California

Survey: Illinois Runner-Up State For ‘Worst Climates For Small Business’

Continuing Tuesday’s discussion about Illinois not being business friendly, I spotted a piece last night on the MarketWatch website entitled, “The best state and city for small business are…” Caitlin Huston reported yesterday afternoon:

The best state for small business owners is Texas and the worst is Rhode Island, according to an annual survey revealed Tuesday.

The survey, conducted by technology marketplace Thumbtack, contends that the friendliest states and towns for small businesses offer easier or non-existent licensing requirements. On a city basis, the report called Manchester, N.H., the best and Hartford, Conn., the worst for small-business climate…

Huston noted that survey responses came from 17,633 small businesses, with most having 5 or fewer employees.

As for Illinois? It’s the state runner-up under the “Worst Climates for Small Business” category, losing out to Rhode Island but ahead of Connecticut, California, and New York, in that order.

From the Thumbtack.com survey web page:

Small business owners gave California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island an “F,” while Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York earned a “D” grade…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Digging deeper into the Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey, the “Land of Lincoln” received an “F” for “ease of starting a business” and “overall friendliness.”

Nice. Real nice. Congratulations Illinois policymakers (not Rauner’s fault)- local and at the state level- on a “job” well done.

Then again, what would one expect from folks (not all of them, to be fair) who have never started/run a business in their lives?

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Huston, Caitlin. “The best state and city for small business are…” MarketWatch. 18 Aug. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-best-state-and-city-for-small-business-are-2015-08-18). 19 Aug. 2015.

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 Business, Government, Main Street No Comments

Exit Of Illinois Businesses Picking Up Steam?

Illinois companies are leaving the state for more business-friendly environments.

A tale I come across on a regular basis these days, despite all the sustained propaganda to the contrary.

Marissa Bailey reported on the CBS 2 (Chicago) website Monday regarding the situation of Chicago-based Hoist Liftruck, which just announced they’re departing for Indiana:

Gov. Rauner ran his campaign on what he could do to keep small businesses in Illinois. On Monday, he was begging small businesses to stay in the state.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey talked with a business owner who is leaving Illinois for a better deal.

Its 300 employees — most in a trade – work hard in a warehouse the size of two city blocks. But it’s the company’s home for only a few more months.

“I think if anyone looks at the numbers, they would make the same decision I did,” President and CEO Marty Flaska says.

He’s moving his company to East Chicago, Ind. early next year. Flaska says being a manufacturer in Illinois just got too hard. His biggest reasons involve the worker’s compensation system here, the cost of property taxes and lastly, he says, “the uncertainty about income tax in the state and where it may go.”

Flaska estimates that by moving he can save $6 million upfront and $2 million each additional year, thanks to property incentives, state grants and tax cuts in Indiana…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Chicago Business Bailing On Illinois”
CBS 2 Video

On the heels of that Hoist Liftruck announcement, Bob Adelmann added over at The New American magazine website:

On Thursday, Hoist Liftruck’s announcement that it was moving more than 500 manufacturing jobs to Indiana was just the latest in a long and almost fevered list of other companies seeking to escape Illinois’ outrageous workers compensation costs and high taxes.

On July 14 machine-maker DE-STA-CO said it was moving 100 jobs to Tennessee. The next day energy processor Bunge North America said it was shutting down its plant in Bradley, Illinois, and laying off 210 workers. The day after that General Mills pulled the plug on its manufacturing plant in West Chicago, terminating 500 workers.

A week later Mitsubishi Motors announced it was closing its production facilities that made its Outlander, ending 918 jobs there, even though there was the threat it would have to return some of the $9 million Illinois paid to get them to move there a few years ago.

Five days after that Mondelez (makers of Oreos and Chips Ahoy) said it was laying off 600 manufacturing jobs at its Chicago South Side facilities.

On August 12 Kraft Heinz, within weeks of their merger, announced its goal of saving $1.5 billion by the end of 2017. First to go were 700 jobs at Kraft’s Northfield facility. The very next day Motorola Mobility announced it was cutting its workforce in Chicago by 25 percent, eliminating another 500 jobs…

Adelmann also noted:

Chief Executive Magazine’s “2014 Best and Worst States for Business” report ranked Illinois 48th out of 50…

I dug up the most recent edition of that same report. The results of Chief Executive’s 11th annual survey have Illinois ranked again as the 48th “worst state for business” in 2015, following New York and absolute “worst state” California.

