Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
"I'm scared out of my mind talking to you here," Joe from Philly blurted out as he was connected to President Barack Obama during a talk radio call-in show devoted to health care Thursday. But when it came to his comment, however, Joe did not hold back.
"I'm getting a little ticked off that it feels like the knees are buckling a little bit," the caller declared, suggesting the president had begun to wobble in the face of pressure from conservative critics.
"You have an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, and you own the whole shooting match. ... It's very frustrating to watch you try and compromise with a lot of these people who aren't willing to compromise with you."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Mr. Ryan, you and yours would do yourselves a great favor by voluntarily making your committee, and the successor Chicago Organizing Committee, subject to the provisions of Illinois' freedom-of-information law. That would allay the fear that, once you have the City Council on board, Chicago citizens will lose their leverage to protect the huge commitment you're asking of them.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The trouble is we're stretched too thin now and what used to be "normal" deployment is more of a stopgap or "reactionary" and doesn't prevent a thing. Not only that, the Uptown eruptions are a direct result of manpower being shifted to higher crime areas and less pressure being placed on the local hood rats who figure out very quickly that they can act out with less repercussions.
A second economic argument for high speed rail is that it will revitalize troubled regions of the United States. This argument would never be made about Dallas or Houston, which are booming, but some argue that high-speed rail can save Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland. Transportation can have a significant impact on urban growth. Josh Gottlieb and I estimated that counties with access to a rail line in 1850 grew 20 percent more over the next 40 years. Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner found that a 10 percent increase in a metropolitan area’s stock of highways in 1980 caused a 2 percent increase in population growth over the next 20 years.
This logic has led some to think that high-speed rail will do wonders transforming Buffalo into a back office for Manhattan. Buffalo is 376 miles from Manhattan, so a 150-mile-an-hour rail line will take two and a half hours, which is not going to be significantly faster than air. Moreover, vast amounts of low-cost space are closer to Manhattan than the shores of Lake Erie. Faster connections between Buffalo and Toronto might do more, but in that case speed is hampered by the burdens of border crossing.
The new law tightens many of the loopholes exploited by public officials to keep taxpayers from prying into their own affairs. It shortens the deadlines for responding to records requests and prohibits governments from charging outrageous fees to produce public documents.
Most significant, it comes with teeth. The law authorizes a public access counselor to mediate disputes over records and issue binding opinions. It provides penalties of up to $5,000 for governments that don't follow the law, and it requires them to pay legal costs if a citizen has to go to court to force the release of a public record.
The vow. Global media mogul Rupert Murdoch this month: "Quality journalism is not cheap. The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive distribution channels but it has not made content free. We intend to charge for all our news websites."That will work for the Wall Street Journal, but will it for more local newspapers?
Monday, August 17, 2009
Huberman listed increasing employee pension costs and the state's money woes as leading pressures on the district's spending plans...
City school officials for months have been warning of a budget gap of $475 million or more in their $5.33 billion budget. The $475 million is the largest dollar deficit since Mayor Richard Daley took over the district in 1995. Next year, Huberman is projecting a budget hole close to $1 billion...
Last year, the district avoided a property tax increase by dipping into its reserves. That decision followed the biggest property tax hike of Daley's tenure in late 2007 and two sales tax increases approved in 2008.
The pension issue looms large. The district is required to fund 90 percent of the pension, which previously had not been a major issue, Msall said. But when the stock market crashed, the value of pension investments dipped and the school district was required to begin making up the difference. That meant $130 million extra this year and an estimated $300 million more next year.
"I think the Chicago Public Schools system faces an enormous financial challenge this year and even more so in the coming years," Msall said. "Basically, it's a pension time bomb."
Friday, August 14, 2009
Out of boredom I ended up clicking on the Chicago Huffington Post page--something I admittedly have looked at twice since they fired that up a year ago--and I realized why I never go there.
It sucks. It totally sucks. It isn't interesting and it says the same freaking things that the Trib and Sun-Times say. There is no point to this site. None. There are posts and headlines on Ozzie saying that the Sox will go after teams that throw at them. There is a Patrick Kane update. There is even a headline... no wait, two headlines, on the U of I Clout story, along with a section on how to make peach donuts and someone praising Italian wines.
So what's the point of this page again? Wasn't Huffington going to some how bring "attitude" to Chicago? Instead, it seems like it's just a rehashing of Tribune/Sun-Times stories, and has little to no actual opinion or counter arguments/reporting to what those two newspapers do. The site is totally uninteresting and pretty much fails at what it set out to do:
"Transferring The Huffington Post's blend of news, opinion, and community -- delivered with our familiar look and attitude -- to a local level, HuffPost Chicago is part local news source, part resource guide, and part virtual soap box -- featuring a collection of bloggers who know and love Chicago, and are looking to share their takes on everything from the Cubs to City Hall to the hot new local band to the best place for Greek food (and I can testify that there is a lot of that in Chicago!)."
