By Harold Henderson

“Most of my customers don’t have [parking] permits,” Ed Mooney of Flatts & Sharpe Music Company on Sheridan in Rogers Park writes in the cover letter to his petition, which registers complaints by area businesses about permit parking. “Overnight the public streets became private parking for those able to get a permit….After an initial grace period, illegally parked cars began to be ticketed and my sales began to drop. Customers who would stop on the way home from work, between 4 and 7 PM, found that they had nowhere to park without risking a $25 ticket. The majority of my evening music students quit coming. For the twenty plus businesses in a 1.5 block area, unlimited parking was reduced to six legal spots.”

Why so many comedians are out of work these days. Suburban U.S. representative Henry Hyde, as quoted in the Progressive (February), defending child-welfare cuts to a pediatrician: “You mention balancing the budget as though that were somehow less meritorious a cause or goal than taking care of children.”

City of secrets. “In most major American cities, a complete list of [major capital] projects and their project costs is adopted by an elected body to become legally binding on a city’s administration,” according to the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group’s January report on the Chicago’s Capital Improvement Program 1990-1999. But not here. The city has a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) but no capital budget–which means that the city “1. Can alter the plan without involving or informing City Council or the public, and 2. Has no method for measuring its performance at the end of the year.” Sure enough, NCBG found that only one-third of the planned Industrial Street and Viaduct improvement projects have been or are slated to be completed on time, “while two-thirds (67%) have been cancelled, delayed, or disappeared from the CIPs.”

“Of the ten cities with the largest Latino population, seven are from the border states of California and Texas, two are major ports of entry for Puerto Ricans and Cubans, and then there is Chicago,” the nation’s third largest Latino city and the only one with large numbers of both Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, writes Pierre deVise of Roosevelt University’s Institute for Metropolitan Affairs in a paper titled “The Spread of Latino Poverty and Overcrowding in Metropolitan Chicago, 1980 to 1995.” “Why Chicago has five to twenty times the Latino drawing power of similarly endowed transport hubs and industrial centers located closer to the Caribbean, how it can match the Latino pull of the border gateway of San Diego are questions for which we have no good answers.”

The good news about home buyers, from the recent Chicago Title and Trust report–covered as bad news in most media: “Buyers with incomes of less than $30,000 in 1991 represented only 8.3 percent of home sales, while today that number has nearly doubled, rising to 14.9 percent in 1995.”

Why poverty policy is poor, according to Doug Dobmeyer’s report of a talk David Ellwood, a Harvard professor who worked with the Clinton administration on welfare reform, delivered at Northwestern January 11: During 1995 “members of Congress had so little knowledge of welfare issues and were tough to work with; there were no monied interests at stake. It was tough to get any good information, as there was no money to access it” (Poverty Issues…Dateline Illinois, January 14).

“PR has become a communications medium in its own right,” according to Mark Dowie in the introduction to the book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You, noting that the U.S. now has 150,000 practitioners of public relations–and 130,000 reporters.

Can’t get there from here (without a car). Of the 30 Illinois cities served by Amtrak trains slated to be discontinued unless the state coughs up an extra $2.5 million before March 1, “14 have no scheduled intercity bus service, and 22 are without scheduled airline service,” according to Railgram, the newsletter of the Illinois Association of Railroad Passengers.

“The media’s coverage of this year’s debate on affirmative action reinforced the centrifugal forces tearing at the bonds of trust and empathy–of community, solidarity, and good will–between black and white Americans,” writes Robert Entman in the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs magazine One City (Fall). In fact, “people are ambivalent….Whites have beliefs and feelings that can bolster support for affirmative action, and they have beliefs and feelings that can reinforce opposition.”

Questions Democrats would rather not ask, from the Palatine-based Heartland Institute’s Intellectual Ammunition (January/February): “If you had $100 and wanted to help the homeless, would you even consider mailing your money to HUD?”

Racism in your telephone. Breaking Chicago into two area codes in order to accommodate cellular phones will be “especially discriminatory in its impact on minority communities,” reports the Challenger (January), newsletter of the Labor Coalition on Public Utilities. “The demarcation lines between 312 and 773 area codes cut a jagged path through Chicago’s Latino and African-American communities. Minority businesses will have to ask many of their neighborhood customers to use 11 numbers when calling.”

Send tips to

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