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Who says city television has to be dull? If you're a cable subscriber, you can tune in Channel 23 or 49 and watch shows like We're the Sewer Department Working for You, which premiered May 13, featuring Commissioner Samuel W. Hurley.

"Americans love to look at animals," writes Iowa biologist Roger Knutson in Flattened Fauna: A Field Guide to Common Animals of Roads, Streets, and Highways. But they often can't identify those they see most often. "For every live animal they get to observe, people actually see anywhere from five to twenty-five animals plastered to the pavement. The commonly available guides to wildlife take no account of this fact." Flattened Fauna offers a series of diagrams and descriptions enabling even the novice to identify each and every animal of the road that has lost "not only its life but also its third dimension."

World's Greatest (White) Newspaper. "Fewer than one out of 10 editorial employees at the [Chicago] dailies is a minority," reports Neil Tesser in the Chicago Reporter (May 1987); "the Tribune employment figure of 7.5 percent [38 of 503] remains lower than the 10.2 percent average for American newspapers of comparable size." The Sun-Times figure is 10.5 percent, 26 of 248. "Minority employment at both papers is well below the industry goal that newsrooms reflect the racial balance of their communities, 30 percent in the six-county Chicago area." And there is no improvement to speak of: since January 1, 1985, 23 minority editorial staffers left the two dailies--and 24 were hired new.

Hospices held hostage. "Transplanted to the U.S. from Great Britain about 15-20 years ago, the hospice movement represented a genuine community outcry for a different kind of dying than the one preferred by our modern medical system," writes Tow Dewar in Partner, reprinted in The Neighborhood Works (June 1987), about service and care communities for the terminally ill. "It argued that family and friends are essential to a good death, and that the wishes and experience of the dying person are the central point of reference." But soon institutions began encroaching. "Hospice care began to be offered by organizations that presented themselves as 'alternatives.' As the popularity of the hospice became apparent, some innovative health providers began to offer it as a regular service. Then came rules about who can do the work (in order to protect the 'public interest') and rules about how the service will be reimbursed. Proposals surfaced to fill empty beds with hospice patients, and some hospice wings have been added to hospitals. Now, 'quality, reimbursable hospice care' is available only through hospitals. This sad story represents for me the complete inversion and recapture of an authentic community idea."

The best costs less, when it comes to state highway maps, anyway: copies of the Illinois Department of Transportation's 1987-88 official state highway map (which cost 10 cents each to produce) are now available free from IDOT offices and from the Office of Tourism, 620 E. Adams, Springfield 62701.

What a high school education is good for. Judge R. Eugene Pincham tells Illinois Legal Times (May 1987) about one of his cases: An elderly part-time tavern custodian was waiting for a bus at 63rd and King Drive at 11 PM on a below-zero January night. "Two men in their thirties, walking west, saw him standing there and said to him, 'Old man, give me your money.'" He was rescued by an off-duty police officer--but to Pincham the story shows "the mentality of the offender. He is dangerous. He is extremely dangerous. Because he is stupid. . . . If I had my say-so on it, I would embody in criminal legislation that offenders . . . cannot be released from the penitentiary unless they acquire the equivalent of G.E.D. degree. Because what happens when he gets it, he learns to think. He learns that a man standing at 63rd and King Drive in January in below zero weather and is a senior citizen probably doesn't have any money!"

The Illinois Health Care Cost Containment Council doesn't, according to its own recently released figures--they indicate that hospital charges are increasing at the rate of 19.6 percent per year.

"Why has the press become even more timid than usual under Reagan?" asks Mother Jones (June/July 1987). One reason: "Four years ago, when our friend Ben Bagdikian, dean of the graduate school of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, published his book The Media Monopoly, 50 corporations controlled most of the American mass media. When he prepared a revised edition this spring, the number had dropped to 29. While his manuscript was in the mail to his publisher, Time, Inc. swallowed Scott, Foresman and Company and the number dropped to 28. While type was being set, the Hearst Corporation bought the Houston Chronicle and the number went down to 27. It will probably be fewer still when the book comes out in the fall."

"Public access increases public safety," says the Albany Park Planning Committee in its proposal for improving trails along the Chicago River in the northside neighborhood (North River News, Spring 1987). As it stands now, "The Park District's fences always have holes in them, inviting gangs to congregate, and encouraging all sorts of undesiraable activities, making the riverbanks dangerous. There have eve been reports that a coven of witches meets along the river at night."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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