By Harold Henderson

Oh, I’m sure if he’s a bad doctor the state wouldn’t let him practice. According to data obtained by Families Advocating Injury Reduction, the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation received 2,914 allegations against Illinois doctors in 1992 and ’93–1,699 of them filed by doctors, hospitals, and others mandated to report under state law, and 1,322 of them alleging gross negligence or unprofessional conduct. Number of physicians the department cited for violations in those two years: four.

“It seemed like every time you turned around in ’95 somebody was dropping to their knees and offering a public and (apparently) heartfelt apology or confession for their sins,” writes Patrick McCormick in the Chicago-based U.S. Catholic (January)–Robert McNamara, the Southern Baptist Convention, the pope, Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, Robert Packwood, Albert Speer, and others. But so what? “For Catholics the acid test of a true confession has always been the penitent’s ‘firm purpose of amendment.’ Genuine repentance demands both a realistic intention to change one’s ways and a commitment to make up for harms inflicted on others….The Southern Baptists can hardly do anything now about slavery or their failure to support the civil-rights movement…but there’s nothing to stop them from supporting affirmative action or funding the NAACP or the United Negro College Fund through the next millennium. And the Vatican? The pope doesn’t name names or events in his apology, so it’s hard to know what sins of sexism the church is apologizing for. But certainly his purpose of amendment could include appointing several women to lead major Vatican congregations, appointing a Vatican commission to study the harms of sexism in the church, or inviting women theologians and scholars to participate in reviewing Catholic sexual ethics.”

The increasing significance of race. Number of African-Americans in top city posts in January 1989, under Mayor Eugene Sawyer: 341 (compared to 334 whites). In August 1995, under you know who: 291 (and 423 whites) (Illinois Politics, November).

Rational suggestions Republicans will never implement. University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz argues in Illinois Issues (December) that “efforts to maintain adequate services in response to federal cutbacks are likely to be more productive than attempts to stop the changes at the federal level.” His case: “If federal taxes were increased to maintain in 2002 the current federal aid programs to all state and local governments in the country, Illinois’ share of the taxes would amount to approximately $5 billion. This tax increase would forestall federal aid reductions of $3.8 billion to the state and local governments in Illinois….Viewed in this way, it appears that Illinois would be better off to accept the federal aid cuts and to increase state and local taxes by $3.8 billion to make up for the federal cuts.”

“Not all decisions to regulate art can be fairly called censorship,” Griff Morris of Lawyers for the Creative Arts reminds us in New Art Examiner (November). “Along with an increase in instances of actual censorship, we have seen an increase in erroneous assertions of censorship. There are artists who believe they have a unilateral right to display or perform their work. Consequently, when their work is not selected by galleries, museums, institutions, or other venues for exhibition, they label it censorship….One does not automatically acquire a right to display one’s work by virtue of being an artist. Cries of censorship have become a formulaic response to any attempt to regulate the display or performance of art.”

“The ’50s were a time of moral depravity,” writes Ira Glasser in the ACLU’s Illinois Brief (Winter). “Racial segregation was the law of the land, enforced by state-sanctioned terror. People of dark skin color, for that reason alone, were not permitted to vote, serve on juries, enjoy mainstream public accommodations like restaurants, movie theaters, hotels and swimming pools, enroll in ‘white’ public schools or even use certain public toilets. And they were not infrequently beaten or killed if they tried. While all this was going on, children prayed every day in Southern schools.”

Good news is no news. “In the month of November 1995 there were 57 homicides in Chicago, 21 fewer than in October, and 21 fewer than in November 1994,” writes Chicago Police Department news affairs director Paul Jenkins in a department news release. “This represents a 27% reduction in homicides for the month, and parallels a similar reduction (20%) in all categories of reported violent crime. For the past 18 months, the numbers of homicides and violent crimes have steadily declined.”

Hmm–must be time to slash that agency’s budget. From a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency news release: “When the Clean Air Act Amendments were passed in 1990, 140 million people were living in areas violating the health-protection standard for smog, the nation’s most pervasive air pollutant. Today, however, more than one third, or nearly 50 million, of those people are now breathing air meeting the standard.” Trends in other air pollutants over the last decade: lead levels are down 86 percent; sulfur dioxide levels down 25 percent; carbon monoxide levels down 28 percent; nitrogen dioxide levels down 9 percent.

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Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration by Carl Kock.