Conscience Laureate

Monday, August 31, 2009


ROBO CALLS I love talking on the telephone. I have three different cell- phones and three landed-phone lines. For someone who is retired that might seem excessive, but I am an obsessive, compulsive person. We all hate robo calls and beginning Thursday these calls will no longer be lawful unless the telemarketer has received written permission. The provision is known as the Telemarketing Sales Rule, or TSR. Current rules block such calls only if the consumer adds a home or cell phone number to the federal Do Not Call Registry.
“Starting Sept. 1, this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "If consumers think they're being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them." I am excited about this new law because I know it will be violated and I love complaining. (Unauthorized calls can be reported to the commission on-line https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ or at (877) 382-4357.) Telemarketers who violate the new rule are subject to fines of up to $16,000 a call. With Caller ID, it will be easy to prove who the telemarkter is. Even if they block the ID, I will listen to the call and have the info to report them. What I find so ironic about the new law is that politicians are exempt from the new rule. That, to me, is the real story. But there is at least one politician who feels all robo calls should be prohibited. Illinois State Rep. Jack Franks tried to pass a law banning political robo calls in 2000. He even tried for a provision, that if such calls could not be banned, the pre-recorded announcement would have to identify where the call was coming from. This came about because of a vicious Anti-Semitic robo call campaign that had been targeted against him. Franks could not even get the bill out of committee. Franks said that if he runs for Illinois Governor and wins, he would pass an executive order banning politicians from placing robo calls. He feels politicians should be held to the same legal standards as a business. We have not heard that one before.

Friday, August 28, 2009


SCALPING OLYMPIC TICKETS Last year I attended a forum where I questioned Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan abut the cost of tickets to attend Olympic events. In his speech Ryan spoke of how the Olympics were for “the children of Chicago,” as he played staged footage of CPS students excited at the idea that the games might be here. I asked Ryan how the “children of Chicago,” would be able to afford Olympic tickets when they couldn’t afford tickets to a Cubs, Sox or Bears game. He replied that the Committee hoped that businesses would sponsor tickets for children to attend the games. Well, I think the recently released Chicago Civic Federation report will disabuse that notion! Their report estimates that opening tickets will sell for $1,645 (add another $148 for amusement tax) and tickets to the men’s soccer finals would cost $486. You tell me what corporation is going to “sponsor” a child to attend those events! Ryan did also say that viewing of rowing events would be free at the lakefront. I asked some children if they cared about rowing events and I could not find a single one who cared to even watch it on TV. David Greising, in his column in the Chicago Tribune, wrote, “The Civic Federation gave a remarkably robust go-ahead to the Olympics bid on Wednesday. The financial watchdog group's president, Laurence Msall, stepped before microphones in City Hall and declared that the Chicago 2016 projection of a $451 million financial surplus is "fair and reasonable." Greising continued with, “Take a careful look at Msall's report, and one can only wonder: Did he read the darn thing? Greising did his own analysis of the Federation report and points out that , “Between now and the Games, a mere 1 percent difference in the annual growth rate of sponsorship revenue adds up to a $234 million shortfall. A 10 percent increase in construction costs would lop $146 million from the budgeted surplus, not that construction projects in Chicago ever go over budget. Employee benefits are budgeted at 25 percent of salary, when the going rate in Chicago is 30 percent, the report notes. The cost difference? Some $25.5 million. The bid committee budgets $9 million in outside legal costs. That may sound like a lot, but it's less than one-third the estimate of the bid committee's own legal department, which pegged the cost at between $25 million and $40 million.” I also ask, did Laurence Msall read his own committee’s report before his held his City Hall press conference? Maybe the 100 plus page review was too long for him to finish and he just went with the “good parts.” The only fact I know about 2016 is that if we get the Olympics, I will not attend a single event. I will buy tickets and sell them at a premium. I will need the profit to help pay my share of the cost over-runs bill to taxpayers when the games are concluded.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


METER PARKING IN CHICAGO--SOME THOUGHTS I rarely drive my car. Living downtown, I walk or take a cab. There are those two historic occasions when I took a bus, but that might not happen again for years. If I am driving my car it is probably to a restaurant that has valet parking, someone’s house in the suburbs with a driveway or a store with a parking lot. Since I have never parked at a meter, I obviously have never parked where I would have to use one of the new meter pay stations. Yesterday when I was walking and watching a meter enforcement aide, (That is their official title. I checked with the Department of Human resources of the City of Chicago), checking the windshields of cars to see if they had the meter receipts on the dashboard, I had a few thoughts about this new type of pay parking. As I observed the aide, I noticed she just quickly walked by each car and did not closely peer at the receipt on the dashboard to ascertain the time and date stamp. She just casually eye-balled to see if a receipt were there. It makes one wonder if people who meter park often, just keep using the same receipt and hope for the best? John Kass in his Tribune column on Wednesday wondered about what is going to happen in the winter when a storm occurs and covers the windshield of a car with ice and snow. I started thinking about that also. The snow will block the view of the dashboard and the meter enforcement aides will have to scrap the windshield of each car to be able to see if a parking receipt is in place. How much time will that take? Isn’t there a safety risk for the aide who now has to physically stand in the street and try to avoid moving traffic as they scrap the windshield? Won’t the process of checking receipts be slowed down tremendously? Is scraping the windshield of a car in the union contract for meter enforcement aides? Another problem with the removal of the physical parking meters is that there are no delineated spaces anymore. One can park anywhere on the street now. I saw some cars parked that had obviously come in early and they were positioned at a distance from the corner that actually reduced how many cars could now fit at the curb. The cars were unevenly spaced because there were no lines to define exactly where they should park. A street that could hold ten cars might now only hold nine. Why wouldn’t the city paint the curbs to indicate where a car should park? If a street now holds nine cars instead of ten, isn’t that costing revenue? Mayor Daley admitted, “"The implementation was not good at all from the city's side.” in speaking about the privatization of the parking meters. The city has about three months before snow starts falling on the windshields of cars and obscures the parking receipts. City Hall better start working on a solution now and I don’t think praying for global warming will be the answer!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


