The City File | City File | Chicago Reader

The City File 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

The killer building at 311 S. Wacker. "Every day in September and October [1990] we found dead birds concentrated on the north side of the building"--the 65-story skyscraper topped by giant glowing cylinders across from the Sears Tower--"obviously southbound migrants that had struck the building at night," writes Chicago Birder coeditor Allan Welby. "Hermit thrushes, Lincoln sparrows, ovenbirds, ruby-crowned kinglets, brown thrashers--a total of 19 species found dead on the sidewalks." Janitors at 311 told him that "hundreds" more were killed at the top of the building: "Their first duty at sunrise was to clean up the dead birds." But according to the property manager, turning off the dangerously attractive lighted cylinders during spring and fall migrations was "out of the question, since those lights are a signature element of the property." Reflects Welby, "On November 1, a magnificent, finely colored woodcock was the last bird I found dead at the site during the 1990 fall migration. Such an odd place to find a woodcock, in the middle of downtown Chicago. Its presence is just an example of how each spring and fall, hundreds of species fly high over the city on their way to warmer climes for the winter, or to northern breeding grounds for the summer." Good luck, fellas.

Announcements we wish we'd written. From a Wisconsin real estate firm planning to sell off a 1,800-acre orchard in small pieces: "This would be a reverse expansion..."

"Daley has not rebuffed community groups, but he hasn't embraced them either," concludes David Moberg in a survey of the mayor's policy toward neighborhood investment (The Neighborhood Works, April/May). "On the one hand, Daley put many community housing group leaders on the Affordable Housing Task Force and agreed to a neighborhood advisory board for future capital investment decisions. But he has failed to make effective use of neighborhood-based groups on other important issues, such as renewal or cancellation of Commonwealth Edison's electricity franchise and recycling....With the political opposition to Daley issue groups will take an even greater role in offering alternatives to the Daley agenda. Daley will try to blunt their impact by making concessions that neither cost much nor clash with his megaproject priorities....The test for the neighborhood groups will be, more than ever, mustering political clout....They will have to demonstrate that they really do speak for the neighborhoods and the people who live there."

"A person with strong values, but not a fixed point of view or a predetermined agenda" would be the ideal director of a new Ford Foundation program in human rights and democratic governance. Translation by Richard Neuhaus in First Things (March): "What is someone with strong convictions about nothing in particular."

death, where is thy sting? Most federal agencies do not use death data readily available from the Social Security Administration, reports the General Accounting Office in "Federal Benefit Payments," a February 1991 report. "We demonstrated the value of obtaining and using SSA's death information by matching it with DOD [Department of Defense], Labor, OPM [Office of Personnel Management], and RRB [Railroad Retirement Board] payment files. The match showed that for September 1989, these agencies paid benefits to 5,935 beneficiaries who had been listed as deceased in SSA's records at least 3 months earlier (June 1989). We estimated that these beneficiaries' accounts received potentially erroneous payments of $4.3 million per month."

History keeps piling up. The Illinois State Museum in Springfield is still seeking "typical wedding gifts in 1975" for its forthcoming exhibit "At Home in the Heartland."

AIDS researchers think too small, according to University of Chicago statistician Paul Meier. Because the treatments being tested have relatively small (but real) benefits --extending life or delaying the onset of the disease--researchers need lots of data to distinguish genuine effects from statistical "noise." "To collect enough data requires either studying a long time or enrolling a lot of patients. It's to everyone's advantage to enroll a lot of patients." Meier is designing a prototype for such a large-scale study, like those conducted in heart-disease or nutrition research.

That's either up 30, or down 7 percent. Number of minorities in top city jobs, January 1989: 419 of 754 (56 percent). January 1991: 449 of 917 (49 percent) (Chicago Reporter, March).

There's never a language cop around when you need one. From downstate Bloomington's Up Front Gallery: "The concept of 'photo-manipulation' is left up to the disgression of entrants."

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

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Harold Henderson

Popular Stories