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Archive for the ‘Political Economy’ Category

[ COP16 ] Democracy Now

December 9th, 2010 No comments

via [ Democracy Now ] COP16 in Cancun, December 9, 2010

[ Tar Sands ] On the Great Lakes

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

via [ Sierra Club ] Toxic Tar Sands: Indiana

Carolyn Marsh, Whiting Indiana

Carolyn Marsh’s house in Whiting, Indiana, just southeast of Chicago, sits within walking distance of both Lake Michigan and the BP Whiting Refinery. One is beautiful and the other, Marsh says, looks like “a death trap zone.” Now BP is pushing to expand the capacity of its refinery to process tar sands crude.

The synthetic heavy crude produced from tar sands is laden with more toxins than conventional oil. If the expansion goes through, people like Marsh, who live in the shadow of these refineries, will face increased exposure to heavy metals, sulfur, and carcinogens like benzene.

After learning of BP’s plans to pump tar sands pollution into the air and her community, Marsh was galvanized to action. She joined a legal challenge to the oil giant’s air permit.

Marsh believes BP’s permit application dramatically underestimates the potential air pollution from their tar sands expansion. The company understated the amount of toxic gases vented from flares, claiming they would only be released occasionally. But flaring will only increase as the refinery handles more of the world’s dirtiest oil.

Flaring is only one part of the refinery’s massive polluting process, and air pollution is not the only threat that Marsh fears from the tar sands expansion.

“We don’t want Lake Michigan to become another oil industry sacrifice zone. Quality of life here in Indiana should not suffer for foreign oil profits.”

The refinery is already one of the largest sources of mercury pollution in Lake Michigan. Mercury is a

Tar sands crude spells disaster for clean water in every step of its life cycle. If tar sands operations continue to expand in America, Lake Michigan will be exposed to the same types of contamination spreading through the once pristine water sources along the Athabasca River in Alberta, where tar sands are mined.

A recent study published by leading Canadian scientists found elevated concentrations of toxic heavy metals including arsenic, lead and mercury around and downstream from tar sands mining operations, suggesting a strong correlation between tar sands mining and toxic discharges to water resources.These poisonous impurities are released in refining as well, and discharges from BP’s tar sands expansion will bring the pollution of the Athabasca directly to Lake Michigan.

Marsh believes the citizen struggle to stop the tar sands expansion is her community’s best line of defense, and she has committed to the fight. She has little faith in state regulators, whom she believes are too complicit with toxic conditions created by BP’s refinery. Marsh knows what’s at stake.

Lake Michigan, which provides drinking water for 10 million people, will be exposed to new levels of contamination from particulate emissions and huge increases in ammonia and other discharges into the water from the refinery’s tar sands expansion.potent neurotoxin that causes severe fetal damage, impaired motor function, and kidney and respiratory damage in humans. “We don’t want Lake Michigan to become another oil industry sacrifice zone. Quality of life here in Indiana should not suffer for foreign oil profits,” she says.

Israel / Palestine’s Flotilla

June 1st, 2010 No comments

Thoughts:

via Paul Kane from comments [ The Messenger ]

This was a bloody slaughter, a bloody slaughter with global implications for the relationship between each of us and our goverment, for the utter bloody impunity of government.

via [ Matthew Yglesias ]

Gaza doesn’t contain nearly enough arable land to support the Strip’s population as subsistence farmers. Which of course is true of many other places on earth. But the effect of the embargo is to make meaningful commercial activity in Gaza nearly impossible, pushing living standards down to what would be a below-subsistence level were it not for the trickle of aid that flows in. The Hamas authorities exercise some fairly rough justice over the area, extremist groups burn down summer camps and Israel launches airstrikes periodically sometimes injuring dozens sometimes hurting no one. The overall situation is incredibly bleak. Construction supplies aren’t allowed into the area, so it’s been impossible to rebuild since the war there from a couple of years back, and all the physical infrastructure is just degrading over time.

via Steve Clemons of [ The Washington Note ]

From a distance, what seems to be happening is that Israel is ratcheting up its test of what it can do in the confines of the US-Israel relationship. It is testing to see whether there exist any limits or conditionality on Israeli behavior at all. Israel believes that the Obama team is weak — and is pushing aggressively to compel the US to tolerate anything the State of Israel does as a signal to the rest of the Middle East that is itself clamoring for any sign that the Obama administration is willing to put some muscle and substantive action behind the President’s Cairo speech and other comments to the governments and people in the Arab world.

