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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.