News & Politics » City File

The City File

by

comment

Chicago office space is cheap compared to projected rents in other major cities, according to Cushman & Wakefield estimates published in the Illinois Economic Report (September 1988). A square foot in New York City rents for an average of $40.22; Boston, $36.46; Los Angeles, $31.91--but Chicago comes in at $22.91.

"What NIU is being forced to do in reducing enrollment undermines the basic premise of public higher education," says Northern Illinois University president John La Tourette. The De Kalb school enrolled 1,200 fewer students this fall than last and had to cut off freshman applications in February. "Affordable access to quality programs is out the window."

"The fire only burned a piece of the physical fabric of the neighborhood," writes Mary O'Connell in Salt (October 1988). "But it also revealed how delicate the social fabric is as well. People have been frightened by the fire . . . [and they] look for signs of hope. That's, I think, why so many folks congratulated me when I had my fence rebuilt within a week of the fire. And it's also why the Chinese man who owns one of the burned buildings (and who has previously been fairly isolated from his non-Chinese-speaking neighbors) has now become something of a local hero. The morning after the disaster he was out in his tiny garden, uprooting plants burned in the fire. He planted new seeds the next day. While the carpenters and electricians have been repairing his building, his morning glories have been growing back up the fence, telling their own small but necessary story of resurrection."

"A new legal trend is holding decision makers who put people in danger liable for criminal, as well as civil, penalties," writes Jane Easter Bahls in Student Lawyer (October 1988). The landmark case in the field is the Cook County prosecution of Film Recovery Systems executives after an employee died of cyanide poisoning--they got 25 years each for murder. "A major inspiration for the current trend is the discovery that jail terms, or the threat of jail, work wonders as a deterrent--especially for corporate executives."

The power of words. "We can't really, in the state of ]Illinois, based on the law, have a homeless young person," says Gary Leofanti, president of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, in Voices (Fall 1988)--"if you have a 17 year old or under on the street, it's either the parents or the state of Illinois that have to take responsibility and provide this young person with a home. So, to think that we have homeless youth in Illinois is a bad label. It's incorrect. It doesn't work. We don't have homeless young people." With that kind of clear thinking, maybe we can get rid of all the homeless people over 17 as well.

"Ten years ago, when urban centers were still contracting, Printing House Row was worse than deserted," writes Cheryl Kent, describing the context for the renovated Morton Hotel buildings at Dearborn and Congress (Inland Architect, September/October 1988). "With its handsome, solemn, vacant buildings it said something sorrowful about a city that could find no use for them. Now, with the renovated loft housing, the small shops, and the businesses that are gradually returning to the street, South Dearborn is no longer neglected; it feels lively and full of promise."

'Bye, dear. I'm off to that cradle of civilization, the neighborhood bar. According to Prost! (Autumn 1988), a new drinking magazine published in Saint Charles, "Alcohol use . . . may have been one of the primary driving forces in the evolution of modern civilization. Perhaps society as known today would be nonexistent were it not for those ancient nomads who settled down to cultivate and protect their grape vines."

"Suppose you yourself are a monogamous heterosexual, not a drug user, not a transfusion recipient, not otherwise at risk" of AIDS, writes Teresa Carr King in News Notes, a service of the Chicago Area AIDS Task Force, "and suppose at some point in the near future you were examining your medical check up bill and discovered that the insurer (meaning your employer) has been presented with an HIV test expenditure. How would you feel? How would you react?" Well, for starters, you could write thank-you notes to governor-for-life James Thompson and the state legislature, which just repealed the requirement that people must give informed consent before being tested for AIDS. (The task force adds that, shortly before signing the bill, Thompson received $115,000 in campaign funds from the Illinois Medical Society, which lobbied for its passage.)

Add a comment