A decision by Evanston aldermen to include $90 million for a civic center reconstruction project in the city’s wish list for funding under the federal stimulus plan drew fire from mayoral candidate Barnaby Dinges this week.

Dinges accused fellow candidate Elizabeth Tisdahl, who now serves as 7th Ward alderman, of going back on her opposition to the replacing the existing Civic Center by helping Mayor Lorraine Morton present the wish list to staff members of the local congressional delegation.

Tisdahl defended her actions, saying that the majority of aldermen wanted the item on the list and that the mayor explained to the government officials that the civic center project was highly controversial in town.

Dinges’ complaints picked up on a protest letter leaders the Friends of the Civic Center organization sent last month to lawmakers urging that funding for the project be denied.

The Friends letter made the assumption that “reconstruction” would mean tearing down the existing Civic Center — although the word — left unexplained in the city’s list –might encompass a thorough restoration as well.

The aldermen have over the years considered a variety of alternatives for the Civic Center — including building a new one on downtown, or on the city’s west side or on the existing site — as well as major renovation projects for the existing building.

Under some of those proposals the existing building would be demolished. Under others it would be converted for use as condominiums.

Beyond the Civic Center proposal, the aldermen came up with roughly $50 million in other projects to ask the feds to fund.

Related links

The city’s project list

The Friends’ letter

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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35 Comments

  1. Let’s have a referendum
    Now the true agenda of the ‘Friends of the Civic Center’ has been exposed.

    Never mind the arguments about how repairing the current building would be less expensive than buying a new one. Disregard the argument that the City needs money now, so we should ignore NPV and do what is best in the short term. It isn’t about taxes and budgets.

    Those are all distractions from the real hateful NIMBY agenda. They want to maintain the old ‘Civic Center’, regardless of the cost.

    Why?

    Is the building architecturally or historically significant? No.

    Is the building conveniently located for most Evanston residents? No, not for most of us.

    Now if the Federal Government is willing to pay for a new Civic Center, as part of a necessary stimulus package, what possible arguments are there for keeping the current building?

    Let me guess: Charm, uniqueness, character. (Just like the tower-haters.)

    I suggest a referendum, or two:

    Issue 1. “Should the City of Evanston accept Federal Money to build a new Civic Center?”

    Issue 2. “Should the City of Evanston use its own funds, raising taxes if necessary, to repair the current Civic Center instead of accepting Federal money?”

    Can we get this on the April ballot?

    1. Civic Center Referendum
      May I remind Mr. Who Knows that two referendums were submitted to the voters in April 2007. The first simply asked if the Civic Center should be retained as the seat of Evanston government. It passed by 82%.

      The second one contained a price tag that was disputed as inflated, $32 million, and almost passed at 49.39%

      You are entitled to your opinion, but your opinion does not reflect the majority of Evanston’s voters.

      1. referendum
        Zbesko says:
        “May I remind Mr. Who Knows that two referendums were submitted to the voters in April 2007. The first simply asked if the Civic Center should be retained as the seat of Evanston government. It passed by 82%.”

        I am aware of those referenda. As I have pointed out before:

        1. The vast majority of Evanston residents did not show up in the off-year election to vote on non-binding referenda. The number of voters supporting the Civic Center was about 11% of those who came out in the Bush/Kerry election.

        2. No funding mechanism was in place on the ‘Support the Civic Center’ question. To merely ask people if they want to fix the Civic Center, without putting a cost on it, is dishonest and irresponsbile.

        3. The second one ‘almost passed’ ? While pretty much running unupposed.

        4. As a potential alderman, you must understand that City Council sets the budget. It is not done by referendum.

        But the above points are old news. The whole point of my posting is that we are now in a different situation. If the Federal Government is willing to give us money to build a new Civic Center, the question is:

        1. Do we accept the money and build a new Civic Center?

        or ….

        2. Do we reject the money, because we like our old charming and unique (not really) Civic Center so much that we will spend our own money to preserve it if necessary?

        I choose option 1…build a new Civic Center as part of the stimulus.

        Let’s vote on it.

  2. Re: Civic Center – $90 Million? Really?
    Thanks for posting the video.

    $90 Million? Is that number right?

    Forgive my ignorance on the various projects I’m sure are worthy of that much money. I don’t even know what to say to that kind of money. Pork doesn’t begin to describe it. Waste doesn’t cover it.

    Do you know what one could buy with $90 Million?

    A quick Craigslist search found me a 24-unit building on Sherman and Main in Evanston for $2.6 million. That would leave only $87 million left after taxes though. Maybe that’s too much.

    You can buy the Maher mansion on Ridge for $1.2 million. Then there would be $88.5 or so Million left and they have a Mansion to do meeting in.

    Does $90M get Evanston completely back in the black and an all expense paid trip for the entire council to the next Superbowl with the Mayor of Vegas? WTF? $90 Million.

    For that kind of money the re-habbed council center should get 100% digital wireless HDTV in every room, free phones and LCD screens on every wall, gold-plated toilets with servants holding hot towels and mints, and a luxury yacht to sail to downtown Chicago for monthly parties at the yacht club. With enough left over to pay off every pension in the fund and fund every pet project from here to the moon!

