"This recognition of a gay district"--with new trees, wider sidewalks, and "community identifiers" such as rainbow gateways and rainbow lights on North Halsted--"is unprecedented in the United States," writes Jennifer Vanasco in Windy City Times (August 28). "If the city of Chicago is going to spend millions putting up ionic columns in Greektown, elaborate, dragon-trimmed gateways in Chinatown and lush murals in the Mexican community of Pilsen, then we are just as entitled to the money that would mark the borders of our community. And yet...is this what we really want? To live and play in a literally gated community; to be boxed into calling only one neighborhood our own?"
Of all the letters the Chicago Area Transportation Study received about its region-wide Destination 2020 transportation plan, 82 percent dealt with the designation of Illinois route 53 as a "strategic regional artery" (Destination 2020 newsletter, August).
History as a three-letter word. A Northbrook publicist alerts us to the availability of a $30 CD-ROM "encyclopedia" covering "37,000 years of erotica...sensual, scandalous, amusing, but always educational."
"In this era of diminished expectations and hollow politics, the living wage campaigns are a heartening reminder that economic distress can rekindle grass-roots political energy," writes Robert Kuttner in the Washington Post national weekly edition (August 25), noting that New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Jose, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee have enacted variations on the requirement that businesses getting significant financial benefits from the city pay their workers enough to raise them to the federal poverty line. The Chicago City Council Finance Committee, taking its direction from the mayor, voted 17 to 8 against such an ordinance in July. Adds Kuttner, "Living wage legislation at the city level not only raises earnings of low-wage workers, it also discourages privatizations intended mainly to cut pay scales. If even private contract workers must be paid nearly $7.49 an hour, cities have less temptation to contract work out."
For the seventh year in a row, according to the Pesticide Action Network North America (August 21), organic food sales in the U.S. grew, from $2.8 billion in 1995 to $3.5 billion in 1996. But before you celebrate you should know that eight days later the same source reported that worldwide sales of pesticides also rose by between 2 and 4 percent, to approximately $31 billion.
Sorry, that's a Sunday-only license plate. "I recently saw a parked car with the Illinois plates ACTS 432," writes Peter Gilmour of Loyola University in U.S. Catholic (September). The Bible verse Acts 4:32 reads, "The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common." Knowing this, Gilmour looked in "to see if the keys of that car might have been left in the ignition for me to use, but, alas, it was securely locked."
The factories keep moving, but not very far. Manufacturing jobs in Cook County, according to the 1997 edition of the Illinois Manufacturers Directory: 481,329. In Du Page County: 84,971. Lake: 57,550. Kane: 51,286. McHenry: 30,156. Will: 24,187.
Whoops! Mexicans did not make up 92 percent of the undocumented workers arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Illinois between January 1996 and June 1997, as wrongly stated in this space last month (a misquote of the Chicago Reporter, July/August). They made up 96.4 percent, even though they're only about half of the undocumented immigrants in Illinois.
"Only the few hustlers and poseurs among [blacks] want to be moral ministers or nannies to sensitive white writers and scholars," writes Jim Sleeper in Salon (August 18). "To see blacks take up the more mundane work of running municipalities, money markets and military units while paying mortgages is to watch the angels of blackness withdraw along with the demons. It is to surrender condescension along with contempt. This, the white liberal gatekeepers cannot do."