Sounds like he’s been to Chicago. Writing in the American Prospect (February 14), Geoff Rips reminds us that schools aren’t factories anymore. “If Taylorism and [one of its practical applications] the Ford assembly line were models for schools earlier [in the 20th] century, corporations looking for quick upsurges in quarterly earnings at the expense of long-term investment are models for many school districts today. We are in the era of venture superintendents, looking to show a quick return on a school board’s investment.”

All that cigarette smoke must make it hard to do the math. From a recent packet of press releases: “In Virginia Slims Opinion Poll 2000 we find a majority of women (42%) and men (48%) agree that women’s roles will continue to become less traditional.”

As long as state government offers corporate welfare, welfare recipients will find a way to kick some back to the givers. Latest word from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, in a February press release: Last spring Illinois lawmakers granted Arlington International Racecourse roughly $17 million in tax breaks and subsidies; between July 1 and December 31, 1999, state legislative leaders and political parties received $216,600 from gambling interests. Jim Kales, coordinator of the campaign, says, “Horse-racing and casino interests are showing their appreciation for last year’s legislation.”

How will the cops know who’s in a gang? If they keep records, they may well be of dubious quality, reports Curtis Black in the Community Media Workshop’s “Newstips” (January 31). “According to Kate Walz of First Defense Legal Aid, ‘There’s an assumption [by police] that all youth of color are in a gang,’ and youth who deny gang membership when stopped and questioned may still be listed with an affiliation reflecting the area where they are stopped. One youth organizer was assigned affiliation with three different gangs after being stopped in three different areas, Walz said. There’s also a question of what constitutes a gang. A prison rights activist learned at a traffic stop that prison authorities had listed his gang affiliation as ‘FALN’ due to participation in Puerto Rican cultural activities; a Revolutionary Communist Party member arrested doing tenant organizing at Cabrini-Green later learned he had been listed with a gang affiliation of ‘Communist Party,’ according to Emile Scheppers of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights. ‘Any marginalized, unpopular political group can be listed as a gang.'”

Bill Clinton, environmentalist. According to the November 10 Seattle Times, federal judge Barbara Rothstein ruled on November 8 that the Clinton administration had violated the Federal Advisory Council Act’s requirement that advisory committees include a “fair balance” of viewpoints when it appointed only timber-industry representatives to two advisory committees on timber-trade policy. Judge Rothstein ordered the U.S. trade representative to appoint one environmentalist to each advisory committee. On January 7 the administration appealed the ruling, making the bizarre claim that it would “undermine the framework” Congress had established.

No cover-up, please. Among the guidelines the Friends of the Chicago River has for riverside developments: “Landscaping shouldn’t have to be used as an aesthetic bandage for architectural wounds to public space. Landscaping should, instead, allow visitors and many others to see what’s happening on the trail to increase the perception of safety and to enhance the River’s natural and aesthetic qualities.” (the “River Reporter,” Winter).

“‘What gave you the right to do that?’ a friend of mine was queried (by a leader in her state’s civil-liberties union) about her refusal to allow her eleven-year-old son to play a compact disc extolling the gang-rape of ‘bitches,'” writes Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago in the New Republic (January 17). “Her beleaguered reply was: ‘But I’m his mother.’ The rather forlorn tone of her response indicated that she was herself not too sure she had the ‘right’ (for we seem incapable of thinking any other way) to fix the terms of what her eleven-year-old will listen to at home.”

We’re number six! We’re number six! According to rankings published on-line ( by downstate transportation consultant Wendell Cox, it costs 37.6 cents per passenger mile to operate public transport in the Chicago area–which is less than in any other metropolitan area except Honolulu, Atlanta, San Diego, Las Vegas, and New York.