Midwest Memo: Illinois Matters, “Joe The Plumber” In, Kucinich Out And A Mine Deal Falls Through

Illinois matters! A less-than-decisive Super Tuesday means the Illinois primary on March 20th could actually mean something, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The other primary results Yesterday’s primary in Ohio wasn’t all about the Presidential contest. Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the plumber,” won his bid to be the GOP nominee for Ohio’s 9th congressional district. But he will not face Ohio’s long-serving Democrat Dennis Kucinich in the race. Kucinich lost his primary battle to Marcy Kaptur.

No more mine A controversial proposal for a mine in northern Wisconsin appears to be off the table. Yesterday, GOP senators failed to put together enough votes to approve the mine, and the company behind the plan quickly pulled its proposal.

One man’s take Michael Dell, the chairman of Dell Computers, says he doesn’t see much job growth coming in manufacturing.

Staying Connected To The Old Culture, While Fitting In With The New

When we asked what cultural traditions people have kept or lost, many wrote about the difficulty of fitting into American culture while staying connected to their own roots.

Yen Azzaro tried to learn her mother’s native Mandarin Chinese in college, but never mastered it. “I never learned how to read or write Chinese. Sometimes I feel inadequate or guilty about this,” said Azzaro. “But most of the time I just feel relieved that I understand some Chinese. Many people my age worked so hard to assimilate; they lost all knowledge of their native tongue,” she said.

Those who hold on to traditions often have a way of adapting and updating them to reflect new cultural experiences.

Sausage making in Anette Kingsbury's family. Credit: Annette Kingsbury

One way to track those changes and adaptations is through the way people cook and share food. We heard from a Sicilian family that once made 700 cannolis and another that (enthusiastically) honors their Sicilian roots by making hundreds of sausages.

Our culture project incorporated many stories from people who keep up a family food tradition and put their own spin on it.

Sharlene Innes writes: “The most important Polish tradition for my family and for me is Wigilia, the Christmas Eve celebration. We come together to share a meal which now includes items like a large nacho prepared by my Mexican-American brother-in-law.”

Continue reading “Staying Connected To The Old Culture, While Fitting In With The New”

What Does The Decision To Move The G-8 Summit Mean For Chicago?

Chicago skyline, by flickr user bryce_edwards

President Obama shook up his home town yesterday when the White House announced it’s moving the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David instead.

Today, the President tried to soothe some ruffled feathers. His decision to shift the summit wasn’t a slap at Chicago’s preparations, he told an afternoon news conference. Rather, he’s never had world leaders come to Camp David, and wanted the opportunity to talk in a relaxed setting.

“We’re still going to be showing up with a whole bunch of world leaders,” Obama said, referring to the NATO summit that will still be held there. “I always have confidence in Chicago ability to handle security, whether it’s Taste of Chicago or Lapalooza or most championships.”

(The president was referring to Lollapalooza, the annual alt-music festival that’s held in Grant Park. Chicagoans on Twitter immediately took notice. Tweeted Peter Sagal: “Lapalooza? LAPALOOZA?”) Continue reading “What Does The Decision To Move The G-8 Summit Mean For Chicago?”

An Auto Industry Champion Battles An SNL Fixture For Ohio Seat

There’s no question that Toledo Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is a champion of the auto industry, as befits a veteran Democrat with a big Jeep plant in her backyard — the one that President Obama visited last year.

President Obama speaks at an assembly plant in Toledo in June, one of seven trips to Ohio during his presidency.

And people far outside Ohio know Dennis Kucinich for the presidential campaign that made him a character on Saturday Night Live, as well as his tenure as the “boy mayor” of Cleveland.

Tomorrow, one of them won’t be running for another term in Congress. Kaptur and Kucinich are among 11 sets of Congressional representatives who are facing off against each other in primary races this year. Seven involve Democrats; four involve Republicans, according to Roll Call. Continue reading “An Auto Industry Champion Battles An SNL Fixture For Ohio Seat”

Can You Imagine Life In The Midwest 100,000 Years From Now?


