“Eighth-grade graduation is such a big, huge deal in Chicago,” complains Heidi Luebs, who teaches science at Burley Elementary (Catalyst, September). “I think [the ceremony] should be eliminated, because it just highlights our low expectations for these kids. We have to throw a big party for these kids because they might not make it through high school graduation.”

Evanston native Jack Nilles, who coined the term “telecommuting,” on why more people don’t do it: “From the beginning, the problem was not the technology. The primary problem was between the ears of middle-level managers. That’s still the problem.” (Illinois Issues, September).

“The harshest penalties [for drugs] followed rather than preceded the decline in drug abuse,” says University of Chicago law professor Norval Morris in the “Compiler” (Summer). “In our era, self-reported use of marijuana, heroin, and amphetamines peaked for every age group in 1979-1980 (for cocaine in 1984-1985) and fell steadily thereafter. But the harshest federal anti-drug laws were not enacted until 1986 and 1988, and the first federal drug czar was not appointed until 1989. If reduced use of drugs was its aim, the ‘war on drugs’ was won a decade before it was declared.”

Grade inflation for banks. The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has given Corus Bank, the eighth-largest bank in Cook County, a “satisfactory” rating for its service, lending, and investment policies under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). But the Chicago CRA Coalition complains in a September press release that Corus deserved no higher than a “needs to improve” rating: “Through a program called ‘Secure Direct Deposit,’ Corus steers low-income recipients of government benefits into using currency exchanges (also known as check cashing outlets)….Corus charges customers of this program $1.90 to utilize this ‘service,’ and customers are also assessed the regular check-cashing fee of the currency exchange….The Bank is actually encouraging low-income people to pay high fees for services such as check-cashing that are free at most banks. In fact, when the Chicago CRA Coalition met with Corus during the exam, we were told that the bank has contractual agreements with the currency exchanges that forbid it from informing users of the Secure Direct Deposit program about Corus Bank accounts.”

“Why is it that tourists are given free trolley access from downtown to lakefront attractions, while patients of Alivio Medical Center [in Pilsen, Little Village, and Lawndale] can not get to Alivio on weekends?” asks Carmen Velasquez, Alivio’s executive director and a member of the Blue Line Transit Task Force. “Why is it the world can see Sue at the Field Museum, but the residents of Pilsen cannot?…It is an outrage that with all the money being talked about to restore the line (over $350 million), they cannot come up with the $800,000 it would take to re-open owl and weekend services of the line.”

Politics without precincts. Gore backer Carl Pope in In These Times (October 16): “I almost suspect that the reason so many are entranced by the third party path and the Nader candidacy is that they don’t want to spend four years doing all that mucky politics inside the system. My own organization, the Sierra Club, has found much less enthusiasm among our volunteers for the year-in, year-out tedium of precinct organizing and caucus-going than for periodic crusades. There is a long ‘white gloves’ tradition among American progressives. An old testament prophet like Nader has strong appeal to that tradition.”

Metaphysical fashion. “I shave my head sometimes, just on a lark,” writes Jon Trott in the Jesus People USA magazine Cornerstone (volume 29, issue 119), “perhaps because I simply like being ‘different’ or ‘wild.’ God’s wild and creative, so I think it gives him mild pleasure to see us playing the artist with our physical appearance.”

The Gay Pride parade is too mainstream, says Therese Quinn, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Queer to the Left member (“UIC News,” August 30): “Why aren’t we as a movement pushing basic freedom of affiliation, lives free of poverty, instead of replicating the dominant agendas of mainstream conservative politics? We are a movement, not a market niche.”