Keeping track of the new machine. Fifteen of the 50 city aldermen have been members of the Chicago City Council since at least 1989. Political scientists Dick Simpson, Ruben Feliciano, Rick Howard, and Aaron Van Klyton of the University of Illinois at Chicago have compiled their voting records on contested issues in 1989-’90 and in 2000-’01, recording how often each voted with Mayor Daley’s floor leader, Ed Burke, on contested votes ( Slightly less loyal now than ten years ago are Richard Mell (33rd Ward, down from 93 percent to 82), Carrie Austin (34th Ward, down from 94 percent to 80), and Burton Natarus (42nd Ward, down from 93 percent to 77). But some former dissidents now vote with the mayor most of the time: Dorothy Tillman (Third Ward, up from 33 percent to 77), Ed Smith (28th Ward, up from 47 percent to 100), and Helen Shiller (46th Ward, up from 31 percent to 90). By this measure, the most independent alderman at the moment is Toni Preckwinkle of the Fourth Ward, and even she voted with the mayor 64 percent of the time in 2000-’01. Another sign of the degree of the mayor’s control of Chicago’s legislative process is that in 1989-’90 there were 97 divided roll-call votes, whereas in 2000-’01 there were only 13.

Percentage of homeless people who have jobs: 39.1 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Regional Roundtable on Homelessness in the Chicago area (“Facing Homelessness: A Study of Homelessness in Chicago & the Suburbs”).

Halt and declare what’s in your heart. The January10 “BulletinWire,” an on-line publication of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, notes that the U.S. is paying increasing attention to the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, worrying that “terrorists may be mingling with the hundreds of impoverished Haitians who cross into the Dominican Republic every day.” Said one unnamed U.S. official, “This is an open door through which many pass and no one knows what’s in their hearts.”

“The proposed Peotone Airport presents a lose-lose scenario,” according to a new brochure from the Openlands Project. “On the one hand, if the airport fails to attract airlines, it will be a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money just like MidAmerica Airport [in downstate Mascoutah, 25 miles from Saint Louis]. On the other hand, if the airport meets its proponents’ claims, it will practically guarantee harm to nearby communities and the environment on an unparalleled scale.” Openlands favors increased usage of Midway and Gary, modernization of O’Hare, and high-speed rail–options that will keep airport garbage, hazardous waste, and air pollution away from the far-south suburbs.

“If law enforcement officials asked you for information about one of your patrons and ordered you not to disclose that they had asked for information, would you challenge their order by disclosing the request to anyone (e.g., the patron, the press, and/or a public interest organization such as the ACLU) other than your library’s attorney?” That’s one question the Library Research Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign asked 906 librarians in a recent survey (, January 16). Of those responding, 5.5 percent said they “definitely” would challenge the order; another 16.1 percent said they “probably would.”

From property damage to terrorism. That’s the path the Earth Liberation Front appears to be following, according to Intelligence Report (Winter), published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A September 3 ELF statement taking responsibility for a fire at a U.S. Forest Service research station in Pennsylvania that caused $700,000 in damages says, “Segments of this global revolutionary movement are no longer limiting their revolutionary potential by adhering to a flawed, inconsistent ‘non-violence’ ideology….While innocent life will never be harmed in any action we undertake, where it is necessary, we will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice.”

De$perately $eeking highway$. Percentage of the northeastern Illinois interstate highway system that’s more than 30 years old: 80 (Business Leaders for Transportation, “Getting the Chicago Region Moving: A Coordinated Agenda for the 2003 Federal Transportation Debate”).

“Governor, consider proposing something really radical,” writes Nobel laureate Leon Lederman in an open letter to Governor Blagojevich (Illinois Issues, January). “Perhaps 20 percent of the teachers’ time should be spent, often collegially, in becoming better teachers.”