The flotilla may have been populated by peace activists who really did want to get humanitarian supplies to Gaza — but the leadership of this flotilla was trying to expose the “false choice” contradiction that the US and other powers were making between Israel’s interests and the interests of the rest of the Middle East.

This was a strategic flotilla — designed to elicit exactly the response that Israel gave. This flotilla knew which button to push to animate Israel’s military response. It is not dissimilar from what al Qaeda did by attacking New York and Washington and drawing the US military to intervene in the Middle East.

Israel, like the United States, showed itself incapable of nuance and of outmaneuvering this flotilla by resorting to means that would not have helped the activists succeed in their objectives. At the Doha Forum, I am speaking to Arabs, Jews and Christians who represent senior governmental and non-governmental organizations in their home countries — and no one here that I have found thinks that the Israeli government responded to the flotilla sensibly — even if one buys the argument that the blockade of Gaza is justified.

The U.S. really can’t afford to make the choice of Israel over the Arab world. There will be enormous geopolitical and geoeconomic consequences if it does

Categories: International, Misc

Local Politics: Tilting Power In My Precinct

April 22nd, 2010 1 comment

THE MONEY IS FLOWING AGAIN IN E.C. POLITICS

Yesterday, I produced some campaign literature for our precinct committeewoman.

Hopefully, I’ve been successful in communicating how contentious politics can get here. This year’s off-cycle election is especially interesting. Besides a few important county wide offices, this election will be remembered for the East Chicago committee person races. Everyone is expecting our Mayor, the Honorable George Pabey, to be found guilty sometime this summer, which would mean that the precinct committee people will appoint the next Mayor. So everyone is either getting into a race or trying to stack the races. Pabey is trying to stack the precincts with people loyal to him as is Hammond Mayor John McDermott and Mayoral hopefuls John Aguilera and Anthony Copeland.

<Interesting fact>

The Federal Prosecutors Office has had a central roll in initiating the last three changes in power here in East Chicago. Why such intense interest at the Federal level? Could the largest inland oil refinery and steel mills in the country have anything to do with that?

I wonder if this is how Oil and Steel get to vote in local politics?

– Just Asking

</Interesting fact>

Categories: East Chicago, Local

Environment: Tom Anderson Resigns

March 24th, 2010 No comments

via [ Post-Trib ]

Save the Dunes executive director Tom Anderson resigns after 20 years with the organization

Categories: Environment, Regional

Conflating Apartheid

February 3rd, 2010 1 comment

There is not doubt I tend to conflate the political economy on the southern shores of Lake Michigan with Israel’s occupation & settlement of Palestinian land. Granted there are significant limits to this comparison. Yet, it is clear the concentration of negative externalities attributable to our nation’s heavy industrial base seriously impairs our fence line communities and is very much a scar on the values of Democracy we hold dear. Simply put, Democracy does not exist here.

Existing Conditions:

  • Arguably the most polluted waters in the country – the Indiana Harbor Shipping Canal (IHSC): The only waterway to fail all beneficial uses.
    • Joerse Beach: most contaminated beach in the Great Lakes and third most in the country.
  • Arguably the most polluted air-shed in the country – Lake county indiana’s air-shed ranks as the 9th most polluted in the country (of 3140 counties) with the sources of pollution attributed to the three big industries concentrated on East Chicago’s lakefront – BP, Mittal Steel, and U.S. Steel.
  • A Gated Industrial Community with >80% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated to heavy industry – ~50% of these industrial lands are out of productive use and considered contaminated, e.g., brownfields
    • 14% of East Chicago’s land-use is dedicated Residential – ~17% of these residential properties are apart of a superfund site.

When I look at the impact our nation’s heavy industrial base has had on the local populations, culture, land, air, water and biology in my community, I see a misapplication of rights and justice – environmental justice. This prompts me to identify the problems with the fragmented pattern of land use, populations, and the expression of political will seen in the mapping of Palestinian lands.