    Wow. Maybe I should become a construction contractor and get a no-bid contract from the city for the rehab. Hell, for that kind of cash I just might.

    I think I’ll vote for Barnaby. He seems to have his head on straight.

    – Calin

    1. $90 million Civic Center
      What confuses me is not so much the fact that a $90 Million price tag for “Civic Center reconstruction” was affixed to a wish list including a dozen or so other capital projects and sent off to Senator Durbin and Representative Schakowsky, but that it was sent out over the signature of Alderman Tisdahl with copy to the City Manager and Mayor Morton. Who’s running the railroad over there?

  3. City’s Project Letter
    Did anyone proofread this letter? Doesn’t the government “rollout” a package not “role out.”

    Also, the numbers look like someone just made them up. Why does a $10 m. project on the Crown Center create 100 jobs and a $90 m. project on the Civic Center create 90?

    If this is all we submitted to the feds to get our share of the stimulus package, it looks like Evanston will fail to achieve stimulation.

  4. Why are we asking the candidates these irrelevant questions?
    They are not running for alderman or applying to be City manager. Let’s ask them how they plan to do their job, the job of Mayor, instead of what they think other people in City government ought to do.

    For instance: how do you plan to use Roberts Rules of Order and your power to Chair Council meetings to make them a reasonable length and prevent key decisions from being made after 10pm when the citizenry is in bed?

    What is the function of the boards and commissions in the City and what skills can you bring to the table to see that they are doing their job?

    How will you represent the City to other municipalities and what resources can you bring from outside the City?

    What does leadership mean to you and how does it pertain to this job?

    What do you think the job of Mayor is in a City Manager form of government?

    Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and 75,000 Hours

    1. Michele, these are excellent questions
      And I look forward to sharing answers to them with you in person or out on the campaign trail. I hope they come up at tonight’s mayoral forum, 6:30 p.m. at the Evanston Public Library.

      Barnaby Dinges
      http://www.dingesformayor.com

  5. Evanston and the Stimulus
    Sure it would be great for Evanston to get some of the ‘Stimulus’ money. But given the city’s record with projects [choosing ‘winners’ in which businesses to give gifts to; ugly artwork; and many other pork to get re-elected] and eternal debate over zoning, permits, ‘plans’, what business to let in [remember the proposed Sears that the council debated so long Sears dropped plans], not to mention taxes and constant harashment of businesses [remember Sign Inspectors counting food symbols on signs], who could expect the Stimulus would be spent well or timely. We would probably be in the next business cycle before the Council approved anything.

  6. City Hall
    Why not move City Hall to the vacant space of the old Chandlers Building. Once all ‘necessary’ functions—i.e. minus bloat—there should be enough space.
    If more room that that is needed–but not both—what about 1890 Maple which last I heard was proposed to be replaced by apartments. As existing office space it should be more than enough for ‘needed’ government.

  7. Obama’s mega-billion dollar
    Obama’s mega-billion dollar stimulus plan is nothing but a colossal waste whereby the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats will be substituted for that of we-the-people as to how to spend OUR money. The inevitable consequence of this grotesque boondoggle will be higher future interest rates, taxes and inflation accompanied by a stagnating economy and soaring joblessness.

    Therefore, the only honorable course for our elected local officials, if they get their mitts on any of that booty, is to return it to US. Assuming that 1/2 of Evanston’s population has a job, distributing $90 million would amount to about $2,400 per taxpaying job holder.

    As for a new city hall, what’s wrong with the mostly empty, newish office buildings just north of the Hilton Hotel?

    1. mega-billion dollar stimulus plan
      “Obama’s mega-billion dollar stimulus plan is nothing but a colossal waste whereby the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats will be substituted for that of we-the-people as to how to spend OUR money.”

      Blah, blah, blah, megadittoes, hooray for Hannity.

      We the people had an election in November, in which we rejected the failed policies of Bush and McSame and the addict Rush Limbaugh and the small-town NIMBYism which spawned them.

      While I don’t trust politicians (like Boehner and McConnel and McSame) and bureaucrats, I don’t trust the parasitic CEO’s , investment bankers, and speculators who have helped to create this situation – and we can’t trust them to get us out of it.

      The problem with the stimulus bill is that it has too much Republican influence. Tax credits and cuts, not enough spending.

      There is plenty of public work that needs to be done, and now – when construction costs are most inexpensive and workers and contractors are begging for jobs – is the time to do it. Our Civic Center is crumbling, and should be replaced by a new one that will last for 50-100 years. The CTA has plenty of track work that needs to be done and new trains to purchase, there are roads that need to be fixed, water systems that need to be upgraded, and the electrical system can be modernized – and no private industry has the funds or the incentive to do this.

