00 / 00

Dick Simpson discusses the book he edited "Chicago's Future: An Anthology of Reports, Speeches, and Scholarship Providing an Agenda for Change"

BROADCAST: Jul. 8, 1980 | DURATION: 00:52:57

Synopsis

Dick Simpson, a professor of political science and former Chicago alderman, speaks with Studs Terkel about the book he edited "Chicago's Future: An Anthology of Reports, Speeches, and Scholarship Providing an Agenda for Change," Jane Byrne’s administration, and the infrastructure of Chicago’s political leadership. Terkel plays a few audio clips of an interview he previously conducted with Byrne.

Transcript

Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.

OK

Studs Terkel Not too long ago there were headlines in both newspapers, the "Chicago Tribune" and the "Sun-Times" about Jane Byrne and her brouhaha, the one, the difficulty with the "Chicago Tribune" and the banning of a reporter for a time, that was the news. But what was hardly discussed, newspapers and television, was the report itself, the report that made the headlines of both papers, the report of a transition team originally chosen by the newly elected Mayor Jane Byrne, [and?] the city and neighborhoods, and Dick Simpson is my guest this morning. Former alderman of the 44th Ward, two-term alderman 1971-79, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois Circle Campus. And the report is one that he most helped write, one that's been sort of dismissed pretty much by the media. So we're discussing that report and what Mayor Byrne commissioned, but did not see. And we'll hear the voice, too, of Mayor Byrne at a certain time shortly after her election. In a moment after this message. [Pause in recording] Suppose we hear, Dick, there was a certain glowing moment. The Machine was beaten. There was a blizzard. There was a primary. And there was an election. And Jane Byrne was elected. It was a stunning upset, and it was about two or three months later I interviewed her for "Life" magazine, and "Life" turned down the article because thought it was not critical enough. So I thought, suppose we hear the voice of Jane Byrne, it's sometime in June or July of the year of election, last year that would be, wouldn't it?

Dick Simpson Yeah.

Studs Terkel Last year.

Dick Simpson Last year,

Studs Terkel And the subject of neighborhoods came up and changes, and we hear her thoughts. [Pause] [unintelligible] upon people of the communities themselves

Jane Byrne -- To

Studs Terkel In some cases, part-time jobs.

Jane Byrne Right. Sure. Yeah, well, our plan is Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to clean. And then on Thursday and Friday the cleaning in the community itself. Saturday we're going out there with all our trucks, pick it all up.

Studs Terkel Yeah. You know, one of the big questions in this book, [unintelligible] and throughout, the people in the neighborhoods feel they have no say over their

Jane Byrne That's correct, you're correct, they do.

Studs Terkel You know, people in the neighborhoods feel then they just have

Jane Byrne They're going to have a say. We're cre-- we created the Department of Neighborhoods. I took an--the other department called Mayor's Office of Inquiry and Information. And we're changing the title on that department and calling it the Department of the Neighborhoods, which will be directly responsible to work with the community organizations in those neighborhoods. I found that out, too, and I--want another cup of coffee?

Studs Terkel Great! [pause in recording] We just--this is going--we're going to be wandering as we're talking. I'll come back to the subject of neighborhoods and the department of it.

Jane Byrne Well, this is part

Studs Terkel Yeah, you were saying about you were a commissioner.

Jane Byrne Right. And I really--we ran, there was never a scandal. We did our job. We followed the book, okay, and the book was ordinances, and all we did was enforce them, sponsor new legislation when necessary, and help the public in our role. The other thing I found out when I got out there into these neighborhoods is that I didn't know a darn thing about what the problems were in those neighborhoods, even though I did what I was supposed to do. And I have found, thinking that over, that the various departments all, all run the same way. Board of Health will take care of your health matters. Consumer Sales, consumer affairs. Police will take--but there's no coordination.

Studs Terkel Ah. None.

Jane Byrne None.

Studs Terkel See, now you're hitting something terribly important, not only in the cities, in all our lives. Each department says, "I'll do it," and no interest, and so a child's about to die from lead poisoning, but "It's not my department."

Jane Byrne That's right. That's

Studs Terkel And you're looking for something that'll coordinate--

Jane Byrne That's the neighborhood, Department of the Neighborhoods. I found out in north Austin, for instance, what they're terribly frightened of is that they will lose their little commercial strip. If they lose that strip, their neighborhood will go. You can go into Andersonville, I think it was, all they want in that area they claim, to save their area, to be sure it's stable, is a parking garage. A [snaps fingers] simple thing like a parking garage, because they have to compete with the new shopping centers with the big--and it's little things in every area, and that's only a Department of the Neighborhoods can pull it all together.

Studs Terkel Yeah. There's something, if we stick with the Department of Neighborhoods and that overall, instead of as it has been in the past, this department does it

Jane Byrne Fragmented, right.

Studs Terkel And no other interests, the Department of the Neighborhoods will--in something of that neighbor--even though it isn't technically in that department

Jane Byrne That's correct. That's correct.

Studs Terkel Can

Jane Byrne See, they will get on [snaps fingers], they will be responsible to me, that department. The Commissioner of that

Studs Terkel Can you even--I know it's difficult, can you set a kind of case that would be an example?

Jane Byrne One such as you just said.

Studs Terkel And so it was sort of a glowing moment, wasn't it, there was this discussion of neighborhood and autonomy. Dick Simpson, your thoughts on hearing this passage.

Dick Simpson Well, it's reminiscent of that whole period, of course, the mayor when she ran for the office said that she was for neighborhoods and that she wanted to help the neighborhoods and not only had she promised a Department of Neighborhoods, she had promised a congress of neighborhoods to allow neighborhood people to directly have a voice in her administration. And she had talked about reforming the departments and cutting out the waste and streamlining the government. I remember that because it was somewhat on that premise that people were invited to be part of the transition team. There were about 25 of us appointed. And obviously a number of others were appointed to represent minority groups: a number of Blacks, Lenore Cartwright, Tim Black. A whole series of minorities were, were appointed. A number of independents. Former alderman Leon Dupré and myself, among, among others. A number of people who came from community organizations or different sections of the city, Northwest side, Southwest side, and some people from the business community. And essentially it was meant to be a campaign symbol after she'd won the primary and before she won the general election, that her administration was going to be a new open administration, that it was going to deal forthrightly with the problems of the city, and that she was going to base the administration on the will of the citizens where they live in their communities rather than doing it all downtown. Well, of course what happened, it was great campaign rhetoric. She won the second stage of the mayoralty with the highest vote of any mayor, higher than Richard J. Daley in all of his elections, so as a campaign ploy it was terrific. But the problem is of course that the people on the transition team had taken her seriously. And I, for instance, assembled a team of 20 people out at the University of Illinois and we went to work for a month and a half and produced a 600-page document with 197 recommendations detailed down to the literal ordinances that would have to be passed to implement or the executive orders that would have to be done, cost/benefit ratios of what it costs to pick up a ton of garbage here versus Milwaukee or Philadelphia, and we had done our job, I thought, fairly seriously. We didn't claim that it was the end final word on everything, and we had premised it on the assumption that the Byrne administration would want to have a free and open administration. And of course the first thing the Byrne administration did was to suppress the report.

Studs Terkel What happened to that report?

Dick Simpson The report was delivered by Lou Masotti, about, in stages. I gave Lou sections of the report on a weekly basis from the first of April on through the end of April. And he finally, when he was essentially bounced out of the city administration because he'd gotten too much coverage while the mayor was out of town and had gotten into disfavor, when he was bounced out and not made head of the Department of Planning as originally suggested, or any of the other deputy mayor jobs, he just delivered six volumes altogether in the mayor's hands, and as I understand it, the mayor simply stacked them up over in a corner of the office and forgot about them. And then a couple of newspapers, including the "Chicago Lawyer" began to inquire about the transition team. Could they see the copy of the transition team, what were the recommendations, what was the mayor going to do? And that required that the deputy mayors, particularly Paul McGrath and later Bill Griffin, look at the report in the sense of, could it be released? And the first answer from the Byrne administration said, "Sure. We'll release it, we're former pressmen ourselves, we understand freedom of press, and we know there's a city ordinance saying it had--all consultant reports have to be made public," that had just been passed after Byrne's primary election before she became mayor. And so it looked like it was going to be released, and then at the least the Byrne administration would read it in the newspapers even if they didn't read it in their private copy. But they decided to suppress it, they took the case to court, and the lower court said that they had to release it, and they decided to appeal, and the middle level appeals courts decided they had to release it and they decided to appeal, I think they're gonna probably appeal it on to the Supreme Court, although why they would do that now that it's published is, is unclear.