Categories: International

Noam Chomsky: “Gaza: One Year Later”

December 27th, 2009 No comments

via [ Democracy Now ]

Categories: International

“My Man Mitch” – “Dick Cheney’s Dick Cheney”

September 28th, 2009 1 comment


Lawrence Wilkerson looks at Shirley Anne Warshaw’s new book The Co-Presidency of Bush and Cheney. This is a comprehensive rendering of the Cheney’s evisceration of the country’s regulatory system, where my Governor, Mitch Daniel’s appears in a supporting role and referred to as “Dick Cheney’s Dick Cheney.”  This portrait gives the moniker “My Man Mitch” a whole new meaning.

via [ The Washington Note ]

Whether oil, gas, forestry, mining, fisheries, national parks, clean air, pharmaceuticals, food, endangered species – you name it – Cheney was the kingpin in the dismantling of relevant oversight and regulation.

Cheney managed this principally by putting into the regulatory or oversight positions within the executive branch of our government, people who either hailed from long service in the industry or field they were overseeing or regulating, or who had lobbied for that industry or field for long years, or a combination of the two.

Not content to have CEQ, EPA, the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Interior at his beck and call, Cheney went after the real seat of executive power – the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The OMB was the ultimate reviewer of all proposed regulatory changes. Its director, Mitch Daniels, as Warshaw points out, was referred to as “Dick Cheney’s Dick Cheney.” Daniels, coming from the huge pharmaceutical company Eli Lily, knew big business. Sean O’Keefe, another Cheney man, was OMB’s deputy. And with John Graham and, later, Susan Dudley in the key regulatory positions at OMB, Cheney had a winning hand. Graham at Harvard and Dudley at George Mason University had both made names in risk management analysis concerning industrial pollution and corporate malfeasance that were shamefully full of holes but extremely pro-business.

In the case of Dudley, the analyses were underwritten by such sponsors as ExxonMobil and BP Amoco. From their positions in OMB’s office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Graham and Dudley gave Cheney the ultimate power to oversee and check if necessary almost everyone in the bureaucracy concerned with regulation-writing.

The Washington Note

A Local Impact
National policies are not abstractions when your community sits on the worlds greatest fresh water resource managed by several international treaties and is the home to three of the largest, wealthiest, and to a measurable degree dirtiest multinational industries; BP, ArcelorMittal, and US Steel. This is how policies have location with real effects. The legacy of Cheney’s energy task force and environmental policies continue today unopposed, and this has a real negative effect for East Chicago.

East Chicago is the site of BP’s Canadian Crude project. The BP project is GROUND ZERO for concentrating highly negative environmental impacts in a poor minority community while directing benefits elsewhere.

Recently BP convened the “Good Government Initiative,” essentially cutting-off political opposition to there project while simultaneously walking behind the public process to extract a tax abatement from East Chicago without a single public hearing. BP also effectively pushed through a flawed NPDES permit without a single political eyebrow raised, editorial written, or an environmental group objecting in Indiana. Instead of calling foul regional leaders, including the regional news paper – NWI Times, rallied behind BP against out-of-state opposition, by citing the bad environmental stewardship of others.

Categories: National, State

Education Attainment & Unemployment Rate

June 7th, 2009 7 comments

For the past five years I have repeatedly spoken about the correlation between Education Attainment and the Unemployment rate and what that means for East Chicagoans. But first some data on East Chicago:

  • Today <2% of East Chicagoans hold a college degree, well below the national average of 24%.
  • ~40% of the Adult population is considered functionally illiterate, with ~70% of adults incapable of attaining a professional job based on reading attainment.
  • Today the unemployment rate in East Chicago is >24%. Despite the efforts of the city to employ ~12% of those in the workforce, serving ~18% of households with a paycheck and ~28% of the electorate with a city job.

For a community like East Chicago the data presented in the graphs below are especially poignant. What I find rather remarkable about the graph is that you can clearly see, in the last 17 years, as educational attainment increases the less vulnerable you are to market fluctuations. You can see how the red line is so much more eradicate with a steep increase in reaction to todays recession. This may begin to flatten out as America rededicates more of it economy to manufacturing. Yet, unlike 20 years ago manufacturing has become an educated affair, requiring at minimum an associates degree.

