A tale of two cities, told this time by Sharon Schmidt in Substance (March): “On January 3 Daley rang in the New Year with Alderman Patrick Levar of the 45th Ward, on the Northwest side. The occasion was the ribbon cutting ceremony of the $10.6 million addition to the Portage Park Elementary School, 5330 W. Berteau. Daley and his large cast of Chicago public school appointees celebrated the new school building, where a new addition and repairs, landscaping and wrought iron fences had been added to the original school. . . . One week later, in one of the working class (and African American) communities on the city’s South Side, sewer water seeped up through the floors in a school lunchroom. Faculty helped the kids avoid the standing water when they moved around the room, carrying their trays of food to their tables. The school was the Anderson Community Academy, located at 6315 S. Claremont, in an area where the homes are almost identical to those in the Portage Park community.” On January 26, 15th Ward alderman Ted Thomas reminded school board president Gery Chico that he had complained a year earlier about the appalling conditions at Anderson and had been promised a response within 30 days, which never came. “Anderson is on our list,” replied Chico. “Believe me. It’s not like we have the money and we don’t want to give it to you.”

My candidate is an alien. Best primary-election bio, from a March 15 press release from an unsuccessful congressional candidate: “Born and raised by a grandfather…”

Oh, never mind. From the Sun-Times’s March 18 report on why Chicago police officers waited two hours before heading to Indiana to recover Brian Welzien’s body, which had washed up on the beach in Gary: “It had been only a week since they raced to the scene of a body of a young white man pulled from the Chicago River. It turned out to be a homeless person.”

“The fact that money cannot buy elections is clear,” argues Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute in a March 3 on-line commentary (cato.org). “Phil Gramm had the money in 1996 but got beat in Iowa and trounced in New Hampshire by the shoestring Buchanan operation. In 1980 John Connolly came into the Republican primary with the biggest sack of campaign cash ever seen, but it was no more help to him than it was to Steve Forbes.” But doesn’t money buy policy positions for special interests? Not exactly: “Consider the matter of ethanol subsidies, an obnoxious example, said John McCain, of special interests buying favors from politicians at the taxpayers’ expense. Assume that we banned all campaign contributions from farmers and food processing companies that benefit from the ethanol program. Would support for the ethanol program disappear? Unfortunately, no. Anybody campaigning for the presidency in Iowa will have to pledge eternal and unending love for ethanol or suffer the wrath of caucus goers.”

Gay, Catholic, and ornately closeted. Mark Jordan, author of The Silence of Sodom (University of Chicago Press), writes, “Contemporary quarrels over Catholic liturgy resemble clashes between competing forms of gay sensibility. Indeed, they are often those very same clashes in a different venue” (press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/410412.html).

Forgotten so soon? “David Barsamian’s thought-provoking interviews with such social critics as Noam Chomsky were removed from WBEZ,” laments Liane Casten in “Chicago Media Watch Report” (Spring). “Will the station bring them back? Not unless there is a groundswell of pressure. I doubt the pressure will come. We don’t miss what we don’t know exists.”

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development broke its own rules February 5 in response to political pressure from Mayor Daley, when it allowed the Chicago Housing Authority to waive regulations governing how it spends its money and runs its developments under the “Moving to Work” program, reports Cory Oldweiler in the Chicago Reporter (March). Among other things, HUD had said that no housing authority could get the Moving to Work waivers unless its score in the Public Housing Management Assessment Program was at least 80. The CHA’s current score is 69.96, placing it 3,001 out of 3,165 agencies that have been scored.