Chicago Tribune

First Obstacle to Commissionís Work Shows — Dean Sumner Confident.
Question of Publicity for Owners of Resort Property is Considered.

"Mayor Busseís "commission of thirty," named to investigate the social evil in Chicago and to recommend a remedy, bumped into its first obstacle yesterday when the members asked each other:

"Where can we obtain funds for our work ?"

Coincident with this came the suggestion by Dean Walter T. Sumner, named as temporary chairman, that the scope of the investigation include the listing of owners of real estate used for immoral purposes and that such a list be made public by embodying it in the commissionís final report.

"Without funds," said Dean Sumner, "we will almost be helpless in any attempt to make an adequate, valuable, and scientific investigation of this worldwide problem as it exists in Chicago. It seems to me that the matter will depend largely upon Mayor Busse and I believe he will give to us his aide in obtaining the money we will need. In a sense our commission is on the same basis as the Merriam commission, but I recollect that there were legal objections to that bodyís receiving a civic appropriation unit the same had been stipulated in the annual budget.

"Not being a lawyer, I cannot forecast the difficulties that may arise, but I believe no more worthy or more important work ever depended for its success upon the cityís financial support. That is one reason why I think we will not be hampered.

Commission to Meet Next Week.

There will be no meeting of the commission until next week. Meanwhile the members will exchange views informally, both as to the workís scope and the permanent officers. The probabilities are that Dean Sumner, partly because of his conservative views and partly because of his long study of the question will be asked to serve as permanent chairman.

When the investigators meet to map out their work one of the first differences may arise over the advisability of correctly listing and perhaps making public the names of the owners of every piece of property used for immoral purposes. Reformers of the radical school have long urged this plan of "turning on the light," on the theory that publicity would result in the ouster of many objectionable tenants by the owners.

While Dean Sumner believe such data should be collected, he said he was not committed to the ideas of publication as serving a useful purpose.

"In my personal investigations," he said, "I frequently have learned that the actual owners of such property were no aware of its use. Often they would be sincerely surprised to learn the sources of their incomes. Their agents have found the best paying tenants without telling their principals the occupation of the lessees. Also such properties frequently form part of an estate handled by trustees, executors, or guardians, the beneficiaries of the income being minors or wards who had neither a right of control nor knowledge of the facts.

Sees Injustice in Publication

"So it appears that an injustice might follow publication of such a list. Also there must be considered whether the publicity would assist our campaign of education and investigation. We are not starting out with fixed anti-segregationist views, but intend to study the questions without prejudice from every standpoint. In brief, the entire plan must be mapped out by the full commission. As to the question of publicity, I can say that my personal views would favor it where necessary to substantiate our recommendations."

Three or four months after the commission comes down to the real work will be sufficient for the task, in the opinion of Dean Sumner. He thinks the estimate of a year or more, as predicted in some quarters, is beyond reason. The final report may be ready before the common council goes on its summer vacation. There is an evident desire among the commissionís members to finish its work in term of the present city administration as sponsor for the program.

Politics, prosecution and graft will not be subjects for investigation by the commission, judging from interviews with numerous members. There interest is to be directed to the educational features.

Approved by Judge Olson

"The vice problem is daily before our courts," said Chief Justice Harry Olson of the Municipal court. "At the Harrison street court more of the cases have their origin in vice than are of a strictly criminal nature, as. for instance, robbery. My observation of specific cases confirms my opinion that the newly named commission has a great filed of investigation and usefulness before it.

"If I were to suggest any road of inquiry it would be toward education of the youth as to the physical evils of vice. Young people do not realize the perils. They would never approach vice, they would never see any fascination in it, if they but knew what might be the penalties of health and mind. A criminal can reform, but often a constitution wrecked by vice can never be restored.

"Many a man who has come under my notice would give his all if he could but be restored to the health of his virtuous youth. I am hopeful that this commissionís investigations and deductions and advice will prove of far reaching value, especially along the line of youth education."


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