SENATOR DAVID HOFFMAN? On June 7th, I posted a blog called CHICAGO CITY INSPECTOR GENERAL NOT AN INSPECTOR GADGET where I lauded the work of Inspector General David Hoffman. “It’s important for the public to know that independent offices like this exist and to know what they do,” Hoffman said. “You can’t live in a cave and expect to be successful.” Hoffman has been taking no prisoners in his fight against corruption in City Hall. Hoffman’s term as Inspector General was to be up in October and there had been speculation whether Mayor Daley would renew Hoffman’s contract. All conjecture on that topic was ended today when Carol Marin and Fran Spielman of the Sun Times wrote; in a breaking story that, “Chicago's corruption-fighting Inspector General David Hoffman has resigned to enter the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, removing a giant thorn from Mayor Daley's side.”
While there are surely screams of ecstasy emanating from the 5th floor of city hall that a dreaded nemesis is gone, there must be tears of sadness being shed in the senate campaign offices of Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and even Republican Mark Kirk.
There are millions of voters who live in Chicago and we have witnessed, almost daily, the work of a man who energized the Inspector General’s office and brought influential power-brokers to their knees. Hoffman is a force to be reckoned with.
I don’t know what kind of political operation Hoffman has because I have never heard one referred to. Patrick Collins, who worked with Hoffman as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office and on the Governor’s Ethics panel, said in a Tribune story in June “He understands politics, but is not political.”
How will a non-politician fare in a race against seasoned opponents? Expect it to be very spicy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


SMOKERS MINORITY; DRINKERS MAJORITY According to a story in Tuesday’s Tribune, more than 21% of Illinois adults smoke--which is higher than the national average. Chicago is the second most expensive city in which to smoke in the United States. (The story did not say what the most expensive city is, but I am guessing New York.) Also fascinating in the story was the fact that the group that smokes the most is the mentally ill. The Tribune wrote, “Studies have identified a common genetic vulnerability to mental illness and nicotine addiction, “said Brian Hitsman, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University who researches tobacco use among psychiatric patients. People with mental illness smoke at nearly twice the rate of those without such disorders.” So if we juxtapose the facts that Illinoisans smoke more than the national average and that people with mental illnesses smoke more than any group; one could assume that Illinois has more people with mental illness than in the rest of the country! In regard to other smoking statistics, the Tribune wrote, “In Illinois, adult men are more likely to smoke than women, while high school girls are more likely to smoke than boys. African-Americans smoke at the highest rate among ethnic groups, while Asian-Americans smoke at the lowest rate. The poor and less educated smoke at higher rates as well.” Smoking is an addiction. I am addicted. Since I am not mentally ill (though some may disagree with that statement), an African-American man and I am well educated, I don’t fit the profile for smoking. But I smoke. I am smoking as I write this blog. I will take another puff now. Most of the 79% of people who do not smoke, vilify smokers. We are treated as pariahs who must sneak off to secret passageways to satisfy our craving. We are shunned by the general public and even, in many cases, our own family members. Laws are constantly being passed to make smoking almost impossible anywhere except in one’s own home or car. People have no sympathy for our addiction. Because we are in the minority, we have no power. I do not drink alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2006 (most recent year with data available), 75% of adults age 18 and over in the United States had used alcohol at some point in their lives. Since 61% are current drinkers, consumers of alcohol are in the majority. When you are in the majority, you have the power. That is why it is tolerable to be a social drinker, but not acceptable to be a smoker.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says, “Alcoholics are in the grip of a powerful craving, or uncontrollable need, for alcohol that overrides their ability to stop drinking. This need can be as strong as the need for food or water.”
The description of an alcoholic fits my description of me as a smoker. I have an uncontrollable need. As Charleston Heston said in Planet of the Apes, “I am not an animal.” Yet smokers are treated as such.
My revenge? On September 1st, the Illinois excise tax on alcohol will have its greatest increase in a decade. For a one-fifth bottle of distilled spirits, the tax will go from 90 cents to $1.71; the tax on a bottle of wine will increase 13 cents to 28 cents; and a six-pack of beer will go from 10.4 cents to 13 cents. Maybe drinkers should give up alcohol and take up smoking. My bad habit might be less expensive!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS The Cash For Clunkers program ends Monday (August 24th) and the federal government said the stimulus effort resulted in 489,269 deals valued at more than $2 billion. The Obama administration has declared the program a success because it has revived the country’s ailing auto industry and taken polluting vehicles off the road. I have a few questions about the “true” success of the program. (1) Since people will probably stop buying cars at this pace once the program ends, what will keep the auto industry revival driving? (2) The number one car manufacturer that benefited from the program was Toyota with 19.2% of the sales. Foreign cars occupied eight of the 10 spots on the top-selling vehicle list. In fact 58% of all the cars sold were foreign manufactured. How does this help American manufacturers? (3) Besides car salesmen earning commissions, automobile recyclers, scrap dealers and the paper industry (each transaction generated 10 to 13 pages of documents that need to be submitted to the government), how did the average American benefit from this program? Let’s see if we can figure out a way for everybody to benefit from a government program. According to Marilyn Vos Savant ( she holds the record in Guinness for the world’s highest recorded I.Q.) in her “Ask Marilyn” column in Parade magazine the global money supply is about $60 trillion (economists call this figure the M3 value). If everybody on the planet took all their money and threw it in one big pile and then it was equally distributed among every individual in the world (6.8 billion people), we would each have about $9,000. That probably would not help us much in America, but would benefit the 2.4 billion people whose mean income is less than $1000 year and includes people living in India, Indonesia and rural China. An easy solution came to me in an e-mail forwarded from Blog Follower Jill. It is called the Patriotic Retirement Plan. It is very simple: There are about 40 million people over the age of 50 in the country’s work force. The Federal government pays them $1 million apiece in severance pay. They MUST retire; 40 million new jobs are created. They MUST buy a new American car; the auto industry crisis is fixed. They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage, the housing crisis is fixed. This plan is uncomplicated and straightforward. I guess that is why it won't work. The government only knows how to function if the solution is complex.

