WBEZ | Ohio http://www.wbez.org/tags/ohio Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en In Dayton, Ohio an economic comeback is in the water http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/dayton-ohio-economic-comeback-water-110520 <p><p>Dayton&rsquo;s Mad River wellfield is on a grassy island in the middle of one of the city&rsquo;s three major rivers. Phil Van Atta, head of Dayton&rsquo;s water treatment operation, says the wellfield, where Dayton pumps up groundwater from the <a href="https://www.miamiconservancy.org/water/aquifer_what.asp">Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer,</a> is one of his favorite places. The shallow sand and gravel aquifer in some places lies just feet below the ground, and its 1.5 trillion gallons of freshwater is constantly recharging from the rivers and rainfall.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got loads of capacity now,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We would love to see more demand, more industry come in. Not just to increase their demand for water, but also so there are more jobs available to people in this area.&rdquo;</p><p>Dayton is Ohio&rsquo;s sixth-largest city, but its population has stagnated in recent years due to the foreclosure crisis and loss of industry. In Dayton, both crises hit years before they tore apart the national economy. But now the city may be on the cutting edge again. As states like California face major water shortages, city officials in Dayton sense a business opportunity.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/drought-drives-drilling-frenzy-groundwater-california-110483">Drought drives drilling frenzy for groundwater in California</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Almost all local jurisdictions draw from the Great Miami Aquifer, and Dayton&rsquo;s water treatment system serves 400,000 in the city and surrounding Montgomery and Greene Counties. It&rsquo;s no Lake Michigan, but the self-filtering, self-recharging freshwater supply, along with the rivers, once made Dayton attractive to water-intensive industries in the 19th century.</p><p>Mills, factories, and countless little breweries lined the river before Prohibition, and Dayton was a hub of innovation and wealth. The airplane, the cash register, the self-start automobile ignition, and the pop-top soda can were all invented here. But now that&rsquo;s just a distant memory.</p><p>&ldquo;We lost all the GM plants and the Delphi plants and the parts plants associated with those plants,&rdquo; says Van Atta, turning the truck onto the gravel road that makes a loop around the island.</p><p>Tens of thousands of jobs evaporated &mdash; the final blow was when GM left in 2008. &ldquo;That was a big hit on our water demand,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Now Dozens of out-of-use wells dot this island; Van Atta says they rotate them in and out of use following a reduction in demand of over 25 percent since 2008.</p><p>And yet, Dayton is betting that in the future, water will be the key to turning things around.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dayton%20Water%201843.jpg" title="Water sits in softening ponds at the Dayton water treatment plant. The system's two wellfields supply water for 400,000 people in the area from the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer. (Lewis Wallace)" /></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&#39;We&#39;re running into limits&#39;</span></p><p>U.S. census numbers reveal that in recent years the population has been <a href="http://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/043/">virtually flat or shrinking in places like Ohio, Illinois and Michigan</a>, where there&rsquo;s tons of water. The biggest areas of growth are in the west and <a href="https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb13-94.html">southwest</a>, where water scarcity is a growing emergency. Parts of Texas have seen the worst droughts on record for four years and counting, and California&rsquo;s facing much the same.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re running into limits,&rdquo; says Peter Gleick, the head of the <a href="http://pacinst.org/">Pacific Institute</a>, a nonprofit research organization in Oakland, California. &ldquo;The Colorado River no longer reaches the sea in an average year because humans use all of the flow. We&rsquo;re over-pumping groundwater aquifers in the western U.S...In the past we&rsquo;ve sort of assumed enough water would always be available, and I think we can no longer assume that&rsquo;s going to be the case.&rdquo;</p><p>The parched conditions are affecting everything from food prices to energy spending and the intensity of wildfires. Climate change means this is probably just the beginning.</p><blockquote><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/158677537&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false" width="100%"></iframe><strong>Related: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/water-issues-in-the-west-could">What water issues in California mean for the Midwest</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;Some of these south-western cities that not only have water scarcity problems but are gonna start to see more and more costs for energy, for cooling, more and more uncomfortable extreme heat days,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;In that kind of situation I think it&rsquo;s possible that we may see a change in the kind of migration we&rsquo;ve seen over the latter part of the 20th century, maybe back to some of these population centers in the midwest and in the east.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Dayton calling</span></p><p>&ldquo;Back to the midwest&rdquo; &mdash; that phrase is music to Karen Thomas&rsquo;s ears. Thomas is the head of water marketing for Dayton (yes, that&rsquo;s actually a job).</p><p>&ldquo;We have an abundant water source,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t believe that we would have to worry about water.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dayton%20Water%201750.jpg" title="The Mad River wellfield in Dayton sits on a wooded island between heavily industrial areas in northeast Dayton. (Lewis Wallace)" /></div><p>The water in the vast underground aquifer is usually out of sight, but it&rsquo;s up to Thomas to make it visible, and sell it. Efforts in the last few years have included a <a href="http://www.daytonwater.org/uploads/docs/SWPA%20Brochure.pdf">&ldquo;Take Back the Tap&rdquo;</a> campaign to encourage citizens to use Dayton tap water rather than bottled water. Officials have also reached out to companies in water-stressed areas, pushing Dayton as a cheap alternative.</p><p>Thomas thinks this is what could put Dayton back on the map.</p><p>&ldquo;Water is a public good, but it&rsquo;s also a commodity,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>An economic development team in Dayton has conducted talks with several food processors, manufacturers, and beverage makers that could use an inexpensive and abundant supply of water. Companies that choose Dayton would face little of the regulation placed on water diversions in the Great Lakes basin; here, if you can drill a well, you can drain it.</p><p>&ldquo;If they&rsquo;re looking for water, this would be a great place to relocate to,&rdquo; says Thomas.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">You can&#39;t make beer without water</span></p><p>Dayton&rsquo;s water pitch may sound like something out of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, but it&rsquo;s not all that far-fetched.</p><p>&ldquo;You know people turn on the tap and they think water&rsquo;s free, they just assume it&rsquo;s gonna be there,&rdquo; says Peter Kruger, master brewer at <a href="http://bearrepublic.com/news/using-space-technology-to-conserve-water/#.U8fOR41dWKI">Bear Republic brewery</a> in California, north of San Francisco.</p><p>&ldquo;There was a period in early February where the governor listed 17 cities in California that were within a hundred days of running out of water,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;and our brewpub in Healdsburg was one of those towns, and our production brewery in Cloverdale was another.