Really crappy merchandise. The California-based Real Goods mail-order catalog now offers “Biodegradable PooPets,” allegedly germ-free “cow manure figurines…hand-molded by Amish craftspeople” to decorate the garden and gradually release “nature’s finest fertilizer” into its soil. Your choice of Sluggo Snail ($14), Stool Toad ($12), or Dung Bunny ($12).

Economic development, Daley style. “Riverboat gambling did not create the jobs that were promised and had very little effect on reducing unemployment” in 11 of 12 suburban and downstate counties where monthly employment data before and after riverboats were studied, reports U. of I. economist Earl L. Grinois. The reason is hardly mysterious: most gamblers are local. “Riverboat casinos shift jobs as opposed to creating jobs. For example, the number of independent restaurants drops when a casino opens up. Car sales have been known to go down with the onset of gambling.” His preliminary evidence suggests that Chicago would lose between two and three jobs for every gambling job gained.

“If the high-rise buildings on Lake Shore Drive suffered a wave of drive-by shootings, armed robberies and the like, the public would successfully demand an increase in police presence,” writes Illinois ACLU executive director Jay Miller in the Illinois Brief (Spring). “When the same thing happens in public housing, residents’ homes are searched while crime continues unabated–over 4,000 incidents of violent crime in the past year alone, the same as before the sweeps and metal detectors and identification-checking began.”

Word choice of the week. “There is no ambiguity of the message of the GAIA Theater,” according to the Illinois Arts Alliance/Foundation News (Winter), “a troupe dedicated specifically to promote conservation of the environment–but it is communicated in a way that is accessible, fun, and academic.”

“Catholics were considerably more likely to report adherence to the stereotypes [of African Americans] than Protestants, who held more to stereotypes than Jews,” according to surveys of Chicago-area whites in 1991 and 1992, reports Northwestern’s Robert Entman in One City (Winter). “Those claiming no religion were–perhaps ironically–least likely to endorse stereotypes….The more television that respondents reported watching, the more they endorsed stereotyping….The use of print media was also associated with lower anti-black feeling.” For what it’s worth, white WLS TV watchers were most likely to stereotype.

Recommendations least likely to be heeded, from the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission’s March 17 quarterly meeting: “The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois are urged to work together in completing their…independent studies of air carrier demand and airport capacity.”

Bad timing award. Alderman Dorothy Tillman, April 13: “The whole press corps is white. They’ll never tell the truth….They don’t bother to find out there are more killings outside of Robert Taylor Homes than in it.” Chicago Tribune cover story, April 14: “Police figures show that in 1993, violent crime occurred at a rate of 69.4 per 1,000 residents in six of the city’s most dangerous police districts. Yet the violent-crime rate in CHA developments in those six districts was 54 per 1,000 residents.”

The nine biggest statewide campaign contributors follow two very different contribution strategies, according to Kent Redfield in the Almanac of Illinois Politics–1994. “The general election contribution strategies for the beer distributor, realtor, banker, hospital, and CPA groups were low risk, status quo, and incumbent oriented….In contrast, the general election contribution patterns of the other four groups, the medical society, manufacturers, trial lawyers, and IEA [teachers’ union], were strongly partisan. The medical society gave 87 percent, and the manufacturers gave 89 percent, of their general election contributions to Republican candidates. The trial lawyers gave 94 percent, and the IEA gave 89 percent, of their general election contributions to Democrats….The medical society and the IEA stand out [because of] the total amount contributed, the partisan focus, and the concentration of very large contributions in contested races.”

That was always how I measured my collection. The Chicago-based Numismatic Institute reports that a recent donation of “3,000 pounds of baseball cards” is now being used at Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago for reading-skills improvement.

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