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1  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Torie's zoning variance hearing on: Today at 08:11:11 am
Is that the standard for an area variance or a use variance, or both?  In New York, the standards are very different, with an area variance being much easier to obtain, and a use variance next to impossible.
The standards you outlined will not work if the code does not comport with what is actually on the ground. For New York, the Sasso v Osgood case is the way out of the box when that obtains. 

I'm not quite sure what you NY means by the two types of variance. In IL there are text amendments to a zoning map which are hard to obtain, but I don't think that's what you mean.

The variance standards I listed above apply to things like setbacks, parking, height and signage - I think that is what you are calling an area variance. They are easy, but are presumed invalid unless the above findings are met.

There are also special (conditional) use permits which are applicable for certain defined uses in specific zoning classes. Examples could include a church in an estate residential district or a nursing home in a business district. The application is much tougher than for a minor variance, but unlike the above variance, special uses are presumed valid if the findings are properly established. Perhaps that's what constitutes a NY use variance. An example of the standards used for findings of fact for these special use cases are:

(A) Is necessary for the public convenience at that location or, in the case of existing nonconforming uses, a special use permit will make the use more compatible with its surroundings;
(B) Is so designed, located and proposed to be operated that the public health, safety and welfare will be protected;
(C) Will not cause substantial injury to the value of other property in the neighborhood in which it is to be located; and
(D) The proposed special use is designated by this code as a listed special use in the zoning district in which the property in question is located.
2  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Torie's zoning variance hearing on: Today at 07:19:28 am
We use a six part test here. Perhaps some might by useful in your endeavors:

(1) The particular physical surroundings, shape or topographical condition of the specific property involved would result in a particular hardship upon the owner, as distinguished from a mere inconvenience or loss of revenue, if the strict letter of the regulations were carried out.
(2) The condition upon which the requested minor variance is based would not be applicable, generally, to other property within the same zoning classification.
(3) The alleged difficulty or hardship has not been created by any person presently having an interest in the property.
(4) The granting of the minor variance will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property or improvements in the neighborhood in which the property is located.
(5) The proposed minor variance will not impair an adequate supply of light and air to adjacent property, substantially increase the congestion in the public streets, increase the danger of fire, endanger the public safety or substantially diminish or impair property values within the neighborhood.
(6) The proposed minor variance complies with the spirit and intent of the restrictions imposed by this code.
3  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Lawn poll on: Today at 07:02:23 am
Despite the inch of snow on Monday, the lawn is greening up fast. It's still too short to cut this week, but I'm thinking it might be ready sometime next week.
4  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: lunch(eon) on: Today at 07:00:18 am
I figure that if there is no free lunch for me, I'd be better off to vote for a flat tax.
5  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: In which region do Kansas, Nebraska, & the Dakotas fit? on: April 16, 2014, 10:20:11 am
To train's comment, MO is becoming less southern as areas like Little Dixie are losing their southern character in favor of a typical rural Midwest. The St Louis and KC metros make up over half the population and they aren't Southern cities. The only really Southern areas are in the Ozarks and Bootheel. The political shifts are more like KS than like the South.

Thanks for the correction.  I was thinking about things like the religion map (where Missouri is strongly Baptist, like the South), the recent addition of Mizzou to the SEC (and commentators saying that that signified Missouri's increasing allegiance to the South rather than the Midwest), as well as a vague sense that the Ozarks were growing while the KC and STL metros weren't.  But obviously that is all from a distance and I'm glad to be corrected.

The Mizzou to the SEC was in large part due to their rejection by the Big 10 who felt that their academics were not a good match to the rest of the conference.
Unlike those for Nebraska?


Both Nebraska and Mizzou were considered at about the same time and the academics were found to be different enough for the Big 10 to go with one and not the other according to media reports. There may have been other political factors, but they didn't come out at that time in 2010. It certainly wasn't for TV market or Mizzou would have been preferred.
6  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Are there too many "checks and balances" in the US political system? on: April 16, 2014, 08:31:43 am
There's another thing I forgot to mention, which is that in Australia we have a federal government agency that does the redistricting, which works pretty well. I truly don't believe a federal parliament could work in the United States without a federal agency doing the redistricting.

The drawing of congressional districts is not the exclusive province of the state legislatures. Congress could enact a law setting up a national redistricting commission with its own guidelines. From Art I sect 4 of the US Constitution (emphasis added):

Quote
1:  The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

In 1967 Congress used this power to require all districts to be single member.
7  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you ever fix yourself non-meat dinners? on: April 16, 2014, 04:30:38 am
Salad and bread with or without cheese makes a good dinner if there have been too many heavy meals in the days preceding. I also enjoy a dinner of pasta with olive oil, garlic/onions and herbs, especially when the herbs are fresh from the garden.
8  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Would this be a good basic map of the geography of the country? on: April 16, 2014, 04:02:30 am
Move MD, DE, DC and MO to the South.

