Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
We’ve heard a lot in the past few weeks about Chicago and its place among global cities. On Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel set forth his proposal for a “new Chicago” that involves a wide variety of infrastructure improvements, private funding and more debt.
All that is supposed to put the city back among the list of the world’s best cities. But there are suggestions that Chicago actually needn’t bother.
Urbanist Richard Florida looks at why some cities lose and others win in a sweeping piece today on The Atlantic Cities. He notes that the world’s biggest cities have been dramatically reordered since 1950, when Chicago was the second biggest in the U.S. and eighth largest in the world.
The board’s staff released signature tallies on Thursday on recall petitions for Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s lieutenant governor.
There were 931,053 signatures collected for Walker’s recall; 26,114 were discarded by the staff; 4,001 were found to be duplicates and 900,938 were declared valid. That’s far more than required to hold an election. Four state Senators also face recall elections.
If the elections are held, the staff recommended a primary take place on May 8 and the general election, if needed, on June 5.
Read all our coverage of Walker and the Wisconsin elections here.
The state-appointed financial review team for the city did hold a meeting, as expected. It was a pretty raucous meeting, as our partner station Michigan Radio reported. The reviewteam was required by law to make a recommendation to the governor about how to handle Detroit’s “fiscal crisis.”
There were basically two options: Recommend a consent agreement with the city, or recommend appointing an emergency manager who has the power to toss out union contracts, sell assets and balance the books. At the time of the meeting, no consent agreement had been reached with the city, so the emergency manager option – an option no one really wants – was starting to look more likely. But instead of taking option 1 or 2, the review team took option 3: Restate that there is a fiscal crisis in the city, restate that the team prefers a consent agreement and restate the obvious fact that there is currently no consent agreement. Not exactly a historic decree.
Ever since the federal government put General Motors through bankruptcy in 2009, investors, politicians and employees have wondered when the Treasury Department would sell its GM stake.
Some experts been predicting a final sale would come before the 2012 general election, giving President Obama a political tool. But with GM shares trading below their price when GM went public in 2010, any sale would mean a loss for the government.
Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, is following a well-worn path this week, making a trade mission to Europe.
Snyder’s tweeting photos of his trip via his @onetoughnerd account. Here’s one he sent home from Turin, Italy, of himself with Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne (we’re pretty sure that’s not a hockey beard).
Snyder is also answering tweets from his followers about the trip, pointing out several times that the trade mission is paid for with private funds and isn’t costing the state’s taxpayers anything.
The governor’s goal is to promote the state to foreign investors as a good place to invest.Thus far, his itinerary has taken him to Turin, where he’s met with Fiat officials and company suppliers, and to Stuttgart, Germany, home base for Daimler. (Remember that Daimler used to own Chrysler, now under the wing of Fiat.)
Snyder is also taking some time out to be, well, nerdy. In a tweet this morning, he wrote, “Whoever is the next person to follow me on Twitter becomes my 8,297th follower, which is exciting because that’s a prime number.”
Illinoisans are casting their votes today in the state’s Republican primary. If polls are correct, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is heading for his first blow out victory in a Midwestern state.
He had unexpectedly close contests with former Sen. Rick Santorum in Michigan and Ohio, which made the Illinois primary more important than most political watchers thought it would be.
Republican presidential candidates are making their final push in Illinois before tomorrow’s primary. They’ve flooded the airwaves with advertisements. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney alone has spent nearly $4 million in the state, according to the Chicago Tribune.
But Illinois firefighters have countered with their own anti-Romney ad, paid for by their union, the International Association of Firefighters.
Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich was in Illinois on Thursday. His performance in the state could determine whether the GOP race narrows to Romney and Santorum, or whether it remains a three-way contest.
The political world didn’t think the Republican primary season would last this long. But after Rick Santorum’s victories last night in Mississippi and Alabama, eyes are now turning to Illinois, which holds its primary next Tuesday.
A big question about Illinois is whether it will be the last stand for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — or whether it keep him in the race longer.