California, New York, and Illinois. What could those three possibly have in common that might account for such low marks?

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Bailey, Marissa. “For One Chicago Business, Illinois Became Too Inhospitable.” CBS 2. 17 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/08/17/for-one-chicago-business-illinois-became-too-inhospitable/). 18 Aug. 2015.

Adelmann, Bob. “Trickle of Companies Leaving Illinois Turning Into a Flood.” The New American. 14 Aug. 2015. (http://www.thenewamerican.com/economy/sectors/item/21405-trickle-of-companies-leaving-illinois-turning-into-a-flood). 18 Aug. 2015.

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 Business, Government, Income, Taxes No Comments

Signs Of The Time, Part 86

Back in 2007 when I was running Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street,” I came across an article which illustrated just how ridiculous the housing bubble had gotten. Several California homeowners were asked about future price appreciation for their homes. Most, if not all, had wildly optimistic expectations about how much their properties would be “worth” down the road.

Fast forward to July 24, 2015, and Robert Shiller, the Yale professor who correctly-called the “dot-com” and housing busts, wrote the following in a New York Times piece entitled “The Housing Market Still Isn’t Rational”:

Extravagant expectations do lurk in parts of the market. In the 2015 Yale School of Management survey of recent home buyers that Karl Case of Wellesley College, Anne Thompson of Dodge Data and Analytics and I direct, our preliminary results confirmed the overall Pulsenomics conclusion yet found that some people have strikingly unrealistic expectations.

In San Francisco, for example, we found that while the median expectation for annual home price increases over the next 10 years was only 5 percent, a quarter of the respondents said they thought prices would increase each year by 10 percent or more. That would mean a net 150 percent increase in a decade. These people are apparently not thinking about the supply response that so big a price increase would generate. People like this could bid prices in some places so high that eventually the local market will collapse…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“The Nastiest Wife on Television”
Uploaded April 11, 2006.
And we all know what happened to housing right after that…
YouTube Video

Irrational exuberance is alive and well, it seems. You can read Dr. Shiller’s entire article on the Times site here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Rich Dad Author Robert Kiyosaki: ‘I’d Rather Have Gold And Silver And Guns And Bullets’

“Gold futures settled near a five-and-a-half week low on Friday, with expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon lift interest rates helping to send prices down for a fifth straight week…”

-MarketWatch website, July 24, 2015

“Gold is doomed”

The Washington Post website, July 25, 2015

Back in February, I blogged about Robert Kiyosaki, an American entrepreneur, educator, investor, and author of the New York Times best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad. Kiyosaki appeared on the Alex Jones Show on February 17, 2015, and warned viewers:

It doesn’t make me happy that I’m getting richer and richer, and I see my friends getting poorer and poorer. I’m very concerned right now about my generation- the Baby Boom generation, the biggest generation in history. And they bought that program of put all your money in a 401(k) and invest for the long term. Now, I wrote a book called Rich Dad’s Prophecy back in 2002. That was 13 years ago. And I said the biggest stock market crash in the history of the world was coming in 2016. I was kind of guessing. But unfortunately, I didn’t write it to be right. I wrote it out of concern. If I’m correct that in 2002 what I said the biggest market crash was coming in 2016, that means millions and millions of Baby Boomers, their kids, their grandkids, will feel the effect of that when their retirement savings are wiped out. I hope I’m wrong. But so far, my numbers look accurate and it’s holding course right now. So I don’t write because I want to be rich or poke fun or want to be righteous. I am rather concerned about my fellow citizens.

Kiyosaki revealed one way he was preparing for the crash while discussing his new book, Second Chance: for Your Money, Your Life and Our World. From the exchange:

I like silver personally. I love gold. I have a lot of gold and silver.

While there’s no shortage of precious metals bears these days, Kiyosaki remains bullish on gold and silver- in addition to two other “metals.” In a Palisade Radio interview uploaded onto YouTube on June 28, he told viewers:

You should buy gold and silver because eventually the tug of war between deflation and inflation, somebody’s going to quit, and I think it’s going to be hyperinflation. So that’s why gold and silver make sense to me…

So I’m pretty optimistic. I’m going to make even more money when the crash comes. But unfortunately, like I said, for those who are not prepared, gold and silver are probably the best investments. But you have gold and silver, two other precious metals, guns and bullets (laughing). The reason for that, I laugh about it, but my friend reminds me of this. He says you rich guys can buy gold and silver. Poor guys buy guns and bullets. So I can understand that mentality is this gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent. I’d rather have gold and silver and guns and bullets. This is why I don’t live in California (laughing). I live in Arizona, where they already respect guns and bullets.