Studs Terkel Well I ask the question--what, I don't quite understand, why would the administration suppress it? Why would

Dick Simpson It--I think because there's a great problem for the administration with the transition team report. It was written not about the Byrne administration, but about the Bilandic and Daley administrations, and about the incredible problems this city faces and from a premise that an administration would want to be open, that it would want to be concerned with neighborhoods, that it would want to be efficient, that it would want to be cost effective, that it would want to live within its means, and therefore have a streamlined effective participatory government. Now, that begins to set up a measuring rod. Even though it was said about the last administration, it says first, the first day she was in office we recommended that she adopt an executive order called "Freedom of Information" that would require the public documents the public pays for to be available to citizens. Well, those documents are all secret documents. Every document in City Hall that doesn't have to do directly with taxes or be printed on microfilm is a secret document from the citizens of the city. Well, that's an insane idea, and it seems reasonable that the first thing a new administration would want to do is to symbolize well, that it's going to open up things, and it be an open

Studs Terkel Well, it would be to the benefit, I don't quite understand

Dick Simpson Well, it'd be to the benefit of the

Studs Terkel To the benefit of the administration, the Byrne--

Dick Simpson If

Studs Terkel To show how difficult it has been because of the previous administrations.

Dick Simpson Oh yes, they could show, they had six hundred pages of complaints about the last administration.

Studs Terkel Was it really suppressed or is this a phrase you're using now?

Dick Simpson Well, it was kept secret. It was held in an office. There were only four copies ever made of the document. It's not like it's a giant, in a publishing

Studs Terkel Can we discuss the report itself? It was definitely fluffed off by the media. In fact, one pundit on TV on ten o'clock news spoke of a report by Dick Simpson, former alderman, written by his students, and he wants to sell it as a book, as a matter of fact, it is going to be a book by Swallow, part of the report, "Chicago's Future".

Dick Simpson Well, 40 pages of it.

Studs Terkel Yeah, 40 of the 600 pages. But the report itself was not discussed. I know this deals with something you've been thinking about during your two terms as alderman and long before that.

Dick Simpson Well, it was, it was a good--

Studs Terkel About autonomy for [neighborhoods?]--

Dick Simpson Yeah, it was a--we can talk directly about the neighborhoods, but just in terms of the report, it was a good experience for me. I don't regret it even though it didn't get used by the administration. And even though it was a massive amount of work, you know, night and day work for, for two months, for 20 of us. But I don't regret that investment because when you're--even when you're alderman, you don't get to go into the depth. We reviewed 30 of the 65 departments and agencies of the city. And one of things we found, just take the department part of the study, is that nearly all of the departments have a bad mission. They don't understand what they're trying to do. Take the Department of Health. Department of Health, if you read the legal documents, the ordinances that establish it, the state laws and so forth, has a sole mission of preventing epidemics in the City of Chicago. Well, I don't remember when our last epidemic was in the City of Chicago. They must be doing a terrific job because we've not had an epidemic in 30 years. But that isn't what the Department of Health does. The Department of Health runs four full clinics, full-service clinics. They run a dozen different well-baby clinics, mental health clinics and things; they deliver health services to the citi--some of the citizens of Chicago. But since that's not their mission and they've never really rationalized it, they run into competition, they have competing clinics with Cook County Hospital, they compete with the private sector. They--and there's overlapping and mis-expenditure of money because of that. They ref--they finally got control of the Chicago health systems agency, but they fight with all of the other health bodies of, of the metropolitan area and the national government. It is a crazy mishmash system. We got four or five health service delivery systems which do not talk to each other, which literally will not speak to one another, and therefore you might expect our health plan is terrible. The health delivery to the citizens of Chicago is scandalous. That's why we have such a high infant mortality rate, one of the highest in the nation. The infant mortality rate in Chicago compares with some of the underdeveloped countries of the world. Not quite that bad, but very close. For a city of this sort there is just no excuse.

Studs Terkel And what was the report's recommendation?

Dick Simpson Well, what we did was start at the top. We said, "All right. What is it the Board of Health's going to do?" Well, it's not just going to prevent epidemics, it's going to also in fact deliver services as it says. Well, it's going to have to coordinate then with four separate health agencies, this means it's going to have to have some mechanism of coordination between these bodies, and we spelled out what its goals would have to be, how it would do it, then we went into a cost accounting of how they are spending their money currently and what they're getting back [for? from?] it, and some administrative changes, suggesting some personnel changes and suggesting some restructuring of the lines of flow. We did that for 30 of the 65 departments. I had never had the time to look at all that many departments, and what was amazing was, there were very few exceptions that the departments were not either aimed towards the wrong goals or had the wrong administrative structure. We pay in Chicago 50 to 300 percent higher for every service we deliver than any other city in the country. Whether you talk about the cost per ton of garbage picked up or mile of street swept or quart of water delivered to, through the pipes or, you know, gallons of water delivered to the pipes. It doesn't matter. If you make any objective comparison with us and other cities it can obviously be done cheaper because most other cities don't have a patronage system and therefore don't have two employees doing the work of one. And that they don't have an outmoded administrative system that is 50 years out of date. [Which isn't to say?] they don't have some excellent employees and they don't do some individual services well. We found some services that are well done. But it was just that aspect, before you even got into how to deal with neighborhoods, how to deal with honesty, how to deal with a city council, how to--how to keep double-dipping by the lawyers who are supposed to work for the city but have private practices and so on. Before you got into that area, just the way the departments function

Studs Terkel This report had specific suggestions [about that?].

Dick Simpson It had 197 recommendations in the section I wrote.

Studs Terkel About functioning of departments and services

Dick Simpson And new programs that had to be developed, because we thought it was going to be analogous to, say, the Roosevelt New Deal, when you had the 100 days' excitement in the first of the New Deal, or the Kennedy thousand days, the 900 some odd days that Kennedy lived in the new frontier, and what we got was sort of a bad deal. The problem, the basic problem is the Byrne administration, I'm convinced, still does not believe in policy and program. They believe in politics of a rather shrill and loud sort, they believe in bureaucratic games. They believe in power trips. They believe in media relations. But you've got

Studs Terkel -- How does that differ with the previous administrations,

Dick Simpson Well, the previous administrations, which had much graver faults, the one thing I'll say is the Byrne administration has corrected some of the excesses of the previous administrations, particularly in some of the employee areas, but the previous administrations at least made sense, because they were based in Machine politics, so if you understood patronage and if you understood the service delivery system and you understood the politics of service delivery and you knew how Daley had to relate to the big banks, how he had to relate to the business community, how he had to relate to the labor community, the system was sensible. It was one I hated greatly because it produced tyranny and destroyed democracy, but it was a logical system. What you have with the Byrne administration is you do not have a new political majority saying the city council [to? may?] govern. You do not have an administrative structure that is able to carry out the will of the mayor, if the mayor has a will, on, on specific policy areas, and you have no policy guidelines. There's been so little new legislation introduced that it's amazing. I, there are more pending pieces of legislation from when I was alderman, that I personally wrote, there are 200 pieces or so still bouncing around loose down there somewhere from when I was there. That's more than the entire Byrne administration has produced in their first year-and-a-half in office.

