This BP gas station is another of the businesses that the Des Plaines City Council is calling “blighted.” Located on the northwest corner of the intersections of Rand and River roads, it’s very nearly at the center of the TIF district.
Archives for February 2007
John Ruberry, the Marathon Pundit, just did some actual reporting about the veterans’ scholarship scandle at the University of Illinois.
This didn’t sound like much of a story when I first heard about it. The University of Illinois had offered 110 scholarships to Illinois veterans for the night MBA program in downtown Chicago. A bunch of veterans were accepted and received confirmation letters. Later, however, the University cancelled a lot of those scholarships, accepting only 37 of them.
Some people seemed to be trying to spin this into an example of anti-military attitudes in academia, but having worked at a university for a while, it sounded to me like a typical foul-up. The academic side of academia works best when it is very decentralized, with each department making staffing and curriculum decisions on its own. The administrative work, however, requires rigorous standards and careful attention to detail, and departments get themselves into trouble when they try to cut corners. It sounded like the department that runs the night MBA program had promised something that the rules wouldn’t allow it to deliver.
Now that John Ruberry has delved into the story a bit, including an interview with one of the principles, it’s sounding a lot shadier than I thought:
What happened next is shocking. Ghosh, DeBrock, Admissions Dean Sandy Frank and Ikenberry decided to take matters into their own hands. So they got a copy of the admissions database from the Executive MBA program, studied it, and in an ex post facto manner, put in new procedural deadlines for the completion of application materials in order to reduce the number of military veterans in the program.
They basically looked at military candidates’ application data and came up with new deadlines that they knew military candidates hadn’t met. Sort of like betting on a horse a couple days after the race…or moving the goalpoast before a field goal attempt.
Read the whole thing.
My 13 year old dog Lady was diagnosed with a bladder tumor 7 months ago. She was the best dog, always eager to please. She did a very good job of hiding her discomfort, trying to carry on as normally as possible (between peeing). She barked happily when my wife and I came home, ate heartily, followed me everywhere, as she always did, up and down stairs in our split-level home.
In recent weeks, my wife Mary and I discussed with greater frequency whether it was time to let her go. But she still had that light in her eyes and seemed to be having many more good moments than bad. The bad being increased urination and some whimpering in her sleep. Over the last weekend I noticed her trembling somewhat as she stood eagerly waiting for a treat. She must have been using every ounce of energy trying to maintain as much normalcy as possible. We thought it might be time, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to make the final decision.
Last Monday when I left for work, I told Lady that she had done her job very well for the time we were together and that she did not have to do it anymore. I said that it was time that we both let go.
When our neighbor came by to let her out and give her a pill that day, Lady did not greet her as she normally would in excitement of the treats that the kind neighbor-lady always brought. In fact, she was so weak, she would not get up at all. When Mary and I got home, we took her to the vet to be put to rest.
Despite being almost completely deaf, and being a dog unable to comprehend human speech, she still was able, being the obedient companion she was – she somehow listened that morning and did what she was told. What a good girl. Too good.
We will miss her terribly.
I’ve got hundreds of photos from the Des Plaines River-Rand TIF, and it’s about time I posted a few of them. I’ll start with this batch from Geiser-Berner Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning. Its owners, Robert Janczak, Ed Lehman, and Scott Olson are among the more outspoken opponents of the TIF.
Their shop is a standalone building with a somewhat out-of-date look. In these photos you can see that it’s not particularly run down, but you wouldn’t confuse it with a new building. Still, it’s hard to see it as “blighted.”
I glanced into the showroom when I visited and took a couple of shots. You can see that they’re putting some money into making it look nice. Depending how the TIF turns out, they may be sorry they did that.
The decision to remodel a showroom can be analyzed like any other business decision: What’s the return on the investment? If it costs $10,000 to remodel, and the new design is expected to be in use for 10 years, then the remodeled showroom had better produce an increase in net income sufficient to pay back the cost, plus a discount for the fact that you have to spend the $10,000 now, but the payback is spread out over a decade (kind of like interest on a loan). If the discount rate is 10%, a $10,000 remodeling job has to earn roughly an extra $1,600 per year to be worth it.
However, if the property will be seized in three years, that $1600 per year amounts to only about $4800, less than half the remodeling cost.
For Geiser-Berner, it’s too late. The remodeling price has already been paid…for this remodel. Future remodeling jobs and future repairs to the building, will have to be judged against the shorter time period enforced by the pending eminent domain seizure. This will have the effect of discouraging remodeling and repairs, bringing about some of the blight that the City of Des Plaines is so worried about.
Note: I’m not an expert in either corporate finance or valuation of condemned properties, so I’ve done violence to both in my explanation above. For one thing, eminent domain seizure of the property is not a certain thing, so it would be treated as just one of several risk factors affecting the decision to remodel. For another, remodeling that increases the value of the building should result in a higher payment for the property (reducing the loss from the short period of use) but the rules for such calculations are complex beyond my understanding.
[Update: Visit the next Des Plaines entry.]