      1. Mr. Who Knows: You are
        Mr. Who Knows: You are falling behind in your learning – for you seem to have just awakened from a very long slumber. Valuable things can be learned from the experience of others. The Japanese government has for the last 19 years been running up breathtaking deficits spending stimulus money on infrastructure and propping up zombie banks and business. They have been doing exactly what Bush had started and what Obama is continuing. Yet the Japanese economy has been mired all that time in a recession. The Nikkei stock index is down 80% and real estate about 50% from their highs of almost two decades ago.

        Some lessons can also be learned from U.S. history. Both Hoover and FDR intervened frantically, propping up the status quo. They tried to prevent the necessary corrections of the distortions in the economy caused by the misallocation of capital during the 1920’s Federal Reserve credit expansion induced boom. FDR, especially, relied heavily on the stimulus gimmicks popularized by the charlatan, Lord Keynes. Yet, it was all for naught. All that economic snake oil just made things worse. Unemployment stubbornly remained at double digit levels until the U.S. entry into WW2 sopped up excess bodies for the military.

        Both Bush and Obama and their legions of experts know little about history and even less about economics. It’s an economic axiom that credit expansion cannot create wealth. If you have any doubts, please check out Zimbabwe. Only unconsumed wealth (capital) derived from the savings of workers living beneath their means and invested by entrepreneurs in productive business can create jobs and grow the economy. Anything else is a con job designed to raise our taxes and permanently depress our standard of living.

        Your nemesis, the financial industry exists in its present form as an unintended consequence of the counterfeiting operations of the Federal Reserve system. Dismantle the Fed and return to sound money as mandated in the Constitution and most of the financial industry’s predations will disappear along with the traumatic boom and bust business cycles. If, as you noted, private industry doesn’t have the funds to finance all kinds of infrastructure projects, then where will the government get the funds to do so? Take it from those who don’t have it? Borrow more money from China? Wave a magic wand? Conscript labor at gunpoint?

        The stimulus package passed by the corrupt know-nothings in Congress will not create a single job. It will simply take wealth from those who’ve created it and give it, minus a large handling fee extracted by the parasitic bureaucracy, to those with strong political lobbies. Every highly visible, so called, job created will be more than offset by a job silently lost off the media radar screen and the misery index will ratchet ever higher.

        The federal government with $65 trillion of liabilities is effectively bankrupt. Its global creditors are finally waking up to this fact. The only thing that will save us is for Americans to start paying down their debts and to live beneath their means. More credit, debt and spending will only drag us deeper into the tar pit of insolvency.

        Perhaps Hannity and Limbaugh are preaching this now. I wouldn’t know. I never listen to them. They were shameless cheerleaders for the criminal wars and spending outrages of their favorite street gang, the Republican Party. Alike in all things significant, especially in the grasp for more power and money, the Democrat’s street gang is distinguishable from the other one only by its vapid slogans. You’re right that voters rejected the failed policies of Bush. That is why they will be especially disappointed with Obama.

        Judging from your disdain for tax cuts, you seem to be an elitist highly distrustful of working people deciding what to do with their money. If you don’t trust yourself to wisely spend whatever pittance of a tax cut Obama’s stimulus may grudgingly provide, I will be happy to take it off your hands as I need to build up a retirement reserve since 65% of my crippling property tax payments go toward “educating” other people’s children.

        Back to Evanston and the need for a $90 million city hall. An office building can be built for $200 per square foot. Are we to believe that a city of only 75,000 people needs a 450,000 square foot city hall building? That would be a building 50% taller than the Chase tower at Orrington and Davis! Come on! It’s time for belt tightening across the board. Our obese city government doesn’t need a monument to profligacy. It needs to lose weight and fit into the empty office space in the buildings north of the Hilton Hotel.

        As you pointed out, plenty of things need to be built. However, calls for a new city hall is another clue that politicians and bureaucrats are clueless as how to spend our money intelligently.

        1. Right On!!
          A voice from the sixties. I just donated through my church to some cause in Zimbabwe. They said I donated the equivalent of 50 million dollars. Thank you for your clear analysis. However, is it that hard to see that if you roll out the printing presses with nothing to back it up that you are devaluing your currency. We are deep dung… As for local politics or any politics including the Cubs I’m not putting my trust in any man.

        2. Charlatans
          MetaCynic, I apologize if I mistook you for a dittohead or Hannity fan. I understand that while fundamentalists may have bitter hatred between their groups ( consider Al Qaeda vs. the Wahabbi vs. the Iranian Ayatollahs…or Stalinists vs. Trotskyists ), but to those of us on the outside you all appear the same. It is difficult for us to tell you apart.

          So it appears that while you are a member of a right-wing cult, it is not the Dittohead sect, nor the Church of Hannity, but some other variety ( Ron Paul? Robert Taft? ).

          Still, you are repeating some of the economic nonsense that is spread on FAUX Noise. Paul Krugman, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, has spent much time debunking your arguments in his columns. Let me summarize:

          1. FDR’s stimulus policies did not ‘prolong the depression’, nor were they ineffective. They were successful, while FDR followed them. In 1937, he started listening to the ‘balance the budget’ fundamentalists, and the progress was lost. Like you say, the giant government spending program (World War II) put an end to the Depression by sopping up excess bodies for the military, and keeping the factories running churning out planes and tanks.

