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Two of the ten most endangered railroad stations in the country are in Skokie and Gary, according to the Great American Station Foundation (www.stationfoundation.org). Skokie's 76-year-old prairie-style station, at the north end of the Skokie Swift, is for sale for $1 and will be demolished if it's not sold. Some money has been allocated to redevelop Gary's 91-year-old reinforced-concrete Union Station--a "marriage of classical architecture and modern construction"--but, as the foundation says, "No concrete proposal has been put forward."

Must be some new citizenship requirement. According to the January 5 issue of the "Near West/South Gazette," mayoral chum and University Village Association board member Oscar D'Angelo recently characterized ABLA public-housing residents who filed suit, questioning whether the city's plans for revamping the ABLA included enough replacement housing, as people who "have never built a two-car garage."

To get the deregulation bill they wanted, Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power more than tripled their contributions to state election campaigns during the 1990s, writes University of Illinois political scientist Kent Redfield in his new book Money Counts: How Dollars Dominate Illinois Politics and What We Can Do About It. In the 1997-'98 election cycle, two utilities gave $350,000 to the state's four legislative leaders. (Michael Madigan, Lee Daniels, James "Pate" Philip, and Emil Jones rarely need much for their own campaigns; they enhance their power by doling it out to other candidates in closely contested races.) As ultimately enacted, the law favored the companies by not giving residential customers a choice of electricity providers until 2002 and by imposing a "transition fee" on those who change providers until 2006. Redfield argues that "Limits on the role of money in the Illinois process would change significantly the dynamics of how we make public policy. Even generous limits of $5,000 per election would have capped each company's contribution to a leader at $10,000 per two-year election cycle. If the four legislative leaders had received a total of $80,000 from the two power companies instead of $350,000, the policy debate would have been more open."

Being gay--relevant but not a big deal? That's the argument of Woodstock family lawyer Chris Haaff in the Illinois Bar Journal (January), summarizing relevant family-law decisions by Illinois and other courts: "A trial court in adoption proceedings should have latitude to inquire about the sexual orientation of the petitioners. However, if the sexuality of same-sex petitioners has no adverse impact on the children and the adoption will serve the children's best interest, the adoption judgment should be entered."

George Orwell, call your office. From the January issue of the "Networker," newsletter of the Science and Environmental Health Network (www.sehn.org): "Part of our education should consist of requiring students to volunteer."

If this is a liberal legacy, I'd hate to see a conservative one. Rachel Stohl of the Center for Defense Information, writes in the "Weekly Defense Monitor" (January 18): "The Clinton administration became patrons of the defense establishment. Nowhere is this more apparent than on conventional arms trade issues....The U.S. is the world's number one arms exporter....The dollar value of U.S. arms sales has been in the billions of dollars since the end of the Gulf War, and the percentage of the U.S. share of the total arms market is rising as well.... Today, not only does the United States remain outside the community of nations dedicated to the prohibition of the use of landmines, the United States continues to research and develop weapon systems that would be banned under the Ottawa Landmines Treaty."

Representative? Percentage of women in Illinois: 51. Percentage of women in the Illinois General Assembly: 25 (Dave McKinney in Illinois Issues, January).

"Drug prohibition doesn't work," Denver U.S. District Court judge John Kane told the Western Governors' Association on December 15 (www.independent.org). "In 1914 when drugs like cocaine were available on grocery shelves, 1.3% of the population was addicted. In 1979, before the so-called 'War on Drugs' crackdown, the addiction rate was still 1.3%. Today, while billions of dollars are being spent to reduce drug use, the addiction rate is still 1.3%."

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