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Percentage of Chicago-area adults owning cellular phones, according to a Media Audit news release: 28.

Cheapest Illinois lobbyist of 1994, according to reports filed with the secretary of state: "The Illinois Association of School Business Officials, whose annual lobbying expenditures totaled $1.75--for a single beverage."

"Domestic violence explains much about the difficulty of making the journey from welfare to work," Jody Raphael, of the Taylor Institute on North Wolcott, writes in Poverty & Race (January/February): "The Chicago Commons West Humboldt Employment Training Center (ETC)...has discovered a strong connection between domestic violence and long-term welfare receipt....Participants do not come to basic skills classes regularly, because their attendance provokes violent behavior against them. Their decision to improve their skills and seek employment threatens their abusers, who prefer them to stay dependent. Coming to the ETC program is itself an act of resistance which most often exacerbates the violence. Staff see women with visible bruises, black eyes and cigarette burns, inflicted by abusers in the hope that their victims will be too embarrassed to come to school....Training programs, however well-intentioned, that do not address this issue are doomed to failure. Welfare reform schemes, including those providing public service jobs, cannot succeed if welfare recipients remain in the grip of their abusers."

"Critical mass" now refers not to radioactive matter but to a deliberately obstructive mass of cyclists moving from point to point during rush hour. Readers of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation News (February) don't seem too supportive of the tactic, which has spread to 34 North American cities, including Chicago (which held its first annual critical-mass ride last October). CBF's Randy Neufeld says these riders are expressing "anger that I also feel; automobile traffic has destroyed our communities. [But] I'd rather that they were organizing their neighbors, getting them to address the designs that make traffic what it is. For example, when a neighborhood chooses to put in a strip mall instead of improving [existing] storefronts in the shopping district, or when they get a Checkers instead of a neighborhood-oriented restaurant, they've decided that people want to drive more. Going out and just riding down the street, just blocking traffic, nowhere in there is a suggestion as to: How can I be saved? You're not telling people what their options are. You're just saying, 'If you got out of your car you'd be good like me.'"

Another growing business. Pounds of food distributed by the Greater Chicago Food Depository in 1985: 14 million. In 1994: 25 million.

Rights for (almost) everyone. The categories of people whose rights are explained in 21 handbooks sold by the ACLU: aliens, artists, authors, candidates, creative people, crime victims, the critically ill, employees, gay men, government-information seekers, Indians, lesbians, older persons, parents, patients, prisoners, privacy seekers, protesters, public employees, racial minorities, refugees, single people, students, teachers, union members, voters, and women. Not available: property owners, gun owners.

Things Republicans can't do--yet. "Tinkering with the state's school aid formula is also reportedly off the fast track," writes Rich Miller in Illinois Politics (January). "Pate Philip and Lee Daniels both favor altering the formula to give wealthier suburban districts more state money. The high-tax, high-wealth suburbs currently get very few state dollars for their schools. The political realities of such a plan are quite bleak, however. More money to the suburbs would mean less money to downstate and Chicago. Observers say there just aren't enough votes on both sides of the aisle to accomplish such a feat in the session's opening days, if ever."

Elvisness is next to godliness, according to U. of I. communications-research doctoral student Gilbert Rodman: Elvis's status as a contemporary god "helps to make him what any good deity should be: an omnipresent force within the culture that worships him."

"That we no longer call ourselves citizens but taxpayers signifies a profound shift in the way we relate to the state," writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Issues (January). "We see ourselves, in effect, as customers of democracy. The model for the relationship between voter and representative, between follower and leader, is that of the shopper and the merchant. Small surprise that the first weeks of the most recent Illinois gubernatorial campaign was fixated on commercials that introduced a new and improved Dawn Clark Netsch. No surprise either that, unlike every other Western democracy, the U.S. discards its former presidents as if they were old cars....The expectation of quick service and instant satisfaction...has left millions of people frustrated and resentful, feeling vaguely defrauded by politicians who claim the privileges of leaders without performing like them."

"Racism, which would seem to have a certain unique status as an evil in American history, is made equal to sexism as a thought crime," complains Richard Bernstein in his new book Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America's Future, "even though men in the West have typically 'oppressed' women, in part, by putting them on pedestals, while they have oppressed blacks by hanging them from ropes."

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

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