          2. Krugman has debunked your Japanese myth. (Look up his articles on negative real interest rates during the 1990’s. Lack of inflation is not necessarily good – in fact, those of us who are familiar with NPV absolutely abhor negative real interest rates.) You are right, though, about the zombie banks. Krugman has cited this as one of the problems with Japan.

          3. You write “sound money as mandated in the Constitution “…so I assume that you are one of those goldbugs. Well, the gold standard didn’t work – which is why every country dropped it. ( And it doesn’t prevent inflation or make a country wealthy, e.g. Spain). Your constitutional argument is phony too. The US Constitution grants to Congress:

          “Article I – Section 8 – Powers of Congress”
          “To borrow money on the credit of the United States”

          “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”

          Now “Section 10 – Powers prohibited of States” does prohibit the states, not the Congress, from issuing any money except gold or silver.

          But the most disturbing paragraph you wrote is this:
          “Judging from your disdain for tax cuts, you seem to be an elitist highly distrustful of working people deciding what to do with their money. If you don’t trust yourself to wisely spend whatever pittance of a tax cut Obama’s stimulus may grudgingly provide, I will be happy to take it off your hands as I need to build up a retirement reserve since 65% of my crippling property tax payments go toward “educating” other people’s children.”

          Now I have written extensively about how condo residents are supporting the school system. But your use of the word ‘elitist’ suggests that you just don’t understand what has happened over the last 30 years. “Working people” have received no tax relief – the tax cuts have gone to those with higher incomes, the people with big houses and lawnsigns saying ‘Stop the Tower!’. The fake populism (with Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin and the CSNA ) and denunciation of the ‘elites’ are how the wealthy beneficiaries of Reagan/Bush policies and oppressive zoning laws gain support of the working class, by distracting them from real issues.

          1. “to those of us on the
            “to those of us on the outside you all appear the same. It is difficult for us to tell you apart.” Wow, this says it all! On the outside of what? Mainstream thinking sanctioned respectability? You’ve put yourself in a mental straitjacket, limiting your understanding of ideas to your intellectual clique’s approved labels, slogans and pigeonholes.

            I criticize increased government spending therefore I must be a “dittohead” or a Hannity fan. I make it clear that those two windbags are odious state worshipers and then mention gold, so now you conclude that I must be a member of some rival “right-wing cult”. Gee, real deep thinking. As for me taking my cues from “Faux Noise”, you’re probably referring to Fox News, sorry to disappoint you there too. I haven’t owned a TV since 1980. I don’t watch TV for the same reason I don’t eat at McDonald’s, drink soda or brush my teeth with fluoride toothpaste. It’s a hazard to one’s mental health.

            Following WW1, a stock market crash accompanied by a banking crisis occurred in 1920-21, but was quickly over, not because of government intervention but because the government did nothing and the economic distortions were quickly corrected by market forces. The Federal Reserve’s 1920’s easy credit caused a boom and the consequent bust in 1929 was not over quickly as in 1920-21 because first, Hoover, and then FDR intervened massively to prop up the credit induced economic distortions. This produced 10 years of economic contraction and double digit unemployment.

            If success is measured by cartelization of industry and price fixing, then the New Deal was wildly successful. FDR’s policies deliberately created industrial cartels which were legally discouraged from competing and cutting prices. Under FDR, laws were passed criminalizing prices charged below the minimums set by bureaucratic whim. People were even punished for working in excess of government dictated maximum hours! While people starved, the food supply shrank because farmers were paid not to grow and were even encouraged to destroy crops and livestock in order to artificially support unsustainably high prices. Landowners evicted sharecroppers from their land in order to collect government money by not growing things. Real man of the people, that FDR. The question is, which people?

            The New Deal was a disaster. It resulted in nonstop double digit unemployment, a massive destruction of wealth and politically motivated misallocation of precious capital to government financed projects meant to ensure FDR’s re-elections. That Krugman regards the New Deal as a success, demonstrates that contact with reality is not a consideration for awarding the Nobel prize in economics. The fact is that a government created institution, the Federal Reserve, caused the boom and bust business cycle, and government intervention then prolonged the misery of the bust. We are today reliving the same nightmare, and the court intellectual, Krugman, is egging on the madness of using more credit to fix the crisis brought on by too much credit.

            The reason that today no currency on earth is backed by gold is not that gold doesn’t work, but that it works too well. Governments and bankers oppose gold for the same reason that burglars oppose locks – it makes it too hard to steal. Gold forces governments to live within their means, something few modern politicians can endure.

            The gold dollar century prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve saw a steady decline in the general price level as productivity soared. During the Fed’s relentless money creation since 1913, the dollar has lost 97% of its value. This monetary inflation is a hidden tax on savers, creditors and people living on fixed incomes. It’s a windfall for federal employees, the financial industry and all those doing business with the government. This past century of endless wars and preparation for war, massive government spending and the trampling of the Bill of Rights has come to us courtesy of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking – legalized counterfeiting. The financing of barbarism on such a gigantic scale is not possible under a gold standard as the government risks a tax revolt and perhaps worse. Central bank credit creation is a way around the spending discipline imposed by gold. We are today witnessing important history in the making as the global fiat money experiment seems to be near the end of its predictable trajectory to zero value. The dollar is about to join all other unbacked currencies on the trash heap of history.

