Friday, July 31, 2015


July 31, 2015

Well, nuts. I was trying to hit a button on this blog thing, and ended up sending an old post to the front of the line. Sorry.

The Outer Limits

February 6, 2011

A storm big enough to close Chicago schools was in the offing; but still businesses stayed open. You can't close for every snowstorm, but this one was obviously the real thing.

As a result, 900 abandoned cars blocked Lake Shore Drive, impeding rescue vehicles and snow removal.

Traffic accidents needed to be dealt with. Patrolmen had to be out in the storm helping people who were stuck or hurt. It risked their lives, and it cost a lot of money.

After the storm, things were still at a standstill, because over 900 cars had to be removed all over the city. And the city isn’t charging for the removal. That will make a nice dent in the city’s budget. (And now people are griping about the city because they can’t find their cars, according to today's Huffington Post.)

People are proud of being able to deal with any kind of weather, but there’s a limit. Businesses don’t want to close and lose revenue, and people don’t want to lose wages. But there’s a limit. And everybody pays when we go beyond it.

Can a city the size of Chicago say to a business, “Close and get your people home, or pay up?” Probably not. Can people be fined for being on the roads when they have no business being there? (Not just people leaving work, anybody at all.) Probably not.

But if I were the mayor, I would find out; because at this point, I’d have reached my limit.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Universal Themes

July 17, 2015

Dear Policy Makers:

I’ve moved around the country a lot, and notice that the same themes keep recurring. Assuming that nobody who makes policy is receiving personal monetary gain by supporting one position or the other, could you please do some research on the following questions?

  •  In actual dollars and cents, has any municipality ever come out ahead by funding a sports stadium? 
  •  Ditto for granting tax breaks to companies. How soon after the tax breaks that lured the company to an area expire do the companies pick up and go elsewhere?
  •  Has anyone ever put a clause in the above-mentioned contract spelling out penalties for businesses that don’t remain in the area for 20 years after the breaks expire? Why not?
  • Has any area that pays low wages (affects tax base/affects education) ever excelled in workforce readiness? (Poor workforce-readiness is a prime business excuse for leaving an area. Then they move on to another place that pays low wages, because they save money on payroll, and get tax breaks to lure them to the area because they will theoretically inject money into the economy.)
  • Does granting tax breaks to movie companies really improve the economy long-term?
  • Does Eminent Domain benefit anyone but the developer?
  • What is the benefit (besides to the homeowner) of allowing more than one bailout per homestead when the home is built in a flood plain, a hurricane zone, or a wildfire zone?
  • What is the benefit (besides to the developer) of allowing homes to be built in these zones in the first place?
  • Is Downtown Redevelopment the answer, or should we try to work with the urban sprawl we created when we were going crazy with development?
  • When planning new municipalities, could we then use that research to either build a strong downtown and not allow the sprawl, or figure out ways to make sprawl work for us? (It can be done if you do it right.)

These issues have been debated for decades. I sort of feel like I’m moving back in time every time I move to a new place and see the same issues cropping up.

I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the Romans at least used a working model.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Define “Accessible” (Part 2)

July 18, 2015

Just days after I posted about the difficulties of getting around on crutches, even in supposedly “Handicapped Accessible” places, I read that a lawyer in the St. Louis area is having a beef with the bar association for the same reason. The attorney is in a motorized scooter, and she couldn’t get into the bar association office because the door was big and heavy and didn’t have an automatic opener.

But she didn’t sue; she just refused to pay her dues, since she couldn’t get in.

(The association is now working with the building’s owners to fix the problem.)