Re: Bell System and GTE Telephone Operator?

The Chicago Transit Atrocity -- oops, I mean 'Authority' was formed by

> an act of the Illinois Legislature in 1947 as a independent government > in its own right (_not a government agency, but an actual government_)

Yes ... presumably a "district" that is administratively like a county, but instead of governing a portion of the state the way a county does, it governs a particular set of government services, and has the authority to levy taxes in specified places. For example, we have had a "school district" here (Clarke County, Ga.) for a long time, to get around the problem that the county is small but the city and county governments were not originally consolidated. There are also "sewer districts" etc.

Definitely one of the odd points of American politics.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: In Chicago, in addition to the CTA or Chicago Transit Authority (thus situated), there is also the CHA (or Chicago Housing Authorty) which is a _true_ atrocity if there ever was one. CHA has been in 'federal receivership' now for a few years due to the unbelievably awful living conditions in the 'homes' and the amount of crime on its property. Originally very nice _but plain_ living accomodations, the CHA was started in 1941 and its first commissioner was a woman who was a protege of Jane Addams of Hull House fame. CHA was intended to be _temporary, transitional_ housing for needy people; then after the second war ended, the idea was to provide _temporary, transitional_ housing for military veterans returnin from military duty. Since about 1960 or so, these high-rise (fifteen or twenty story buildings; a cluster of a dozen or so in each location) have been almost exclusively for black people; many of whom of course have extensive criminal histories and their families; quite often the only person in the 'home' (all seven or eight thousand of them in an aggregate total) is the Mother. Nearly every one of them has one or more sons or fathers currently in prison or recently released. The little kids run around wild and rather delinquent as one would expect. The television series of the 1970's, _Happy Times_ (written by Norman Lear) is now in endless re-runs on TV-Land . The former commissioner of the mess, a man named Charles Swibel, a rich, white older guy from the northern suburbs had some problems of his own in keeping the CHA money accounts in order, barely escaped going to prison himself, but did get CHA tossed into federal recivership (a sort of bankruptcy chapter used for governments) when the feds 'evicted' him from office.

Then there is the Chicago Park _District_ (rather than 'authority'), started in the 1940's as well, with its own can of worms. And there is the Chicago School _Board_ (also rather than 'authority') with the same sort of government arrangements. When the school board came up several million dollars unaccounted for, Mayor Daley (312-PIG-3000 if you ever wish to dial him direct) had a solution for that; a whole new layer of control called the Chicago Schools Finance Authority whose only job was to make the School Board obey the law on deficit spending. The Finance Authority has to sign off on the School Board budget each year, and not approve it unless the school board has the books in order. The board is apparently incapable or unwilling to obey the law all on their own.

In his greed and unmitigated gall a few years ago, Mayor Daley and the City Council got the notion of 'municipalizing' Commonwealth Edison, the electric utility. So the people who run our transportation system, our subsidized 'homes', our parks and our schools would then be in charge of our nuclear power plants as well ... that did not go off very well; the unwashed masses complained bitterly at the idea, but most important, several very large industries who depend extensively on their electrical power began making arrangements to _close up their shops and split town_, unwilling to risk possible loss of electrical service. At that point, Mayor Daley blinked and backed off. PAT]

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