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Political News Roundup: How to Make Chicago the Less Windy City

How a federal government program helped fund the renovation of Chicago’s lavish Blackstone Hotel; Mayor Daley proposes a fix to the city’s popular identity; Cinkus violations are this month’s residency requirement; and more

+ Bloomberg Markets Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel have must-read pieces on the use and abuse of a development program I hadn’t heard of: the New Markets Tax Credit program. The idea behind the program will be familiar to anyone who’s followed the emergence of TIF districts as an issue in the mayoral race, only this is a federal program meant to spur development in low-income census tracts. Only “low-income” is malleable; the Bloomberg piece describes how the Blackstone Hotel, just off Millennium Park, qualified for NMTC funding because the large numbers of college students living in the area are technically “low income.”

+ Mayor Daley in the wake of the LSD mess: “We need barriers out in the lake to prevent the Northwest winds coming in.” Heck, we reversed the Chicago River, lifted the city off the ground, and rebuilt after the Chicago fire; we ain’t scared of no elements.

+ Harvard economist Howard Glaeser looks at Daley’s economic legacy and finds it’s pretty great. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research looks at Glaeser’s evidence and notes that our affordable housing costs are attributable in part to their massive collapse in recent years.

+ Miguel Del Valle thinks he’s found a way to invalidate the city’s parking meter sale.

+ Rahm Emanuel cited Threadless as the kind of company the city needs (Chicago: City of Big Hipsters) and talked economic policy today. In the wake of a campaign ad that’s getting blowback from unions, he wasn’t as demonstrative about pensions as he’s been recently.

+ Ben Joravsky looks at ballot challenges based on Cinkus violations, which haven’t gotten the same attention as, say, residency challenges.

+ WBEZ’s Natalie Moore and UIC’s Nik Theodore discuss the economic health of Chicago’s black community.

+ Deanna Isaacs of the Reader follows up on Jim DeRogatis’s reporting about Lois Weisberg’s departure from the office of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. If you want a sense of why Weisberg is such a major figure to contend with, Malcolm Gladwell’s 1999 New Yorker profile is a good introduction.

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