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Campaign finance censorship. From an October 1 letter written by the ACLU's Laura Murphy:

"If this legislation [the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill] were adopted, the only people who will be allowed to speak about the record of politicians will be politicians, PAC's and the press. This must not be allowed to happen."

"I don't think you can tell people this area is safe and this area is unsafe," says Robert Mason, executive director of the South East Chicago Commission in "Common Sense" (Autumn), a publication on security for University of Chicago newcomers. But he adds that "in Hyde Park-South Kenwood--bounded by 47th Street to the north, 61st Street to the south, Cottage Grove to the west and Lake Shore Drive to the east--residents receive double police protection" from University police as well as the Chicago Police Department. "People should be aware, particularly when walking, that outside Hyde Park-South Kenwood, there are not as many police officers on patrol."

As others see us. From the Philadelphia-based Paint Quality Institute's listing of the "Prettiest Painted Places in America": "Oak Park, Illinois. This opulent Chicago suburb . . . "

Why the Visiting Nurse Association no longer has nurses, visits, or an association. "The corporate health care integration trends of the 1990s forced another reexamination of our mission and method," writes Julia Muennich Cowell, chair of the board of the Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago (VNA-C), in the agency's 1997 annual report. "Competition in the home health care market was growing, and commitment to the underserved was shrinking. The VNA-C Board of Directors resolved to maintain its commitment to the underserved, but began to consider new ways of doing so. . . . We opted to discontinue our operation as a home health care agency and instead fund existing nonprofit agencies providing community health care to those most in need. In the Fall of 1995, we entered into an agreement to sell our operations to CareMed Chicago, an affiliate of the University of Chicago Health System. We then gave CareMed our first grant, to ensure continued home health care services to our clients, and adopted the legally assumed name of VNA Foundation."

"Christians now rank sins 'acceptable' and 'unacceptable'; abortion and homosexuality are the most unacceptable," according to publicity for Philip Yancey's new book What's So Amazing About Grace? "Clinton and others who disagree are then labeled enemies. Yet the Bible says little about these important issues, although both practices existed in ancient times." Adds Yancey, an editor of the suburban-based Christianity Today, "Romans didn't rely principally on abortion as birth control. Women abandoned their babies by the side of the road, for wild animals."

Watch your verbs, please. The Chicago-based "Tirekicking Today" (September) quotes an industry PR person who didn't like a previous issue's report that chief engineers at Toyota do not meet with customers. On the contrary, he says, "Our engineers live, eat, breathe customer, both at Lexus and at Toyota."

We © disasters. "The sheer volume of this good news on the comeback of America's cities is striking," says Local Initiatives Support Corporation president Paul Grogan in the "LISC Link" (Summer), a newsletter whose cover features the new Lake Park Pointe shopping center going up at 47th and Lake Park. "But even more striking is how little of the story has yet been told. In the face of dropping crime rates, increasing retail and industrial activity and thousands of renovated housing units, Americans still cling to the idea that their cities are dying."

Two years and out! Illinois' Food Stamp error rate is 12.4 percent, well above the national average of 9.2, reports Doug Dobmeyer in "Poverty Issues...Dateline Illinois" (September 29). Employees and executives of the relevant state department should be grateful that they're not subject to the same draconian "incentives" Illinois has given their clients.

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