&rdquo;</p><p>In the brewing industry, water isn&rsquo;t negotiable &mdash; most of it is used for cleaning equipment and of course for the beer itself, which is why Kruger is nervous. I called him to hear about the work they&rsquo;re doing to conserve, but he says they are actually considering a move.</p><p>&ldquo;We have talked about other locations for a brewery that are not as water-stressed as California is.&rdquo;</p><p>They&rsquo;ve looked at Pennsylvania, Wisconsin &mdash; and yes, even Ohio.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-and-center-water/california-drought-renews-debate-regional-food-systems-110497" target="_blank">Will California drought prompt more Midwest agriculture?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>But Karen Hobbs, a <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/khobbs/">senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council</a> is not on board with this idea.</p><p>&ldquo;These are difficult economic times. But the troubling part about marketing water resources I think is that it tends to devalue that asset,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Hobbs thinks clean water in the Great Lakes region comes too cheap. In Chicago, almost 2 billion gallons of water a day leave Lake Michigan for use in homes and industry, and drain into the Chicago River, never to be returned or recycled.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dayton%20Water%201848.JPG" title="Karen Thomas, the city of Dayton's full-time water marketer, holds up a brochure advertising Dayton's water supply. (Lewis Wallace)" /></div><p>Plus, the midwest is not immune to the effects of climate change, like drought or huge storms and floods, which can affect water quality as well as quantity. She says before companies just move to where the water is, they should work harder to reduce, reuse and recycle.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s lots, lots of low-hanging fruit in terms of improving water efficiency and increasing conservation that companies and individuals can take,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>But Peter Kruger says Bear Republic Brewery is doing a lot of that already (Hobbs actually referred me to its conservation efforts.)</p><p>&ldquo;Traditionally breweries have used anywhere from 10 to 15 gallons of water to make one gallon of beer,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Our ratio now is down to 3.5 gallons of water to make a gallon of beer.&rdquo; They get their water from the Russian River, which has been dramatically low; the company is now putting its own money into sinking a well to access groundwater at the edge of town.</p><p>Still, their water use may not be sustainable in the long run. Kruger says he&rsquo;d hate to leave beautiful sunny California, but this year has been a reality check.</p><p>&ldquo;Water is really gonna be the challenge our kids and grandkids deal with,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;As there are more people there&rsquo;s not gonna be more and more water, there&rsquo;s gonna be less and less clean water. That&rsquo;s anywhere. That includes Ohio or, you know, the wettest place in the world.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Betting on a future where water is king</span></p><p>Some people in Dayton believe they&rsquo;re walking on a liquid gold mine: people may have lost jobs, people, and whole industries, but the Great Miami aquifer is still here.</p><p>Though not entirely unthreatened: In the 1980s, the drinking water in Dayton was found to be contaminated with dangerous levels of industrial chemicals. A 1987 fire at a Sherwin Williams paint warehouse had to be allowed to burn for days on end to avoid dousing the plant&rsquo;s chemicals directly into the aquifer near the wellfield.</p><p>Following the fire, Dayton and the surrounding municipalities that use the water system passed stringent drinking water protections that incentivize industry to keep chemical contaminants away from the wellfields. Still, today the city sometimes cleans up industrial chemicals including trichloroethylene (TCE) from the water before it&rsquo;s sent to the tap.</p><p>Now a handful of local manufacturers are pushing to reduce some of those protections, saying the chemical limits treat smaller businesses unfairly. The city says reduced demand on the wellfields has shrunk the area in need of active protection, and has <a href="http://wyso.org/post/dayton-discuss-proposed-changes-drinking-water-protections">put forth a controversial proposal</a> to reduce that area by 40 percent.</p><p>Even as <a href="http://wyso.org/post/residents-speak-out-against-proposed-water-protection-changes-video">a public debate over water gets underway</a>, Dayton leaders aren&rsquo;t concerned about the future water supply. Karen Thomas&rsquo;s message for master brewer Peter Kruger? Come and get it.</p><p>&ldquo;To be able to turn the faucet on, to get a cup of coffee, to flush your toilet, to take a shower, and the water&rsquo;s there and it&rsquo;s clean, why not love water?&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Especially Dayton water!&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is an economics reporter and host for WYSO, the public radio station for Ohio&rsquo;s Miami Valley region. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/dayton-ohio-economic-comeback-water-110520 Romney's shameless last-minute lie http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/romneys-shameless-last-minute-lie-103545 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6624_AP761363886569-scr.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px; " title="Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney collects supplies for victims of superstorm Sandy at a campaign event in Kettering, Ohio, Tuesday. (AP/Charles Dharapak)" /></div><p>As most of the country focused on Superstorm Sandy&rsquo;s assault of the East Coast, Mitt Romney&rsquo;s campaign hit new shameless lows in Ohio this week.</p><p>In spite of promises to lay off politics for a few days while folks were dealing with Hurricane Sandy, this is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=xl77CapjzsA">loathsome radio ad</a> he&rsquo;s running in Ohio as of Tuesday:</p><p style="margin-left:.5in;"><em>Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio, or China? Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs. But they are planning to double the number of cars built in China &mdash; which means 15,000 more jobs for China.</em><br /><br /><em><em>And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making jeeps in &mdash; you guessed it &mdash; China. What happened to the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo and throughout Ohio &mdash; the same hard-working men and women who were told that Obama&rsquo;s auto bailout would help them?</em></em><br /><br /><em>Mitt Romney grew up in the Auto Industry. Maybe that&rsquo;s why the</em>&nbsp;Detroit News&nbsp;<em>endorsed him, saying: &rdquo;Romney understands the industry and will shield it from regulators who never tire of churning out new layers of mandates.&rdquo; Mitt Romney. He&rsquo;ll stand up for the auto industry. In Ohio, not China.</em></p><p>This is not only a flat out lie, but Romney <em>knows</em> it&rsquo;s a lie. It&rsquo;s a deliberate attempt to play off people&rsquo;s fears about their own livelihood &mdash; a totally baseless fear refuted by Sergio Marchionne, cheif executive of Jeep&#39;s parent companies Fiat and Chrysler, who said in response, &ldquo;I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.&rdquo;<br /><br />In fact, as Marchionne explained in a letter published in <em>Forbes</em> <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2012/10/30/marchionne-says-it-is-inaccurate-to-suggest-jeep-production-will-shift-to-china/">specifically refuting Romney&rsquo;s claims</a>, the company plans to <em>invest</em> $500 million in the Toledo Assembly Complex, bringing another 1,100 auto jobs to Ohio.<br /><br />&quot;The ad is <a href="http://http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/us/politics/2-american-automakers-rebut-claims-by-romney.html?