Illinois

Standard & Poor’s Warns Chicago ‘Downgrade Of More Than One Notch Is Possible’

Not too much talk about the following last week in the Chicago-area news. From Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Helen Samuelson over on S&P’s Global Credit Portal website on April 9:

CHICAGO (Standard & Poor’s) April 9, 2015–After months of campaigning and uncertainty, Chicago (A+/Negative general obligation debt rating) can get back to the business of running itself. As such, we expect Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attention to be focused on the city’s budget challenges, namely its ballooning pension obligation.

During the course of the election — and particularly during the runoff — Mayor Emanuel avoided addressing the possibility of property tax increases to help pay for these pension obligations.

“Following Tuesday’s vote, in order to maintain its current rating, we expect the administration to address the pension and budget challenges head on by providing solutions that will support the city’s credit strengths in the near and far term,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Helen Samuelson.

Our ‘A+’ rating is predicated on Chicago’s ability to make the changes necessary to address its budget gap and pension problem. However, even with this ability, to ensure long-term stability Chicago still needs to demonstrate its willingness to make difficult choices that address its budget issues.

Otherwise, the ‘A+’ rating could be severely pressured. Our negative rating outlook reflects the city’s fiscal pressures. If the city doesn’t find structural solutions, a downgrade of more than one notch is possible.

In our view, if the city fails to articulate and implement a plan by the end of 2015 to sustainably fund its pension contributions, or if it substantially draws down its reserves to fund the contributions, we will likely lower the rating. This is regardless of whatever relief the state legislature may or may not provide. We will likely affirm the rating and revise the outlook to stable if Chicago is able to successfully absorb its higher pension costs while maintaining balanced budgetary performance and reserves at or near their current level…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

To date, a different credit rating agency- Moody’s- has been making the most noise about the City of Chicago’s financial woes. Yvette Shields reported on The Bond Buyer website on April 6:

The city has suffered a steep credit rating slide and further credit deterioration is threatened.

Chicago’s GO ratings range from a low of Baa2 — two notches above speculative grade — from Moody’s to a high of A-plus from Standard & Poor’s…

“A-plus.” That may not be the case at year end.

You can read that entire Standard & Poor’s piece on the Global Credit Portal here.

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

Source:

Shields, Yvette. “Big Stakes as Market Awaits Chicago’s Mayoral Pick.” The Bond Buyer. 6 Apr. 2015. (http://www.bondbuyer.com/news/regionalnews/big-stakes-as-market-awaits-chicagos-mayoral-pick-1071986-1.html). 16 Apr. 2015.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 Credit, Debt Crisis, Entitlements, Government, Taxes No Comments

Obama: ‘I Haven’t Given Up’ On Tighter Gun Control

During this renewed push by Democrats for more gun “control,” I’ve noted efforts at the state level here in Illinois and in Congress as well. Now, U.S. President Barack Obama had thrown down the gauntlet in 2015. Obama recently spoke with Dr. Richard Besser of ABC News during a sit-down interview at Howard University. From their exchange which was uploaded on the ABC News website on April 8:

BESSER: Following Sandy Hook, you promised America tighter gun control. Have you given up?
OBAMA: No, I haven’t given up. What we’ve done is to try to do as much as we could administratively- to tighten up how background checks are run, to go after illegal drug runners. But I will tell you that trying to get something through Congress has proven to be really difficult. And it’s heartbreaking…


YouTube Video

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago To Be Run By Emergency Financial Control Board Within 2 Years?

Last Wednesday, I reminded Survival And Prosperity readers (local ones in particular) that Chicago- upon reelecting Rahm Emanuel as Mayor- remains in serious financial trouble. From that post:

As Rahm Emanuel enters his second term as Mayor of Chicago, I feel that proverbial brick wall is still fast-approaching.

Perhaps the best Chicagoans can hope for at this point is a controlled crash landing.

I know one thing. If I were still living in the city, I’d be preparing for the coming carnage…

Some readers might feel I was being a little too “sensational” with that statement. Therefore, I’d like to offer up the following for your consideration. Reuters’ Megan Davies and Karen Pierog reported on April 8:

Chicago has not seen the population losses Detroit did and its business and commercial real estate markets remain healthy, but its current circumstances are more dire than any other major American city today, with aggregate debt of $21.4 billion, up 60 percent since 2004.

