Joseph, our brother, master of strategic boredom. The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s “stature, and his important role in Church developments, make it seem entirely appropriate that his Selected Works should be issued in a handsome set of two thick volumes–over 1,300 pages of sermons, official statements, and public lectures,” writes Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books (April 26). “But all these words, coming from a man who caused so much excitement, are disappointingly dull. It is a quality he deliberately cultivated….Even when he was taking a stand that was courageous, he managed to make it sound as if he were in hiding or only half-awake. As he told my friend who worked with him, ‘I feel as if Rome hears everything I say.'”
A ways to go. Percentage of Chicagoans who feel their own neighborhood is “not very safe,” according to Northern Illinois University’s “Illinois Policy Survey,” conducted last fall: 25. Percentage of suburban and downstate residents who feel that way about their neighborhood:
5 or less.
A redistricting plan that can be drawn in 15 minutes with no gerrymandering? That’s what the Midwest Democracy Center (www.midwestdemocracy.org) offers in a special supplement to its recent newsletter. Instead of endless wrangling over where to draw the boundaries of Illinois’ 19 congressional districts to protect entrenched incumbents, from Phil Crane to Luis Gutierrez, state lawmakers could simply (and constitutionally) set up three “superdistricts” following county and township borders. One superdistrict (mainly Cook County) would have seven seats; one (the collar counties plus Rockford) would get six; a third (downstate) would get six. “The beauty of Superdistricts,” states the MDC supplement, “is that gerry-mandering practically disappears.
If there are multiple seats up for election, you cannot draw boundaries block-by-block to preserve an incumbent or stifle a potential opponent. If Proportional Representation is used for the election, the mapmaker cannot suppress the weaker party to keep competition low, either. Both parties and even possibly third parties will be given a chance at winning one of those 6 or 7 seats….Democracy is about voting, not mapmaking.”
Who gives? Who gets? According to a recent press release on the philanthropic database maintained by the Donors Forum of Chicago, Chicago-area foundations in 1998 gave more money to foreign countries ($5.4 million) than to downstate Illinois ($3.8 million).
“The more sophisticated corporate globalizers are hoping that they can make some minor concessions to defuse this growing popular movement” to protect labor and environmental rights, writes David Moberg in In These Times (April 16). “Recognizing that the demand for labor and environmental safeguards isn’t going away, the Business Roundtable and the Emergency Committee for American Trade–representing the biggest multinational corporations, like Caterpillar, Boeing and American International Group–have asked the Bush administration to make labor and environmental standards part of future trade talks. Their credibility as defenders of worker rights is weak. In 1978 the Business Roundtable was the key group that killed labor law reform, which would have made it easier for workers to exercise their internationally guaranteed right to organize, and it has been a major promoter of deregulation of the global economy. But their initiative is a tribute to the strength of the popular movements and a sign of how badly big business wants more global deals.”
As others see us. Sam Smith, writing in the March 30 “Progressive Review,” describes policing in Washington, D.C., which now includes an E-mail scandal: “Chief Charles Ramsey and his deputy, [Terry] Gainer–both brought in from Chicago–imported a style of less sensitive and even-handed policing….Behind every cop who engages in racial profiling or insults citizens or sends objectionable e-mail, there is a sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief, and chief who encouraged the behavior, winked at it, ignored it, or failed to properly train those under them to prevent it.”