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The City File



By Harold Henderson

A press release we didn't want to finish: "Men With Prostate Disease Able to 'Nuke' the Problem."

After the NBA play-offs "another bit of tradition comes to Chicago," writes Joel Alfassa in StreetWise (June 1-15). "The running of the homeless begins in earnest with a succession of events that begins in June in Grant Park....When Chicago hosted World Cup soccer, the police began their park cleanup every morning at about 6 a.m. The police would select their victims by what a person was wearing and maybe telltale items of transience, such as bags or a backpack. Perhaps a more constructive approach...would be to put the homeless to work in the park."

"What was . . . a somewhat artificial parliament in 1893 is today the reality of Chicago," writes Harvard religion professor Diana Eck in her contribution to the new anthology Religion and American Culture. "The metropolitan yellow pages list dozens of entries under the headings 'Churches: Buddhist' or 'Churches: Islamic.' There are said to be seventy mosques in Chicago today and almost half a million Muslims. The suburbs of the city boast two sizable and elaborate Hindu temples, to say nothing of the dozen smaller places of Hindu worship. There are at least twenty Buddhist temples and meditation halls--from those of the Japanese Zen tradition to those of the Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Laotian Buddhist refugee communities. There is a Zoroastrian fire temple. There are Baha'is and Jains, Sikhs and Afro-Caribbean Voodoo practitioners. The Chicago planning committee convened nearly fifty cosponsoring religious groups to organize the centennial of the Parliament in 1993. This local committee, called the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, was more representative of the world's religions than the [1893] Parliament itself had been."

If you want to visit a state park to get away from it all, avoid Illinois Beach: last year it had by far the highest attendance of any Illinois state park, 2.5 million. The runner-up park had only 1.9 million visitors.

"No large public transit organization can ever truly be run like a business," Northwestern University's David Schulz told the Metropolitan Conference on Public Transportation Research at UIC June 7. "For better or worse, we have assigned transit a lot of missions, many of them incompatible with making a profit, such as setting fares so low as to be affordable by all but the poorest people, mandating even lower fares and special services for seniors, students, and disabled people, supporting critical high-density activity centers such as downtowns, saving energy, helping the environment, promoting compact land use patterns, etc. All of these missions, of course, are carried out in a highly-charged political atmosphere where--in CTA's case--the employees vote for the person who appoints the board of directors, and where people in the general public actively campaign in favor of or opposed to price and product changes. Sound like any business you ever heard of?"

Most bad lawyers are bad, not sick, according to a study of 485 Illinois attorneys' disciplinary hearings from 1988 to 1993, reported in ABA Journal (April). Only 178 "involved some sort of alcohol abuse, substance abuse or mental impairment."

"Mr. Dearborn [not his real name], the teacher aide in charge of the in-school suspension center [at Chi-Town High School, not its real name]...handed out months-old magazines, mostly Scholastic Update, a thin newsmagazine for high school students that was loaded with ads for candy bars and pimple creams," recalls Catalyst intern Lisa Lewis in the June issue. Lewis filled in for Dearborn during his break. "The students were incredibly bored," she writes. "Mr. Dearborn rarely changed the reading material; each issue of Update could expect three months of use. He sometimes brought in free weeklies like N'Digo but those, too, stayed around a long time. Sometimes the kids, who were not generally keen on reading, begged him for new magazines."

The downward trend in Chicago's homicide rate continues, according to a recent Police Department press release. "Chicago recorded 34 fewer homicides during the first five months of 1996 (286) than during the same period last year (320), a decrease of 11%.... Additionally, the number of victims killed by gunfire continues to decline," down from 224 to 209, as do nonlethal shootings and recovered firearms.

Hey! Somebody's been proofreading with the spell checker again! A locally published economic-development book laments that practitioners often settle for what has always been done: "Lacking the needed expertise, development professionals have accepted the statuesque far too long."

Oh say, can you see? Human Rights Watch Update (June) notes that last October the U.S. agreed with 40 other nations on a new Laser Protocol of the Convention on Conventional Weapons to prohibit the use of blinding laser weapons. Within a month, however, the Defense Department was circulating a memorandum that claimed that the protocol only outlawed "mass blinding," not the blinding of an individual; that it allowed continued research, development, and production of such weapons; and that it allowed the use of blinding lasers in "counter terrorism and peacekeeping missions" because they aren't "war."

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

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