Although Chicago’s situation isn’t bad enough yet to warrant a bankruptcy filing, that threat is out there if it fails to tackle its problems.

“People say Chicago’s not Detroit,” said Tom Metzold, a senior portfolio advisor at investment manager Eaton Vance. “Not right now. Chicago is Detroit ten years from now. I don’t care how economically strong your economy is. They don’t have a printing press. You can only tax so much.”

Metzold estimated the odds of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy in the next five years are “virtually zero” but said in the next 10 years that could rise to 25 percent if it fails to act

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In case readers are wondering, Metzold’s s “Street cred” includes serving as VP and Co-Director of Municipal Investments at Eaton Vance (one of the oldest investment management firms in the U.S.- established 1924), and as its Portfolio Manager since 1991.

Not as “optimistic” about Chicago’s financial future is Joe Mysak, Editor of Bloomberg Brief. He warned in an April 8 commentary:

I’m not a betting man. If I were, I’d bet that Chicago is going to be run by an Emergency Financial Control Board, or something like it, within two years, the same as New York City back in 1975 (and until 1986)…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Mysak, who’s been covering the municipal bond market since 1981, pointed out the city’s abysmal Moody’s credit rating (“one step from the basement of investment grade”) and wrote:

So a cut to junk may well be in the cards, and with it diminished and eventually lack of access to capital. Chicago has already creatively used, and some would say abused, the municipal market to subsidize city operations…

When the banks no longer want to lend to Chicago is presumably when the state of Illinois would come in, offering cash, loan guarantees, intercession with the federal government and whatever else the city needs in exchange for external management via an Emergency Financial Control Board…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The author of the Encyclopedia of Municipal Bonds signed-off with:

Two years. That’s how long I give the city of Chicago. Good luck, Rahm.

Good luck Chicago…

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

Sources:

Davies, Megan and Pierog, Karen. “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel confronts fiscal nightmare as he begins second term.” Reuters. 8 Apr. 2015. (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/04/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-confronts-fiscal-nightmare-as-he-begins-second-term/). 12 Apr. 2015.

Mysak, Joe. “Next Stop for Chicago: Emergency Financial Control Board.” Bloomberg Brief. 8 Apr. 2015. (http://newsletters.briefs.bloomberg.com/document/3fz176niqylzjr6oax/commentary). 12 Apr. 2015.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Area Threatened By Severe Weather Thursday

There was plenty of talk tonight on the local news about the prospect of severe weather Thursday in the Chicago area and elsewhere in Midwest. Jon Erdman reported tonight on the Weather Channel website:

A multi-day severe weather outbreak, including tornadoes, is underway and will continue through Thursday in parts of the South and Midwest. Some severe weather may continue into Friday along the East Coast and South. This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.

Thursday: More widespread severe thunderstorms possible from the southern Plains to the Mississippi Valley and southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Some supercells with tornadoes possible. There is some uncertainty in how unstable the atmosphere will become in the afternoon after morning thunderstorms rumble through the region. This will dictate exactly how much and where we see the most significant severe storms in the afternoon.

Thursday Threat Cities: St. Louis | Chicago | Little Rock, Arkansas…

“This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.”

Prepare accordingly. A couple of days ago I rounded up a number of items from around the house I might be using during/after a spring severe weather event:

Severe Weather Gear

I made sure this gear was in good working order, and added/replaced batteries as needed. I plan on storing most of these items within a bin in one location in the home going forward.

You can read the rest of Erdman’s piece on Weather.com here. And if you’re just beginning to prepare for severe weather events, Ready.gov is a good place to start.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 Emergencies, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Afterthoughts: Chicago’s 2015 Mayoral Election

In case you hadn’t heard, Rahm Emanuel remains Mayor of Chicago after defeating Jesús “Chuy” García yesterday in a run-off election 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent with 98.7% of precincts reporting.

Here are some of my thoughts regarding the 2015 mayoral election in Chicago:

1. The fact that “Chuy,” a Cook County commissioner who was born in Durango, Mexico, forced Mayor Emanuel into a first-ever run-off election for the position signaled two things. One, a number of Chicago voters aren’t too happy with the way the “Rahmfather” is running the city. And two, Chicago’s Hispanics continue to flex their growing political muscle. Natasha Korecki reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website back on March 15:

According to census data from 2010, Hispanics make up just shy of 29 percent of the city’s population- but they account for only 13 to 15 percent of the electorate. (Garcia’s campaign says that number was at about 16 percent on Feb. 24.)

