"Not long ago I found myself in the uncomfortable position of needing a dollar to get home," writes Joshua Henkin in the Chicago-based socialist newsweekly In These Times (September 28-October 4). "Left with no other alternative, I approached a well-dressed, middle-aged woman and explained my predicament. She promptly handed me the money, no questions asked. While there's no way of proving it, I doubt if I could have gotten the money if I had really been in need. . . . The point is that I, with my crew-neck sweater and docksiders, came from her world; I could have been her next-door neighbor, even her son. For the same reason, its not surprising to find that the poor are more generous to panhandlers than the rich. 'People driving Jaguars,' one woman said, 'they give you 50 cents and tell you not to buy booze. You go to a black neighborhood, its no big deal for them to give you $2, $3, $5 or $20 for that matter. They're more receptive to being poor.'"
Defend people. Defeat firearms. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, headquartered in Elk Grove Village, "there has been a 300 percent increase in gun shot wounds in children in major urban centers since 1986."
How can you get rid of unsightly, illegal ad benches? wonders Rod Reeves in the Lincoln Park Conservation Association Newsletter (September 1988). The ward superintendent won't do it--he's "the owner of the worst ad bench offender in our ward, Demon Dogs. The Demon Dogs ad benches are everywhere, even such places as Oz Park, although outlawed by at least two city ordinances." But graffiti are graffiti, regardless of authorship, he reflects. Why not get together and paint out the "trashy and unsightly advertising on the seat backs," he asks. "The advertisers would have no right to complain. After all, a paint-out would not affect any recognized legal right of the advertisers, as they have none."
Press releases we didn't feel like finishing. "Tomorrow . . . the first disposable diaper in the world to address two major environmental issues will be unveiled for the first time." What do you suppose it will say?
"A strong immigrant work ethic and a ferocious sense of turf so far have prevented Pilsen from plunging into the powerlessness and despair that grip many impoverished minority communities in Chicago," writes Alfredo S. Lanier in Chicago Enterprise (October 1988). "Among Pilsen's leadership, the specter of 'gentrification' also has been a lightning-rod issue. . . . Today even the sight of Reeboked North Side trendies at local restaurants makes some people nervous. 'The day I have to stand in line to get Mexican food I'll know the neighborhood has gone to hell,' grumbles one long-time resident."
They could just do it right the first time. Chicago attorney Mark Friedlander worries that the big-ticket construction industry in Chicago is becoming "dispute dominated," and that the costs of these disputes may be drawing money away from new development. From the Economic Development News (September 11988) summary of his talk: 'The law suit concerning the State of Illinois Centers heating and air conditioning system involved six different law suits and four different courts. The State of Illinois sued the designers, contractors, and their insurers. The architects and engineers sued the State in a separate action to collect their fees. The architect sued the engineers on the air conditioning design. The mechanical contractor sued the equipment supplier over the equipment, one insurer sued other insured parties and the out of state insurers sued the local insurers." Friedlander proposes reforms in insurance arrangements and in industry attitudes toward disputes.
Don't reform the trough--enlarge it to let another hog in! Why did state senator Dawn Clark Netsch change her mind and vote for the White Sox subsidy? According to her newsletter (August 1988), "Shortly before the White Sox vote I was shown a conference committee report in which a section of the state corporate income tax was being revised specifically to benefit an Illinois employer with plans for expanding its business. I realized that in my capacity as chairman of the Revenue Committee, I see a regular parade of tax breaks and other subsidies in the name of economic development; and I am persuaded that a major league franchise is at least as important economically to the city and state as some of the other businesses which we subsidize."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.