Just a minute–it’s right on the tip of my tongue. From CenterStage, newsletter of the U. of I.’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in downstate Urbana: “The playwright Arthur Miller was questioned by a shoemaker once about why government should support art when it doesn’t support such industries as manufacturing shoes. Shot back Miller, ‘Can you name me one classical Greek shoemaker?'”

“What’s the difference between the mob and today’s state sanctioned gambling operations?” Doug Dobmeyer asks former Chicago gambling mob boss William Jahoda in Poverty Issues…Dateline Illinois (April 3). Says Jahoda, “The big difference is today’s gambling bosses target the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. The mob didn’t target these groups. Today’s gambling bosses are a ‘rat-hearted’ group….One thing they want is slots on every race track in America. They can then retire every other employee.”

You mean they might start hiring on merit?! “When I was named principal in 1978,” retiring Healy Elementary School principal Beverly Tunney tells Catalyst (March), “families placed a low priority on education, primarily because the school is located in Chicago’s 11th Ward, longtime home to several of Chicago’s previous mayors including Edward J. Kelly, Richard J. Daley and Michael Bilandic. Political jobs were readily available to 11th Ward residents, and children knew that garbage collectors earned as much money as teachers. When Jane Byrne became mayor, the scene changed. Political jobs were no longer taken for granted.”

“The gatekeepers [at the city auto pound] contradict all we are taught at the [UC graduate school of business] about the relative efficiency of government and business,” write Allen Webb and Jeffrey Meyer in Chicago Business (February 6). “Bureaucrats occupy trailer home number one on the road to vehicle retrieval. They are cheery, polite, and rational….

Things change quickly in the corporate war room of the private, Pound management firm. While the bureaucrats enjoy a toasty home, the Pound Manager must wear a Green Bay Packers stocking cap to stay warm. He thumbs arrogantly at the Pound, tells you your ‘space’ number (3 rows down, 19 back, for example), and mumbles, ‘Find it.'”

Evidently they’re promoting the bicycle tour to some very provincial suburbanites. From a Chicagoland Bicycle Federation press release about the June 16 Chicago Boulevard Lakefront Tour: “Cyclists will ride back south through the trendy Near North Side to the Loop (the heart of the downtown business district).”

“It will do no good for Democrats…to pretend that they are anti-government,” writes E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post National Weekly (February 12-18). “Far from being associated with reform, liberals [have come] to be seen as defenders of the governmental status quo, supporting government for its own sake. The key to the American Progressive tradition, when it works best, has been the view that government’s highest purpose is to strengthen the capacities of individuals to achieve self-reliance and to nurture the country’s rich network of civic institutions that are independent of both the state and the marketplace. Some of the greatest achievements of the Progressive tradition–the GI Bill, civil rights laws, student loans, minimum wage, labor and work safety laws–were aimed not at making government more powerful, but at making it easier for individuals to seize opportunities and to strengthen their own communities.”

Down for the count. In a recent Illinois Department of Natural Resources newsletter John Schwegman writes on studies of grassland birds by Jim Herkert of the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board: “He estimates that bobolinks [in Illinois] declined from 1.9 million nesting birds in 1958 to less than 20 thousand in 1995,” largely because farmers cut back on hay and pasture and grew corn and soybeans instead.

Percentage of Chicago lawyers satisfied with their careers: 84. Of black lawyers: 69. Of those earning over $125,000: 98 (CUAPR News, Winter).

If you have to ask, you don’t want this magazine. Promotional letter for the Journal of English Linguistics: “Entire new realms of linguistic inquiry have been opened up [by computers] because linguists can now cope with very large corpora of data.”

New horizons in child abuse. Among the results of a recent study published in Pediatrics (March): “Children of parents who smoked 11 or more cigarettes per day had lower vitamin A intakes and higher calorie and sodium intakes than children whose parents smoked 10 or fewer cigarettes per day.”

Hmmm–are these people being overregulated? “Only four people have done time for [Occupational Safety and Health Act] violations,” writes Russell Mokhiber in the Chicago-based biweekly In These Times (April 1). “Justice Department officials are reluctant to prosecute these cases, knowing that the federal workplace safety law allows for only six months in prison for a first offense….The maximum criminal penalty for harassing a wild burro on federal land is one year in jail, and seven people have been jailed for this crime.”

Send tips to cityfile@chireader.com.

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