May Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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May Media Tips

MPC: Regional Transportation Authority should plan major capital investments

MPC’s Board Chair has sent a letter to Gov. Rod Blagojevich urging immediate action to address northeastern Illinois’ looming transit funding crisis, and recommending that any transit funding package or reform legislation also designate the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) as sole fiduciary for state and federal capital funding. “This will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars wasted in alternatives analyses and preliminary engineering for projects, prior to regional consensus being reached,” wrote MPC Board Chair Lee M. Mitchell.

For example, Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority are conducting funding alternatives analyses and preliminary engineering for 11 New Start transit projects, which would cost $8 billion when completed. But the total five-year federal allocation for new capital projects nationwide is $6.6 billion. Clearly, these numbers don't add up. A stronger RTA will make the region more competitive for scarce federal dollars by prioritizing projects that achieve the most cost-effective use of limited transit funding.

MPC’s letter comes just days after Gerald Bennett, chairman of the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), and the chairmen of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties sent a letter to the governor and the “Four Tops” calling for a new state capital investment package. Visit CMAP’s Web site, to view the letter. For more on MPC’s proposal for strengthening the RTA, contact MPC Transportation Director Michael McLaughlin , at 312.863.6022 or

For Illinois Schools and Property Taxpayers, “The Time is Now!”

Everyone from prom queens to state representatives are calling for school funding and property tax reform this session, and MPC and A+ Illinois are among the hundreds of civic and community organizations across the state building the case that “The Time is Now.”

As state leaders debate how best to craft a new state budget, MPC is preparing to release a “hybrid revenue plan” based on common-ground principles for raising sufficient, sustainable revenues to support all Illinois schools and target property tax relief to hardest-hit ones – without placing an undue burden on either working families or businesses. Meanwhile, A+ Illinois and other regional and statewide groups are weighing in with their own plans for quality and funding reforms, a good sign that advocates are working with legislators to close in on a compromise.

For added insurance that state legislators will not leave Springfield until crafting a plan, A+ Illinois is urging people to communicate their concerns to their leaders by calling the A+ Illinois legislative hotline now through May 25. By dialing toll-free, 1-800-651-0315, callers are connected directly to their state representatives and senators. Those who do not know their legislators’ names can visit the A+ Illinois Web site and enter their ZIP code to find out. For more information about MPC’s plan, contact MPC Communications Associate Mandy Burrell at 312-863-6018. For more information about the A+ Illinois platform or the hotline, contact A+ Illinois Communications Coordinator Clare Fauke at 312-863-6012.

Learn How the Daily Race for the Parking Space Can Be Solved

Circling the block three times before waiting another five minutes for a car to leave a coveted parking spot is enough to cause even the most resilient of shoppers to forego his or her trip. Successful neighborhood retail centers need to manage parking demand. Local and national experts will discuss practical, easy ways to do just that at a roundtable co-hosted by the Metropolitan Planning Council and Chicago Architecture Foundation on Tuesday, June 5, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Understanding parking management best practices in big cities has become an exact science, boiled down to the “parking equilibrium equation” c*(f+nv)=t(m-p) . Creator Donald Shoup – professor at the University of California , Los Angeles , and author of The High Cost of Free Parking – says the seemingly complex equation generates an easily understood multi-million dollar alternative revenue stream for cities, reduces parking backups, and increases business for retailers. Dr. Rachel Weinberger, professor at PennDesign at the University of Pennsylvania and former private industry expert, will discuss with Chicago aldermen how local neighborhoods are adopting these potentially lucrative parking best practices.

The lunchtime event takes place at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, in The John Buck Company Lecture Hall. Media may attend free of charge, and should contact MPC Communications Associate Mandy Burrell to register. All others should register by visiting MPC’s Web calendar.

Meet the MPC Staff
MPC’s Josh Ellis Can Point You in the Right Direction

When students in Otaru, Japan, looked to Josh Ellis for help in learning English, they found out he was a great resource. For reporters in search of a community development expert, he’s just as valuable.

Since November 2006, Ellis has served as Community Development Associate for MPC. He works through MPC’s Housing program and Community Building Initiative to support local technical assistance on workforce housing, redevelopment, transit-oriented development, and planning for future growth. The Brentwood, N.H., native also coordinates MPC’s community acceptance strategy, which increases the public and political will of local communities to support new housing policies and approve proposals for well built, well managed, economically priced homes.”

Ellis earned a master’s degree in both public policy and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Before joining MPC, he was a research assistant with the Campaign for Sensible Growth; an intern at the Chicago office of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.); and an ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor serving students in Chicago ’s Pilsen neighborhood, and in Otaru, Japan.

“Finding new and creative ways to demonstrate the need for improved planning” is what Ellis says he enjoys most about his work; however he does admit the occasional daydream of “playing third base for the Boston Red Sox.” When not dreaming of fielding ground balls, Ellis can be found coordinating MPC’s utilization of GIS technology to capture connections between geography, socioeconomics, government initiatives, and market forces. Contact MPC Community Building Associate Josh Ellis at 312.863.6045 or


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