If you think county government is clean, you haven’t done any scrubbing lately. County Clerk David Orr: “Cook County government spent about $1.84 billion in 1992, but lobbyists claimed they spent only $118,263 to influence decisions. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of this total was reported by Common Cause and Chicago Metro Ethics Coalition, two reform groups who listed their entire organization’s budgets.”

“Clinton Administration betrayals are not our biggest worry–we expected those,” writes Chicago Coalition for New Priorities director Elissa Bassler in the New Priorities Voice (Winter). What is? “The potential split in our ranks….The bright side of the Reagan/Bush administrations was the powerful combining of interests in coalition by labor, low-income advocates, peace and justice groups, environmental groups, economic development advocates and many others. If the work for new priorities over the past several years has taught us anything, it’s that all of our agendas are inter-connected. To abandon that knowledge now for tiny crumbs from the Clinton pie will not serve our constituents’ long-term interests.”

Press releases we couldn’t finish, from a Lake Forest party supplier: “International Company Could have Enlightened George Bush With Philosophy Behind Free, Spring Catalog.”

Rough Justice. “It used to be that everyone told the young [law-firm] associates, ‘Just do good work, that’s all we ask, and the rest will follow,’ reminisces Cheryl Rich Heisler of Lawternatives, in Chicago Enterprise (January/February). “The rug is being pulled out from under those lawyers. The rules have changed in midstream. Now, they feel no more secure about their job than the guy who works across town in the factory.”

Slow to get the message. “How could a communal and potentially beneficient ideology like Marxism so cruelly turn on its people?” asks Michael McCally, reviewing Ecocide in the USSR. “Perhaps Soviet environmental neglect is the result of thousands of seemingly discrete administrative decisions that, taken together, produced awful results.” Or just maybe Soviet environmental catastrophe is proof that communism was a totalitarian and destructive ideology to begin with (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January-February).

Toxic suspects. Twelve Chicago businesses have failed to report their toxic chemical releases on time to the state EPA for at least two of the last five years: Ace Foundry (North Lamon), American Rack (North Paulina), Allied Metal (West Division), Foamex L.P. (West 53rd), Brooks Sausage (West Berteau), Induction Heat Treating (Northwest Highway), Vienna Sausage Manufacturing (North Damen), Automatic Anodizing (West Newport), Best Foam Fabricators (South Cottage Grove), Koch Materials (South Mason), National Interchem (West Lake), and Barton Chemical (West 66th).

“Chicago must define affordable housing as affordable for the residents of Chicago.” Sounds dull enough for an official city press release, right? Wrong–it’s the Chicago Rehab Network’s proposal for change. As of now, according to the Network Builder (Fall), “The city of Chicago includes the incomes of all of the familiesof Cook County, and large parts of DuPage and McHenry counties, when setting the standard of what the citizens of Chicago can afford.” The present standard counts $835 a month as the maximum affordable rent for a family of four; the Chicago-only standard would reduce that to $614.

One reason why the last election is most “most propitious” for nonprofit organizations, according to the Illinois Non-Profit Chronicle: “Arkansas does not have a sophisticated government network for the delivery of services and, to be successful, President-elect Clinton has had to forge these networks with the nonprofit sector.”

How to hire a new superintendent, according to Leadership for Quality Education, which sent a list of recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education: “References for the candidates should go beyond typical, institutional leaders to include people from the local communities where the prospective candidates have served including local teachers, parents, principals, students, community activists and media.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.