Friday, August 21, 2009


JUST LET THEM EAT CAKE ! For back to school week, the Chicago Tribune is writing a series of stories with” information and insight to start the year off right.” The first article is about the “horror” that CPS serves dessert with lunch. And I am talking about cake and cookies here, not fruit. The inhumanity! As Blog follower Jill told me, “Schools are for the three “R’s, why wouldn’t the Tribune focus on the real problems in our educational system and not on chocolate fudge pudding?” Okay, the obesity rate for children in Illinois is among the highest in the nation, but that is a parenting problem. If the child has a lot of sweets in their home, they will snack on them. Let the parents deal with how to portion out the goodies. Let schools deal with book learning. Elgin, Joliet and Napperville schools serve steamed broccoli, green beans and carrot sticks. Let’s pretend that I am a ten year who has been in classes for 4 hours. It is now time for lunch; a student’s favorite part of the day except for recess. What do I get to eat? Green beans? Yuck! Napperville banned packaged cakes 10 years ago. I am sure the students from that district hit the White Hen Pantry as soon as they leave schools grounds to satisfy their Twinkie craving! The picture on the blog (Tribune photo by Lane Christiansen) depicts students from Elgin Elementary school looking in a box of fruit cups. Do they look happy? Would they have a smile if there were Hostess cupcakes in the box?
Slow Food Chicago, a group that “seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in our local food system to ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat,” will stage an “Eat-in” at Daley Center on August 26th to promote better lunches in schools through the Child Nutrition Act. This same group is having a pig roast and beer fest at Goose Island Brewery on August 30th. Which event will be more fun? Which one would you attend?
I know my support of desserts in school might seem a dichotomy in light of my personal problem with being over-weight. But just because I have a food addiction does not mean that everyone else has to make sacrifices. We deal with our addictions individually and don’t force others to surrender personal pleasures that they can handle. If we didn’t, then prohibition would make a come-back to protect alcoholics from temptation. Just let the students eat cake!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


PETA ABUSES THE IMAGE OF WHALES AND WOMEN It is no secret that I am a fat person. I might not be as fat as I once was, but I am still fat. For me personally, I feel my being overweight is caused by the same brain chemical imbalance that causes alcoholism. One cookie is too much and ten are not enough. I fight mentally and physically every day to try to control my addiction to food. If I eat too much, I will not cause a car accident because of a “sugar high,” but my obsession with food is just as compelling as some people’s dependence on alcohol. My addiction is not something that should be treated as a joke. Whales are captivating creatures. Like all mammals, whales breathe air into lungs, are warm-blooded, feed their young milk from mammary glands and have hair. I find whales quite beautiful and majestic. People or whales should not be used as targets of humor just because they do not have svelte bodies. Unfortunately PETA feels differently and their latest campaign to try to convince people not to eat meat is offensive to both humans and whales. PETA describes their marketing plan in a press release that reads, "A new PETA billboard campaign that was just launched in Jacksonville reminds people who are struggling to lose weight -- and who want to have enough energy to chase a beach ball -- that going vegetarian can be an effective way to shed those extra pounds that keep them from looking good in a bikini. The ad shows a woman whose "blubber" is spilling over the sides of her swimsuit bottom and features the tagline "Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETA." PETA spokeswoman and campaigner Virginia Fort said the billboard sends an important message about the nation’s rising obesity rate and merely suggests vegetarianism as a way to combat it. She said the organization chose Jacksonville because it is a beach community. “It’s empowering for women. All consumers can take something from this” Fort said. How is this billboard’s message “empowering for women?” How does someone receive power from being ridiculed? I am reminded of the Shylock speech from The Merchant of Venice and have created my own version. “I am a fat person. Hath not a fat person eyes? Hath not a fat person hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a slim person is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. " We fat people and whales will get our revenge against PETA. I will start now by eating a steak.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


ELECTED OFFICIALS HELP CONSTITUENTS; It’s their job! It might seem that I have written too many times about the topic of “having people” and the importance of assisting those we are friends with; but the Chicago media keeps pulling me back in. Last week I was outraged when the Sun Times published a gratuitous front page story castigating Alderman Ricardo Munoz for making a call to the principal of Whitney Young School on behalf of his daughter for admission. His son was already a student at the school and Munoz wanted his children to attend the same school. What parent wouldn’t want that? Munoz also admitted to making “at least 10 to 15” calls to Whitney Young every school year for the children of his constituents. In every case, he says, he truly believed the student in question had the qualifications to succeed at Whitney Young and deserved further consideration. The Sun Times followed up the story with an unwarranted editorial about how inappropriate Munoz actions were. Chicago has 50 wards where each Alderman has about 60,000 constituents to minister to. Their ward offices receive calls on issues ranging from garbage pick up to zoning and parking. In each case, the Alderman will use his influence to try to solve the constituents’ problems. That is what the Alderman is supposed to do! Is an Alderman using unwarranted “clout” when they assist a constituent with their problem? No! That is part of their job description! Where is the front page story when an Alderman gets stripes re-painted for a handicap zone? Where is the front page story when an Alderman aids a constituent in figuring out how to get an awning license? Those stories aren’t written about because they are part of the everyday workings of an Alderman’s office. They are no more a story than the story of Alderman Munoz and Whitney Young. With all of the national crises we are experiencing in this country, the Sun Times felt the more important story was that Senator Richard Durbin wrote a letter of recommendation to Jones College Prep on behalf of one his staffer’s daughters. Of course he should have done that! People write letters of recommendation all the time. The world exists now in a flurry of social networking with Facebook, My Space, Twitter, etc. Why would someone network if they cannot take advantage of the connections that they have formed on the networks? Do we need an interpretation of “networking” that would remove the obstacles to understanding when networking is permissible? The disambiguation of this form of social interaction must be removed from ambiguity. It is as simple as “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” There is nothing stinking about what Munoz and Durbin did.