“Robert Kiyosaki: Biggest Stock Market Crash in History Coming in 2016 – June 28, 2015”
YouTube Video

According to Kiyosaki, 2016 to 2030 is “going to be very tumultuous.”

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Islamic State Claims 71 ‘Trained Soldiers’ In ‘Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, And Michigan’ Plus 10 Other States?

“The next six months will be interesting.”

So claims a threat attributed to the Islamic State posted on anonymous message board JustPasteIt, per Sasha Goldstein and Jason Silverstein over on the Daily News (New York City) website late last night. From the message entitled “The New Era”:

The attack by the Islamic State in America is only the beginning of our efforts to establish a wiliya in the heart of our enemy…

We have 71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack any target we desire. Out of the 71 trained soldiers 23 have signed up for missions like Sunday. We are increasing in number bithnillah. Of the 15 states, 5 we will name… Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, and Michigan…

“Illinois.” Yet another list we’d really prefer not to be on.

According to various sources on the Internet, “wiliya” (“wilayah”) means “province,” and “bithnillah” (“bi’ithnillah”) can be translated as meaning “with the permission of Allah.” The post was signed “Abu Ibrahim Al Ameriki,” a U.S.-born terrorist with the group.

Last August, I blogged about a Twitter post supposedly connected with the Islamic State which contained a photo of the Old Republic Building, 307 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, along with the following:

#AmessagefromISIStoUS

We are in your state
We are in your cities
We are in your streets
You are our goals anywhere.

In that same August 27, 2014, post, I noted retired General Michael Hayden, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, had just told CNN’s Jim Sciutto in an interview:

HAYDEN: Well, Jim, you’ve outlined it perfectly. This is a question of timing. Not of inevitability. Not of intent. And right now, I think it’s fair to say, that ISIS is very powerful local terrorist organization, and probably a reasonably powerful regional terrorist organization. But it’s one that has global ambitions. And it has the tools, as you suggested. American passport holders, European passport holders. It’s expressed the intent. And so, if it’s not Tuesday, it’s at a time and place of their choosing. And will come probably sooner rather than later. Look, they’re in a competition now with Al-Qaeda Prime, folks along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and there’s no way more powerful to express their street credentials among the jihadist community than a successful attack against the West.
SCIUTTO: So, to be clear, you’re saying it’s just a matter of time before ISIS attempts to attack or attacks the U.S. homeland?
HAYDEN: I think so…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Goldstein, Sasha and Silverstein, Jason. “ISIS threatens anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller in message boasting of ’71 trained soldiers in 15 different states’” Daily News. 5 May 2015. (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/isis-appears-threaten-pamela-geller-claims-militants-article-1.2211913). 6 May 2015.

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Bill Introduced To Permit Illinois Municipalities To File For Bankruptcy

Since I started blogging about a U.S. financial crash back on Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve believed one casualty will be municipal government. Particularly in Illinois. So imagine my non-surprise when I spotted an article on the Chicago Tribune website a couple of days ago about proposed legislation at the state level granting Illinois towns the authority to file for bankruptcy. Nick Swedberg of the Associated Press wrote on March 26:

Stressed by pension debt, other financial issues and the possibility losing a chunk of their state aid, some Illinois cities want the option to file for bankruptcy. They’ve found an ally in a Republican lawmaker, who’s proposed legislation to allow municipalities to follow in the footsteps of Detroit and other cities in restructuring debt and paying back creditors…

Rep. Ron Sandack is sponsoring legislation that would grant authority for communities to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the federal code. The Downers Grove Republican says it’s a “measure of last resort,” especially with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal in next year’s budget to cut in half the local governments’ share of state income taxes by 50 percent.

“It’s just giving time and space to do things right,” he said…

Swedberg added later in the piece:

Municipal bankruptcies are rare, NCSL data shows. Of 37 local government filings since 2010, only 8 were cities, with the majority filed by utilities and special districts.