Forty years ago when nearly 70% of jobs were found in unskilled labor, most East Chicago graduates were able to go to the Mills for one of a 100,000 steel or steel related jobs in East Chicago. Today 70% of jobs are found in professional services that require a College education. With the advances in technology and globalization East Chicago now employs less than 5,000 workers in steel and steel related jobs, all while production has increased a hundred fold. So, if you are preparing a population for where the vast majority of the jobs are (70%), then you are preparing them to receive a College education. That is the easiest solution towards employing a population. The more difficult solution is to find jobs for the under-educated.

via [ Calculated Risk ] In today’s employment market:

  • Those without a High School Diploma face an unemployment rate of ~16%
  • Those with a High School Diploma, but no College face an unemployment rate of ~10%
  • Those with some College or Associates Degree face an unemployment rate of ~8%
  • Those with a Bachelors Degree and higher face an unemployment rate of ~5%

Based on the BLS 2008 data: Education pays

This data does not bode well for East Chicago’s education system (here, and here) which ranks last in the state of Indiana on multiply measures. Indiana has also instituted a Core-40 program to track students and to ensure they receive the necessary skills to succeed. However, Core-40 will leave most East Chicago students without the proper credentials to apply to universities such as Purdue or Indiana University which now require Core-40 Honors. Despite the efforts of non-government agencies most parents of East Chicago freshmen are unaware of these requirements and the process for applying into the proper program. The Challenge is to set up an education system that incentives populations like East Chicago.

Categories: East Chicago, Economics, Misc

What Happened to Obama’s Office of Urban Policy?

April 28th, 2009 No comments

Matt Yglesias points me to the Root

I am also concerned:

In November 2008, less than one week after winning the votes of city dwellers by a margin of 28 points, President-elect Barack Obama announced he would reward them by creating the first-ever “White House Office of Urban Policy.” Like other new aspects of Obama’s executive branch, appointing a city czar was intended to fast-track communications among city governments, federal agencies and the White House. With great fanfare, Obama dispatched his friend and fellow Chicagoan Valerie Jarrett to tell America that he was making good on his campaign pledge to “stop seeing cities as the problem and start seeing them as the solution.”

The Root: What Happened to Obama’s Office of Urban Policy?

Categories: National, Urbanism

We Need a Kruschev Moment:

April 22nd, 2009 No comments

There are those who think America is on the verge of a Gorbachev moment of peaceful change or revolution. If we remember correctly Gorbachev came decades after Kruschev exposed the horrific and hidden crimes of the Stalinist era. Now, America can not in any way be compared to the Stalin era, but there are systematic crimes that do need to be surfaced to allow America to make the necessary institutional changes and confront the challenges in the coming decades. Otherwise, these institutions will continue wasting public energies fortifying themselves against exposure – Cheney and covering up his role in the energy task force, an illegal war in Iraq, lies about WMDs and Saddam’s relationship to Al-Qaeda, torture, is just ONE example. These entities are clogging up our bureaucracy and not contributing to solutions as America addresses the present challenges. I can not say how this will occur, and yes, I am excited about the prospect of getting beyond a kind of perestroika towards achieving great things.   

 

David kurtz over at Talking Points Memo hit-on an ancient sore spot from the cold war era with his post Time Marches Slowly.

It still rankles me two decades after the fact that Bill Casey died before he could be held to account in the Iran-contra scandal. Here’s hoping that Rummy and Cheney live long enough for the wheels of justice to finish grinding.

I completely concur with David’s sentiment.

If memory does not fail me, Casey suffered a seizure while being examined by a CIA physician the day before he was to testify before the House Select Committee on Intelligence. He died of a minor surgical procedure not Brain Cancer as stated at wikipedia.

Didn’t Casey’s surgeon also die a few weeks later?

   – just saying

Categories: National

Info Graphics: Advocacy Ads

April 21st, 2009 No comments

I’m doing an advocacy Ad mockup for an Elected School Board in East Chicago, using my daughter as a model. Besides the blurred picture, the need for young models that reflect East Chicago’s population and a little word smith-ing, I think this could be pretty cool. I can graph any data into the hands of our children, including graduation rates and pollution levels – etc. If necessary, I can also do comparisons with other communities.

 

 

On the issue of Elected School Boards:

It appears to me what we are seeking is a system that locates accountability better and more efficiently. Currently, just seven major cities have full mayoral control of education. There has been a nation wide trend toward more centralized control into the hands of chief elected officials e.g., President, Governors and Mayors. This places a greater interest in these central figures making it more difficult to remove them for poor performance or abuses of power in any single sector of their concentrated power. When you keep multiplying areas of responsibility under a single figure you diffuse accountability in any one area and increase opportunities for patronage. Sure this my make for a more stable system, and mitigate against dead-locked disputes, but it also insulates these figures from accountability and removal from office. 

