Loop buildings built in the 1990s have the highest vacancy rate–41 percent–according to a recent survey by CB Commercial Real Estate Group. Next are 1970s buildings (23 percent) and pre-1950 buildings (19 percent).

“Everybody who talked about [Clinton’s town meetings on a recent Nightline] seemed to agree with Koppel that the town meeting was primarily ‘about’ cimumventing the media establishment, rather than about what was actually said during the broadcast,” writes Chicago attorney Marian H. Neudel in New Patriot (May-June). “The ‘media establishment,’ long accustomed to being the chief mourner at every funeral and the best man at every wedding, now wants to be the bride at the wedding and the corpse at the funeral, to be the message as well as the messenger.”

Greenways: so popular they can’t pass a referendum? Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission senior adviser Lawrence B. Christmas, in Illinois Issues (April): “The popularity of open space was brought sharply into focus recently when the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC), in partnership with the nonprofit Openlands Project, released a regional greenway plan calling for a 1,000-mile linked system of parks, waterways, trails and other linear land forms….Not since the Burnham Plan of 1909 had planning of any kind been so warmly received.” But he takes exception to a clause in the 1991 collar-county tax-cap legislation that requires voters to approve general obligation bonds, including those for open space: “What is wrong with requiring taxpayer approval? Local officials argue that ‘investments for the future’ are a tough sell in today’s political climate. Of the 11 bond referendums held in Du Page County since early 1991, only four were approved.”

Needed–one Constitutional amendment, in a hurry. Amnesty Action (Spring) reminds us that the U.S. Supreme Court really did decide in January that Texas death-row prisoner Leonel Torres Herrera could be executed even though he had presented what Amnesty calls “compelling evidence” that he was innocent of the killings of two police officers in 1992. Quoth the black robes, “a claim of actual innocence is not itself a constitutional claim.” That poor dope James Madison probably thought “due process of law” would cover it.

“Since I couldn’t afford to go to college, I attended the library three or four days a week from the age of eighteen on, and graduated from the library when I was twenty-eight,” says novelist and Waukegan native Ray Bradbury in a testimonial for the American Library Association. “When I speak to students, I tell them ‘It’s no use going to school if the library is not your final goal.’ That’s how important it is for everyone and has been for me.” Perhaps the Chicago Public Libraries would be better off if Mayor Daley’s education had taken the same path.

Generation of inhalers. According to Neil Howe and Bill Strauss’s new book 13th Gen, “More than half of all current college students believe they have done something that might someday disqualify them from running for public office.”

And will all those polled submit their own salaries to a public vote? “America’s anger at the profits and salaries in the health care industry is intense,” according to pollster Celinda Lake. Her poll, commissioned by Families USA, found that most people think radiologists and anesthesiologists earn $100,000 a year (in fact they earn between $220,000 and $230,000) and that they ought to earn only $80,000.

“Killing the natural inquisitiveness out of which all learning stems is arguably the worst thing early education does,” writes UIC geology professor Kelvin Rodolfo in the occasional newsletter Teaching at UIC. “Our students are so unused to asking questions that, at the beginning of each class, as many as a third do not even know how to use question marks.”

Keeping score in the Year After the Year of the Woman. State legislatures with the most women, according to the Feminist Majority Report (March): Washington (40 percent), Arizona (36), Colorado (34), and New Hampshire (34). Legislatures with the fewest: Alabama (6) and Kentucky (4). Illinois, at 23 percent, ranks just above the nationwide average of 20.

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