jeffpsmith's blog

Soufflé and Wedding Cake Arguments Are Half-Baked

Much discussion of Evanston's downtown has invoked a "wedding cake" concept, with the center tallest, and heights lower further out. Mega-growth advocates urge that an extra-tall building on the Fountain Square block will restore a cake-shaped "typical urban form" to downtown, which now allegedly resembles a "fallen soufflé." This is loaded language, meant to shame us as lousy cooks. I'd feel bad, except for one thing: it's nonsense.

First, since 1920, as one official Illinois publication notes,

You're In the Militia Now

Gun control arouses passions. But the Evanston City Council made the smart move in voting to modify its handgun ban. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling likely rendered Evanston's ordinance unconstitutional.

Some have argued that, because the Supreme Court case only dealt with Washington, D.C.'s ordinance, and the District of Columbia is not a state, that the reach of the decision is limited, and that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states. That's a risky position to take.

A Tree Falls in Evanston

Trains, Condos, and Automobiles

My mini-tour of some of the local condo offerings led to some larger mullings. Altogether, the 4 developments I covered, representing nearly 100 new condos within a 9-iron shot of the Central Street Metra station, raise interesting questions. No doubt all will eventually sell; but at what price? One wonders if the demand for "transit-oriented" luxury condos here hasn’t been overestimated.

False Choices on Evanston's Future

A frequent rhetorical trick is to oversimplify an issue, and then present to the audience, factfinder, or decisionmaker a false choice, usually with loaded verbiage. Henry Kissinger was a master of the "we have two choices" overdistillation; Donald Rumsfeld would frequently attempt the same thing by re-phrasing a question into an unpalatable option v. what the Administration was doing.

This tack is what one alderman employed in saying Evanston's only option is to "move forward" or else we "slip backward."

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