Good news: The Harold Washington Library Center is on a list of world-class buildings in the world. Bad news: The list is Forbes magazine’s ten ugliest ( 0503home.html).

The opposite of Arthur Andersen: tax help where it’s needed. The Tax Counseling Project of the Loop-based nonprofit Center for Law & Human Services reports that its volunteers helped complete more than 14,000 federal and state income-tax returns in the past filing season–up from 10,000 in 2001. According to a May 7 press release,”This service for low and moderate income workers in Illinois has allowed them to utilize the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit at no cost,” bringing an estimated $19 million back to the state’s economy.

The hype: “Transit Grows Faster Than Driving,” according to a Surface Transportation Policy Project press release issued April 17. The facts: “In 2000, transit provided about 46.6 billion miles of movement while passenger miles traveled in the same year on highways totaled about 4 trillion,” writes veteran urban analyst Anthony Downs in Governing (March), responding to a similar grossly misleading press release from the year before. Advocacy groups such as the STPP can play games with the numbers because transit ridership is so small that any ridership gain can be translated into impressive-looking percentages. As Downs writes, “In 1999, a year about which STPP said that ‘growth in public transit exceeds growth in driving,’ total transit travel grew by about 1.7 billion passenger miles. But growth in car passenger miles was at least 51 billion miles.”

Wings for Mussolini. “Vintage posters and memorabilia from 1910 to 1943 highlighting the golden age of Italian aviation” will be on exhibit at the Daley Center through June 15, according to press materials from the Istituto Italiano di Cultura. In case you don’t remember, during the last two years of that golden age the U.S. was at war with Italy.

Boeing is the exception, not the rule. Thomas Klier and William Testa of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago find that more than half of the big businesses (those having more than 2,500 employees) that had their corporate headquarters in Chicago in 2000 were either already established by 1990 or had grown big since then (“Economic Perspectives,” second quarter). Just six percent had moved in from out of town in the last decade. They also found that nationwide between 1990 and 2000 there was “a high degree of turnover and migration of headquarters, but an even higher degree of headquarters growth that has come about as small local companies have grown large. This result implies that policies to assist the growth of local indigenous firms of smaller size may be more beneficial than policies aimed at recruitment of footloose companies.”

Percentage of protected open space in the six-county region in 1990: 5.1 percent, or 17 acres per 1,000 residents. In 2000: 7.1 percent, or 21 acres per 1,000 (2002 Metropolis Index, Chicago Metropolis 2020).

What’s that hanging over your head? “The new Chicago Energy Conservation Code will have a significant impact on the way roofing systems are designed and installed in Chicago,” writes William Waterston in Focus (May), the newsletter of AIA Chicago, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “Many widely-used roofing types will no longer be acceptable under the new Code. The color palette of new roofing materials will change drastically. Also, the Code requires roofs to maintain a high degree of reflectivity as they age and accumulate dirt, raising maintenance issues which could be exacerbated by white coatings that peel during their life span….Over time these requirements can be met, but today the industry as a whole is not prepared to meet them.”

Last resort for the Middle East lunacy, from Robert Fisk of Britain’s Independent newspaper (May 8): “I think that, in time, we will close down the Middle East war. With Russian and EU and UN support, there will, eventually, be American and Nato troops in Jerusalem. There will be a Western protection force in the West Bank and Gaza–and in Israel….Jerusalem will be an international city. The Palestinians will have security. So will the Israelis. Yes, it will be a form of international colonialism. Yes, it will mean foreign occupation for both sides. But it will put an end to this filthy war.”