicago contained less than half a
square mile. It lay between State, Madison, Desplaines,
and Kinzie Streets. The present city contains 199 square
miles (i) and extends over twenty-five miles north and
south, and from nine to fourteen miles east and west. The
city has grown to this wide territory through various annex-
ations. In addition to this surface expansion, Chicago has
" partially built itself up out of the marsh and is now about
fourteen feet higher than the original level." This fact
has an important bearing on the ever-present drainage prob-
lem and makes it a little easier to provide an adequate sewer
system for the city.

Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1833 because the
United States Government had just removed the last
Indians from Illinois, thus throwing open the land around
Chicago freely to white settlers. The birthday of the city
was March 4, 1837, as its seal testifies. The population
was 4,170.

Government of Chicago. Because Chicago is now
the second largest city in the United States and the fourth
in the world only London, New York, and Paris are
larger and because it contains more than one-third the
population of Illinois, every citizen of the State should feel
pride in this great city and be interested in knowing how it
is governed.


No SPECIAL CHARTER. The constitution of 1870 for-
bids special legislation of any kind. In consequence, the
" Cities and Villages Act " was passed by the Illinois Gen-
eral Assembly, 1872, and all cities organized since that date
come under the provisions of this general law and do not
have any separate city charter.

Chicago voted to accept this municipal corporation act
in 1875 an d thus gave up its charter after forty years' ex-
perience with government under various special charters.

THE COUNCIL. Chicago's is one of the best examples in
the United States of a powerful city council. It is a council-
governed city. This legislative body is made up of seventy
aldermen, two elected from each of the thirty-five wards.
The ward bodies are determined by population, and the
areas differ greatly. About 70,000 people live in a ward
since the reapportionment of December 4, 1911. Get a
map of Chicago, with wards and precincts marked, from the
Bureau of Maps, in the city hall. Also a separate map
of your own ward. The term of office of the aldermen will
be four years beginning in April, 1914, if the voters at
that election accept the law passed by the last Legislature
increasing the term from two to four years. (2)

The mayor presides over the council, but has a vote only
in case of a tie. He has much less power than the council,
and even the powers he has are limited in several ways by
that body. If the personal influence of the mayor is great,
he may be able to persuade enough aldermen to vote for
ordinances he favors to put them through. But the council
can control matters if they will. The greater power is
theirs. The municipal act of 1872, many times amended,
enumerates over a hundred powers granted a city council.

SESSIONS. The council meets regularly every Monday (3)


afternoon at two o'clock in the council chamber of the city
hall. The council sessions are open to the public, and every
citizen ought to attend frequently and notice how the alder-
men from his ward vote on important ordinances. They
are paid $3,000 salary and do their work largely through
standing committees. To listen intelligently at a council-
meeting one needs to know the regular or routine order of
business :

1. Roll call of aldermen by wards.

2. Reading of the minutes of the last meeting.

3. Messages from the mayor and reports from heads
of departments.

4. Presentation of new business by wards, including in-
troduction of ordinances.

5. Reports from committees.

6. Unfinished business.

THE COMMITTEES. (4) On request you can get from the
city clerk a card containing the names of all the aldermen
by wards, and all the standing and special committees of
the council. Every pupil should have one of these cards
for reference. Also get a copy of the proceedings of the
latest council meeting. The names of these committees tell
their work : Finance, charge of the city budget for 1916,
$72,384,987. All bills against the city must be approved
by this committee and its chairman is the mayor's spokes-
man on the floor of the council-chamber. (5) He is paid
$6,000 a year and has to give his entire time to this impor-
tant work. Committee on local transportation looks after
matters of street-car service, such as through routing of the
elevated cars and lengthening the platforms in the loop dis-
trict; license, judiciary, streets and alleys, building, health,


fire, police, harbors and bridges, water, taxes, civil service;
gas, oil, and electric light, and elections, complete the list
of standing committees. There are three special commit-
tees now on bathing beaches and piers, small parks, and
compensation. The latter looks after the pay the city
receives for franchises, permits, and licenses, or special
privileges of any kind granted a corporation or private
citizen. As Chicago received nearly one million dollars in
revenue in 1915 from these sources, the committee's work
is needed.

THE BUDGET. The passing of the appropriation ordi-
nance, or city budget (6), in January annually, is one of the
most important acts of the council. The budget is based
on the estimates of the comptroller after each item has
been thoroughly considered by the finance committee and
given their recommendation. The vote of the council on
the budget must be by roll call. In fact, the passing of
every ordinance requires a roll-call vote. The council is
restricted by law to a debt limit of 5 per cent, and a taxation
limit of 2 per cent, on the assessed valuation of all the tax-
able property in the city. Any expenditure of money at
any time also requires the same recorded vote. The dia-
gram, " Chicago's Pocketbook," shows how the public
pocketbook is emptied.