Detroit filed for the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in July 2013, looking to restructure $12 billion of debt…

It’s true. Municipal bankruptcies haven’t happened too often. But keep in mind what Eric Weiner wrote on the NPR website back on February 28, 2008:

For most of U.S. history, cities and towns were not eligible for bankruptcy protection. But during the Great Depression, more than 2,000 municipalities defaulted on their debt, and they pleaded with President Roosevelt for a federal bailout. “All they got was sympathy,” reported Time magazine in 1933. Instead, Roosevelt pushed through changes to the bankruptcy laws that allows towns and cities to file for bankruptcy. They even got their own section of the bankruptcy code: Chapter Nine…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s also this from Robert Slavin on The Bond Buyer website back on January 14:

For the municipal bond industry, 2015 marks the midpoint in what may turn out to be the decade of the bankruptcy.

Four of the five largest municipal bankruptcy filings in United States history have been made in roughly the last three years, a trend analysts attribute to the aftereffects of the 2008 credit crisis and Great Recession, as well as changing attitudes about debt.

“The crash of 2008 and five years of stagnation preceded by years of escalating wages, pensions and Other Post-Employment Benefits set the stage for our recent Chapter 9 filings,” said Arent Fox partner David Dubrow.

Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy was adopted in 1937 but had been rarely used, particularly by large governments. However, since November 2011 San Bernardino, Calif., Stockton, Calif., Jefferson County, Ala., and Detroit have filed four of the five largest bankruptcies as measured by total obligations.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Could the specter of Meredith Whitney, the “Diva Of Doom,” be returning to take revenge on the municipal bond industry?

I’m not surprised Illinois municipalities would be interested in House Bill 298. From Patrick Rehkamp and Andrew Schroedter on the website of the Chicago-based Better Government Association back on December 6, 2014:

Reasons for filing vary but often include troubled public development projects, unanticipated hefty legal judgments against a taxpayer-backed entity, or massive pension and bond debt payments that leave a municipality cash-strapped and unable to cover operating costs of employee salaries, vendor payments and other expenses.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The public pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois has been well-publicized for some time now. And while such entitlements are supposedly protected by a provision in the 1970 Illinois Constitution, the BGA noted in their piece:

In Illinois, public employee pensions are guaranteed by the state constitution. But in the Detroit and Stockton, California bankruptcy cases, federal judges have ruled that pension benefits can be adjusted, the same as other debts, despite a constitutional guarantee.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can track the progress of HB 298 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Swedberg, Nick. “Bill pushes for possible municipal bankruptcies in Illinois.” Associated Press. 29 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-bc-il–closer-look-bankruptcy-20150329-story.html). 3 Apr. 2015.

Weiner, Eric. “What Happens When City Hall Goes Bankrupt?” NPR. 28 Feb. 2008. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=60740288). 3 Apr. 2015.

Slavin, Robert. “Why So Many Big Bankruptcies?” The Bond Buyer. 14 Jan. 2015. (http://www.bondbuyer.com/news/markets-buy-side/why-so-many-big-bankruptcies-1069539-1.html). 3 Apr. 2015.

Rehkamp, Patrick and Schroedter, Andrew. “Next Up: Illinois Municipal Bankruptcy?” Better Government Association. 16 Dec. 2014. (http://www.bettergov.org/next_up_illinois_municipal_bankruptcy/). 4 Apr. 2015.

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Higher Food Prices From California Water Restrictions?

After hearing about the new water restrictions in California, I wondered if Americans wouldn’t be seeing higher food prices (particularly on items from that state) at the grocery store as a result. Marco della Cava reported on the USA Today website yesterday:

California farmers and winemakers are not likely to feel the pinch from Wednesday’s new statewide water restrictions. Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory push to cut water use by 25% in the coming year is aimed largely at water-hogging homeowners and businesses.

“Water allocations to farmers have already been set for the year, so these new measures won’t really impact them,” says Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources. “But the new rules will require increased reporting on water diversions and water use.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

della Cava noted:

Roughly 80% of California’s water is used by its vast network of farms. More than half of California’s agricultural crop value comes from fruit and tree nut production (around $5 billion annually) and about a quarter from commercial vegetables ($6 billion annually), representing more than 60% of total U.S. fruit and tree nut farm value and 51% of vegetable farm value, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That’s an awful lot of agriculture that’s getting punished by the ongoing drought. The food garden I’ve started to put together is starting to sound that much better in light of what’s happening.