Studs Terkel So this 600-page report is lying around and about, the

Dick Simpson

Studs Terkel

Dick Simpson Not too long ago there were headlines in both newspapers, the "Chicago Tribune" and the "Sun-Times" about Jane Byrne and her brouhaha, the one, the difficulty with the "Chicago Tribune" and the banning of a reporter for a time, that was the news. But what was hardly discussed, newspapers and television, was the report itself, the report that made the headlines of both papers, the report of a transition team originally chosen by the newly elected Mayor Jane Byrne, [and?] the city and neighborhoods, and Dick Simpson is my guest this morning. Former alderman of the 44th Ward, two-term alderman 1971-79, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois Circle Campus. And the report is one that he most helped write, one that's been sort of dismissed pretty much by the media. So we're discussing that report and what Mayor Byrne commissioned, but did not see. And we'll hear the voice, too, of Mayor Byrne at a certain time shortly after her election. In a moment after this message. [Pause in recording] Suppose we hear, Dick, there was a certain glowing moment. The Machine was beaten. There was a blizzard. There was a primary. And there was an election. And Jane Byrne was elected. It was a stunning upset, and it was about two or three months later I interviewed her for "Life" magazine, and "Life" turned down the article because thought it was not critical enough. So I thought, suppose we hear the voice of Jane Byrne, it's sometime in June or July of the year of election, last year that would be, wouldn't it? Yeah. Last year. Last year, 1979. And the subject of neighborhoods came up and changes, and we hear her thoughts. [Pause] [unintelligible] upon people of the communities themselves -- To In some cases, part-time jobs. Right. Sure. Yeah, well, our plan is Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to clean. And then on Thursday and Friday the cleaning in the community itself. Saturday we're going out there with all our trucks, pick it all up. Yeah. You know, one of the big questions in this book, [unintelligible] and throughout, the people in the neighborhoods feel they have no say over their [lives?]-- That's correct, you're correct, they do. You know, people in the neighborhoods feel then they just have no They're going to have a say. We're cre-- we created the Department of Neighborhoods. I took an--the other department called Mayor's Office of Inquiry and Information. And we're changing the title on that department and calling it the Department of the Neighborhoods, which will be directly responsible to work with the community organizations in those neighborhoods. I found that out, too, and I--want another cup of coffee? Great! [pause in recording] We just--this is going--we're going to be wandering as we're talking. I'll come back to the subject of neighborhoods and the department of it. Well, this is part of Yeah, you were saying about you were a commissioner. Right. And I really--we ran, there was never a scandal. We did our job. We followed the book, okay, and the book was ordinances, and all we did was enforce them, sponsor new legislation when necessary, and help the public in our role. The other thing I found out when I got out there into these neighborhoods is that I didn't know a darn thing about what the problems were in those neighborhoods, even though I did what I was supposed to do. And I have found, thinking that over, that the various departments all, all run the same way. Board of Health will take care of your health matters. Consumer Sales, consumer affairs. Police will take--but there's no coordination. Ah. None. See, now you're hitting something terribly important, not only in the cities, in all our lives. Each department says, "I'll do it," and no interest, and so a child's about to die from lead poisoning, but "It's not my department." That's right. That's what's-- And you're looking for something that'll coordinate-- That's the neighborhood, Department of the Neighborhoods. I found out in north Austin, for instance, what they're terribly frightened of is that they will lose their little commercial strip. If they lose that strip, their neighborhood will go. You can go into Andersonville, I think it was, all they want in that area they claim, to save their area, to be sure it's stable, is a parking garage. A [snaps fingers] simple thing like a parking garage, because they have to compete with the new shopping centers with the big--and it's little things in every area, and that's only a Department of the Neighborhoods can pull it all together. Yeah. There's something, if we stick with the Department of Neighborhoods and that overall, instead of as it has been in the past, this department does it or Fragmented, right. And no other interests, the Department of the Neighborhoods will--in something of that neighbor--even though it isn't technically in that department -- That's correct. That's correct. Can See, they will get on [snaps fingers], they will be responsible to me, that department. The Commissioner of that department. Can you even--I know it's difficult, can you set a kind of case that would be an example? One such as you just said. And so it was sort of a glowing moment, wasn't it, there was this discussion of neighborhood and autonomy. Dick Simpson, your thoughts on hearing this passage. Well, it's reminiscent of that whole period, of course, the mayor when she ran for the office said that she was for neighborhoods and that she wanted to help the neighborhoods and not only had she promised a Department of Neighborhoods, she had promised a congress of neighborhoods to allow neighborhood people to directly have a voice in her administration. And she had talked about reforming the departments and cutting out the waste and streamlining the government. I remember that because it was somewhat on that premise that people were invited to be part of the transition team. There were about 25 of us appointed. And obviously a number of others were appointed to represent minority groups: a number of Blacks, Lenore Cartwright, Tim Black. A whole series of minorities were, were appointed. A number of independents. Former alderman Leon Dupré and myself, among, among others. A number of people who came from community organizations or different sections of the city, Northwest side, Southwest side, and some people from the business community. And essentially it was meant to be a campaign symbol after she'd won the primary and before she won the general election, that her administration was going to be a new open administration, that it was going to deal forthrightly with the problems of the city, and that she was going to base the administration on the will of the citizens where they live in their communities rather than doing it all downtown. Well, of course what happened, it was great campaign rhetoric. She won the second stage of the mayoralty with the highest vote of any mayor, higher than Richard J. Daley in all of his elections, so as a campaign ploy it was terrific. But the problem is of course that the people on the transition team had taken her seriously. And I, for instance, assembled a team of 20 people out at the University of Illinois and we went to work for a month and a half and produced a 600-page document with 197 recommendations detailed down to the literal ordinances that would have to be passed to implement or the executive orders that would have to be done, cost/benefit ratios of what it costs to pick up a ton of garbage here versus Milwaukee or Philadelphia, and we had done our job, I thought, fairly seriously. We didn't claim that it was the end final word on everything, and we had premised it on the assumption that the Byrne administration would want to have a free and open administration. And of course the first thing the Byrne administration did was to suppress the report. What happened to that report? The report was delivered by Lou Masotti, about, in stages. I gave Lou sections of the report on a weekly basis from the first of April on through the end of April. And he finally, when he was essentially bounced out of the city administration because he'd gotten too much coverage while the mayor was out of town and had gotten into disfavor, when he was bounced out and not made head of the Department of Planning as originally suggested, or any of the other deputy mayor jobs, he just delivered six volumes altogether in the mayor's hands, and as I understand it, the mayor simply stacked them up over in a corner of the office and forgot about them. And then a couple of newspapers, including the "Chicago Lawyer" began to inquire about the transition team. Could they see the copy of the transition team, what were the recommendations, what was the mayor going to do? And that required that the deputy mayors, particularly Paul McGrath and later Bill Griffin, look at the report in the sense of, could it be released? And the first answer from the Byrne administration said, "Sure. We'll release it, we're former pressmen ourselves, we understand freedom of press, and we know there's a city ordinance saying it had--all consultant reports have to be made public," that had just been passed after Byrne's primary election before she became mayor. And so it looked like it was going to be released, and then at the least the Byrne administration would read it in the newspapers even if they didn't read it in their private copy. But they decided to suppress it, they took the case to court, and the lower court said that they had to release it, and they decided to appeal, and the middle level appeals courts decided they had to release it and they decided to appeal, I think they're gonna probably appeal it on to the Supreme Court, although why they would do that now that it's published is, is unclear. Well I ask the question--what, I don't quite understand, why would the administration suppress it? Why would they It--I think because there's a great problem for the administration with the transition team report. It was written not about the Byrne administration, but about the Bilandic and Daley administrations, and about the incredible problems this city faces and from a premise that an administration would want to be open, that it would want to be concerned with neighborhoods, that it would want to be efficient, that it would want to be cost effective, that it would want to live within its means, and therefore have a streamlined effective participatory government. Now, that begins to set up a measuring rod. Even though it was said about the last administration, it says first, the first day she was in office we recommended that she adopt an executive order called "Freedom of Information" that would require the public documents the public pays for to be available to citizens. Well, those documents are all secret documents. Every document in City Hall that doesn't have to do directly with taxes or be printed on microfilm is a secret document from the citizens of the city. Well, that's an insane idea, and it seems reasonable that the first thing a new administration would want to do is to symbolize well, that it's going to open up things, and it be an open house. Well, it would be to the benefit, I don't quite understand it-- Well, it'd be to the benefit of the citizens To the benefit of the administration, the Byrne-- If To show how difficult it has been because of the previous administrations. See? Oh yes, they could show, they had six hundred pages of complaints about the last administration. Was it really suppressed or is this a phrase you're using now? Well, it was kept secret. It was held in an office. There were only four copies ever made of the document. It's not like it's a giant, in a publishing venture. Can we discuss the report itself? It was definitely fluffed off by the media. In fact, one pundit on TV on ten o'clock news spoke of a report by Dick Simpson, former alderman, written by his students, and he wants to sell it as a book, as a matter of fact, it is going to be a book by Swallow, part of the report, "Chicago's Future". Well, 40 pages of it. Yeah, 40 of the 600 pages. But the report itself was not discussed. I know this deals with something you've been thinking about during your two terms as alderman and long before that. Well, it was, it was a good-- About autonomy for [neighborhoods?]-- Yeah, it was a--we can talk directly about the neighborhoods, but just in terms of the report, it was a good experience for me. I don't regret it even though it didn't get used by the administration. And even though it was a massive amount of work, you know, night and day work for, for two months, for 20 of us. But I don't regret that investment because when you're--even when you're alderman, you don't get to go into the depth. We reviewed 30 of the 65 departments and agencies of the city. And one of things we found, just take the department part of the study, is that nearly all of the departments have a bad mission. They don't understand what they're trying to do. Take the Department of Health. Department of Health, if you read the legal documents, the ordinances that establish it, the state laws and so forth, has a sole mission of preventing epidemics in the City of Chicago. Well, I don't remember when our last epidemic was in the City of Chicago. They must be doing a terrific job because we've not had an epidemic in 30 years. But that isn't what the Department of Health does. The Department of Health runs four full clinics, full-service clinics. They run a dozen different well-baby clinics, mental health clinics and things; they deliver health services to the citi--some of the citizens of Chicago. But since that's not their mission and they've never really rationalized it, they run into competition, they have competing clinics with Cook County Hospital, they compete with the private sector. They--and there's overlapping and mis-expenditure of money because of that. They ref--they finally got control of the Chicago health systems agency, but they fight with all of the other health bodies of, of the metropolitan area and the national government. It is a crazy mishmash system. We got four or five health service delivery systems which do not talk to each other, which literally will not speak to one another, and therefore you might expect our health plan is terrible. The health delivery to the citizens of Chicago is scandalous. That's why we have such a high infant mortality rate, one of the highest in the nation. The infant mortality rate in Chicago compares with some of the underdeveloped countries of the world. Not quite that bad, but very close. For a city of this sort there is just no excuse. And what was the report's recommendation? [As Well, what we did was start at the top. We said, "All right. What is it the Board of Health's going to do?" Well, it's not just going to prevent epidemics, it's going to also in fact deliver services as it says. Well, it's going to have to coordinate then with four separate health agencies, this means it's going to have to have some mechanism of coordination between these bodies, and we spelled out what its goals would have to be, how it would do it, then we went into a cost accounting of how they are spending their money currently and what they're getting back [for? from?] it, and some administrative changes, suggesting some personnel changes and suggesting some restructuring of the lines of flow. We did that for 30 of the 65 departments. I had never had the time to look at all that many departments, and what was amazing was, there were very few exceptions that the departments were not either aimed towards the wrong goals or had the wrong administrative structure. We pay in Chicago 50 to 300 percent higher for every service we deliver than any other city in the country. Whether you talk about the cost per ton of garbage picked up or mile of street swept or quart of water delivered to, through the pipes or, you know, gallons of water delivered to the pipes. It doesn't matter. If you make any objective comparison with us and other cities it can obviously be done cheaper because most other cities don't have a patronage system and therefore don't have two employees doing the work of one. And that they don't have an outmoded administrative system that is 50 years out of date. [Which isn't to say?] they don't have some excellent employees and they don't do some individual services well. We found some services that are well done. But it was just that aspect, before you even got into how to deal with neighborhoods, how to deal with honesty, how to deal with a city council, how to--how to keep double-dipping by the lawyers who are supposed to work for the city but have private practices and so on. Before you got into that area, just the way the departments function was This report had specific suggestions [about that?]. It had 197 recommendations in the section I wrote. About functioning of departments and services and And new programs that had to be developed, because we thought it was going to be analogous to, say, the Roosevelt New Deal, when you had the 100 days' excitement in the first of the New Deal, or the Kennedy thousand days, the 900 some odd days that Kennedy lived in the new frontier, and what we got was sort of a bad deal. The problem, the basic problem is the Byrne administration, I'm convinced, still does not believe in policy and program. They believe in politics of a rather shrill and loud sort, they believe in bureaucratic games. They believe in power trips. They believe in media relations. But you've got -- How does that differ with the previous administrations, then? Well, the previous administrations, which had much graver faults, the one thing I'll say is the Byrne administration has corrected some of the excesses of the previous administrations, particularly in some of the employee areas, but the previous administrations at least made sense, because they were based in Machine politics, so if you understood patronage and if you understood the service delivery system and you understood the politics of service delivery and you knew how Daley had to relate to the big banks, how he had to relate to the business community, how he had to relate to the labor community, the system was sensible. It was one I hated greatly because it produced tyranny and destroyed democracy, but it was a logical system. What you have with the Byrne administration is you do not have a new political majority saying the city council [to? may?] govern. You do not have an administrative structure that is able to carry out the will of the mayor, if the mayor has a will, on, on specific policy areas, and you have no policy guidelines. There's been so little new legislation introduced that it's amazing. I, there are more pending pieces of legislation from when I was alderman, that I personally wrote, there are 200 pieces or so still bouncing around loose down there somewhere from when I was there. That's more than the entire Byrne administration has produced in their first year-and-a-half in office. So this 600-page report is lying around and about, the report Well, Provisions They