Should trends hold, I envision Latinos making significant gains with that percentage. Korecki added:

“The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing segment of the early-childhood population,” says Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, an Emanuel supporter. “Latinos make up 47 percent of students in CPS,. It’s a very significant population…

Last December, the U.S. Census Bureau forecasted that Hispanics will comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population within the next 30 years- up from approximately 17 percent right now.

At risk of sounding like “Captain Obvious” here, I’m thinking Chicago’s future will be a much more Latino one. Particularly as city government is concerned.

(Editor’s note: Back in the fall of 1988 I told my high school Spanish teacher I wanted to learn the language because I thought it would “come in handy” someday. Has it ever.)

2. After being forced into a run-off, the Rahm camp realized he’s rubbed a number of Chicagoans the wrong way. Which led to commercials like this:


“New Rahm Emanuel Ad: ‘I Can Rub People The Wrong Way’”
YouTube Video

So now that he’s won the run-off, what’s Mayor Emanuel “tune” now? Rick Pearson and Bill Ruthhart reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

After finishing a salad and bowl of matzo ball soup, Emanuel was asked what he learned from the runoff and whether he would, in fact, be a more inclusive mayor in his second term.

Emanuel responded by confidently saying the feedback he’d gotten from voters during the campaign would serve as his “North Star.” Asked by the Tribune if that meant he would take a different approach to running the city, Emanuel instead deflected the question by telling the reporter: “You’ll evaluate that, and my guess is you’ll tell me on a 24-hour basis.”

Pressed again on whether he had heard the voters and would change his often brusque style, Emanuel responded with just one word:

“Yeah.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yeah. I don’t know about you, but the impression I get from that response is- something tells me old habits might be particularly hard to break with this one.

I can’t help but wonder if dead fish aren’t already on their way…

3. Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” is still fast approaching. And I don’t think it matters who’s in charge, as I believe we’re too far along in the deterioration and the required political will to do something about it just isn’t there. Still. I read a “funny” comment on the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop earlier today. From a Tuesday night post:

Anonymous said…

Blah blah blah. The city will not go.bankrupt. We are third in the country for tourists, we have numerous international and national companies world headquarters plus we have a 100s of millions in tif funds. Commie chuy was a police hater that had no plan for this city. Rahm ain’t no picnic either but next to chuy he was a genius.

Now consider what the National Journal’s John B. Judis reported on March 30:

Chicago is facing a truly grave set of problems- problems that are essentially more extreme versions of the challenges confronting city governments across the country.

The quandaries begin with Chicago’s dramatic social divide. To an even greater extent than is the case in, say, New York or Philadelphia, Chicago has become two entirely separate cities. One is a bustling metropolis that includes the Loop, Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, and the Gold Coast, as well as the city’s well-to-do, working-class, and upwardly mobile immigrant neighborhoods. The other Chicago consists of impoverished neighborhoods on the far South and West Sides, primarily populated by African-Americans. These places have remained beyond the reach of the city’s recovery from the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, even as it grapples with this extreme gap, Chicago is suffering from a severe fiscal crisis. Like plenty of other municipalities, Chicago lacks the revenue to pay its bills, particularly its pension obligations to city workers. According to a 2013 Pew report, 61 other U.S. cities face similar difficulties, but Chicago’s situation is one of the worst. “Voters must realize we are facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” says Roosevelt University’s Paul Green, the doyen of Chicago political experts. “If something doesn’t happen, the city is beyond the abyss.”

Those problems aren’t really Emanuel’s fault, but his efforts to fix them over the past four years haven’t yielded especially good results. For his part, Garcia—who has been at the forefront of Latino politics in Chicago for four decades and who has a history of bucking Chicago’s political establishment—has run a campaign long on general populist criticism of the incumbent, but short on credible ideas about what he would do differently.

All of which means that this election won’t yield much of a mandate for dramatic solutions to Chicago’s twin crises

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Translated: Probably doesn’t matter who won the election, because Chicago looks to “lose” with either at the helm.

