HSR would have made World Series even sweeter

World Series 2016 aftermath: Cub fans crying in the streets of Chicago, rejoicing around the country, and Indian fans themselves not feeling cursed but just glad to be a part of a World Series for the ages. ESPN declared Game 7 as the greatest game of all time.

I had the pleasure of being in Chicago, as a Cleveland fan, during Games 3 and 4. I was in Chicago anyway for work and a concert that weekend. I love Chicago and make the trip frequently, as do many others in Ohio. Chicago is the Paris of the Plains, and for those of us within a 5-hour drive shed (OH, MI, IN, IL, WI) of the Windy City, it is the best weekend getaway around.

However getting there can be unpleasant. You have to drive through flat, ugly Indiana.

Considering the role that Chicago plays as the Midwest’s hub city, it stands to reason that if the Midwest had a functional transportation network, Chicago would also be the hub of that. Right now advocacy on regional rail development is stymied by entrenched political interests that don’t want that. Case in point: Ohio and Wisconsin giving back $1.2 billion of high-speed rail funding.

Michigan however has not been shy about its intent to benefit from its proximity to Chicago and other states that don’t want to similarly profit. So for that reason, the idea of a Midwest hub-and-spoke rail network is primarily being advanced by Michigan at this point. So much so that they’ve even put together this awesome video of a White Sox fan hopping on a train to Detroit for a White Sox – Tigers game.

There is no reason that this video couldn’t be real life in the future, and not just limited to White Sox and Tigers fans, but also Cubs and Indians fans. This World Series benefited from the proximity of both cities, as well as the similarities of both long-suffering fan bases.

However it could also apply to anyone aspiring to a weekend getaway, for fun or family or business. As the Midwest grows closer together, we should all benefit from our proximity relative to the rest of the country. Embarking on a regional plan for transit is one of the top means the Midwest has at its disposal for remaining competitive, and even edging out the rest of the country in the future. The question is if our politics will allow it.


Acceptance is good for business

Indiana’s loss is Ohio’s gain. While the recent trend has been sort of contrary to that, with fast-growing Indy frequently siphoning jobs off of its older, more developed neighbor – that state’s conservative politics, with its attractive low-tax environment and “pro-business” rhetoric, may become its own downfall. We all know what happened with the gay community in Indiana, which is a shame. The fallout did two things: Ended Mike Pence’s 2016 aspirations, and cost Indy a lot of business.

The incident led Indy-born Angie’s List canceling a planned 1,000-job expansion of its HQ. Not only does Angie’s List not support state-level discrimination, but it views the fallout as a threat to its own ability to recruit and retain top-level talent, and wants no part in even supporting Pence’s regime. The truth about Indiana though is that the Pence regime is a middle-right coalition in a further right-wing state, in which the discrimination law was passed overwhelmingly, and enjoys a broad support base across the state. It’s no fluke, that really is Indiana being Indiana – kind of like a little spite house wedged between big blue blue states like Illinois and Ohio.


Senator Brown backed by city executives from Toledo, Dayton, Canton, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati

Now, Ohio (a liberal state with a surprisingly conservative leader) is even benefiting from some counter-flow out of Indiana. While Ohio as a state has done a bad job of taking any actual stance on really any social issue, its cities are all-in on LGBT policy. Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincy routinely earn 100% marks from the Human Rights Campaign – as one of the first adopters of civil partnership registries, which is a nifty policy tool that enables same-sex couples to qualify for partner benefits at the federal or employer level. Columbus’ long-time (now ex-oficio) mayor Michael Coleman is an unabashed supporter of the surprisingly large (Ohio State-oriented) gay community in that city. Ohio State is one of the few pro-LGBT major athletic programs. Ohio’s congressional delegation also does a lot, led by the Good Senator from Cleveland Sherrod Brown. Even the Bad Senator from Cincinnati Rob Portman became the first pro-gay Republican in Congress.

So yes, despite state inaction (and a weird brand of Yankee conservatism aka Kasich), Ohio has a strong record on LGBT rights. Immediately following the Indiana ordeal, Ohio leaders staged a big policy event at the Statehouse, geared specifically toward recruiting businesses at the expense of Indiana. Brilliant move, but we all doubted it would do anything.

Well it did. I was surprised to read that Pokemon is still a thing, but apparently it is, and it had a national conference “Trapathon?” in Indianapolis. Well not anymore. The event, which routinely drew 1,000 people annually to Indy to “Catch ’em all,” has found a new home in Columbus. Apparently last year’s Trapathon actually coincided with Indiana’s PR-disaster, which left a very impression with all of the “Pokemon trainers.” Sure, I’d rather have those 1,000 Angie’s List jobs, than their Pokemon conference – but if economic bits and pieces of Indiana are apparently up for grabs, an annual conference that draws 1,000 isn’t too shabby.


Below is the perfect-score cities in bad states from HRC’s Municipal Equality Index, which the HRC calls its “all-stars” (not bad press):

Did your city earn the title of MEI All star?

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • East Lansing, Michigan
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Tempe, Arizona
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Wilton Manors, Florida
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Ferndale, Michigan
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Indianapolis,  Indiana
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Arlington County, Virginia
  • Oakland Park, Florida

The state is purportedly going to lose billions of dollars over this, in many cases to the cities above. Other Indy companies that are either leaving, no longer having their events in Indy, or similarly throwing their weight around: Eskenazi Health (Central Indy’s leading healthcare provider), Cummings (world’s largest diesel engine maker), Eli Lilly & Company (which employs 12,000 in Indy), Yelp, Apple, Salesforce (which employs 3,000 in Indy), and even the Disciples of Christ church will move its annual conference in the future.

Don’t be Indiana. It’s not worth it.