However, the site never actually set out to do this. John Cusack talking about how much he loves Chicago doesn't cut it because he doesn't really live here any more and lost all his Chicago cred when he showed up at the Cell in 2005 cheering on the White Sox – this after years of being a Cubs fan. From what I can/could tell Huffington Chicago was supposed to be about Chicago for people not in Chicago... only why would anyone read that?
A year later, they haven't added anything to the conversation. They haven't broken any stories -- not even a clout story -- instead they've just linked to what we already knew. They could have gone the route of the Reader and just hammered home how local media is all over the place or how TIFs are being misused by Daley and his pals. But instead it's just a shittier version of the Trib and Sun-Times, repeating their stories instead of going after new stories or offering up opinion on things like why Chicago shouldn't get the Olympics, or hammering the Tribune for flying 2016 flags when the IOC was in town in the winter. I'm not sure what the point of HuffPost Chicago ever really was – posing as an edgy alternative in a city that hates phony attitude was never going to fly. And it lacks the snark of Gawker... or the off-the-front-page stories of Chicagoist.
I think it's safe to add it to the FAIL Blog.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Unsuspecting taxpayers walking in high-end neighborhoods are approached
by thugs, who punch the taxpayers in the face, beat the tar out of
them, humiliate them further and take their money. It happens in other neighborhoods. But in other neighborhoods,
unfortunately, this wouldn't lead the local newscasts. It would be
police blotter stuff, next to the motor vehicle break-ins and petty
thefts and bleak, one-paragraph accounts of murder...
They'll catch them. Police have made one arrest and cut the suspect
loose for lack of evidence, but sooner or later, the marauders will be
caught. And we'll be treated to another dog and pony show. Politicians
who rule from on high will thump their chests and pronounce Chicago
safe. The real police will snicker and wonder when they'll ever get a
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
The Trib is connecting the dots and just tied Michael Scott, Daley (aka Shortshanks if you're a Second City Cop reader (and you should be))... where was I... oh yes, Michael Scott, Daley ally and President of the Chicago Public School Board, has some prime real estate that he'll be able to develop if/when Chicago (sadly) gets the Olympics. Scott of course says he's done nothing wrong. And I guess he's sort of right this being Chicago at all... but let's face it, this stinks of graft.
This Scott story comes just a day after it's been alleged that people close to him were able to get their kid into one of CPS' selective enrollment high schools though back channels. The kid later pulled out after CPS started asking questions... but you've got to wonder now how much longer Scott will be around City Hall and CPS.
Oh wait, this is Chicago. It's the city that works! Yuppie whites will smile and shrug and say, "Hey, it's Chicago, this stuff is supposed to happen" and tell everyone that they think it's cute. This is a city were alderman, like say, Ed Burke (one of the biggest Hacks to ever walk these city streets) should be able to redo his office with taxpayer money right now even though thousands of city employees are getting laid off.
This Scott and Olympic story should come as no surprise. It's just the first. And it wouldn't shock me if someone either at CPS or City Hall tipped off the Tribune on this one (this is so far out of left field that I sort of have to believe the Trib got help on this one considering it's been a five alarm fire drill in the Tower for the last year). Anyway, if you're cool with stories like these, then sure, keep rooting for the Olympics. The corruption will be off the charts. But if you don't want you tax money to be going to the likes of Michael Scott, then it's time to call your alderman and tell them to vote down the Olympic money.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Now on to much more important things... CLOUT! The story that won't go away and is past the point of anyone caring is the Trib's main story which sets a new record for "Most Consecutive Days a Newspaper Carries a Story that No One is Talking About" at 162 days. Maybe it's just me and my dorky policy friends who aren't talking about it... but the only people that I talk about this story with is other Trib people and how sick they are of the story too.
But hey, in a town were crime is though the roof, the Olympics are about to fleece every resident, and the state is out of money -- Clout should be the #1 story for 162 days.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
See when you say things like: "Construction of the store would create200 jobs. The store, once it was running, would provide nearly 500jobs" you're totally missing the point of Chicago and the City Council. The point isn't to create jobs for Chicagoans today because we're talking about hundreds of jobs for Walsh Construction in 2013. See, building a Wal-Mart in Chicago makes too much sense, but of course it will piss off rich, liberal whites who the city needs more than anything else in the world... other than the Olympics of course.
So you're barking up the wrong tree. We don't need Wal-Mart, we need the Olympics. Because it will solve everything. And it won't cost a dime.