Ahhhhh waaaaaaaaaaaah! Southern Illinois University communication professor Stephen Blache has created an “infant cry archive” containing not merely an on-line list of 187 books and articles about how babies wail, but recordings and analyses of nearly 300 actual baby cries (anonymity preserved). Says Blache, “We designed this to be useful to the cry community.”
“White-collar gang wars” is what Carl Bufalini of the North Business & Industrial Council calls the struggle over the north-side industrial corridor along the Chicago River, where residential developers are threatening manufacturers by trying to develop 344 town houses at Belmont and the river. “The thought of real estate developers cruising industrial neighborhoods in their Lincoln Mark IVs searching, targeting and tagging sites for ‘redevelopment’ sends shivers up my spine,” he writes in Norbic Network (November). “Is this struggle for turf intrinsically different from those being waged more blatantly in other neighborhoods?”
Bambi vs. nature. “In the past several years we have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of white-tailed deer in northeastern Illinois,” writes Laurel Ross in the North Branch Prairie Project’s Sixteenth Year Report 1990-1993. “Their browsing is having a devastating effect in some places, causing possibly irreversible degradation of the prairies, savannas and woodlands. . . . Many North Branchers have chosen to support the Forest Preserve District in their decision to cull deer [by shooting]. . . . This political support is more important than one might imagine. There is strong, organized opposition to deer control from some animal rights activists. They speak loudly and passionately against deer control as if saving some individuals should take precedence over saving the precious and irreplaceable system which supports them.”
“Hispanic women earned an average salary of $15,000 in 1990, down from $15,575 in 1980,” reports Natalie Pardo in the Chicago Reporter (November)–at least in part because so many were newcomers to the labor force during the 1980s.
Bad-timing award. In an October 28 press release Common Cause reminded people that the two leading campaign fund-raisers were U.S. Senate candidates Michael Huffington in California (who had twice as much money as his opponent) and Oliver North in Virginia (four times as much). Eleven days later Huffington, North, and Common Cause all learned that money can’t buy everything.
Told you so. The Adult Education Reform Coalition is calling City Colleges of Chicago on the carpet because closures and consolidations have reduced adult-ed enrollment by 6,922 students citywide compared to a year ago–something the coalition predicted, and the schools denied would happen (Newstips, November 9).
“Social justice and community are not the same thing,” says UIC planning professor Robert Mier, who worked for mayors Washington and Sawyer, interviewed in the new book Reinventing Cities: Equity Planners Tell Their Stories. “Community empowerment is at once liberating and a very conservative and racist force. I constantly remind my students at UIC that the first community organization that formed in Chicago was the Hyde Park Conservation and Protection Association, which was created to lobby for racially exclusive covenants in land titles in Hyde Park, home of the University of Chicago. So an awful lot of community empowerment is a conservative ‘keep the folks out’ force. . . . A lot of times, people get careless and say community is good, community is more just, but it just isn’t so. I think attacking social justice issues at the community level is an extraordinarily effective way to attack, but they have to be attacked.”
Was the Americans With Disabilities Act superfluous? “The average cost of making an accommodation for a worker with a disability,” according to the Job Accommodation Network and the state Department of Rehabilitation Services, “is $735, and the average benefit is $22,065.”
The ultimate news junkie. U.S. representative Richard Durbin on former Alan Dixon staffer Gene Callahan, quoted in Illinois Issues (November): “Gene also had a habit of sleeping at night with WBBM radio on. He and [his wife] Ann–God bless her–would wake up enough to hear the top of the hour news and if a story hit, Gene was out of bed like a bullet. You always wondered how Alan Dixon was the first to respond when something happened in Illinois? It was because of Callahan.”
And while we’re at it, let’s change the name from “Chicago Public Schools” to “Chicago Guaranteed Employment Program.” In an article published without apparent irony by the Chicago-based biweekly In These Times (October 17), Walter Farrell Jr., James Johnson Jr., and Cloyzelle Jones argue against privatizing schools because employees’ pay might go down. “In many poor urban areas, public schools are one of the last sources of stable, well-paying employment. Given the ongoing exodus of highly unionized, high-wage manufacturing jobs from urban areas, many inner-city communities simply cannot afford to lose the decent wages and stable incomes that public schools provide.”
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.