Studs Terkel But they would not discuss the nature of it.

Dick Simpson Yeah, the problem is, if you take an area, let me just take one or two other examples, then we'll get to neighborhoods, the, maybe the heart of the matter. Take a simple area like pensions. I mean, it's simple in terms of its effects, you don't have to be too bright to understand. If I tell you that we have in the pension programs a little more than two-and-a-half billion dollars of capital, okay, and billion's a big number, but if we have two-and-a-half billion dollars of capital and if I then tell you that in my guess, that if you take all the pension funds less than 5 percent of that is reinvested in Chicago, and when the "Chicago Reporter" magazine just did a study to update it in one fund, they found that the best they could do is say that 15% might be thought to be invested in Chicago, 85% was not. One way of thinking

Studs Terkel Where's the rest of it go?

Dick Simpson Well, it goes into Canadian pipeline, it goes into Arab oil, it goes into South Am--South African businesses, it goes mostly into the Fortune 500. We own bonds of the city of Philadelphia. To give you an idea of how crazy this is, the reason you buy things like municipal bonds is of course because then you'll get a tax break. You don't pay taxes on it. But pension funds do not pay taxes. So there is no advantage to a pension fund to invest in another city's bonds.

Studs Terkel So you--the paper--

Dick Simpson The paper goes

Studs Terkel Had specific suggestions that were feasible?

Dick Simpson Oh, yeah.

Studs Terkel

Dick Simpson That We--I mean, it's not simple, but because there are a lot of--the state law's a very bad law governing pensions. But two-and-a-half--if you only leveraged back 10%, that'd be 250 million dollars tomorrow morning that you could have for housing, for economic development in the ghettos, [if you imagine?] what happened if you invested 200, if Mayor Byrne tomorrow morning announced, "Well, the pension plans have been pulled together. They're going to make very safe investments, they're not going to risk anybody's money. They're going to invest in solid companies or in guaranteed certificates, but 250 million dollars is going to go into Woodlawn, Englewood, the communities of Chicago that most need it, the West Side of Chicago," 250 million dollars could be reinvested, you know, not in a single day, but in one hunk, and that could be done every year with good, good

Studs Terkel So, that's one aspect of it. These suggestions have been lying around somewhere--

Dick Simpson Yeah, and they're--

Studs Terkel On a, somebody's table or, or in a storage room.

