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Is this what they mean when they talk about the high price of freedom? Total campaign spending for state legislative seats and statewide offices in 1994, according to the University of Illinois at Springfield's Sunshine Project: $64.6 million. In 1998: $93.1 million.

"I had, I thought, done nothing to prepare me to counsel a national government," writes Michael Davis in the Illinois Institute of Technology's "Perspectives on the Professions" (Fall) about World Bank consultant Geoffrey Dubrow's tapping him to talk with senior Ukrainian officials about controlling corruption. "Nor did I have any other obvious special qualifications. I knew no Ukrainian--and only a few words of Russian. Most of what I knew of Ukraine, I owed to National Public Radio. How, I asked, had I been chosen? . . . He had chosen me over some I would have identified as much more qualified primarily because my experience was in Chicago, a place Ukrainians regard as sufficiently corrupt to provide analogies likely to be useful to them. In short, I owed my trip to Kiev to Al Capone."

Headlines that shock. From Green Politics (Spring): "Chicago Greens Beat Toxic Drums for Safe Schools."

"The thing that keeps getting left out each year as Chicago's test scores go up, up, and up again is that we're now the only city in the country still using 1980s tests to measure 1990s students," according to Tom Sharp and George Schmidt in Substance (June). "Both the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP) have been renormed at least twice since [1988], but Chicago continues to use the oldest tests available. Chicago is using tests that were developed when Ronald Reagan was still president, before the Berlin Wall fell, tests developed in the days when few people had E-mail and the Internet was reserved for a few academics and government officials."

Gee, we've always thought so. Brittney Eddie of suburban Dirksen Junior High, quoted in the Openlands Project's 1998 annual report, after taking black-and-white photographs and viewing Terry Evans's Art Institute show "In Place of Prairie": "Now that I have seen this, I think black and white looks better than color. It shows a lot of contrast. It changes the colors. If something is really, really dark, it will turn out black. If it is really light, it will turn out gray. I never knew about that."

Acme Steel in suburban Riverdale ranks in the top third of iron and steel manufacturers in the U.S. when it comes to pollution prevention, according to data recently gathered by the Environmental Defense Fund (www.edf.org/programs/PPA/cg/). In the bottom third are USX and Inland in northwest Indiana; there wasn't enough data to rank LTV steel in northwest Indiana.

"Why, out of 77 community areas in Chicago, are there 20 with no hate crimes at all, but fifteen with five or more, or 31 with three or more?" asks the Commission on Human Relations in its "1998 Hate Crime Report." "One theory is that the more educated, the less crime-ridden, and the more employed a neighborhood, the lower the hate crime numbers will be. This is based on the widely held belief that the better off an individual is in the world, the more tolerant and respectful of the differences in others he or she is likely to be." Unfortunately for this comfortable theory, the report notes, the southwest-side neighborhood of Beverly--whose residents are, on average, better educated and more likely to be employed than their neighbors in Chicago Lawn--had twice as many hate crimes as Chicago Lawn in 1998, all of them racially motivated. In fact, Beverly had more racial hate crimes last year than any other city neighborhood.

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