The average Chicagoan lives 71.5 years–but where are the average Chicagoans? According to Natalie Pardo in the Chicago Reporter (April), “The mostly white, middle-class residents on the city’s Northwest Side can expect to live 75 to 80 years. For the mostly poor African Americans on the South Side, the life expectancy is around 60 years.” Moreover, white death rates have plummeted from 681 per 100,000 in 1980 to 468 today, while African-American death rates have gone down only slightly, from 884 to 858.

“Almost every one of the best movies is, at its heart, about real estate,” writes Stephen Malpezzi in the “Illinois Real Estate Letter” (Winter). “To begin with, virtually every Western ever made is about property rights….If the hero is not putting up a fence (or taking it down), the villain is stealing someone else’s land.”

Dept. of suburban insults, from the Michigan City, Indiana, News-Dispatch (April 20): “Police arrested Fischer, who then refused to get into the police car. It took two officers to get him into the car….Fischer then threatened to make the second officer’s life difficult.”

“It’s a mistake if we start to put up barriers and stop talking to China,” Motorola chairman Gary Tooker told the North Business & Industrial Council recently (“NORBIC Network,” April). “The kinds of things [human-rights violations] that exist in China were the same kinds of problems that existed in other countries earlier. It’s only by being there as a company that we can show the benefits of training employees, for example.” Also the benefits of not running over them with tanks.

Oh, that must be why the mayor wants to take away their powers. Elizabeth Duffrin writes in Catalyst (April): “Only six of 237 principals whose contracts expire this school year were not retained by their local school councils.”

“Michigan Avenue taxis are the worst,” Fox weatherman Steve Schill tells the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation’s “CBF News” (April/May), when asked about the worst aspect of bicycling in Chicago. “I’ve been literally chased down by some cabs. I don’t know what it is–there must be something offensive to cab drivers about bicyclists.”

How farmers can keep on farming and still disappear. According to A.V. Krebs’s “Agribusiness Examiner” (March 29), “While the average farm operator household income ($52,300) in 1996 was on a near par with the U.S. household income, farm income was only a very small part of that total. Since 1987 farm income has ranged from only 10% to 17% of total farm operator household income.”

“It is hard to say who may be tried for NATO war crimes or if the issue will ever be seriously considered,” writes George Kenney in In These Times (May 16). “But crimes they are. NATO cannot bring the people its bombs have killed back to life.”

The secret George Ryan and Jesse White have agreed to keep. According to the “Illinois Brief” (Spring), published by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, both the current and former secretaries of state have refused to release information that would allow the ACLU to prove how many African-Americans are stopped by police for “driving while black.” According to staff attorney Jane Whicher, “First Secretary Ryan and now Secretary White have refused to release that information unless the ACLU pays $160,000, which is the commercial rate for the data.” The actual cost–the amount the secretary of state’s office charges other state agencies–is $500.

“States are definitely the lavatories of democracy,” cracks Libertarian Party spokesman Bill Winter in a recent press release decrying a proposed South Carolina law that would make it a felony to buy or sell urine “with intent to defraud a drug screening test.”