Dick Simpson And there just, I mean, no one believes us, I mean, no one will believe that anyone could be so foolish as to waste two-and-a-half billion dollars of capital when you can't get capital to develop a city.

Studs Terkel Now, this paper. And there was a--let's go, I want to come down to other aspects of the paper and other recommendations, too, including the nature of autonomy in the ward as something that you had practiced as alderman of the 44th Ward, ward assembly, the idea of that. But back to the paper. There was a transition team. I think they were--I remember distinguished Chicagoans, everyone was excited, of various groups of Chicago as well as independents and people pretty hip to things. And this report is one they had sponsored. Is that the idea?

Dick Simpson Well, we were never allowed to meet together, but essentially there was contact back and forth. And--

Studs Terkel Why were you never allowed to meet together?

Dick Simpson Well, because the theory which the team was operated under was that everyone would work out their individual contribution and give it to Lou Masotti, and Lou Masotti would deliver it to the mayor right at the right moment when the mayor was ready to embark on that aspect of program, which was an okay theory in its own way, it wouldn't be the way I would probably run something, but it's, it's a, it's a theory of how to administer it. Of course, when Lou Masotti was bounced out, the theory fell to nothing. We were then without a transmission belt to the administration, and it looks like even if a Lou Masotti had been in the city government, that Byrne would've paid no attention or kept him on six months and then kicked him out without implementing the

Studs Terkel Yeah. Back to this paper, because I'm thinking of that moment when I interviewed her a month-and-a-half or so after her election, it was a rather glowing moment, and her vision was a good one on--

Dick Simpson Yes.

Studs Terkel You just heard a portion of the conversation. It went on--

Dick Simpson Yeah, that she was going to hear the neighborhoods, that she understood that they felt they were left out, that the department heads didn't understand, she was absolutely right about all that.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Dick Simpson And I think she just has no notion of how to implement it and she's had this report which goes step-by-step, I mean it said, it said, "Day one: introduce this ordinance or executive order. Day two: don't just have a Department of Neighborhoods. If you--you promised the citizens a congress of neighborhoods. Here's what a congress of neighborhoods looks like: it will meet in city council chambers once a month. It will be chaired by either you or your head of the Department of Neighborhoods. It will have five representatives from each of the 50 wards. They will be chosen in the following fashion," and down to the nitty-gritty of how to establish a steering committee and agenda. Now, all those could be improved upon, but it's not as if, you know, it's often [actually?] well, the mayor couldn't really implement the congress of neighborhoods which she promised, before her election she promised there'd be a congress of neighborhoods. I'm not sure it's the best idea in the world. I'm not sure I would recommend it if I were starting from scratch, but that's her promise. And some people might say, "Well, she didn't--there was no way to do it. How can you ever get all the people together?" Well, the transition team was very clear. There was no great difficulty, that was a relatively simple part of our task was figuring out the mechanics of a congress of neighborhoods.

Studs Terkel What is the congress of neighborhoods, how would that work?

Dick Simpson Well, what it'd be is, it'd be a monthly meeting of representatives from each community of the city who would, would advise the city administration on how the departments should behave and what should be done to benefit all the neighborhoods of Chicago. It would be an advisory council, if you will. The mayor would be foolish to overlook their recommendations consistently, that she would have to take some of them, I think. It would be a sounding board that we don't have now. What the mayor has now is she can yell and scream and get on television and the citizens will see it on their TV set and say "good" or "bad." But there is no communication between the mayor and the citizens, there's no way. So she has to either believe the aldermen, and Machine alderman are not a good transmission belt, you can't believe that they understand their neighborhood problems in a proper perspective, and they're not diverse voices. You know, the mayor is isolated. The mayor gets, as far as I can tell, she gets advice from her husband. And that may be the entire extent of it, or she gets it from five other advisers or ten. This is a city of three million people, this is a metropolitan area of seven-and-a-half million people, you need to have the rough and tumble of ideas at work, and you need to have it from the bottom up. You don't need to have dictums coming out of City Hall. You need to have information, debate, discussion, deliberation, and wise decision-making, and you're not getting that.

Studs Terkel Yeah, and this idea of a congress of neighborhoods is not something idealistic in a quote unquote, not, not something impractical. It could be worked.

Dick Simpson And it's not something thought up by independents to foist off on her. I mean, the report would not be written if, you know, if I were mayor or if I were running for mayor, I would not have written the transition team report. The transition team report was written for Mayor Byrne from what she had said what seemed to be a reasonable approach and what the neighborhoods seemed to be wanting. It was not--there are all sorts of things that are not in the transition team report that I believe in that aren't there because it was advice to her, not advice

Studs Terkel But she didn't see it.

Dick Simpson Well, she didn't, apparently really want the advice. There

Studs Terkel Yell, well, we ought to come to, let's continue, Dick Simpson, former alderman of the 44th Ward, Professor, Associate Prof of Political Science at Circle Campus, was one of the writers, key writers, of the report that was made for the headlines involving the mayor and the Chicago newspapers, specifically "Tribune," the report that was hardly discussed. Mentioned in the papers, but hardly discussed, and so Dick's discussing it now. And by the way, the book--this is funny, 'cause see, Walter Jacobson was the commentator and he says, "Oh, it's nothing but a book put out by an alderman, a former alderman who's a teacher of political science and some of his students did the book, old hat stuff," but never discussed what the old hat was, you

Dick Simpson That's right. No one has ever--

Studs Terkel And no one's ever worn the hat, so how can he say it's an old hat--anyway, so the book is available, by the way. This book is only 400--no, what is it now? It's

Dick Simpson The transition team report is only 40 Forty

Studs Terkel Forty pages,

Dick Simpson and The

Studs Terkel Yeah, right.

Dick Simpson And it takes up the proposals of the last two decades in Chicago for solving our big problems, our race problem, our economic development problem, our housing problem, our city council problem, our city government's problem.

Studs Terkel You know, these are very specific suggestions that she need not have taken literally, but at least examined and discussed, is what

Dick Simpson It was a starting point. We thought it was a transition.

Studs Terkel A starting point, yeah.

Dick Simpson It was to get them off to a running head start.

Studs Terkel So we'll take a pause now and resume, and you can talk about how it worked in the 44th Ward, the ward assembly idea, well, that was part of the city idea, too. The man of autonomy, voice from neighborhoods. In a moment we'll resume the conversation with Dick Simpson and the report. The report hardly discussed. In a moment after this message. [Pause in recording] We've resumed the conversation, Dick. Suppose we hear Mayor Byrne's--where we left off. This is a month or so after the election, it's sort of June, July of last year, and it was a euphoric time. Let's pick it up. We were discussing the idea of neighborhood participation and coordination. Pick up arbitrarily just where we left off.

Jane Byrne I mean, that's the way it is. Is there going to be a funnel that will carry one

Studs Terkel Ah, that's what you're doing.

Jane Byrne And the same thing, in all our--what are they doing with--we have Streets and San going down the alleys picking up garbage supposedly. [siren in background] Third man on the truck, and yet we have rats running all over the place. Third man rides. Let him go with the rat poison when he's going down that alley. Why, you know, wait two weeks after the garbage is back? It's just total fragmentation.

Studs Terkel Yeah. I notice you have Nancy Jefferson on one of the boards of transition.

Jane Byrne Police board, right. Police

Studs Terkel Nancy, and she's of

Jane Byrne Right.

Studs Terkel Did you know Mary Lou Wolff? She [worked for?] Citizens Action Program. You know, I'm saying that because she was campaign manager for Orr, who won.

Jane Byrne Mmhmm.

