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[25 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

The city has selected WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering/design firm with deep experience on transportation projects at O’Hare International Airport and worldwide, to draft a plan to begin express train service between the Loop and O’Hare.

In a statement given to me and my colleague Micah Maidenberg, the city said the company will identify potential routes, recommend where to locate stations downtown and at O’Hare and project how much the likely multibillion-dollar project will cost. The $2 million contract will be paid for with city aviation funds.

The company will have the option to come back and say the project is not financially viable. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel clearly wants to move ahead, and City Hall said today that a bid for a final design, financing and construction could be issued next year.

The high-speed link has been a longtime desire of Emanuel and predecessor Richard M. Daley. But roughly a decade was lost trying to figure out how to use the same right of way as the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line in the Kennedy Expressway. That plan has now been dropped, and Emanuel focused on other items in his first term.

During the Daley years, the cost of building such a line using a private railroad right of way was estimated at about $2 billion, a figure that likely has increased some since then.

The city has no ready source for that much cash and so is focusing on a high-end service that would whisk mostly business people downtown at a cost of perhaps $30 a ride—maybe enough to pay operational and capital costs. But some sort of public-sector contribution might also be needed.

Today’s statement says, “The goal is to ensure that no taxpayer money is needed.” But a spokesman did not rule out potentially using O’Hare funds, which come not from Chicago taxpayers but airport users, airlines and the federal government.

Now a part of Montreal-based construction and engineering firm WSP Global, Parsons has for years been enmeshed in O’Hare-related projects.

As construction manager for the $6.6 billion O’Hare Modernization Program, the company and its partners have built three of the new runways on the airfield at O’Hare, completing them in 2008, 2013 and last October, when the $516 million runway 10R-28L opened for business at the south end of the airport.

A spokeswoman at WSP didn’t immediately return a call.

The firm certainly has extensive experience. On its website, it notes it is involved in construction of a high-speed rail link in central California, the Second Avenue subway project in New York, and both subway and rail projects in China, with that country viewed as a potential source of investment capital.

The city says the firm has also worked on specific transit connections between center cities and airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Delhi and Dubai.

The city said the firm was selected after it sought proposals from a prequalified pool of vendors.

Emanuel, seeking to recover from the controversy over the Laquan McDonald shooting, has made a series of major O’Hare announcements in recent weeks, including an agreement on construction of a sixth east/west runway at the airport and a deal with American Airlines to build five new gates.

City Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans has said she expects further news on more gates later this year.

2:35 p.m. update — “This is the next step in providing passengers with a faster and more efficient way to connect between O’Hare and downtown,” Emanuel said in a statement. “The express rail service is an important piece of the city’s larger plan to modernize O’Hare and make Chicago even more competitive in the 21st century economy.”

This post has been corrected. An earlier version suggested that Parsons had been hired last year to redevelop O’Hare’s Airport Transit System. The firm hired to handle that project was not WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

Here’s Graduation Rates fraud in Chicago
Chicago Public Schools has lowered its official high school graduation rate following revelations that thousands of dropouts were being misclassified as transfers.
The official rate for 2014 was actually 66.3 percent, not 69.4 percent, officials said late Thursday. CPS also revised down the graduation rates for each year dating back to 2011.
Here’s Arne’s real record

And here’s Arne weaseling his way around the fact that his kids go to private school while he has been forcing everyone else to go to public schools his entire career.

H/T Steve …

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

In Woody Allen’s Bananas (1971, written with Mickey Rose), it is the phase in which the revolutionary Esposito achieves power in the fictional Latin American backwater of San Marcos. The power promptly goes to Esposito’s head. Esposito starts issuing proclamations such as this one: “From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years …

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

Worth every nickel if you count in the expected favors from a Hillary presidency: The average CEO, using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, makes $216,100. Clinton’s speaking agent, the Harry Walker Agency Inc., charged about $275,000 a speech and packaged three for Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs at $675,000. Source: Wage gap: One Hillary Clinton speech … Continue reading One Hillary Clinton speech more than average CEO salary

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

If there’s redder meat for the faithful, what would it be? But the headline? How’s “Asked by Hannity . . . ‘I wouldn’t say’ she ‘seems to be guilty,’ said Trump”? Read past the headline, people. Donald Trump said Monday night that he believes Hillary Clinton will likely get away with her use of a … Continue reading Trump: As president, I would prosecute Clinton. Oh?

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

If there’s more to say about the ChiTrib revolution, it’s got this to beat. Chairman Michael Ferro has orchestrated Griffin’s ouster and choice of his successor Source: CEO Jack Griffin is out at Tribune | POLITICO

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

Even the well-known eugenicist Margaret Sanger drew the line at abortion, in fact presented birth control as happily preventing it. “While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace … Continue reading Why Planned Parenthood Really Trashes OTC Birth Control

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

Zero Hedge reports:

Negative rates may not have found their way to bank deposits in most locales (yet), but that doesn’t mean the public isn’t starting to see the writing on the wall.

At first, NIRP was an anomaly. An obscure policy tool that most analysts and market watchers assumed would be implemented on a temporary basis in a kind of “let’s see if this is even possible” experiment with an idea that, from a common sense perspective, makes no sense.

But then a funny thing happened. Central banks from Denmark to Sweden to Switzerland went negative and stayed there. They even doubled down, taking rates even more negative and before you knew it, the public started to catch on.

When NIRP failed to resuscitate global growth and trade, the cash ban calls began. The thinking is simple (if crazy): if you do away with physical banknotes, the effective lower bound is thereby eliminated. You can make rates as negative as you like because the public has no recourse as people aren’t able to push back by eschewing their bank accounts the mattress.

The great moments of central banking.

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[23 Feb 2016 | No Comment | ]

As for women’s health, again to rebut the pro-Planned Parenthood argument, let’s have a look at this truly humane alternative. Source: Abby Johnson: Only Modern Pro-Life Women’s Centers Can Beat Planned Parenthood | Daily News | NCRegister.com