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Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Mining Marijuana, A Gubernatorial Spat And To Export, Or Not To Export?
April 23rd, 2012
Underground marijuana farm The Detroit Free Press was granted “exclusive access” to a former mine in the Upper Peninsula where one company wants to grow enough medical marijuana to serve 131,000 Michigan residents. The marijuana would be grown a mile underground.
Whose economy is better? The Chicago Sun-Times tries to settle a debate between Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The two governors traded insults last week over which state is doing a better job of attracting businesses. The Sun-Times says Illinois is the winner on most points.
Peaceful place Nine Nobel Peace Prize winners will be in Chicago this week for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Natural gas Crain’s Cleveland Business considers the possibilities for exporting liquid natural gas made in Ohio. Exporting the fuel could lead to higher prices in the U.S., but those prices would help Ohio’s booming natural gas industry.
The Palisades problem NPR looks at the spotty safety record at the Palisades nuclear plant in Southwest Michigan. The story is reported by Lindsey Smith, of partner station Michigan Radio.
April 20th, 2012
A plan for Medicaid Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has a $2.7 billion plan to keep the state’s Medicaid program solvent. According to partner station WBEZ, the plan makes deep cuts in coverage and eligibility, and raises revenue by increasing the state’s cigarette tax.
Losing jobs Wisconsin lost 4,300 jobs in March. That could have an effect one other important job: Scott Walker’s. The Governor is facing a tough recall campaign, and the state is nowhere near reaching the 250,000 new jobs he promised by the end of his term.
Gaining jobs Illinois added 9,100 jobs in March, and the state unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
BP lawsuit Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is suing BP for $100 million, according to partner station WCPN Ideastream. DeWine says BP is responsible for a drop in its stock price after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Ohio pension system was an investor in BP at the time.
Starting over WCPN Ideastream also talks to people in their 50s, who are starting a career all over again.
Brain gain The University of Michigan will spend $163 million to build the state’s first hospital focused on neuroscience, according to the Detroit News.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: A Settlement In Saugatuck, FEMA Says No To Illinois And An Iconic Cup Brand Is Sold
March 22nd, 2012
Settled in Saugatuck Officials in Saugatuck Township, Mich. have reached a settlement with billionaire Aubrey McClendon that could pave the way for new development. The proposed development has encountered fierce opposition since it was proposed a few years ago, because it would be near coastal dunes on Lake Michigan. Partner station Michigan Radio reports the settlement must be approved by a judge.
Denied FEMA has once again denied Illinois’ request for a state of emergency to be declared in the town of Harrisburg. Seven people died when tornadoes ripped through the city on Feb. 29. Partner station WBEZ reports a state of emergency declaration would open up federal grants to help pay for the recovery.
Wisconsin on deck The GOP presidential primary marches on, and after this weekend, Wisconsin is next in line to be the center of the political universe.
Modern slavery The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio says he believes there are hundreds of cases of human trafficking going on in the region at any time. It’s a problem “literally everywhere” he says, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Raise your cup A national icon is being sold. Solo Cup, based in Lake Forest, Ill.will be sold for $1 billion. The buyer is Mason, Michigan-based Dart Container Corp.
March 21st, 2012
Emergency manager out, for now The mayor and city council are back in charge in the city of Flint, and the state-appointed emergency manager is out. A judge ruled the panel that reviewed Flint’s finances violated open meetings laws. It’s the latest setback for governor Snyder’s emergency manager law. Partner station Michigan Radio reports the governor will appeal the ruling to a higher court.
Mitt’s win Mitt Romney had a convincing win in the Illinois primary yesterday, but voter turnout in the state was the lowest it’s been in decades.
Can’t stop Smith A Democratic state lawmaker in Illinois overwhelmingly won his primary race yesterday, despite being charged last week with accepting a bribe.
Just plane sad The Ohio National Guard is making its case to try to save its fleet of C-27J cargo planes. Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports that nearly 800 jobs will be lost if the plane is discontinued as planned.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Budget Cuts In Illinois, Surprising Home Sales And The UAW Plans Protests
February 23rd, 2012
Budget cuts Illinois Governor Pat Quinn outlined plans yesterday to cut the state’s pension costs and Medicaid programs. Partner station WBEZ Chicago says Quinn also plans to close two prisons and consolidate dozens of state offices.
