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”

Santorum Out, Michigan-Born Romney Heads For Nomination

Before this campaign season, many voters in the Great Lakes had only peripherally heard of Rick Santorum. But his surprisingly strong challenge to Mitt Romney in Midwest Republican primaries most likely kept his campaign alive. 

Now, Santorum is suspending his race for the Republican nomination, effective today.

That most likely clears the way for Romney to become the first Michigan-born Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey. Romney, who hails from Detroit, is likely to face President Barack Obama in the fall.

“This race was as improbable as any you’ll ever see for president,” Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, said this afternoon. But, he added, “We are not done fighting.”

Santorum achieved one distinction during this winter’s primaries, by becoming the only Republican candidate to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He had a pasty for breakfast and picked up nearly all the UP’s delegates.

Read Changing Gears’ coverage of the Midwest Republican primaries here.

Midwest Memo: Illinois’ ‘Basket Case,’ Right To Work Challenge And A Shortage Of Asparagus Workers

Pension problems Bloomberg News reports that Illinois’ pension system is a “basket case.” The state’s teacher pension system is only 47 percent funded, the lowest number of any similar system in the country.

Right to sue The Associated Press looks into a court challenge against Indiana’s Right to Work law, passed earlier this year. Among other things, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 argue that the law deprives them of free speech rights, since it forces them to represent members who do not pay dues, and that money would be used to support their political speech.

Raising casinos, raising taxes A ballot proposal in Michigan to allow eight more casinos in the state would also raise taxes on Detroit’s three existing casinos, according to Mlive.

Want to pick asparagus? Asparagus season has come early in Michigan, and farmers are desperate to find workers to pick this year’s crop. Partner station Michigan Radio reports there will be a job fair on Thursday to try to fill 220 jobs.

Midwest Memo: Detroit Has A Deal, Chicago Has Crippling Debt And Ohio Has Bulldozers

Detroit’s deal Last night, the Detroit City Council voted to approve a consent agreement with the state to avoid takeover by an emergency manager. That means, as long as the governor signs the deal as expected and the courts don’t strike the deal down, Detroit finally has the first step in a plan to avoid bankruptcy. Partner station Michigan Radio reports on what it all means.

Chicago’s debt problem The Chicago Sun-Times went looking for reasons why Chicago would turn to private partnerships to fund its new multi-billion dollar plan to rebuild infrastructure. One major reason: the city’s staggering debt. Chicago can’t take out any more bonds to pay for improvements because the city spends almost 23 percent of its annual budget paying off the $7.3 billion in debt it already has.

Illinois’ turn Illinois is getting into the fracking game. Crain’s Chicago Business says the state could see a natural gas-drilling “boomlet” as companies explore southern Illinois for possible drilling.

Bulldozing blitz Partner station WCPN Ideastream had a story on NPR’s Morning Edition today that looks at the effort to tear down vacant houses in Ohio. The state set aside $75 million from its share of the $25 billion nationwide mortgage fraud settlement to pay for demolitions.

No more coal ash The Ludington Daily News reports the city’s historic car ferry has received a grant to convert its fuel source. Without the grant, the coal powered ferry would have been forced to shut down by the EPA. The historic vessel dumps about 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan every year.

#goodnewsforDetroit Twitter says it will open a new office in Detroit. Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra reported the news in tweet form. You have to hear it.

Midwest Memo: A Settlement In Saugatuck, FEMA Says No To Illinois And An Iconic Cup Brand Is Sold

Settled in Saugatuck Officials in Saugatuck Township, Mich. have reached a settlement with billionaire Aubrey McClendon that could pave the way for new development. The proposed development has encountered fierce opposition since it was proposed a few years ago, because it would be near coastal dunes on Lake Michigan. Partner station Michigan Radio reports the settlement must be approved by a judge.

Denied FEMA has once again denied Illinois’ request for a state of emergency to be declared in the town of Harrisburg. Seven people died when tornadoes ripped through the city on Feb. 29. Partner station WBEZ reports a state of emergency declaration would open up federal grants to help pay for the recovery.

Wisconsin on deck The GOP presidential primary marches on, and after this weekend, Wisconsin is next in line to be the center of the political universe.

Modern slavery The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio says he believes there are hundreds of cases of human trafficking going on in the region at any time. It’s a problem “literally everywhere” he says, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Raise your cup A national icon is being sold. Solo Cup, based in Lake Forest, Ill.will be sold for $1 billion. The buyer is Mason, Michigan-based Dart Container Corp.

Romney Aims For A Big Midwest Win In Illinois

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.

Illinois has 54 delegates up for grabs, fewer than Ohio, but more than Michigan. Romney has a strong organization in the state, while Santorum failed to file full slates of delegate candidates in four Congressional districts. If he were to upset Romney, he could win no more than 44 delegates, the Chicago Tribune said.  Continue reading “Romney Aims For A Big Midwest Win In Illinois”

In Illinois, Firefighters Counter Romney With Their Own Ad

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.

The ad focuses in part on SAFER, a government program that provided $10.2 million in grants to Illinois communities last year to hire or retrain firefighters. Continue reading “In Illinois, Firefighters Counter Romney With Their Own Ad”

Midwest Memo: Patents Down In Illinois, A Casino Vote In Lansing And Ohio Drops Some Banks

Patently down The number of patent applications filed in Illinois dropped almost 6 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the Chicago Tribune. The city of Chicago also didn’t grow its patent applications as quickly as other big cities. Patent applications are seen as one indicator of innovation in a region.

Casino vote City leaders in Lansing will vote on several items related to a proposed casino tonight. Partner station Michigan Radio has a preview of what the vote could mean for the $245 million proposal.

A send off The U.S. Postal Service is getting ready to shut facilities in Michigan, affecting 475 jobs. The plan is on hold until May to allow members of Congress a chance to come up with a new proposal. But a spokesman for the Service says something will have to give one way or the other. He told the Associated Press the Postal Service has “too much real estate for the amount of mail.”

Buh bye banks The Ohio Treasurer is ending the state’s relationship with two banks. Treasurer Josh Mandel says the banks have defrauded Ohio pensioners of millions of dollars.

How are they going to vote? The Illinois GOP primary is tomorrow. Partner station WBEZ has been tracking three GOP voters for months.

Illinois, The Center of The Political Universe, Overflows With Candidates

Next Tuesday is the illinois Republican primary. But today, Illinois is the center of the political universe (not that it doesn’t always think it is).

Two Republican presidential candidates and President Obama are all in the state today, looking for votes, and in the case of the president, money.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum makes two stops in Arlington Heights today, with three downstate on Saturday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hit a Rosemont restaurant Friday morning, with more stops planned ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Obama, meanwhile, spoke to a fundraising luncheon in Chicago before heading to Atlanta.

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.

 

Now, It’s Illinois’ Turn, With The Gingrich Factor Looming

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.

He finished second behind Santorum in both southern primaries, and he is heading straight for Illinois for two days of campaigning. Gingrich told a Chicago radio station that he’s staying in the race until the August convention.

Said Gingrich: “When I was on a roll and Rick wasn’t, I was for Rick getting out of the race, too. And he correctly said no. And I’ve learned from him so I liked his answer.” Continue reading “Now, It’s Illinois’ Turn, With The Gingrich Factor Looming”