At least 25 percent of Illinois AFDC families must be working during the year beginning October 1 in order for the state to get its full share of the new welfare block grants, reports Pete Sherman in the downstate Illinois Times (September 12-18). (Twenty-three percent are already working, which says something about the entry-level jobs out there.) Illinois Department of Public Aid deputy director Joseph Antolin: “Even though this is the federal government’s best thinking to date on welfare, it’s going to be a nightmare to figure this stuff out.” Hmm–if you think reading bureaucratic prose in a warm, dry cubicle qualifies for the n-word, you are evidently not a client of his agency.

My ball landed on an endangered plant–how many strokes do I add? Moraine Valley Community College professor Herb Mathwig explains in a recent press release why he offered his expertise to the Silver Lake Country Club in south suburban Orland Park: “I feel it’s important to change the way golfers look at courses, as manicured lawns due to extensive chemical and water input, and make them a more natural sanctuary.”

“The Salaam Restaurant, a showplace whose royal blue banners flutter from poles along an otherwise worn and shuttered street, illustrates the pattern” of unpaid bills in the Nation of Islam, writes Lorraine Adams in the Washington Post National Weekly Edition (September 9-15). “In 1982, Farrakhan began asking for donations to help build a center for black Americans that would include not only a restaurant but also a bakery, warehouse, health food store, bookstore, auditorium, barber salon, job-training classrooms and a soup kitchen….Fourteen years later, Farrakhan opened last March a small part of the grand plan–the Salaam Restaurant and Bakery and a bookstore across the street…. Court records show that the restaurant faces $379,451 in court judgments and liens to contractors and suppliers. From the uniforms on the waitresses to the facade’s concrete panels, much of the restaurant has yet to be paid for….In the Nation’s case, new debts have been incurred while old ones went unpaid. Expensive properties have been bought while tax bills on others fell years behind. Creditors’ attempts to collect on long-overdue debts often have been met with inaction or resistance.”

I know it’s a Republican administration, but this is ridiculous. Press releases we didn’t even think about reading, from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources: “Liberal Hunting Season Proposed for Waterfowlers.”

“Continuing a trend that began six years ago, arrests for violent crimes in Chicago’s public schools dropped again last year,” reports Debra Williams in Catalyst (September). Guns recovered? 128 in 1990 to ’91, 19 in 1995 to ’96. Arrests for sexual assault? Down from 28 to 6. Assault and battery? Down from 3,008 to 2,407. Total arrests? Down from 9,822 to 9,264. The only school-crime categories going up are possession of knives and marijuana.

As others see us. Chicago is “a difficult city for a vegetarian like me,” writes west coast-based cartoonist Scott Adams in his Dilbert newsletter (September 9). “Most of the restaurants have three choices for how you can have your cow prepared: 1) Dead, 2) Dying, 3) Really pissed-off. Chicagoans aren’t buying into the ‘well done’ concept that is being hyped by the liberal media. Much of my time was spent arguing that fish and chicken are not vegetables in the classic sense of the word.”

Hey, speak for yourself. The owner of the Automatic Art Gallery writes in a recent press release that one featured artist’s work presents the body “as it is experienced–by looking down upon it as a contorted torso and a tangle of limbs.”

“I would have loved to take a bus load of [DNC] delegates for a tour of the neighborhood just out of sight of the United Center as well as Lower Wacker Drive,” writes Joel Alfassa in StreetWise (September 1-15). “I wouldn’t have even charged anyone, though I bet Richie would have found a charge for me.”

When I grow up I want to be the first U.S. senator to hobnob with a murderous dictator. The Duluth-based New Moon magazine (“the magazine for girls and their dreams”) features a profile of Senator Carol Moseley-Braun in its September/October issue.

“Yes, Clinton screwed us over–there’s no other way to put it,” writes Dan Perreten in Windy City Times (September 5), “but no objective look at the two candidates can possibly result in anything other than support for Clinton….The conclusion that the two candidates are equally bad on gay issues is simply not supported by the facts.”

The words get in the way, from Rob Koehler in Conscious Choice (September/October): “The slimy overcooked fast-food-burger of a world economic situation has been dropped on your plate, vegetarian or not. Did you order it? Yes, and no. And even though no one is really asking you, Bub, there it is. You can deny it, sidestep it, ignore it, whatever. There are many ways to dance with Kali. But the way you lay down your footwork will have an impact on what music comes your way.”