Executive Officers. THE MAYOR. Chicago elects
the mayor, seventy aldermen, the city clerk, and treasurer.
" The mayor is elected by the people, to serve the people "
for a term of four years. His salary is $18,000 a year.

His powers.

A. As chairman of the city council he may approve or
veto its ordinances (may veto separate items in an appro-
priation bill and approve the rest). But a two-thirds vote

Chicago's Pocket Book





28.5 cents


Prepared by Woman's City Club of Chicago, 1912


will defeat a veto and make the ordinance law. Through
written messages to the council he recommends any meas-
ures he wishes considered. He is limited to five days in
considering an ordinance.

B. He appoints almost all the executive officers of the
city, although his power is greatly limited by the civil-serv-
ice law and the consent of the council. His appointing
power is now limited to about fifty positions, mainly heads
of departments, exempt from the civil service. Yet his
patronage, measured by the combined salaries of all the
officers and employees he appoints and the powerful
patronage through the street department in hiring men and
teams for street work, amounts to thousands annually.
One can easily understand why an ambitious politician
might covet the mayoralty of Chicago.

C. He issues and revokes licenses. The exercise of
this power too often links the mayor's office with the liquor
interests, and the resorts of the underworld.

D. He may pardon any violation of an ordinance and
remit any fine levied as a punishment.

E. He has general supervision over all city departments.

F. He is conservator of the peace and responsible for
the safety and order of the city through his control of the
public departments.

G. He must enforce all ordinances impartially. (7)
This duty is the best test of an able mayor and a good city

The mayor appoints the heads of the following principal
departments: library board of nine directors; board of
education of twenty-one members; board of three directors
for the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium (all these serve
without pay and have the right to levy separate taxes) ; law


department, including corporation counsel and city attorney ;
department of finance, including comptroller and city col-
lector; general superintendent of police and two deputies;
civil-service commissioners; fire and health departments;
city physician ; building commissioner ; department of boiler
inspection; weights and measures; smoke inspection; de-
partment of supplies under business agent ; transportation ;
track elevation ; department of public works ; of electricity ;
special park commission and the city forester; board of local
improvements; board of examining engineers; harbor and
subway commission; superintendent and three inspectors
for House of Correction ; inspector of oils ; bureau of statis-
tics. To simply read over this list of departments and re-
member it takes an army of 24,000 men and women em-
ployees to attend to the city's business gives one a little idea
of the big problems to be solved in running Chicago's gov-
ernment. For a thorough knowledge of the organization
of all these departments, the positions exempt from civil-
service examinations, those under the classified service,
number of employees, salaries, and appropriations for 1915,
consult the charts prepared by the Efficiency Division of the
Chicago Civil-Service Commission. These charts are very
valuable, but too complicated for the average citizen to un-
derstand. The admirable " Chart of the Organization of
the City of Chicago," prepared in October 1913, by the
Chicago Bureau of Public Efficiency, 315 Plymouth Court,
and reproduced on p. 25, gives a clear, definite idea of the
organization of this great city government. (8)

THE CITY CLERK, elected for two years, keeps the city
seal, all minutes of council meetings, lists of licenses and
permits issued, and franchises granted by the council. He
is custodian of all city papers, including the ordinances.


He is the only city official not required by law to make an
annual report to the mayor and council. (One solitary re-
port was made voluntarily, 1908, by the city clerk, but
the excellent precedent then set has never been followed.)

More than ninety different licenses are issued by the city
clerk, varying from permission to sell gasoline, ice, or liquor,
to the right to collect junk. The fees required for these
licenses are paid to the city collector, but the license and
metal tag often required are issued by the clerk.

THE CITY TREASURER is elected for two years; receives
$12,000 salary; must give a bond (1915, $5,000,000), de-
termined by the council. He is responsible for all the city
funds, including the school taxes in 1916 over seventy-
two million dollars. By act of the Legislature, 1913, a
term of the city clerk and the treasurer of Chicago has been
increased to four years if the voters approve at the regular
April election in 1914. (9)

LAW DEPARTMENT. It takes a group of more than
seventy attorneys and an office force of over one hundred
to control the law business of the city. At their head is the
Corporation Counsel, who is the chief legal adviser of the
mayor, the council, and all the city officials. His salary
is $10,000. The entire legal department is exempt from
any civil-service examination and the appointments are
purely political.

