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Let's see, there's a war on drugs and a big campaign against guns . . . Number of vehicles city police report impounding during 1996 as part of weapons arrests: 1,200. As part of narcotics arrests: 1,250. As part of prostitution arrests: 1,500.

"One of the most important things [the Metropolitan Planning Council] can do is to foster metropolitan governance," real estate developer Ferd Kramer tells MPC's "Regional Connection" (Fall). "This is something that everyone will tell you is impossible, but other cities have done it. It is the antithesis to what the politicians in Chicago want, but it's the only answer to a viable community. The population of the city has gone down and the population of the suburbs has gone up, and the only solution is to have an overall plan for the development of the area and an administration for the implementation of the plan."

Sloshed. According to a recent Woodstock Institute report, the number of liquor stores per 100,000 residents in Cook County zip code areas with median incomes under $30,000 a year: 16. In zip code areas with median incomes over $38,000: 7.

Share the wealth. According to a recent survey by Northern Illinois University's Center for Governmental Studies, 63 percent of Illinoisans favor a fundamental change in school funding: they want to have property taxes from business and industry distributed statewide, rather than in just the communities where the businesses are located. A surprising 47 percent said they would favor such a change even if it meant their own school district got less money. The level of support is higher than for the more commonly discussed "tax swap," which would pay for schools by raising the income tax and lowering property taxes.

Freedom's just another word for no Chiclets left to lose. "Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore, the country rated first by the editors of the Wall Street Journal in their Index of Economic Freedom," reports the Progressive Review On-Line Report (January 31). "If you get caught ordering gum by mail order you can be fined $6,000."

"The Amalgamated is, in fact, Chicago's most political bank, a sort of solvent version of Arkansas's Madison Guaranty, making loans to Illinois politicians of both parties," writes Doug Ireland in the Nation (February 3). "So it was no surprise that when Bill Daley became its president he aggressively pursued taxpayer-financed business and the bank received lucrative no-bid contracts, like a $65 million bond issue from the Chicago Park District, or a $100 million bond issue from the Regional Transportation Authority (whose chairman was the senior vice president of the Chicago office of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, which at the time had received more than $750,000 in underwriting fees from the city during Richie Daley's mayoralty). Some of the deals were small ones--like when the Cook County clerk 'accidentally' left $6.8 million in a non-interest-bearing account at Amalgamated after receiving a $150,000 loan as well as campaign contributions from the bank."

Would a "fashion mall" in ritzy North Barrington promote sprawl? Not if Chicago consultants Clarion Associates had their way. According to their newsletter, "Clarion News" (Winter), "We recommended an innovative program to use some of the net tax revenues to control potential retail sprawl around the mall"--by buying up nearby retail sites, or just enough of them to make it hard for competitors to put together another retail complex. "Unlike the mall opponents, we saw the project as the key to a pro-active growth management opportunity rather than a threat."

In the beginning there was the King. In the end there was just a fat guy on drugs. Artist and art professor Ronald Abram on his exhibit at ARC Gallery: "Like the book of Genesis, Elvis's is a story that begins with optimism and ends with the regrets of being human."

If you weren't mentally disturbed beforehand, you might be afterward. Consulting attorney Jana Blackman of Thresholds, a treatment and advocacy organization for the mentally ill, on problems in siting group homes: "A predominantly white community group may make remarks about Thresholds, saying they don't want African Americans or 'crazy' people in their community. African American groups have accused Thresholds of being racist for targeting their neighborhoods as 'dumping grounds for crazy people.' We can't win....We can and do meet with community representatives in a respectful atmosphere and that is always our preference. If an alderman or elected official is present sometimes the meeting is more orderly." But this is Chicago. "Once an alderman and state senator led the charge and the name calling. A former alderman once put his fist through the wall at one of our meetings" (Thresholds Open Door, winter).

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