The City File 

The city's blue-bag recycling program is bad news because it's too easy? "We think the [City of Chicago] blue bag program is a step backward for recycling," Rod Meshenberg of the Resource Center tells David Cohen in Compass (December), newsletter of the Chicago Audubon Society. "Source separation [instead would] let participants get in the habit of reusing instead of simply disposing recyclables. The city program lets people simply dispose instead of saving material. I don't know if it's really interested in recycling education."

Calling all trichotillomaniacs! Our favorite new Illinois self-help group among those listed in Mental Health Advocate (Summer/Fall): "H.P.A. (Hair-Pullers Anonymous) helps those suffering from trichotillomania or compulsive hair-pulling."

"We have probably cornered the market on insect reestablishment," Northeastern Illinois University biologist Ron Panzer tells the Conservator (Winter), newsletter of the Nature Conservancy's Illinois chapter. Along with biologist George Derkovitz, Panzer spent more than 600 hours last summer capturing larvae of the extremely rare rattlesnake master moth, feeding them rotten carrots, watching them pupate, and then releasing about 75 newly emerged moths at Indian Boundary Prairies, just south of I-57 and the Tri-State in Markham.

Just a little tryout. Cynthia Gelper quotes Chicago Catholic Women founder Sister Donna Quinn in In These Times (December 13): "Instead of father, father, father, let's use female terms--God as woman, mother, grandmother--for a couple of centuries and see how it sits. I think our daughters deserve it."

You have a troubled school, according to veteran education writer John Merrow in Illinois School Board Journal (November-December, reprinted from the School Administrator), (1) when "most teachers can't wait to get away" at the end of the school day, (2) when the principal is always hidden in the office ("an active, visible principal is basic to any good school"), or (3) when the school is too big for even an active principal to know every child.

Only one area hospital is in both the top ten most profitable and the top ten in offering free care, according to a Chicago Reporter (December) survey by Ruth Richman. It's Norwegian American, with an 8.2 percent profit margin and 4 percent free care. Most profitable were Central DuPage in Winfield (15.4 percent), Palos Community in Palos Heights (14.4), and Saint Francis in Evanston (13.8). Most generous were city institutions Children's Memorial (17.9 percent free care), Illinois Masonic (9.2), and Mount Sinai (8.5).

Dept. of things that only seem like accidents. From west-suburban WYLL FM talk jock Dick Staub: "First century Christians were described as people who outthought, outlived and outdied the rest of the culture. But in our culture, we're not known as people who think."

Running in opposite directions. State subsidy per mass-transit ride, 1985: 18 cents. In 1992: 37 cents. In seven years state funding rose from $136 million to $235 million, while transit ridership statewide declined from 768 million to 640 million (Comptroller's Fiscal Report, October).

Was Pat Quinn responsible for the Chicago school-funding crisis of 1993? "Today both major parties have political wastelands in Illinois," writes Paul Green in Illinois Issues (December). "Republican legislators are an endangered species in Chicago while Democratic House members from DuPage County are extinct....Back under cumulative voting [prior to Pat Quinn's 1980 amendment that abolished the practice and reduced the size of the house by a third], both parties had representatives elected in each other's strongholds... [forcing] legislative leaders to concern themselves with issues and problems facing voters who were mainly against their party's policy positions. The Democratic leaders, for example, needed caucus support from the independent-minded Democratic legislators elected, say, from a Republican-dominated DuPage County district. The demand to compromise and negotiate in order to pull together the entire party caucus forced an often unwilling leadership to deal. Now, Republicans in Springfield can walk away from Chicago's needs without much worry of political repercussions while Democrats can do the same with issues facing most of the collar counties."

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

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