The living-wage movement nationwide “has so far directly benefited only a tiny portion of the low-wage work force,” writes David Moberg in the American Prospect (June 19-July 3)–perhaps as few as 46,000 people out of the 28 million who earn less than $8 an hour. But “the movement has great potential to expand to thousands of new political jurisdictions and to set standards for any business that benefits from public spending…. Rhetorically it establishes a new rationale for a wage floor–the minimum a family needs in order to live reasonably well–that can inspire political and union demands. But it also sets a new standard for economic development–good jobs, not just any jobs–and corporate accountability.”

One question real education reporters ought to ask Paul Vallas and company, according to Substance (May-June): “How did the Board–since 1995–manage to quadruple the amount of money it’s spending on outside lawyers, while at the same time nearly doubling the number of lawyers on its own staff?…The Law Department budget has increased from $4.3 million per year (1994-95) to $6.4 million per year (1999-2000). All of that increase is since the mayor’s miracle management team took over the schools in 1995 and promised to trim bureaucracy. Under the old regime, by 1995 Chicago employed 25 lawyers in the school board’s Law Department; today it employs 44 lawyers and lots of others.”

Guilt by association–and just try disassociating! “Residents [of Chicago Housing Authority developments] are finding it difficult in getting a person removed from their lease who may cause them to be evicted under the One Strike policy,” writes Mary Johns in Residents’ Journal (April). “Under the One Strike policy, a leaseholder can be evicted if any person on their lease commits a crime on CHA property or in any other location. I tried to remove from my lease two of my children who no longer live with me because I was worried that their behavior would cause me to be evicted under the One Strike policy. I was told by my property and housing managers that I needed addresses and phone numbers for these children before they could be removed….But I was unable to get that information because once the children left my home, I no longer knew where they were.”

“Wealth doesn’t exist in nature,” argues Reverend Robert Sirico in an interview in the libertarian Heartland Institute’s “Environment & Climate News” (June). “If it did, a country like Brazil would be very wealthy, whereas a country like Japan would be very poor. But the reverse of that is true because of the institutionalized protection of private property in Japan and, until recently, the abuse of private property which existed in Brazil.”

Welcome to the twilight zone of economic “development.” In the “State of Illinois Tax Expenditure Report” (fiscal year 1999), state comptroller Daniel Hynes looks at data from the state’s 92 enterprise zones. The data are self-reported, unaudited, unverified, and may represent either actual or planned figures–and they’re still unimpressive. In 1989 there were more than 50,000 enterprise-zone jobs; in 1999 there were fewer than 30,000. Investment in the zones rose from roughly $1.1 billion in 1989 to $1.3 billion in 1999. The number of businesses in the zones fluctuated over the decade, from 1,620 in 1989 to 1,837 in 1999. The biggest growth has been in what the zones cost the state in tax incentives. That amount has gone from $56 million in 1994 to $79 million in 1999.

“The peer pressure not to succeed in the regular classroom was just incredible,” says Sandra Wadington of her first two years of teaching a gifted English class for seventh- and eighth-graders at Monroe Elementary (Catalyst, May). “Nobody wanted to stand out. Nobody wanted the others to know how smart they were. It took a couple years in the gifted program for them not to be embarrassed and not think of themselves as nerds.”