Once again, the economic situation appears too far gone at this point, and the political will to truly get the city’s finances back on track just isn’t there.

I hope Judis is wrong. And I hope I’m wrong here.

But the numbers are looking pretty atrocious right now.

As much as I’d like to side with “Anonymous,” as Rahm Emanuel enters his second term as Mayor of Chicago, I feel that proverbial brick wall is still fast-approaching.

Perhaps the best Chicagoans can hope for at this point is a controlled crash landing.

I know one thing. If I were still living in the city, I’d be preparing for the coming carnage.

More on that topic soon.

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

Sources:

Korecki, Natasha. “Getting Hispanics to the polls in Chicago mayor’s race no slam dunk for Chuy.” Chicago Sun-Times. 15 Mar. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/438985/getting-hispanics-polls-chicago-mayors-race-slam-dunk-chuy). 8 Apr. 2015.

Pearson, Rick and Ruthhart, Bill. “’Second chance.’ Emanuel says he’s ‘humbled’ by victory.” Chicago Tribune. 8 Apr. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-chicago-mayoral-election-20150407-story.html#page=1). 8 Apr. 2015.

SCC. “Mixed Bag.” Second City Cop. 7 Apr. 2015. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2015/04/mixed-bag.html). 8 Apr. 2015.

Judis, John B. “Broken city: Rahm Emanuel and the unraveling of Chicago.” National Journal. 30 Mar. 2015. (https://www.yahoo.com/politics/broken-city-rahm-emanuel-and-the-unraveling-of-115037357316.html). 8 Apr. 2015.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thinking Of Illinois’ Financial Woes While In Wisconsin

Saturday morning while working on projects around my family’s place in Wisconsin, something I read earlier in the week came to mind. Steven Malanga wrote on The Fiscal Times website on March 30:

Illinois officials… are awaiting a ruling from the state’s Supreme Court on a suit by workers seeking to overturn the legislature’s 2013 pension reforms. If the court, which has previously refused to allow any changes to retirement plans for retirees or current workers, throws out the reforms, Illinois will face $145 billion in higher taxes over the next three decades just to pay off the debt, according to a report by the Civic Committee of Chicago.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Illinois will face $145 billion in higher taxes…”

I don’t recall hearing/seeing that figure being used before, so I decided to track it back to the source. From an October 9, 2014, press release from the Civic Committee:

The “What If?” initiative identifies some of the consequences that could result from an overturn of the pension law, including:

$145 billion in higher taxes and service cuts over 30 years
• Highest property taxes in the nation
• 41¢ of Big Three state tax dollars devoted to pensions, up from 8¢ in 2007
• A possible $2,500 tuition spike at the University of Illinois
• Severe cuts to K-12 education, leading to as many as 13,000 teacher layoffs
• Critical meltdown of social services, including the end of child care for 41,000 kids and 21,000 seniors losing in-home care

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That’s a pretty scary picture being painted. The accompanying “What If?” brochure does a good job at accomplishing that. Consider some of these additional forecasts being made:

• 64,000 jobs lost
• $375 average property tax increase
• $3,000-plus in state taxes per household

The brochure didn’t indicate how all this was computed.

However, if conditions in the “Land of Lincoln” deteriorate to such a point, Wisconsin is where I’ll likely stay for good. Regular readers might recall that I’ve mentioned my permanent address being a Wisconsin one in the future.

You can read that entire press release/learn more about their “What If?” initiative on the Civic Committee website here.

While I support public pension reform in Illinois, I’m just not convinced what’s been put into play (passed into law) is the best way of going about it.

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

Source:

Malanga, Steven. “Outrageous public pensions could bankrupt these states.” The Fiscal Times. 30 Mar. 2015. (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/outrageous-public-pensions-could-bankrupt-172700274.html). 5 Apr. 2015.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Upcoming REI Survival-Related Classes In The Chicago Area

Chicago-area readers- below are survival-related training classes from REI for the month of April:

Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Schaumburg REI (northwest suburbs- Schaumburg), April 10, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 2 spots left
Introduction to Backcountry Skills Class, Blackwell Forest Preserve- McKee Marsh (west suburbs- Warrenville), April 11, 9 AM-2 PM, $60 member/$80 non-member, 9 spots left
Backcountry Navigation with a Map & Compass, Deer Grove Forest Preserve- Grove 5 (northwest suburbs- Palatine), April 12, 9 AM-2 PM, $60 member/$80 non-member, 3 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Lincoln Park REI (north side Chicago- Lincoln Park), April 20, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 6 spots left
Wilderness First Aid with WMI and REI, Ping Tom Memorial Park- Fieldhouse (south side Chicago- Chinatown) May 2-3, 9 AM-6 PM, $225 member/$255 non-member, 18 spots left

REI membership is still available for only a one-time fee of $20. For more information about REI, visit their website here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 Emergencies, Gear, Health, Preparedness, Training No Comments

C.U.M.A. Survival School Offering Civil Unrest/Bug Out/Spring Weather Survival Training In Glenview, Illinois, This April

I just love all these survival-related training opportunities popping up this spring. And here’s the latest instruction being offered by Waysun Johnny Tsai and the Chicago, Illinois-based C.U.M.A. Survival School (first blogged about last April) in conjunction with Off The X Training Concepts in north suburban Glenview. From a Facebook event page:

Off The X Training Concepts is pleased to host Johnny Tsai of the C.U.M.A. Survival School for a course on

Civil Unrest / Bug Out / Spring Weather Survival Training

The following topics will be covered in this course:

Home Prep
Home Defense
The Bug In
Vehicle Prep & Considerations
The Bug Out
Basic Wilderness Survival Skills

Cost: $150 (New Students) $75 (C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL Alumni)

This is a CLOSED DOOR CLASS. Students must Pre-Register / Pre-Pay to attend this class.

To Register, please contact: Registration@offthextraining.com or sifujohnnytsai@gmail.com

Facebook shows the class is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 18, from 10 AM to 4:30 PM, with the location listed as Off The X Training Concepts, 4350 DiPaolo Center, Lower Level, Glenview, Illinois.

You can view that Facebook event page here. For more information about C.U.M.A. Survival School, you can visit their website here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Green Suite Of Chicago Offering Window Farming For Beginners, DIY Solar Electricity Classes In April

Here’s the latest instruction being offered by Nick Conrad over at The Green Suite in Chicago (first blogged about here back in January 2014). From the Dabble website:

Window Farming for Beginners with The Green Suite

Gardening Classes in Chicago

Class Info

Have you always wanted to start a garden but don’t have the space or knowledge? Window farming is inexpensive and easy way to grow your own food right in your window! Constructed from recycled materials, window farms are perfect for small apartments with limited space.

The class consists of a 1hr introduction to the basics of hydroponics, window farming and seed cultivation followed by a thirty-minute workshop. In the workshop you will make a small hydroponic planter to take home with you. Each student should bring one empty plastic bottle. (12-32oz is best)

Anyone can learn how to grow fresh, organic food, hydroponically. Enroll today and you’ll learn how to grow your own food, save money and turn trash into treasure!

What to bring

Each student should bring one empty plastic bottle. (12-32oz is best)

What will be provided

Hydroponic Supplies

The class is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, from 7 to 8:45 PM at The Green Suite (3958 N. Fremont, Apt. 3, Chicago). As I type this Tuesday night, there’s only 4 spots still left. Cost is only $30 to attend.

In addition to window farming, The Green Suite is offering instruction on solar electricity. From the Dabble website:

DIY Solar Electricity with The Green Suite

Sustainability Classes in Chicago

Class Info

Wouldn’t it be awesome to harness your own electricity from the sun? Solar energy is green, silent and a lot easier to build than you think.

This DIY class will cover the basics of electricity as well as how to design, build, and install your own solar panel system. In addition to solar electricity, we will discuss other sources of renewable energy such as wind and geothermal power. The class concludes with hands-on experience assembling part of an actual solar panel.

You will walk away from this course with the basic knowledge needed to start generating your own solar energy at home…and for a lot less money than you thought!

The class is scheduled for Wednesday, April 15, 2015, from 7 to 8:45 PM at The Green Suite. There are 10 spots left as I type this. Cost again is only $30 to attend.

