Midwest Memo: Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Gas prices in Michigan have hit a record high. Photo by Kristen Steele via Flickr.

Gas prices continue to go up nationwide, and in Michigan they’ve hit a record . According to GasBuddy.com, parts of Michigan are now paying more than $4.29 for a gallon of gasoline, partly because refinery problems are leading to a decline in gasoline supplies in the area. That’s not quite as expensive as Chicago, but still an eye opener in the state that’s home to American auto companies. Meanwhile, the Ohio Petroleum Council says the death of Osama bin Laden isn’t expected to push gas prices any lower.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that Michigan is getting $4 million more to secure its border with Ontario, Canada through improved communications systems. The money is part of a larger effort to increase emergency response measures along the Canadian and Mexican borders.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city’s unions need to “come to the table” to help close the budget gap. He says its time for lawmakers and union members to work together. He’s starting a series of meetings this week to discuss what sort of sacrifice is needed by unions and the rest of the city.

Borders has shut the doors of six of its Chicago retail locations. Now, people are wondering what sort of economic impact the loss of those stores will have. That’s not just from a loss of book sales, but in some areas, like the southwest side of Chicago, Borders stores helped spark an economic renaissance 10 years ago. With Borders gone, will the area still thrive?

The healthcare industry has long been touted as one that will have a lot of job openings over the next several years. But today’s nursing graduates are finding that despite the projected nursing shortage, jobs are surprisingly scarce.

Indiana voters are going to the polls today for the state’s primary election. Gary, Indiana is dealing with a crowded mayor’s race. Voters around Lake and Porter counties will also be choosing who fills several mayoral and city council seats.

Southwest Airlines announced yesterday that it has purchased AirTran Airways in a cash and stock deal worth almost $1 billion. Southwest’s major hub is at Chicago’s Midway Airport. In Northeast Ohio, AirTran flies out of the Akron-Canton airport while Southwest is the biggest source of air traffic out of Cleveland Hopkins airport. The airlines say the merger won’t affect fliers in the near future. But there will be one big difference: Southwest, which trumpets its lack of fees, is going to keep collecting the fees that AirTran charges.

Police officers around Ohio continue to have concerns about a plan in the state budget to privatize prisons. Police officers say when the prisons are privatized; it would be up to the local police units to investigate any events in the prison instead of the state troopers. They say local police units aren’t equipped to take on the extra burden, but supporters of the plan say the new prison owners would have to ensure local police units do have adequate resources.

The Cleveland Zoo's new elephant exhibit opens this Thursday. Photo by Doug Kukurudza via Flickr.

Ahead of our event at the Rock Hall tomorrow, Changing Gears took a look at how music affects the Midwest. Cities across our region used to be a music destination, home to big names from jazz, Motown, and rock and roll. But now, it seems even bands that are born here leave quickly. What happened, and how can we turn things around?

Midwest animal lovers will be glad to hear the new elephants at the Cleveland Zoo are adapting well to their recently finishes $35 million pachyderm mansion. The Zoo’s new elephant exhibit opens this Thursday.



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