Rewriting The Oil Stock Story

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Could oil price manipulation have created the rerun of the Great Depression that we are currently enduring?

Think about it. The doubling of gas prices had a profound effect on disposable income and the affordability of housing, whose subsequent downturn set the stage for economic collapse.

We now know that Wall Street speculation drove oil from $69 a barrel to nearly $150. But this article purports to explain why.  read more »

The Gambler King of Clark Street, the Origin of Chicago's Political Machine


Long before Chicago sold off its assets, made plastic cows parade and outlawed goose guts, there was Michael Cassius McDonald, Big Mike. Where the Chicago Machine now grinds the citizen with Progressive idiocies, Mike McDonald and other Machine Mavericks like the Lords of the Levee appeared to actually help people. Vice and Government have gone hand-in-hand since Solon tried to reason with Croesus – Hesiod tells us that political corruption sparks political thought. The life of Michael Cassius McDonald was active and thought-provoking.  read more »

Painting the Town White: Technology and Greenhouse Gas Emissions


“Paint the world white to fight global warming” was the astonishing headline from The Times of London. The paper was referring to a presentation made by United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu at the St. James Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium last week. Chu was reported as saying that that this approach could have a vast impact.  read more »

The Real Mayor of Chicago


Most Americans living outside the Chicago area identify the city with Oprah, Obama, or Michael Jordan. When the subject of who really runs Chicago comes up, most people would say Mayor Daley. Chicago's lack of term limits and persistent political machine have kept Mayor Daley in office for over 20 years.

Those who know Chicago politics know there's one man who's more powerful than Mayor Daley, Alderman Ed Burke. Mayor Daley may be the identifiable public face of Chicago's political system and act as a lightning rod for criticism, but the lower profile Alderman Burke wields the real power.  read more »

Salinas and Self-Governance

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“Man is the only kind of varmint who sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.” — John Steinbeck

Though probably not intended as a political commentary, Steinbeck’s utterance perfectly describes the current California budget crisis. And, given the revenue and service delivery relationship between cities and the state, traps can be set and baited in Sacramento, leaving mayors, city councils and city managers to step in them.  read more »

North America’s High Tech Economy: The Geography of Knowledge-Based Industries


Almost ten-years ago, the Milken Institute first released America’s High-Tech Economy which cataloged technology’s central role in propelling economic growth in high-wage jobs and value-added economic activity. Shortly thereafter, the dot-com and high-tech bubbles popped, leading many to conclude that the era of tech-driven economic development was over.  read more »


Is Your City Safe From The Tech Bust?


A decade ago, the path to a successful future seemed sure. Secure a foothold in the emerging information economy, and your city or region was destined to boom.

That belief, as it turned out, was misguided.

In the decade between 1997 and 2007, the information sector--which includes jobs in fields from media, publishing and broadcasting to computer programming, data processing, telecommunications and Internet publishing--has barely created a single new net job, while some 16,000,000 were created in other fields.  read more »

San Jose, California: Bustling Metropolis or Bedroom Community?


Dionne Warwick posed the question more than 40 years ago, yet most Americans still don’t know ‘The way to San Jose’. Possessing neither the international cachet of San Francisco nor the notoriety of Oakland, San Jose continues to fly under the national radar in comparison to its Bay Area compatriots. Even with its self-proclaimed status as the ‘Heart of Silicon Valley’, many would be hard pressed to locate San Jose on a map of California.  read more »

Stimulus Alert Stretches From the Center of L.A. to Suburban Atlanta


The hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money are working their way through various systems, en route to a city near you.

Give President Barack Obama credit for acting boldly to pump the funds into the economy – or take him to task for printing up money on the cuff.

Either way, the time has come to shift your focus from Washington, D.C., and onto State Houses and City Halls throughout our land.  read more »

Project Development: Regulation and Roulette

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The site plan logically should be the key to approval of a development project. Yet in reality, the plan is secondary to the presentation. My conclusions are based upon experience with well over a thousand developments over four decades, most in the mainland USA. And what I’ve observed is that the best site plan is only as good as the presentation that will convince the council or planning commission to vote “Yes” on it. No “yes” vote, no deal, no development.  read more »