If you’re interested in this instruction, head on over to the Dabble website here for more information and to register for a class. You can learn more about The Green Suite on their website here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills Offering Many Survival-Related Training Classes In April

There’s a large number of survival-related training opportunities scheduled this month at the Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills (first blogged about here). From the school’s “Calendar Of Events” page:

flint knapping workshop
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
6:30pm- 8:30pm
monthly flint knapping , stone tools and weapons construction, with Al Eastman. at the american indian center , class cost 35$ includes materials . contact us to reserve a spot.

rope work, climbing, and repeling
Saturday, April 4, 2015
1:00pm- 4:00pm
rope work climbing and repeling workshop with vince hawkins, price and location to be announced.

shelter building
Saturday, April 11, 2015
1:00pm- 5:00pm
shelter building with robert reed , class cost and location to be announced

Foraging Tour
Friday, April 24, 2015
8:00am- 8:00pm
A full day out of the city foraging in the driftless area with Chris Mayor, cost 40$
location: to be disclosed

Wilderness Survival 101
Saturday, April 25, 2015
1:00pm- 4:00pm
The wilderness survival basics course teaches you the necessary tools and skills needed to get by in the unforeseeable event of a wilderness emergency. By the end of this course you will know what tools and equipment you should never leave your home without, how to prioritize what actions you take to not die in a wilderness survival situation, how to build a survival shelter with nothing more than what will fit into your pocket and much more. Every year hundreds of people die in the wilderness because they don’t know these skills. Don’t become part of that static. Be prepared to survive.

Skills to be covered:
Different types of survival kits and equipment
Wilderness survival priorities
Fire craft 101
Basic shelter construction
Water procurement
$30 per person

Wild foods preperation and cooking
Saturday, April 25, 2015
6:30pm- 8:30pm
byob dinner, plant identification , and cooking class featuring all foraged ingredients , paleo friendly, taught by chris mayor 40$ at the american indian center of chicago, contact us to reserve a spot.

For more information and/or to sign up for the above instruction, head on over to the Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills website here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Project Prepper, Part 33: Focus On Food

It’s been some time since my last “Project Prepper” post (January 5), where I reaffirmed security is at the top of a list of six “innate survival needs” I’m working on meeting as part of this series of posts. That list, as you may recall, includes:

• Security
• Water
• Food
• Shelter
• Sanitation and Health
• Energy

Today, I’m focusing on survival need #3- food. In particular, starting a food garden.

Regular readers of these posts may remember me mentioning I’ve already socked away a couple of buckets of high-quality freeze-dried food at very attractive prices.

In addition to freeze-dried food, I’m planning on turning to copy canning soon to grow my emergency food supply.

For those readers not familiar with the term “copy canning,” from stockupfood.com:

1. Make a menu of meals for the week. Include the meals that you eat most often for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner… and don’t forget desert!
2. Now make a shopping list based off this menu.
3. After looking over your shopping list choose an item that you can buy multiples of easily- or inexpensively if it’s been a tight month. (ex. a can of cream of chicken soup, or 10.) This method of buying multiple cans at once is called copy canning.

Furthermore, I want to transform a basement closet into a pantry capable of storing this emergency food, among other things.

Finally, as I blogged back on November 6, 2014:

This coming winter, I look forward to planning with my girlfriend a future food garden located on our property. I think I know of a good spot for it as well…

Now, I’ve been wanting a food garden since I lived in the “concrete jungle” that is Chicago’s Northwest Side. So much so, if I didn’t end up living someplace where I had my own private plot to grow one, I figured I might utilize a community food garden. I started looking into them a few years back , and loved the concept. However, I was put off about the potential for theft. Which turns out is a real concern in the Chicagoland area…

Winter is finally starting to release its grasp on us here in the Chicago suburbs. As such, my girlfriend and I have been discussing the future food garden. Since the last thing I grew from seed to plant was a lima bean back when I was in the third grade, I figure it might be wise to proceed slowly-but-steadily with this venture. To start, we plan on utilizing two areas of our backyard to attempt to grow a small number of fruits, herbs, and vegetables (if possible- I still have a good deal of research to perform here). This space behind our garage gets a tremendous amount of sun:

Food Garden Area Garage

And this setup in the middle of our backyard has already seen a number of herbs planted and harvested there (courtesy of my girlfriend’s mom):

Food Garden Area Mid Yard

The other night, I studied a resource I originally wrote about back on May 29, 2012. From that post:

Here in Illinois, we’ve got the University of Illinois Extension, the flagship outreach effort of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that offers educational programs to residents of all of Illinois’ 102 counties. Under the “Horticulture” area of their website are 57 extension program sub-sections chock-full of free information on gardening and more. Examples include:

• “My First Garden”
• “Successful Container Gardens”
• “Common Vegetable Problems”
• “Herb Gardening”
• “Backyard Fruits”

One feature under “Horticulture” that may be of particular interest to Illinois residents who desire to grow food but don’t know where to start is the “Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide.” It looks fairly impressive in terms of the amount of information provided.