We can look at the Bush administration as a recent example of concentrating power in a chief executive and the problem of seeking accountability, but lets instead look at a smaller example. East Chicago has had a Strong Mayor system with all of its abuses clearly expressed since the beginning of time. With an unemployment rate well above 20%, 28% of its households, or nearly 40% of the electorate, receive a paycheck from the Mayor. This single fact makes it impossible to remove the Mayor from office using the electoral process – too many workers with their jobs on-the-line will not risk voting against the Mayor no matter how tyrannical his behavior is perceived.

The only other alternative for removal would be for prosecution of abuses. And yet, with a justice system so fully politicized as we have in the U.S., the Federal prosecutors office has become a barter system between up-stream political cultures. At the local level Federal prosecutors seem to have been relegated to identifying discontent and collecting whistle blower information on behalf of public executives. Instead of being an arm of the peoples justice they have become an arm of entrenched power. Instead of investigating improprieties rumors have it that they share this information with these executives and only offer mere verbal slaps on the wrist. Unless you have a reach into the oval office this alternative does not appear very realistic. 

Based on my fatalistic example of East Chicago, it appears to me that locating accountability in a strong chief executive is not the way to go.  

But then their are those who would beg to differ. 

  1. Bloomberg:

“Schools Can’t Be ‘Patronage Mills Or ‘Run For The Benefit Of The People Who Work In Them… And when you have these school boards that are fundamentally controlled by special interests, the truth of the matter is the students come last, if at all.”

<wtf>
The irony in this argument is that it is machine politics that is known for taking advantage of patronage. Such as in East Chicago.
</wtf>
 

  1. Matt Yglesias 

“I think this is part of a larger issue about getting democracy right in the United States. There was an assumption, at one time, that you could make government more democratic and accountable by, in essence, multiplying the number of elected officials.

In retrospect, I think this was based on flawed logic and faulty assumptions that forgot to account for the fact that people have a limited amount of time they’re realistically going to spend monitoring public officials. If you live in New York City you’re voting for the President of the United States, two United States Senators, one member of congress, the Governor, the state Attorney-General, the state Lieutenant Governor, the state Comptroller, a mayor, a District Attorney, a city Comptroller, a Borough President, and a city council member in addition to a variety of state and local judges. And that’s entirely typical for the United States. Add a school board member into the mix and the situation gets even more out of control.

The result of this sort of process is the absence of meaningful accountability rather than its presence. The result is that special interests—the people with strong self-interested motives to pay attention—wind up exerting wildly disproportionate influence.

Needless to say, special interests get a lot of influence one way or another. But when it comes to a President or a Governor or a Mayor it is realistic to expect the broad mass of people to form a meaningful opinion and register it at the polls. When you keep multiplying offices and diffusing responsibility, you play into the hands of folks looking to game the system and make it hard for voters to understand what’s happening. I think part of the answer is that states should probably adopt unicameral legislatures and consider cutting down on the number of independently elected statewide officials. But cutting down on the quantity and influence of hyper-local electeds and putting responsibility in the hands of visible figures like the mayor and city council is crucial.”

Although I would generally agree with Matt about the difficulty for citizens to actually participate in the democratic process in any meaningful and informed way, I think the actual loss of accountability in any single area and the potential for abuses of power far outweigh information overload on the part of the citizen. Granted America lacks a good education system and thus a well informed citizenry, but to propose that America needs structural changes that concentrates more power in a few leaders as the answer is beyond me.

Panel Discussion: The Invisible Artist – Creators From Chicago’s Southside

April 9th, 2009 2 comments


 

On March 26th the School of the Art Institute held a panel discussion to “address perceptions that artists on Chicago’s South Side are under-known and undervalued or, at worst, intentionally ignored” as Jason Foumberg so aptly states in his piece titled “Why Have There Been No Great South Side Artists?” at Newcity Art.

Panelists included:

  • Andre Guichard, artist and owner of Gallery Guichard
  • Joyce Owens, Chicago State faculty, Art & Design Department
  • Lowell Thompson, artist and writer
  • Natalie Moore, reporter, Chicago Public Radio
  • Patrick Rivers, SAIC faculty, Visual & Critical Studies Department

Living so far south that I inhabit a whole other state (which is still part of Chicago’s Calumet region), my marginal location gives me a very useful perspective on this subject. The subject speaks to the importance of identity and place and the old stories of enfranchisement. And I am very glad it has been brought up. I hope many Artist from Northwest Indiana participate in the ongoing discussions.

