Organizational Development

The following represent some ideas about the political
organization of the region. Some of these ideas may improve the interaction of governments and business in northeastern Illinois.


The Chicago region is composed of seven million people residing in one central city and a large number of suburbs. It is recommended that the mayors of the City of Chicago and the suburbs of the region form a municipal association similar in scope to the successful South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association.

The acronym for the association is RAM, which should appeal to the macho and sexist mayors in the region. RAM might be a particularly appropriate term if the organization could cooperate well enough to control the Illinois legislature. But it would also be an appropriate acronym if, as was likely, the organization cooperated as well as the Chicago City Council.

RAM could work towards improved cooperation among the
municipalities of the region. The association could assure that the region worked together for areas of common interest and concern and could serve as a neutral meeting ground to settle disputes among the various governments.

The organization should initially be loose, and economical.
After several years of cooperation, RAM could be increased in scope if its efforts proved successful.

The leadership for RAM should include the mayor and manager of every village and city in the six county region. They, in turn, should elect representatives to a much smaller executive board.

RAM is a much needed coordinating body for the municipalities of the region. The counties, the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, the Chicago Area Transportation Study, and the regional council of governments provide some of the functions of coordination and planning, but RAM would fill the vacuum that presently exists in coordinating efforts of the region.


Most village and city governments in Illinois function with a
seven member board, composed of six board members and a voting mayor. This system usually works very well, with the seven member board large enough to be representative of local residents, but being small enough to make decisions with a minimum of turmoil.

Large local governments typically have large boards. Illinois
counties often have boards composed of 21 or more members. While the City Council of Chicago has 50 aldermen and a mayor. These boards are simply too large to work smoothly. Frequently, they become a forum for strident debate and acrimonious haggles.

In addition to inter council wars, these large boards also reduce individual board member accountability. Large number of board members make it impossible for most officials to obtain enough media exposure to become known by the electorate. The result is board members who are not known and whose actions are not known by their constituents.

It is recommended here that most large county and municipal
boards be reduced to a seven member board, with the seventh member elected at large as the chief executive. Salaries should be substantially increased for the reduced number of elected officials. More efficient government should be a result from this solution.

This change is difficult to implement since 20 or more city or
county board members are unlikely to vote themselves out of a job. This problem could be overcome by voting now for the change in government that will take place in the future. A horizon line of six to ten years might be workable. Many of the council leaders would hope to become one of the remaining seven board members, while the balance of the large board might hope to undertake other pursuits.

In the City of Chicago it is recommended that the election be
fairly straight forward, with a non partisan election. The mayor would be one of the seven board members. The mayor and three board members would be elected at large. The remaining three board members would run from districts. The City would be equally divided into the north, west, and south side districts.


The independent planning commission is a commission appointed by the mayor of a village or city that is charged with guiding the development of the city. The commission is supposed to be non political, "above the fray", and able to make the best decisions for the future for the community. The planning commission is often composed of seven members who serve with little or no compensation. The commissions are training grounds for future municipal officials.

The commissioners presumably can take the heat and make the "right decision" regardless of the outside influences. They may or may not hire a professional planner to assist them. The large communities usually maintain a planning department, while small communities employ consultants. Very small municipalities and very poorly led municipalities have no staff at all.

The planning commissions are charged with the development of a comprehensive plan. Plans take many forms--from mammoth treatises, which are seldom read, to simple future land use maps to no plan at all.

Most plans develop an inventory of the existing situation and
develop forecasts of future development. Goals and objectives are usually developed. The goals are general value statements about what the commissioners would like to see happen in the community. They derive values and goals for societies directly from past political philosophers. Our planning goals should evoke the U.S. and State constitution, such as those found in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE, AND SECURE THE BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY TO OURSELVES AND OUR POSTERITY." (All right, I don't have the wording exactly right, but it is close enough for government work.)

Goals statements that evoke calls for improvements to physical beauty, governmental efficiency, conservation of resources, health, transportation, housing, jobs, etc, are typical parts of any comprehensive plan. These goal statements are often criticized as too "Mom's apple pie" to have any meaning, but they usually can be agreed upon by the planning board. They may be the only thing on which the board can agree.

