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Kirk, do you have any real ideas?


I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

With midterm elections a mere 4.5 months away, the race to re-fill Obama's Senate seat is vamping up.  On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Planning Commission sponsored an event, which hosted a non-debate style discussion between the three main candidates: Giannoulias (Democrat), Kirk (Republican), and Jones (Green).  Lynn Sweet of the Sun Times asked each candidate the same 4 questions, and gave them all time to answer.  Today I want to respond to the candidates' responses.  To read what they had to say, go here.


Question 1: Would you direct federal funds consistent with adopted priorities of regional planning organizations, such as the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning?

This round was a wash.  Giannoulias made a point so as not to seem as if he'll raise government spending too much.  Besides that, no candidate in his right mind would claim not to support Chicago-based planning agencies, especially while in Chicago.

Question 2: Do you support the Livable Communities Act (LCA) sponsored by U.S. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn), which would foster equitable and sustainable development by providing resources to local and regional communities to coordinate land use, housing, transportation, and infrastructure planning?

What Jones said here made no sense, so I'm going to disregard him all together.  As a Republican, Kirk by nature "needs" to make a comment about not letting Congress spend too much money; although I hope he actually feels that way and isn't just doing what he thinks will win the election.  More importantly, however, he failed to even answer the question.  I do agree that there needs to be a limit on spending, but if we make the floor too low, nothing will ever change.  We need to spend money to make money, and I think the LCA has the potential to do great things.  Therefore, this round goes to Giannoulias.

Question 3: What's your opinion on the next federal surface transportation bill, expected in 2011, which would authorize billions in federal funding to support the nation's roads, rail systems, and other infrastructure?  Sweet also asked each candidate their specific take on earmarks.

Giannoulias won this round too; he supports the gas tax increase, Kirk doesn't.  I believe this new tax hike is a great idea, so anyone opposed to it, loses*.  How else does Kirk want to make money for infrastructure ?  If he has ideas, he needs to tell us.  We drive too much as a nation and as we saw in the summer of 2008, if gas prices get higher, we bike or ride public transit more.  The added tax dollars will provide ample funding to transit agencies on the verge of bankruptcy, and will help end our reliance on foreign oil.  In addition, Giannoulias seemed to be the only candidate with ideas for solving problems regarding roads, rail systems, and infrastructure.  As soon as Kirk wants to bring some ideas to the table, I'm all ears.

Question 4: How would you protect metropolitan Chicago's water supply?  Sweet also asked their opinion on re-reversing the flow of the Chicago River.

Personally, I lean a little towards Kirk in this round.  I think his idea of raising the invisible-fence voltage is pointless, but more importantly I think re-reversing the river is an unbearable burden for the city right now.  The Asian carp issue is a real problem, and I support plans to sustain our water supply, but I don't think a re-reversal project is the answer to our problems.

Jones, quit before your campaign goes bankrupt, you have no shot.  Kirk, stop answering every question according to the republican manifesto, it's boring.  It might work, but here's my question: I know what you won't do, but what will you do?  Giannoulias, you're not perfect, but at least you have new ideas, and support good ones too.  Unless Kirk can come up with something new to say, Giannoulias has my vote.

*The gas tax, which was last raised in 1993, is less than 20 cents.  With inflation, therefore, it's worth drastically less than that.



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