A major characteristic of my identity with Chicago growing up on the North Side was what was absent. I had a massive blackhole in my awareness of the city’s South Side. My family took advantage of a few South Side islands such as Hyde Park, China town, and Maxwell Street and I was a Sox fan, besides that I had no other identity with the South Side.

Chicago is known for its iconic neighborhoods, and yet during my youth – from the 1960s through the 1980s, most of Chicagoan’s lived in what I now call “Gap Areas.” These are places that lie between identities, mostly serving the nimby instincts (not in my backyard) of more powerful iconic identities. Consequently, these places tended to receive discarded land, material, infrastructure, and peoples; out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Whether they are brownfields or brownpeople north siders were too preoccupied with the forming of their own identities that they gave little attention to the South Side. It is hard for an enlightened northsider to speak to a Blackhole, even if they grew up in one.

When I think about this topic and its ramifications for Artist I don’t just think about the agents of art (makers and consumers) but also the place of art. Whatever you may think about the person, place also has an important role in Art. And when you add markets to the mix, well then, you just created hierarchies of place and centers of the arts which are highly biased toward monied interests.

There has always been a conflict between where the market is and where the artist live. Artists (or the Creative Class), being more mobile, have been known to abandoned where they live to migrate in mass and cluster around these highly capitalized creative centers. But now that capital has become highly mobile itself, actually much more mobile than people, there is no reason we can not bring these markets to these once discarded communities and neighborhoods and seed the development of more great artist.

See I believe, some of the blind neglect by the institutions of art and the media has expression in our built environment. The built environment is a physical record that also solicits certain behavior – it’s the construction of the Dan Ryan all over again. What has occurred on the southside with respect to the art world is another form of white flight and building barriers.

We are only beginning to see revitalization in the Bronzeville neighborhood and the near southside. My worry is that developers such as Community Builders, who are developing the Ida B. Wells area, have neglected the importance of Culture and the Arts to such an extent that they have not attracted the necessary capital to seed a vital cultural life.

Although Pilsen is a near southside community it can serve as a good example for seeding the development of a cultural center. There are several initiatives that make it a vital place for artist to live (the Hispanic Art Museum and the Podmajerski properties to name just two). The last decade has also seen an expansion of the art scene into Bridgeport and farther south. Then of course there is Hyde Park, Beverly and Morgan Park.

But what is forgotten are the neighborhoods that lie under the plumb of existing and fallow 20th century industry – steel mills and oil refineries. There has been very little to no progress in these neighborhoods.

By the title “Why have there been no great South Side Artists?” Jason Founberg references Linda Nochlin’s famous Feminist essay, “Why have there been no great women artists?” This is a great rhetorical tactic that worked well for women in the arts in the late 1980’s and early 1990s. It creates a dialectic between the art establishment and South Side Artists. The framing of the dialectic repositions the South Side Artist to a position of equivalence. Remember this is also the era that produced the Guerilla Girls, Hillary Clinton and other effective tactics of identity politics to empower disenfranchised women. If I was a community organizer, I would say we made same great gains here. So, as much as we need to continue building channels for great artists to reach the great show rooms of the Art establishment so too we need build the channels that brings the Art establishment to the South Side.

Finally, there are perceptual advantages to living at the margins of this Metropolis. ….

Last Final Note: 

The “Invisible Artist” panel discussion will air on Chicago Public Radio at a future date to be determined. A related exhibition, “Change…” is on view through April 30 at the South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan.

The Bayh Bulletin: “We Prefer a GOP Budget”

April 3rd, 2009 1 comment

There goes my senator. 

Bayh and Nelson: We Prefer a GOP Budget | TPMDC.

I noted earlier that two of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats–Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson–voted against the Democrats’ budget. That’s not terribly surprising. The resolution wasn’t vulnerable to a filibuster, their votes weren’t strictly necessary, and, whether they were ideologically opposed to the measure that passed, or adhering to the demands of their conservative constituents, or bending to the whims of special interests, voting “no” allows them to say they voted “no” without necessarily wedding themselves to an alternative proposal.

Enter Mike Johanns, the freshman Republican senator from Nebraska whoseamendment preventing the Senate from passing climate change legislation through the reconciliation process passed on Tuesday.