_r=0">cynical campaign politics at its worst</a>,&quot; Greg Martin, a spokesman for General Motors, added. &ldquo;We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.&rdquo;<br /><br />What&rsquo;s the real story here? Romney used this China line at a couple of campaign events last week, but refused to answer reporters&rsquo; questions about it. Then he began to air a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=VQ8P04q6jqE">TV ad </a>with the same theme, which was <a href="http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/10/misleading-romney-auto-ad-backfires-with-media.php">widely panned</a>.<br /><br />But not even the absolute assurance of Jeep&rsquo;s chief executive was enough to shame Romney into pulling that TV ad. Instead, he doubled down with the radio ad, toughening the language and making a more direct suggestion that Jeep plans to move its operation to China.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s true that Jeep plans to open new factories in China &mdash; to meet Chinese demand for its cars. What that means to Ohio, where Jeep builds a series of unique parts, is that there will be even more U.S. jobs.<br /><br />And the <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121025/OPINION01/210250332#ixzz2AJbzwUQe"><em>Detroit News</em> endorsement</a> that Romney ad cites? Yeah, they really did endorse Romney &mdash; but not without calling him out on how <em>wrong</em> he was on the auto bailout. Here&rsquo;s the part of the editorial Mitt will never reproduce:</p><p style="margin-left:.5in;"><em>Don&#39;t assume that it was a no-brainer for a conservative newspaper to endorse a conservative presidential candidate. We recognize and are grateful for the extraordinary contribution President Obama made to Michigan in leading the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler. Had either of those companies been allowed to go under, Michigan&#39;s economic maladies would have become fatal.</em><br /><br /><em>The president stepped up with the support the two automakers needed to keep themselves and their suppliers in business. We have said in past editorials that while Romney rightly advocated for structured bankruptcies in his infamous &quot;Let Detroit Go Bankrupt&quot;</em>&nbsp;New York Times&nbsp;<em>op-ed, he was wrong in suggesting the automakers could have found operating capital in the private markets. In that article, Romney suggested government-backed loans to keep the companies afloat post bankruptcy. But what GM and Chrysler needed were bridge loans to get them through the process, and the private credit markets were unwilling to provide them. Obama put a rescue team to work and they were true to the task.</em></p><p>I&rsquo;ll say it again: Romney&rsquo;s lying, and he <em>knows</em> it. And he doesn&rsquo;t really care &mdash; what he cares about is scaring auto workers in Ohio enough to flip their vote.</p><p><br />***<br /><br />In other news, on Tuesday, I <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/sandy-forces-presidential-campaigns-change-tactics-103513#comments">mistakenly gave Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt</a>:&nbsp;I said he&rsquo;d learned his lesson during national crises and was mostly shutting up and collecting Red Cross donations.<br /><br />On the surface, both of those things are true: At an event in Ohio, originally planned as a rally and then renamed a &ldquo;storm relief&quot; some or other, Romney did gather up canned goods and other donations for hurricane victims &mdash; except that the Red Cross, the intended recipient, <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/10/30/romneys_unhelpful_storm_relief/">doesn&rsquo;t actually accept any of the things collected</a>. What exactly will Romney do with that stuff? He hasn&rsquo;t said.<br /><br />Still, he managed to play his campaign video (campaign honcho Stuart Stevens <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/10/30/1112971/romney-campaign-plays-convention-video-at-non-political-storm-relief-event-in-ohio/">can&rsquo;t explain</a> how that happened) and to come off awful <a href="http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/10/mitt-romney-sandy-relief-politics.php?ref=fpnewsfeed">rally-like</a>.<br /><br />He is keeping his mouth shut all right &mdash; ignoring any and all questions about what&rsquo;d he do as president with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a candidate in the primaries, he pledged to get rid of it. <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/30/romney-won-t-talk-fema.html">Fourteen times</a>, that&rsquo;s how often reporters directly asked Romney about this Tuesday; they were ignored each and every time.<br /><br />As to FEMA, here&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/109393/hurricane-sandy-fema-infrastructure-government-fugate-romney-obama">the bottom line</a>: But for one botched job (Katrina) during George W. Bush&rsquo;s tenure, when FEMA was run by a man who had no business being its head, the agency has been indispensable in national emergencies.<br /><br />If you have any doubt about Romney&rsquo;s position, here&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2012/10/romney-has-a-christie-problem-and-a-fema-problem.html#ixzz2AqX1fdzV">transcript</a> from the debates:</p><p style="margin-left:.5in;"><em>JOHN KING: What else, Gov. Romney? You&rsquo;ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Mo. I&rsquo;ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it&rsquo;s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we&rsquo;re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?</em><br /><br /><em><em>ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that&rsquo;s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that&rsquo;s even better.</em></em>&nbsp;<em>Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut &mdash; we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we&rsquo;re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we&rsquo;re doing that we don&rsquo;t have to do? And those things we&rsquo;ve got to stop doing, because we&rsquo;re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we&rsquo;re taking in. We cannot . . .</em><br /><br /><em>KING: Including disaster relief, though?</em><br /><br /><em><em>ROMNEY: We cannot &mdash; we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we&rsquo;ll all be dead and gone before it&rsquo;s paid off. It makes no sense at all.</em></em></p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 09:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/romneys-shameless-last-minute-lie-103545 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 Rustbelt city wants immigrants, skilled or not http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/3.JPG" style="width: 605px; height: 404px;" title="Deserted houses like this one mar Dayton’s East End. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p style="text-align: left;">Lifelong Dayton resident Monica Schultz, 36, brings me to the East End block where she grew up. “This whole street was full of families,” she says. “Kids were running around playing, all within my age range.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Now no kids are in sight.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz points to a half dozen abandoned houses, including one right next door to her family’s place. She says the city has boarded it up a few times but stray cats keep finding their way in.</p><p style="text-align: left;">“We had a flea infestation problem,” she tells me. “People walking by could see the fleas or feel the fleas or get the fleas. All of the yards in the neighborhood here were becoming infested with fleas.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz says the city can’t keep up with houses like this. “It’s one of many that need to be bulldozed,” she says. “But it’s on a list.”</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-28/great-lakes-workers-faring-better-canadian-side-border-94389">Workers faring better in Canada</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind-93875">Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Dayton’s population has been shrinking since the 1960s. Most of the area’s factory jobs are long gone. To save the city, Schultz has embraced a new idea: Help immigrants and refugees lay roots in Dayton.