Teacher teacher The Wall Street Journal looks at a shakeup for poor performing schools in Chicago, and sees a trend. More Democratic mayors are challenging teacher unions.
Clean energy ballot push Partner station WCPN Ideastream Cleveland reports there’s a new ballot initiative underway that would let voters choose whether the state should borrow billions to invest in clean energy. Turns out, environmentalists have nothing to do with the ballot initiative.
Surprise! It sold A busy real estate market is surprising some sellers in Northeast Ohio. Home sales were up more than 25 percent for the region in January, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
UAW protest plans The conservative web site, The Daily Caller, says it’s found evidence that the UAW plans to train 100,000 people for “The 99% Spring” protest movement. The Detroit News has a story. Changing Gears has discussed the UAW’s connection to the movement before.
Going private Proposals in Michigan would open the door to privately-run prisons.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: A Busy Day In Indiana, More Money In Cleveland and Google Owes Us 700 Jobs
February 2nd, 2012
Indiana’s busy day Yesterday, the big news in Indiana was that legislators approved a new Right to Work law. But that wasn’t all the legislature accomplished. They also put the nail in the coffin of a $1.3 billion transit plan.
What the frack Bloomberg News says Ohio officials are hoping to stop the flow of fracking waste into their state. Meanwhile gas companies are still pushing their new natural gas drilling techniques further. Get ready for “super fracking.”
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Police The city of Cleveland is getting a $10 million tax windfall this year thanks to new construction. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says the money will help pay for an extra 20 police officers.
Notable tax credit news A new report in Michigan says tax changes will hit poor families 1000 times as hard as families that are well off. One of the main reasons is the elimination of the state’s child tax credit. Meanwhile, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposed adding child credit in his State of the State speech last night.
700 jobs short Google is celebrating its fifth birthday in Ann Arbor. When the company first opened its Ann Arbor office in 2006, it was huge news for the state. The company said it would hire 1,000 workers in the first five years. The actual number is closer to 300. (We tried asking Google: “Where are the rest of our jobs?” The search didn’t turn up anything useful.)
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: Sears Spurned In Illinois And Courted By Ohio, Chrysler Sales Skyrocket, Dayton Seeks Immigrant Influx
December 1st, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Dayton seeks immigrant influx. Among industrial Midwest cities seeking to stop a population hemorrhage, Dayton, Ohio hardly stands alone in its attempts to attract highly educated immigrants. What’s unusual in Dayton is that the city wants the rest of the immigrants too. City Manager Tim Riordan tells our partner station WBEZ that welcome all immigrants regardless of skill or wealth will create “a vibrancy” in the city. Dayton’s population sank 14.8 percent over the past decade to 141,527 in the 2010 U.S. Census, a steep decline from its all-time high of 262,000 in the 1960s. Currently, foreign-born residents account for 3 percent of the city’s residents. But Riordan says newcomers are already building foundations in the western Ohio city.
2. Chrysler sales skyrocket. Driven by rising consumer confidence, Chrysler reported today that sales rose 45 percent in November year over year. Brand sales rose 92 percent thanks to increased demand for the 200 and 300 sedans, and Jeep sales increased 50 percent from November 2010. General Motors and Ford are both expected to release monthly sales numbers later today. “Consumer confidence is really what’s going to underpin us as we go into 2012, so we’re really pleased to see that showing up,” GM’s Don Johnson tells our partner Michigan Radio. Industry sales appear to be on pace for 13 million units in 2011.
3. Ohio courts Sears. Two days after Illinois lawmakers jilted Sears Holdings Corp. in its attempt to win tax incentives worth $100 million from the state, the Chicago-based company has a new suitor. Ohio has offered Sears incentives worth four times that amount to relocate its headquarters and 6,200 jobs to the Buckeye State. Texas is another state aggressively courting the company, according to the office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. His counterpart, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, declined to confirm or deny an offer to Sears, joking with The Columbus Dispatch that, “we are somewhere between $0 and $400 million.”