Monday, August 17, 2009


SPENDING THE ALDERMANIC EXPENSE ALLOWANCE- There is no story! The Chicago Tribune on Sunday wrote a massive front page story (continued on page 6) as part of their “Watchdog Series,” on how each Alderman has spent their $73,290 yearly expense allowance. It was one of the most useless articles I have ever read. The whole story can be found at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-chicago-aldermen-spend-16-aug16,0,261211.story I am sure there are plenty of issues to write about in regard to Aldermen and questionable activities; why were reporters’ time and efforts spent on this non-story? That to me is the real story! Alderman Walter Burnett (27th ward--for disclosure Burnett and I both sit on the Board of the Jesse White Tumblers so we have a friendship) was questioned about why he spent $1200 on bottled water. That amount gave Burnett the distinction of spending more on bottled water than any other Aldermen. Burnett answered by saying that he keeps water coolers that dispense hot and cold water in his City Hall and ward offices. He continued by pointing out that by having a machine that disperses hot water, his staff does not have to leave the office to get coffee or tea. That makes perfect sense and mathematically works out to about $3/day. Since one Starbucks cup of coffee costs more than $3.00; The Alderman is helping his staff be prudent with their money by their not having to go out for coffee. Besides the bottled water category, the Tribune also seemed to take offense that Aldermanic expenses were spent on parking spaces and leased cars. Again, I do not understand what is wrong with those categories of spending. They are within the parameters of the ordinance of spending the allowance. ( I have copied the ordinance below.) I looked at the break-down of expenses of my Alderman, Brendan Reilly (42nd ward), and the only expense that maybe the Tribune could find offense with was the $125 paid for a yearly Sun Times subscription. Since Reilly also spent $184 on a yearly Tribune subscription, it proves he is unbiased in his newspaper reading. More than half of the Alderman spent LESS than the allowance. In fact Ray Suarez (31st ward) only used $21,014 of his allotment. After checking through the list of expenditures of the Aldermen, I was quite impressed by how sensible and practical these politicians were in the use of taxpayer’s money. That is what the real story is; but honest politicians don’t generate headlines. 2-8-050 Aldermanic expense allowance. (a) Whenever the city council appropriates sums of money for aldermanic expense allowance, those funds are to be used for ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the performance of an alderman's official duties and subject to the restrictions contained in this section. (b) Expenditures may be made from aldermanic expense allowance funds for any of the following purposes: (1) Lease or rental of office space in an alderman's ward. Payments for the rent or lease of such office space shall be reasonable when compared to similar office space available in the area in which the alderman's office is located; (2) Lease or rental of a post office box; (3) Lease, rental, purchase, maintenance and repair of telephones and telecommunications equipment and service; (4) Liability, fire, casualty and theft insurance for the alderman's ward office space; (5) Publications and printed materials, including standard reference books, newspaper and periodical subscriptions, research materials and informational publications and brochures that may be useful to an alderman in the performance of his or her official duties; (6) Stationery and office supplies; (7) Postage, shipping and messenger fees; (8) Lease, purchase, maintenance or repair of office equipment, furnishings or decorations which are reasonably necessary for the performance of an alderman's official duties; (9) Utility services, including gas, electricity and water, if such services are the responsibility of the tenant; (10) Office maintenance expenses other than on a personal services basis, including janitorial services and minor repairs or alterations which are the responsibility of the tenant; (11) Lease, rental, purchase, maintenance and repair of computer and data processing services, equipment and supplies; (12) Lease, rental, purchase, maintenance and repair of printing, photocopying, photographic and audio or video recordkeeping services, equipment and supplies; (13) Meeting costs, including rental of space, rental of a public address system, custodial services, food and beverage expenses, and advertisements; provided, that the meeting is open to the public and the primary purpose of the meeting is to discuss matters relating to the alderman's official duties; (14) Lease or rental payments for a motor vehicle used by an alderman in connection with his or her official duties; (15) Payments for parking fees, gasoline, insurance, repair and maintenance of a motor vehicle used by an alderman in connection with his or her official duties; (16) Reimbursement for the cost of public transportation, taxi or livery service when incurred in connection with the performance of an alderman's official duties; (17) Transportation and travel-related expenses for travel directly related to the conduct of official business; (18) Consultants or professional services incurred in connection with the performance of an alderman's official duties; (19) Educational expenses, including courses of study, seminars, information and training programs; provided, that the subject matter is directly related to the alderman's official duties; (20) Expenses related to the hiring and employment of staff; (21) Publication of a newsletter; (22) Reasonable charges and fees imposed by a financial institution for the maintenance and administration of the alderman's expense allowance account; (23) Payment of miscellaneous, ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the performance of an alderman's official duties. (c) In no event shall any aldermanic expense allowance funds be used for any of the following purposes: (1) Purchase of real property; (2) Capital improvements or other improvements to leased or rented property, which are permanently affixed or attached to the leased or rented property and considered to be a fixture to the property; (3) Purchase of a motor vehicle; (4) Personal, political or campaign-related expenses; (5) Expenses related to any business, profession or occupation in which the alderman, any relative of the alderman or any member of the alderman's staff may be engaged; (6) The direct monetary benefit of an alderman or any of his or her relatives (as defined in Section 2-156-010 of this Code) or any person in whom the alderman has a financial interest (as defined in Section 2-156-010 of this Code); (7) Advertising, other than advertising for public meetings or for employment of staff as specified in subsection (a)(20) of this section; (8) For trophies, awards, gifts or donations, of any kind.