Adam Nagourney added on The New York Times website Wendesday:

Owners of large farms, who obtain their water from sources outside the local water agencies, will not fall under the 25 percent guideline. State officials noted that many farms had already seen a cutback in their water allocations because of the drought. In addition, the owners of large farms will be required, under the governor’s executive order, to offer detailed reports to state regulators about water use, ideally as a way to highlight incidents of water diversion or waste.

Because of this system, state officials said, they did not expect the executive order to result — at least in the immediate future — in an increase in farm or food prices

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Heesun Wee chimed in over on the CNBC website on March 30:

Sectors that will be hit significantly include agriculture and food processing, said Troy Walters, a senior economist at IHS. Beyond those two categories, the impact will be minimal in the near term. “We’re not going to see any food inflation into 2015 beyond normal as a result of the water situation,” Walters said.

Looking at some California crops specifically, 2015 regional hay prices may not soften as they are expected to in the rest of the country. There’s a good chance there will be less rice acreage overall. And tree nuts including almonds will feel more of the drought’s impact, said Brandon Kliethermes, a senior economist at HIS…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The consensus seems to be no food price spike due to the new water restrictions.

But considering the enormity of California’s agricultural output, should arid conditions keep dragging on…

It might not be a bad idea to plant more fruits and vegetables than I originally envisioned.

Next week’s Home Grown Food Summit couldn’t have come at a better time.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

della Cava, Marco. “Farmers not as impacted by Brown’s new drought measures.” USA Today. 1 Apr. 2015. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/04/01/california-drought-measures-governor-jerry-brought-farmers/70786968/). 2 Apr. 2015.

Nagourney, Adam. “California Imposes First Mandatory Water Restrictions to Deal With Drought.” The New York Times. 1 Apr. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/us/california-imposes-first-ever-water-restrictions-to-deal-with-drought.html). 2 Apr. 2015.

Wee, Heesun. “Amid drought, some California farmers in near ‘survival mode.’” CNBC.com. 30 Mar. 2015. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/102527195). 2 Apr. 2015.

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U.S. Geological Survey: Around 7% Chance California Will Experience Magnitude 8.0 Or Larger Earthquake In Next 30 Years

Like that “Project Prepper” post yesterday, it’s been a while (January 13) since I talked about the danger of a really big California earthquake.

Why do I continue to bring up the subject, even though I live in the more seismically-calm Midwest?

Probably because the “Big One” could happen in my lifetime. And I’m really concerned about the safety of all those people out in that area of the West Coast.

Consider what I blogged in that January 13 post:

59 percent chance of 7.8-magnitude San Andreas earthquake in next 30 years

And the U.S. Geological Survey just issued a press release on March 10, 2015, in which they warned the likelihood the state of California will experience a magnitude 8.0 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years has jumped. From the USGS website:

A new California earthquake forecast by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners revises scientific estimates for the chances of having large earthquakes over the next several decades.

The Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, or UCERF3, improves upon previous models by incorporating the latest data on the state’s complex system of active geological faults, as well as new methods for translating these data into earthquake likelihoods.

The study confirms many previous findings, sheds new light on how the future earthquakes will likely be distributed across the state and estimates how big those earthquakes might be.

Compared to the previous assessment issued in 2008, UCERF2, the estimated rate of earthquakes around magnitude 6.7, the size of the destructive 1994 Northridge earthquake, has gone down by about 30 percent. The expected frequency of such events statewide has dropped from an average of one per 4.8 years to about one per 6.3 years.

However, in the new study, the estimate for the likelihood that California will experience a magnitude 8 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years has increased from about 4.7% for UCERF2 to about 7.0% for UCERF3.

“The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously,” said lead author and USGS scientist Ned Field…

“We are fortunate that seismic activity in California has been relatively low over the past century. But we know that tectonic forces are continually tightening the springs of the San Andreas fault system, making big quakes inevitable,” said Tom Jordan, Director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and a co-author of the study. “The UCERF3 model provides our leaders and the public with improved information about what to expect, so that we can better prepare.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Once again, keep those earthquakes preparations going at full throttle, Californians. And visit The Great California Shakeout website– among other earthquake preparedness online resources- if you haven’t already.

After all, it’s only a matter of time before the “Big One” strikes.