            I don’t understand how raising taxes on those with higher incomes, as you seem to urge, would improve my situation or that of anyone else. If anything, my business and income would suffer because higher income people are the bulk of my clients. According to IRS data, the top 1% income earners in 2007 paid 39% of all federal income taxes, while the bottom 50% paid only 3% of all income taxes. If the rich receive bigger tax cuts than the rest of us, it’s because their tax burden is much greater.
            Bush’s much maligned, end-of-civilization tax cuts to the rich amounted to $50 billion a year over ten years. That’s only 50 parts of a 3,000 part annual federal budget – a rounding error. If Bush’s entire tax cuts to the rich were rescinded and the money distributed equally to all American collecting a paycheck, it would amount to a handout of about $362 per person per year over ten years.

            On the other hand, the average wages and benefits paid to the 3 million non military, federal employees is twice that of the average private sector employee. If the average federal wages were aligned with that of private sector wages, then each of about 115 million private sector American workers would receive a tax cut of about $1,383 per year, forever. Since we can charitably assume that at least 1/2 of all federal employees are either redundant, a drag on the economy or engaged in unconstitutional activities, then culling the federal herd would result in a total tax reduction of $2,074 per private sector American worker per year, forever. Run the same analysis for the 20 million state and local employees paid, on average, 50% in excess of their private sector counterparts and we’re talking about serious tax cuts for real working people of another $6,783 for a grand total of about $8,857 per worker per year, forever. Yet, more tax cuts would accumulate due to the shutdown of the 1,000+ overseas military bases and the elimination of all foreign aid.

            So the real reason that working people have been suffering for so long is not because of tax cuts for the rich. It is because of job destroying taxes to support a parasitic public sector, wealth destroying government regulations, needless wars and military spending and the steady destruction of the dollar via monetary inflation. The latter discourages savings and capital formation and encourages speculation and excessive risk taking. The tax cuts for the rich are piddling compared to the big bite of the national wealth that the state either consumes for itself or redistributes to its supporters.

            Yet working people aren’t entirely innocent victims of this grand larceny. Most voters believe that democracy empowers them to live at the expense of others. This is an issue which is no longer morally questionable, if it ever was. Few people would take a gun and rob their neighbors, yet most will proudly vote for “public servants” who will do this for them and then brag about their participation in the civic “virtue” of voting. How many voters would be in favor of any government spending program if they believed that the cost to them would exceed the benefit? Our much celebrated democracy is nothing but two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Being more focused and better organized, corporate lobbyists are working this perverse system to eat us all for lunch!

            I’m not familiar with your extensive writing about condo residents supporting the public school system. However, as long as democracy continues to be a respectable mechanism for theft, condo residents will be outvoted and forced, at gunpoint, to support the public school system. No amount of shifting that tax burden to the rich, to NU, to businesses or to churches will alter the basic fact that it is immoral to force non-users to finance the failed public school monopoly.

          2. MetaCynic gets it correct
            Thanks for responding to Mr. Who Knows What?, the vaunted NPV expert, professor and cocoa puff addict. Mr. WKW? refers to Krugman, but ignores the fact that Krugman received his Nobel for work on trade, not financial policy.

            I also agree that public money should be used outside the failing public school system. Education is the only hope for the country’s future and hypocrites such as Durbin, who is killing the Washington, DC voucher program, are not what we need in Congress.

      2. Honestly – You Support This?
        Mr. Who Knows:

        Put aside your political orientation and honestly tell me that you support this “stimulus” bill that will be signed later today into law.

        If you need some help – have a look at this link:

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123458384689487271.html

        If the link does not work, search http://www.wsj.com for February 14 titled: Getting to $787 Billion.

        Look at it. Could some of these expenditures, while moral ideas, been passed in a seperate bill under Appropriations at a later date?

        Does this package actually address the crisis? Or does it address personal political interests and election paybacks?

        Honestly – I do not even think you know what is in the bill.

        So read it, line by line. Is this all really necessary, now!?

        1. put aside your political orientation
          “Put aside your political orientation and honestly tell me that you support this “stimulus” bill that will be signed later today into law.”

          Yes, I do.

          Do I think that every single line is necessary or desirable? No, but that is how laws get passed.

          Am I going to read every single line? No. This has been one of the major right-wing talking points, how the legislators supposedly put the bill together the night before and didn’t read it. This is nonsense, for two main reasons:

          1. If congressmen read every single line of every bill, nothing would ever pass. Nobody has that much time. That’s why there are staffers and aides, and congressmen bargain over the broader points – and yes, insert some little line items here or there. {I wish that Senator Durbin could put in a few million for demolition of our Civic Center and construction of a new one, demolition of 708 Church and construction of a tower with IHOP on top, and conversion of the Dawes House into a condo.}

          2. Much of the bill was written weeks ago, and congressmen have been bargaining over modifications. They did not rewrite the whole thing and then dump it on us the night before – as Lou Dobbs and FAUX Noise would suggest.

