The City File 

Bring on the cats! U. of I. finance professor Roger Cannaday checked more than 1,000 north-side condominium sales and found that condos with covenants allowing cats sell for an average 10 percent more than those that allow cats and dogs--and, "surprisingly, a cats-only covenant added 5 percent more value compared to a covenant forbidding all pets."

OK, kids, now we're going to learn about democracy: choose among preselected, packaged candidates with only marginal differences whose election won't make any difference anyway. According to the newsletter Moments (September), the Futurekids computer-teaching franchises are having their own presidential election: "Kids can vote for Mickey Mouse or Reader Rabbit or Sticky Bear. Each has a platform. Mickey, for example, will give free passes to Disney World, but requires all kids to be in bed by 6 pm."

Chicago's baby landmarks do not include the first rest room with a diaper-changing table. According to the newsletter of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (August), they are significant buildings not yet 50 years old. "Because buildings tend to undergo major rehabilitation after twenty-five years, we are concerned that their integrity may become threatened." Among their picks: the Illinois Institute of Technology, the John Hancock Building, Inland Steel (30 W. Monroe), First National Bank (Dearborn at Madison), and Marina City and Towers.

"Though the Horner Homes lie only two miles west of the Loop, they are as remote as a foreign country to many residents of the Chicago area," notes the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago News (Fall), recapping author Alex Kotlowitz's speech at LAFC's annual dinner: "Kotlowitz illustrated the mutuality of misunderstandings that result from this isolation--while suburban commuters heading to downtown Chicago often avoid window seats for fear of a stray bullet from the housing projects they pass, Kotlowitz witnessed children from Henry Horner jumping in ditches as the trains passed, fearing the passengers might shoot at them."

The Year of the Cute Little Woman. Extra! (September) complains that a June 3 New York Times story on the California Senate race referred to Barbara Boxer, who has been in Congress for ten years, as a "former Marin County housewife." "When have we heard reference to 'former paperboy Arlen Specter'?"

"I think there's some kind of stigma attached to something that advertises on the L. People think we're like a beauty school," says Hollis Theriault, a student at Shimer College--which advertises on the el and which could hardly be less like a beauty school--in the Monitor (Summer), a publication of the Medill School of Journalism.

"The School Board, along with the governor, the Legislature and the mayor, has built new, ongoing expenses--mainly higher salaries--into its budget each year but has failed to build in new ongoing revenue to keep up with those expenses. It's like someone on a fixed income moving to a more expensive apartment each year," writes Linda Lenz in Catalyst (September), in an insightful summary of the Chicago Public Schools' two decades of governance-by-crisis. "During the 1970s, the board lived on credit. Almost every year, it borrowed more money to cover escalating costs until, in 1979, it went bankrupt." But even the formation of the School Finance Authority hasn't changed things much. "Instead of raising taxes to pay for higher expenses, they patched together a string of one-time sources of revenue. In other words, the fixed-income renter used a Christmas bonus one year, an inheritance from Aunt Harriet the next and then winnings from Friday night poker games."

Is there really a war on drugs? State budget for drug treatment programs in 1991: $138 million. 1992: $124.5 million. 1993: $116.9 million (Chicago Reporter, September).

"To all the rights of victims, add the right to be incomprehensible," writes Cathy Young in Reason (October). "At a conference of the National Council for Research on Women last June, when one of the participants suggested that the insularity and abstruseness of feminist theory was partly responsible for its poor public image, another woman immediately protested, 'Isn't it too much of a burden on the oppressed to ask that they not only develop a theory of their oppression but that they make sure it's understood?'"

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

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