He also authored a different measure–not an amendment, but a “motion to recommitt”–which would have scrapped the budget that passed and replaced it with a much more conservative version. Most significantly, it would have indexed non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending to the expected rate of inflation. It failed 43-55–for all intents and purposes a mirror image of the vote on the final budget resolution. Which is to say that Bayh and Nelson voted for the “Johanns Budget”.

I don’t have all the details of the Johanns budget just yet, but will pass them along when I do. And I’ll place a call for comment to Bayh’s and Nelson’s staffs to see if there’s more to this than simply that the two would have preferred Johann’s budget to the Democrats’.

 

UPDATE: I noticed on april 8th a sudden increase in hits on the Bayh Bulletin coming from Washington D.C. just saying…

Categories: National

Look at the World, be a Witness to it

March 15th, 2009 No comments

“What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?”

Christian Peacemaker Teams

via [ Peter Miller ]

Categories: International

Planning Mishap? Israel-Palestine: A Land in Fragments

March 15th, 2009 2 comments

From the [ American Friends Service Committee ]

<About>

The American Friends Service Committee carries out service, development, social justice, and peace programs throughout the world. Founded by Quakers in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to aid civilian war victims, AFSC’s work attracts the support and partnership of people of many races, religions, and cultures.

AFSC’s work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. The organization’s mission and achievements won worldwide recognition in 1947 when it accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with the British Friends Service Council on behalf of all Quakers.

The AFSC is directed by a Quaker board and staffed by Quakers and other people of faith who share the Friends’ desire for peace and social justice. 

</About>

Conference: Drawing the Lines

March 4th, 2009 No comments

<Looking back at November 2006>This conference occurred more than 2 years ago at Indiana University Northwest. This is the kind of stuff that peeks my interests and tickles my hand. There was great significance to hosting such a conference at this time and place. Northwest Indiana had been looking for strategies to revitalize the region. They had developed the Marquette Plan, the Regional Development Authority, transportation projects, etc. This was in a continuation of efforts to move things along.

This brings to mind two issues.

  1. What is the role of the Artist in urban vitalization?
    • Too often the artist’s voice in these kinds of discussions are treated like a craft booth artist, pedaling their cute works. Otherwise they are deaf, dumb and blind. Artists are to perform and be quiet. This is what I call the “Dirty Dancing” treatment. I am often embarrassed for Artist who accept such roles. 
    • I believe the Artist needs to step up and contribute their voice to the built environment. I believe that Artist voice should take the leading role more often in civil society. 
  2. And what has happened in the last 2-years?
    • I am not certain anything has happened. I don’t know of any new initiatives or changes in the way the region is approaching revitalization. 
    • It appears to me with the announcement of the BP project the region has actually regressed from advancing such initiatives. 
    • Revitalization of the region reverted back to a reliance on old heavy industry, in this case the refining of the even dirtier fossil fuels – the Alberta tar sand.
    • The region became ensnarled in a lack of initiative and culture once again. Indiana and regional Leaders approved environmental permitting with out ANY objection. It wasn’t until Illinois voice objection to violating the the Clean water act that the issue was heard. Regional Leaders and the press did not investigate. They promoted the project without investigation. They approved with out reviewing impacts, particularly to initiatives outlined in this conference.

 

Drawing the Lines: International Perspectives on Urban Renewal through the Arts
This conference promotes conversation about art and urban renewal on the broader international scale alongside more local applications in Northwest Indiana. Drawing the Lines brings together the multiple constituencies whose perspectives are necessary to evaluating the merits of urban revitalization models.

Drawing the lines seeks to:

  • Explore models of urban renewal through the arts,
  • Reflect on the impact of renovations efforts in the community,
  • Understand how government and private markets affect urban change,
  • Share best practices among community based leaders and scholars, and
  • Build a coalition to create concrete initiatives for the Northwest Indiana region.

