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How many bikers’ hospital bills would you like to pay? Only one-third of Illinois motorcyclists wear helmets, and the state Department of Public Aid thinks there oughta be a law. “Unhelmeted motorcyclists have three times as many head injuries….The University of Illinois at Chicago reports that acute health care costs for the 5,484 injured motorcyclists in Illinois during 1988 were more than $35.3 million, almost half of which came from public funds–including the already overburdened budget of the Department of Public Aid. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, Illinois could have saved $8.2 million and millions more in long-term care and rehabilitation expenses. It is twice as expensive to treat unhelmeted riders as those injured wearing helmets.”

“A total of 362 toxic chemicals have been identified in the bottom sediment of the Great Lakes,” according to a U.S. EPA report from last summer’s workshop on the subject. “It is estimated that remediation of Great Lakes sediments could cost $10 billion. It would entail treatment of 40 million cubic yards of material at costs ranging from $10 to $1500 per cubic yard.”

See the 100th floor of that new high rise? That was the upper deck behind first base. Comiskey Park will live again, according to Cozzi Iron & Metal, Inc., on South Paulina, “as 5,000 tons of steel beams and girders that formed its ‘skeleton’ are recycled as structural steel for use in other buildings.”

Facts you won’t learn from TV. The Chicago Reporter (May), summarizing a Brookings Institution study: “High school dropout rates and teenage illiteracy declined during the 1980s….Blacks are a declining fraction of all welfare recipients; 40 percent in 1987, compared to 45 percent in 1969.”

Dept. of creeping totalitarianism: The Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act–passed overwhelmingly by the General Assembly last year and in effect since January–authorizes local law-enforcement officials to seize and keep up to $20,000 in property (excluding real estate) without a hearing and without criminal charges being filed. According to Robert Schofield in the Illinois Brief (Summer), “All that is necessary is a finding of ‘probable cause’ by a state’s attorney that the property was held in violation of certain drug laws. Once the property is seized, the burden shifts to the property owner to hire a lawyer, post a bond and file an action to prove that he or she did not hold the property in violation of the law. Even if the citizen wins, he or she will be out the cost of a lawyer and up to 10 percent of the bond. As with the federal law, all of the money forfeited is kept by law enforcement.”

Is Washington, D.C., too corrupt to be a state? Not according to Senator Paul Simon: “In Illinois, two of the four [actually five] past governors went to federal prison. I don’t recall anyone suggesting that we should be denied representation in the House and Senate.” Please, Paul, don’t start giving them ideas.

News note: Chicago Ornithological Society studies endangered species nesting in worthless wetlands. The birders recently counted 982 black-crowned night herons flying from their rookery east of Lake Calumet, in the proposed airport area–one of four known sizable colonies remaining in the state.

Can private philanthropy replace a shrinking government? Not according to a recent issue of the Illinois Nonprofit Newsletter. “As we reported in our first Newsletter of August, 1990, 10 corporate foundations have been lost through moves or mergers and this was a loss of over $2 million dollars in grant money. We now add to that list the Beatrice Foundation and their Awards for Excellence and the Roper Foundation in Kankakee…another $21 1/2 million of lost foundation funds. The tragedy is that these funds are not being replaced–the corporate world is, indeed, shrinking.”

Kids! Smell like a sweaty elephant! Press releases we could have lived without: the distributor of Babar & Celeste children’s fragrances expects to sell more than $10 million worth in the U.S. this year.

What pets beget, according to the Anti-Cruelty Society on West Grand: “An uncontrolled mating pair of cats can beget twelve cats in a year, which will beget sixty-six cats in two years, begetting three hundred eighty-two cats in three years, then two thousand cats in four years, seventy-three thousand in seven years, and thereby begetting EIGHTY MILLION CATS IN ONLY TEN YEARS.” ACS reports that it received almost 4,000 cats and kittens during June, July, and August of 1990, of which only about 1,200 found permanent homes.

Picnic demographics. According to a recent survey, the likeliest Chicago picnickers are couples aged 25 to 34, with children under six and incomes under $40,000.

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