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: Illinois Gov. Refuses to Create ‘Las Vegas of the Midwest;’ Ohio Democrats Push Redistricting Referendum
October 18th, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Illinois Gov. rejects big gambling. After months of more subtle indications he would not sign a sweeping bill that opens Illinois to 14 new casinos, Gov. Pat Quinn made his position official with a blunt statement Monday. “I’m the final word,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Casino gambling at 14 different locations in Illinois is way too much. We have no interest in becoming the Las Vegas of the Midwest.” Quinn suggested he would sign a scaled-down bill that allows for a Chicago casino and a handful of others – if some revenues boost education coffers in the state.
2. Ohio Dems push new referendum. An Ohio Supreme Court ruling Friday has paved the way for a Democrat-backed referendum on new congressional district lines. They consider the Republican-drawn lines unfair – a position backed by the court – and are seeking 231,234 signatures needed for a November 2012 referendum on the issue. The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday the entanglement could throw Ohio’s 2012 primary election “into chaos,” and the GOP-controlled state legislature, has been called into session this week to address the issue.
3. More jobs ahead at General Motors? After a decade of subpar offerings in the compact car market, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson tells the Detroit Free Press that, based on recent compact successes, he foresees adding more jobs on top of the 6,400 called for in the recent UAW contract, possible in Orion Township, Mich. and Spring Hill, Tenn. He foresees gradual introduction of more two-tier employees. “We’re not trying to hurt anybody,” he tells the newspaper. “We’re trying to stay strong. So over time, as part of the labor contract, we would buy out some of our more senior employees. … We’ll get there, but we don’t need to be punishing.”
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: Illinois Casino Bill Jeopardized, Ohio Scales Down Prison Plan, GM Sales Rise
September 1st, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Illinois casino bill teeters. As Chicago alderman and Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued lobbying for a gambling expansion bill, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has intensified his criticism of it, according to our partner station WBEZ. The governor said he has reservations about slot machines at horse tracks around the state. Lawmakers have not yet sent a gambling bill, which paves the way for a Chicago casino, to the governor yet for fear he would veto it.
2. Prison plans scaled down. Ohio will sell the Lake Erie Correctional Institution to a private corporation for $72.7 million, but officials have backpedaled from initial plans to sell four other facilities. The Columbus Dispatch reported the development Thursday. Ohio administrators released a statement that said “it was not in Ohio taxpayers’ best interest” to pursue further sales. As Ohio readies to make one sale, The St. Petersburg Times carries a cautionary tale today about the shift toward private prisons.
3. General Motors sales rise. U.S. sales of General Motors autos increased 18 percent in August, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday. GMC led the gain with sales climbing 40.3 percent year-over-year. The Chevrolet Cruze sold more than 20,000 cars for the fifth straight month, and was GM’s best-selling car for the third consecutive month. GM has gained market share in 7 of the past 8 months, the company’s vice president of U.S. sales operations told the Free Press.
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: Ohio Unemployment Rate Rises, Michigan Governor Seeks Supreme Court Intervention
August 19th, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Ohio’s unemployment rate rises. Employers in Ohio added more jobs in July, but the state’s unemployment rate nonetheless inched upward 0.2 percent to 9 percent overall, the Columbus Dispatch reported Friday. It’s the second consecutive month the figure has climbed. A separate survey showed Buckeye state manufacturers added 7,900 jobs in July. Ohio wasn’t the only state to see an unemployment climb. Earlier this week, Michigan’s unemployment rate jumped 0.4 points to 10.9 percent in July.
2. Chicago casino’s path clearer. “I cannot continue to have Hammond, Indiana, get $20 million a month while our infrastructure is crumbling.” That’s how Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel explains his transition from a position of reluctance to now embracing the idea of a Chicago casino. CBS Chicago says the mayor believes he and Illinois governor Pat Quinn can iron out differences in casino plans. The Illinois state senate still has a hold on a bill that paves the way for the casino and other state gambling.
3. Michigan governor seeks court ruling. Gov. Rick Snyder has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to quickly address the constitutionality of legislation he signed earlier this year that allows emergency managers to take over financially troubled communities and school districts. Opponents of the law who filed a class-action lawsuit in Ingham County earlier this year called Snyder’s move an attempt to “bypass the judicial system,” according to the Detroit Free Press.