“The availability of a casino within 50 miles (versus 50 to 250 miles) is associated with about double the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers,” according to a recently released report on gambling by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (www.norc.uchicago.edu/new/gambling.htm). Overall, the nation’s 5.5 million pathological and problem gamblers are estimated to cost society approximately $5 billion a year.

Today, children, we will learn about the calendar. A recent letter from a Chicago elementary school announced an awards banquet for Thursday, March 27, a week in which Thursday fell on the 25th and the 27th was a Saturday. The school also thoughtfully included an RSVP that was to be returned by March 31.

“Even if Amtrak suddenly acquired a fleet of high-speed trains for service out of Chicago, there is nowhere we could run them safely for any distance,” according to a March 17 press release from the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. In the aftermath of the Bourbonnais crash, MHSRA wants more federal money devoted to building overpasses and underpasses at railroad grade crossings. “The longest stretch of continuous crossing-free railroad we have in this part of the country is the Illinois Central main line from downtown Chicago to University Park–about 26 miles.” That stretch ends just a few miles north of the crash site.

Number of people shot by Chicago police officers in 1998: 71, the city’s highest annual total in this decade (Danielle Gordon, Chicago Reporter, March).

“Gen X lawyers aren’t disloyal,” writes Merrilyn Astin Tarlton in the Chicago-based Law Practice Management (March). “They’ve just accepted the realities of practice in the new millennium. Joining a law firm is no longer a lifetime deal. Even senior partners are dashing from firm to firm in pursuit of more money, quality of life, more associates, better work and marketing clout. . . Want to keep a really good young lawyer? Get her ready for her next job (either in your firm or another).”

From welfare to work, sort of. “The number of AFDC/TANF [welfare] cases has declined sharply across the nation, from nearly 5.1 million cases in January 1994 to just over 3 million in June 1998,” write Marcia Cancian and other University of Wisconsin researchers in a February working paper posted on the Web site of Northwestern University’s Joint Center for Poverty Research (www.jcpr.org/ workearnwell.html). What happened to those who left welfare? “About two-thirds of the women work after exiting AFDC, but most of them do not work full-time full-year. . . .The ‘intensity’ of work increases over time.” Average wages “generally lie in the range of $6.50 to $7.50 per hour. The average wage rates increase with time….The majority of leavers do not earn enough to support their families above the poverty line. Annual earnings average about $8,000 to $9,500….Poverty rates were more than 50 percent for the leavers. However, because earnings rise over time, and the number of leavers with partners increases over time, the poverty rate also falls over time. A few years after exiting, about 40 percent of the leavers remain poor.”

“We admire Michael Jordan–not because he got the ball near, over, or in the direction of the basket–but in the basket,” says Herbert Walberg, an education and psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“If schools lack clear standards, nobody knows the score–not educators, not parents, not kids, not the public” (“School Reform News,” March).

You don’t understand–George Ryan’s friends fly in airplanes, they don’t sit on death row. The Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Committee writes in a March 17 press release: “How many mistakes are we willing to tolerate in a system whose goal is to put wrongdoers to death? If airline error occurred at the rate of error in the imposition of death in Illinois, we would see a complete overhaul of airline regulation. Why can’t the Governor see that such an overhaul is necessary in Illinois?”