Posts Tagged: Midwest

High-speed cuts

The Detroit Free Press’s Todd Spangler reports on how $38 billion worth of cuts in the remaining FY11 budget affect Michigan, with one such cut in high-speed rail programs. “House Republicans cut all of the $1 billion the president originally requested for high-speed rail projects this year,” Spangler writes, “and also slashed $400 million remaining from the previous year’s funding for the program.” The cuts harm a possible rail link between Chicago and Detroit — a corridor between Chicago and St. Louis is already in the works.

Local worries about the government shutdown

Marisa Schultzand and Nathan Hurst of the Detroit News have an article representative of Midwest coverage on the looming federal government shutdown, which boils down to:  The shutdown would really stink. It would stink for thousands of furloughed federal employees, state agencies that rely on federal funding for education, health care and infrastructure projects, and even school children planning to take a bus to Washington, D.C. and visit the Smithsonian.

It’s pollyannish to write, but a silver lining of the shutdown battle is it shows the mundane, positive ways that government affects people’s lives. I have yet to see an article arguing that a shutdown is good, because it shows the unnecessarily intrusive nature of Washington, D.C. Instead, there is almost universal anxiety about a shutdown’s consequences.

A new ICE age

The Chicago Tribune’s Alejandro Cancino reports that federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials arrested 370 immigrants in ten Midwestern states the past week. John Morton, the director of ICE, said that 56 percent of those arrested had once been convicted of serious crimes like armed robbery and drug abuse. And nearly all had been convicted of lesser crimes, like driving under the influence. In other words, most immigrants apprehended were guilty of something in addition to the civil offense of being undocumented.

The Obama administration has captured illegal immigrants at a higher rate then the Bush administration. But the more salient issue is which immigrants ICE targets. (more…)


It wasn’t exactly the Yalta Conference but Jon Hilkevtich of the Chicago Tribune reports on an important meeting today of Midwest leaders:

An agreement signed today seeking to fast-track high-speed passenger rail projects in the Midwest has three powerful engines pulling in its favor: the Obama administration, the clout of congressional delegations from eight states and the support of the nation’s freight railroads.

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and the City of Chicago entered into a memorandum of understanding that commits the governments to coordinate plans to develop 110-mile-per-hour rail corridors across the Midwest.

At Monday’s ceremony, the pact was signed by five governors and Mayor Richard Daley. They all attended a summit in Chicago aimed at laying the groundwork to compete for the largest possible share of $8 billion the Obama administration has allocated for high-speed rail. Three other governors signed the documents earlier.

The rail network will cost an estimated $4 billion and be hubbed in Chicago. As a Chicago resident who doesn’t own a car, I’m totally psyched about a high-speed rail that will connect me to my family in Milwaukee and Minneapolis and, um, maybe Detroit Pistons basketball games in Detroit-Pontiac. I deserve it. But people in Florida, California, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas also deserve high-speed rail and that leaves the Obama administration with a dilemma: either give the $8 billion in cash to 1-2 projects that will actually be completed or spread it around evenly to all worthy candidates. The second idea, while seemingly more fair, will actually be really silly if the federal government does not set aside more high-speed rail cash (like perhaps in the next surface transportation bill). States are too busy issuing IOUs and shutting down child care centers to invest in the future of mass transit.-MB