TIF in Michigan

Chuck Eckenstahler has written a good article explaining Tax Increment Financing in Michigan. The State is considering abolishing TIF. In this tough economic time that would be a major mistake.

Click to read the Article


Declining Birth Rate

CDC says US births have been declining for three years

"The US CDC released a statement saying that "The broad-based decline in births and fertility rates from 2007 through 2009 is now well-documented."


Did Gender Inequality Start With the Plow?

"From a pair of Harvard economists, Alberto Alesina and Nathan Nunn, and a UCLA business school professor, Paola Giuliano, comes this working paper (Abstract here and below; full version here) that tests the hypothesis that current gender role differences can be traced to shifting methods of agriculture, particularly the introduction of the plow, which required significant upper body strength, grip 
strength, and burst of power that favored men over women."


From the Freakonomics Blog  http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/


Starting Over? Come to Peoria

Starting over? Come to Peoria

According to MSN Real Estate, Peoria is one of the ten best places for starting over; i.e., Peoria is one of “10 midsize to large cities with the best job prospects and most affordable mortgage payments.” The list is:
  1. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
  2. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  3. Kalamazoo-Portage, Mich.
  4. Rochester, N.Y.
  5. Oklahoma City
  6. Peoria, Ill.
  7. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.
  8. Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn.-Bristol, Va.
  9. Columbus, Ohio
  10. Fort Wayne, Ind.
Click to Read the Story:

It just so happens that I have a fine historic home for sale in Peoria where you can start over. 

Compare the home of President and Michelle Obama with the home of Beth Ruyle Hullinger and Craig Hullinger
and his wife reportedly paid $1,650,000 for their Chicago home, while you can buy our home in Peoria for $275,000.

Advantage Peoria!!

Move to Peoria, Illinois

Great City - Great Housing Values - Play in Peoria


Top 10 States With Highest Growth Potential

United States Community / Economic Development Innovation Technology The Atlantic
South Dakota # 4
Posted by: Jeff Jamawat

Citing data from the Chamber of Commerce, The Atlantic releases its top picks based on their capacity for growth and innovation. Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming come out on top.

The gargantuan energy industry of Alaska propelled the nation's largest state to land the No. 1 spot.

Senior editor Derek Thompson explains:

"Alaska, a low-tax, low-regulation state that thrives mostly because of what's in the ground: oil, gas, and trees. Alaska might not invent the world's next aorta gadget, but in the last few years, it's led the country in growth."

Click to Read the Full Story: The 10 Best U.S. States for Growth and Innovation

Source: The Atlantic, June 24, 2011

Mark Twain Humor

 "Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it."

Mark Twain

Thanks to Ken Zalga for sharing.


South Dakota Sink Hole


It happened Tuesday morning in Lyman County, South Dakota
Heavy rains triggering a sinkhole which swallowed two vehicles and ended up claiming two lives.
·         Flash flood creates deadly sinkhole near Reliance


Price of Solar Energy Predicted to Fall

Price of Solar Energy Predicted to Fall to $1 Per Watt by 2013

solar energy cost, solar power cost, solar panel cost, solar cell cost, solar array cost, how much does solar power cost, solar power per watt, solar energy per watt, renewable energy cost, grid parity, solar energy grid parity

According to a report released today from the independent consulting firm
 Ernst & Young, the price of solar energy per watt is expected to fall to $1 by 2013, down from $2 in 2009. The association says in a recent report that the price per watt of solar energy is already down to $1.50 in 2011 and should continue to fall in the near future reflecting reductions in the cost of materials and advancements in efficiency.

Read more: The Price of Solar Energy Predicted to Fall to $1 Per Watt by 2013 | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

Click to Read the Story:


Income - Men and Women

Interesting article on the the relative economic positions of men and women. 

"Alex Tabarrok’s insightful post at Marginal Revolution bears on this issue. Take look at the two charts below from his analysis. The first compares the rate of growth in real economic output (GDP) per capita to median male income for the period 1947 to 2010. The second does the same for


Zoning Administration Handbook

Excellent Handbook on Zoning Administration

Click to Read the Handbook

Excerpts from the Handbook on Zoning:

Before we begin examining the particular zoning powers of municipalities, we must first deal with several important issues that set the stage for municipalities to exercise their zoning powers.  

A.  Presumption of Validity and the LaSalle Factors. 

Illinois courts, and for that matter, federal courts, more often than not hold that municipal regulations, including land use regulations, are valid. The burden — with rare exception — is on the person attacking the regulation to prove that it is not a valid exercise of a municipality’s legislative powers. Sometimes a strong attack from a landowner or developer gets matched up with a weak defense by the community. These are generally the cases that are lost.

However, as you may know from personal experience, zoning codes are often the subject of litigation on the validity of their application to individual parcels. Illinois courts have established a set of factors to be considered when reaching zoning decisions, collectively known as the LaSalle Factors (named after the original case where the first six factors were first enunciated). Illinois courts examine and attempt to balance these factors in order to determine whether the zoning in question is fair to the owner of the subject property, owners of surrounding properties, and the public.

