“The Chicago Defender is a sacred institution,” Reverend Al Sampson of Fernwood United Methodist Church tells the Washington Post National Weekly (January 26). “The Defender has been our voice for so long and we simply cannot allow it to be put into the wrong hands, and to me the wrong hands would be anyone who is not African American.”

Draw your own conclusions. Paul Varnell in the January 29 Windy City Times describing an annual survey of college freshmen conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California-Los Angeles: “The percentage of ‘born again’ freshmen at schools with low admission standards is twice the percentage of ‘born agains’ at schools with high admission standards. For instance, 38.7 percent of the freshmen at low-ranking public colleges are ‘born again,’ while only 19.1 percent of the freshmen at high-ranking public colleges are ‘born again.’ The same two-to-one ratio (or more) holds at low- and high-ranking non-sectarian, Protestant and Catholic colleges and all universities. The higher the admission standards, the fewer the ‘born agains.'”

You can’t get there from here. “After building urban highway and transit systems quite intentionally to segregate our metropolitan areas economically and to encourage middle- and upper-class suburbanization, we should not suddenly expect to rely on that very infrastructure to link up the poor people and the jobs we have consciously located far from one another,” write Martin Wachs and Brian Taylor in the Chicago-based Journal of the American Planning Association (Winter). “Having put a large proportion of transit resources into new rail lines that best serve car-owning suburban constituencies, while raising fares and reducing basic inner-city bus service for the poor, we should hardly expect the bankrupt bus lines to ride to the rescue of misguided welfare reforms.”

“While the blues are thriving in Chicago–more than 45 clubs now offer live acts at least once a week–the music and the musicians aren’t faring nearly as well,” writes Jonathan Eig in the New Republic (February 9). “Bands like Tail Dragger’s don’t get the big gigs because they won’t cater to the tourists and suburbanites in search of the North Side’s polished, upbeat fare. And while Tail Dragger’s band has plenty of talent, it has one serious liability: although Tail Dragger is black, all four of his Lazy Boys are white. And that’s not what the North Side’s white audiences are paying to hear.”

Don’t even go there. “Conflict of interest is primarily a problem for honest people,” explains philosopher Michael Davis in “Perspectives” (Fall), newsletter of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions. “The dishonest just cheat, lie, sell their judgment, or otherwise knowingly betray the trust put in them. When I refereed my son’s soccer game, I had a conflict of interest only as long as I tried to be fair. Had I chosen to betray the trust put in me, consciously undertaking to favor my son (or consciously undertaking to favor the other team), I would no longer have had a problem of conflict of interest (in any interesting sense). My calls would have been lies.” His point: rules against conflict of interest are not rules against lying or betraying trust. They are rules designed to keep people out of situations where lying or betraying trust is even a temptation.

Different cities. AIDS rate in Uptown (1994-’95): 230 per 100,000. In far-northwest Jefferson Park and Forest Glen and far-southwest Archer Heights and Mount Greenwood: less than 3 per 100,000 (AIDS Chicago surveillance report, Fourth Quarter 1997).

New horizons in worrying, from the Chicago-based newsletter “Tirekicking Today” (December): “According to a survey by the American Coalition of Traffic Safety, only 23 percent of drivers in the top 50 films of 1996 used seat belts. Only 14 percent of passengers were shown ‘buckled up.'”