Another kind of police brutality, with an assist from the media. Former Chicago homicide detective Wayne Johnson, writing in the Chicago Crime Commission’s “Action Alert” (Spring/Summer): “As the case investigator of a specific homicide involving a middle class African American female who was brutally murdered in the rear stairwell of her building in a high crime area, I was reassigned several days later along with three other investigators to the equally brutal murder of a young female white graduate student from a prominent family. This second crime occurred in an upscale Gold Coast neighborhood and received a great deal of media coverage because of the social status of the victim. This investigation was my only assignment for six months, and we eventually made an arrest while the other case lay dormant. Fortunately, upon refocusing my efforts on the original case, I was able to make an arrest and clear that case also. The chief of detectives at that time spoke out on the social ramifications of such investigations and how the media can affect resource allocation in homicide investigations. This official was sanctioned for his comments by the leadership of the department and the city.”
“If Gore wanted to tackle the unfairness of the distribution of wealth in an eminently capitalist fashion,” writes David Moberg in In These Times (August 7), “he could propose a modest tax on the wealth of the richest households and use the revenue to give every young person a nest egg–say $80,000–that could pay for college or help start a business. Last year, Yale law professors Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott outlined such a plan in The Stakeholder Society. It wouldn’t eliminate the privileges of wealth or the injustices of a market system–nor remove the need for programs like Social Security and universal health care–but it would be a small step toward greater equality of wealth and opportunity.”
Lest we forget. “The unspoken reason for [the CHA’s] throwing in the towel on scattered-site [public] housing has never changed,” writes James Ylisela Jr. in Illinois Issues (July/August). “Middle-class white people just don’t want poor black people living in their neighborhoods. They didn’t want them 30 years ago, and they don’t want them now.”
Public schools yes, prisons no–those are the results of the 2000 Illinois policy survey conducted by Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies. Of a representative sample of Illinoisans, almost three-quarters endorsed more state spending on public schools, while only one in five supported more state spending on prisons (“Illinois Tax Facts,” June/July).
Without medical attention? From a recent press release: “When the Carl Hammer Gallery first gave birth to itself in 1979…”
“Medicine tends to perpetuate a myth about the human ability to control suffering,” writes Bonnie Miller-McLemore in Second Opinion (January), published by the Park Ridge Center on East Ontario. “There is a reality gap between suffering as depicted in pain management literature and suffering as confronted by health care professionals. Medical literature sometimes gives the false impression that suffering can be adequately managed if only the physician improves palliative skills, takes another course, reads widely, and so forth. For many patients the real success of palliation is limited. Not only is pain difficult to manage, other forms of suffering, including the existential afflictions of the soul, almost always baffle the caregiver.”
Public disinterest? Average number of pro bono hours worked at law firms, per attorney, per year, by city: Washington, D.C. 61; New York 44; Boston 38; Chicago 36; San Francisco 32. (American Lawyer, July 2000, quoted in a fact sheet distributed by the local Public Interest Law Initiative).