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their number to act in this capacity. Quite frequently the chairmanship is conferred for a limited time and assigned in rotation so that eventually each one of the commissioners serves as chairman of a particular commission. This is the practice in connection with the Interstate Commerce Commission. The commissioners appoint one of their number chairman. Quite frequently, the chairmanship is assigned in rotation so that each one serves in turn as chairman.
In the handling of complaints, one of the commissioners usually hears the issue personally, or it may be presented to the entire commission. In other instances, the case is heard by an examiner who takes necessary evidence, examines the witnesses, and makes a tentative report to the commission which, if no objection is entered to the tentative report as served upon the principals in the issue, adopts the examiner's report as its own, and tenders an order accordingly.
In some instances, the secretary conducts the correspondence between the commission and the public. Most correspondence between the Interstate Commerce Commission and the various shipping interests is handled over the signature of Secretary McGinty of that body.
Where the commission is concerned with the supervision of many utilities, such as lighting, traction, or storing, in which a divisional type of organization predominates, each division being in charge of an expert, the head of the particular division handles the correspondence and complaints falling within the scope of the activities of that division.
The technical experts, tariff men, and rate men are usually recruited by civil service examinations. Requirements for examinations are such that usually only high-grade men are secured for these positions. Salaries range up to $6,000 or $8,000 per annum.
Some commissions formulate rules regarding the publication and the filing of schedules. In the administration of these rules, the services of competent tariff men are required to analyze schedules as they are received, in order to determine whether or not they comply with the regulations, and, if not, to arrange for their rejection and their reissue in conformity with the legal regulations.
The rate experts are, for the most part, engaged in examining evidence submitted in rate cases, statistical tables and the like, and in formulating tentative orders for approval and adoption by the commission.
As evidencing the scope of the activities of the progressive utility commission, the following excerpt from the Second Annual Report of the Corporation Commission of the State of Oklahoma is relevant:
Complaints that are filed before the commission are classified for the purpose of disposition into formal and informal. Informal complaints are adjusted by correspondence and without a hearing. Formal complaints are those which require a hearing. Informal complaints average from two to five a day. The commission will hereafter keep a definite record of matters of this kind disposed of during the next fiscal year.
There were 302 formal complaints filed since the last annual report, and disposition has been made of 284. Various subjects involved include train service, new depots, depot service, spur and side track, rates, telegraph service, crossings, physis
cal connections of railways, telephone lines, depot agents, and many other matters too numerous to mention. Of all the cases of appeal from the rulings of the commission, 21 have been affirmed, or appeals therein dismissed. Seven orders of the commission have been set aside, and many others have been remanded to the commission to take further evidence or to make additional findings of fact.
The commission has divided the work into the following divisions or departments: rate, accounting, engineering, telephone, gas and electric light, and private corporations.
Rate Department This department is prepared and doing a very thoro work in the handling of freight traffic and in the making of comparisons between rates in force in this state and other states. We have on file 16,000 tariffs. The railroad commission of Vermont has approximately 2,000 tariffs; the state of Georgia, 7,500. The scope of information available in this department includes every tariff in effect on every railroad doing business in the state of Oklahoma, and on every railroad connecting with a railroad doing business in Oklahoma, by means of which a correct rate can be quoted on any commodity from any point in the United States to or thru Oklahoma Our tariff files have been declared by railroad experts to be the most complete in the United States, with the exception of the Interstate Commission, at Washington.
There is a large number of informal complaints handled thru this department, such as overcharges for freight, which usually grow out of an error by the local agent applying the wrong tariff. While the commission has no jurisdiction over controversies growing out of interstate shipments, it has accomplished much for the shippers of the state by quoting to the proper railroad officials the correct rate and by insisting upon the prompt payment of overcharges. In a few cases where the railroads have refused to make these settlements promptly, the commissions filed complaints for the use and benefit of the shippers before the Interstate Commerce Commission.
The amount of freight refunded since our last report will amount to approximately $20,000. However, this is a very inadequate indication of the actual amount involved. In many instances the adjustment of one car has resulted in the refund, on the same basis, of several other cars, and has resulted in a discontinuance of the overcharge, not only to this shipper but to other shippers similarly situated, thereby establishing the correct rate for the benefit of all. This has also resulted in making the local employees of the railroads more careful in applying the proper tariffs, and overcharges are growing less frequent every day. Specific cases have varied in the refund of claims involving from 15 cents to $2,800.
While this department has turned back to shippers in actual cash three times as much as it has cost to maintain the same, yet the greatest benefit results from the constant effort on the part of the commission to have railroad employees to apply freight tariffs properly. It is but natural, if the agent collects less than the tariff schedule, that he must make up the difference, and it has been the custom heretofore to give himself the benefit of the doubt, and if he did not know the correct tariff, to be sure to charge enough to obviate the making up of any shortage out of his earnings. This has had the effect, in a few instances, of the replacement of employees who were shown to be incompetent or indifferent.
There has been much complaint of the interstate rate between Arkansas and Oklahoma, and between Texas points and Oklahoma, and the rate department is now preparing a table of comparisons that these unreasonable short-distance interstate rates between these states may be adjusted. With this department, the commission has been able to render valuable service in the rate hearings now pending in the federal courts, and also in all rate hearings before the commission.
In this report are abstracts compiled by the auditing department from the annual reports of railroad corporations, street railroad corporations, and express companies, for the year ending June 30, 1909. The Commission promulgated an accounting order, No. 201, effective July 1, 1909, providing for a uniform system of accounts covering operating revenues and operating expenses of all public service properties operated in Oklahoma. It also requires railroad companies to classify expenditures for road and equipment and other accounts covering locomotive-miles, train-miles, ton-miles, passenger-miles, and car-miles, and other requirements. This accounting order requires much greater detail than in the former system used, which was similar to that required by the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Monthly comparative reports of operating revenues and operating and other expenses are required from all public service companies, effective July 1, 1909. The correcting and testing of these reports as they come in and the making of necessary corrections therein require considerable time. The commission has found it necessary to inspect the same very closely. We now have the most complete and effective accounting system of any commission in the United States.
The constitution provides that the commission shall, as soon as practicable, find the original and reproductive cost of railroads and all other public service property. To do this work properly involves much detailed work. These valuations must be practically separated into miles. This work has progressed to that point where, within a short time, the physical valuation of the railroads in Oklahoma can be accurately determined.
The commission has published a map, prepared by this department, which has been distributed to the shippers and public schools of the state. This map has been a very valuable reference for business interests of every class and character. It has been praised from every locality within the borders of the state. That it is an exceptionally well-prepared work of its kind is indicated by the letter sent to the commission from