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On the hook The State of Michigan paid $420,000 to the bondholders of a Pontiac movie studio, according to The Detroit News. The studio couldn’t make the payment on its own, and, under an agreement with Governor Jennifer Granholm, the bonds are guaranteed by the state. But with the cutback in state incentives for filmmaking, no projects have filmed at the studio since December.

Santorum’s surge Rick Santorum is not only leading Mitt Romney in Romney’s home statea new poll shows Santorum is ahead in Ohio as well.

The Fracking Factor A plan to use coal to make natural gas in Indiana may be a bust, according to the Indianapolis Star. A utility executive in Indiana says the boom in shale-gas production, or “fracking” has brought down the cost of natural gas, and the coal-to-gas plan no longer makes sense. Governor Mitch Daniels had touted the coal-to-gas plant as a way to help consumers and boost the economy in Southern Indiana.

Boeing’s big order Chicago-based Boeing has finalized the details of the largest order in its history.

Kohl’s says no to downtown The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that retailer Kohl’s has decided against building a new company headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.

Cincinnati jobs Ohio Governor John Kasich announced yesterday that two new companies are moving to the Cincinnati area.

We’re shocked – shocked! A former city alderman, turned political science professor says he’s done the calculations and Chicago is, in fact, the most corrupt city in the country.


Across Ohio, voters are headed to the polls today to determine the fate of Issue 2, a referendum on a controversial state law that limits the collective-bargaining rights of public employees.

Here’s a roundup of ongoing coverage of the vote on Issue 2 from around the Buckeye State:

From The Columbus Dispatch: Issue 2 is expected to drive voters to the polls at higher numbers than other non-presidential election years. Franklin County, which encompasses the greater Columbus area, reached a record number of absentee-ballot requests this year at more than 88,000. The Dispatch reports voter turnout is expected to be far higher than the 31 percent of registered voters that cast ballots in 2009.

From Ideastream: Our partner station in Cleveland examines the advertising campaigns mounted by pro-and-anti Issue 2 interest groups. Depending on the vantage point, Issue 2 will harm education. Or save it. It will bolster police forces. Or ruin them. Ideastream reporter Ida Lieszkovsky reports that the ads bring a lot of emotion to the issue, but little concrete information. “There’s usually some truth in there that they’re hanging it on, but sometimes there’s also quite a bit of reach to get the spin,” Robert Higgs, editor of PolitiFact Ohio tells Lieszkovsky.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer: The respective campaigns for and against Issue 2 and its legislative predecessor, Senate Bill 5, have taken perhaps an interesting turn in the final hours. Union opponents of the bill boldly spoke of defeating the referendum at a union hall in Hamilton County. “We are going to shove Senate Bill 5 down the throats of John Kasich and his ilk,” said Howard Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters.

In a speech to 300 Tea Party supporters in Eastgate, Gov. Kasich spoke for an hour Monday night. He didn’t mention Issue 2 until the final two minutes of his speech, according to The Enquirer.

From The Plain Dealer: The U.S. Justice Department has sent election observers to Lorain County today to ensure that county officials keep a commitment to provide Spanish-language ballots.  Last month, the county’s Board of Elections agreed to provide the ballots as part of a lawsuit settlement with the DOJ. The Plain Dealer reports bilingual ballots and bilingual poll workers will be provided in targeted precints.

From Politico: Democrats were stung in Ohio in the 2010 elections, losing the governorship and five congressional seats. This year? They’re planning on using traction from the Issue 2 as a springboard into the national 2012 elections.  James Hohmann writes, “Obama is still polling badly in Ohio, but his campaign has capitalized on perceived Republican overreach to bring recalcitrant liberals back into the fold.”


Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Bridge gains political spotlight. Some experts estimate that billions of dollars in goods, perhaps as much as 4 percent of the nation’s GDP, at some point cross the Brent Spence Bridge, which spans the Ohio River between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. On Thursday, President Obama highlighted the bridge as one that could be repaired as part of his jobs recovery plan. The prominent mention was perhaps a bit of political gamesmanship – House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky could be in the cross-hairs of their constituents if they voted against the $2 billion overhaul, which currently lacks federal funding.

2. Middle-class crunch. The Columbus Dispatch spent five days last week exploring what it means to be middle class in Ohio. The definition varies widely, but the newspaper concludes the key measures show that Ohio’s middle class is much smaller than people realize, and “the group is shrinking.” As one employee at a barber shop in suburban Dayton said, “The middle class? I’m not sure it exists anymore.”

3. Detroit earns dubious title. In July, The New York Times profiled the youth movement under way in Detroit. This week, Good Magazine followed up and declared the Motor City as one of the best places to be “young and broke.” It cited the fact the city’s vibrant community activism scene is led by young people, and that Detroit has earned a reputation for hustle, art and low cost of living. And also, of course, there’s lots of young people who are doing quite well for themselves.


Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Michigan approves health-care changes. The Michigan state Legislature approved a proposal Wednesday that requires local municipalities, school districts and counties to pay no more than 80 percent of their employees’ health-care costs or limit payments to no more than $15,000 per family. The vote was 25-13 in favor, largely along party lines. Proponents of the legislation say it gives local governments the means to trim benefit spending. Critics say the bill is an attack on middle-class families and public employees.

2. Courts won’t stop carp. On Wednesday, a federal appeals panel denied a request from five Great Lakes states to close shipping locks in the Chicago area. The states had asked for court intervention to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes, but the court panel ruled the invasive species did not appear to be an imminent threat, according to the Chicago Tribune. Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had asked the courts to close locks at the Cal-Sag Channel and Chicago River.

3. JobsOhio announces partner. A jobs-creation group in Cincinnati has won a $4 million grant to help facilitate job growth at existing companies in the region. The Cincinnati USA Partnership announced Thursday a “grow your own” strategy that is supported by Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s JobsOhio plan, according to Cincinnati.com. Ohio’s unemployment rate inched upward to 9.0 percent in July, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cincinnati USA Partnership is one of six organizations that will officially be supported by JobsOhio.


Fewer tourists and business travelers are visiting Chicago.Only 38.1 million came in 2010, the lowest point for the city in the past five years, according to figures released by the Illinois governor’s office. Travel peaked in 2007, when 46.5 million people visited Chicago.

Photo by Simonds via flickr

The drop is due to visitors taking day trips, which tourism officials blame on high gas prices. But overnight visits rose in 2010, so city officials say they are stepping up their efforts to attract people who will spend the night. The statistics showed tourism revenue for the state of Illinois rose in 2010, compared with 2009, even though it still isn’t as good as in 2007.

Detroit hopes for an image boost. Detroit officials are trying to put their best foot forward this week, in a three-day public relations blitz called Transformation Detroit. Mayor Dave Bing tweeted this morning, “I am looking forward to the GOOD stories that will be written as a result” of the program. The program comes as the city’s school system is launching a makeover. Changing Gears is covering Transformation Detroit on the Web and via Twitter (search for #transformd) and you can take part in our poll on whether the city’s image is improving.

Cincinnati Airport To Get A Facelift. Speaking of makeovers, Cincinnati’s airport is set for one. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport board approved a plan to move all carriers there into Terminal C. The project could cost up to $31 million. airport has lost a significant number of flights over the past few years, due to Delta’s decision to downgrade its hub there. The airport plans to officially close its aging Terminal 2, but hasn’t decided whether to tear it down.