Why is Richard Phelan luckier than Shedd Aquarium? Because the carp the Cook County Forest Preserve District is poisoning in order to “rehabilitate” the Skokie lagoons for fishing are not nearly as cute as the beluga whales the Shedd keeps in captivity for the edification of tourists.

“Fort Sheridan is being made available to private developers without having first been screened by state and local governments for acquisition for public purposes,” according to the Lake Michigan Federation. “And Equitable [Real Estate Investment] will [if allowed] acquire the property without competitive bidding or an RFP (Request for Proposal) process….[The developer] noted the special sensitivity of the nearly 100 acres of undeveloped ravines, bluffs, and shoreline that qualify for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve, but no plans for protecting these natural areas were presented.”

“I was born into an academic family,” retiring U. of C. president Hanna Holborn Gray tells University of Chicago Magazine (June). “My mother asked me what I was going to major in, and I said history. She said, ‘Oh, no.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m interested in intellectual history.’ ‘Thank God,’ she said, ‘that is at least useless.'”

“The organizers were successful in generating over 1 million dollars in necessary funds and resources to generate over 100,000 bodies for the march,” writes Mark Allen, founder and president of the Black Leadership Development Institute, Inc., of last month’s 30th-anniversary march on Washington. “Can we now duplicate these same resources to successfully educate and organize the masses of our people who were left back home to suffer from the very issues that were raised at the march?”

My disease is nastier than your disease. From the Evanston-based National Kidney Cancer Association: “Cancer is the single most expensive disease in the U.S. economy at a cost of $110 to $120 billion annually….There are over 8 million American cancer patients and only 1.5 million who are HIV positive. Clinton has appointed an AIDS czar, but no cancer czar. The FDA has an Office of AIDS Coordination but no Office of Cancer Coordination.”

“The cost-per-pupil of a superintendency–like everything else about public education in Illinois–varies wildly from district to district,” notes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (August 19-25). “The top job in the Chicago public system–a job that would test a Hercules–costs taxpayers 44 cents per kid. In the sacred groves of suburban Mundelein, Glenview, and Winnetka, the superintendent cost ranged from 39 to 120 dollars per pupil. One of the state’s smallest districts–an elementary school system in Lincolnshire in Lake County with barely 1,200 kids–paid its superintendent nearly $144,000. It would seem unlikely that kids in Lincolnshire need 277 times more superintending than those in Chicago.”

The “Hollywood Left” is left-wing only about other people’s business, writes Elayne Rapping in the Progressive (September). “The truth is that the Hollywood movie industry and its product are among the most politically backward bastions of economic and cultural power in this country. A survey of any recent box-office Top Ten list will quickly reveal that racism, sexism, and the glorification of violence in the service of illegitimate power are thriving in Hollywood as never before….Only a handful of women are ever allowed to direct films or star in serious films with serious roles. Women earn 34 percent of what men earn in every job category in the industry and play only 36 percent of all roles. And children, animals, and cartoon characters are gaining on them. The situation with people of color, especially Asians and Latinos, is even worse. If there were a ‘Hollywood Left’ worth mentioning, there would be some protest about all this. But these highly visible and vocal activists are strangely silent when it comes to the plight of their co-workers or the dubious, not to say dangerous, politics of the films they star in.”

Last word on the Great Mississippi Flood, from Illinois Natural History Survey aquatic biologist Richard Sparks, as quoted in the Quad City Times (July 15): “Why should we subsidize foolishness? Is the river encroaching on us too much, or have we encroached on the river too much?”

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