Studs Terkel But Mary Lou Wolff was a middle-American housewife, her father worked for the city, nine kids, and she grew in that--they tried to stop [the arrival of the expressway?] [unintelligible] for a while. Or pollution. And Mary Lou, in telling of her life is telling how a person in the community can grow if that person is part of something.

Jane Byrne That's correct.

Studs Terkel And

Jane Byrne I agree. That's what I'm saying, and I'm, it's, whatever the, whatever the case may be out there, throughout, there's something in each one of those places that a little thing will change it.

Studs Terkel You know, Mayor Byrne, we're looking out there at the skyline and things, and the big thing to ask you about, of course, is naturally, unemployment, not Chicago uniquely, jobs [voice fades out]. Well, there we go again, that, that feeling seemed to be there. That understanding on the part of Mayor Byrne at that moment seemed to be there.

Dick Simpson Yes, I don't know why it never got manifested. I know a variety of methods were tried, and not just the transition team, but a lot of other groups wanted to go see her and did visit her at City Hall, and she went out to a few meetings in the, in the early period, doesn't seem to do that as much anymore. But somehow the connecting link got severed, she was never able to implement the policies and the programs that would deal with the fundamental problems. Now she's done some on some of the budget items and she's done some with some firing some employees and some shuffling around of jobs at City Hall, and that's not to be minimized or to say that she hasn't done anything, but the positive thrust is really not there. When you think of all the people in the neighborhood who are, really need a voice in government, she was talking about a funnel. Well, what's the funnel? There's no funnel. There's no, there's no way to be heard at City Hall. You can't go in and see Mayor Byrne. If you, even if everybody wanted to, you couldn't, you couldn't physically do What

Studs Terkel it. What was the suggestion in the paper?

Dick Simpson Well, in the paper we were pretty gingerly treating it. We suggested her own congress of neighborhoods. We suggested a modification on the Department of Neighborhoods, it would be more an ombudsman function than it, than it's turned out to be. It apparently does nothing at all at the moment that wasn't done under the old mayor's Office of Inquiry and Information. We were suggesting community zoning boards, that one of the big things we could do was to give each community at least local control over most of its zoning, then they could plan their physical future. We were suggesting that, that there ought to be a regular schedule where, that Mayor Byrne went to every neighborhood on a regular basis, that she would go to two neighborhoods every month, and that she would do that her entire term of office, and that they would schedule them and have mass meetings. We suggested that they ought to have little city halls, that the services ought to have--they ought to be in every ward what now is called a ward superintendent's office, which is a literal physical place for the person called a ward superintendent, that they really ought to centralize the services not downtown, but at the ward level. And then a citizen could go in and essentially talk to the city manager or ward manager and say, "My God, the garbage isn't getting picked up, the streets aren't swept, or the--there's a building decaying on my block," and get something done. Most of the services are done by 45,000 city employees, and no citizen in this city can hope to know which of the 45,000 employees sees that a building inspection is done and at a particular address or know for sure who handles tree trimming. The ward superintendents are slowly being given a little more power as I understand the Byrne administration, but why not go the full route? Why not just decentralize the administration of services and then hold responsible the new ward manager for delivering? Say, all right, you don't deliver, you're out.

Studs Terkel So therefore people in that ward, in that community, have a pretty good idea as to where to go in that ward--

Dick Simpson Right.

Studs Terkel In that community, for remedying that which may be

Dick Simpson Right. And it isn't just an alderman, it isn't someone they have to go [do political?], it isn't whether they voted for the Democrats that they get their garbage picked up or their curb fixed or the tree trimmed or whatever. Deal with the politics as politics. The Democratic Party is so great, let the Democratic party convince people to go vote for them on the merits. Get the government services delivered as a matter of right and give citizens a direct access in their local community to guarantee those

Studs Terkel Now, you have an idea how this worked, of course, when you were alderman in the 44th Ward, you instituted something called "ward assembly."

Dick Simpson Yes.

Studs Terkel Did you see that as a pattern for the other 49 wards?

Dick Simpson Yes, something like it. What we're going to be recommending in the future in a major [drive? draft?] I think for a neighborhood empowerment ordinance is going to be a three-level operation: an advisory neighborhood council or ward assembly at the local level with some zoning powers and some others that we had as separate institutions in the 44th Ward; a ward manager and ward cabinet which would deliver the services from the little city hall concept; and a congress of neighborhoods, a pickup on Mayor Byrne's notion of some sort of citywide gathering where the neighborhoods could speak in a united voice, have their voice amplified and understood. I think those three levels of, of neighborhood empowerment would be ideal. In the 44th Ward our particular forum was to have delegates elected, two delegates from each precinct and one from each community organization and meet monthly with the alderman, and when, both under myself and under Bruce Young who succeeded me, we signed a covenant that we would follow the dictates of the ward assembly as long as they voted by a two-thirds majority and carry out their will in City Hall, which I did in the eight years I was in the city council and Bruce has done in the, in the little over a year that he has been in the city council, and we found that an important linkage. That's the funnel, that's where you begin to get people actually talking about issues. Democracy is not just a public opinion poll. What, you don't want to know whether people are racist or worried about the economy, what you want to know is, do they in fact want this particular ordinance passed? Do they want that zoning changed? Do they want the one, the street to be one-way east or one-way west? You don't want to know do they believe in streets, or do they believe in one-way? You want to get to the actual decisions of government. People are quite competent to deal with the decisions of government. Most people think, "Well, that's too complicated, poor citizens, they don't understand any of this heavy stuff, you know, like which way a one-way street should run or whether you should have a high-rise building or a low-rise building." They understand that stuff quite well. They may not have full familiarity with the mechanics like ordinances and zoning terminology, but that's acquired. If you go meeting after meeting, month after month, and they continue to participate, they very soon learn that technical jargon, technical concepts. They can tell right away whether they want a high-rise building or not. It's not a mystery to them. May be a mystery to downtown planners, but it doesn't confuse them for a minute.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Dick Simpson And that's--that system, whatever it's called, and they can invent new names, they don't have to follow the 44th Ward model. There are 100 cities in the country that have experimented with neighborhood government. Chicago's not one of them, but there are 100 other cities that have some [legal form?]--

Studs Terkel They have, haven't they? You've seen, I know, you're part of a group called National Association of Neighborhoods--

Dick Simpson Right.

Studs Terkel One of the founders of it, and in some cities, larger, smaller,

Dick Simpson Oh, Washington, New York, Honolulu, Seattle, most of the country, cities of the country have some experiment in neighborhood government. They've either invited neighborhood advisory councils or they have little city halls like they do in Boston, or they have at least zoning powers locally, or there are just a variety of methods, 100 different cities are experimenting, and we're only experimenting where individual aldermen decide to do it. There are 6 wards in Chicago where there have been some experiments in either community zoning boards or ward assemblies, but that's by the grace of the aldermen. It is not possible in this city to experiment legally in empowering neighborhoods, and yet you listen to Mayor Byrne, she's in favor of empowering neighborhoods, you listen to the aldermen, they believe in neighborhoods, they represent their neighborhood, they be--they represent their community. Well, if they represent their community so well, why aren't they willing to let the community have a little of the power? Let's see if they represent the community.

Studs Terkel So that paper, that 600-page paper is lying around somewhere?

Dick Simpson As far as

Studs Terkel There's not

Dick Simpson It's

Studs Terkel About this paper. I mean, it's pretty clear stuff.

Dick Simpson I don't think -- I've never heard it be misconstrued by anybody that's ever seen any of it. There's some people, people who haven't read it don't seem to understand it. But, but the people who've read it don't seem--and some of the arguments are just specious. Suppose Mayor Byrne were right. Suppose only college students, God forbid, only college students had done this. Well, first college students didn't just do it. There were about 15 undergraduate students who did some research, there were four or five graduate students who did some refining--

Studs Terkel By the way--

Dick Simpson There were

Studs Terkel There was a pretty funny comment by the little commentator, "done by a bunch of college students," and suddenly some little commentator sounded like the former mayor, Daley: "college students."

Dick Simpson Well, the--

Studs Terkel Go ahead.