However, no single factor is controlling, and each case must be decided on its own facts, although Illinois courts place substantial importance on the first factor.

  The LaSalle Factors are as follows: 

1. The existing uses and zoning of nearby property: 

In deciding this factor, courts will examine whether the subject property is zoned in conformity with surrounding existing uses and whether those uses are uniform and established.
Defining what is a “nearby” property can be result in substantially different boundaries, depending on what basis is used, such as a specified distance versus the road system demarcation. However, the mere presence of buildings or other areas being put to the same use as the person challenging the validity seeks for his property, is wholly insufficient to show that the ordinance is invalid or discriminatory.

2. The extent to which property values are diminished: 
The extent to which courts permit zoning regulations to diminish property value varies depending on the purposes served by the regulation. The loss in value to the plaintiff must be considered in relation to the public welfare.

If the gain to the public is small when compared with the hardship imposed by the restriction upon the individual property owner, then no valid basis for zoning regulation exists.

In addition, courts have stated that a property owner is not constitutionally entitled to develop property to its “highest and best use” as real estate professionals typically use that term. 
Moreover, if a purchaser of property knows of the existing zoning restrictions at the time of purchase, the knowledge itself is relevant to the court’s decision regarding the hardship caused by the restriction.

3. The extent to which the destruction of property value of the plaintiff promotes the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the public. 

4. The relative gain to the public as opposed to the hardship imposed upon the individual property owner.  The third and fourth factor are usually considered together.

  As stated earlier, if the gain to the public welfare exceeds the hardship to the individual property owner, the zoning regulation will likely be deemed valid.
5. The suitability of the subject property for the zoned purposes: 

 Alternative development plans proposed by the landowner may be a factor in determining whether the proposed use is an appropriate use of the property.

  The law does not require that the subject property be totally unsuitable for use as it zoned in order for the zoning restriction to be invalid.  If the property cannot be reasonably developed as zoned and if the zoning restriction is unrelated to the public welfare, the restriction is not constitutional.

6. The length of time the property has been vacant as zoned considered in the context of land development in the area: 

In deciding this factor, courts look to whether the subject is property is vacant or unsaleable because of the zoning ordinance. When, but for the zoning classification, the property probably would have developed, the reasonableness of the zoning classification is thereby called into question. In the Second District Appellate Court, it was held that property owners had to establish that the property was vacant or unsaleable because of the zoning restriction in order for this factor even to be considered.   

7. The care with which a community has undertaken to plan its land-use development: 

In order for a zoning regulation to not be found arbitrary, it must be based on careful and thorough planning. Courts therefore look to whether there is a comprehensive zoning plan which reasonably regulates and restricts land uses for the health, safety and welfare of the public in order to determine whether a zoning change is in harmony with the orderly use of the property.

The zoning of small areas that is incompatible with a zoning pattern that is compact and uniform is consistently invalidated.

8. Community need for the use proposed by the plaintiff:  

 Since this factor pertains to a use at the proposed location, courts only need consider the need for the proposed use in the individual landowner’s neighborhood.

While lack of community need for the use is relevant to the relative gain to the public, this factor is not in itself a conclusive or determinative factor where (1) there is no uniformity of uses in the area and the proposed use would have no adverse effect on adjacent properties; (2) denial of the proposed use would in no way benefit the public health, safety or morals; and (3) there is substantial economic loss to the landowner resulting from such denial.

When the community need is not compelling, due to other available properties or operations, the courts will only assign minimal or no weight to this factor."

LaSalle National Bank of Chicago v. County of Cook, 12 Ill. 2d 40, 46-47, 145 N.E.2d 65, 69 (1957),


Sinclair Pipe Line Company v. Village of Richton Park, 19 Ill. 2d 370, 378, 167 N.E.2d 406, 411 (1960)


The Sofa-Bike:

The Sofa-Bike: The Perfect Green Transport For Couch Potatoes

by Timon Singh, 06/13/11
Jacek Holubowicz, sofa bike Jacek Holubowicz, sofa-bike, bike hybrid, hybrid vehicles, couch potatoes, Jacek Holubowicz bike, bicycles,
There’s nothing harder than getting off the sofa to go do exercise, but designer Jacek Holubowiczhas solved that problem with the sofa-bike.

Click to Read More

Read more: The Sofa-Bike: The Perfect Green Transport For Couch Potatoes | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World 


Nice Story About New Orleans


"In this most insipid of recoveries, perhaps the most hopeful story comes from New Orleans. Today, its comeback story could serve as a model of regional recovery for other parts of the country — and even the world."
"You could call it the Katrina effect. A lovely city, rich in history, all too comfortable with its fading elegance and marred by huge pockets of third-world style poverty, suffers a catastrophic natural disaster; in the end the disaster turns into an opportunity for the area’s salvation."