Can I make a citizen’s arrest? The Illinois Clean Public Elevator Act–effective New Year’s Day–sets a fine of $45 to $250 for the crime of smoking in elevators that are open to the public.

Kids! Don’t try this at your school! According to the Milwaukee Public Museum, many teachers have written in praise of its new rain-forest exhibit, saying that “after visiting the exhibit, students have reconstructed their very own rain forest in hallways and classrooms.”

Media critic’s thought of the week, from Jon-Henri Damski in Windy City Times (September 28): “Steve [Dahl] and Garry [Meier] impersonate a homosexual couple in the same way that Amos and Andy used to impersonate Negroes.”

Now put it back together. “Planners traditionally describe the Loop in terms of functional areas,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Chicago Enterprise (October 1989): “retail zones on State Street and upper Michigan Avenue; office zones in the West Loop and Illinois Center; an emerging entertainment zone in River North; residential zone in the South Loop; the cultural zone along the lakefront. Arrayed on a map, the planner’s Loop looks rather like the aftermath of an autopsy, with the heart here and the lungs there and the spleen lying near the edge of the table.”

Ding Dong School…Mr. Wizard…Studs’ Place… The Museum of Broadcast Communications reminds us that “for a short while in the early ’50s, approximately half of NBC’s network programming originated from Chicago’s WMAQ.”

And after 100 years, who gives a damn, right? From the Society for Illinois Scientific Surveys “Tip Sheet” (September/October 1989): “Scientists’ computer simulations show that when landfills are properly built about 50 percent of the state has geologic characteristics that would prevent most contaminants from migrating any more than 100 feet within a 100-year period.”

Alderman Bernard Stone of the 50th Ward is not a public body, the newsletter of his adversary, the ChicagoMetro Ethics Coalition, reminds us (Ethics Observer, Fall 1989). The coalition sued Stone after he “refused several requests to release records of his aldermanic office and travel expenses for 1987 and 1988.” On August 28, Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Stone was not a public body and therefore not covered by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Dept. of phonies. “The legislators expressed dismay over growing property taxes while they continued to vote for bills that provide property tax rate increases without referendum,” notes Tax Facts (August 1989). In addition, “raising local property tax rates for schools is incongruent with the stated objective of increasing state public school funding. The rhetorical sensitivity legislators have shown toward property taxes has not been matched by deeds.”

At last. “An Illinois company, FSC Paper Co., is marketing computer printout made from recycled newspapers,” reports the U. of I. Solid Waste Management Newsletter (August 1989). “What is noteworthy is that this is the first product made from recycled newsprint that is actually cheaper than the same product made from virgin materials.”

“The crime of insider trading has never been clearly defined by Congress,” writes Jane Easter Bahls in the Chicago-based Student Lawyer (October 1989), quoting one law professor’s proposal that the SEC rule prohibiting insider trading be improved to read simply: “It shall be unlawful. The SEC shall have the power to define ‘it’ by rules and regulations.”

Down with the ditto sheet! From our folder of recommendations we wish never had to be made, this suggestion from UIC’s William Ayers to Chicago school reformers: “Read books. A group of Milwaukee teachers recently abandoned basal readers (primers), work-sheets and the education industry’s obsession with ‘skill-building’ in favor of a ‘whole language’ approach where literature and entire books reappear in the classrooms at every level. These teachers felt that traditional skill-building develops into an empty gesture because it devalues the act of reading and turns it into the robotic mastery of disconnected skills. The teachers now report that the ‘whole language’ students seem more engaged in school and are reading ‘more widely and deeply.’ Books are coming back elsewhere. Why not in Chicago?”

Most out-of-it cities awards: Nielsen Media Research tells us that the cities with the lowest penetration by VCRs are Glendive, Montana; Ottumwa, Iowa; and Kirksville, Missouri.

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