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That many? According to a random telephone survey of 340 Chicago-area blacks and bilingual Latinos, “Only 35% think their race or ethnic group is accurately portrayed on local TV news,” report Cynthia Linton and Robert LeBailly of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism (Institute for Policy Research “Working Papers,” Spring).

Next year state legislatures will consider more than 140,000 separate bills, according to estimates on a chart recently published by StateNet, which collects information about such things. Illinois is the seventh most prolific bill-generator with 4,300 bills likely to come up, running well behind New York (14,000), Massachusetts (7,300), Texas, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Louisiana. The fewest new laws will be contemplated in Kentucky–which has no 1999 legislative session scheduled. Next fewest are Wyoming (450) and Alaska (600).

From welfare–to worse? A new report from the Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning states that as of early March–eight months after the five-years-and-out countdown began for people who depend on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), “some IDHS [Illinois Department of Human Services] caseworkers had not met with all TANF recipients to personally inform them of welfare policy changes and create their Responsibility and Service Plans (RASP). In fact, some TANF recipients had not even heard of the RASP.”

Idolatry is where you find it. Wheaton College alum Paul Willis writes in “Books & Culture” (July/August) about the “wardrobe wars” between Wheaton and his current employer, Westmont College in California. Both schools claim to have “the wardrobe that served as the original for the one in the Narnia Chronicles” by C.S. Lewis. “Lewis himself would doubtless say that the physical wardrobes in our possession are but copies of a faint copy. He might even claim, to our horror, that no single wardrobe inspired the one found in his book. Then he might add under his breath, like the professor in The Last Battle who has passed on to the next life, ‘It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!'”

More lanes mean faster-moving traffic, at least on a seven-mile stretch of North Avenue between Addison Road and Gary Avenue in the western suburbs. According to “Transportation Facts” (May), in 1994, before an extra lane was added, it took an average of 15 minutes and 12 seconds to traverse (average speed 27 mph); in1996, after the construction, it took 11 minutes and 47 seconds (average speed 35 mph). Now if only there were somewhere to go…

Too many StreetWise vendors? Wise up, says Felix Meeks, who sells at Clark and Division. “We are everywhere, more than the police, more than security officers and more than the Guardian Angels, which means we stop crime by our very presence,” he writes in StreetWise (August 4). “I myself have stopped people from snatching old ladies’ money while coming out of Jewel’s. I watch people’s groceries, bicycles, and pets while they run inside. By me living as a homeless person I know a lot of the criminals who don’t sell StreetWise and make a living committing crimes. They give me the respect not to try these crimes while I’m located on the scene.”

Leave the babies alone! “The benefits of parent-child interactions are not in dispute,” according to a recent press release from the suburban-based American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “but any positive effect of television on infants and toddlers is still open to question….The AAP strongly opposes programming that targets children younger than age 2, which also may be designed to market products.”