The goal of Changing Gears is to talk about the transformation of our economy in the Midwest, and to prepare ourselves for a brighter future. The time scale we’re usually talking about is in range of decades, maybe a century or two.

But, this morning, we found ourselves thinking about what life could be like in the Midwest 100,000 years from now. The inspiration came from the animation created above by New Scientist.

We’re not scientists around here, but it seems there are some good reasons to be bullish about how the Midwest could fare over the long, long term. We’ve got all this water around us. We do pretty well at growing our own food. And, even though our manufacturing economy has taken a beating in the last few decades, our culture of making things has to be worth something in the grander scheme.

Just for a moment, forget what the next 10 years will look like in the Midwest. Forget about what will happen in your lifetime. Tell us what you think the Midwest will look like a thousand years from now. Then 10,000 years. Then 100,000.

Then, think about what things we can do now to make a difference.

Midwest Memo: Bye Bye G-8, Wisconsin Is Udderly Amazing And A Super Vote

Later, G-8er After months of planning in Chicago, city leaders found out yesterday they won’t be hosting the G-8 summit after all. Partner station WBEZ reports the decision could save the city from major protests.

Mo’ money, mo’ housing Huntington Bank is pledging $100 million in loans to help build or remodel low-income housing in Michigan. Bank officials hope the commitment generates confidence in the economy and spurs more bank lending.

Minding in the mine vote A controversial piece of legislation that would open up mining in northern Wisconsin could come up for a vote today in the state Senate.

Got milk? Yes. Wisconsin dairy cows had a record year last year. One out of every eight gallons of milk produced in the United States came from the udder of a Wisconsin cow.

Super duper You might have heard something about a vote happening today. Partner station WCPN Cleveland looks at how crossover voters could affect the very tight GOP primary race in Ohio.

Super Tuesday Arrives; Will A Presumptive Emerge?

Super Tuesday is here, and political pundits say that if Mitt Romney wins Ohio, the Republican primary race will be over. 

That’s a big “if” and of course, the former Massachusetts governor has not yet locked up the delegates he will need.

But a Romney victory over Rick Santorum would give him a moral boost, assuming it is by a large enough margin. There is no guarantee of that, however.

At the end of the day Monday, the race for Ohio’s 66 delegates still seemed to be a statistical tie. Romney and Santorum made six collective stops in Ohio yesterday. Santorum battled perceptions that Romney is more electable than he is; Romney aimed at President Obama’s policies.  Continue reading “Super Tuesday Arrives; Will A Presumptive Emerge?”

Meanwhile, In Flying Car News…

The Jetsons

In more than 100 years of manufacturing ingenuity in the Midwest, there have been very few limits. From steamships, to motor cars, to solar panels, people in the industrial Midwest can make almost anything.

So, where is my flying car? Seriously. I’ve been waiting for, like, ever.

Flying cars have been a fantasy for almost as long as there have been cars. Henry Ford reportedly tinkered on a plan. The first car to get regulatory approval for both air and land in the U.S. was in 1956.

Now, here comes news of the Terrafugia Transition, which will have its public debut at the New York Auto Show next month.

Continue reading “Meanwhile, In Flying Car News…”

Midwest Memo: “Something Wrong” In Wisconsin, Casino Plans In Michigan And A Region Digs Out

“There’s something wrong” Wisconsin leads the nation in private sector job losses since last July, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And it’s the only state that’s lost jobs for the last six months in a row.

Rolling the dice The Detroit Free Press revealed over the weekend that a whopping 22 new casinos are being proposed in the state of Michigan. The paper finds plenty of skepticism whether that many casinos could succeed.

Nuclear option Partner station Michigan Radio reports on the effort to save a planned nuclear research facility at Michigan State University.

Cleveland art Cleveland’s new Museum of Contemporary Art will open in October.

Importing workers CNN reports that some manufacturers who can’t find skilled workers in the U.S. have started importing them.

Police cuts Two Chicago police precincts closed yesterday. The Chicago Tribune says it’s part of a move that should save the city $10-12 million. Chicago is working to close a $636 million budget gap.

Recovery People in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana are starting the recovery process after this weekend’s deadly storms.