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February is Canned Food Month, so cheer up! Soup, tuna, pasta, corn, pork and beans, green beans, tomatoes, peaches, pineapple, and ham and bulk meats were the ten top-selling canned foods in 1987, according to the Canned Food Information Council on North Michigan Avenue.

Outlawed plants. Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and purple loosestrife are now officially banned from the state of Illinois: buying, selling, or planting them can net you $500 or six months or both. These "exotic weeds" spread rapidly and choke out more desirable vegetation. The new law does not require landowners to uproot existing plantings, although that might not be a bad idea.

Hypocrite watch: When U.S. Secretary of Education William ("Chicago is the worst") Bennett fulminates against college students who default on their loans, why don't reporters ask him about his boss's bigger and more consequential default? So asks Chicago Media Critic editor Bill Nigut Sr. (January 1988). "The reporters didn't ask Bennett if he believed Reagan's refusal to raise taxes to pay for his arms buildup had set a bad example for students. The reporters didn't ask Bennett: 'Mr. Secretary, if the president says "I never worry about the deficit. The deficit is big enough to take care of itself," why should students worry about their loans?'"

A compliment that may not go a long way in Flossmoor or Orland Park, from Christine Cochrane, director of the Small Business Development Center at Governors State University: "The southern suburbs are a phoenix rising from the ashes."

The state should get tough on private business and vocational schools, says Attorney General Neil Hartigan. "In case after case that has come to my office's attention"--the AG gets as many as 600 calls a week about such schools--"we have discovered that certain schools have targeted minority and disadvantaged students who have already failed in another environment. They accept students regardless of their ability to benefit from training, and they profit even when they drop out. In many instances, it is clear that the students are expected to drop out from the very beginning of the recruitment process," leaving the students with nothing but disappointment and debt.

And now, the ultimate New Age sounds, from Placenta Music, Inc.: a $10.95 tape combining "womb sounds, female vocal sounds and other meditative sounds."

How did Roselle get a $1.2 million park for $262,500? The rapidly developing western suburb called on the Open Lands Project, which was able to buy it for $525,000 from the seller--a local landscaper, Walter Clauss, who liked the idea of having a park rather than another development. Harris Bank provided 100 percent financing to Open Lands, and the state Department of Conservation granted Roselle half the purchase price. The entire transaction--hold your breath--took six weeks.

Downstate 2, Chicago 1: That's the scorecard on grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA). Per person, the state spent $43.73 on economic development downstate during the first three quarters of 1987, and just $22.04 in the six-county Chicago area (Chicago Enterprise, February 1988). How come? "Politics are clearly part of the answer," write David Buonfiglio and Glenn Coleman. "District 57 (home of decaying East. St. Louis and an ineffective state legislator who periodically proposes encapsulating the entire city in a dome) received no DCCA money . . . while [Republican strongholds] Districts 50 [Springfield] and 55 [Collinsville] . . . respectively received $92.06 and $85.55 per capita." Just give our thanks to the governor, OK?

"By 1990, half of all new businesses will be owned by women," says the Women's Business Development Center on North Michigan Avenue. Already there are "approximately 130,000 women owned businesses in Illinois."

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

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