You can read the entire press release on the USGS website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Reader: Did Rahm Emanuel Deliver On Public Safety Campaign Promises?

The Chicago Reader has done a terrific job lately of keeping a tab on public safety in Chicago. And yesterday, the Reader website ran an article entitled “Did Rahm live up to his campaign promises on public safety?” Mick Dumke wrote:

During his first campaign for mayor four years ago, Rahm Emanuel kept talking about police.

He noted as often as he could that his uncle had been a cop on Chicago’s north side. He boasted of his role in crafting the Clinton administration’s 1994 crime bill that funded the hiring of 100,000 police officers nationwide.
And, as the centerpiece of his public safety plan, he vowed to find the money to add 1,000 more officers to Chicago’s force. He said this would prevent crime and improve relationships with the community.

“Police officers will become a presence in the neighborhood rather than only available in response to emergency,” he said.

But within weeks of taking office, Emanuel stopped talking about hiring cops. Instead, over the course of his first term, the number of officers on the force dropped from about 10,900 to 10,600. And the mayor responded to violent crime not by investing in community policing but by calling for stricter gun laws and blaming legislators who balked.

The result after four years: crime totals have fallen, as they have across the country. But Chicago still has more violent crime per capita than New York or Los Angeles, with an average of seven people shot every day…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A real insightful piece, which can be read in its entirety on the Chicago Reader website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 Credit, Government, Gun Rights, Public Safety No Comments

‘Earthquake Lady’ Lucy Jones Helps L.A. Prepare For ‘Big One’

The first time I mentioned Dr. Lucy Jones- aka the “Earthquake Lady”- on this blog was back on December 12, 2013. Back then, the U.S. Geological Survey seismologist was warning whoever would listen that when the “Big One” hits Southern California (59 percent chance of 7.8-magnitude San Andreas earthquake in next 30 years), the damage could be much greater and last much longer than most might imagine. But over the past year, Jones was busy helping the City of Los Angeles prepare for such a tremblor. Andrew Romano reported on the Yahoo! News website on December 12, 2014:

Her name was Lucy Jones — and as the driving force behind [L.A. Mayor Eric] Garcetti’s report, she may one day be remembered as the crusader who did more to save the earthquake-prone city of Los Angeles than anyone else. First by showing people like [L.A. Councilman Gil] Cedillo that the Big One could be 1,000 times worse than they think — and now by showing them that it doesn’t have to be.

“We can never make L.A. perfectly safe,” Jones tells Yahoo News. “But if we follow all of these recommendations, I think we will have avoided the economic collapse. I think we’ll be able to get the city up and running pretty quickly after the big earthquake. And that’s all I want.”

Jones pauses. “I’ve been looking at these problems for a third of a century,” she finally says. “This is the biggest step I’ve ever seen.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’ve been meaning to share this piece with Survival And Prosperity readers- particularly those in Southern California- for a while now. It’s an insightful read about Dr. Jones, what Los Angeles is doing to prepare for the “Big One,” and how devastating a quake of that magnitude could be for the region and country.

You can read the entire article on the Yahoo! News website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Named Worst-Run State In America In 2014

“‘We don’t have the time to mess around. We are in deep, deep trouble financially,’ [Illinois Governor-elect Bruce] Rauner told a meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau at a downtown Chicago hotel. ‘The next 24 months are going to be rough. And I apologize. I ain’t going to be Mr. Popularity for a little while. That’s OK. Four years from now I think, though, everybody will appreciate what we did.’”

Chicago Tribune website, December 8, 2014

Talk about lists you don’t want to be on. In 2012 and 2013, Illinois was the 3rd worst-run state in the annual best- and worst-run states in America survey conducted by New York City-based financial news and opinion organization 24/7 Wall St.

So how did the “Land of Lincoln” fare in 2014? From the 24/7 Wall St. website on December 3:

How well run is your state? Assessing a state’s management quality is hardly easy. The current economic climate and standard of living in any given state are not only the results of policy choices and developments that occurred in the last few years, but can also be affected by decisions made decades ago, and by forces outside a state’s control.

Each year, 24/7 Wall St. attempts to answer this question by surveying various aspects of each state. To determine how well states are managed, we examine key financial ratios, as well as social and economic outcomes. This year, North Dakota is the best-run state in the country for the third consecutive year, while Illinois replaced California as the worst-run state

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Ouch. Worst part is, the people who brought us this mess are the same ones still in charge, more or less. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference Governor-elect Rauner- who ran on the Republican ticket- can make in the Democrat-controlled state.

