City File 

Still talk all day--but get tenure. Ira Glass of This American Life tells the on-line magazine Feed (July 2, www.feedmag.com/re/re232_master.html). "When I was doing all those stories about public schools, it was something I thought about all the time. 'Well, I don't know. I'll do this radio thing for a little while more, and if I get tired of it I'm going to go teach school.'"

"Chicago has installed its five-thousandth bicycle rack," reports Sam Smith in the "Progressive Review" (August 6), "making it the most racked-up American city."

Block that metaphor! Computer-security expert Rebecca Bace, quoted in a July 8 article on the ZDNet Web site (www.zdnet.com/filters/printerfriendly/ 0,6061,2290399-2,00.html) on how vulnerable commercial software is to hackers: Viruses like Melissa and ExploreZip, she said, "only begin to scratch the tip of the iceberg."

The hype: "As populations shift farther away from Chicago, people become more dependent on cars, and auto-driven air pollution worsens," according to "Beyond Sprawl: A Guide to Land Use in the Chicago Region for Reporters and Policy Makers," a recent report published by the Chicago-based nonprofit Sustain. The facts: "Over the 1970 to 1994 period, actual emissions from [cars, trucks, aircraft, railroads, and marine vessels] declined significantly in the cases of CO [carbon monoxide] and VOC [volatile organic compounds] and increased only slightly in the case of NOx [nitrogen oxides]," according to the "Transportation Statistics Annual Report 1996," published by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The EPA's "National Emissions Trends Database" shows the same trends for emissions in Cook County.

Good news you won't hear from conservatives. "At the turn of the century approximately 20 percent of black adult males (ages 20 to 64) owned their homes, compared with 46 percent of white men, a gap of 26 percentage points," write William Collins and Robert Margo in a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper ("Race and Home Ownership, 1900 to 1990," August). "By 1990, the black home ownership rate had increased to 52 percent and the racial gap had fallen to 19.5 percentage points." Most of that improvement occurred between 1960 and 1980.

"My romantic idea I kind of had about farming was proved to be much more complex than the image of workers sitting on the porch & whittling while watching the corn grow," wrote a 1998 intern who worked at Angelic Organics, a community-supported farm in far northwestern Boone County ("Angelic Organics CSA Reference Guide: 1999 Harvest Season"). "They're actually working on machinery and planning the next crop rotation."

The Pacific Garden Mission, at Ninth and State, "has been in the South Loop for more than a century, and at its present site since 1923," states an editorial in the "Near West Gazette" (July 2). "The current residents and businesses moved there knowing the mission was a neighbor, so they should bear some responsibility to help craft a solution and not expect the mission to be foisted upon another neighborhood. The mission could change some policies, security and police protection could be beefed up, [Jones High School next door] could expand in a different direction. Are we too optimistic that a compromise could be crafted? There's no way of knowing, since no one has even tried. Instead, the city and Chicago Public Schools are using a full speed ahead, damn the consequences approach. We reported on the situation for two months before the city and CPS even bothered to tell the mission they were considering taking it....Now, a Chicago Public Schools spokesperson is saying that the CPS does not believe it has any responsibility to help relocate the mission."

One crime rate that isn't going down. "Penalties for breaking [U.S. labor laws] are so limited and ineffective that there is a high level of corporate lawlessness with respect to labor law," states the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in a recent report from Brussels, quoted in the July 29 weekly column "Focus on the Corporation" by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman (lists.essential.org/corp-focus). "At least one in 10 union supporters campaigning to form a union is illegally fired."

And the winners of the money primary are: Bill Bradley, who'd raised $1.2 million in Illinois as of June 30, and George W. Bush, who'd raised $830,000, according to Federal Election Commission data (www.opensecrets.org).

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