          Is this bill perfect? No, because it is not big enough. I would like more spending, and the tax-credits for house-flipping are stupid.

          The right-wingers can nitpick over every line, and try to portray some of them as silly, with their usual simple-minded rhetoric. But spending is what we need – and fast.

          And really, have the Republicans come up with any credible alternative? We have known since October that our economy is collapsing – the Republicans have had months to put together a credible alternative.

          They have none. Some of them just promise to put together something in the future ( the classic NIMBY ‘more study is needed’ argument). Some, like McSame, just propose tax cuts and…this is really stupid…spending cuts!!!

          Like the NIMBYs, they have no positive ideas – just mindless opposition to everything. They did this in 1993, saying that Clinton’s budget (which passed with NO Republican help) would be the end of the world, and they are at it again.

          1. So Militant!
            Mr. Who Knows:

            I asked you to set aside your political orientation and review the “stimulus” plan and decide whether or not you support it.

            I am glad you replied “yes I do.”

            We can agree to disagree on this one. I do not support the package.

            I, as you most likely know, am Republican.

            But I do not appreciate the immediate militant bashing, and continued rant against the opposing party that you continue to display on this site, and in this thread with your seemingly creative slang of:

            “FAUX Noise”,
            “right-wingers can nitpick…”
            “with their usual simple-minded rhetoric”,
            “McSame”

            Can you have an honest discussion? I think not!

            I do applaud your passion.

            But, I pitty your ability to communicate in a meaningful way.

            You are a poor representative of your party.

            Cheers!

          2. FAUX Noise
            Dan says:
            “”FAUX Noise”,
            “right-wingers can nitpick…”
            “with their usual simple-minded rhetoric”,
            “McSame”

            Can you have an honest discussion? I think not!

            Well…FAUX Noise, Rush, and the Hannitys and Krauthammers of the world have poisoned the discourse for so long that I am not sure that an honest discussion is possible. ( For example, see this link about a lie that FAUX is spreading about the stimulus plan. )

            McSame contributed to the dumbing-down of America, and increased anti-intellectualism of the Republican party, by running a campaign that was from the beginning without any ideas (‘vote for me..I am a war hero’), and then picking the Hockey Mom as his running mate.

            So it is in Evanston…we have our own Sarah Palins, who sing the praises of ‘small town’ values (whatever that means) and charm and uniqueness. Both the Alaska Palin and the Evanston Palins warn us of the dangers of being like Chicago, and they both display their contempt for education. ( I bet that the Hockey Mom would love the Fair Share group.)

            Dan says:
            “You are a poor representative of your party.”

            What party? I tell the truth about the NIMBYs and the neocons and the right-wingers who are destroying America. I don’t represent any party.

          3. Noise?
            That noise that Mr. Who Knows What? hears must be the crunching of the cocoa puffs he enjoys so much. He ignores the other twits in the more numerous liberal media who can’t tell a tingle down their leg from a trickle.

            As for dumbing down, the contempt for education, as shown by the suave elite PC multicultural bafflegab that goes for our educational system, controlled by the educational oligopoly, speaks for itself in the continued dumbing down of our population.

            As for destroying America, the law of unintended consequences is at work. The liberal Community Reinvestment Act was well intentioned, but after Carter, Clinton expanded it, Dodd and Frank assisted Franklin Raines (nice bonus there!)in cooking the Books at Fannie & Freddie, ACORN got to work and the Wall St. vultures had a feast on the innumerati who jumped at buying homes they could not afford.

            Mr. Who Knows What? it wasn’t just the right wingers, both parties have plenty to be contrite about. Our esteemed liberal, anti-war, anti-nuclear, green, etc. city and its consultants have done their bit with the pension debacle.

            Enjoy your cocoa puffs.

          4. Community Reinvestment Act
            Vito says:
            “As for destroying America, the law of unintended consequences is at work. The liberal Community Reinvestment Act was well intentioned, but after Carter, Clinton expanded it, Dodd and Frank assisted Franklin Raines (nice bonus there!)in cooking the Books at Fannie & Freddie, ACORN got to work and the Wall St. vultures had a feast on the innumerati who jumped at buying homes they could not afford.”

            Sounds like a nice conspiracy. Carter,Clinton, Dodd, Frank, Raines, ACORN. Are the Trilateral Commission, the Zionists, the CIA, Queen Elizabeth and the Rockefellers also involved?

            But seriously, Vito, you are repeating the FAUX/Limbaugh/Hannity version of the housing market collapse, which seeks to blame the Community Reinvestment Act for the collapse of the bubble.

            It should be noted that prior to the housing market collapse, right-wingers argued that the CRA was unnecessary, since banks would always be motivated by profit to make loans to anyone. And that is what happened -when credit flowed freely, banks were willing to make loans to anyone, and sell them off as to ‘investors’, and while housing prices kept increasing it didn’t matter.

