By Harold Henderson

“I say no to some beggars, regret it, and run back to them–only to find they are gone,” writes Sheri Reda in the Chicago-based Conscious Choice (January/February). “I give money to others and bless them when they bless me. I try–and often fail–to look each man or woman in the eye….Am I satisfied with this approach? No…but I tell myself that for part of the time, at least, I am doing the best I can. The rest of the time, I hope I never come to such straits as they have reached. If I do, I hope I meet people who are kinder than me.”

Conventions that Mayor Daley may not care to hype as much as the DNC: For three days in May the Friends of the Chicago River will host the third Friends of Trashed Rivers Conference at North Park College (River Reporter, Winter).

“Since many of the poor do work, work by itself does not eradicate poverty,” Marlene Kim explains in Poverty & Race (January/ February). Using U.S. census data, she surveyed working poor people who qualify for food stamps, AFDC, and Medicaid. “Most were in married-couple families, in their prime working years, worked many hours and had at least a high school education. These workers were poor not because of abnormal lifestyles or deviant behavior, but simply because they earned too little or were in unstable jobs. Most, almost 60%, worked in…retail, agricultural, personal household services, health care or residential care industries.”

“Since 1971, the Loop has seen sensitive restorations of the Marquette Building, the Cultural Center, the Rookery, the Railway Exchange Building, the Monadnock, the Auditorium Theater, much of South Dearborn Street, among others. And now, the Reliance Building,” writes Nan Greenough in a letter to members of the 25-year-old Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. “What would the Loop be like without these buildings? How many of them would be there were it not for the tax incentives for which LPCI worked so hard? Or, in some cases, without direct LPCI involvement?”

Why would a gay activist be prolife? Philip Arcidi of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) tells Windy City Times (February 8) it has a lot to do with genetic research. “We have spoken amongst ourselves about the prospect in years to come of gays and lesbians being a new target for abortions once science learns more about genetic indications for homosexuality….[Then] couples will have a perfectly legal way to get rid of gays. They could do it before they are born. You would have gays and lesbians snuffed out because of their sexuality.” But Nellie Gray, president of March for Life, which turned PLAGAL away from its convention, has declined to take a position on a bill that would ban abortions based on sexual orientation, saying–we are not making this up–that antiabortion laws should protect the “innocent” unborn.

“It is not our responsibility to spend a lot of time and resources trying to bring local school councils up to speed,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas tells Catalyst (February). “Shall we expend our resources developing local school councils that may change every two years? Or should we invest our resources in developing teachers that may spend 5, 10, 15, 20 years with us?…If you run for local school council, you have a responsibility to come in with the idea that you want to do the job….The price that you pay for local control are the Slim Colemans and the Carlos Malaves. Is it a price worth paying? Yeah, it probably is because we live in a participatory democracy, meaning he who participates gets to benefit from the democracy. I think local school councils contribute to reform. But don’t complain when I hold you accountable.”

“Community organizations will need to relearn confrontation,” writes Chicago’s own Gale Cincotta, national chairperson of National People’s Action, in Illinois Issues (February). “We shouldn’t be afraid to start showing up where we’re not wanted again. That’s how all major victories were won in the past. That’s how they’ll be won in the future.”

Department of noncutbacks. Annual school funding per student in Illinois has risen from $5,028 (1972) to $6,908 (1994) in constant dollars (that is, corrected for inflation), according to the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation’s ITEF Review (January).

Department of selective quotation. When Illinois Politics (January) published its regular survey of pay equity in Illinois congressional delegation offices, 5th District Democratic primary candidate Nancy Kaszak wasted no time blasting Republican incumbent Michael Flanagan for paying women on his staff about 56 cents for every dollar earned by men. “There is no excuse for this sort of sex discrimination from our politicians in Washington,” she fumed. But downstate Democrat and possible future U.S. senator Dick Durbin finished at 51 cents. In fact, ranking on the pay equity list appears to be random as far as political affiliation goes. (It also fluctuates wildly from year to year, suggesting that personnel reasons other than discrimination are at work.) In 1995 the three reps who paid women most proportional to men were city progressive Bobby Rush, suburban conservative Dennis Hastert, and Senator Carol Mosely-Braun; the three lowest were Flanagan, Durbin, and downstate progressive Lane Evans.

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