WBEZ | Dan Bobkoff http://www.wbez.org/tags/dan-bobkoff Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Changing Gears: Health care for ailing cities? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-20/changing-gears-health-care-ailing-cities-93315 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-20/Clinic-620x414.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Detroit is the latest metro area vying to become a medical destination. The hope is that its hospital systems can draw patients from outside its region, helping the local economy. In short, Detroit wants to be more like Cleveland. But as <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears'</em></a> Dan Bobkoff learned, Cleveland could be tough to copy.</p><p>In 1975, a young cardiologist arrived in Cleveland.</p><p>“I came here in a rented truck with a Vega on the back end because it was too sick to pull,” Toby Cosgrove said. Jump ahead 36 years and that newbie with a beater of a car is now CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. Cosgrove presides over a medical empire vastly larger than when he came to town hoping to get better at heart surgery.</p><p>“We were about 140-150 doctors. We’ve grown a bit since that time. We’re now about 3000,” he said.</p><p>The Clinic has become a centerpiece of an industry that employs roughly 70,000. That includes places like University Hospitals\ next door, and Summa Health in Akron.</p><p>Growth has been rapid. University Hospitals alone has added 4000 workers in the last few years. And, expansions have been pegged at about $3 billion in construction spending.</p><p>George Rouse is a nurse who made his own transition before the rest of the region.</p><p>“My friends were like: are you crazy? Are you nuts?” he recounts.<br> About 15 years ago, Rouse was working in IT for a manufacturing company.</p><p>“I had a very good living with that company but I’m like: what if this would ever end? What would I do next?” Rouse said.<br> His premonition was right. His former employer closed up shop a few years ago. No one thinks he’s crazy now.</p><p>“When I’m driving to work, the last two years, for all of us, you know, our houses have dwindled down to nothing, our 401ks have shrunk down,” he said. “I mean, all these pieces are crumbling.”</p><p>While it worked for Rouse, healthcare is no replacement for manufacturing. Health jobs make up about 11 percent of the workforce. In its heyday—say the 50s and 60s—manufacturing jobs employed 40 percent of Clevelanders.</p><p>“Healthcare became the big generator of jobs by accident,” said Chris Seper, founder of MedCityNews.</p><p>Cleveland’s hospitals have been growing for nearly a century. It’s only been in the last decade that healthcare has become the center of economic development.</p><p>“The healthcare system here and the life sciences industry here does as much as it possibly can. But there’s a limit to what they can do,” Seper said.</p><p>Cleveland never really set out to become a healthcare capital. Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove says it’s not like some politician stood at a podium many years ago.</p><p>“No, nobody raised their hand and said they’re going to push this organization to the front,” Cosgrove said.</p><p>The Clinic’s international reputation can be traced back to advances in heart care in the 50s and 60s. Now, patients arrive from around the country and world for heart procedures. Foreign patients often pay cash. Bringing patients in is the holy grail for cities like Detroit that want to be like Cleveland. But even at the Clinic, only one percent of its patients are international. Paul Ginsburg is president of the Center for Studying Health System Change.</p><p>“But when you really look at the numbers of some places that are really strong in medical tourism, it’s not that large a part,” Ginsburg said, adding that there are other reasons why healthcare may not be a good economic driver for regions.</p><p>For one, building more hospitals often means people consume more care, which means we all pay more in taxes and insurance. Whether any city can sustain this much expansion is a big question.</p><p>And, the industry is changing, shifting more to home care and so-called telemedicine. Already, smaller hospitals are outsourcing difficult diagnoses to places like the Cleveland Clinic. Chris Seper of MedCityNews says that will make it even harder for cities trying to embrace healthcare as their future.</p><p>“I think if you’re building healthcare systems and hospitals as an idea that they’re going to be your jobs growth engine, it’s a lose-lose situation,” Seper said.</p><p>Cosgrove of the Clinic says we may end up with nationwide chains, the way banks have consolidated over the years. So, if you’re trying to copy Cleveland, good luck.</p><p><br> <strong><a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2011/10/19/magic-bullets-healthcare/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears</em></a> is a public media collaboration between <a href="http://michiganradio.org/" target="_blank">Michigan Radio</a>, WBEZ and <a href="http://www.ideastream.org/" target="_blank">Ideastream</a> in Cleveland. Support for <em>Changing Gears</em> comes from the <a href="http://www.cpb.org/" target="_blank">Corporation for Public Broadcasting</a>.</strong><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 20 Oct 2011 14:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-20/changing-gears-health-care-ailing-cities-93315 Manufacturers want national policy to boost their fortunes http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-28/changing-gears-manufacturers-want-national-policy-boost-their-fortunes-9 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-28/RonBloom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This winter, President Obama took the unusual step of naming Ron Bloom his assistant for manufacturing. But Bloom stepped down in August to return to his family in Pittsburgh. He hasn’t been replaced. This comes as manufacturers in our region are clamoring for attention. Many want a sign that manufacturing policy is a priority.</p><p>They say it’s time for a national manufacturing policy.