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City File



It costs too much to be poor. Percentage of those earning $75,000 or more whose employers offer health insurance: 83. Of those earning $25,000 or less: 26 (Kids Count, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation).

Last May, 24 Illinois state senators voted against their governor, Chicago mayoral brother William Daley, and the SBC lobbying machine when it steamrolled the legislature and Governor Blagojevich into passing SB 885. According to the Citizens Utility Board ("CUB Voice," Summer), the law "dramatically rewrites the state's telephone laws in a way that could have negative, long-term effects for Illinois consumers" by making it harder for other companies to compete with SBC for local phone service. Michigan U.S. representative John Conyers called the bill a "national embarrassment," and it's now on hold pending judicial review. Voting against it were 17 Republicans: downstaters John Jones, David Luechtefeld, Dale Risinger, Dan Rutherford, Todd Sieben, Dave Syverson, and Frank Watson; and suburbanites Pamela Althoff, J. Bradley Burzynski, Dan Cronin, Wendell Jones, Chris Lauzen, William Peterson, Edward Petka, Steve Rauschenberger, Peter Roskam, and Dave Sullivan. Seven Democrats also voted against the bill: downstaters Bill Brady, John Sullivan, and Patrick Welch; suburbanite Susan Garrett; and Chicagoans Barack Obama, Carol Ronen, and Ira Silverstein.

Support the troops--buy StreetWise. Percentage of members of the 108th U.S. Senate who've served in combat: 9. Percentage of homeless men who've done so: 40 (from the Drum Major Institute's "Injustice Index," July).

Four states? Thirty counties? No problem. "None of the area's existing planning agencies crosses state borders," writes Laurie Petersen in the July/August issue of "Focus," newsletter of the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. (By "area" she means the region that borders Lake Michigan from north of Milwaukee to north of Saint Joseph, Michigan.) "They include the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, the Chicago Area Transportation Study, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. These agencies did have a joint conference in the summer of 2001 in which they agreed to try to cooperate to strengthen the region's economy as a whole."

Hey, we won! I think. "Marriage was once thought to be about a social union; it is now about personal preferences," writes sociologist James Q. Wilson in "Family Ministry" (Spring), quoted in Martin Marty's newsletter "Context" (August 15). "Formerly, law and opinion enforced the desirability of marriage without asking what went on in that union; today, law and opinion enforce the desirability of personal happiness without worrying much about maintaining a formal relationship. Marriage was once a sacrament, then it became a contract, and now it is an arrangement. Once religion provided the sacrament, then the law enforced the contract, and now personal preferences define the arrangement."

Cut the chatter. When mental health professionals offer disaster victims "single-session debriefings," they appear to do as much harm as good, according to research published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics and summarized at (June 25). Apparently, these debriefings "can exacerbate stress in some individuals who might otherwise have recovered normally, either by talking with friends and family or by blocking out any recall of the incident until they felt ready."

The wave: Between 1999 and 2002 the number of children without health insurance fell from 9.6 million to 7.8 million, even as the economy tanked. The undertow: This improvement is largely the result of increased enrollment in medicaid and state child insurance programs, but cash-strapped states are now reducing outreach and erecting additional barriers to entry (from the Urban Institute's July 31 report "Children's Insurance Coverage and Service Use Improve").

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