Thursday, December 03, 2009

Houston vs. Chicago, Seattle, Portland - plus stagnant stadiums, giving thanks, and more

Some smaller items for your weekend reading pleasure:
"Chicago is a city of magnificent parks and world-class cultural institutions and universities. But it is also a city of high taxes, regulatory morass and aggressive unions. Is Ms. Winfrey's announcement a wake-up call about underlying problems there? She gave no substantive reasons for it, but her departure is at least the third bitter disappointment to Chicago since it felt itself to be on top of the world—when President Barack Obama gave his victory speech in Grant Park. A month ago, Chicago lost its Olympics bid to Rio; then two major trade shows that had been in the city for decades announced that they were leaving because of the city's extraordinarily high costs and the intractability of the unions."

More of my thoughts on the Chicago-Houston relationship here.

"Houston is big business, the energy industry, and a city with a remarkable amount of ethnic diversity. Both cities are windows into the future of America, but they represent different visions, socially and culturally.

These differences create unmistakable pressure points. From an economic standpoint, Seattle is not a major hub, while Houston is one of the most important cities in North America. ...

Given Houston’s global position, It is little wonder why George Bush Intercontinental Airport has direct flights to places as far flung as Doha, and Guayaquil. It is perhaps the fifth most significant international airport in the nation behind New York (JFK), Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago (O’Hare). (The four listed airports are the acknowledged “big four” international airports in the US, although, recently I have heard of a big three with O’Hare being dropped.)

Houston is a worldly city...

It’s often been said that Texas could exist without the United States, but the US would not be the same without Texas. Houston is living proof of this adage. Without Houston and the leadership the city has provided, the US could very well be a less prosperous and less diverse place.


Houston, on the other hand is one of the few MLS or USL cities where every ethnic group imaginable has been attracted to the ground, without segregating themselves. The Dynamo’s model of attracting support from the broad based ethnic makeup of the region should be the model for US Soccer."

"Many of the policies of Portland are not that dissimilar from those of upscale suburbs in their effects. Urban growth boundaries raise land prices and render housing less affordable exactly the same as large lot zoning and building codes that mandate brick and other expensive materials do. They both contribute to reducing housing affordability for historically disadvantaged communities. Just like the most exclusive suburbs.

I believe that cities that start taking their African-American and other minority communities seriously, seeing them as a pillar of civic growth, will reap big dividends and distinguish themselves in the marketplace.

This trail has been blazed not by the "progressive" paragons but by places like Atlanta, Dallas and Houston. ... Houston took in tens of thousands of mostly poor and overwhelmingly African-American refugees from Hurricane Katrina. Houston, a booming metro and emerging world city, rolled out the welcome mat for them – and for Latinos, Asians and other newcomers. They see these people as possessing talent worth having."

Finally, if you missed it, definitely check out the Chronicle's Thanksgiving Day op-ed on things to give thanks for in Houston. It'll make you proud.

Hat tip to Jessie for several of these links.

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At 10:50 PM, December 03, 2009, Blogger Alon Levy said...

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to blame everything up to and including Oprah Winfrey's departure on high taxes. Its answer to every problem is deregulate, deregulate, and if that doesn't work, then deregulate some more.

At 8:08 AM, December 04, 2009, Anonymous kjb434 said...

Well, it's a damn good argument.

Look at New York City alone. Just over 40,0000 tax payers pay 50% of all the city income taxes. What if some of that 40,000 people just decide to move somewhere. The New York City budget is screwed.

The problem high tax people don't understand is that if you continually burn the so-called rich, they'll just leave.

At 10:42 AM, December 04, 2009, Anonymous Appetitus Rationi Pareat said...

But, for all your doom and gloom kjb434, they have not left.

New York is doing just fine. They are generally staying or being replaced with new residents. Why would they stay? Because of the lifestyle the city offers, the jobs/economic opportunities and the relative ease of life in the city.

My old college roommate lives in the city with his wife. They recently were looking at buying a house in New Jersey. They eventually passed because they would have to give up their life in Manhattan. So now they are saving up for a couple more years to buy a place in the city. And I can assure you, they are not alone.

At 11:04 AM, December 04, 2009, Blogger Michael said...

>>The problem high tax people don't understand is that if you continually burn the so-called rich, they'll just leave.

If that were to actually happen, I suppose you could offer incentives for the rich to move back. Doesn't seem to be a major problem.

I think Oprah leaving Chicago has as much to do with taxes and unions as Houston's relative economic prosperity had to do with its lack of zoning or today's snow fall in Houston has to do with global warming. Zip. Nada. Zilch. But feel free to keep suggesting a correlation between these almost completely unrelated phenomena - it is quite amusing.

At 2:44 PM, December 04, 2009, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

They didn't say it was the reason Oprah left. But those two mega-conferences that left did say that very specifically.

At 3:54 PM, December 04, 2009, Blogger Michael said...

From the article:

"then two major trade shows that had been in the city for decades announced that they were leaving because of the city's extraordinarily high costs and the intractability of the unions"

That's not very specific to me - no mention of what the trade shows were, any direct quotes from representatives for the shows, etc. They have a guy from Grant Park Conservancy airing his opinions - it looks like. Would that be like getting a quote from someone from Hermann Park about Houston's convention business? To me, such an opinion is almost irrelevant. Probably the most conservative guy they could find, I suppose.

At 5:19 PM, December 04, 2009, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Here are the details:

Changes sought after 2nd trade show leaves McCormick Place

Mayor Richard Daley, McPier chief want unions to cut fees, eliminate onerous work rules,0,4031278.story


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