Tark Talks new Vikings stadium

Nevermind for a moment the decision about in-city or suburban stadium. (Too bad the Vikings so overtly wanna sprawl.) Let's think on facility design. According to one former Minnesota Vikings QB, an open-air stadium embodies "the culture of Minnesota."

The public opinion poll reveals Twin Citians support outdoor football too.

Detroit, never too early/late to retrofit domed Ford Field.

Detroit's central problem is structural

MI Gov Rick Snyder reminds us Detroit's financial crisis is chronic. Time for a new approach, he says, to foster long-term change, end the cycle and focus on positive forward action.

25 year transition to knowledge-based economy?

That's about how long it took Pittsburgh, according to Michigan Future, Inc President Lou Glazer. He doesn't know if Detroit, Grand Rapids and Michigan can do it any faster.

Where there's hope...

Historian Kevin Boyle and Changing Gears compiled an abridged history of supposed Midwest magic bullets, "those quick tickets to jobs and economic prosperity."
  1. Seize on one key industry to grow (detroit = automobile)
  2. Build shiny new landmark (Flint = AutoWorld)
  3. The great event (Chicago = Olympics)
  4. Urban renewal

Are you ready for some ...

Barry Sanders! ESPN had the former running back intro Monday Night Football with a statement about the Lions and the City of Detroit.

Resetting the Cleveland waterfront

In an interview with Civic Commons, Cleveland Plain Dealer Architecture Critic Steven Litt explains the hope for a new day on the Cleveland waterfront...
"For the first time in recent history, the Port [Authority] is accepting responsibility not only for the lakefront but for the river, and realizing that the positive forces of economic development in The Flats can't be unleashed until the big infrastructure problems are solved."

How to put young people to work?

Minnesota Public Radio put the question to Harvard's David Gergen and Duke's William Darity this morning. Good dialogue:

Informative live chat discussion logged here.

What Detroit can learn from Brooklyn

Kay Hymowitz writes that in the 1990s "Brooklyn came awfully close to becoming an East Coast Detroit. But it didn't for three major reasons."

  1. Policing reform to dramatically reduce crime
  2. Rezoning fallow industrial neighborhoods to allow mixed use redevelopment
  3. The influx of a new generation of college-educated people who prefer urban living

Wisconsin's new front door

Milwaukee unveiled a long range plan (pdf) to rebuild its downtown lakefront. Parks Director Sue Black captures the aspirational nature of the work:
In planning for the future of the lakefront we have a tremendous opportunity to do something spectacular for the State of Wisconsin, for Milwaukee County, and for the City of Milwaukee - but most importantly for our citizens and visitors to this fantastic resource. This area is considered to be the most heavily used recreational land in Wisconsin. Let's get this done right and with a sense of urgency and pride.

Michigan's refreshing Rick Snyder

Excerpts of the Governor's discussion with the Detroit Free Press about his budget proposal and philosophy.

Quality bus token from Moline-Rock Island

(via The Nesting Nomad)

13,000 angry union fans...

... piled into the Wisconsin Capitol building to holler about Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget, which would reduce public worker pay and bargaining power. Wisconsin is some $3.6 billion in the hole for the 2011-13 budget.

With imagination we'll get there

Mike Madison pinpoints a Rust Belt reinvention challenge tougher to solve than the rust:
What holds the Rust Belt back, perhaps necessarily and inevitably, isn’t really the challenge of clearing brownfields and attracting new firms and residents. It is the challenge of history and culture that frames how one can imagine the future. 
Rust Belt chic is hip, to be sure, but it’s also all we’ve got, for now. Can you imagine a broadcast of Monday Night Football in Pittsburgh that does not feature video of steelmaking? Yet no steel is made in the City of Pittsburgh today, and only a modest amount of steel comes out of the region as a whole — nearly all of it specialty steel, not the giant pieces that framed bridges and skyscrapers.
Who knows what Pittsburgh might become, even if it might become anything more than it is right now. But Pittsburgh has to find a way to put steel in its place, metaphorically speaking.

City talk

David Brooks writes about the Splendor of Cities from Chicago's mayoral campaign trail:
Chicago has its problems: it suffers under one of the biggest debt loads in the country. But it has thrived because it has had good leadership, a constantly updated housing stock, a good business environment and an ethos that attracts talent and celebrates blunt conversation.

Hottest fires make the hardest steel

Plenty of good ads during the Rust Belt Bowl yesterday. If you're bullish about the rise of Michigan and the greater Great Lakes region, this was the best one...

Sherbourne Common opens the ice

Don't mean to crib content from Christopher Hume today. But this is an informative update from the Toronto waterfront.

Ridding Toronto of transit

The opening statement of Christopher Hume's latest column on the break down of Toronto's transit debate: 
By now, Toronto’s transit failure is all but complete. 

Read the Midwest

Anna Clark highlights 13 stand out books that capture "the sense of place in the mythic Midwest." Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, born and raised in Indy, helps explain the connection:
All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis. My adenoids are Indianapolis. If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.

