City File 

If Mayor Daley really backed community policing, he could have saved the ACLU and CANS three years of effort to make it work right. Hank DeZutter writes in "Neighborhoods" (February), newsletter of the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety: "If the word 'community' means anything in the phrase 'community policing,' Chicagoans should be able to see and read logs of public beat meetings, know how police officers are being dispatched, be informed how often the beat officer is available to the people on his or her beat, and read and analyze the long-term policing plan for their district....Yet, it took a tough lawsuit filed by the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety to release this and other basic police data for community distribution and use."

"In my neighborhood in Chicago I bring my shirts to a laundry operated by a Korean woman, recently arrived, whose English is barely adequate to enable her to conduct her business," writes University of Chicago economist Robert Lucas Jr. in the introduction to his new book Lectures on Economic Growth. "As I enter, her 3-year-old daughter is seated on the counter, being drilled in arithmetic--which she is very good at and clearly enjoys enormously. Fifteen years from now this girl will be beginning her studies at Chicago or Caltech, alongside the children of professors and Mayflower descendants." This is a vignette of economic growth, and Lucas says that it depends on two factors not immediately visible at the laundry. One factor is individual: "For income growth to occur in a society, a large fraction of people must experience changes in the possible lives they imagine for themselves and their children, and these new visions of possible futures must have enough force to lead them to change the way they behave." The other factor is social: "The mathematics and science that this girl will study and perhaps contribute to were not created by the efforts of her and her family....These are parts of the body of knowledge that is generally available for access by suitably prepared people....Without the existence of this stock, [her family's] efforts would add up to nothing, or next to nothing."

Things you would never have known without expensive research. Philip Dearborn of the Brookings Institution: "The Washington COG [Council of Governments] survey shows that those most likely to be able to telecommute and to want to do so are professional and managerial higher wage workers in the service sectors--employees in steel mills do not generally telecommute" (January 2002).

The kids aren't exactly all right. Voices for Illinois Children's statistical overview Illinois Kids Count 2002 includes the good news that infant mortality rates in Chicago have dropped from 16.4 per thousand in the late 1980s to 11.3 in the late 1990s. But low- birth-weight babies still make up about one in ten births. As the introduction states, "If we are truly dedicated to the well being of every child...then we must meet all the basic needs for all children."

"There are no American passenger-train 'experts,'" writes Chicago attorney and Amtrak Reform Council member James Coston in "Railgram" (January), who might qualify if there were any. "We passenger-train advocates have to recognize that there's a huge vacuum of knowledge and experience in this country. We have no basis for picking winners and losers at this stage of our understanding. Mail-and-express trains, seasonal vacation trains, long-distance trains that network with feeder trains at key junctions, building high-speed rail lines into hub airports, tour trains, group travel, corporate charters of whole trains or of certain cars--same deal: We don't know....The corporate memory of American passenger-train management has been decimated, no, devastated, by time and mortality and by nearly a century of neglect on the part of our national policy makers."

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