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Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Rahm’s In Charge, Ohio Steel Bounces Back And We’re Hosting A Call-In Show
April 25th, 2012
Tune in Today at 3 p.m. ET/2p.m CT, Changing Gears is hosting a live call in show on “Hidden Assets” of the Midwest economy. Michigan governor Rick Snyder will be joining us for the show, and we’ll have a live chat here at changinggears.info.
Rahm in charge Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won approval from City Council yesterday to move ahead with his $7.2 billion infrastructure plan. The vote wasn’t even close, which prompted the Chicago Tribune to say the mayor is “firmly in control.”
Mo’ money, mo’ physics Officials at Michigan State University are getting some good news. The state’s Senate delegation says MSU’s planned Facility for Rare Isotope Beams will get an extra $8 million in federal funds. The facility is expected to be a leader in the study of particle physics. The extra $8 million still puts the facility $25 million below what MSU leaders had hoped for from the government.
Real steel The New York Times reports on $1.5 billion worth of investment in Ohio’s steel industry. After a painful recession, the Times says Ohio’s still industry is bouncing back, thanks to the state’s booming natural gas market and increased demand for new vehicles.
April 19th, 2012
Stumping President Obama was in the Midwest yesterday. He talked about job training in Ohio, according to partner station WCPN Ideastream. At a stop in Dearborn, Mich., the president emphasized the importance of “making things,” according to Michigan Radio.
Delayed, not defeated Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has agreed to a six day delay on a vote for his $7.2 billion infrastructure plan, after getting more pushback than expected from City Council. The Chicago Tribune says the Mayor will probably still get approval, and “the brief nature of the pause suggested the maneuver was primarily tactical and designed to project the appearance of compromise.”
Fewer teachers The number of school teachers in Wisconsin dropped 2.3 percent last year, according to the AP. Despite the cuts, Gov. Scotte Walker’s spokesperson says his education reforms are working.
Internet instruction The University of Michigan is one of only three universities in the country that will try out a new, more interactive online learning program, according to Michigan Radio. The program was developed at Stanford.
Paying for pensions Chicago teachers are pushing to get support from the state to fund their pension plan. Partner station WBEZ reports that many public employee pension accounts in Illinois are underfunded.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: A Vote On Chicago’s Infrastructure Plan And Moviemakers Flock To Ohio But Avoid Michigan
April 18th, 2012
Up for a vote Today, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces “his biggest City Council meeting to date,” according to the Chicago Tribune. The Council is scheduled to vote on Emanuel’s $7.2 infrastructure plan. A committee narrowly recommended approval at a meeting on Monday.
Tax bump Illinois income tax collections jumped almost 32 percent last year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The paper reports it was the second-highest jump in income tax collections in the country.
Making movies in Ohio Ohio legislators are considering a plan to double the cap on film industry tax incentives, from a $10 million cap on incentives to $20 million. A new study says for every dollar spent on Ohio’s incentives, $1.20 comes back to the state, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Meanwhile in Michigan … The Detroit Free Press reports Michigan’s scaled back film tax incentives plan is attracting far fewer projects. Just nine films applied for the new grants in the first quarter of the year. Those numbers are behind the pace set by 69 applications in the first half of last year.
Getting rid of a tax Partner station Michigan Radio reports Republican lawmakers are looking to phase out the state’s tax on industrial property. People behind the push say the tax drives away investment. Local leaders say the plan won’t fully replace the revenue that’s lost of the taxes go away.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: No Oversight In Infrastructure Plan, Stimulus Funds To Closed Schools And Casino Competition
April 16th, 2012
Infrastructure plan, examined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $7.2 billion infrastructure plan gets a hearing today at the City Council. The Chicago Tribune reports the plan would give a board of financiers the ability to approve multi-million dollar deals with almost no oversight. Some aren’t happy with the idea.
Stimulating failure The Dayton Daily News reports that nearly $5 million in federal stimulus funding went to charter schools in Ohio that have since closed their doors. Millions more went to schools that were accused of mishandling funds in the past, according to the paper.
Casino competition Indiana is expecting to lose $100 million in state revenue as new casinos open in Ohio. The new Ohio casinos are expected to take away customers from Indiana’s casinos according to the Herald Bulletin.
Empty buildings, full of danger The Detroit Free Press looks at the harrowing walk to school for many of Detroit’s children. The Freep has a two-part series at the dangers children face from the 33,000 vacant buildings near Detroit schools.
Parking lawsuit A deal to privatize four city-owned parking garages in downtown Chicago has led to a $200 million lawsuit, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Banking on land banks Partner station WCPN Ideastream says more Ohio counties are setting up land banks to deal with the problem of vacant property.
Chicago has been notorious in the education community for one thing: its short school day. Elementary school students spend only five hours and 45 minutes a day in class, the shortest of any major city, while high schoolers spend only seven. Now, that’s about to change.
City officials announced today that the elementary school day will be seven hours this fall, while the high school day will rise to seven and a half hours.
That’s something long sought by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who has faced obstacles in lengthening the city’s school day. First, he tried unsuccessfully to cajole individual schools into voluntarily adopting a longer day. Then, he proposed an even longer day for elementary school students.
But after meetings with parents upset by the plan, the city announced a calendar that includes these features.
- All elementary students will move to a seven hour school day, and high school students will have a 7 1/2-hour school day, with a 75-minute early release one day a week. (In other words, they’ll have a normal school day four days a week, and get out early once a week.)