 

Conference Abstracts:

  • The Arts Can Define a Region
    John M. Cain, South Shore Arts
  • Revive:  Using Art to Help Heal a Superfund Site
    Minda Douglas, Marcia Gillette, and Ann Cameron, Indiana University Kokomo
  • The Impact of Visual and Expressive Art on Public Policy and Public Voice
    Karen G. Evans, Indiana University Northwest                                          
    Daniel Lowery, Calumet College of St. Joseph
  • Cool Cities” Through Their “Creative Class”: A Model for Revitalizing Indiana’s Essential Cities
    Bruce Frankel, Ball State University
    Deborah Malitz, Indiana City Corp.
    Larry Francer, Historic Farmland
    Flo Lapin, Goldspace Theater, Muncie
    Richard Sowers, Anderson Symphony
    David Bowdon, Columbus Symphony, Terra Haute Symphony, Carmel Symphony
  • The Interstices Between Art and Economic Development
    Michelle Golden, Books, Brushes and Bands
    Mary Kaczka, Hammond Development Corporation
    John Davies, Woodlands Communications
    Daniel Lowery, Quality of Life Council
  • The Poetics of Space: IU Northwest’s Sculpture Garden
    Neil Goodman, Indiana University Northwest
  • Available:  post-industrial development and design at Lake Calumet
    Ellen Grimes, w / M. Powell, A. Kirschner, and M. al Khurasat, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Urban Redevelopment and the Arts:  Flagship Cultural Projects in Los Angeles and San Francisco
    Carl Grodach, University of Texas at Arlington
  • Leveraging Culture to Build a City’s External Brand and Internal Cohesiveness
    Tom Jones, Smart City Consulting
  • The IU Northwest Klamen Mural Project
    David Klamen, Indiana University Northwest
  • Art in the Region” 
    Patricia Lundberg, Indiana University Northwest
  • Looking at Urban Renewal Trials
     Peter Matthews, University of Mar
  • Spaces of vernacular creativity
    Steve Millington, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • The Other City Beautiful: Philadelphia and its Avenue of the Arts
    Micheline Nilsen, Indiana University South Bend
  • Bilbao: a spectacular but somehow disenchanted city
    Antonio Román,, University of Deusto
  • The Creative Class and Urban Economic Growth Revisited
    Michael Rushton, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Creating A Vision for International Community Development:  Indianapolis in 2050
    William Plater, Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis
  • Projects to Save a City
    Sanjit Sethi, Memphis College of Ar
  • The ‘Guggenheim Effect’ and the ‘New Bilbao’: On the Social Costs of Bilbao’s Urban Regeneration
    Lorenzo Vicario and Manuel Martínez-Monje, University of the Basque Country.

East Chicago’s Stimulus Totals $141,826,000

March 2nd, 2009 No comments

From the Stimulus Watch

Ah, we can do better than that.

How do you help a community when the Mayor and his cohorts are under indictment. Can you believe the projects he has put forward are critical to the well being of the community?

There are many critical issues that could be addressed with the proper funding. I would like to look at one vital issue – The Grand Calumet River.

East Chicago is home to the Grand Calumet River, considered THE MOST polluted waterway in the country, which feeds into the Lake Michigan – the source of our drinking water. The leading cause contamination – 100 years of INDUSTRY. East Chicago also has the poorest census tracts in the state. Maybe government agencies ought to begin to do something about it. Like a PUBLIC / PRIVATE partnership (before this industry declares bankruptcy and wiggles out of responsibility).

After 30 years of the Clear Water Act not a single effort has been initiated to clear this body of water -The plans are there, the funding is not.  So why isn’t cleaning of the Grand Calumet river apart of the Stimulus plan? I believe it is shovel ready.

Cleaning this river would stimulate new uses and open opportunities to the communities along its banks. The multipliers of this project are rich with opportunities, but so long as this polluted body of water continues to run through our community, opportunities will run dry. Just a thought.

The Marque project in the region is the Marquette Plan. From a previous post, here is what is happening in Portage: a middle-class community

Categories: East Chicago, Economics

Nothing but Brinksmanship

February 24th, 2009 No comments

Strategy of brinksmanship overtakes free-market ideologues in the Republican party resulting in a massive anti-intellectual backlash. In the stimulus debate republicans relegated themselves to opposing the President at the expense of the health and welfare of the nation. With these tactics there is no way to policy. Just saying….

 

Boehner, House Republican Leaders Call for Federal Spending Freeze to Address Growing Budget Deficit

Categories: National

E.C. Archives: BP & Taxes

February 15th, 2009 1 comment

Back in 2007 again, and coming at environmental advocacy from a different angle. The negative impacts are not all environmental they were also financial. In a community with the poorest census tracks in the state, yet paying the highest property taxes in the state at 8.45% this give-away to BP (without any job creation for East Chicagoans) is insane.

In fact we know that the project will lower residential property values and cap incremental increases in the future.