Friday, August 14, 2009


RULES FOR USING “MY PEOPLE” On July 27th I wrote a blog about “my people.” I will not re-quote the posting here, so go back and read it before you continue reading this blog. In that blog, I did not note “the rules” of how someone should purport themselves if they contact one of “my people,” because I thought it would be obvious! I was wrong, so I will explain here. I will give an example. Teresa is “my guy” at Horseshoe Casino. If I contact anyone else at Horseshoe, I copy Teresa on the e-mail. I do not want her to feel stupid or embarrassed if someone from the casino mentions that I needed help with something and she did not know about it. She can choose to take herself out of “the loop,” but she needs to be in “the loop,” at the beginning of the process. If any of my friends need anything from the casino, they need to go through me and I contact Teresa. I might decide later to take myself “out of the loop,” but I am the one who needs to get the process going. “My guys” are “my people” and are to be shared at my discretion! One should not contact one of “my guys” and not let me know about it! I hate looking brainless by not knowing what is going on. My friend Bonnie needed help with some computer problems. She knows I have a “computer guy,” Kevin, (actually he is my computer gigolo) so she checked with me if she could contact him. I gave approval; she e-mailed him; she let me know she had set up an appointment and then let me know that Kevin had done a great job. Bonnie followed the rules of using one of “my guys.” If Bonnie needs to use Kevin’s services again, she should let me know. That is how the process works. Mancow called me Friday morning during a commercial break of his radio show and said he had an extra ticket for the Tracy Morgan show at The Venue at Horseshoe because one of his friends had dropped out of his group. (Of course, “my guy,” Teresa had taken care of getting him the tickets where the correct procedure was followed.) Mancow wanted to invite Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to attend as his guest. Mancow could have called the Secretary directly but that would have left me and the Secretary’s scheduler Vivian out of the loop. Since Vivian is one of “my guys,” she would have blamed me for her being snubbed. Mancow followed the correct process and called me. I called Vivian, found out the Secretary was booked for the evening. I called Mancow back and left him know the Secretary had plans for Saturday night, but a message would be passed along that he had made the invitation. I called Jill Zwick, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Secretary, to let her know that Mancow had asked me to contact Jesse. Jill needed to be in the loop so if Vivian had mentioned my call Jill would know about it. I know this method sounds very complicated, but if the process is not followed, the whole modus operandi of the “my guy,” structure will fall apart! Obviously I am writing about the procedure of the “my guy” system because there have been some breaches. I will not name names because the offenders have been properly chastised. But everyone is now on notice of the rules. They are very simple. Whenever you want to contact one of “my guys,” you let me know first; after you contact one of “my guys,” you tell me the outcome. We can’t risk having Kathy’s world fall apart because of a weak link.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

THIS STORY IS MAKING ME NAUSEOUS! Friends who know me very well, know that I am a clean freak. I have a closet stocked with every household cleaner imaginable. Two of my favorite presents ever were my Swiffer Sweep and Vac from my friend Erin and Glad Flex bags from my friend Noreen. One never goes wrong in gifting me with a cleaning product. (Diet Coke and cigarettes are good presents also!) As a child I was a total slob. My Mother even held a trial once, with the neighbors as the jury, where she presented evidence of all the stuff that had been piled under my bed. My Mother used to say that one could eat off her floors; that is how clean they were. It was not until I got my first apartment that I become obsessed with neatness. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” my Mother always told us. If I walk by a cosmetic counter at a department store and see women getting made-over; I am revolted that they are letting someone touch their face with “used make-up.” I visited an “unnamed” friend’s home recently (she knows who she is!) to help her get organized and I became queasy at the sight of the mess. My fixation on cleanliness borders on OCD. I have compiled a multi-page list that inventories every room in my home and what needs to be done to clean each space perfectly. I have adapted that list for friends and would be happy to share with anyone who requests it. Having a check list makes one efficient and gives one satisfaction as each task is crossed off. I thought I did a good job keeping my home hygienic until I read an article on-line provided by Glamour magazine, called,” Is Your Home Killing You.” I have reprinted a few a few examples below. I am so nauseous now, when I am done writing this blog, I will immediately start disinfecting even more. Don’t try calling me because I won’t even stop to answer the phone. Until vascular surgery can be performed by Dr. Pearce in my kitchen, I will be unreachable. SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS “Nobody thinks of cleaning their salt and pepper shakers, says Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor and co-director Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College, but to avoid cross-contamination and food poisoning, you should. "Best to wipe them with an EPA-registered disinfectant," she says. "But better still, always wash your hands after handling raw foods and before touching anything else." LAUNDRY
“ Lower temperatures can encourage the spread of germs. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that intestinal viruses such as hepatitis A can be easily transferred from underwear to other garments during the washing process. Even worse, some germs can lurk in washing machines and find their way to your clothes.Wash your underwear and towels separately, using bleach if possible, and wash all towels in water that's at least 155 degrees, which will kill most germs. “ BED
"Been on a trip recently? If so, you may have brought home some hitchhikers -- of the creepy-crawly variety. Bedbugs, tiny bloodthirsty insects, are hosts to organisms that cause hepatitis B and Chagas disease, say health experts. But the real problem seems to be the infections and allergic reactions that can sometimes result from bedbug bites. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, bedbugs are on the rise and becoming an increasing health problem. The insects, which hide in the crevices of mattresses and bedding, are showing up everywhere, from hostels to the swankiest hotels, and they often find their way into people's luggage, transporting themselves to unsuspecting homes. “
“A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina Health Care System found that keyboards were loaded with germs.Even more disgusting, the average public toilet bowl contains 41 germs per square inch. The average personal keyboard? Some 21,000 germs per square inch. "Toilet bowls get cleaned," says Philip M. Tierno Jr., Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center, "but keyboards rarely do."
“Think of the people who have touched your front doorknob in the past 48 hours: the UPS man, a neighbor, a solicitor, your friends -- it's easy to lose count. Now think of all the places they've been -- the subway, public restrooms, grocery stores. Those germs are all on your doorknob right now, says Tierno. Most people let their guard down when it comes to their own door handles, he says, but we shouldn't: "Viruses can survive for days on doorknobs, and you can easily get cross contamination from them," he says. “

