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What do you call a town where most new jobs pay around $25,000 and most homes are for people making $100,000? Naperville. According to "The Metropolis Housing Index: Housing as Opportunity," published in July by Chicago Metropolis 2020, Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics figures reveal that in 2000 Naperville had 11,728 new jobs paying between $20,000 and $30,000 a year--and just 91 single-family homes that someone with that income could afford. The town had zero jobs paying $80,000-120,000 a year, but 13,903 homes that people with that income could afford. The report documents a similar pattern for Oak Brook and Schaumburg.

Prairie prescription: burn more, but not too much more. Writing in the July issue of Chicago Wilderness Journal, Marlin Bowles and Michael Jones reexamine 62 prairie stands that were sampled in 1976 by the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory. They find that high-quality prairies may need to be burned every other year "to maintain composition and structure." But that isn't easy, because prairie managers also have to consider "fire-sensitive invertebrates that appear to require two consecutive years without fire to recover to pre-burn population levels."

What Bensenville and Elk Grove Village know that Chicago doesn't. Joseph Del Balzo, once an acting FAA administrator and now a consultant to suburbs that oppose the expansion of O'Hare, tells Airport Business (May) about two flaws in city consultants' claims that expansion would reduce flight delays. "The limiting factor in capacity at O'Hare Airport is not necessarily the number of runways, it's whether or not the airspace is large enough to handle the number of airplanes that the runways can accommodate. There was no analysis done on [that]." He adds that the city's analysis assumed that 97 percent of the time the weather would be good enough to use four runways simultaneously, but "when you go into the actual weather database for O'Hare for 2002, 40 percent of the time the weather is not good enough that FAA would permit simultaneous operations on four runways."

As others (don't) see us. According to the Harper's "Index" (August): "Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago: 65."

Chicago would have had even more area codes years ago if it weren't for the Citizens Utility Board, the summer issue of its newsletter "CUB Voice" reminds us. In 1999 the 312 and 773 area codes were projected to run out of numbers by early 2002. But CUB's Seamus Glynn found that the problem was phone-company marketing, not the proliferation of pagers, cell phones, and faxes. His research showed that the companies "wastefully stockpiled unused numbers because they believed a long-term supply of the old, familiar area code would give them an advantage with customers." CUB came up with a plan that now "gives phone companies numbers in blocks of 1,000 instead of 10,000. Companies must give out at least 75 percent of their numbers before requesting more, and unused numbers must be returned." But this kind of sensible rationing won't put off the day of reckoning forever. The city's next number crisis is expected to hit in the second quarter of 2008.

What to buy the bird-watcher who has everything. Just out from the Illinois Natural History Survey: the 459-page Illinois Breeding Bird Atlas, for $25.95 including shipping.

Tuition would be cheaper. Annual operating cost of Illinois prisons per inmate in 2001, according to a June federal Bureau of Justice Statistics report on state prison expenditures: $21,844.

"Who would have thought that the man many believe to be the most conservative president in modern history could be outflanked from the right?" asks Daniel Drezner, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, in the online version of the New Republic (July 29). He lists and quotes half a dozen retired military top brass who backed Bush in 2000 and are now supporting Kerry.

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