Midwest Memo: Obama Stumps, Emanuel Delays And Michigan Teaches Online

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.

A Cinnamon Bomb That Exploded For A Chicago Bakery

Small businesses are gems in our region, and the Fraiche bakery near Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is a jewel in the eyes of its customers.

But, according to the Chicago Tribune, a dispute with a departing chef has turned into a lawsuit, all over the recipe for a cinnamon bomb. (You can see it here.)

In court papers, Fraiche owner Susan Davis Friedman alleged that the chef, who was not named, quit the restaurant, then returned a few days later and took a pair of ringed binders that contained a series of recipes.

They included the cinnamon bomb, a donut like muffin that ranked as No. 87 on Time Out Chicago’s List of the top 100 things its reporters ate in 2011.

The lawsuit alleges that the chef, Maryann Huppert, who helped develop the recipes with the restaurant, told a manager that Friedman would have to sue to get the recipes back. “If she wanted the recipes, why didn’t she make copies?” The lawsuit claims the chef told the manager.  Continue reading “A Cinnamon Bomb That Exploded For A Chicago Bakery”

Midwest Migration: What’s So Great About Austin? Plenty, According To Former Midwesterners

This week Changing Gears is taking a closer look at the Midwest Migration, and we’re talking with people who have left the region. Reporter Peter O’Dowd met with some of those former Midwesterners living in Austin, Texas, and brings us this report:

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The Brookings Institution reports that 20-somethings fled Detroit and Chicago at the end of the last decade for places like Seattle and Portland. Cities they thought were cool. “Cool” has become a selling point for young professionals. And perhaps no city has it figured out better than Austin, Texas. Over the next few days Changing Gears will profile people who have left the Midwest, and that’s where we go next – to the home of music festivals known around the world.

John Livingston at the Pour House in Austin, Texas / Credit: Peter O'Dowd

John Livingston and his friends say Austin has a soul, and on a gorgeous Friday night in March you can see why.

Livingston is a lot like any other 24-year old. He and his friends still like to party, and on this night, they’re doing it on the north side of town.

Not long ago, Livingston and four others moved to Austin from Bloomington, Indiana.

It was January 2010. College was coming to an end. The friends were drinking at their favorite hang-out, and wondering what to do next in life. It was pretty clear that Bloomington – a city of 80,000 and home to Indiana University – didn’t have what they wanted.

“We just started thinking of places to go – something different, something new. By the end of the night we were all just chanting Austin. We wanted to go to Austin. We were all about Austin,” says Livingston.

Continue reading “Midwest Migration: What’s So Great About Austin? Plenty, According To Former Midwesterners”

Beginning This Weekend, A Changing Gears Special: “Where Did Everybody Go?”

Over the past few months, you’ve been reading and listening to Changing Gears’ special reports on Midwest Migration — the people who moved away.

Beginning this weekend, tune in for Changing Gears’ hour-long documentary, “Where Did Everybody Go?”

Hosted by Richard Steele of WBEZ Chicago, “Where Did Everybody Go” tells the stories of people who left the Midwest, and some who came home.

We’ll visit Portland, Austin, New York City, upstate New York and Los Angeles. We’ll talk with Jim Russell, a geographer who writes the Burgh Diaspora blog, and Dan Moilanen, a Flint, Mich., native who went to Austin to work for Apple, and came back to help his hometown.

Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard will also be part of the special, which was produced by award-winning journalist Kate Concannon. The special is informed by the Public Insight Network.

“Where Did Everybody Go” airs at these dates and times:

Or you can come back here to listen to the show. Be sure to join us, for “Where Did Everybody Go?”

Detroit Has Tons Of Vacant Land. But Forty Square Miles?

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Vacancy is easy to see, hard to quantify

DETROIT – Forty square miles.  That’s how much of Detroit lies vacant, nearly a third of the city.  You could fit Miami or San Francisco inside all that emptiness.  At least, that’s what we’ve heard for years.  The thing is, it might not be true.