- The annual school day gains 10 additional days of instruction, moving Chicago from the shortest school year in the country to a 180-day year that is on par with the national average.
- A student entering kindergarten next year will receive nearly 2.5 additional years of instructional time by the time they graduate high school.
- Elementary school students will have a daily recess, which parents insisted upon.
Emanuel, who was elected last year to succeed Richard Daley, insisted throughout his campaign that the city needed a longer school day so Chicago children could compete on a global level.
“The time is not the goal. The time is an opportunity to be maximized,” he said at the announcement today. “That’s how you prepare for the future. That’s how you prepare kids that don’t get a do-over.”
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Detroit Assembles A Team, Indiana’s Accounting Errors And Chicago’s Tourism Offices
April 6th, 2012
Detroit looking for accountants Detroit has a deal to avoid state takeover. Now, the Detroit Free Press reports leaders have to pick the members of the new panel that will oversee the city’s finances.
Whoopsie An error by the state of Indiana shortchanged county governments by $206 billion over the last year, according to the Indianapolis Star. The paper says it’s the second budget error announced by the state in the last four months. The two mistakes amount to half a billion dollars in accounting miscalculations.
Poised to strike Partner station WBEZ reports teachers at more than 150 Chicago schools are ready to go on strike, if contract negotiations with the Mayor’s office fail. Mayor Emanuel is pushing for a longer school day, a new calender and new teacher evaluations.
Appealing to tourists The city of Chicago will open new tourism offices in Brazil, Germany and Japan this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. Last year, the city launched tourism offices in London, Toronto and Mexico City.
It can happen anywhere WKSU found new oil and gas drilling happening in some unexpected places in Ohio. One of the sites for a new “fracking” operation in the state is right under a school.
Dustin Dwyer · Watch Live: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces $7 Billion Plan To Improve City’s Infrastructure
March 29th, 2012
Big news out of Chicago this morning: mayor Rahm Emanuel is announcing a three-year, $7 billion plan to rebuild the city’s infrastructure. The Mayor’s office says the plan will create 30,000 jobs, and it won’t require a tax hike.
The mayor will deliver a speech to announce the plan coming up at 11 a.m. Central time. You can watch the speech live right here.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Chicago’s $7 Billion Plan, Appealing The Vatican And The Booms Are Back
March 29th, 2012
That’s billion, with a “b” The New York Times reports on a new $7 billion plan to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure. The Times says Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announce the plan during a speech today. He says the improvements will be paid for without raising property or sales taxes. As many as 30,000 jobs could be created.
School shortfall Partner station WBEZ reports the Chicago Public Schools district is facing a $700 million dollar deficit this year. The deficit came about because of rising pension costs. Officials say they were able to avoid painful cuts in the past few years, but this year those cuts are coming.
Church appeal Cleveland’s Bishop may appeal a Vatican decision to keep open 13 Cleveland-area churches. The bishop’s spokesman tells partner station WCPN Ideastream that attendance has fallen, and the churches create a financial burden for the diocese. The Vatican sent an order two weeks ago to reopen the churches.
Not over yet The booms are back in Clintonville, Wisc.
March 6th, 2012
President Obama shook up his home town yesterday when the White House announced it’s moving the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David instead.
Today, the President tried to soothe some ruffled feathers. His decision to shift the summit wasn’t a slap at Chicago’s preparations, he told an afternoon news conference. Rather, he’s never had world leaders come to Camp David, and wanted the opportunity to talk in a relaxed setting.
“We’re still going to be showing up with a whole bunch of world leaders,” Obama said, referring to the NATO summit that will still be held there. “I always have confidence in Chicago ability to handle security, whether it’s Taste of Chicago or Lapalooza or most championships.”
(The president was referring to Lollapalooza, the annual alt-music festival that’s held in Grant Park. Chicagoans on Twitter immediately took notice. Tweeted Peter Sagal: “Lapalooza? LAPALOOZA?”)
From the beginning, scheduling both the G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago back-to-back was all about putting the city on a global stage. No city had hosted both since London in 1977. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, lobbied his old boss to get the summits.
But now that the President has decided to move the G-8 summit, and leave Chicago with the less-prestigious and less-contentious NATO summit, what does it mean for the city? Since it was all about the city’s image anyway, it means whatever people say it means.
Here’s our guide to how people have reacted:
- Crain’s Chicago Business says the city has taken “a pie in the face.”
- The Chicago Sun-Times talked to various business leaders in the city, and found shock among hotel operators. “I’m still pulling myself off the ground on this.” one hotel manager told the paper. “Give me some oxygen.”
- The Associated Press says the move won’t keep protestors off the streets of Chicago during the NATO meeting.
- The Chicago Tribune finds a bit of a mixed reaction on the news. But the paper says one thing won’t change: The Chicago Restaurant Association will still go ahead with its international dining initiative. More than 50 restaurants will feature tasting menus that represent the NATO nations.
- The Chicago Reader, characteristically, used stronger language, saying the decision was probably a “[bleeping] bummer” for Mayor Emanuel. The Readers said the NATO summit would bring less prestige to the city.”NATO summits don’t generally excite people as much as meetings of the most powerful money guys in the world,” the paper said.
- Salon checked in with the Occupy movement, and reports that OccupyChicago promised on Twitter that the protests in May will still be “#EPIC.”
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.