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


INFORMAL OLYMPIC POLL I sent out an e-mail to hundreds of blog followers asking them if they wanted the Olympics to come to Chicago in 2016. I purposely injected my opposition to the Olympics in the poll question to see if it would influence the answers and skew the results. One smart blog follower, Katie Konwinski, realized that and wrote me saying, “This is no longer an unbiased poll… you have influenced the participants by expressing your own opinion.” She also contributed her sentiments about the Olympics by writing,” I pride myself in being Kontrary Kate, so I am going to say that I think the Olympic Idea is the second best idea that Daley ever had (first genius moment... raising all the meters to 20 dollars an hour).” I don’t believe in polls that are conducted by the very groups that are affected by the results. I received a robo call the other night asking me if I would support the building of a Wal-Mart on the Southside if it would bring hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenues to Chicago. How could one answer “no” to that? The wording of the question by the pollster is what most often influences the answer. Sheldon R. Gawiser, Ph.D. and G. Evans Witt of the National Council on Public Polls point out that,”The very wording of questions can make major differences in the results. Perhaps the best test of any poll question is your reaction to it. On the face of it, does the question seem fair and unbiased? Does it present a balanced set of choices? Would most people be able to answer the question? “
They also wrote about unscientific pseudo-polls. “Unscientific pseudo-polls are widespread and sometimes entertaining, but they never provide the kind of information that belongs in a serious report. Examples include 900-number call-in polls, man-on-the-street surveys, many Internet polls and shopping mall polls.
One major distinguishing difference between scientific and unscientific polls is who picks the respondents for the survey. In a scientific poll, the pollster identifies and seeks out the people to be interviewed. In an unscientific poll, the respondents usually "volunteer" their opinions, selecting themselves for the poll.” By their definition, I conducted a “scientific poll” because I identified and sought out the people to be interviewed. So does that make my poll real? Should I ask the media to print my poll results? I received 89 e-mails responding to my poll. Only 18 people were in favor of the Olympics coming to Chicago or about 20%. Since I knew who the respondents were, I was able to extrapolate some interesting information. If the respondent worked in the hospitality industry they were in favor of the Olympics. If they lived in the suburbs (and would not be bothered by the traffic and mess down-town), they were in favor of the Olympics. If the worked in the media industry, they were in favor of the Olympics, with a caveat, (Fritz Golman wrote, “I know that there would be tons of TV production work and freelance opportunities. BUT, I also think that it's the golden fleece for taxpayers AND a huge opportunity for corruption (from the City that has made corruption a major in college). AND, I'm also very concerned about terrorists, too.”) There was not one single YES vote from anybody who actually lived in downtown Chicago. Shouldn’t those of us who would be inconvenienced by the Olympics have a weighted vote? Or is our clout not heavy enough to have an impact? I guess I shouldn’t have gone on a diet and lost so much weight.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


CHAIRS VS. CITY AND THE CITY SHOULD WIN Some background first. A number of weeks ago when I was walking east on Erie, I noticed that an outdoor café on the corner of Erie and State had an outdoor café that was blocking access to the sidewalk if someone were in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller. The subject of accessibility is very important to me. I immediately called Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office—spoke to “my guy” Adam Gypalo and filled him in. Adam said he would take care of the problem. The next time I walked down Erie, I noticed that the outdoor café seating had been re-configured and there was room now for a wheelchair to navigate the sidewalk. I am relating this story because of a story in Tuesday’s Tribune about Scooter’s Frozen Custard stand and the plastic chairs they had positioned on the sidewalk outside of the establishment at the corner of Belmont and Paulina. The Tribune wrote: “Until recently, the Moores have put out a few resin chairs so people could sit while eating their custard. The little sitting area became a meeting spot. "You would just sit down and start talking to people from the neighborhood you might not have met before," said Steve Gutekanst, who was offering spoonfuls of custard the other day to his 11-month-old daughter, Gigi.It made a corner of a big city feel like a small town, said Suzanne Reznicek, who grew up in Iowa. "Everything is so rushed these days. This is a chance to sit down and relax."But as Scooter's grew more popular and the sidewalk more crowded, not everyone loved the idea.The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection received a complaint that people were blocking the sidewalk. On June 30, an inspector issued an order to remove the six chairs on the sidewalk.Chairs are permitted for businesses with a permit to operate a sidewalk cafe, governed by the above municipal code (City of Chicago Municipal Code 10-28-805). The Moores had intended to apply for one when they opened Scooter's; they still have the application they filled out."
The custard stand has been putting chairs out for 6 years and they said that the previous Alderman had told them to forget about the outdoor café application and just put out the chairs. The current Alderman’s staffers have told them to remove the chairs Neighbor “defenders” of the chairs created a Facebook page, a "Save the Chairs at Scooter's Frozen Custard" and gathered more than 500 signatures on a petition. The custard stand owners posted “BYOC” (Bring your own chair) signs and there was talk of a “sit-out.” The Alderman’s office discouraged civil disobedience and encouraged a meeting with the city. Efrat Stein, spokeswoman for the business affairs department, said "This is really a safety issue. "People need to use the sidewalk -- people in wheelchairs, people in strollers. Businesses cannot block the sidewalks." Stein is correct. Municipal codes are to protect all citizens. Not just a few. One of the chairs supporters said "It's just ridiculous. There are so many things going on in the world, and we have to be worried that, 'Oh, there's a chair there?' " Interesting comment when paired with a comment in another Tribune story about a new area code being implemented --"With the economy struggling, there are definitely bigger concerns than area codes," said CUB spokesman Jim Chilsen. "But honestly, on principle, what's so frustrating about this issue is it just seems completely wasteful and unnecessary." Both issues might seem insignificant on the surface; but if someone is navigating the city in a wheelchair they need access to the sidewalk and if we need a new area code, so be it. No issue is trivial if it is important to you.

Monday, August 10, 2009



The first big break through in interactive dolls was Betsty Wetsy who was introduced in the 1930’s.  She urinated in her diaper after being fed water.  Decades later came Tiny Tears—a doll who cried after being fed a bottle.  Obviously I hated the “Chatty Kathy” doll because it meant that everybody in elementary school made fun of my name.  Though it might be a case where imitation is the greatest form of flattery since I love to talk.

Every kind of category of doll is being manufactured.  There are anatomically correct dolls sold by specialty manufacturers such as the Amamanta Family dolls that even can teach little girls and boys — and big ones, too —the entire birthing process. (A cloth baby doll comes out of the Mother doll’s womb) There are therapy dolls, disabled dolls, walking dolls, ethnic dolls, shopping dolls, history dolls and now the breast feeding doll.

In retrospect, I think my favorite type of doll was the one where I used my imagination to feed it, burp it, cuddle it and put it to sleep. Just an ordinary baby doll that my sister would ask our Mother to care for us when we were in school.  The doll did nothing except open and close its eyes.  Our fantasies were what made the doll come alive.  

August is breastfeeding month, so the Spanish toymaker Berjun created the breastfeeding doll, called Bebe Gloton, (gluttonous or greedy baby) to promote breastfeeding. To nurse Bebe Gloton, your child slips on a halter top that features sunflowers over the nipple area. When the doll is lifted toward the sunflowers, it makes a suckling motion and sound and must be burped before it can fall back to sleep.