</p><p>Schultz, who owns a small marketing firm, helped lead community meetings that generated a 72-point plan called “Welcome Dayton.” City commissioners approved the plan this fall. The points range from better immigrant access to social services, to more translations of court materials, to grants for immigrants to open shops in a dilapidated commercial corridor, to a soccer event that supporters envision as a local World Cup tournament.</p><p>Schultz tells me the plan could revive a Dayton entrepreneurial spirit that sparked inventions ranging from the cash register to the airplane. “You would have small businesses,” she says. “You would have coffee shops and you would have bakeries and you would have specialty grocery stores.”</p><p>Dayton is among several rustbelt cities suffering from population loss and brain drain. To create businesses and jobs, some communities are trying to attract immigrants, especially highly educated ones. Dayton stands out for the attention its plan pays to immigrants without wealth or skills.</p><p>The plan even addresses people without permission to be in the country. One provision calls for police officers to quit asking suspects about their immigration status unless the crime was “serious.” Another point could lead to a city identification card that would help residents do everything from open a bank account to buy a cell phone.</p><p>City Manager Tim Riordan, Dayton’s chief executive, says welcoming all types of immigrants will make the area more cosmopolitan. “I think there would be a vibrancy,” he says. “We’d start to have some international investment of companies deciding they ought to locate here.”</p><p>Foreign-born residents so far amount to 3 percent of the city’s 142,000 residents. For a mid-sized U.S. city these days, that’s not many.</p><p>But Dayton’s immigrants and refugees are increasing their numbers and, Riordan says, they’re already making a difference. He points to a neighborhood north of downtown where some Ahiska Turks have settled. “They were refugees in Russia," he says. "Here they’ve bought houses. They’ve fixed them up. And, sometimes when I talk to hardware store owners, people will come in and they’ll buy a window at a time. ‘I’ve got enough money to put in another window.’ It’s slow-but-sure change.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 280px;" title="A Dayton pizza parlor run by Ahiska Turks adds life to a decaying neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p>Not everyone in Dayton is on board with the plan.</p><p>In a corner tavern on the East End, a 62-year-old bartender serves the only customer what she calls his last can of beer for the night. It’s a Friday, just 11 p.m., but she’s closing. “The owner can’t pay me to stay any longer,” she tells me, speaking on condition I don’t name her or the bar.</p><p>The bartender says the tavern could be on its last legs and tells me what happened to three other East End bars where she worked. They all shut down. She says that’s because many of the neighborhood’s Appalachian families, who arrived for manufacturing jobs after World War II, have moved away.</p><p>“NCR closed down, Dayton Tire and Rubber closed down, GM and Delphi and Frigidaire,” she says, pausing only when her customer slams down the beer and bellows something about a “last paycheck.”</p><p>The bartender tells me she doesn’t like how Riordan and other Dayton officials are handling the exodus of families who’ve been paying local taxes for generations. “Why won’t he try to keep those kinds of people here?” she asks. “He wants to welcome the immigrants to come in here. What can&nbsp;they&nbsp;do? Where are they going to get the money to fix up anything? What jobs are they going to get to maintain what they fix up here? There are no jobs here. None.”</p><p>It’s not just locals like the bartender who have doubts about “Welcome Dayton.”</p><p>Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that pushes for strict immigration controls, acknowledges that attracting immigrants would increase the size of Dayton’s economy. “But that’s different than arguing that there’s a benefit,” he says. “Growing an area’s gross domestic product, but not the <em>per capita</em> GDP, doesn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t be very helpful. In fact, there might be problems with that.”</p><p>Camarota says the low-skilled immigrants would put downward pressure on wages for workers on Dayton’s bottom rungs.</p><p>But Italian-born economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, says low-skilled immigrants would bring what Dayton seeks—and more: “One, they will increase the variety of local restaurants, local shops. Second, they will provide a variety of local services, such as household services, care of the children, of the elderly. Third, they will also develop and bring an atmosphere of diversity and higher tolerance.” Peri says these low-skilled contributions would all help Dayton attract immigrants with more resources.</p><p>The willingness of many immigrants to perform manual labor for low pay, Peri adds, could create jobs for longtime residents. He points to landscaping companies: “They will need people who mow the lawn but also they will need accountants, salespersons, a manager and drivers.”</p><p>Dayton’s approach—welcoming immigrants with and without skills—is the “optimal strategy,” Peri says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/4.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 219px;" title="A Dayton church translates sermons to Spanish through headphones. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">Whether a city’s immigrant-integration plan can actually attract many people is another question. About an hour east of Dayton, the city of Columbus launched an immigrant-friendly initiative in 2002 and saw its foreign-born population grow fast. But that city’s economy is much more robust than Dayton’s. It had already been attracting immigrants for years.</p><p>The results of “Welcome Dayton” could depend on how it works for city residents like a 25-year-old mother whom I’ll call Ana López. (She&nbsp;doesn’t have papers to be in the country so I agreed not to use her real name.) López says she came from the Mexican state of Puebla as a teenager at the urging of a friend who had arrived in Dayton earlier.</p><p>López says her first job was in a restaurant with a big buffet. “We didn’t come to take work away from anyone,” she tells me in Spanish. “Rather, there are jobs nobody else wants.”</p><p>Now López and her husband have three kids, all U.S. citizens. The family has managed to buy a house. And it’s found a congregation, College Hill Community Church, that provides simultaneous Spanish interpretation through headphones.</p><p>But Dayton hasn’t always been hospitable. López says police officers caught her brother-in-law driving without a license and turned him over to federal officials, who deported him.</p><p>Looking at the “Welcome Dayton” plan, López says providing the ID cards and removing the police from immigration enforcement could make a difference for families like hers. “These families would tell their friends and relatives to move to Dayton,” she says.</p><p>That’s exactly what city leaders want to hear.</p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 The voters strike back: GOP shellacked http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-11-09/voters-strike-back-gop-shellacked-93910 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/AP111108148896.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/AP111108148896.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 318px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="(AP/Matt York)">Looking over the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/us/politics/voters-defeat-many-gop-sponsored-measures.html?_r=1&amp;hp">election results</a> from last night, all I can think is: It’s a good day in America.<br> <br> Yes, yes, so much excitement about the defeat of the anti-union measure in Ohio, the weird “personhood” proposal in Mississippi, the fact that the Democratic governor was easily re-elected in Kentucky (land of Rand Paul), and a black woman is new mayor of Gary, Indiana.