Dick Simpson The five of

Studs Terkel I thought it was very funny.

Dick Simpson Yeah, the five of

Studs Terkel It was a put-down, the phrase, obviously.

Dick Simpson Right. Well, I mean, the five of us who rewrote the final version had more experience in city government, or at least in community groups working with city government, than the mayor's first cabinet. I mean, the mayor's advisers. You know, who were all those people that she hired to come in and run as deputy mayors of this city? We had in our collective wisdom five to ten years' experience each in neighborhood [direct?] dealing with neighborhood services. None of those people had any.

Studs Terkel Suppose you describe, you see, we're talking now about something that's lying around that still could be read by the Mayor--

Dick Simpson That's

Studs Terkel And by her

Dick Simpson As far as, if anybody's missing a copy, you know, we'll Xerox it again.

Studs Terkel Let's assume this is gon--let's assume this is a constructive program.

Dick Simpson Oh, yeah, it'd be wonderful.

Studs Terkel It's lying there, that 600-page paper of suggestions is lying there.

Dick Simpson And we're wasting 2 billion dollars a year in one pocket and 300 million dollar in another pocket. We can't afford the cost of not doing some of this stuff. We cannot afford it. As a city we're going to hell in

Studs Terkel What did they mean, the commentator, by saying it's "old hat." What

Dick Simpson Well, what they mean is, there are some recommendations like the deputy mayor recommendations come from Milt Rakove's work which was originally submitted to the Home Rule Commission in 1972, and it's in fact, the whole, that whole section is reported in the "Chicago Future" book that I'm publishing, not just the transition team, but the original works from which they are derived. Well, it still hasn't been implemented. You know, the fact that it was thought of in 1972 doesn't make it outdated. We took every idea we could find that was viable whether it was new or old from Mayor Byrne's perspective, not from ours. From Mayor Byrne's perspective, what she said she wanted to do with the city. We put all of the recommendations for the last two decades plus a lot of new ones which we uncovered from the direct investigation of departments into one package, and some are new and some are old.

Studs Terkel I don't think that use of pension funds you described was old hat. That's never been discussed.

Dick Simpson It's--for some reason I can never understand, we've been working to try and expose that issue. I've been working on it for, I guess, four years I've known about it, and we tried to get--you know, we once tried to get foundations in the City of Chicago to invest $17,000 to get the Woodstock Institute to do the study that's necessary of the pension plans. And we went to six foundations. They would not spend $17,000 to leverage two-and-a-half billion dollars. They had a variety of reasons,

Studs Terkel Now, why don't you go slowly with that again, then we'll ask you about how ward assemblies specifically work as far as people in your ward were concerned. But go slowly on that pension fund idea. How many billions are involved, and what percentage just goes back into the city?

Dick Simpson Well, there

Studs Terkel And how could it be done?

Dick Simpson Two-and-a-half billion dollars is in the pension programs for the city employees, the schoolteachers, the park district employees and so forth that we control, that the city controls directly. Less than 5% or at most 15% if one wants to be generous, are invested in Chicago. The rest are invested in non-Chicago companies that do not have outlets in Chicago, or in bonds, or in city notes or in worldwide investments in real estate

Studs Terkel That's a variation on redlining, isn't it,

Dick Simpson That's right. We,

Studs Terkel It's called financial red-lining.

Dick Simpson Yeah. Isn't this great? We--the city employees can be certain if there is still a city government that they will get their pension, but they can't be sure whether they're going to be still, and still on the job tomorrow morning, because the financial crises of the city may become so great as to cause them to lose their job, or the city may collapse. I mean, we're talking about losing 12,500 housing units a year net loss in Chicago. We're losing 25,000 jobs a year in Chicago net loss. The property tax assessment, the valuation of the property tax is actually declining. Actually, despite all of the high-spiraling inflation, the value of the property left in the City of Chicago is worth less today than it was in 1973. Well, you can't run--I mean, we're based on the property tax. If we lose the property tax base, if we lose the employees who are employed by industry, there is nothing left to tax. The city does not stand in a vacuum. There is only one program that will, you know, basic program which will save the city, which is at least to maintain the housing and jobs and industry we have, the economic base and the housing base. And at best improve it. And if we don't do that, the city government is not going to stand, and that, that pension may be a wonderful feeling for an employee, but there isn't going to be any job. So he is going to have to wait 15 years to get a pension because he's going to be unemployed for the next 15 years because the money wasn't spent building the city that could keep the government afloat. We're paying more than a third of the property tax of this city just into the pension fund, because the pension fund investments get such a low return. They get six and seven percent return. They could go put that money in T-notes and do better. They can invest it at their local savings and loan and do better. And these, these people who sit on the pension boards are mostly incompetent. A number of them are political cronies, some of them are elected by employees. There are a few competent people here and there, but they are squandering the biggest single capital asset this city has is being absolutely squandered, and no one has ever quite figured out that was going--and it wasn't purposeful, it wasn't for political purposes. One of those strange things where it's not, you know, not everything you can always trace back to the ward committeeman's brother who's getting a job or something, in this case as far as I know while I'm sure there were a few little companies of the ward committeeman's brother who are getting some pension money into them, and I'm sure there's some nice juicy scandal, there is certainly some nice juicy scandals about who sits on the pension boards that have never been uncovered. But essentially we are just wasting the biggest single asset, and it's an asset we control! It's not an asset, I mean it's not like it's General Motors has to come in and invest, or the feds have to do something, we control two-and-a-half, the employees and the pension boards, control two-and-a-half billion dollars not invested in their own city.

Studs Terkel Why hasn't this been discussed before?

Dick Simpson It's very arcane. These pension boards are secret bodies. I once had an intern go and ask to sit in at the board. It was the first time anyone outside of the pension board members had ever been--they had to take a vote whether or not a student intern

Studs Terkel No, I'm talking about our two local papers, and their columnists and the commentators on the air, it's rather--this is an incredible situation and report. How come that aspect hasn't been discussed?

Dick Simpson Well, I guess it has to be uncovered. Some people accuse me of just being dull, that I'm interested in dull things. I'm interested in two-and-a-half billion dollars that's hidden under a large layer of funny reports and activities outside of the public limelight and some other people, a Chicago reporter finally did get interested and find a couple of groups like Trust, which is a local civic group has finally gotten interested, and there are a few people who are beginning to pay attention. Two-and-a-half billion dollars is a lot of money, but that's just one aspect. I mean, you take all 197 recommendations, and you see what they would do in terms of participation, the wise use of city funds and financial matters, the streamlining of city government to be more effective in service delivery. [I mean?] we don't even have master service plans. Ev--big--you know, that's, that's why Bilandic went down with the snow, is because they didn't know what to do after they got two inches of snow. There was no plan for after two inches, just do more. Well, doing more doesn't work, and street repair is a good example. The streets of Chicago are a mess. Now, yeah, they pothole patch and do all that stuff, but they don't do it right. They do not do it. They do not have a plan to solve the street [posts?]--

Studs Terkel This, this paper, then, the 600-page paper has a plan.

Dick Simpson It talks about how you create the plans, and in some cases it tells what the elements of the plans are.

Studs Terkel Where is it now?

Dick Simpson Well, the mayor--Mayor Byrne may have burned it, may have thrown it away in the garbage, may have given it to her maid. I don't know. It's, I have one copy, there is--actually I have access to two copies. Lou Masotti has a copy and Mayor Byrne has a copy, and there are bits and pieces of it in the, in the new book, "Chicago's Future", and there've been bits and pieces in some of the newspaper

Studs Terkel Suppose we hear another aspect of it since one of the things I remember during our conversation that I had with Mayor Byrne during those golden moments, was the feeling of people in the community, as in the country, feeling impotent, no say. When you instituted the ward assembly in the 44th Ward, can you describe how that works?