            Now that the market has collapsed, the right-wing needs a scapegoat – and as usual, they want to go after lower-income and minority groups. So the right-wing has created the myth that the CRA caused the banking crash.

            This is , of course, bafflegab. The worst housing markets include Las Vegas, Florida, and California’s Inland Empire ,where suburban and exurban McMansions were sprouting up daily, not the urban territory of the CRA or ACORN.

            The scapegoating of the CRA and the urban population, is similar to how the NIMBYs in the 6th and 7th wards have chosen to scapegoat condo residents for all of the budget problems in Evanston.

          5. CRA and its consequences
            Mr Who Knows What? is off again with his usual charges against NIMBYs, right wing commentators and the usual trivia.

            Since you are by now the world’s renowned expert on NPV and a Kellogg savant, please show me on a spreadsheet how the Extended Middle Finger, better known as the Tower, will add to city net tax revenue prior to 2013.

            I understand that you were considered for Geithner’s job but he owed more back taxes and thus would add more to the stimulus.

            As for the CRA, in itself it was nothing but an imposition on banks. But once they could sell the mortgages as part of a CDO, they were home free. They had a willing buyer, Franklin Raines (who I understand made a nice bonus by cooking the books) and brought F&F to its present sorry state.

            Anyway, why should I bother even attempting to discuss this with someone who is unwilling to identify himself.

            Have another bowl of cocoa puffs, maybe it will stimulate something.

          6. NPV is what made America great
            Vito asks:
            “Since you are by now the world’s renowned expert on NPV and a Kellogg savant, please show me on a spreadsheet how the Extended Middle Finger, better known as the Tower, will add to city net tax revenue prior to 2013.

            Prior to 2013? That is irrelevant. What matters is the LONG TERM. That is how the City needs to operate.

            You see, Vito, people eat and live and have to pay their bills in the short term. Therefore, economic arguments about the long-term benefits of laissez-faire economics are often irrelevant. Perhaps without Obama’s stimulus plan, the country will be better off in 50 or 60 years when the market sorts things out. Most of us cannot wait that long, which is why a stimulus plan is desirable.

            With the City’s finances, however, the long term is all that matters. The City can absorb a short term loss if it means increased revenue in the future. Certainly the City can borrow money against future revenue of the Tower to make up any deficits, and if the rates are low enough and the Tower revenue is high enough, it all makes sense.

            That is what NPV is all about, Vito. Discounting future cash flows, looking at the long term.

            This country is fortunate that most of the time our leaders have adhered to the ideas of NPV and the long term, not your short-sighted short term outlook.

            Would Thomas Jefferson have purchased the Louisiana Territory if he only cared about the ‘short term’? No..but he understood NPV and looked at the long term.

            And during the Civil War, when the country’s future was in doubt, and Confederate soldiers were in Pennsylvania and Maryland, Lincoln insisted that construction of the Capitol dome – the tallest building in the District of Columbia – continue. We didn’t have the money in the short term – but Lincoln understood the symbolism of building the “skyscraper” dome as a symbol that the Union would survive. If the NIMBYs had their way, all of DC would have been zoned R1 and we wouldn’t have the capitol dome or the Washington Monument.

            And the purchase of Alaska in 1867 – when the country was broke after the Civil War – would never have happened if the NIMBYs had their way, but Secretary Seward understood NPV.

            The Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, TVA, and Lincoln Tunnel and even the Evanston Post Office all stimulated the economy during the Depression, but were also great long-term investments. FDR understood NPV.
            Eisenhower also understood NPV when he began the interstate highway system – which created jobs and added to our infrastructure.
            Kennedy and Johnson also understood NPV, and invested billions in a space technology – which makes it possible for everyone to enjoy ‘Dancing With the Stars’ via satellite.
            The NIMBYs have been trying to subvert and desroy America for 200 years now, and they have always been defeated. They will try to stop our towers from being constructed, or close down our universities, but we cannot let them defeat America.
            So now is the time for our Council to do what is best in the LONG TERM, and replace the Civic Center and build the Tower, and let NPV be the law of the land.

            You want a spreadsheet? Bill Smith has already provided some calculations, using the ECRD’s own assumptions, that show that in the long term the Tower is a winner.

            So the issue is not about spreadsheets, it is about whether we do what feels good in the short term or do what is best in the long term and use NPV.

          7. Short term versus long term for the city?
            Mr Who writes:

            “With the City’s finances, however, the long term is all that matters. The City can absorb a short term loss if it means increased revenue in the future. Certainly the City can borrow money against future revenue of the Tower to make up any deficits, and if the rates are low enough and the Tower revenue is high enough, it all makes sense.”

            Who – yesterday on the news a small city in down state Illinois could not pay any of its employees. Looks like a short term issue. The city of evanston next year may have similar short term problems – given they are draining down the reserves both capital and operating,

            It would appear to me they are about borrowed out – are you proposing more taxes on the citizens?

            Who – a few weeks they will tells the pension short fall is now $170 million rather than $145 million – the employees will want their raises and the revenues have dropped. So where are the funds?