Children grow up fast enough, so why are we speeding up the process?  I sadly long for an age of innocence where the dreams you imagined in your sleep were more real than what was real.  Now that was the true fun.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


MEDICAL PEDICURE Most men will want to tune out here, but please stick with me because people of both genders need help with their feet! I had a corn on my right baby toe. Normally, one might not go to the doctor for a corn, but because I have vascular problems, circulation problems and lymphedema in my right leg, my internist did not want me to try to treat the condition on my own. He referred me to Dr. Tammy Galizia. Her card describes her as a physician and surgeon of the foot and ankle--much more impressive sounding than “podiatrist.” Dr. Galizia efficiently filed down my corn and then asked if I wanted my toenails trimmed. “Of course,” I said. I had not had a pedicure in a while because Dr. Gary Noskins, the Director of Infectious Diseases at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told me never to get a pedicure at a public salon because it is not sanitary. I now have someone come to my home periodically, but coordinating schedules had been difficult. I then asked if she could take the “circular rotary file” she had used on my corn and file away the dry, rough skin on my heels. She was happy to oblige. She used a scalpel to remove all the calluses from the bottom of my feet. She basically “scraped the barnacles off my hull.” (An I Love Lucy reference for Ricky and Lucy aficionados) When in conclusion she massaged my feet with lotion, I was in heaven! I had invented the medical pedicure. All that was missing was a polish change; and I can do that myself. What a brilliant marketing idea this is for a budding entrepreneur. Find a newly graduated doctor with lots of medical school loans; set them up in a fancy room and charge $150 for a medical pedicure. Add a nail technician for the polish change and you are set to rack in the big bucks. One could easily gross more than $1 million/year from the operation. No dealing with health insurance billing (I doubt the Obama plan would cover medical pedicures) or medical malpractice insurance. Just pay rent for a glitzy office; rely on the snootiness of people who don’t want an “ordinary” pedicure and the franchise money will soon start rolling in. I would start the business myself, but I am too busy working on my idea for an intravenous Diet Coke delivery system. ** Dr. Galizia is located at 333 N. Michigan. The phone number at her office is 312-236-3507. I highly recommend her.

Friday, August 7, 2009


TODAY’S WORD IS CLOUT I get a daily e-mail from a web site called, “Word of the Day.” I don’t remember signing up for it and have been too lazy to remove myself from the list. I’m glad I didn’t opt out, because in a recent e-mail, the word of the day was “CLOUT (klout)--a blow especially to the head, strong power or, influence, pull, a long hit in baseball, in archery the target or a shot that hits the target, or to hit. “ Here is an example of a sentence using the word “clout” in three of its forms. “William Tell should have been repeatedly clouted (hit) by those with great clout (influence, power, pull) and those without any for using an apple perched on his son’s head as a clout (target).” My July 27th blog (“My People”) dealt with how I have to have “guys.” My “guys” are my contacts at companies who help me break through the bureaucratic ceiling and gets things done. These “guys” have clout at their corporations. I see nothing wrong with using clout to get what one wants or needs--as long as the request is not illegal, immoral or unethical. And this feeling applies to both the public and private sectors. (The only time I don’t like clout is if I am in a situation where I don’t have it! Which, luckily, rarely happens?) I think there are enough alleged illegal activities being performed by employees, Commissioners, elected officials etc. in state, local and federal government that need to be investigated rather than the allegations (Even though we all know it happened, I will still use the word “allegations”) of the use of clout at the University of Illinois and Chicago Public Schools in the admission process. What is the point of one’s having influence, power or authority if they cannot use it? As long as someone is using their clout legally, what is wrong with that? I’ll take a bite of that apple.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK AT WORK! I know that there is gong to be a major hue and cry from whatever union governs CTA employees about the new rules that prohibit train operators, rail maintenance workers and rail station customer assistants from using or possessing cell phones, smart phones, and personal digital assistants such as BlackBerry devices, MP3 music players, wireless headsets or any other electronic device. The unions will claim the rules are a violation of personal human rights and probably pull off some sort of work stoppage. The new prohibition also applies to CTA bus drivers, unless a personal cell phone is being used by a bus driver to contact the control center. But use of a cell phone can only be if the bus is stopped and the parking brakes turned on. The bus drivers got a separate rule because they are not equipped with company radios or cell phones. Even though buses are equipped with an emergency communications system, drivers complain that the equipment frequently breaks down. The bus drivers must keep the cell phones stowed and cannot be attached to uniforms or be visible in any way. Previously the ban was just on using the items while operating a vehicle, but CTA President Richard Rodriguez said, “The temptation to check text messages is just too great. Zero tolerance is purely for the safety of our customers.” I think the policy of banning electronic devices should hold true for all government employees, whatever their job is. People are supposed to work when they are at work and not be conducting personal business on taxpayer time. While there are times that an employee must make a personal phone call relating to a doctor’s appointment or a family emergency, they have a landed phone sitting on their desk or in their work area. I am not for denying employees access to reach the outside world, I am for denying them the access from personal electronic devices. Private companies can implement whatever rules they want on the use of personal electronic equipment during work hours, but government employees’ salaries are funded by our taxpayer dollars and such they should have to answer to the taxpayers that they are working while at work. I work at home and have implemented strict rules on when I must be sitting at my home office desk and not allowing the television being turned on during the day. I police myself. Wait. Sorry, Linda just called. I will have to finish this blog later.

