Monday, June 18, 2012

What's the matter with Chicago

Posted By on 06.18.12 at 04:58 PM

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What's wrong with Chicago? Everything, according to urban affairs blogger (and former Chicago-based Accenture consultant) Aaron M. Renn, who pulls it all together for a bleak essay," The Second-Rate City?" in the spring issue of City Journal.

"It is a deeply troubled place, one increasingly falling behind its large urban brethren," he writes.

And don't count on that global-metropolis-on-the-prairie pipe dream to turn anything around: according to Renn, Chicago took a disastrous dive in the first decade of the 21st century, in part due to its probably "delusional" global-city strategy.

Renn's laundry list of what ails us includes population decline, job losses (the worst of the country's ten largest metro areas), a "terrible" business climate, huge government fiscal problems and debt, the lack of a macro-industry, a culture of corruption, and a power structure that "brings to mind the court of Louis XIV." But it could have been worse: he missed the shootings.

Toward the end of the essay, Renn cites Mayor Emanuel's appointment of former D.C. transportation head Gabe Klein to Chicago's top transportation job as an example of bringing in outsiders to dilute "the culture of clout." Maybe he didn't see this story about the city's new bike-sharing contract.

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