By Harold Henderson

Help! Security! It’s a florist! “When I started in Chicago, I did some marketing downtown, with everyone from secretaries to execs at the Chicago Tribune,” Kelvin Knight of Corporate Florist tells UIC News (April 17). “I chose people at random in the business district, just walked in, read their name tag and said, ‘I’m delivering these flowers to you, and I’ll be back next week to have you fill out a marketing survey–it’s free.’ People were suspicious. They actually called security on me once. I guess they thought I was a Moonie or something. People found it strange that someone just wanted to give them flowers.”

“We can only extrapolate and conjecture about how the Founders would have understood the First Amendment’s ‘freedom of the press’ to apply to the Playboy Channel, or how the ‘search and seizure’ language of the Fourth Amendment would have been thought to bear on overheard cellular telephone calls,” writes Northwestern University law professor Dan Polsby in Reason (March). “But no ambiguity at all surrounds the attitude of the constitutional generation concerning ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms.’ To put the matter bluntly, the Founders of the United States were what we would nowadays call gun nuts.”

Letters you won’t find in the Tribune. In the Chicago Defender (May 8), a reply to Hiawatha Park protesters against subsidized housing: “I’m sure I can speak for the majority of Cabrini-Green residents when I say, ‘Stay the heck out of our neighborhood and we will stay out of yours.’ You take care of your mass murderers and child-molesting perverts and we will take care of our drug dealers and gangbangers.”

Digital disobedience. A World Wide Web site ( in a recent press release invites visitors to challenge the new Communications Decency Act by clicking on to and sending three electronic files “that could be deemed illegal” to Bob Dole’s election headquarters: “a graphic illustration of proper condom use to prevent AIDS, sex scenes from Newt Gingrich’s new novel, and a list of abortion clinics in the U.S. (the new law explicitly prohibits posting abortion information on the internet thanks to an amendment by Cong. Henry Hyde [R-IL], which President Clinton signed into law).”

“The Democrats, meanwhile, sit on their thumbs, even though Edgar’s [school funding] plan once was their own. Instead of demonstrating bold bipartisanship, they’re going to be boldly partisan,” writes James Ylisela Jr. in Illinois Issues (May). “Don’t these people get it? Being a rabidly partisan Republican or a die-hard Democrat means absolutely zip to most of us. Most people don’t care about the political parties. This May, I’ll bring another handful of graduate journalism students to Springfield. They are smart, highly motivated people. Last year, after a day watching the General Assembly fight over phony fiscal notes, I asked them what they thought of Illinois politics. They looked at me and just laughed.”

I have a little Sears Tower icon on my home altar. In In Spirit ’96 Patricia Katherine Novick muses on the Sacred Spaces/Public Places activities set for the weekend of June 14. “I thought about the convention delegates coming this summer to Chicago. Who are we to them? Blustering politicians? Hog butchers? Al Capones? Midwesterners? Is Chicago only the place of the Grant Park police riot? What if they knew us as individuals for whom Chicago is sacred?”

Figures you won’t hear from critics of school reform. The 1996 local school council elections (compared to 1993), as reported in Catalyst (May): number of candidates 7,795 (up from 7,361); average number of candidates per school, 14.3 (up from 13.4); number of voters, 122,042 (up from 84,680).

Our kindly parent, the corporation. According to a recent U. of I. news release, a study of 84 Fortune 500 corporations, directed by the school’s privacy expert David Linowes, found that 67 percent disclose employee information to creditors, while 62 percent inform employees of the types of records maintained on them. In other words your creditors’ chances of getting information from your boss are just slightly better than your own!

Railroad information we really didn’t want to hear, from a letter from Frank Spofford to The Fast Mail (May): “On a recent visit to St. Louis via Amtrak, I noticed the following poster on the bulletin board near the information counter in Chicago Union Station. It read, in part: ‘Beginning April 14, the Empire Builder is changing days of operation and we want you to know all about it….The west-bound Empire Builder, train 8 from Seattle….The eastbound Empire Builder, train 7 from Chicago….’ Wow! That westbound Empire Builder will have a wet trip.”

“Should we find ourselves with a neo-republican politics, I suspect it would be unlike any we now have,” writes Robert Westbrook in a review of Michael Sandel’s Democracy’s Discontent in In These Times (April 15). It “would cut across contemporary divides of left and right. It would be a politics that targeted both corporate power and welfare dependency. It would be a politics that would open American borders to immigrants from all lands, yet insist that they learn English in order to command a lingua franca of citizenship. It would be a politics critical of moral absolutism, yet open to moral arguments.”

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