Dick Simpson Well, it brought--

Studs Terkel And you see this for the city, don't

Dick Simpson Yeah, I see it for the world. I went to an international meeting in Florence, and I saw--you ought to see what they do in Florence neighborhoods. You know, they run their parks. They don't, they don't have a park district. The neighborhood council runs the local park. Now, the downtown stuff, the great statues and all, that's run by the big federal government and the city government, but the little parks are run by the--they control $300,000 of cash, each neighborhood council, controls three--and listen, this is Italy, this is a country that's poor, it's got problems. They control $300,000 of cash for their own recreation and housing and whatever programs they--and they decide locally in the neighborhood how they're gonna spend that money. They are rehabbing historic landmarks in the neighborhoods with neighbor--with this money--for neighborhood centers. For community centers. No longer are these old mansions just going to be for the tourists to come and see. They are rehabbing the historic landmarks of the Florentine neighborhoods for the people in the neighborhood. Now, we don't do anything like that in Chicago. I mean, if you get a landmark here, somebody has to be a millionaire to own the damn thing. If you get some influence on the park, the best you can do is get them to sweep the grass--you know, sweep up the leaves or to, you know, to fix up some of the little aspects of the park. No one controls the parks in Chicago, that's controlled by the patronage army and by, by Kelly. We don't have $300,000 going to each neighborhood to be decided by the neighborhood council on how they should spend it and what's most important, I mean on public projects, not just being squandered or stolen, but on public projects. Now, that's in Florence. They're doing the same thing in Norway. England's about to break through as soon as they get rid the Conservative government and re-elect the neighbor gov--the Labour government, they're already pledged to neighborhood government. The shadow cabinet in England has pledged to neighborhood government once they come back into power. The worldwide dimensions of people demanding power because the old system doesn't work. It can't be run from Washington, it can't be run from London, it can't be run from the world capitols. Our problems have to be dealt with locally. And we need a system for doing that, and we need to be effective and efficient in doing that, we don't want to squander or waste money. But the possibilities of people taking care of their own lives, having their own voice, is great. And the 100 experiments in America, the experiment in Chicago with the ward assembly--

Studs Terkel Just describe that.

Dick Simpson Well, the ward assembly we had people come together once a month that, you know, the--Chicago's often been cited for the anti-redlining ordinance, the ones that finally made the banks tell where they were putting their money in. And finally, for some of them to put some money back in the city and housing. That was invented in the ward assembly. That was invented in ward assembly, in public meetings, that was thrashed out in the rough and tumble of discussion and was done for the Lakeview community, but it affected not only--that ordinance has been copied in 200 or 300 cities and states across this country, that it's the model on which the national legislation is

Studs Terkel So, I'm thinking that you're the alderman, but you don't say "I'll do this or I'll do that," you listen, he has a monthly meeting, is that it?

Dick Simpson Right, there's a monthly meeting of the delegates from each of the, of the precincts and each of the community organizations, and any citizen in the ward,

Studs Terkel Now, these delegates are elected from people in the precinct?

Dick Simpson Once a year they are elected by the members of the precinct and chosen by their community organization, and these 150 or so people, whichever number it is each year, come together and debate with the alderman what's best for the ward and local level and what's best for the city. And that kind of advice and consent, which is real, just like advice and consent of the Senate of the United States is real, is important in shaping what should be done for this city. And is a whole lot better than what happens in City Council, which is just a zoo most of the time. I mean, there's real discussion about things as if they really mattered in the ward assembly, as if it really made a difference.

Studs Terkel So when you at the end of each ward assembly, there were certain suggestions made by the delegates, the assembly--

Dick Simpson They're resolutions and I'm

Studs Terkel And you're the alderman, or the

Dick Simpson And Bruce is mandated to--

Studs Terkel That's your mandate.

Dick Simpson That's right. We do what we're told. Now of course, we have discussion, we inform our constituents about what the problems are and we explain what the technicalities are and what the issues are, but the delegates decide, and they don't mandate us on everything, but they mandate us on some things.

Studs Terkel Is this, so the red-lining ordinance came out as a result of that?

Dick Simpson Right.

Studs Terkel I think there was also an anti-high-rise

Dick Simpson Right. The community zoning board working with the Lakeview Citizens Council down-zoned the lakefront in Lakeview, the first community in this city that ever down-zoned the lakefront to prevent more high-rise buildings. And since this down-zone, there has in the 44th Ward, there's not been a single high-rise building built.

Studs Terkel Now, is this--was this ward assembly a suggestion for the other 49 wards, too, in the paper?

Dick Simpson We did not suggest in the paper a ward assembly, because we didn't think Mayor Byrne would agree to that. She had given no indication she would. We did suggest the congress of neighborhoods and we suggested the little city halls, the decentralized method of service delivery, and community zoning boards, so that they'd at least control the physical planning on the thought that, if they went--that Mayor Byrne wouldn't want to be involved with having the aldermen having to pay attention to ward assemblies. She probably didn't believe in ward assemblies. If I were mayor, I'd institute them instantly, but Mayor Byrne probably didn't, so we didn't recommend ward assemblies, again because the transition team report was not what are our favorite pet ideas, the transition team report was advice given what we understood Mayor Byrne's positions to be as to what she could do to be the most effective mayor in the history of Chicago. And she didn't take our--that's not why she's not the most effective mayor in the history of Chicago. She didn't take our advice anyway

Studs Terkel So where are we now? Talking to Dick Simpson, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois Circle Campus, one of the architects of, authors of the, that six--that report lying somewhere around and about that has all sorts of suggestions for a more livable city. Any other thoughts come to your mind? The book, by the way, the book which is just a condensation of it and has a variety of essays, is called "Chicago's Future", Swallow of Chicago the publishing house, edited by Dick Simpson, call that an agenda for change. And there's a preamble of the report [in the report?].

Dick Simpson Well, there's a--this year the National Association of Neighborhoods, or last year, actually, adopted a statement which I think really says what it is that Mayor Byrne was trying to say, and what the citizens of Chicago still deserve. And I'll just read from the preface or the preamble to the, to the national neighborhood platform adopted last year by 10,000 delegates across the country. It says, "We now turn to our neighborhoods and communities to fulfill our human capacities as citizens by participating in making those decisions which directly affect our lives. Rediscovering citizenship in our neighborhoods, we reaffirm the principles of freedom, justice, and equality upon which our nation was founded. We believe that those who are affected by the decisions of government must be consulted by those who govern, that it is the right of citizens to have access to the instruments of power, and that it is their duty to learn to use them effectively and wisely. We also reaffirmed our belief in what is called the National Neighborhood Bill of Responsibilities and Rights, which says the right of the neighborhoods to determine their own goals consistent with the broad civic ideals of justice and human equality, the right of neighborhoods to define their own governing structures, operating procedures, names and boundaries. The right of democratically organized neighborhoods to receive a just share of private and public resources necessary for the implementation and support of neighborhood decisions, the right of democratically organized neighborhoods to review and advance and decisively influence all stages of planning and implementation of all actions of government and private institutions affecting the neighborhood, and the right of neighborhoods to information necessary to carry out these rights." And we finished in the preamble by saying, "People organized in the neighborhoods responding to their fellow residents as human beings and families rather than as clients are best able to provide needed services. People organized in the neighborhoods are the best able to pronounce and amplify in firm tones the voice of citizens so as to command the response of government and private institutions. People organized in neighborhood assemblies are best able to create government under their control." I think that's a pretty clear statement about what the people in the neighborhoods are saying, not only in Chicago, but around the country. And the challenge is, what's the city government going to do? Is it going to continue to say it believes in neighborhoods and then not create a congress of neighborhoods? To spend less money in the city budget on neighborhoods this year than the last of the Bilandic administration spent? Are they going to continue to squander the big federal programs and not even spend the money out of the community development act program that's been given to the City of Chicago to develop the communities? Are they're going to continue to deny a voice to the neighborhoods? Those are the issues.

Studs Terkel Yeah. And Dick Simpson is my guest. And thank you very much. And wouldn't it be great if the Mayor came across that 600-page paper and actually read

Dick Simpson It might be enlightening.

Studs Terkel Thank you very much.

Dick Simpson Thank you, Studs.