This bread ain’t baked yet. The Evanston-based NEIS News (November-December) quotes former Sierra Club staffer Carolyn Raffensperger, speaking to state department heads implementing a draconian new state law on “low-level” radioactive waste disposal: “I look at the new Illinois law and see two things. First, it’s designed to come up with technical criteria. Second, it’s designed to minimize public participation. I promise you that the public is like a yeasty bread dough. If you squash it, it’s going to pop up somewhere else.”

“AFDC has been a disaster,” says that well-known right-winger, Cook County public guardian Patrick Murphy, in Chicago Life (January-February). “It was put in 60 years ago to help widows get through a crisis. And suddenly it’s become a way of life for generations which are 15 years apart….There are basically two types of politicians to blame for this: one, the conservatives, and the other–the liberals. The liberals haven’t had a new idea since the ’30s. And if you try to come in and say wait a second, you know what we’re doing now makes no sense. It may have made sense in the ’30s, but it doesn’t make sense today. Then you’re attacked as a conservative and a racist….I would say once you have two kids, you will get no additional money no matter how many kids you have. What you’re doing is forcing microeconomic realities on everybody….If she had the third kid and can’t take care of him, we take him away and give him to a relative and if there’s no relative, then we put him in a foster home.”

Empressed? J. Thomas Johnson on riverboat casinos in Illinois Tax Facts (November): “When the legislation was first debated, the initial projections for total tax revenues was $20 million….By FY 94 the riverboats were generating more than $220 million in taxes.” But ironically, the tight Illinois state budget is little better off. Since the casinos cut into the state’s own lottery revenues, Illinois still gets about the same portion of its budget (5 percent) from gambling revenues as it did before the riverboats.

Percentage of Chicago-area blacks identifying themselves as “liberal” or “extremely liberal,” according to the Northwestern University Survey Laboratory: 17 percent. Of whites: 17 percent.

Because the former citywide gang truce still holds in Cabrini-Green, “a lot more people have been coming out,” Al Carter tells Christopher Chandler in In These Times (December 26). “Now young people can cross territorial boundaries. It has to be one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago.”

Staying married “for the sake of the kids”–it’s baaaaack. More parents may be trying harder to avoid divorce and single parenting because of the “negative outcomes,” particularly for the children, according to Southern Illinois University instructor Connie Baker. An SIU press release reported that being a single-parent family means living in poverty for 60 percent of the families. Whatever the reason, the growth in single parenting appears to have slowed.

Environmentalists for Newt? According to a Peter Hart poll, commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, 34 percent of Republican congressional voters say existing laws don’t go far enough in protecting the environment, whereas only 25 percent of them believe environmental laws go too far.

Isn’t that what Dan Rostenkowski used to have? A commercial poll of flu sufferers reports that 39 percent do not know that “flu” is the same as “influenza.”

“Nobody would believe the dirtiness of the campaigning that went on in the past,” Northwestern’s Garry Wills reminds us in an Illinois Issues (January) interview. “For instance, people are often saying, ‘Why can’t we go back to the high times of the Lincoln-Douglas debates?’ Well, they weren’t so high. Both sides–including Lincoln personally–were involved in sneaking illegal voters into the state to vote….The electorate largely had very biased newspapers to read….If you were not actually there you couldn’t read an accurate report of those [debates] anyplace because the papers for Lincoln distorted what Douglas said and vice-versa.”

News flash: I-94 from Chicago to Milwaukee will be closed next week due to a slash in federal subsidies. “The so-called ‘private’ modes–air and highway travel–operate only because the government builds and maintains the hugely expensive infrastructure required,” notes the Illinois Association of Railroad Passengers. “Amtrak, meanwhile, is a quasi-government service that operates mostly over railways built and maintained by the private railroads. The government support given to Amtrak is called a ‘subsidy’ while the indirect subsidy provided to both the air and highway modes is called an ‘investment.'”

“The problem with girls’ products is they’re really political,” says Kristy Sager of computer game maker Sanctuary Woods in the American Association of University Women’s Outlook (Winter), discussing problems with creating computer games that appeal to girls. “Everybody has an opinion on them. For example, one of the characters in the [new] game [Hawaii High: The Mystery of the Tiki] is spoiled. She wears pink. One of the feminist groups didn’t like that.”

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