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.
It’s Tax Day, and Chicagoans are protesting various tax-related issues. Members of the Tea Party are gathering for the Chicago Tax Day Tea Party, while same-sex couples are protesting at post offices nationwide that they cannot file federal joint tax returns. WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight took a look at what’s behind those complaints, and the history of tax day protests.
McDonald’s is hiring 50,000 people nationwide – 10,000 in the Midwest – thanks to a sales hike of five percent last year. The company is promoting tomorrow, April 19th as National Hiring Day as it looks to hire people for everything from kitchen staff to cashiers.
CHICAGO – Would you like some fries with that? That’s the phrase many are perfecting for April 19, which McDonald’s has dubbed National Hiring Day. Here’s a quick story on where the jobs will be here in our region.
McDonald’s got its start here in the Midwest, and it has a substantial presence throughout the Great Lakes states. That’s why 10,000 of the 50,000 new workers the company wants to hire will be based across Illinios, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Say the name Patricia Wells to a foodie, and they’ll immediately mention her guide to Paris and her French cookbooks. Say Patricia Wells to a Midwestern foodie, and you’ll get the response, “she’s from Milwaukee.”
White Lake, on the shore of Lake Michigan, has been an official toxic “Area of Concern” for decades, thanks to chemical industry pollutants. But, thanks in large part to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative started by the Obama administration, it’s finally close to being clean again. That means a return of much needed tourism to the area.
However, in his latest commentary for the Great Lakes Echo, Gary Wilson says a new study underway found that the White Lake area is a potential disease cluster. That might raise concerns about White Lake all over again. Wilson wonders what it takes to speed up the clean up process of contaminated sites. A good question for the future, since Congress just approved another $300 million dollars for the job.
Emergency managers in Michigan’s most troubled communities have new powers — and the emergency manager of Benton Harbor has become the first to carry them out. Joseph Harris, who was appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm to run the city, issued an order late last week stripping city officials of their authority.
All decisions by boards, commissions and other authorities now require his approval. Changing Gears partner Michigan Radio has the story.
The new law, signed by current Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this month, has received national attention and generated the ire of unions. The law allows the state’s emergency managers — appointed when a city is in dire shape — to void provisions of public employee contracts, and to ask the state for permission to cancel them. It also gives emergency managers far more authority than in the past.
Like other visitors to Cuba, I was charmed by the vision of vintage Buicks, Chevrolets and Cadillacs gliding down the streets of Havana when I visited in the 1990s. Now, it looks like those cars may soon be joined by more-recent models, potentially rejuvenating a market where Detroit has not participated for decades.
The reinvention of the Cuban car market will be closely watched by companies all over the world, especially those in our region.
Consumer prices made their biggest jump since the summer of 2009, especially in food, gas, and rent. Those tend to be the more volatile indicators of consumer prices, and they’re a big concern across the Great Lakes. Consumer confidence is vital for the continued health of the auto industry. Overseas, Europeans and Chinese also are worried about rising inflation, much of it there also fed by higher oil and food prices.
The Indiana House is set to vote today on a bill that would tax businesses that hire illegal immigrants. This bill is a much milder version of a tougher bill pushed by Republicans that would have allowed the police to stop anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant.
Leading off: a follow up on a Midwest Memo item from yesterday. Remember that Gary, IN was asking for a bailout from the state? Well, it got it. Indiana’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board approved the city’s request for property tax relief, meaning the city now only needs to cut $1 million instead of $11 million from its budget.
The economy is poised to be a hot topic in the 2012 election, nationally and across our region. Rising gas prices — now above $4 a gallon in Chicago — and a widening gap between America’s wealthy and poor are expected to influence how people vote. WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eightprogram covered this today.
In this episode, we cover some of our latest stories. Kate Davidson tells us about a backlog at tax tribunals around the region. Dan Bobkoff explains how zoning works, and why some cities are trying to change their zoning codes. Finally, Dan I take a look past the rhetoric around Ohio’s Senate Bill 5, the recently passed law that limits the collective bargaining rights of state employees.