Lansing don't want none of that regional tyranny

The city mayor called for a committee to study what that regionalism thing is all about. After reading that news the village idiot typed the comment below. Notice another 5 "recommend."

User Image
MikeSears wrote:
All this is going to do is increase the size and scope of government, give the people fewer choices, raise taxes, fees and fines, and create more regulations. In short, one step closer to Tyranny.
1/27/2011 6:25:13 AM

Rochester, MN frames the future for downtown

The City of Rochester recently adopted a new downtown master plan. The design principles, which are quickly becoming universal across forward-looking Great Lakes metros, express the city's aspiration:

  • Create a vibrant, economically healthy downtown that is walkable, livable and promotes human interaction
  • Create strong connections between major activity centers including the central business district, University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic
  • Promote mobility options that reduce dependency on automobiles
  • Create pedestrian friendly streets that balance use by people and automobiles
  • Build upon historic buildings and landmarks that contribute to Rochester’s history and culture
  • Establish a connected open space system including the river
  • Create strong connections between indoor and outdoor spaces at street level, subway, and skyway
  • Develop buildings that engage the street, shape the civic realm and minimize energy use

Beginnings of a bid to become the Republican challenger

Pitch an agenda to crush government unions.

Publish (and sell) An American Story.

Do a YouTube...

What's wrong with ruin rubbernecking

Noreen Malone makes The Case Against Ruin Porn.
By presenting Detroit, and other hurting cities like it, as places beyond repair, [ruin porn pics] in fact quash any such instinct. Looked at as a piece of art, they're arresting, compelling, haunting ... but not galvanizing. Our brains mentally file these scenes next to Pompeii rather than a thriving metropolis like Chicago, say, or even Columbus.

Measuring open-mindedness across the Great Lakes

Using an interesting methodology that assigns points to incidence of hate crimes, frequency of discrimination complaints, popular support for gay marriage and other relevant measures, The Daily Beast ranks each of the United States on the tolerance scale. Here's how the Great Lakes region scores:  

1. Wisconsin
3. Illinois
4. Pennsylvania
7. Minnesota
17. New York
30. Michigan
33. Indiana
46. Ohio

Chicago's next green move

You can see by the Q&A exchange captured in the Green Growth Platform for Chicago's Next Mayor why some say the city's sustainability campaign is a public relations fraud.

I'm not that cynical. But clearly the city's journey to become "the greenest in America" remains in its infancy.

Chicago has yet to deploy basic recycling to all homes. The city struggles to demonstrate any real leadership on keeping the carp outta the Great Lakes. Then there's the basic issue of water quality:
Q: Will you publicly support disinfecting the sewage effluent that is pumped into the Chicago-area waterways?
A (via Rahm Emanuel): Disinfection is a standard practice around the country and is long overdue in Chicago.

Time to redesign Twin Cities' transit governance

The Twin Cities region has spent $1.7 billion on capital transit projects since 2004. These include rapid bus, commuter- and light- rail service. But the Metro Council, the primary transit provider, lacks credibility and accountability on mobility issues, according to a new report from Minnesota's Office of the Legislative Auditor. Other key findings - many of which could easily apply to metros throughout the Great Lakes - include:
  • The Twin Cities region’s transit system has performed well on most measures of efficiency, effectiveness, and impact in comparison with 11 peer regions.
  • The governance of transit in the Twin Cities region is complex and fraught with distrust 
  • Coordination among the many transit organizations in the region has been difficult.
  • There is no agreed-upon set of priorities for transitway development in the Twin Cities region, and existing Minnesota law prohibits consideration of all potential transitways in the region.
  • Scarce resources for transit are likely to become scarcer as the state confronts a significant budget deficit.

Will Cleveland's Medical Mart exemplify good urbanism

Hard to tell from the latest rendering of the facility, which is now under construction. Steven Litt gently wonders if the ultimate design will give rise to a great civic building that anchors a great civic space.

Toronto transit rap

President Kennedy at the Michigan Union

Fifty years ago today President John Kennedy delivered his only inaugural address. Three months before that he spoke on the University of Michigan campus about an idea that ultimately would become the United States Peace Corps. Listen to the crowd razz him after the "go to bed" comment.

Milwaukee River plan

The Milwaukee Common Council formally adopted the Milwaukee River Greenway River Master Plan: A Vision for Recreation and Restoration. Here is the plan in PDF.

Greater Great Lakes gaining talent

Over at The Atlantic, Richard Florida concludes his latest column with some good news:
One of the subtler and perhaps more important trends brought on by the Great Reset is the improved and improving performance of older Rustbelt metros from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo to Milwaukee and St. Louis, which appear to have turned the tide in terms of their ability to attract and retain young adults and college grads.

Bizzaro energy politics in Michigan

The left-leaning Center for American Progress has high hopes for the energy platform of Michigan's new Republican governor.
The 2010 midterm elections ushered dozens of new climate science deniers into state houses and the U.S. Capitol. Michigan may buck this trend, however. Freshly inaugurated Gov. Rick Snyder supported clean energy policies during last year’s race. Michigan could turn out to be a clean energy bright spot in a disappointing election season if Snyder stays true to his campaign.
Meanwhile, Michigan's Democratic leadership called for the construction of a new coal plant, effectively thumbing their nose at the past eight years of soaring alternative energy rhetoric from former Governor Granholm, a Democrat.

