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When the city privatizes the jobs of janitors, security guards, and parking attendants, does it save any money? Quite possibly not, according to the Chicago Institute on Urban Poverty's new study of ten job titles that remained unionized after privatization. Workers lost between $4,040 and $12,912 per year in income, which "effectively transforms living wage jobs into poverty wage work," write study authors Maryann Mason and Wendy Siegel. "Workers providing these services will have to rely on government assistance in order to meet their basic survival needs." And under welfare reform, that's not a responsibility that can be passed on to the federal government any longer.

I have faith that the coin will come up either heads or tails. Good Samaritan Hospital's Dr. Gale Poindexter, as quoted in the Advocate Health Care newsletter "Partners" (March): "Faith helps patients and families heal as well as accept the inevitability of death."

Bring on the floods! "Floods are often beneficial to Illinois River fish populations," report aquatic biologists Paul Raibley and Richard Sparks in "Illinois Natural History Survey Reports" (March/April). In the middle stretch of the state's namesake river, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, and white crappie all seem to do better in years when the water is high in the spring and early summer.

"While a mere 2 percent of whites in Chicago use CEs [currency exchanges] for financial services, 28 percent of African-Americans and 32 percent of Hispanics rely on CEs for their regular financial transactions," reports the Woodstock Institute in a new study. "The percentage of residents of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods [under $34,206] who use CEs for financial services is more than nine times greater than the percentage of residents of middle- and high-income neighborhoods who do so."

Newsletters we were afraid to finish: "It has been said that the United States is a fat lady restlessly sleeping in a twin bed with Canada, her skinny lover. Even her unconscious movements rock his world" ("Choices").

Dept. of former representatives who voted for welfare reform--for poor people. "Over the next six years, [U.S. senator Dick] Durbin is unlikely to spend much time behind the Senate microphones debating foreign policy or preaching lofty causes," writes Gayle Worland in Illinois Issues (March). "Instead, his turf will likely be the committee rooms and cloakrooms where he'll write the legislation, press the flesh and work the phones. One of his longtime pet projects for Illinois--ethanol subsidies--is an ongoing target of budget-cutters looking at 'corporate welfare.'"

Um, excuse me, exactly where should I stamp my seal? According to a press release from the National Notary Association, "In the Middle Ages, Notaries were sometimes asked to witness the consummation of marriages involving royalty or members of the peerage."

"One neighborhood, one square mile, is the sum of the Chicago urban experience--the Greater North Michigan Avenue area," boasts the 1996 annual report of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association. "Comprised of the Magnificent Mile, Gold Coast, Streeterville, River North, and Illinois Center neighborhoods, the area captures the culture, sophistication, diversity, friendliness, and vibrancy that is Chicago." Affordable too.

Communist internationalism just isn't what it used to be. In its on-line news summary "Politics This Week" (January 31-February 6), the Economist notes that Britain "will grant citizenship to Indians, Pakistanis and other minorities in Hong Kong when the colony reverts to China in July. China has refused them Chinese citizenship."

Maybe so, but how come it's always the guys telling us this? Northeastern Illinois University's Robert Starks, quoted in In These Times (February 17): "In the Robert Taylor Homes, for example, nearly 90 percent of the apartments are occupied by poor single women and their children. They desperately want patriarchy."

"None of those eligible to apply for the grants to be external partners [to help Chicago public schools placed on academic probation] has to have proved . . . any success in running inner city schools," writes Leo Gorenstein in the Chicago Public Schools' "Substance" (March). He quotes one anonymous teacher: "These people would fail as substitute teachers, and now Mr. Vallas is forcing them on veteran teachers and principals as 'experts.'"

The pipe bomb is extra. From a recent press release from the National Association of Independent Insurers: "In less than 10 seconds, a professional auto thief can break into your car, start the ignition and seemingly vanish into thin air."

Priorities. "In 1990 foundations dished out approximately $6 billion in grants," reports Mary Abowd in the Chicago-based Neighborhood Works (March). In the same year "$88 million was distributed by 146 funders in support of social change projects nationwide. Yet of this sum, only $12.3 million went to neighborhood-based groups; the rest went to more professionalized public interest organizations."

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