That’s me! “Illinois resident who desire to grow food but don’t know where to start.” And the Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide (found here) is “fairly impressive,” providing me basic information and inspiration (courage, really) to start, maintain, and (hopefully) harvest a food garden. Topics covered included:

• Step 1 – Make Good Use of Your Location
• Step 2 – Plan Your Garden Layout
• Step 3 – Grow Recommended Varieties
• Step 4 – Obtain Good Seed, Plants, Equipment, and Supplies
• Step 5 – Prepare and Care for the Soil Properly
• Step 6 – Plant Your Vegetables Right
• Step 7 – Keep Down Weeds
• Step 8 – Control Pests
• Step 9 – Water Properly
• Step 10 – Harvest at Peak Quality

I also have two books my girlfriend picked up for this project- Month-By-Month Gardening in Illinois: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year and Guide to Illinois Vegetable Gardening (Vegetable Gardening Guides) by James A. Fizzell- that I’ll be studying carefully along with that guide.

I hope to achieve a number of things from this food garden:

• Better nutrition
• Better health
• Improved food security

Stay tuned.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Free, Discounted Rain Barrels For Cook County, Illinois, Residents

Shortly after I moved to my new residence in the Chicago suburbs, I started looking into rain barrels for use around the property. I came across the following program for free/discounted barrels from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (District), “an independent government and taxing body encompassing approximately 91 percent of the land area and 98 percent of the assessed valuation of Cook County, Illinois.” From the MWRD website:

Rain Barrels are a type of green infrastructure, a new approach to managing stormwater by keeping rain on the property and out of the sewer system. We provide rain barrels at cost to Cook County residents. $58 (plus tax) includes a flexible connecting elbow to attach your barrel to your downspout, a linking hose to connect it to a second barrel, detailed instructions, and free delivery to your home…

Some lucky Cook County residents might even qualify for FREE rain barrels. From the site:

Some Cook County municipalities are also partnering with the MWRD to offer free rain barrels to residents who meet certain requirements. See the list below or check with your municipality to find out if they are participating and if your home meets the requirements of the program.

Village of Bellwood
City of Berwyn
City of Blue Island
City of Calumet City
Village of Crestwood
Village of Forest View
Village of LaGrange Park
Village of Midlothian
Village of Oak Park
Village of Riverside
Village of Stickney
Village of Stone Park
Village of Wilmette

Head on over to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago website here for more information about their rain barrel program.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 Preparedness, Supplies, Water No Comments

Earthquake Rattles Far Northwest Suburbs Of Chicago

Back when I worked for a fire department in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, one of my duties was to find grant money. I would point out to potential sources of disaster funding that our response area is threatened by earthquakes- among other dangers. The fire chief may have thought the argument was somewhat of a stretch, but as long as I was getting the department money to bolster its disaster response capabilities, I don’t think he cared.

Last might, my girlfriend and I were watching the local news when reports of a trembler in the far northwest suburbs came in. Liam Ford and Erin Sauder wrote on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

An earthquake hit the northwest suburbs near Lake in the Hills on Wednesday evening, authorities said.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 2.9 hit about 1 1/4 miles west of Lake in the Hills at 6:08 p.m.

USGS data show that if confirmed, it would be the biggest seismic event in the Chicago area since one near a McCook quarry on Nov. 4, 2013, measuring 3.2. Before that, the largest in recent years was Feb. 10, 2010, when a 3.8 quake hit near Elgin…

LeeAnn Shelton added on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

Weak or light shaking was felt in parts of Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, Huntley, Union, Woodstock, Wonder Lake and as far away as Elgin, according to the USGS website.

Most earthquakes with a magnitude between 2.0 and 3.0 do not typically cause damage, according to the USGS.