            The City will be luck to get a roof on the Civic Center. You need to hop in your car and go over to the civic center and walk into the city clerk’s office and take a look at the huge area of plaster they have removed from his wall due to all the water damage.

            There will be no 90 million dollars coming from the stinulus to replace the Civic Center,

          8. Inquring minds would like to know?
            Mr WHO –

            Inquring minds would like to know –

            were you think all this money is coming from?

            As you state “Is this bill perfect? No, because it is not big enough. I would like more spending.”

            The taxpayers will just be taxed more!

            Take a look at what happen recently,

            They just approved the state budget in California – 50% cuts in state government and 50% tax increases, to balance. They have taken away all the tax stimulus (rebate) which was to been given by the federal government to citizens in California.

            What do you think is about to happen here? Mr Who –

            Next year the city, which decided to not raise taxes one penny this year and drain down the reserves is going to do?

            Raise taxes through the roof!

            As far as your nonsense about the Civic Center hoping for pork – not a chance.

            Also you need to stop misrepresenting yourself as a Professor at NU, no professor would be that silly.

          9. Short-term thinking, and a NIMBY inspired referendum
            Junad says:
            “They just approved the state budget in California – 50% cuts in state government and 50% tax increases, to balance. They have taken away all the tax stimulus (rebate) which was to been given by the federal government to citizens in California.”

            This just demonstrates how state legislatures and cities, with their ‘balanced budget’ rules, are making the crisis worse. Krugman has discussed this in his article, ‘Fifty Herbert Hoovers’, which I mentioned earlier.

            The situation in California also demonstrates the serious long-term damage that NIMBYs can do. Long ago, the California NIMBYs passed a referendum , Proposition 13, that severely limited the ability to obtain revenue from property taxes.

            In the short term [Bafflegab!] , this meant ‘property tax relief’ for older people (NIMBYs).

            As a result of capped property taxes, governments became more dependent on income tax (which goes as high as 9%) and sales tax. So while property taxes are a stable source of state revenue, income and sales tax fluctuate…and if a serious recession where to come along, like the current Bush depression, sales and income tax revenues plummet.

            So this is why California is perpetually in a budget crisis. Short-term thinking, and a NIMBY inspired referendum, have had serious consequences.

          10. Why is everyone a “NIMBY”?
            Mr Who
            writes “So this is why California is perpetually in a budget crisis. Short-term thinking, and a NIMBY inspired referendum, have had serious consequences.”

            Who every year the City of Evanston is in budget crisis – so they spend council meeting balancing it.

            Next year they will be facing a REAL crisis – since they can not play the same silly games they played in the past.

            It appears anyone with a different opinion than you is a “NIMBY” – by the way it does not matter if you tax someone’s home or someone’s salary – both come from the same pocket.

          11. it does matter
            “It appears anyone with a different opinion than you is a “NIMBY” – by the way it does not matter if you tax someone’s home or someone’s salary – both come from the same pocket.”

            No, Junad…I just expose the NIMBYs when they are doing their evil NIMBY deeds. There are plenty of people who may disagree with me about other issues, but my mission here on EvanstonNow is to stop the NIMBYs.

            But that is not the issue now. It DOES matter whether a state derives its revenues from property or income tax. Property tax is fairly constant – my property tax did not go down this year even though the value of my property (the Historic Who Residence) has undoubtedly dropped. Income , sales, and transfer taxes are highly volatile – and as a result, cities and states are being hit really hard in this depression.

          12. Do you understand property tax?
            Who – property tax many not go down – per se

            but the schools are capped -to the CPI – which keeps them in line – that is the schools this year are facing a problem – City is under no cap.

            By the way the next reassessment will lower property values – but it will be just adjusted upwards to take the same amount plus more.

            Business in cook county pay very high property taxes since they have a higher assessed value than homes – thus you see owners tearing down the buildings if they are not rented to save on taxes,

            IF you look around the number of business closing is quite high- ( vacant store fronts ) thus the property tax will soon drop also.

            Who – you are stating its a depression “cities and states are being hit really hard in this depression.”
            may not be there yet – but its is pointing in that direction.

  8. Talking Down the Economy
    I can understand why the President is talking down the state of the economy—if his program works he gets credit for pulling us out, if it fails he can blame Bush and ‘the man behind the tree.’ However especially the rhetoric of the last week risks causing more and more problems for the economy, like making people panic even more and keep their legitimate spending down [remember the ‘Paradox of Thrift’].
    Yes we certainly have problems but political gain should not be the response of anyone, let alone the President.

    1. talking down
      “I can understand why the President is talking down the state of the economy—if his program works he gets credit for pulling us out, if it fails he can blame Bush and ‘the man behind the tree.'”

      President Obama is just being honest about the economy. While this may be bad, in that it would only discourage spending and make the problem worse, there are other considerations:

      1. If he were to pretend that things are good (“Mission Accomplished”), he would lose all credibility, like Bush and the NIMBYs did.

      2. If things are getting better (and they aren’t), then there is no need for a stimulus bill, since the magic of markets is already having its effect.

      Admitting that the problem exists is the first step to solving it.

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