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The City File 

"Trees must be tough to live in Chicago," according to a recent press release from the Morton Arboretum in suburban Lisle. "For a tree to grow well in the city, it must be hardy enough to withstand sub-zero winter temperatures and extreme summer heat. It must have a root system capable of surviving in confined rooting spaces and very poor soils. Trees planted close to roadways must be able to withstand pollutants, including deicing salt used on roadways and sidewalks."

And can you take virtual fall from the upper deck? According to a recent UIC press release, computer science professor Sol shatz's virtual-tourism guide to Chicago on the World Wide Web will soon make it possible "to click on a seat in Comiskey Park and view the playing field from that perspective."

"The concept of affirmative action essentially is a euphemism for reparations," writes Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (March 20), "and this point is lost when its advocates urge its expansion across race lines. African-Americans were deeply damaged by the institution of slavery; indeed, they were created by slavery. Until this society understands the need to devote itself to repairing that damage, it seems certain that we will continue to drift from crisis to crisis, until we reach one too many."

"Economics has become the Marxism-Leninism of our society - the official ideological expression of how the United States works and why it 'won' the cold War," writes chalmer ;Johnson in the Atlantic Monthly (January). "Its adepts, the professional economists of our society, have the same interest in preserving their usually tenured (in violation of market forces) positions as did the masters of ML at Moscow State University until August of 1991. The greatest single threat to their continued dominance is the prowess of the Japanese economy and the emulation of that economy by everybody else in Asia, from China to Kazakhstan....Conventional U.S. economic theory says that the state cannot be effective in the economy....But the evidence from East Asia is overwhelming. Nonadversarial relations between the pulbic and private sectors can produce safe, sane societies with astonishlingly high levels of evenly distributed income. Our theorists must either dismiss this evidence or start thinking about the only choices left to them - retooling in the Japanese language (very hard to do after age thirty-five) or early retirement."

Like getting a Nobel Prize on death row. The Cliff Dwellers Club atop Orchestra Hall on South Michigan will be dedicated as a "literary landmark" June 23 by the Friends of Libraries U.S.A. The club's landlord, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, remains determined to evict the Cliff Dwellers by May 1996.

"If we eliminated CRA (the Community Reinvestment Act), could we count on lenders to serve working-class credit needs?" asks John Taylor of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in its newsletter Reinvestment Works (Spring). "We already have a natural test of that question. Lending institutions that have no CRA obligation, mortgage companies in particular, do a dramatically poorer job in serving working-class neighborhoods....Their excuse? 'There's no law that says we have to serve those communities.'"

The more things change. "Were Mr. Gingrich....a better historian, he might be aware that Illinois' dependent familites were subject to far more draconian stricuters (than current Republican proposals) in (turn-of-the-century) pre-progressive days," writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Issues (March). "(Mothers who surrendered their infants to county poorhouses, for example, were expected also to surrender their rights to the children.) Those strictures had little apparent improving effect on the behavior of dependent families, a failure that was behind the progressives' search for alternatives. Today's AFDC dreived from an experimental mothers' pensions program adopted by Illinois in 1911. The mothers' pension was intended to enable lone mothers with children to keep their kids at home - and out of expensive state institutions such as orphanages."

Charter schools are a "smokescreen to mask (the state legislature's) failure to fund education in the state," Ken McNeil of the CityWide Coalition for School Reform tells Michael and Susan Klonsky in Catalyst (March). "There's been an implicit deal since 1988 - reform the schools, and then we'll give you the money. Well, we have reformed. We shrunk the bureaucracy and improved the schools and still there's no money."

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

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