Kasich's compensation kerfuffle

Plunderbund is all over Ohio Governor Kasich for "inflated" staff salaries. His chief of staff, among others, certainly will collect a nice check. The political blog questions the Governor's shaky rationale for the salaries.

One more important question though is will performance match the pay. There's plenty of work to do rebuilding Ohio and positioning the state for 21st century prosperity. Whether taxpayers will get their money's worth from Team Kasich remains to be seen. What's more, how will Ohioans measure success?

When King came to Detroit

Before The Speech, Dr. Martin Luther King rehearsed after marching on Woodward Avenue.

Does Toronto care about its history

Kenneth Kidd doesn't pull any punches in his feature about Toronto's surprising lack of concern for preserving historic buildings, and he delivers the blows backed by a forceful quote from a local developer.
There is probably no other western metropolis of the size and stature of Toronto that has less collective interest in its heritage and, until recently, less admiration for the finest architecture of any vintage.
We are a city of immigrants, of course, but so are New York, Chicago and London, all of which venerate their pasts.
Toronto almost deliberately turns its back on all that has gone before. Unlike other great cities, we still have no museum dedicated to our own civic history, nothing to inform us fully of the legacy we inherit.
Instead, we’re prone to a kind of self-flagellation, in which our own past achievements are deemed slight, and current efforts thought to be inherently inferior to anything elsewhere. It’s an equation of self-defeat.
“We live in what surely is the greatest civil society on the planet and we’re building one of the least attractive, least efficient modern cities in the world,” says (developer) Paul Oberman.

Detroit comings and goings

Artist Jennifer Quigley tells the Detroit Free Press that "people who want art and culture are gravitating [to Detroit]."

But a story by Ben Schmitt, interestingly a former Detroit Free Press reporter now living in Pittsburgh, illustrates that people who want a family are sometimes repelled.

When I heard my daughters' screams that evening, I knew I was gone. No more compromises.

For now, Great Lakes power is not waning

The census revealed the Rust Belt is losing people, which ultimately translates to less political clout. But George Will reports that, for the moment, the region's influence is ascendant in the nation's Capitol.
Michigan's power is waxing in Washington, with Upton's boon companion Dave Camp, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. They are part of a Midwestern ascendancy in the House, which also includes Ohio's John Boehner (speaker), Michigan'sMike Rogers (chairman of the intelligence committee), Wisconsin's Paul Ryan (chairman of budget), Minnesota's John Kline (chairman of education and the workforce), and Missouri's Sam Graves (chairman of small business).

Milwaukee's Mad Man Michaels

Bobby Tanzilo's OnMilwaukee column about streetcar nostalgia turned me on to disc jockey Mad Man Michaels. They certainly don't tell stories on the radio like they used to.

Shameless in Chicago

Starts Sunday.

DNA survelliance on the Asian Carp

In a paper published in the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, a team of scientists describe the fascinating ability to scoop a water sample from, say, a lake or river, take it back to the lab, wade through all the swimming genetic schmutz and determine what kind of critters lurk. The process already has detected the Asian Carp closer to the Great Lakes than previously thought. Daaa dum... daaa dum

Why is Illinois so corrupt

Shane Tritsch isn't the first to ask the question. (Politico, for one, did awhile back) But his thorough investigative piece in Chicago magazine relays a reasonable array of factors that inform the answer. Apparently the graft really started to get thick with Bathhouse John Coughlin and Hinky Dink Kenna in 1869. All downhill from there:
Over the past 40 years, about 1,500 people—including 30 Chicago aldermen—have been convicted for bribery, extortion, embezzlement, tax fraud, and other forms of corruption, according to Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Three former Illinois governors have gone to prison, and a fourth soon could be locked up if a jury convicts Blagojevich in his upcoming retrial on corruption and conspiracy charges.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's inaugural address

In hindsight, Jim Doyle's transit agenda was whack

Charlie Rosenberg explains his view of how former Governor Jim Doyle failed to advance modern mobility policy in Wisconsin:
Looking back, Doyle's administration took isolated, tentative, steps that went nowhere, casually discarded concrete measures that could have been critical building blocks, failed to work with even members of his own party in the legislature, and never made clear to voters his vision of how a southeastern Wisconsin regional transit agency would improve their lives.

Bankruptcy please

City of Hamtramck Manager William Cooper's money quote was first reported last Monday in the NY Times. Then the paper recycled his determined fightin words in the popular 'Chatter' sidebar of yesterday's business section.
We're going to pursue bankruptcy until the door is shut, locked, barricaded and bolted.

Thank you Geraldine Hoff Doyle

She only worked the metal press for a minute. But her likeness reportedly inspired iconic World War II propaganda and ultimately came to personify the American feminism movement. Mrs. Doyle was born and lived in southeast Michigan. Surprisingly the LA Times - not the Detroit News or Free Press - owned the obit.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's inaugural address

Here's a transcript, and the audio.