No contest. Charles Wheeler III writes in Illinois Issues (February) that “in only 17 Senate and 53 House districts [in Illinois] did both major parties field candidates. In the other 42 Senate and 65 House districts, only one party’s hopefuls are on the March ballot.”

“Relocation, demolition, and redevelopment activities [at the Chicago Housing Authority] continue to outpace the services available to support families in transition,” write Robin Snyderman and Steven Dailey II of the Metropolitan Planning Council in a recent report on CHA relocation activities (fact sheet number three, February). “The Service Connector Program, for example, has not been fully operational to assist families with lease compliance issues. Procedures now in development to standardize and refine relocation and mobility counseling were not available to households that had already relocated.” Furthermore, there is a “lack of accurate information surrounding the whereabouts of residents (both former and present) affected by demolition, consolidation and relocation.” Translation from the ever-polite MPC lingo: the CHA is kicking the poorest people in the city out of their homes, giving them little help in finding new ones, and then letting them disappear so that they can’t be helped later.

At least one part of the economy is inflationary. In a February 4 press release, the Center for Defense Information writes that George Bush’s new $396 billion military budget is “15 percent above the Cold War average, to fund a force structure that is one-third smaller than it was a decade ago.”

“The strategy and tactics of the Weathermen [in the late 60s and early 70s] were really not radical, just out of touch,” writes Mark Harris, reviewing Bill Ayers’s Fugitive Days in Conscious Choice (February). “As a group they became caught in the centrifugal force of their own frustrated temper tantrum of protest. They also played into the hands of those prosecuting the war [in Vietnam] who tried to use the Weathermen’s violent protests to shift the public’s focus away from the violence of the war.”

Abe’s bicentennial–you read it here first. According to a February 8 press release, state comptroller Daniel Hynes has already convened a forum of scholars and experts to “identify measures worthy of the 2009 bicentennial celebration of the birth of our sixteenth President.”

Illinois has gained 59 new natural-gas-fired electric power plants–either permitted, under review, or in service–since late 1999, according to a tabulation of state deregulation activities regularly updated at energy/restruct/restruct_index.html.You probably haven’t heard about them because they’re tiny–together they would produce 27,881 megawatts, one-tenth of a small conventional power plant.

Complicated, confusing, changeable. That’s how Chicago attorney Kevin Dixler describes immigration law in an interview in the Chicago Reporter (February). “You know it’s easy to pick on immigrants, or people who want to be immigrants to the United States,” he says. “Also, there are laws that are passed, and sometimes it takes years and years before the INS can agree on regulations that will make sense. Laws that are 10 or 12 years old don’t have regulations–just a bunch of memorandums. And sometimes the memorandums contradict themselves.”

“U.S. metropolitan residents simply travel too much,” argues Northwestern University economist Edwin Mills in a Heartland Institute policy study (“Dreams, Plans, and Reality: A Critique of Chicago Metropolis 2020,” February 14). “The worst underpricing is for fixed rail commuter systems. In most subway systems, fares do not cover operating costs, let alone much greater capital costs….Bus travel is also underpriced….It is also the case that metropolitan area car travel is underpriced….I have estimated that the appropriate fuel tax would be about five times its present level, say $2.50 per gallon, bringing the total fuel cost close to $4.00, which is about fuel’s price in most industrialized countries.”