Planning commissions are important and all communities should have a quality planning commission that is dedicated and competent. The commissions should have staff that work
 at the direction of the commission. The planning commissions should be pro active and lead, rather than simply react. 


On the whole, politicians and planners are mostly ethical
statesmen who work long hours with little compensation for their municipal constituents. There are some who are not, however, as shown by the following quote from Plunkett of Tammany Hall. Plunkett was an elected official in New York.

"...there's an honest graft, and I'm an example of how it
works. I might sum up the whole thing by saying, I seen my
opportunities, and I took them. Just let me explain by
examples. My party's in power in the city and it's going to
undertake a lot of public improvement. Well, I'm tipped off
say, that they're going to lay out a new park in a certain
place. I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that
place and buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood.
Then, the board of this or that makes its plan public and
there is a rush to get my land. Ain't it perfectly honest
to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment
and foresight? Of course it is. Well, that's honest graft."

Mike Royko has a gift of simplification. He summarizes the
philosophy of the average Chicagoan as follows.


You can see physical evidence of honest and dishonest graft
throughout the world, although Chicago appears to have more than its fair share. Public housing towers, flood plain development, sin strips, and poorly placed landfills and subdivisions are often outgrowths of back room political deals, although they also can simply be the a result of inept planning or decision making.

I once asked my experienced secretary if the large municipal
board for whom I once labored was crooked, and her response was, "Na, they're too stupid!"

Good planning will not, of course, prevent graft and corruption. But presumably people of good will can use honest evaluation and assessment of trends and alternatives to chart an improved future and develop policies to improve the future. We must teach our children and citizens that good government requires ethical quality leaders. We must make sure that we elect those leaders. We must also keep an active legal system prosecuting those who violate the public trust.


Numerous cities now use the city manager form of government, which maintains a professional city manager to run day-to-day operations. This has proved to be a very successful and ethical form of government.

In the city manager form of government, the manager is an
experienced, trained individual who has the power to hire and
fire most subordinates. All hiring is based on merit. The
manager serves at the pleasure of the council and is replaced if the municipality is not functioning efficiently. The Manager is also a convenient scapegoat for problems, and can be blamed and fired when the situation warrants to protect the elected officials.

The city manager form of government has not been implemented in many large cities, in part because of the patronage and graft. It is clearly superior, however, and should be adopted by the City of Chicago and all other large communities in northeastern Illinois.


Education continues to be a problem in our society. Virtually everyone decries the poor educational levels in our region. Chicago public schools have garnered much criticism.

The solutions for our educational problems are beyond the scope of this paper and perhaps any paper. It is suggested, however, that a downtown magnet school be established for the last two years of school. Students could commute from around the region.

The school should be large, with a very advanced curriculum. Top flight instructors from area colleges and universities could serve as faculty.

The school would focus on excellence. The best classes from the downtown magnet school could be put on closed circuit television for other schools and on cable television.

The school should be able to produce some of the best and
brightest graduates in the nation, improving the reputation of
the City's schools by association. Hopefully, the programs and classes developed in the magnet school could be used to improve the level of education in other schools in the region.


The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) is charged with planning for the six county region in Northeastern Illinois, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties. The Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) 
is responsible for
transportation planning. Both agencies do an excellent job, but their efforts should be better coordinated.

Even though both agencies have worked hard to provide better coordination in recent years, the two agencies should still be merged. Short of a merger they should at least be located adjacent to one another in the same building.

Planning efforts will be substantially better coordinated if the
two agencies are joined. The visibility and respect of the
agencies will also be enhanced by the merger. The Atlanta
Regional Commission who serves as the single regional planning agencies for the Atlanta region serves as an example.


Crime and fear of crime are major problems in urban America. The causes for these problems are complex and beyond the scope of this report. It is a virtual requirement, however, that we shape the future design of our urban development to minimize crime where possible.

We must build a sense of neighborhood back into our communities. A sense of neighborhood is more a function of social interaction than design, but design is still important. In observing historical development, we find that the fortified
town was the primary form of settlement. The walled cities of
Europe, castles, the palisades of the American Indian, and early American forts are examples of this type of development. People lived in defended communities when threatened.