<br> <br> But the craziest encouraging sign that perhaps there is some sense in the world? <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/arizona-recall-why-russell-pearce-lost/2011/11/09/gIQALj6a5M_blog.html">Arizona’s state senate president Russell Pearce</a>, the man who wrote Arizona’s draconian immigration law, was sent packing in an historic recall election -- a thorough trouncing, in fact -- by his constituents.<br> <br> Sure, he was replaced by a Republican, Jerry Lewis, but a <em>moderate</em> Republican, for Pete’s sake, and that’s an endangered species any sensible human being should want to save. And, sure, the Mormon Church had much to do with Pearce’s derailment but -- <em>God!</em> -- isn’t it great when religious institutions actually assist the meek? Plus, it makes up a little bit -- <em>just a little itty bit</em> -- for the Mormons’ ugly involvement in California’s<a href="http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-10-27/bay-area/17137948_1_mormons-salt-lake-city-based-church-ballot-measure"> Prop 8</a> debacle.<br> <br> The cherry on top of all this would be if the Democrats actually kept the Republicans from <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/gop-hopes-national-discontent-sways-voters-in-virginia/2011/11/06/gIQAv5wR3M_story.html?hpid=z3">controlling all of Virginia’s state government</a>. Right now, it looks like the GOP has majorities in both houses, plus the governorship. A total of 86 votes may be the difference between absolute GOP control or some semblance of democracy.<br> <br> But even better would be if the Democrats saw this for what it is: a warning shot that the GOP understands it’s not a majority party and won’t be playing that game much longer. Instead, the Republican party will be staking out particular territories for concentrated efforts, creating power bases to leverage national issues and policies that they can’t otherwise win. It’s a strategy born of the Tea Party, but now absolutely mainstreamed by the GOP.</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 20:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-11-09/voters-strike-back-gop-shellacked-93910 Analysis: Will issue 2 momentum sweep the Midwest? http://www.wbez.org/story/analysis-will-issue-2-momentum-sweep-midwest-93892 <p><blockquote><p><em>"At a certain point, you can’t tell if you’ve created the momentum, or the momentum has created you"&nbsp;</em><br> — Annie Lennox</p></blockquote><p>There’s no doubt that the Midwest was swept this past year with political momentum. It deposited Republican governors into office in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, and in turn, buoyed successful efforts to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.changinggears.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/JohnKasichSmall-140x140.jpg" style="margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: right; width: 140px; height: 140px; " title="Ohio Gov. John Kasich">But with the resounding defeat of Ohio’s Issue 2 on Tuesday night, it appears that momentum has been slowed, if not stopped. And now, like a tide rushing out, governors across the Midwest have to consider whether the momentum that led to swift changes will now work against them.</p><p>Those with the most to worry about include Republican governors John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and the situation also could affect other politicians across the region, both Republican and Democrat.</p><p>To be sure, there are big differences in Midwest states and cities, and the situations that they face.</p><p>In Ohio and Wisconsin, nothing short of a political revolution took place. Those two governors were bold in their attacks on public employee unions, using budget crises as an excuse, pushing measures through their respective legislatures before union members had a chance to figure out what hit them.</p><p>Despite high-profile protests in both places, especially Madison, Wis., the governors’ momentum carried the day.</p><p>In Michigan and Indiana, Republican governors have been more cautious. Both Snyder and Daniels have said they aren’t in favor of right-to-work efforts, even though Republicans in both states have called for them.</p><p>Daniels took action years ago against state employees, well out of a national spotlight. And Snyder has been judicious in dealing with collective bargaining rights. His one test of the vortex has been to give emergency managers the right to abrogate parts of union contracts in the state’s most deeply troubled cities.<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.changinggears.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/109812817-140x140.jpg" style="margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: right; width: 140px; height: 140px; " title="Last winter's Wisconsin protests"></p><p>One Democrat who has braved union members’ wrath is Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Throughout his campaign and in his early months as mayor, Emanuel made a longer school day his stop priority. He went around the city’s teacher’s union and offered incentives directly to city schools, including raises for teachers if they’d work longer hours.</p><p>Thirteen schools took him up on it, but the vast majority of schools steadfastly refused, setting up what promised to be a long and nasty confrontation with the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.changinggears.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Rahm-Emanuel-2-140x140.jpg" style="margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: left; width: 140px; height: 140px; " title="Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ">Last week, Emanuel blinked in the face of a legal challenge by the union, and dropped his diversionary measure. The two sides agreed to collaborate on a compromise, rather than butt heads.</p><p>Perhaps Emanuel, schooled by Richard Daley and with two stints in the White House under his belt, saw what Kasich in Ohio failed to recognize and what must now concern Wisconsin’s Walker, who faces a recall movement in 2012.</p><p>Momentum, after all, is defined as “the impetus gained by a moving object.” And when political momentum goes against you, it could be best to just jump out of the way.</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 16:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/analysis-will-issue-2-momentum-sweep-midwest-93892 Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/Wind_Farm_D36.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I understand the power of Lake Erie wind as soon we’re out past the breakwaters of Cleveland Harbor. The waves make our 74-foot tugboat bob like a rubber toy in my preschooler’s bath tub.</p><p>Before long, I’m sweating and looking for a place to heave.</p><p>Right next to me, Bill Mason seems to be enjoying the ride. In fact, he wants to show me a spot where the wind is even stronger. “Where we’re headed is to an anemometer,” Mason says, mispronouncing the instrument’s name. “It’s been measuring the wind speeds since, I think, 2007. So I know we have good wind.”</p><p>Mason doesn’t know all the particulars about wind energy. But, as the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, he knows a lot about Northeast Ohio. Since taking office in 1999, Mason has seen about a 100,000 manufacturing jobs disappear from the area.</p><p>Installing a handful of wind turbines offshore could spark a revival, Mason says, changing Cleveland’s image from a deindustrialized ghost town to “a green city on the blue lake.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4522_Wind_Farm_A28-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason says putting turbines in Lake Erie could revive the city. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">Mason has been promoting the wind-farm idea for seven years. In 2009, he helped form a quasi-public group, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, to turn the idea into reality. Representing Cleveland and four counties along the lake, LEEDCo has held dozens of community meetings. It has secured an option for nine square miles of the lake. It has studied possible impacts on wildlife. And it has begun work on designs and permits.