24/7 Wall St. went into more detail about my home state’s latest “honor.” From the piece:

Illinois is the worst-run state in the nation. Like many other low-ranked states, more people left Illinois than moved there. Illinois lost more than 137,000 residents due to migration between the middle of 2010 and July 2013. A poor housing market may partly explain the exodus. Median home values fell 16.2% between 2009 and 2013, the second largest drop nationwide. Illinois has extremely poor finances by many measures. Just 39.3% of Illinois’ pension liabilities were funded as of 2013, worse than any other state. Further, the state’s reserves are estimated at just 0.5% of its general fund expenditure, the second lowest reserves rate nationwide. Both Moody’s and S&P gave Illinois the worst credit ratings of any state, at A3 and A- respectively. According to Moody’s, the state’s rating reflects its low fund balances and high pension obligations, as well as its “chronic use of payment deferrals to manage operating fund cash.”

As for our neighbors, Indiana is ranked 28th and Wisconsin comes in at 26th in 2014- down from 19th and 21st- respectively.

That’s quite a hit (9 places) the Hoosiers took from last year. Wonder what’s behind the drop?

Curious as to where 24/7 Wall St. ranked your state in 2014? Head on over to their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Preparing For Potential 9/11 Anniversary Terrorism?

I’m back. And just in time for the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

While I haven’t come across anything (yet?) from the feds about any specific terrorist threats related to tomorrow, I see New York City is ramping up “intelligence gathering and visibility.”

Good for them. I’ve come to believe NYC (in particular, One World Trade Center aka Freedom Tower) and Washington, D.C., are primary targets for the Muslim extremists.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Chicago is a target as well. After all, Al-Qaeda has reportedly mentioned the city as being one. I blogged back on May 6, 2011:

After receiving today’s marching orders at their place of employment, a number of Chicagoans are settling down at their desks this morning and reading on the Chicago Tribune website:

Some of the first information gleaned from Osama bin Laden’s compound indicates al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains on the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But counterterrorism officials say they believe the planning never got beyond the initial phase and have no recent intelligence pointing to an active plot for such an attack.

As of February 2010, the terror organization was considering plans to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. CNN reports that al-Qaida was particularly interested in striking Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Sounds like Chicago’s Al-Qaeda’s kind of town, right?

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’ve heard an Al-Qaeda expert or two say the group is big on “celebrating” anniversaries. Along with that purported Islamic State Twitter post with a photo of the Old Republic Building at 307 North Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, one might think the City of Chicago, like New York City, would take precautions around 9/11/14.

If they are, major local news outlets aren’t reporting it from what I can tell. I just visited a number of MSM news websites a short time ago and didn’t see a thing. No news releases from the City of Chicago or its Office of Emergency Management and Communications either.

Now, that’s not to say the “Windy City” isn’t preparing for a potential terror attack. I’d like to think the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department are taking a page out of the New York Police Department’s playbook when it comes to 9/11 anniversaries. Collen Long of the Associated Press reported yesterday:

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the department is prepared.

“We will, as always, ramp up intelligence gathering and visibility,” Bratton said. That means thousands of officers in specialized teams, bomb-sniffing dogs who can detect not only the scent of a bomb but the vapors of a moving target, undercover officers and teams of police using radioactive detection devices and other high-tech tools.

Intelligence officers around the globe will be reporting in regularly and monitoring events around the world. If something happens in Gaza, it’s instantly felt in New York because of the large Jewish and Palestinian populations.

“Things ricochet real quick here,” said intelligence chief Thomas Galati…

Too much to hope for considering the current state of affairs in the CPD?

I understand a new Gallup poll is out showing Americans still aren’t concerned about terrorism these days despite the recent emergence of the Islamic State and what looks to be a competition between it and Al-Qaeda to see who can land a major blow against the American homeland first.

I cringe to think such indifference runs rampant among Chicagoans and their leaders too.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Long, Collen. “NYPD says terror threat more complex than ever: ‘It is layer upon layer upon layer’” Associated Press. 9 Sep. 2014. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/9/nypd-terror-threat-more-complex-than-ever/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS). 10 Sep. 2014.

