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On Bird's book review

Editor: While leafing through the November Issues, I was reminded again of why it is difficult to take the magazine seriously. The cover story on University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry was bad enough, a typical puff piece that neither analyzed nor examined Ikenberry as an educator and which failed to shed any light on the beliefs and values that set the tone at the state's largest institution of higher education.

But the review of Frank Sullivan's book on Mayor Daley the elder hits a new low, I think. From its opening sentence — "My friend Frank Sullivan has written a dandy book." —to its cloying last line —" . . . this book is a credit to its subject and its author." — the review epitomizes the kind of uncritical croneyism (sic) that marks too many of the magazine's offerings.

Fred Bird, a political flack, has reviewed the "insider's" book of another flack and decided that the book's uncritical portrait of Daley is some kind of contribution to our knowledge of Daley and of Chicago politics. Sullivan, according to Bird, has offered a "balanced view," even though the review suggests that the book makes no mention of some of the major elements of Daley's legacy — the country's most segregated housing patterns and its worst school system.

To take a book like Sullivan's seriously is bad enough. To find a reviewer whose judgment has apparently been impaired by friendship with the author and by a terminal case of political junkeyism only compounds the problem. The result suggests why Illinois Issues may never outgrow its reputation as velvet-gloved house organ for the powers that be in Illinois.

Richard J. Shereikis

Professor of English

Sangamon State University


Fred Bird was chosen to review Sullivan's book not because of his acquaintance with the author but because, as press secretary to Gov. Ogilvie, he knew the period and the players well. Editor

On clean air and acid rain: Who pays?

Editor: Bill Kemp's attempt to explain the complexity of pending clean air legislation ("Tough acid rain provisions of new Clean Air Act," January 1990, pp. 21-23) only scratches the surface. The tough question is, "How can Congress save coal mining jobs and be fair to the majority of Illinois residents who are already paying higher electric rates for a clean environment?"

About 70 percent of Illinois' population is served by Commonwealth Edison. Over 80 percent of the electricity Edison provides to them comes from nuclear plants that produce no sulfur. Most of the balance comes from plants burning costly low sulfur fuels. Our rates are higher because we have one of the cleanest systems in the country. In fact, Edison is already far below the president's emissions limits at all but one plant.

Forcing our customers to pay even more to subsidize the cleanup of "dirty" utilities would unfairly drain money and jobs from northern Illinois. Some "cost sharing" proposals would cost our largest customers up to $250,000 per year and these are generally highly competitive companies in the steel and automotive industries. Our largest governmental customers like the Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago Housing Authority and municipalities would also be hard hit, forcing taxes up. Of course, every residential consumer would be forced to "contribute."

Nobody shared our customers' costs to reduce sulfur emissions. Now it's time for those who currently pay very low electric bills to get started with their own cleanup — without putting coal miners out of work.

John S. Maxson

Director of Government Affairs

Commonwealth Edison


Readers: Your comments on articles and columns are welcome. Please keep letters brief (250 words); we reserve the right to excerpt them so as many as space allows can be published. Send your letter to

Caroline Gherardini, Editor

Illinois Issues

Sangamon State University

Springfield, Illinois 62794-9243

March 1990/Illinois Issues/11

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