This is a story about a number – an estimate, really – and how it became a fact illustrating Detroit’s decline. I’ve read about 40 square miles in the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and The Washington Times. I’ve heard it on Fox and I’ve said it on the radio. That’s why Margaret Dewar called me out.

“Wait, this can’t be true.”

Dewar is a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. She thinks there’s tons of vacant land in Detroit. Just not 40 square miles, dramatic as it sounds.

“It’s too good a number to let go of,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful number, it’s so shocking.” Continue reading “Detroit Has Tons Of Vacant Land. But Forty Square Miles?”

Midwest Memo: A Vote On Chicago’s Infrastructure Plan And Moviemakers Flock To Ohio But Avoid Michigan

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.

Is Detroit’s Comeback Over? Carmakers Lose Market Share Gains

Last year, everyone in the auto industry was chuffed about Detroit’s comeback.

American Landscape, by Sheeler

The carmakers were enjoying a healthy rebound from the bankruptcies at General Motors and Chrysler. And for a while, at least, Chrysler outsold Toyota to make the Detroit Three the Big Three again.

But this year, Detroit’s market share has been slipping, and that has ramifications all across the Midwest.

In fact, the auto companies have fallen back to the market share level they held in 2009, as GM and Chrysler were struggling. In a piece for Forbes.com, I look at what happened to the Detroit companies during the first quarter.

Basically, there are three issues:  Continue reading “Is Detroit’s Comeback Over? Carmakers Lose Market Share Gains”

Indiana’s GOP Senate Primary Will Be A Doozy

Back in February, we gave you a heads up about the tough fight shaping up in Indiana for veteran U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar

He has not had a primary opponent since he first won election in 1976, and he’s been one of the most prominent Republicans in the Senate, leading the Foreign Relations Committee and serving as an advisor to numerous presidents.

But Lugar is being challenged by the state’s treasurer, Richard E. Mourdock, amid criticism from Tea Party members over his record. He’s also been embroiled in controversy over exactly where he lives.

Now, as a primary election approaches next month, his battle to keep his seat is getting even more intense.

Monica Davey in The New York Times takes a look at the race today. She reports that the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll showed Lugar leading Mourdock by 42 percent to 35 percent among likely primary voters. That is within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus five points.

 

Midwest Migration: The Appeal Of Portland

Carla Danley / Credit: Chris Lehman

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If you wanted to start life over in a new place, would you choose somewhere with a chronically high unemployment rate and struggling schools, or one that’s known as a haven for slackers? The latter is one way to describe Portland, Oregon.

It seems like everyone is talking about Portland these days. Part of that has to do with the success of Portlandia, a sketch comedy show that pokes fun at Portland’s young hipster crowd. As one character explains, “Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

But not everyone who moves to Portland is a twenty-something slacker. The city still draws out-of-state transplants, including highly educated professionals.

More than half of all Oregon residents were born somewhere else. As part of our Changing Gears project, reporter Chris Lehman introduces us to two families who moved to Portland from the Midwest. Continue reading “Midwest Migration: The Appeal Of Portland”

Midwest Memo: Recall Race Ramps Up, Wage Gap Persists And Michigan Considers Less Oversight

Recall fight The Wall Street Journal reports that what started out as a fight over collective bargaining has grown into a “high-stakes, high-dollar referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker and central elements of his party’s fiscal agenda.” And a new poll shows Walker has a slim lead in the June recall race.

Wage gap MLive reports on a new report that finds a persistent wage gap between men and women in America. Michigan has the 10th highest gap of all states, with women there making only 74 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Indiana has the 6th highest gap. There, women make 28 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

Not ready for college About 30 percent of Indiana students who enter college have to take “remedial” classes once they get there, according to a new report.

Rail expansion Norfolk Southern is planning a $160 million expansion of its rail yards in Bellevue, Ohio. The expansion is expected to create 275 jobs according to the AP.

Lower taxes The Dayton Daily News examines Ohio income taxes and finds that rates are at their lowest level in 30 years.

You’re on your own Michigan’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention is recommending that the state end oversight for 18 occupations and 9 boards. Partner station Michigan Radio has a full list of the recommendations.