Friday, February 12th, 2010
Doomsday Is Here
After several recent near misses, transit doomsday arrived in Chicago this week as the CTA reduced service by 20% after failing to get union buy-in to concessions. As service cuts made their weekday debut on Monday, I was on Chicago Public Radio discussing transit. (If you don’t see the embedded player, click here.)
For additional perspectives, here is my five part series on Chicago transit referenced in the radio segment:
- Part One: Building the Vision
- Part Two: Raising the Bar on Design
- Part Three: Cost Containment and Governance
- Part Four: Paying For It
- Part Five: Getting It Done
See also: Chicago Transit at Crossroads.
Top Story: Silicon Valley Wants a Bailout
I only have one top story in this edition. The AP reports on troubles brewing in Silicon Valley:
The 2010 Index of Silicon Valley said the region is entering a “new phase of uncertainty” where job losses, a shrinking foreign talent pool, a drop in investments and state legislative gridlock could put its standing as the center of technology at risk……”It’s a report with a lot of bad news in it. Most years, Silicon Valley has all this good news. But this year, it’s not entirely clear when the recession ends if we’re going to be able to very easily get back. That’s not a given,” said Russell Hancock, president and chief executive of Joint Venture, an alliance of business and community institutions. The report noted that the region lost 90,000 jobs from November 2008 to November 2009, and unemployment is higher than national levels.
So what’s the proposed solution?
The region started as an area invested in the defense industry, space and creation of the Internet, and the federal government heavily funded those ventures, said Emmett Carson, chief executive and president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. “When the government made those investments, there were spinoffs that happened in people’s garages. People were drawn here because this was the place that certain work was going on and people were making it happen,” Carson said. He said now the government is making massive investments in biotechnology and clean technology, and local business and government leaders need to compete for that money.
Holy rent seeking, Batman! Can you believe the chutzpah of these guys? The region with the biggest, broadest, deepest venture capital pool, huge numbers of multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, and enormous human capital. And these guys want a bailout? I’ve got a response to that, but it’s not fit for print.
Apparently the folks in Silicon Valley have decided they can get a better return on their money on K Street than in actual businesses. If that’s true, Silicon Valley really is in trouble.
World City Map
I’m not entirely sure what it represents, but it looks cool!
World and National Roundup
The Guardian: The Population Crash – European demographic issues
LA Times: Korean activities target foreign English teachers – anti-immigrant sentiment in Korea
New York Observer: New York’s aging buildings.
Rob Pitingolo: Where We Live (a response to some of my writing).
Two Detroit-related videos present a sharp contrast. The first is a poignant documentary from the Netherlands talking about the bankruptcy of GM and the current state of Detroit, Flint, and Lansing. Unfortunately, this video does not seem to be embeddable, so you’ll have to click to visit. There will be a brief commercial and prologue in Dutch, but the vast bulk of the film is in English. This film is highly recommended. (h/t Urban Genetics).
This second video (if not visible, click here) is from America 2050, presenting an idealized version of what the future might look like, as a Chicagoan takes a high speed rail trip to see the White Sox in Detroit.
I think this is a particularly effective piece of advocacy work, showing how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
The gap between these two videos is quite stark. The Transport Politic probably summed it up best in a recent post “Detroit Stakes Its Hopes for Renaissance on Transit, But It Has Bigger Hurdles.” There’s still a lot of work to do to be sure.
Indianapolis Unveils Transportation Plan
Here’s a video describing the plan. (If it doesn’t appear, click here).
This is by the same person who did the Kansas City video I’ve highlighted several times. This version is an improvement over that already strong piece, because it is about an actual plan, but also because it features more diversity and tones down the references to upscale business establishments.
Kansas City “Malaise”
I’ve had Kansas City on my list of good performers in the Midwest. The region beats the national averages on most of the key performance measures I track. But local leaders have some concerns, as a report from a recent leadership summit highlights:
Area residents on both sides of the state line think Kansas City, Mo., is sick — riddled with crime, bad schools and a squabbling City Hall….[Kansas Gov. Mark] Parkinson said it was sobering to hear how poorly area residents thought of Kansas City and he feared “a malaise of mediocrity.”….Because Kansas City, Mo., is the core city, its poor image reflects on the entire metro area, making it difficult to attract and keep business and people.
Regionalism appears to be on the agenda of this business group:
“A city of 450,000 can’t provide all the amenities for a region of 2 million,” Bowser said. “We have to generate revenues across the state line if we ever dream of reaching our dreams as a region. The state-line carping has gone on too long.”
Michael Burke, a lawyer who intends to run for Kansas City mayor, said the poll’s sour regional impression of the core city didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for public service.
“People have to know that they can’t escape to a bedroom community and enjoy their great schools and lifestyles but not share in the responsibility for funding the regional amenities, like the zoo, the public hospital, and all the other things that make Kansas City the metropolitan center,” Burke said.
It is interesting to see that a couple of Midwest papers editorialized against high speed rail recently. This includes the Columbus Dispatch and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And the Plain Dealer carries an article about Ohioans wondering whether the new rail line will be too slow.
Also in Ohio, a high techs job plan goes on the ballot.
Groundhog Day for Chicago’s Economy? (Bill Testa @ Chicago Fed) – Has the Chicago area lost its mojo?
Apply for a business license, loose your livelihood – only in Chicago (Laura Heller)
High speed rail could be transformative, but stations (and architecture) matter as much as speed (Blair Kamin @ Tribune)
The story of the renaissance of Playhouse Square (Plain Dealer)
Youngstown makes strides towards being technical hub (Plain Dealer)
City tallies wins, losses as it prepares new downtown plan (Dispatch)
The future of Michigan’s cities still short changed (Free Press editorial)
Detroit plans alternate use of 92 parks (Detroit News)
Indianapolis mayor reflects his city and his team (NYT)
Downtown Indianapolis: Urban Form, Suburban Experience (Urban Queer)
Museum to get 29 impressionist works from the Bloch collection (KC Star)
Downtown history presents urban opportunity in Milwaukee (Urban Milwaukee)
Maestro pitches Pittsburgh to foreign businesses (Bloomberg)
Car meets bus shelter in Chicago.