The City File | City File | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » City File

The City File

by

comment

"Much of the southern and central Midwest has been dominated by the oak-hickory forest-type for nearly 8,000 years," according to Jeffrey D. Brawn in Illinois Natural History Survey Reports (May/June). But now "oaks are gradually being replaced by shade-tolerant species, especially Sugar Maples." Should managers and conservationists try to maintain the status quo by prescribed burning or by "weeding" out maple saplings? The Natural History Survey will study the question, but it already seems clear that there is no "natural" answer. Some species of forest birds--redheaded woodpeckers, indigo buntings, northern orioles--favor open habitat and would benefit from prescribed burning. Other species--wood thrushes, ovenbirds, Kentucky warblers--would probably benefit from just letting the maples come in.

Upward mobility. "In 1985 [United Neighborhood Organization] earned all but $25,000 of its $258,000 total revenue from services it provided to affiliates and other neighborhood groups," writes Helena Sundman in the Chicago Reporter (May/June). "By 1993, the organization's income had jumped by 240 percent, to $876,000. And with the growth came variety. Only 9 percent of UNO's money came from program services; grants, contracts and the annual dinner [$150-$200 per ticket] accounted for the rest, tax records show." Critics connect this move away from the grass roots with the group's abandonment of such causes as the preservation of the Maxwell Street market.

Does PBS stand for Public Broadcasting System or Pro-Business Syndrome? Which of the following four would-be PBS programs was rejected by its director of news and public affairs, Mary Jane McKinven, because, according to Extra! (July/August), "the content of such programming must be free from the control of parties with a direct self-interest in that content"?

(1) James Reston: The Man Millions Read, funded by Reston's employer, the New York Times, produced "in association with" the Times, and directed and produced by a member of the family that owns the paper.

(2) The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, funded by Paine Webber, which invests in oil exploration and production, and featuring author and oil-company consultant Daniel Yergin.

(3) Wall Street Week, underwritten by such financial companies as Prudential Securities, Travelers, and Massachusetts Financial Services.

(4) Defending Our Lives, an Academy Award-winning documentary about battered women coproduced by Stacey Kabat, a leader of Battered Women Fight Back.

The answer is number four. The Extra! article goes on: "PBS operates under the assumption that it is acceptable for businesses to fund programs about business," but unacceptable for labor or public-interest groups to do the same for themselves.

How would Illinois businesses respond if Congress required them to offer a health plan? Here's what a self-selected sample of Illinois State Chamber of Commerce members said in a survey early this year, according to a Chamber of Commerce summary: 1 percent said they would close down; 25 percent would cut other benefits; 26 percent would raise prices; 31 percent would hire fewer employees; 33 percent would cut (or not increase) employees' pay; and 43 percent would consider it merely a cost of doing business.

Should young men be allowed to drive? According to the state's 1993 DUI Fact Book, the DUI arrest rate for men in their early 20s is 21.1 per 1,000 licensed drivers, compared to a rate of just 6.1 per 1,000 for everybody else.

"Less successful ethnic groups are often richly endowed with leaders," writes contrarian Thomas Sowell in his new book Race and Culture. "Any well-informed American can readily name half a dozen black leaders, current or from U.S. history, but would probably have difficulty naming a similar number of Jewish or Japanese American ethnic leaders. Similarly, it is doubtful if they could name as many prominent Italian American ethnic leaders as prominent American Indian chiefs."

News from the Clinton-Bush administration: "This is the first time in contemporary history that the US is forcibly repatriating people to a country [Haiti] they've fled," Midwest Immigration Center attorney Roy Petty tells Grey City Journal (July 8). "You have to go back to before World War II, when the US forced a shipload of Jewish refugees fleeing Germany to turn back."

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

Add a comment