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State Stix

Milestones

The Crow Island Elementary School building in Winnetka celebrated its 50th birthday in October. It is on the National Register for Historic Places, and the school has applied for national landmark status. Among the architects who worked on the building were Eliel and Eero Saarinen.

The design of Crow Island School is based on the educational philosophy of Charleton Washburne, who served as Winnetka superintendent from 1919-1943. Washburne believed that children are individuals who should be allowed to progress at their own pace. The school is designed as a children's village, with child-size furniture and fixtures. A beloved feature is the "Pioneer Room" with a life-size log cabin, including fireplace and period furnishings and utensils.

The school's one-story design had many imitators, but few equals. Those who focused on details rather than purpose missed the point.

Source: Christine Winter, "Winnetka school is 50," Chicago Tribune, October 28, 1990.

The first in North America

French technology and U.S. investors have teamed up in Illinois to create "the most modem, fully automated brick production plant in North America.'' The first brick left the kiln February 28. The plant is located in Marseilles (pronounced Mar-sales) on the Illinois River. The town was founded in 1835 by Lowell Kimball and named after Marseilles, France, which he saw as a model for the kind of industrial city he wanted to build in Illinois.

Marseilles Brick can spew out 62 million bricks a year untouched by human hands from the time the clay is dumped from trucks at the crushing plant until the finished bricks are unpacked at construction sites. Only 28 people are required to operate the plant. Handling, drier and kiln operations are run by programmable controllers connected to a main computer. The computerized machinery was developed by Ceric, S.A., a French-based, multinational corporation.

Brickmaking in Illinois used to be a family business. It declined sharply in recent years because there was no one to succeed the original owners, and tougher environmental regulations made it necessary to modernize plants.

Sources: DiMeo and Associates, Chicago; Illinois River Area Chamber of Commerce, Marseilles.

Chicago Shimpo: 45 years

Chicago Shimpo is a biweekly Japanese language newspaper that began publishing on November 15, 1945, and has a circulation of about 5,000. It covers national and international news in Japanese and has local news, features and obituaries in English. In April, Frank Takeo Sugano, president of Chicago Shimpo Inc., gave the Illinois State Historical Library a complete collection of back issues and a subscription. Chicago Shimpo is now preserved on microfilm as part of the library's collection of 5,000 newspapers.

"Almost a half century of Japanese-American history is in the paper,'' says editor Kay Kawaguchi. New subscribers tend to be business-people or students from Japan. Many of the original subscribers have retired or died, and third and fourth generation Japanese Americans don't understand Japanese, she says. Chicago Shimpo has some downstate readers; it also serves five other midwestern states.

Source: Kay Kawaguchi, Chicago Shimpo.

A decade against discrimination

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (DHR) had its 10th anniversary in May 1990. The department's job is to issue, receive, investigate, conciliate, settle and dismiss charges of illegal discrimination. It also monitors state agencies, boards, commissions, colleges, universities and public contractors for fair employment practices and compliance with state affirmative action and equal opportunity laws.

In fiscal 1981, DHR's first full fiscal year, there were 2,382 charges of discrimination. In fiscal 1989 there were 5,077 charges.

In fiscal 1990, using a new classification system, DHR logged 4,387 charging parties, 6,053 bases for discrimination (sex, race, age, handicap, etc.) and 7,376 issues (alleged harms).

Employment has always been the main area of discrimination and race the main basis of discrimination in complaints filed with the department.

Source: Dick Battles, DHR.

A decade for human rights

Created at the same time as DHR, the Illinois Human Rights Commission decides cases presented to it by the department. In terms of defining discriminatory practices and providing recourse to people who could not get satisfaction elsewhere, executive director David Strauss lists the following as the commission's most important cases during its first decade:

Kent Jones et al v Chicago Transit Authority, filed March 25, 1985, and settled out of court February 22, 1989. The issue was lack of access to Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses for people confined to wheelchairs. The CTA agreed to install lifts on most buses.

Lynda Savage v Illinois Department of Corrections, filed October 3, 1985, and decided February 8, 1988. This case defined sexual harrassment to include verbal abuse. Savage received attorneys' fees, backpay, reinstatement and damages.

Craig Kincaid v Village of Bellwood, filed May 5, 1985, and decided November 3,1981 and Leslie Smith v Cook County Sheriffs Department, filed July 5, 1983, and decided October 31, 1985. In both cases the issue was racial harrassment. When police officer Smith complained, he was fired; when correctional officer Smith complained, he was given an involuntary transfer. Kincaid received attorneys' fees, back pay, reinstatement and damages; Smith received damages.

Source: David Strauss, executive director, Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Playing the float

The general funds end-of-month balance for November was $70.491 million. This positive balance was possible only because the comtroller delayed $171 million in transfers and payments. The average daily available balance in November was $165.445 million.

Source: Office of the Comptroller.

Unemployment rates

In November the nation's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, up from 5.7 percent in October. A year ago it was 5.3 percent. Illinois' rate was 6.0 percent, up from 5.9 percent. A year ago it was 6.5 percent

The state's civilian work force consisted 6,044 million people in November; 5,682 million had jobs (a record for the month), and 362,000 were looking for work.

Holiday hiring by retail merchants and the U.S. post office went up; seasonal agricultural construction and outdoor recreation hiring went down. Over the year, nonfarm employment rose by 0.2 percent; manufacturing fell by 0.3 percent.

Final unemployment rates in September for the state's metro areas were:

Aurora-Elgin, 6.1 percent.
Bloomington-Normal, 4.1 percent.
Champaign-Urbana-Rantoul, 3.8 percent
Chicago, 6.5 percent.
Davenport, Rock Island, Moline (Illinois sector), 6.5 percent,
Decatur, 7.6 percent.
Joliet, 6.8 percent.
Kankakee, 7.2 percent.
Lake County, 4.1 percent.
Peoria, 6.3 percent.
Rockford, 6.1 percent.
Springfield, 4.6 percent.
St. Louis (Illinois sector), 7.7 percent.

Source: Department of Employment Security
Margaret S. Knoepfle

6/January 1991/Illinois Issues


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