1. Two worthwhile pieces from Aaron Renn: “Well-Heeled in the Windy City” at City Journal, and “My Presence Is a Provocation” at New Geography. The question of what obligations the political class of a city like Chicago, or New York, or wherever, feels towards those residents, and those neighborhoods, that will never be glamorous is an important one, and I think it goes way beyond Emanuel or Bloomberg or Gilbert personally.
2. Moody’s finds that charter schools can cause a fiscal crisis for regular public schools just as Catalyst notes that Chicago’s neighborhood high schools are having an enrollment crisis. Which precipitates a fiscal crisis. Not much to say here other than Oy. Actually, there is, but I already said it: Is this the educational marketplace that charter backers had in mind, or are we just spreading students thin to the detriment of their education?
3. Chicago’s getting an independent budget office! Thank GOD. This is important because in instances when someone wants to, say, lease our parking meters, an independent budget office is pretty much the only outfit that might warn us, with the numbers to back up the claim, that such a lease would be a disaster. Basically, if this thing works, we will be much, much better-informed about the potential effects of future proposals before they happen. Then again, it may not work. It’s apparently getting $500,000 and a staff of six, which is double what Ald. Ameya Pawar initially proposed, but one-sixteenth of what Scott Waguespack seems to think is necessary. I’m not really in a position to evaluate. Although I will point out that New York City’s Independent Budget Office has a staff of 39.
4. A great four-part series on dream public transit reforms at the Beechwood Reporter. Main thing I would like to emphasize: METRA COULD BE SO GREAT BUT IT’S NOT. OY. Metra, and also BRT. Improving the first – getting trains to run at least every 15-30 minutes – and building a moderate-sized network of the second would pretty much revolutionize rapid transit and access in Chicago without digging any expensive tunnels or anything.