The longest journey starts with a single step, but this is ridiculous. A trek through the Chicago Housing Authority, as described by Mary C. Johns in the Residents’ Journal (August/September).

Step 1: “During a Housing Choice Survey Clinic this past June, I and other Madden Park residents were told that scattered site units were not an option for temporary housing,” that is, a place to live while existing public-housing units are being repaired.

Step 2: “I asked Sonya Franklin, one of the presenters [at the clinic]…why residents couldn’t choose scattered sites as a temporary relocation option since it was listed on the form. Franklin said CHA officials told her and other presenters that relocation into a scattered sites unit was not a temporary option….Franklin added that residents could choose scattered site units as permanent choices.”

Step 3: “CHA CEO Terry Peterson contradicted Franklin and said that he didn’t have the authority to offer scattered site units as an option for relocating residents at all.”

Step 4: Alex Polikoff, the lead attorney in the Gautreaux case, which mandated scattered-site housing, said Peterson did have that authority and said the scattered-site units “could be used for those who want to make them their permanent home” and that these people should have priority over those seeking only temporary housing.

Step 5: “In late August,” CHA chief of operations Dwain Bailey “maintained that residents did not know much about CHA’s scattered site housing. ‘There is a lot of information regarding scattered sites that needs to get out,’ he explained.”

Being out is the best revenge. “The religious right is absolutely right,” writes Paul Varnell in the Chicago Free Press (October 10). “We are trying to bring about a social and moral revolution: A society in which gays and lesbians are afforded the same respect and dignity as heterosexuals. One sure way to fight the Taliban is make sure it loses here at home.”

“A diesel bus is probably worsening air quality when passenger loads are fewer than a dozen riders,” city planner Martin Wachs reminds readers of Blueprint (September 10). “Cars pollute most when their engines are cold because their catalytic converters reach maximum efficiency at high temperatures, so people who drive to rail stations are often doing little to reduce air pollution. Furthermore, rail system construction is energy intensive, and trains and buses use a great deal of power that can be efficient only if patronage is higher than it often is.”

High blood pressure? Have you looked at some award-winning architecture lately? Focus, a publication of the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects, describes one of the winners of its 2001 Design Excellence Awards in Highland Park: “A 1960s ranch house was extensively remodeled to create a series of Zen-like indoor-outdoor spaces. The result exudes such tranquility that one juror claimed to experience lower blood pressure just looking at it.”

Like drowning in chocolate–there’s a good side and a bad side. The University of Chicago’s Chronicle (October 4) quotes divinity school professor Wendy Doniger on the labyrinthine basement architecture of the 40-year-old Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Hyde Park: “The maze is quite wonderful. It’s mysterious. I sometimes wonder if someone will find a lost professor.”

“You have to have street experience to be the city’s top cop,” reflect the editors of Substance (October). “You have to have eaten smoke to be the city’s Fire Chief. Why is it, then, that the only qualification you need to be Chicago’s top teacher is no qualifications and experience at all–literally in anything?”