As our country became more civilized, the need for community defenses lessened. In many communities, large and small, unlocked doors and a feeling of trust were commonplace.

Unfortunately, that sense of trust has been lost and replaced by a fear of crime. The need for defensible space has been renewed.

Many new urban developments have been built in an almost medieval fashion, with large blank walls to the outside, and a focus on interior court yards. This is clearly undesirable. Communities should be designed with defensible space, but look attractive and inviting from the outside.

Townhouse developments can be attractive from the exterior while still making forced entry very difficult. The interior space of a block of townhouses can be totally separated from the street, providing increased safety.

Clean, well lighted sidewalks are also a requirement. Homes and businesses should have open windows to those walks so that the police can be called in the event of disturbances on the street.


The judicial system in this region is a disgrace and a major
hindrance to the advancement and development of the region. It is a major impediment to attracting new industries to the region.

The reasons for our present corrupt system are complex, but stem primarily from the way judges are selected and trained. Loyalty to political party is the most important criteria. Voting for judges is a charade, since there are too many judges elected for the voter to make evaluations.

Judges should be hired by a merit civil service system. The
system should be statewide and managed by a non-political blue ribbon commission appointed by the Governor. The commission itself should be small, composed of seven members. Likewise, it should be evaluated on the its ability to select honest judges.

Like any civil service system, salaries should begin at a
relatively low rate, but progress to a relatively high salary.
Judges should be hired when relatively young and kept in the
system for a career.

The rough and tumble training of young lawyers, with the emphasis on winning at all costs and making deals, is a poor method of training a judiciary. It is also poor policy to have judges sitting in judgement over friends that they developed they were lawyers for 20 or more years prior to becoming judges.

The judiciary of this region is terrible. It must be improved if
we are to progress.


This document is filled with proposals for physical improvements to the community. As we know, however, many of our critical problems are social. Our cities are much less than they should be because of fear of violence and crime.

When comparing our urban society with cities in other parts of the world, it is shocking and depressing to find that many of them have much lower levels of violence and crime. The reasons for this are complex and beyond the scope of this book, but an obvious problem is the numbers of individuals with minimal work skills and the constant reduction of demand for strong back workers.

The lack of work obviously translates into crime. Able-bodied
teenagers and young men with nothing to do all day are obviously going to be in trouble. These people need to be occupied at least 40 hours a week at tasks that keep them occupied and perform a social good.

We need a guaranteed job program in this country. Anyone wishing to work should be able to have a job. It does not have to a wonderful job, but it must provide enough renumeration to make it worthwhile. The wages paid to guaranteed job workers would be at minimum wage. The level of the wages must be above welfare payments. In addition, these jobs would provide other benefits, as health care, so that the incentive to work is not defeated by
the need for the full spectrum of welfare benefits.

These workers could provide all kinds of support to society.
Cleaning up cities is a worthwhile task, as is providing security on transit systems and in neighborhoods.

It is recognized, that the workers who would work in the
guaranteed job would often not have discipline to be at work on time each day. They would, accordingly, be paid for actual hours at work, similar to day laborers. No work, no pay.

The money that we put into welfare for the able bodied could
finance much of this work. People should not receive something for nothing over a long period of time--this builds dependence and a feeling of worthlessness. The exchange of labor for income is what most individuals in society do each day. It is clear that we should extend this duty, obligation, and pleasure to all those in our society who can physically and mentally work. 


In town after town, schools, parks and churches are built
independently of each other. This is obviously poor planning,
because the synergy of the three land uses is clear.

In those towns where these uses have been planned and developed together, a child may play in a quality playground at lunch and after school. The parking lots for both uses peak at different times, so that they can be used by both land uses--why go to the expense of building additional parking areas when the park and school can both use the same facility?

Churches are similar. Their uses peak on Sunday mornings,
when schools and parks are not heavily used. All uses should be developed together when possible.

Comprehensive plans should recognize this fact and call for
joint development of schools, parks, and churches.