If the state lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math, the residents of zip codes 60619, 60628, and 60617 need a remedial class in the worst way. According to Leah Samuel’s study of Illinois Lottery receipts (Chicago Reporter, October), these three south-side zip codes generated the most lottery sales in fiscal year 2002. Those who live in predominantly black zip codes spent $1.57 out of every $100 of income on lottery tickets, compared to $1.34 in predominantly Latino areas, $0.92 in mixed areas, and $0.46 in predominantly white areas.

“Smaller farmers lack an effective means of bringing their products to the city,” former Earth restaurant owner Barry Bursak tells Juli Brussell in Conscious Choice (October). “Even if they grow organic produce, getting it here and to market is a different story. And as the largest natural foods stores replaced the smaller independent food cooperatives and stores, the market for local organic products really dwindled. The big stores don’t buy locally.”

Your honor, we move to replace the mayor and City Council with Curly, Larry, and Moe. Excerpts from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ November 20 decision, which threw out the city’s peddling law as unconstitutional and upheld Mark Weinberg’s right to sell his anti-Bill Wirtz book outside the United Center: “The City of Chicago has provided no objective evidence that traffic flow on the sidewalk or street is disrupted when Mr. Weinberg sells his book. The City offered no empirical studies, no police records, no reported injuries, nor evidence of any lawsuits filed. The City also fails to explain why there were no disturbances or problems when Weinberg was selling his book during the period prior to enforcement of the ordinance or after the lower court granted the temporary restraining order…. The peddling ordinance bans peddling, but leaves open activities such as leafleting, newspaper sales, street performances, and charitable solicitations. The City’s position is that these categories of First Amendment activity somehow do not interfere with traffic congestion and pedestrian safety but selling a book has the potential to create chaos.”

At least they could have stuck around long enough to say “I told you so.” With public abhorrence of corporate criminals rising, their traditional archenemies are almost nowhere to be seen, reported the August 1 “Ballot Access News” (ballot-access.org). Among other things, it noted, “This is the first election year since 1885 that no party with ‘socialist’ in its name has attempted to place a candidate for Governor of New York on the ballot.”

Hot news from an International Council of Shopping Centers press release: the biggest single holiday shopping day in 1996, ’97, ’98, ’99, 2000, and ’01 was–the Saturday before Christmas.

Is a 28th amendment, guaranteeing housing as a constitutional right, impossible? Not according to U.S. representative Jesse Jackson Jr. “I believe in the impossible,” he told an audience at the Rainbow Beach field house on October 19. “I believe in a God who walked on water. If we can believe someone whose heart stopped for three days woke up on the third day, then we can believe in the 28th amendment to the Constitution.”

Department of more departments department. Writing in his November 11 on-line daily newsletter “Undernews” (www.prorev.com/indexa.htm), Sam Smith recalls how new cabinet departments have solved problems in the last 60 years: “In 1949, a few years after victory in World War II, the Department of Defense was created. America never again won a major conflict…. In 1965, LBJ created the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A few years later America’s cities were ravaged by riots and went into a long decline…. Further, HUD became a center of fiscal corruption second only to the Department of Defense. In 1979 the Department of Education was created, following which the quality of American public education has continued to decline to the point that it now relies on George W. Bush for ideas.” Happy New Year.