THE BUSINESS AGENT is responsible for buying all sup-
plies, from office stationery to hay for the city's horses. He
must give a bond for the faithful performance of his duties.
Every city officer and employee is put under a bond to guar-
antee good service.

BOARD OF LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS has five members ap-
pointed by the mayor with the consent of the council. It




$3,000 e

Department of I Department OT
li.- Welfare! TrackElevation

I I Depar-

Elec-tiv.e Officials I I Departments or Appointive Of ficials

Prepared by Chicago Bureau of Public Efficiency, 1913 (10)

Chart of Organization of the government of the City of Chicago
showing lines of authority and salary rates for elective officials.


is their duty to apportion on each piece of property benefited
the amount of every special assessment ordered by the coun-
cil for any local improvement, as a sewer, water main, street
or alley paving.

OTHER EXECUTIVE OFFICERS. The duties of most of
these executive officers are explained by the name of the
office, but a few require additional explanation. Comptrol-
ler is the financial agent for the city and has general over-
sight of all persons who handle the cash of the city, or
its deeds, contracts, and leases. He is head of the depart-
ment of finance, and the elected city treasurer and appointed
collector are subordinate to him. He is often called " the
watch-dog of the city treasury." The City Collector re-
ceives special assessments, licenses, and the wheel tax. The
Commissioner of Public Works has a great variety of duties
and is responsible for more bureaus (subdivisions of depart-
ments) than any other city officer. Streets, alleys, side-
walks, their paving, repairing, and cleaning; bridges, via-
ducts, sewers, and the water system ; the engineering bureau ;
the erection and care of all public buildings belonging to
the city ; docks, wharves, market places all these represent
part of the services rendered by this huge department. It
takes now a small army of 5,000 persons to do this work,
and the council appropriated over $500,000 in 1916 for its
maintenance. In addition, the commissioner of public
works is responsible for the expenditure of other millions in
special public improvements ( 1 1 ) to be constructed, like the
proposed boulevard linking the North and South Sides by
a double-deck bridge at Pine Street. The Bureau of Streets
under the Department of Public Works also has charge of
the removal of all waste, refuse and snow from the streets
and alleys. This includes the so-called " pure garbage " or


kitchen waste. In the last three years Chicago has made
much progress toward solving her troublesome garbage
problem. In proof, note the organization of a Bureau of
Waste Disposal under an expert engineer, Col. Henry A.
Allen. (See note, Appendix D.)

The House of Correction. The Chicago Bridewell,
as the house of correction is commonly called, has two thou-
sand prisoners, most of them serving short sentences, or
working out fines imposed for violations of the city ordi-
nances. This large population makes the Bridewell by far
the largest prison in Illinois, as there are only about 1,400
convicts at Joliet. The Chicago house of correction has
a national reputation due to the humane, wise government
of its superintendent, John L. Whitman, who has been re-
tained through rival administrations owing to his fine work.
The inmates of the John Worthy School (12), an institu-
tion for delinquent boys, controlled by Chicago, have been
removed to Gage farm, Riverside, where they can have the
home life of the cottage and farm and much better chance
for reform than under the walls of the Bridewell and in a
" jail school." The John Worthy building is now used
for a hospital for inebriates under the management of the
superintendent of the house of correction.

Municipal Courts of Chicago. The judicial officers of
Chicago are now thirty-one elected municipal court judges,
ten of whom are elected in November 1914. Their term is
six years. The municipal court was established by act of
Legislature and referendum vote of the people, 1905, and
opened December 1906. This court replaces the nineteen
notorious justices of the peace appointed by the governor.
By amendment to the Municipal Court Act approved 1913,
the term of part of the municipal court judges will be


lengthened to allow their election to come in April instead
of November. This court tries civil and criminal cases
in Chicago where the amount involved is not over one thou-
sand dollars. Imprisonment is in the county jail or house
of correction. The court can not commit to the peniten-
tiary. Some of the judges are assigned by the chief jus-
tice to certain specialized courts. Three have been estab-
lished thus far and work well: The courts of Domestic
Relations, Morals, and Speeders. There is a chief clerk
and a chief bailiff elected for six years and the salary for
each office is $6,000. The chief justice has $10,000 salary
and each judge, $6,000.

Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium is an independent
taxing body, although the three directors are appointed by
the mayor. Under direction of the late Dr. T. B. Sachs,

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryMary Louise ChildsActual government in Illinois → online text (page 2 of 16)