Just one more reminder that earthquakes do in fact occur in northern Illinois.

For more information on earthquake threats and preparedness in the state, visit the “Earthquake” page on the Ready Illinois website here.

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

Sources:

Ford, Liam and Sauder, Erin. “Quake shakes northwest suburbs, no damage or injuries reported.” Chicago Tribune. 26 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-lake-in-the-hills-earthquake-20150325-story.html). 26 Mar. 2015.

Shelton, LeeAnn. “Small earthquake reported in northwest suburbs.” Chicago Sun-Times. 25 Mar. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/470125/small-earthquake-reported-northwest-suburbs). 26 Mar. 2015.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 Emergencies, Natural Disasters, Preparedness No Comments

Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Develop Post-Disaster Communications Plan With ‘Text First, Talk Second’ Approach

Severe Weather Preparedness Month is almost over here in Illinois. But the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is still passing along valuable information to state residents on what to do when a disaster occurs. From a press release on the Illinois Government News Network website yesterday:

‘Text First, Talk Second’ Often Best Way to Contact Loved Ones When Disaster Strikes

IEMA Encourages People to Have Plan for Communicating with Family Members, Friends during Emergencies

SPRINGFIELD – When disaster strikes, your first instinct probably is to call loved ones to make sure they’re OK or let them know you’re safe. It’s likely everyone else affected by the emergency is thinking the same thing. In these instances, telephone lines can quickly become overloaded, preventing not only your call from going through but also blocking critical 911 calls.

During Severe Weather Preparedness Month in March, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging people to develop a Family Communications Plan that includes the “Text First, Talk Second” concept.

“Communicating with family and friends immediately after a disaster is important,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “We’re encouraging people to plan now so they’ll know how to reach their contacts in the chaotic aftermath of a disaster.”

Joseph said short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through to your loved ones than a phone call when phone service is disrupted. As phone congestion eases, you can follow up with a phone call to relay more information.

Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion during an emergency. You can also use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to post your status to let family and friends know you’re OK.

While Text-to-911 is on the horizon for emergency communications, it currently is available only in limited areas of the U.S. If you need to contact 911, do so by landline or cell phone unless your community has notified you that this service is activated in your area.

Additional emergency communications tips include:

• Keep all phone calls brief by conveying only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
• If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
• If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place, not in a garage.
• Another resource for letting friends and family know your status after a disaster is the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well Registry at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
• Your communications plan should identify an out-of-area contact and household members should carry that information with them at all times. If a disaster occurs when you are separated, it often is easier to call outside your immediate area. Family members can call the contact to provide location and coordinate reunification plans.

For more information about developing a family communications plan, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

Great advice regarding that “Text First, Talk Second” strategy.

Even I can text on my vintage “dumb phone” with its Shaun of the Dead ringtone.

To find out more about IEMA, you can visit their website here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Please Rate this Blog HERE



Christopher E. Hill, Editor
9,882 Visits March 2015
560,718 Visits 11/22/10-3/31/15

Limited Time Offers

Via Banner Ads Below (navigate to vendor home page if necessary):
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>BUDK Free Shipping Deal Extended ($29 min. order; code required)
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Food Insurance Sitewide Savings Up To 84% Off FINAL WEEK + Free Shipping On Orders Over $150
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Airsoft Megastore 25% Off Order Or Free Shipping (codes req.)
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>BulletSafe Bulletproof Baseball Cap $119 Pre-Order Price; Bulletproof Backpack Panel $99
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>My Patriot Supply Survival Seed Vault $29.95
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Nitro-Pak Save Up To 40% On Emergency Radios; $540 & $1,200 Value Bonus Paks Free With Select Food Kits
NEW! Advertising Disclosure HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Free UPS ship to store on all Tractor Supply Company orders! Shop now! Tractor Supply Co. Review Coming Soon
ANY CHARACTER HERE
JM Bullion Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
MyPatriotSupply.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Nitro-Pak--The Emergency Preparedness Leader Nitro-Pak Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Food Insurance Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BullionVault BullionVault.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
EMS clearance CHIEF Supply Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BulletSafe Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Survival Titles Save 20% Paladin Press Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BUDK bowie knife BUDK Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Shop Pyramyd Air Field Target Products PyramydAir.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Airsoft Megastore Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
 

Categories

Archives

Prepper Website