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Contents                     August/September 1993


Vol. XIX    No. 8 & 9
Established 1975


Surevying the flood damage



More flood damaged areas
the drain

Brett D.


Cover illustration: The town of Meyer, population 120, was among scores of villages and cities inundated by the floodwaters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. This issue contains two stories about the Great Flood of '93. Jennifer Halperin traces the history of efforts to tame the Mississippi for commerce and asks whether future policies for flood control will bow to the might of the mighty Mississippi. Brett Johnson tallies up the cost of the flood far from the saturated towns, fields and roadways along the river's shores. All the residents of Meyer, an Adams County community north of Quincy, were relocated after a levee broke. The grain elevator pictured here is owned by the Ursa Farmers Co-op Company, according to Adams County Sheriff Robert Nail. Before the levee broke. Nail reports, prison inmates worked to place sandbags around the elevator, and they are now helping with cleanup efforts in the county. The church building, with its cross visible above the water line, is no longer used for religious services, Nail says. Photo by Terry Farmer.

Howard A. Peters III
Can prison
inmates be



6/August & September 1993/Illinois Issues

Cartoon of Pate Phillips

® 1993 The State Journal Register, Springfield

the higher
education beast



Dan Walker
Dan Walker, the
last Democrat
to be governor?

Taylor Pensoneau
Bob Ellis


Legislative Action Special Section

Children come first, family preservation second
Jennifer Halperin __________ 50

Tax credits, some regulatory relief for business
Beverley Scobell __________ 51

No giant steps for either labor or business
Jennifer Halperin __________ 52

No green light for environment
Jennifer Halperin __________ 53

Gun control: the status remains quo
Jennifer Halperin __________ 54

No one completely happy with welfare action
Jennifer Halperin __________ 55

Carjacking yet another 'get tough' crime
Beverley Scobell __________ 56

Steps taken to manage prison overcrowding
Beverley Scobell __________ 57


Making deals Illinois-style
Charles N. Wheeler III ______ 8

Guest Column
Top college students have no respect for, or interest in state government careers
Samuel K. Gove __________ 12

The state of the State
Surprise! Stricter lobbying law for reporting influence in legislature and agencies
Jennifer Halperin__________ 14

Chicago still waiting for great expectations promised by Clinton
Manuel Galvan ___________ 70


Letters ________________ 13

Judicial Rulings
F. Mark Siebert __________ 60

James Pollock ____________ 62

Book Reviews
Slim's Table
destroys black male stereotype

Rosalind A. Morgan ________ 63

State Reports
Anna J. Merritt __________ 65

State Stix
The state of the State of Illinois

Donald Sevener __________ 68

Esprit de Pol _________ back cover

August & September 1993/Illinois Issues/7

Living in St. Louis at the time, I still remember standing in the mud along the river. My job was simple: help pile the sandbags to stop the river from flooding the southern part of the metro area. It wasn't my neighborhood, but I wanted to help. Thankfully, the place where I provided a little assistance was spared from floodwater. What I recall even more, however, is that many people called that flood of '73 the big one.

Not any more.

The scope of the 1993 "big one" is almost incomprehensible. The Mississippi River from Minnesota to Missouri. The Raccoon River in Des Moines. The Missouri River in numerous places. The Illinois River backing up. From June to August, the story got bigger as the flooding got worse. Town after town held its community breath day after day, hoping against hope that the levees protecting its businesses, houses and farms would hold on. In many cases, perhaps most, the rivers won.

In the midst of it all. Jay Leno commented that in other places where natural disasters strike, one common reaction is looting and stealing by others. But in the Midwest, what you find is people helping people with sandbagging, food, water and donations of money. People in the Midwest must be different, Leno noted.

Perhaps so. I'm sure many people grew weary of seeing pictures and reading headlines about the flood. But most disasters fires, tornadoes and earthquakes strike quickly and leave behind the devastation to be cleaned up. This flood is different. It developed over a period of many days and left its destruction over a geographical area of thousands of square miles. The story will not go away. No way. Everywhere I've gone in the past three months, people have been talking about, asking about, wondering about, the great flood of 1993.

That led our staff to discuss how Illinois Issues could contribute to what already has been written and said. We decided to step back from the daily coverage and raise questions others are also beginning to ask. We have checked into what led to the system of levees, dams and bridges that we took so much for granted until this summer. To what extent, if any, are human decisions responsible for this flood? What is the cost in economic terms? What do the answers tell us about what our efforts at rebuilding should be?

I reminded our staff that at the magazine's Board meeting in May, board member Jim Otis of Hanover in northwestern Illinois advised us to write about society's attempts to control nature. It isn't working, he said, and offered this example: Despite all of the construction on the Mississippi's flood plains, the river will eventually win. When Otis said that, I wrote it down as a future story idea because a massive destructive flood seemed possible but not imminent. (Most of us probably have the same attitude about the theoretically likely great California earthquake.)

Not any more. The river has won, forcing all of us to ponder some very troublesome questions. Have we underestimated the power of nature? Should we rebuild everything? What should be insured, and what should be considered too high a risk? The perspective we provide in this issue is published to help you reflect on these kinds of questions.

As important as the flood story is, I want to add quickly that this annual "double issue" in August-September also includes extensive coverage of the spring legislative session of the General Assembly, where taxes, education financing and gambling were among the major issues. Our statehouse staff gives you a good summary of what happened, and looks ahead to the fall veto session.

Congratulations are in order for Rich Walsh, the former state AFL-CIO president who was honored July 30 at a huge farewell dinner in Chicago. Walsh, who recently left Illinois to become national director of the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education (COPE), was a valued member of the Illinois Issues Board. The turnout of political power at his farewell dinner House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate Minority Leader Emil Jones, U.S. Senators Paul Simon and Carol Moseley-Braun, among many others was a visible testimony to the continuing influence of labor unions in Illinois. On behalf of everyone connected with the magazine, best wishes. Rich!

Ed Wojcicki

August & September 1993/Illinois Issues/3

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