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"More than half of all U.S. container traffic now passes through the Chicago area, so much that our region has emerged as the world's third busiest intermodal hub, surpassed only by the great Asian seaports of Hong Kong and Singapore" ("Critical Cargo," an April 2002 report from the Business Leaders for Transportation and the Metropolitan Planning Council).

Banks now see the unbanked "as potential customers," according to Doug Tillett and Liz Handlin of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, reporting on a November 14 conference the bank hosted ("Chicago Fed Letter," January). Some banks are accepting forms of identification they haven't in the past and have started working with churches and schools. "The [Chicago Public Schools] and its chief financial officer, Ken Gotsch, have taken a different approach to helping employees who do not have bank accounts. In a pilot program, CPS has arranged to pay employees via debit cards if they do not have a direct deposit account at a financial institution. This will result in efficiencies and cost savings for CPS and an important first step for many CPS employees in developing a relationship with a mainstream financial services provider."

Mathematically speaking, impossible. Representative Gary Hannig, a Democrat from downstate Litchfield, tells Illinois Issues (January): "Even in the best of years we've got about $75 billion worth of needs and wants that we've got to squeeze into a $50 billion budget, and it's just not easy to do."

Nice work if you can get it. "One of the many interesting things about the recent flap over the appointment of Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to head the 9/11 commission is that no one in the Chicago media reported Kissinger's very prominent Chicago connection," observes Substance (January). "For several years, Kissinger has been a member of the Board of Directors of Hollinger International, Inc.--parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times....Everyone who cares knows that the Sun-Times is decidedly 'conservative' in recent years, preaching all those traditional virtues like punctuality, frugality, and hard work." Yet Kissinger was one of the board members who "did not attend 75% or more of the aggregate of the total number of meetings of the Board of Directors" and committees. Nevertheless, he was paid $35,000 plus stock options worth about $45,000 for the year ending May 2001.

"Energy-efficiency technologies, ranging from efficient lighting and ballasts to Energy Star appliances to state-of-the-art industrial motors, can save business and residential customers money," reports the Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest in its new report "Job Jolt: The Economic Impacts of 'Repower the Midwest: The Clean Energy Development Plan for the Heartland.'" "On average, these new technologies cost 2.3c per kilowatt-hour, or less, which is below the cost of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity from coal, gas or nuclear plants." But business will still need a government-administered kick in the right place to do what's in its own interest. The report also calls for "clean energy development policies, investments and incentives, beginning with 'Renewable Portfolio Standards' that require all electric utilities to include a specified percentage of clean renewable energy in the mix of electricity that they supply," as well as "strong energy efficiency building codes."

Illinois remains a relatively low-tax state overall, according to "Illinois Tax Facts" (November-December), published by the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois. Total state and local tax receipts per $1,000 of personal income are $104.95 in Illinois, below the U.S. average of $110.42, the midwest average of $110.77, and the industrial states' average of $113.53. Illinois is well above average in its taxes on corporate income, property, tobacco, and public utilities; it's well below average in its taxes on individual income, sales, and alcoholic beverages.

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