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Thursday, November 21

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The Mechanics
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Event Tue Apr 28 2009

World, Biden Discuss Urban Economic Crisis

Meetings, summits, conferences. These are where catastrophic problems are discussed and noble solutions are alluded to. That tradition was upheld on Monday at the UIC-hosted and city-sponsored Fifth Annual Richard J. Daley Urban Forum cautiously entitled "Global Economic Recovery: Cities Lead the Way."

The three-hour event boasted 30 mayors from cities around the world contributing their hard-knocks experiences amidst the global recession. Much of the dialogue revolved around such big ideas as bureaucratic reform, infrastructure investment, and educational improvement -- all with very little specificity attached.

While Mayor Richard M. Daley, who Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution affectionately referred to as the "dean of American mayors," may have presided over markedly higher budgets each year, he confidently assured the forum that urban success will be rooted in "cutting government spending," and "looking at outsourcing." Yet it was Mayor Hanna Birna Kristjansdottir of Reykjavik, Iceland, who described how she and the city council agreed to a pay cut as a measure of demonstrating what needed to be done across the board. From the back of the room, it was hard to see if the 50 aldermen in the front row were stroking their chins in a eureka moment.

Vice President Joe Biden topped off the chorus of international voices in support of significant federal reinvestment in the urban landscape by using stimulus spending items as bullet points. After rattling off a stump speech of spending measures (all of which could be reviewed at recovery.gov), he expressed his belief that American cities will soon gain a technological edge in the global economy by trading in "smokestacks for stethoscopes."

From the bowels of the predictable rhetoric and the guaranteed applause lines about wanting Chicago to host the Olympics in 2016, a few general themes did emerge. Tourism dollars wind up finding their ways to places that spend money on beautification projects and big box infrastructure improvements, making it clear that such expenditures go beyond short-term patronage.

Secondly, business partnerships must guide the educational development in this country through secondary school grants and product development in the universities. Norbert Riedel, a spokesperson for the Baxter International, discussed how partnering with several Chicago universities allowed it to make headway in adult stem cell research, anti-counterfeiting, and product safety. These relationships went onto to produce high-paying jobs in which companies groomed the work force to suit its needs. Gone are the days about worrying how corporate influence in the educational marketplace could corrupt the schooling process. As the Beatles once said, "All the money's gone, nowhere to go."

 
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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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