</p><p>Mason tells me Cleveland could help build offshore wind farms throughout the Great Lakes. He points to the city’s proximity to rail lines, deep-water port facilities and manufacturers. He says companies in the area could retool to make parts and supplies ranging from transmission cables to ice-resistant blade coating. The wind-farm supporters commissioned a study that says their project could lead to 15,000 new Ohio jobs within two decades.</p><p>The supply chain could include Lincoln Electric, which makes welding equipment in Euclid, a suburb northeast of Cleveland. Lincoln Electric is already getting a taste of wind-energy generation since installing a 443-foot-tall turbine this year to help power the company’s main plant.</p><p>Driving up the lakeshore, I can see the three rotor blades spinning from miles away. On a windy day, the tips go 160 miles an hour, the company tells me. But I can’t hear any sound from the turbine until I’m within a stone’s throw. Looking straight up at the blades, I notice a subtle swoosh as each one passes.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4525_Wind_Farm_D36-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: right; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 4px;" title="Lincoln Electric’s Seth Mason says his company’s new turbine provides a case study for the offshore project. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">The turbine has given a lot of local people—from regulators to engineers to truck drivers—their first contact with a wind project. Lincoln Electric energy manager Seth Mason (no relation to the prosecutor) says this experience could help with the offshore installation, which would be just a few miles away.</p><p>“You basically have the same wind regime [and] you’re basically going to have the same amount of migratory birds at this longitude,” Mason says. “So I think it provides a case study for the next machine.”</p><p>It’s not just local boosters who think a Lake Erie wind farm could revive Northeast Ohio. Christopher Hart, the U.S. Department of Energy’s offshore wind chief, sees it that way too. “If a place like Cleveland is able to establish the demonstration project and then is able to leverage that demonstration project into a larger position in the industry, this could really, really have an impact on the local economy.”</p><p>Hart tells me Cleveland has the best shot at installing the first Great Lakes wind farm. But he points to a huge barrier: “Given the current technology, given the current regulatory structure, offshore wind doesn’t make economic sense.”</p><p>DOE calculations suggest it’s more than twice as expensive to generate electricity from offshore wind as from coal, natural gas or nuclear fission. The New York Power Authority pointed to costs this fall when it pulled the plug on some proposed Great Lakes turbines.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782"><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">ViDEO:</span></a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782">Plant turns waste into jobs</a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACT: </span>Made a Job? Tell us about it.</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/can-milwaukee-become-silicon-valley-water-93835"><strong>The Silicon Valley of water</strong>:<strong> Milwaukee?</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>That frustrates Chris Wisseman, who leads a consortium called Freshwater Wind that LEEDCo chose last year to develop Cleveland’s offshore wind farm. “All we’re talking about here is a new technology that looks like it’s got the ability to be very cost-effective inside of a decade,” he says.</p><p>The construction will run about $130 million, Wisseman tells me. The financing will be tricky because few utilities are eager to buy electricity that is so expensive. The only purchaser on board so far is municipally owned Cleveland Public Power, which has agreed to buy a quarter of the wind-farm output.</p><p>So LEEDCo is pushing for Ohio to <em>compel</em> utilities to buy the electricity and pass along the cost to customers—a process known as rate recovery. If the plan covered just northern Ohio, Wisseman says, business and residential customers would each pay an extra $0.40 a month.</p><p>The area’s big utility, Akron-based First Energy, says it won’t take a stand on that rate recovery until it sees a proposal. The Ohio Association of Manufacturers tells me it will probably go along with the plan if it doesn’t hit electricity-intensive companies hard.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/Kasich.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 268px; margin-top: 5px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn’t saying whether he’ll support rate recovery for the offshore wind project. (AP/File)">But rate recovery won’t get far without support from Gov. John Kasich. He appoints the members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates the state’s electricity rates. And his Republican Party controls both houses of the state legislature.</p><p>At an energy forum Kasich’s office organized this fall, the governor didn’t leave any doubt that his energy focus would be an Appalachian rock layer called Utica Shale. In Ohio, that shale holds a lot of natural gas. To free up the fuel, companies such as Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. want to drill thousands of horizontal wells and inject pressurized fluids—a process known as fracking.</p><p>An industry-funded study says the fracking could create more than 200,000 jobs in Ohio over the next four years. The potential boom is keeping Kasich’s staff busy. “We have had 129 separate meetings—5 regional meetings, 78 with business associations, 46 meetings with oil-and-gas division experts—all across Ohio,” the governor said at the forum.</p><p>At the same time, contaminated groundwater in nearby Pennsylvania is giving fracking a bad name. Kasich promises environmental safeguards for Ohio.</p><p>The governor says he’ll also promote renewable energy efforts. So, when I catch up with him, I ask whether those will include Cleveland’s offshore wind project.</p><p>“There is a place for renewables,” Kasich replies. “But we have to be very clear: They’re very expensive. That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities in the state. It doesn’t mean that over time they [won’t] become less expensive. But specific projects have to be looked at very, very carefully.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4524_Wind_Farm_C26-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 2px; margin-top: 5px; float: right;" title="A tugboat captain who knows about Lake Erie wind recalls cleaning a seasick crewmate with a hose. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">I press Kasich, asking whether he will support the rate recovery proposed for the offshore project. He declines to answer.</p><p>Another Ohio Republican is talking about that rate recovery. State Sen. Kris Jordan, who represents suburbs north of Columbus, tells me it’s a bad idea. “I just don’t believe—when we have more affordable, more ready energy sources—that government should be subsidizing" an offshore wind farm.</p><p>Back on the Lake Erie tugboat, the vessel’s captain notices my pale color. He says he once had to clean off a seasick crewmate with a hose.</p><p>Bill Mason, the prosecutor behind the proposed wind farm, agrees I’ve seen enough of the lake. On the way back to port, he shakes his head at the thought of a natural-gas boom tripping up his project.</p><p>“We don’t know how much energy is going to be produced from this fracking,” Mason says. “We don’t know the environmental damage that possibly could happen from it. And we don’t know what it’s going to cost, if there is damage, for that recovery. If we take that step down that road, won’t it be nice to know that we have other alternatives such as the wind industry out here on the Great Lakes?”</p><p>And wouldn’t it be nice, Mason adds, if the center of that industry were Cleveland?