Strategies for Change: How to Make the American Political Dream Work

By Dick Simpson; George Beam | Go to book overview

The Roots of IVI *

IVI did not spring out of Jove's head all of a sudden. Nor was it the only effort Chicago had made to unite citizens sick of corruption and misgovernment.

The early Municipal League which fought the "gray wolves" of the city council of the 1890's and the Yerkes looting of the streetcar lines, and the uprising against Big Bill Thompson in the early, 20's were not organized thoroughly enough to last. But IVI grew out of a variety of already existing nuclei.

The largest of these were the Fifth Warders, who had elected Charles Merriam alderman in the first decade of the 1900's, supported him in two mayoral campaigns, and elected some aldermen in later years, notably Paul Douglas in 1939. They had elected some legislators as well. Walter Johnson, Dick Meyer, Mick Greenebaum and James Luther Adams were active Hyde Parkers in the first IVI board.

The gross and ruthless exploitation of the schools by the Kelly regime, which destroyed the junior high schools, fired a thousand teachers without notice, gave principals two schools to operate rather than one, paid teachers on time only eight times in four years on a Salary cut of 23 percent, based promotions on political connections, cut curriculum and enormously increased class size, had given rise to the Citizens Schools Committee which fought these changes in ward organizations in more than a dozen wards. John Lapp, Beulah Berolzheimer, Ethel Parker, and I were deeply concerned with this issue and brought it, and a structure, with us to IVI.

The increasing pressure of the Kelly machine on organized labor had developed strong, politicized labor leaders like fiery Lillian Herstein, member of the Chicago Federation of Labor executive board. Frank McCulloch had organized the unemployed in the

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*
IVI Independent Day Dinner Book ( 1974), Mary Herrick

-181-

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