While the 44th president is getting to work

  • You might have noticed that President Obama spoke repeatedly about the environment during his inauguration speech. But the Environment Report notes that he didn’t call it out as a key, separate issue—he assumed it’s tied to all of the most pressing issues facing the country.
  • As environmental advocates and business groups close and far continue to present plans for stimulating a green economy (issuing Clean Energy Victory Bonds?), skeptics say a rapid, government-led conversion to alternative energy sources could actually lead to job losses.
  • In the Wall Street Journal: a coalition of banks and equity firms is using the example of Obama’s hometown to push a “solution” to the budget shortfalls gutting public services across the country: privatization. Specifically, firms like Morgan Stanley would like to be able to not just buy public assets but be able to build and control them from the start.
  • Housing values have taken a hit over the last year, but property tax rates are usually based on assessments taken months and sometimes years earlier—which is bad news for lots of people struggling to hold onto their homes. The Sun-Times’ Mark Konkol reports that Cook County assessor James Houlihan—Mayor Daley’s usual scapegoat for a broken property tax system he uses to fund pet projects—is looking for a way to link tax rates more closely with recent market fluctuations. But it still probably won’t help anybody with their next round of tax payments.
  • Political analyst Russ Stewart says it’s not looking good for Pat O’Connor’s chances in the Fifth Congressional District race. He gives the nod to John Fritchey or Sara Feigenholtz.
  • It wasn’t long ago that city clerk Miguel del Valle got the City Council to start posting the agendas for its committee meetings before they’re actually held. How long will it be before the council follows the lead of Cleveland—that’s right—and discovers Facebook and Twitter?
  • WBBM radio has confirmed that yes, there are a few Republicans in Chicago.