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Weekly Review 5/31/13

Two cities, healing here two stories, advice seek one big problem\n\nA great article by Ben Austen appeared in the New York Times Magazine this week, ask which speaks to the effects of neoliberal urban policies in Chicago.  And how the subsidizing and financial appeasement of the corporate class at the expense of the city’s most vulnerable citizens has resulted in the emergence of two starkly different Chicagos: one for the downtown and north side (mostly white) rich and one for the south and west side (mostly black and Latina/o) poor.\n\nThe Austen piece calls into further question the morality of urban America’s neoliberal turn simply by documenting some of the fallout.  And the story serves as a fitting backdrop to two seemingly unrelated stories that the Reader‘s Ben Joravsky has shown should be thought about together.\n\nIn a series of articles, Joravsky has been calling the city’s TIF-funded DePaul/McPier project \”a basketball arena and hotel near McCormick Place that nobody asked for and nobody needs,” which puts the private university basketball program in the running for \”biggest sports-team moocher\” in a city full of sports-team moochers.\n\nIn many of the same articles, Joravsky has been calling the school closings and Rahm Emanuel’s education policies what they are: an all-out attack on public education, which is really an attack on the unionized teachers in the public schools.\n\nClosing public schools and building a basketball arena and hotel will mean a heavier burden on poor, working-, and middle-class students, parents, teachers, and regular taxpayers, while it will benefit wealthy urban developers, financiers, and charter school groups.  There is no saving money here, it’s simply the continued reappropriation of funds and resources from certain segments of society to the super-rich and powerful who, neoliberalism tells us, are going to save us all.  Well, it hasn’t been working out.\n

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\nWhile we’re banging on political philosophies, might as well acknowledge the shortcomings of our bought-out and toothless political system.  In a solid story on “sports welfare” past and present, Patrick Hruby of Sports on Earth ponders a confounding history of political inaction.\n

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\nIn an effort to justify large public expenditures, private groups invested in arena projects commission consulting firms to write sports stadium economic impact studies, which to my knowledge always find that the arena in question will be a boon to the local economy.  Academic economists generally find big problems in these studies, which use faulty economic reasoning to arrive at desirable projections.\n\nThis week, Crain’s Danny Ecker found that the DePaul arena study way over-projects ticket sales, which in turn undermines the projected revenue numbers determined by attendance.\n\nEcker’s find prompted thoughtful responses from Travis Waldron and Neil deMause.\n

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\nThis week Travis Waldron also brings us news of the Major League Baseball Players Association backing SEIU manufacturers of MLB uniforms in a labor dispute.\n\nIt’s great to see the MLBPA throw their weight around for American workers—to suggest that they are a labor advocacy group, not an organization advocating free market principles in sports as alluded to in the wake of Marvin Miller’s passing.\n

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\nThe University of Illinois board of trustees approved plans for construction of a new baseball stadium at UIC, funded by MLB star and UIC alum Curtis Granderson.\n\nI’m really rooting for this to be on the up-and-up and a good thing for baseball in Chicago, which has experienced hard times recently, as illustrated in Adam Doster’s recent Chicago Reader article on longtime Simeon baseball coach Leroy Franklin.\n

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\nFinally, Nicole Matos’ poetic, thrilling, and badass tribute to her sport at The Classical had me web-scrounging for info on “The Chicago Outfit Roller Derby” for a while after I read it.\n

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\nThanks as always to John Wilmes for his contributions to “Weekly Review.”

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