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>Great Lakes wind projects struggle for footing</h2><p>Offshore wind-energy advocates face tall hurdles in the Great Lakes, but some projects are advancing. WBEZ’s Maham Khan brings us these snapshots.</p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script><div class="tableauPlaceholder" style="width: 554px; height: 769px;"><noscript><a href="#"><img alt="Offshore wind " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;Gr&#47;GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies&#47;Offshorewind&#47;1_rss.png" style="height: 100%; width: 100%; border: none" /></a></noscript><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="554" height="769"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="static_image" value="http://public.tableausoftware.com/static/images/Gr/GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind/1.png"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object></div><div style="width: 554px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;">&nbsp;</div></div></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind Ohio voters reject Republican-backed law limiting union bargaining rights http://www.wbez.org/story/ohios-union-law-faces-challenge-voters-93862 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/ohio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state's new collective bargaining law was defeated Tuesday after an expensive union-backed campaign that pitted firefighters, police officers and teachers against the Republican establishment.</p><p>In a political blow to GOP Gov. John Kasich, voters handily rejected the law, which would have limited the bargaining abilities of 350,000 unionized public workers. With more than a quarter of the votes counted late Tuesday, 63 percent of votes were to reject the law.</p><p>AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said victory for unions was achieved among Democrats and Republicans in urban and rural counties.</p><p>"Ohio sent a message to every politician out there: Go in and make war on your employees rather than make jobs with your employees, and you do so at your own peril," he said.</p><p>Kasich said, "It's clear that the people have spoken." He said he would take a deep breath and contemplate the loss — and how best to move forward.</p><p>"In a campaign like this, you give it your best, and if you don't win and the people speak in a loud voice, you pay attention to what they have to say, and you think about it," Kasich said Tuesday night.</p><p>Kasich said he has made creating jobs his priority and he's beginning to see his policies work.</p><p>But Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, at a celebration at a downtown Columbus hotel, said Republicans and Kasich overreached on the collective bargaining law.</p><p>"He literally thought he knew more than everyone else," Redfern said.</p><p>Asked whether the collective bargaining law, called Issue 2, was a referendum on Kasich, Redfern said, "Absolutely. He was the face of the campaign. John Kasich chose to put his face on this campaign for the last eight weeks. The people of the state pushed back."</p><p>Labor and business interests poured more than $30 million into the nationally watched campaign, and turnout was high for an off-year election.</p><p>The law hadn't taken effect yet. Tuesday's result means the state's current union rules will stand, at least until the GOP-controlled Legislature determines its next move. Republican House Speaker William Batchelder predicted last week that the more palatable elements of the collective bargaining bill — such as higher minimum contributions on worker health insurance and pensions — are likely to be revisited after the dust settles.</p><p>Earlier this year, thousands of people swarmed the Statehouse in protest when the bill was being heard. The bill still allowed bargaining on wages, working conditions and some equipment but banned strikes, scrapped binding arbitration and dropped promotions based solely on seniority, among other provisions.</p><p>Kasich and fellow supporters promoted the law as a means for local governments to save money and keep workers. Their effort was supported by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio, farmers and others.</p><p>We Are Ohio, the largely union-funded opponent coalition, painted the issue as a threat to public safety and middle-class workers, spending millions of dollars on TV ads filled with images of firefighters, police officers, teachers and nurses.</p><p>Celebrities came out on both sides of the campaign, with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and singer Pat Boone urging voters to retain the law and former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn and the Rev. Jesse Jackson urging them to scrap it.</p><p>Labor and business interests poured more than $30 million into the nationally watched campaign, with the law's opponents far outspending and outnumbering its defenders.</p><p>Opponents reported raising $24 million as of mid-October, compared to about $8 million raised by the committee supporting the law, Building a Better Ohio.</p><p>Tuesday's result in the closely divided swing state was expected to resonate from statehouses to the White House ahead of the 2012 presidential election.</p><p>Ohio's bill went further than a similar one in Wisconsin by including police officers and firefighters, and it was considered by many observers to be a barometer of the national mood on the political conundrum of the day: What's the appropriate size and role of government, and who should pay for it?</p><p>Kasich has vowed not to give up his fight for streamlining government despite the loss.</p><p>For opponents of the law, its defeat is anticipated to energize the labor movement, which largely supports Democrats, ahead of President Barack Obama's re-election effort.</p><p>___</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 20:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/ohios-union-law-faces-challenge-voters-93862 Moving ideas to economic reality http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-12/moving-ideas-economic-reality-93081 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-12/Changing20Gears20Batelle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Steve Job’s death last week has reminded everyone firsthand the notion that everyone has ideas, and very few become actual products. That’s because ideas need a push – and in some cases, a big one, from from science, to become reality. It sounds obvious, but when we’re talking about actual products, that translates into actual jobs, and actual economic activity, it’s something worth exploring. That’s why I was so interested to learn more about Battelle Memorial Institute. Innovation can strike in a variety of ways.</p><p>Take Emery OleoChemical in Cincinnati. The company started making candles in 1840. Today, it uses the same tallow to make things like glyercin, which goes into soap, detergent and makeup. And it uses technology that mimics what happens in a lightning strike to make the stuff. Mark Durchholz, one of the company’s regional business directors, explained how it works:</p><p>“We discharge electricity at very high voltage across oxygen and we make ozone gas,” he said.</p><p>A few years ago, the company realized it could use this same technology to branch out into a whole new business. By adapting this technology, the company has created three new product lines – now they’re making materials that make foam, not just from crude oil, but from soy.</p><p>The idea for all of this was basically handed to Emery – by Battelle Memorial Institute.</p><p>If you’ve never heard of Battelle, not to worry. Neither had Emery OleoChemical – despite the fact that both have been around for more than 100 years, and Batelle is just 100 miles away in Columbus, Ohio.</p><p>Battelle has a tradition of silence about the work it does.</p><p>“We actually respect the privacy of our companies,” said Battelle’s Spencer Pugh, when I asked him to provide me examples of some of its clients. “I really can’t tell you the names of companies we work for.”