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Reminder To Californians

“The past couple of articles I’ve read that mentioned major earthquakes and California seemed to imply that the state was somewhat ready for such an event. I understand ‘The Golden State’ has improved its earthquake readiness and response capabilities over time. However, I get the feeling there’s some complacency going around, with a lot more work still needing to be done…

Keep those earthquakes preparations going at full throttle, Californians. And visit The Great California Shakeout website– among other earthquake preparedness online resources- if you haven’t already.

After all, it’s only a matter of time before the ‘Big One’ strikes.”

-December 12, 2013, post on Survival And Prosperity


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By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Sunday, August 24th, 2014 Emergencies, Preparedness, Public Safety No Comments

Signs Of The Time, Part 76

This morning, I was talking to the assistant manager of my parents’ condo building not too far from Chicago’s West Side. I’ll call this guy “Bookman,” one of my favorite characters from the TV show Good Times. Bookman’s from the area, and a couple of years older than me. From the exchange:

BOOKMAN: Have you been following what’s going on Missouri?
EDITOR: Yeah.
BOOKMAN: I think it’s going to blow up.
EDITOR: You mean, like a replay of Rodney King?
BOOKMAN: No, like after Martin Luther King was shot.
EDITOR: Oh, you mean the 1968 riots on the West Side.
BOOKMAN: Yes- but all over the country.

Interesting. Hope he’s wrong. But I’ll be keeping an eye out for any signs of coming widespread unrest.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Future Riots In Store For Ferguson, Missouri, And Elsewhere In U.S.?

I first mentioned Gabe Suarez, a decorated veteran of Southern California law enforcement and president of the personal safety training outfit Suarez International, way back in April 2011. I follow Suarez on a regular basis, and yesterday he wrote the following about the ongoing civil strife in Ferguson, Missouri, and how it’s been “a replay of the Rodney King events of so long ago.” Via an e-mail from Suarez International:

I will make a prediction – in this order.

The Grand Jury will find the officer “Innocent Of Any Wrong Doing”.
The mob will not accept it and riot again.
Obama will step in, demanding another hearing.
No justice – no peace…as it were.
There will be another hearing where the officer is found guilty (wink-wink-nod-nod)

And all will live happily ever after.

Sure enough, Tim Bross and Jef Feeley reported on the Bloomberg website earlier today:

A grand jury will begin hearing evidence tomorrow in the police shooting death of Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown, as violent clashes continued in the St. Louis suburb.

A grand jury will start hearing from witnesses about the shooting that left Brown, 18, dead, Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, said in a telephone interview today…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Gabe Suarez may be on to something with that prediction about the state grand jury finding the officer “Innocent Of Any Wrong Doing.” Along with other media outlets, Jason Howerton reported on TheBlaze.com late last night:

More than a dozen witnesses have backed up the account of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the controversial shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, police sources reportedly told St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Christine Byers…

Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop’s version of events in shooting #Ferguson

— Christine Byers (@ChristineDByers) August 19, 2014

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Will Suarez’s other prediction about an “innocent” verdict play out, and “the mob will not accept it and riot again” be in store for Ferguson, Missouri, and possibly other parts of the country?

Time will tell. But I’ll say this- If I suspected the safety of loved ones and/or myself could be threatened by such activity, I’d start taking steps to prevent that from happening.

Don’t be that schmuck trying to obtain personal safety gear, supplies, tools, what have you after the riot’s already at your doorstep, a la Los Angeles, April/May 1992.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Suarez, Gabe. “St. Louis: Having “Been – There – Done – That.” Suarez International Blog. 19 Aug. 2014. (http://blog.suarezinternational.com/2014/08/st-louis-my-take-having-been-there-done-that.html#.U_O955V0zIU). 19 Aug. 2014.

Bross, Tim and Feeley, Jef. “Ferguson Police Shooting Grand Jury Probe Starts Tomorrow.” Bloomberg.com. 19 Aug. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-19/ferguson-police-shooting-grand-jury-probe-starts-tomorrow.html). 19 Aug. 2014.

Howerton, Jason. “Report: More Than a Dozen Witnesses Have Corroborated Officer Darren Wilson’s Version of Ferguson Shooting.” TheBlaze.com. 18 Aug. 2014. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/08/18/report-more-than-a-dozen-witnesses-have-corroborated-officer-darren-wilsons-version-of-ferguson-shooting/). 19 Aug. 2014.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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