Cute. Ann Wiens in the New Art Examiner (April) recalls a discussion last year in which "the panelists were artist/activists whose work addresses ecology and the environment. An audience member asked where beauty fit into their work. After a long, uncomfortable silence one of the panelists said, 'It really isn't a concern. Is there another question?'"
Yes, Chicago kids count, but can their advocates? "There was a 17% increase in the proportion of Chicago children living in poverty between 1979 and 1989....Child poverty increased in most community areas....These statistics give no immediate cause for optimism." So says Voices for Illinois Children (VIC) in Chicago Kids Count: Community by Community Profiles of Child Well-Being, widely publicized in late March as part of a campaign to greatly increase state spending on schools, welfare, health care, and housing. But the numbers are not as clear-cut as VIC made them sound. Yes, the percentage of Chicago children living in poverty did rise from 28.5 to 33.3 during the 1980s. But the number of Chicago children in poverty declined during the 1980s (from 244,821 to 240,968). The number of Chicago families with kids in poverty declined during the 1980s (from 36,268 to 35,417). And the number of Chicago female-headed households in poverty declined during the 1980s (from 26,118 to 25,225). Which prompts a question for lobbyists: when trying to wheedle money from stingy suburban Republicans, do you tell the whole truth, or do you try to dazzle them with apocalyptic-sounding percentages?
What links all these congressional appropriations: $112 million for cooperative space ventures between the U.S. and Russia, $10 million to convert a New York post office into a train station, $4.5 million for high-speed rail, $4 million for midwest Coast Guard bases, $1.4 million to battle potato blight in Maine? They're all part of the emergency earthquake-relief bill! Wastewatcher (March) suspects that "Congress deliberately underfunds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), knowing that natural disasters will inevitably occur and the 'emergency' supplemental appropriations they necessitate provide an ideal way to skirt budget caps set in 1990."
Wasted History. Chicago architect Chris Lee, quoted in Inland Architect (January/February) on designing scattered-site CHA housing: "Many clients would actually prefer the bungalows and split-level homes that can be found in places like Chatham. In Englewood, we did an exhaustive study to come up with a contextual response to the indigenous Victorian architecture found in the area. This resulted in a design for a two-story worker's cottage which was quite nice. The client hated it and kept stressing the homes in Chatham."
Making amends in advance for Maxwell Street? UIC News (March 16) quotes counselor Jose Perales: "UIC had 50 Latinos in 1975. As of fall 1993, there were 2,015."
Dept. of diplomacy. "One could argue that the ACLU lost what little was left of the public relations battle by taking a decidedly hard-nosed approach" in its ongoing suit against downstate Montgomery County for having a courthouse sign that reads "The World Needs God," writes Mark Mathewson in Illinois Times (March 17-23). "The ACLU fired the opening volley more than two years ago, when Chicago-based staff attorney Jane Whicher wrote the Montgomery County Board, informing them that they had thirty days to remove the sign...or face a lawsuit. Montgomery County State's Attorney Kathryn Dobrinic invited Whicher to address the county board. Whicher refused, reportedly telling Dobrinic that there was 'no room for negotiation and no need for discussion.'"
"The business sections of America's great newspapers are written for capitalists, not for workers," notes David Evans, who used to explain military affairs to Tribune readers, in In These Times (April 4). "One can easily find daily stock indexes spelled out to the second decimal point, but other measures relevant to the workforce, such as job creation and job stability, are notably absent. [Author Wallace] Peterson [in Silent Depression] suggests a few different measures of economic performance" for publication, such as real average weekly wages and the purchasing power of the average worker's income "in terms of the number of hours of work it takes to buy a shirt, a tank of gas or a steak."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration/Carl Krock.