Herbert Hoover lives! “In the short run, the Republicans hope to win in 2004 by running as tax cutters against tax-and-spend Democrats,” writes David Moberg in In These Times (June 16). “In the long run, Republicans plan to starve and thus drastically shrink federal government, especially spending on social programs. As budgetary crises resulting from the tax cut unfold, the only solutions will be devastating cuts in programs– including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And if the economy suffers, as is likely, the prescription will be more tax cuts.”

Free wheelin’. In the 2002 report “Mayor Daley’s Bicycling Ambassadors,” Yvonne Jennings, one of those ambassadors, notes, “As a writer, all of my best ideas have come to me while on a bicycle.”

Poor people aren’t crowded together as much as they were ten years ago, reports Paul Jargowsky in a May 2003 report, “Stunning Progress, Hidden Problems,” part of the Brookings Institution’s “LivingCities Census Series.” In 1990, 45 percent of poor black Chicagoans lived in high- poverty census tracts (those with more than 40 percent poor people); in 2000 only 26 percent did. The same figures for Hispanics dropped from 12 to 5 percent.

The open that didn’t make the sports pages. A month before the U.S. Open was held at the Olympia Fields Country Club, “a team of birdwatchers gathered on the same rolling hills to count birdies, exclusively, in Audubon International’s 2003 North American Birdwatching Open,” writes Cindy Mehallow in Chicago Wilderness (Summer). They spotted 95 species, up from 82 last year, showing that even a golf course, properly managed, can be a low-grade form of nature preserve.

Is Chicago’s school reform a media hoax? That’s what George Schmidt argues in Substance (June): “The 2003 [testing] data suffer from the same problems that have plagued Chicago’s accountability system since 1996, when former schools CEO Paul Vallas first established the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills as Chicago’s accountability test. The ITBS was never meant to be used for such activities. Prior to the lucrative explosion of standardized testing in the late 1990s, the developers and publishers of the ITBS even warned purchasers of the test that the tests were not to be used to evaluate individual students, the success of schools, or any particular curriculum.”

“Illinois entered last March (2002) with $970 million in unpaid bills,” writes state comptroller Daniel Hynes in “Fiscal Focus ” (April). “Over the month, the backlog of bills grew to $1.163 billion, an increase of $193 million. At the same time, payment delays climbed from 18 days to 24 days. This year, March (2003) began with $1.527 billion in unpaid bills and payment delays of 39 days. The month ended with a backlog of $1.913 billion (up $386 million) and payment delays of 45 business days. Both the level of unpaid bills and the number of days delayed are the highest on record.”

“What we need now is a public inquiry that makes clear the extent of public information available before the war,” writes Linda Rothstein, editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in her on-line June 24 “BulletinWire.” “We need to compare that information to statements coming out of officials’ mouths to discover where there are differences, which was more likely to be accurate at the time. At issue are not just questions about the administration’s honesty in dealing with the public; the discrepancy between the public record and the ‘evidence’ officials cited raises serious questions about their competence as well.”