Monday, August 3, 2009


In May 2000, a world –wide consortium of marine scientists started the first comprehensive effort to identify and catalog every species in the worlds' oceans, from microbes to blue whales, This ten year $650 million project ( funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, governments and other foundations) has researchers using deep-sea robots, laser-based radar and super-sensitive sonar that can track fish up to 90 miles away. Census teams have also embarked on about 400 shipboard expeditions. The bad news is that they are discovering new life forms faster than they can name them—more than 5,600 so far. At completion of the project, the online database will contain photos, DNA codes and web sites for at least 230,000 unique species, including more than 16,000 fish, scientists said."It's going to be the Rosetta Stone for the future," said Peter Wiebe, a senior biologist. "Once we know what's out there, we can build on it." Wiebe said the list would be longer, but researchers used DNA analysis to cut more than 50,000 "aliases" -- different names for the same creature -- from the species list. The worst case of multiple identity was a breadcrumb sponge, Halichondria panacea, which had 56 names around the world. Now it will have one.
Naming any kind of food can be very tricky because people don't like to eat things with weird sounding or unappetizing names. Orange roughy was originally called, Slimehead and Chilean Sea bass was once Pantagonian toothfish. Their names got changed and people started eating the species In fact, according to Sea Watch, the Chilean sea bass is currently on the list of fish that American consumers who are sustainability-minded should avoid.The illegal capture and sale of Chilean Sea bass has led to arrests and fines. Illegal over-fishing threatens the species in some areas as the fish is slow-growing and reaches maturity between ten and twelve years of age. It should have kept its original name for safety! In discussing the naming of new species with Blog Follower Jill, she reminded me of the movie, "A New Leaf. This comedy deals with a biologist (Henrietta-played by Elaine May) who discovers a new species of leaf and named it after her boyfriend Henry ( Walter Matthau). I won't go into details of the movie, but you must get it. It ranks on my Top Ten list. With 5,600 species to be named and only 80 scientists to do the naming, I offer my help in this daunting task. I picture a chubby,little fish with a sunny personality that should be named Kathy. I will have my portion grilled with a beurre blanc sauce. Maybe add a raspberry reduction for some color. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


LIFE SKILLS FOR CHILDREN; HOW ABOUT A JOB AT THREE YEARS OLD? The Chicago Tribune published a story that outlined the various ages that children should be able to accomplish tasks around the house. I was astounded that the “child-rearing” experts expected so much from children at such young ages. I have compared their findings with what happens in “Kathy’s World.” EXPERTS: Laundry-The experts said that children should start sorting clothes at 2 years of age and unload a washer or dryer at 3. The handling of detergent and fabric softener should wait until they are 10. KATHY: Laundry- I did not run a washer or dryer until I was 49 years old. My Mother did my laundry while I was growing up; I lived with someone who had a maid while I was in college and after that I sent it out. When I bought a condo that had a laundry room, my friend Patti taught me how to use the machines. As it is, I only do towels and underwear. Everything else goes to the dry cleaners (including sheets!) EXPERTS: Iron a shirt- Michelle Dugan the Mom on TLC’s “18 Kids and Counting” has 10 year old twins that iron. “They’re capable of pulling the ironing board out, plugging in the iron and getting a few wrinkles out, “she says. Maybe it’s not a perfect job, but they can do it. KATHY: Iron a shirt- I have never ironed a shirt. When I got my laundry room, the aforementioned friend Patti came over to teach me to iron. She did not succeed. It was not due to her lack of training skills, it was due to my not wanting to do it! When something gets wrinkled, I send it to the dry cleaners. If I have clean napkins and tablecloths that need ironing, I hire Patti’s daughters to do them for me. EXPERTS: Clean a toilet- The experts want parents to start children on this task as early as 3 or 4 by giving the child a cloth moistened with alcohol to wipe the outside of the bowl and the floor around it. They also say to hand them a toilet brush at 6 and set them to work. KATHY: Clean a toilet- I find it appalling to expect a 3 year old to clean a toilet. Some 3 year olds are still in diapers (according to my friend Linda, who while she has no birth children of her own, has many nieces and nephews.) Linda thinks it is “disgusting” to expect a child to clean a toilet. I say, feminism aside, Mothers are the equivalent of their childrens’ maids. Moms should be cleaning toilets, not children. Not Dads, because they will purposely do a poor job so the Mom has to come in and clean again. That is how the world turns. Sorry! EXPERTS: Make a bed- The experts say that a child of 2 or 3 years old can make a bed. Maybe not perfect, but good enough. The more they practice the better they get. KATHY: Make a bed- Some children are still sleeping in cribs at the age of 3. How is a two year old supposed to make up a crib? Though I have few “life skills, I happen to love making a bed. I change my sheets three times a week and they cannot have a wrinkle in them or I cannot sleep. I cannot leave my bedroom in the morning if my bed is not perfectly made. It is an emotional thing with me. EXPERTS: Shut off the water- Not the tap, but at the main valve or the toilet tank. Kevin O’Connor, host of PBS’ “This Old House,” figures 10 is a good age. KATHY: Shut off the water- I have no clue how to do this. That is why there are plumbers and maintenance men wherever I live. EXPERTS: Use a screwdriver and power tools-Kevin Connor says age 3 is right for the screwdriver because that is when his child picked one up on his own. Connor says 4 is the right age for screw guns and such. KATHY: Use a screwdriver and power tool- I would call DCFS if I had a neighbor that was letting their child use a screwdriver at age 3! They could put their eye out! Who would allow a child to use a power tool at age 4? I guess the reason that the episodes of “This Old House” show so much work being accomplished is because they use child labor! The list of impossible tasks for children goes on and on. We need to let children be young and carefree for as long as possible and not subject them to grown-up tasks. Unless they could get a real job that would bring in some cash! Sophie, pictured in this blog, is obviously on the right track.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


ORGANIC FOOD IS NOT HEALTHIER THAN ORDINARY FOOD! This will come as a shock to all of the “tree huggers” who gloat about the benefits of organic food and happily pay bloated prices for it, but you have been tricked! Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at all the evidence on nutrition and health benefits from the past 50 years and found no differences in most nutrients in organically or conventionally grown crops, including in vitamin C, calcium, and iron. The study also showed there is no evidence of any extra health benefits from eating organic products. The report, which was just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no differences in most nutrients in organically or conventionally grown crops, including in vitamin C, calcium, and iron. The same was true for studies looking at meat, dairy and eggs. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) of England commissioned the report. Gill Fine, FSA director of consumer choice and dietary health, said: "Ensuring people have accurate information is absolutely essential in allowing us all to make informed choices about the food we eat. This study does not mean that people should not eat organic food. What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food." Study leader Dr Dangour, said: "Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority." For those naysayers who think that this study might be flawed-- the findings support those of a study released by the University of Copenhagen in 2008. Researchers there examined five crops -- including carrots, kale and apples -- and found organic foods had no more nutrients than non-organic produce. For those of you who refuse to believe the science, you can still shop at over-priced Whole Foods and other glitzy health food stores. Me? The money I save by buying ordinary food will pay for another St. John suit.