</p><p>Germany has one. So do Japan and China. And, many manufacturers in the US think we need one too: one document that puts all the existing policies together and says manufacturing matters.</p><p>“There needs to be some sort of coordination at the top level that says all of these things add up to something bigger. And, right now we don’t have that,” says Bill Rayl, who heads the Jackson Area Manufacturers Association near Ann Arbor, Michigan.</p><p>He was at a meeting in Lansing the other week where the topic of a national manufacturing policy came up. Rayl says most of his members are eager for a cohesive strategy that says “that manufacturing is important to national defense and our national economy.”</p><p>Jim McGregor agrees. He’s Vice Chairman of McGregor metalworking in Springfield, Ohio.</p><p>He says there’s just too much uncertainty in the manufacturing sector: uncertainty about regulations, legislation, and policy.</p><p>One reason businesses aren’t spending and hiring more is fear. And, he thinks a cohesive national manufacturing policy could help change that.</p><p>“I think there’s a lot of talk and no action,” McGregor says. “And, we’re passed wishing and hoping."</p><p>“For a long time, I think the preponderant view in Washington was that the decline in manufacturing was number 1, inevitable, and number 2, just fine,” says Ron Bloom.</p><p>If there was anyone in government who could have pushed a manufacturing agenda, it’s him. Until August, he was President Obama’s assistant for manufacturing policy. You might know him as one of the key players in the government’s bailout of GM and Chrysler.</p><p>Injecting taxpayer dollars into the auto industry was one of the most aggressive government actions in decades, but what about before companies fail? What about promoting and helping the ones that can succeed?</p><p>“I don’t think we have a formal, capital-P policy in the sense of something you can look up—a bound volume, as it were,” Bloom says. “We did not think it was a good use of our time to try and formalize a capital-P policy.”</p><p>"What we do have," Bloom says, "is an administration that has pushed a number of initiatives that help manufacturing, if not exclusively."</p><p>“The president pushed very hard and hopefully we’re going to get patent reform. Is that a manufacturing policy? Twothirds of all patents are filed by manufacturing companies. Export promotion, infrastructure spending, allowing capital spending to be depreciated, all areas that are not absolutely to manufacturing, but the preponderance of their benefits go to manufacturing,” Bloom says.</p><p>Unlike Japan and China, American leaders tend to be reluctant to get too involved in private industry. That’s a big reason why the administration doesn’t want to create a document that looks like Industrial Policy. To many, even the term reminds them of something like China’s Five Year Plan or suggests the government picking winners and losers. The flap over the taxpayer losses in failed solar company Solyndra shows what happens when the government gets too involved in one company.</p><p>Ron Bloom says, in general, the government’s role is to help where the market won’t. He says actions like the auto bailout should be the rare exception. Instead, he says government should boost research and development on technologies that might not see a payoff for many years to come.</p><p>The closest thing the administration has to a formal policy is its promotion of so-called advanced manufacturing as an engine for innovation and productivity.</p><p>“Now, that does mean that the aggregate number of jobs per se in manufacturing is not going to be huge,” Bloom says. “But that’s the price of a productive sector. That’s not a bad thing.”</p><p>He says the jobs that do remain will have a bigger effect on the overall economy. After all, he says Walmarts follow auto plants. Not the other way around.</p></p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 14:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-28/changing-gears-manufacturers-want-national-policy-boost-their-fortunes-9 Eight Forty-Eight 9.28.2011 http://www.wbez.org/episode/eight-forty-eight-9282011 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-september/2011-09-28/rosh-hashanah-shofar.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Congress appears to have learned from the last shutdown showdown—a short-term spending bill is expected to pass before money runs out Friday. But have Americans learned how to protect their own financial well-being amidst these budget battles and unruly markets? <a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/money-smart-guy" target="_blank">Money Smart Guy</a>, <a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/money-smart-guy/living-money-smart/matt-sapaula-bio/" target="_blank">Matt Sapaula</a>, helps <em>Eight Fort-Eight </em>plan for the financial future. Then, in the latest installment of <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears </em></a>Dan Bobkoff follows the story of Ron Bloom, who was appointed senior counselor for manufacturing by President Obama in 2009, but stepped down last month and has not been replaced. Then, writer <a href="http://www.ellenblumbarish.com/" target="_blank">Ellen Blum Barish</a> reflects on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. And Punk rockers <a href="http://www.vortisrock.com/" target="_blank">Vortis</a> joined the show in WBEZ's <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/studios" target="_blank">Jim and Kay Mabie Performance Studio</a> to talk about their new 7-inch release and to rock out!</p></p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 13:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode/eight-forty-eight-9282011 Changing Gears: Region is epicenter for fight over union power http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-22/changing-gears-region-epicenter-fight-over-union-power-82696 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/wisconsin protestor Chip Mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Midwest is the birthplace of the modern industrial union. United Auto Workers formed in Detroit. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union representing many government workers, got its start in Madison, Wisconsin.