“I have found that a successful legal career requires not only hard work, but also a supportive environment within a firm, flexibility and keeping your sense of humor,” Chicago attorney Debbie Schavey Ruff tells Di Mari Ricker in Student Lawyer (April). Ruff certainly needed her sense of humor in her first job out of law school, at what Ricker describes as “Chicago’s second-largest patent boutique firm. In its 93-year history, the firm had never had a woman partner; nor had a female associate ever stayed at the firm more than three years.” According to Ruff, “Women lawyers weren’t assigned to high-profile matters. One member of the firm’s management committee actually referred to women attorneys as ‘short-hitters.'”

“Shoring up the state’s ethical and campaign finance infrastructure is as important as mending its bridges and roadways,” insists the Illinois Campaign Reform Coalition in a recent press release urging Governor Ryan to help enact contribution limits in state election campaigns, along with full financial disclosure, fair campaign practices, and a statewide voters’ guide. No word on whether the coalition will support him if he strengthens Illinois’ “ethical infrastructure” in the same way he strengthened its physical infrastructure–by giving enough legislators enough local pork projects to buy their votes.

Why build an empire yourself when you can hire someone else to do it? “Americans’ relationship to our Armed Forces is disturbingly similar to that of the Victorian British to their armed forces and of the French to their Foreign Legion,” writes John Judis in the New Republic (June 28). “Distant military exploits are a source of pride or disappointment, but they do not threaten our personal sense of well-being. The principal reason for this is the end to the draft in 1973 and the creation of the all-volunteer Army, which removed with one stroke the identification that many Americans–whether men or women, draft age or not–felt with the country’s Armed Forces.”

Civility vs. honesty. Dan Perreten in the “Park Ridge Center Bulletin” (May/June): “How do conservatives say publicly that homosexuality isn’t OK without signaling to young thugs that gay people are so bad that it’s all right to beat them to death, as happened to Matthew Shepard in Wyoming last year? How do liberals say publicly that, for instance, the government’s early response to the AIDS epidemic was criminally neglectful without implying that ACT UP protesters should take the law into their own hand?…For starters, by being conscious of the likely effects of their words and carefully circumscribing the exact meaning of those words.”

“Since the reporters who write about schools rarely spend much time in schools, they are still repeating handouts from the people on top,” writes Dan Van Zile in Substance (June), “or being steered in the right directions by the people on top after being given handouts–like a bunch of kids with Word Find puzzles on substitute day–so they can keep busy. A quarter of a century ago, the handouts were even about how a Mayor Daley and his handpicked schools chief were doing great things. During the 1970s, that mayor was Richard J. Daley and that suave schools chief was Joseph Hannon. Today the Richard Daley has a different middle initial, and the schools chief is Paul Vallas.”

Discrimination at century’s end. Forty-one percent of the record 245 housing-discrimination complaints filed with the city last year were based on “source of income” (Chicago Commission on Human Relations 1998 “Adjudication Report”). According to commission chairman Clarence Wood, “Most of those cases involved claims that landlords would not accept Section 8 (a federal housing subsidy) from applicants.”

“It was obvious when a building by a non-Chicago architect appeared on the skyline,” writes Philip Berger in “Focus” (June), published by the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “Laurence Booth, FAIA, points to the Amoco Building, designed by New York architect Edward Durrell Stone. ‘It’s really a great building, but it doesn’t belong here,’ he says, suggesting it would be far more appropriate in New York, perhaps opposite its stylistic sister, the General Motors Building at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. Booth suggests that choosing Stone to design the [then] Standard Oil Building was an early harbinger of the current trend toward what he calls ‘globetrotting clients’ seeking the ‘flavor of the month’ in design. He warns that this approach endangers a local tradition of purposeful buildings that are inventive and elegantly restrained.”