</p><p>Pugh can talk about a few of the things Battelle does takes credit for: the technology behind the bar code, cruise control, compact discs – and even Xerox copies. Battelle’s a nonprofit. Companies hire Battelle because all it does is scientific research. Last year, its research and development budget was $6.5 million. Battelle has 22,000 employees in 130 laboratories around the world.</p><p>It uses this network to help its clients perfect technology. Sometimes, it gets share of the profits – like it did, back before Xerox went public. That’s how it funds the rest of its research.</p><p>Battelle’s Columbus campus is just across the street from Ohio State University. Across 50 acres and in 20 buildings, scientists are trying to improve military jet fuel efficiency, perfect underwater robots and develop a new fuel source out of things like sawdust.</p><p>Because Battelle has developed a prototype to create fuel out of sawdust, so they wouldn’t let me take a picture of it. I can describe the contraption as invoking my childhood memories of Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel, minus the steam.</p><p>“Our technology is focused on going from biomass all the way to a fuel that can be blended directly with gasoline that all of us use during the normal course of our days,” said Zia Abdullah, who is leading Battelle’s bioenergy program and the sawdust project.Abdullah plans to have a system that is commercially viable, and available for widespread use, by 2015. That’s pretty fast in the scientific world, and represents several million dollars of investment – much of which is coming from a U.S. Department of Energy grant.</p><p>The problem with research and development for experimental products like this is that it takes time, and investment – something many companies simply can’t afford to do anymore.</p><p>“You don’t always know when you start out which ones will pay off and which ones won’t,” said Pugh, when I asked him why he enjoys working at Battelle, where they have the time and energy to devote years of investment into figuring out what works. “Here, there’s a lot of investment in ideas and a very rigorous weeding out process as we find ideas that work and will be successful in the marketplace.”</p><p>But that’s the very principle Battelle was founded on back in 1929.</p><p>During World War I, Steel tycoon Gordon Battelle was frustrated with how long it took for inventions to go from the lab to the battlefield. When he died young – at age 40, after a routine appendectomy – he left money in his will to found a nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research.</p><p>Today, the only company that’s won more major R&amp;D 100 awards – insiders call them the “Oscars of innovation” – is G.E.</p><p>Pugh says Battelle will work with any company, no matter what its size. He said something I heard often at Battelle – that inspiration and innovation isn’t so much about the idea, or when inspiration strikes. It’s more about the role science plays in getting an idea out of someone’s head – to the manufacturing floor – and into our economy.</p></p> Wed, 12 Oct 2011 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-12/moving-ideas-economic-reality-93081 How a company town saved its company http://www.wbez.org/story/how-company-town-saved-its-company-89749 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/Norwalk-building_CG_Dan-Bobkoff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-28/Norwalk-building_CG_Dan-Bobkoff.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 373px; margin: 5px;" title="(Changing Gears/Dan Bobkoff)"></p><p><em>Our <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/">Changing Gears</a> team is on the road this week. The town of Norwalk, Ohio is a company town that almost lost its company, until the townspeople saved it.</em></p><p>When a company bears the name of its hometown, it can be hard to separate the two. Such is the case with Norwalk Furniture and the town of Norwalk in Northern Ohio. Sue Lesch is the town’s mayor.</p><p>“It really is our flagship company,” said Sue Lesch, Norwalk’s mayor. “It’s the company we’re proud of. We’re known for furniture all over the country.”</p><p>For more than a hundred years, Norwalk Furniture made custom-order sofas and chairs in its Ohio factory. For a long time, it was the biggest business in town, employing about 700 in this town of 17,000.</p><p>Jump ahead to 2008. The housing crisis depressed demand for furniture. The company’s bank pulled its credit line. Meanwhile, the town’s unemployment rate was heading toward 18 percent. Norwalk Furniture closed its doors.</p><p>“The closing of Norwalk Furniture was just such a symbol of not only the devastation we were seeing in many companies, but just a shock to the very system of this city just because of the importance of that company,” Mayor Lesch said.</p><p>So, the story could have ended here. A company dies, leaving hundreds without jobs.</p><p>And, yet they’re still making furniture in Norwalk. How this factory reopened is a remarkable story.</p><p><strong>LOCAL INVESTORS</strong></p><p>Tom Bleile is a Norwalk local. He worked in the family business much of his life: highway construction. But, like many in this small town, he didn’t like its most famous company closing up shop. Over just four days, Bleile and a group of local families came together to buy the company.</p><p>On the surface, it might not seem like this group had any hope of succeeding. There wasn’t much time to do their homework, and they weren’t exactly experts on this market.</p><p>“Quite frankly, most of the investors couldn’t tell you the difference between a sofa and a love-seat,” Bleile said.</p><p>There was something unusual in this deal to save Norwalk, though. Investors like Dan White saw this as almost civic duty.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-28/Norwalk-White_CG_Bobkoff.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 373px; margin: 5px;" title="Dan White is an investor and Norwalk Furniture's president. (Changing Gears/Dan Bobkoff)"></p><p>“The people who live here are truly devoted to this town and their friends and neighbors in this community,” White said. “So, it really wasn’t that difficult to get those 12 families to come together to look at doing something to help Norwalk Furniture.”</p><p>Dan White had made his money starting a firm that helps predict flood zones. He too knew very little about furniture, but with financing secured, and the company sold to the group of families, White became president. He streamlined the business. Maybe his inexperience in furniture was an asset: he says the company is now profitable. It has no bank debt. And, about 150 workers like Jim Spears are back on the job.</p><p>“I got hired in here when I was 20 years old. I’m 45 now,” Spears said from the shop floor. “I have a wife and three daughters. And, it was scary. Definitely a little bit of depression going on there.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-28/norwalk-town_CG_Bobkoff.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 373px; margin: 5px;" title="(Changing Gears/Dan Bobkoff)"></p><p>Of course, Norwalk Furniture isn’t the only company in town, but others were watching closely. The New Horizons Baking Company churns out thousands of hamburger buns for companies like McDonald’s. It’s just down the street and is growing. Trina Bediako is New Horizons’ executive vice president and she says what happened with Norwalk Furniture influenced their decision to expand here.</p><p>“It kind of helped to reaffirm what kind of community this was. There is growth. The people do care. The businesses do want to thrive,” Bediako said.</p><p>It’s not a totally happy ending yet. Not all the workers from the old Norwalk Furniture were hired back. The economy still needs help. Mayor Sue Lesch worries about the remaining unemployed and underemployed in her town.</p><p>“I think we have a lot of folks that have not been able to find that job that they want, but they’re working to provide for their families. They’re working two jobs. I worry about those folks,” Lesch said.</p><p>Perhaps the biggest contribution of these 12 investors is showing what’s possible.</p></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 12:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/how-company-town-saved-its-company-89749