</p><p>Now, Madison and other Midwest cities are at the center of the fight over public employee unions. Big protests are planned for Tuesday in state capitals. Dan Bobkoff of the <a href="http://changinggears.info/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears</em></a> team stepped back to provide some context and explore what these events mean for the future of the industrial Midwest:<br />&nbsp;</p><p>The Midwest is the birthplace of the modern industrial union. The United Auto Workers formed in Detroit. AFSCME, the union representing many government workers, got its start in Madison, Wisconsin. Now, Madison and other Midwest cities have become the center of the fight over public employee unions. Big protests are planned Tuesday in state capitals.</p><p>In both Wisconsin and Ohio, Republican-led legislatures are pushing bills that would strip unions of much of their negotiating power. Wisconsin teacher Lisa Schmelz told a crowd Sunday that this is not about public workers taking concessions. They&rsquo;ve already agreed to the eight percent cut in pay and benefits. &ldquo;I have paid for health insurance in a previous occupation, and I&rsquo;m willing to pay for it again,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But I&rsquo;m not willing to give up collective bargaining!&rdquo;</p><p>Republican Governor Scott Walker&rsquo;s plan would strip most public employees of collective bargaining on everything but pay. That means when it comes to health benefits or work conditions or anything else up for discussion, power would shift from unions to management. A majority of workers would also have to re-authorize the union every year and it would be harder for unions to collect dues. That&rsquo;s what the protesters consider union-busting.</p><p>Ohio&rsquo;s Republican Governor John Kasich is pushing a similar bill that would kill collective bargaining for all state employees, and limit it for local workers. Rob Scott of the Dayton Tea Party said it&rsquo;s about fairness.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s some public sector jobs, they only pay ten percent of their healthcare. In the private sector, there are some people paying 40%, 50%. We&rsquo;re just asking for a little bit of give,&rdquo; Scott said.</p><p>That resentment of public sector benefits is one reason leaders have more political capital to try to weaken unions.</p><p>Gary Chaison is a labor relations professor at Clark University. He says resentment has turned a taxpayer revolt into an anti-union revolt in the Midwest.</p><p>&ldquo;Public sector workers didn&rsquo;t have to worry about their operations being closed, seemed to have guaranteed jobs, and also were exerting political influence in the election process, and as a result, elected officials beholden to them,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>And, there&rsquo;s another factor. Union membership in this country is dwindling.</p><p>Nationally, 36 percent of public employees are union members. That&rsquo;s far more than in the private sector where under seven percent are in a union. But those percentages vary wildly at the state level. Our region is a public union stronghold. According to Professor Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University, nearly half the public sector workers in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio are organized. Compare that to a state like North Carolina where it&rsquo;s under 10 percent.</p><p>Research economist Donald Grimes of the University of Michigan found some surprising data to fuel the debate. He looked at average compensation for private and public workers from 2000 to 2009 and found that, yes, government salaries rose 10% more than those of private workers.</p><p>&ldquo;But it&rsquo;s not particularly pronounced for Wisconsin, or Ohio, or Indiana, at least in terms of Great Lakes states,&rdquo; Grimes said. &ldquo;Their wages and benefits have not gone up that much.&rdquo;</p><p>So, the states that are ground zero for this battle over unions and compensation&hellip; buck the national trend. Private sector salaries actually rose more in Wisconsin than government pay. In Ohio, there wasn&rsquo;t much difference between public and private compensation over that period. One caveat, these numbers may not include public sector promises like pensions that have been kicked down the road. And, states that added government workers can skew the numbers.</p><p>But for now, this fight has reunited a fractured labor movement. The Teamsters and the AFL-CIO are talking again after parting ways in 2005. But this unified front is in a battle for survival. If Wisconsin, Ohio, or any state passes limits on collective bargaining, anti-union legislation could sweep the nation. And, that could forever change Midwest power and politics.</p><p><br /><em>Changing Gears</em> is a public media collaboration between WBEZ Chicago, Michigan Radio, and Ideastream Cleveland. Support for <em>Changing Gears</em> comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.</p></p> Tue, 22 Feb 2011 15:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-22/changing-gears-region-epicenter-fight-over-union-power-82696 Changing Gears: Cleveland's quiet mayor http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-16/changing-gears-clevelands-quiet-mayor-82426 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Cleveland Mayor jackson_medmart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The <a target="_blank" href="http://www.changinggears.info/"><em>Changing Gears</em></a> series explores the Midwestern economy took a three-part look at leadership: Tuesday, Kate Davidson reported on how Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is trying to remake his troubled city. On Wednesday's <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, <em>Changing Gears</em> looked to another city and another mayor&rsquo;s struggles. As Dan Bobkoff reports, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/MayorsOffice">Mayor Frank Jackson </a>of Cleveland is not your your average politician.</p></p> Wed, 16 Feb 2011 17:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-16/changing-gears-clevelands-quiet-mayor-82426