Hey, Bossy, did you see this week’s Straight Dope? The state Department of Energy and Natural Resources has given the downstate city of Princeton $31,500 to start turning old newspapers into animal bedding for local dairy farmers at the rate of 110 tons a year.

“The so-called ‘property tax revolt’… is in fact a tame affair–no public demonstrations to speak of, no mass refusals to pay, just some whining letters to editors and a few incumbents voted out of office for reasons that may or may not have been connected to taxation levels….’Resentment’ would be a more accurate word.ÉIt is significant that the tax revolt should rise in those parts of the state where life is pleasantest, whose residents have the most. The ‘revolt’ is in large part a judgment about the aims as well as the amount of local spending, a lament in fact that spending on urban-type problems should be necessary, because it confirms that the suburban idyll is at an end” (James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times, January 24-30).

“If it was proper for journalists to dump on Milli Vanilli for lip-synching songs sung by other performers, shouldn’t we apply the same standard to speeches, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces that are ghostwritten?” asks Charles Chi Halevi in Chicago Journalist (January 1991). “If not, why don’t the same standards of disclosure apply? Come to think of it, how about publications that print press releases sans bylines, thus leading readers to think they were written by staff?”

Overrepresented, but not by as much as you’d expect. Percentage of Chicago’s population 18-25 years old that is minority: about 70. Percentage of military recruits from Chicago (and immediate suburbs) that is minority: 80 (Chicago Reporter, January 1991).

And now, for $1,000,000, name any one of Chicago’s eight “sister cities.” Give up? In order of arrival: Warsaw, Osaka, Milan, Casablanca, Shenyang (China), Goteborg (Sweden), Accra (Ghana), and Prague (Sister Cities Newsletter, Winter 1991). If these are all sisters, I’d sure like to meet the parents.

“Over 50% of the 150,000 single mothers in Cook County live in poverty,” according to the Illinois Task Force on Child Support (786-0291), in large part because they don’t get enough child support. The poverty threshold for a family of three is $10,560 per year, while the average amount of child support due (not necessarily paid) is $3,017 per year. The task force has produced a do-it-yourself packet (no lawyer required) enabling Cook County custodial parents to make the right applications in court to get support increased.

Mr. Chairman, the rutabaga caucus casts four votes for Cuomo and two for Nunn. The Progressive (February 1991) quotes the San Francisco-based Green Letter: “Going deeper into direct democracy, a green constitution would recognize the rights of all beings. Trees, wolves, all beings could vote. The planet herself should have a major voice.”

The kids are all right. “The idea that law students today don’t care about social problems, that they’re obsessed with these large-firm salaries, is nonsense,” U. of C. law professor Gary Palm tells Anthony Monahan in Student Lawyer (February 1991). “Out of 170 entering students this fall, 120 signed up for clinical work” at the U. of C. Legal Aid Clinic, which represents poor Chicagoans in administrative and court cases. “The University of Chicago Law School is thought to be this conservative, corporate school, where students graduate right to Wall Street. It’s just not true, here or at many other schools.”

In the halls of the media, the only “independent news judgment” is in the halls. In Extra! (January/ February 1991) Todd Putnam, editor of National Boycott News, tells what happened when Amy Rosenberg of Today called about a consumer-boycott story and asked which was the biggest one going on now. Putnam checked it out and concluded that “in terms of visibility, efffectiveness, scope and public support, one stood out: the boycott of GE products led by the group INFACT, prompted by GE’s leading role in the production and promotion of nuclear weapons. The only trouble was, GE has owned NBC since 1986….When I next talked to Rosenberg, I broke the news to her. ‘The biggest boycott in the country is against General Electric,’ I said. ‘We can’t do that one,’ she responded immediately. ‘Well, we could do that one, but we won’t.'” After many stops and starts, Today did air a three-minute segment on the boycotts of Philip Morris, Hormel, Nike, California grapes, and canned tuna. After a quick and superficial interview with Deborah Norville, Putnam headed out to the elevator. There he says, “I was finally asked about the GE boycott–by an NBC janitor. ‘So how is the INFACT boycott of GE doing?’ he asked, apparently having seen the segment on monitor. I told him that GE had reportedly lost $60 million in sales…”

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