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Showing posts from October, 2014

Incremental Vrs Systemic Change: A message to Chicago's Foundations.

Hullo John D. and Catherine T.  Every year around this time you roll out your genius awards, and every year,  including 2014, I find myself wondering why on earth so many of these coveted awards go to established artists, poets, musicians, novelists and scientists - and why so few go to the little-known sociologists, city planners and community activists whose big ideas, duly recognized, could go far to helping cities like Chicago define and solve, at long last, the set of youth-victimizing problems that over the past fifty years have destroyed the lives millions of young Americans. If this number sounds unrealistic, just take a look at America's prison population today:


Setting this graphic next to your list of 2014 awardees, I can only think that MacArthur has its priorities wrong: that its finger is more on the pulse of an American cultural elite than that of the nation itself. I know you won't agree. At your website, you proudly assert that four of this year…

Providers or Predators in Austin? A research project for Austin students.

This offbeat post opens with a photograph of something you see in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods: prosperous-looking auto title lender at 5200 west North Avenue and Laramie: Using screen shots taken from Google Maps street view photos, here's image of the 24 hour Check Cashing service across the street from Illinois Title:
If signage size is any indication, these are hugely profitable businesses. I pass them on my to THE AUSTIN VOICE at 5236 W. North Avenue. So why these photos of them?

Last week the New York Times (registration required) ran a fascinating story about a related type of lender: the buy here, pay here car dealer/lenderslike the nearby Value Auto Mart at 2734 N. Cicero:

Value Auto is one of many dealer/lender carlots on Cicero. In Spanish it's compra aqui, paga aqui. The Times story centered on use of the computerized shutdown devices - starter interrupter devices - that dealers can trigger by remote control whenever a borrower is so much as a day late with…

Austin Renewing Itself

The Parents Political University of Austin, convened by Rep La Shawn K. Ford, was on the case September 20. Meeting minutes are here. Other PPU materials are here.

The meeting's major outcome: the formation of four issue-centered committees, with agendas and tasks, for transportation, education, seniors and re-naming the West Chicago Library Branch.