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Why can't I get WGEM on cable? The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and the League of Women Voters of Illinois have asked commercial TV stations to air five-minute nightly candidate forums during the 30 days leading up to the March 21 Illinois primary and the November 7 general election. So far just one station in the state has agreed to do so--WGEM, in downstate Quincy.

"The media's excessive reporting of out-of-the-ordinary, high-profile youth crime cases helped to create an unsubstantiated fear of African-American youth and fostered the birth of the 'super predator' icon," writes Lucretia Bailey of the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs in the organization's One City (Summer/Fall). "The icon was then used by politicians to frighten residents (both urban and suburban) and convince them that we need a special prison for this new breed of youthful killers. And the tactic worked! We now have a brand new $9 million youth prison, located at 100 N. Western in Chicago, which now sits relatively empty because the basic premise for constructing the prison, that juvenile criminals are irredeemable, was flawed."

Wedding$ for gay$. Karen Shoffner writes in Windy City Times (January 20): "People who make money off straight weddings should think seriously about how much more money they could pull down from gay and lesbian couples wanting to tie the knot legally."

Bad decisions. In 1983, 3.6 percent of American households owed more on their credit cards than they earned in a year. In 1995, 15.8 percent did. The numbers are most alarming for households that earn 100 to 150 percent of the poverty line: in 1983, 4.6 percent were in over their heads; in 1995, 23.2 percent were (Journal of Policy Analysis Management, Winter 1999, quoted in the Woodstock Institute's January publication Tools for Survival: An Analysis of Financial Literacy Programs for Lower-Income Families by Katy Jacob, Sharyl Hudson, and Malcolm Bush).

Would that be a full street map, or just the freeways? Korean war veteran James Gunn, describing the scars on his scalp in the January 17 Washington Post: "My head looks like the road map of Chicago."

"Today's single-interest groups, who call themselves environmentalists, ignore ecology while calling stridently for the preservation of a particular species or habitat," argues suburban Mundelein planning consultant Lane Kendig in Planning (January). "Planning based on ecological principles wouldn't rely solely on the usual negative prohibitions ('Don't touch the wetlands'). Instead, it would look for ways to integrate wetlands and other natural areas into stormwater and sewage management systems."

The horror of the unwashed. "Hands are the most dangerous thing in the hospital," says Dr. Robert A. Weinstein, director of infectious disease for the Cook County Bureau of Health Services ("Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly," January 13, quoting the New York Times, November 9).

Sorry, you live in God's precinct. Thomas Parkinson--cofounder and CEO of Peapod, the on-line grocery shopping service--as quoted in the January 10 Salon: "We deliver to all over Chicago, but there are some areas in Chicago where, on Sunday mornings, you can't deliver liquor. It depends upon the day and the time that you choose to have delivery. I don't know that while you're shopping, so at the point when you send your order and choose your delivery time, I need to quickly check your basket. And if this is an area that can't receive liquor, I then have to give you a warning that we can't deliver liquor to you at that time."

"When I first started working with HIV in 1986, everyone viewed it as a gay disease," says Joanne Despotes of the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago tells UIC News (November 17). "People thought I was too straight and I didn't have the background to work in a gay environment. Since then, we've seen the epidemic devastate our Hispanic and African-American communities. Even though I'd like to believe I'm culturally competent, maybe I'm considered too white. I went to an international AIDS conference in Geneva, Switzerland, last year. A man from Thailand said HIV was a disease of young people. So first I was too straight, too white, and now I might be too old."

Have you met George "Marx" Ryan? Headline from "ITEF Review" (February), newsletter of the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation on East Van Buren: "FY 2000 Illinois Budget Is Socialistic Transfer of Wealth."

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