Archive for the ‘economic stimulus’ Category

Show me the money, Jerry Maguire!

February 27, 2009

The federal economic stimulus package is like a fat, bloody guy who tips over in his canoe in the Amazon: It’s been swarmed over by every Tom, Dick & Harry org, biz, and state or local government with even the most remote justification for taking a nip out of the thrashing cash cow.

Thing is, of course, that creates a whole lotta bottlenecking, impatience and speculation about who’ll get a piece of the pie.

The CTA’s newest young-gun honcho and agency manager jack-of-all-trades, Richard Rodriguez—who’s facing a daunting budget deficit and service-upgrade challenges even as his boss makes a mad dash for the 2016 Olympics—must be crossing his fingers so hard for a stimulus windfall that his knuckles are turning purple. He may get help from Springfield if the freebie rides for seniors that Gov. Nim-Rod proffered during his bread-and-circus reign get yanked.

Even the mayor of Obama’s home town can’t read the tea leaves. His wish list covers about as much ground as the President’s in this video of a press conference recitation earlier this week that’s posted on Mayor Daley’s brand-new YouTube channel. (That’s right: City Hall has finally taken a cue from the Obama internet-savvy playbook, minus slick web-design bells and whistles and an overarching effort to create government transparency.)

Give us this day our Daley bread.

We wish Rodriguez well. Seriously. We look forward to working with him and the CTA on promoting the new Chicago Card Plus/I-GO Card program. And we hope there’s a piece of mutton left over from the stimulus gorging for our non-profit car-sharing agenda and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, I-GO’s parent org. We’re both part of a better green tomorrow that includes an expanded, synergistic public transportation system.

Because it’s gonna take a whole lotta green to go green, folks. But it’s the right thing to do.

How economically stimulating: An I-GO Car Sharing discount

February 24, 2009

I-GO is offering its own admittedly small-scale economic stimulus package this week: a sweet discount on membership sign-up.

We can’t pay your mortgage or cut your taxes, but car sharing can help balance your budget by drastically reducing (in some cases, by thousands of dollars) the expenses that come with owning a car.

Approved applicants from Mon., Feb. 23, to Mon., March 2, can take advantage of the deal. Just use the promo code “IGOSTIMULUS” on the application form and we’ll deduct $25 from the sign-up fee, PLUS toss in $25 in free driving credit. (Credits must be used by March 31.)

Ladies and gentlemen, start your budget-cutting engines.

Green jobs and cars offer hope for U.S. economy

February 6, 2009

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (above, far right) at the 2009 Washington Auto Show

The latest Labor Department buzz-kill report that Uncle Sam shed almost 600,000 jobs in January is beyond depressing. Could there possibly be a silver lining to this relentless economic attrition?

The people who work at I-GO, for our parent company the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and at other green-industry orgs and businesses across the nation think so.

Consider this: Even as the U.S. Senate drags its Bruno Magli heels implementing President Obama’s economic stimulus shot-in-the-arm (an arm—if we’re to torture this metaphor further—that’s showing some serious junky track marks lately), there are two fascinating trade shows taking place in D.C. that are giving off faint whiffs of optimism and future progress: the Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference and the Washington Auto Show.

Check out the list of keynote speakers at the former, where more than 2,000 labor, environmental and business advocates are schmoozing to shape the national debate about investment in clean energy and green technologies.

When was the last time anyone saw the CEOs of the American Wind Power Association and the Alliance for Climate Protection mingling with the Teamsters and United Steelworkers unions? Strange bedfellows? Not in these radically changing times, folks. I prefer to see it as a hugely promising sign of collaboration between traditional industry and the emerging green vanguard.

Meanwhile, down the block, at the Auto Show, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (a questionable Obama-cabinet Illinois pol who probably isn’t going to wash that bad Blagojevich taste from our mouths any time soon) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (who may prove just as toxic) are virtually red-carpet celebrities. The Big Three is kissing up to D.C. and giving the emissions-control folks all the green they want—as in green cars, not cash.

A US News & World Report article on the Auto Show’s website and another by Washington Post auto industry reporter Warren Brown make it clear that the balance of power and clout have left Detroit and entered the Beltway, presumably for the long haul.

Green cars are all the rage at the show, which prominently featured a Green Car Summit panel discussion and plenty of grinning greenhorns. Automakers and their lobbyists are working the levers to convince policymakers that Detroit is finally heeding the call to build more fuel-efficient cars:

It’s a radical change for an industry that once used its clout to prevent fuel-efficiency laws from passing. “Has the industry lost its power to say no?” Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, asked the Post. “The industry is saying, ‘Yes, however. . . . Yes, let’s work it out.’ It’s a different starting point in the discussion. The nature of the industry has changed.”

Biggest sign of the times at the show: The Chevrolet Volt won the 2009 Green Car Vision Award given by auto enthusiast magazine Green Car Journal. The contestants it beat out included an electric version of the MINI Cooper (OMG, how cute would that be?) and Honda’s FCX Clarity, an all-hydrogen fuel cell sedan (Honda and Toyota—what can you say? ahead of the curve again).

The Volt sounds pretty awesome, though. From the Auto Show’s site:

“The Chevy Volt offers a bold and far-reaching approach that will bring an exceptionally fuel efficient model to consumers at reasonable cost,” says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. “Besides being a great design, the Volt promises exactly what many consumers are asking for – a car capable of driving on zero emission battery power most of the time at pennies per mile, with over 100 mpg possible on longer journeys when electric power from its range extender engine-generator is needed.”

Here’s a slogan I’ll give Chevy for free: “Rock the Volt”

Eh? Pretty good, right?