None of those states are Southern except possibly MO.

I have spent a lot of time in MO and have family there as well. I can't understand why so many people view MO as if this is still the era of the Civil War and think of it as a Southern state. I'll grant the Bootheel and Ozarks have that feel, but so does southern IL. In MO that area makes up only a quarter of the state's population and a third of the area. If any of you've been there, I'm curious as to where it was that seemed so Southern.
9  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Would this be a good basic map of the geography of the country? on: April 15, 2014, 02:00:14 pm
I don't like TX and OK in the South, but TX has been covered on a different thread. I've driven most of the interstate highways that follow old Route 66, and spent time in a number of the cities on the Route. It's hard to say that you ever go through much that seems Southern today except for stretches of southern MO.

10  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: In which region do Kansas, Nebraska, & the Dakotas fit? on: April 15, 2014, 01:44:03 pm
To train's comment, MO is becoming less southern as areas like Little Dixie are losing their southern character in favor of a typical rural Midwest. The St Louis and KC metros make up over half the population and they aren't Southern cities. The only really Southern areas are in the Ozarks and Bootheel. The political shifts are more like KS than like the South.

Thanks for the correction.  I was thinking about things like the religion map (where Missouri is strongly Baptist, like the South), the recent addition of Mizzou to the SEC (and commentators saying that that signified Missouri's increasing allegiance to the South rather than the Midwest), as well as a vague sense that the Ozarks were growing while the KC and STL metros weren't.  But obviously that is all from a distance and I'm glad to be corrected.

The Mizzou to the SEC was in large part due to their rejection by the Big 10 who felt that their academics were not a good match to the rest of the conference.
11  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Snow Day! on: April 15, 2014, 02:28:05 am
Winter wasn't over, yet. We got 1.3 inches of snow yesterday. Fortunately it cleared up so I can see the lunar eclipse now.



12  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: In which region do Kansas, Nebraska, & the Dakotas fit? on: April 14, 2014, 09:19:21 pm
Another way to look at the region is by the type of agriculture. Soybeans are perhaps the most ubiquitous crop of the Midwest as they are the key in most crop rotations. They are a common feature from OH across to ND and down to KS, and only otherwise appear in abundance along the lower Mississippi.

13  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Which is the most accurate theory of American politics? on: April 14, 2014, 05:17:34 pm
Policy is driven by a tug of war among groups that command large numbers (ie option 2) and those that command a significant portion of the economy (ie option 3). The 1% is generally not a factor except when they are acting in the capacity of an economic leader (ie not option 4 except when it's option 3). The median voter is also generally not a factor, except when there is a sudden swing of opinion in the electorate such that it becomes a driving issue such as gun control in states after Aurora and Newtown. In that case a group with large representation will often take up the public cause to drive actual policy (ie not option 1 except when it's option 2).

The outcome of the tug of war on each policy initiative is fueled by the relative strengths of the sides provided at each election. Note that the sides can be split within the groups of options 2 and 3 as well as between the groups in those respective options. Policy for a state or nation often affects a wide swath of the public where individuals will have widely divergent views. Part of the prominence of large organizations and large interests is that they already represent some balance point among their members on an issue. Policy making is then reduced in scope to striking the weighted balance among the centers of the large interests.
14  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: In what decade were your parents born? on: April 14, 2014, 07:26:19 am
1954 and 1961.

And I thought my parents were old. Tongue

1955 and 1963.

These are both quite similar to the years my children would cite - 1958 and 1961. Smiley

In different ones. Bit of a silly poll construction that way...

The poll would have been better with the option to choose up to 2. Not that that would matter for me when the 1920's and 1930's are lumped together. Tongue
15  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you consider Texas part of the South? on: April 13, 2014, 01:54:10 pm
In 2012 the white vote in TX was as close to SC as it was to AZ, KS, and NE (DKE). The Deep South (LA, MS, AL, GA, SC) average Obama white vote was 13.6%. The central and southern Great Plains (OK, KS, NE) was OWV of 25.1%. The Southwest (AZ, NM) was OWV of 36.8%. The average of those three are 25.1% and TX was 23.4%. That certainly suggests a model where TX is only about 1/3 consistent with the South.

I don't know that I entirely trust that DKE data. (For example, that shows Obama's share of Oklahoma whites being cut roughly in half from 2008 to 2012, which doesn't add up to me.) I was only looking at the 2008 exit polls (since they exit polled all 50 states that year). That showed both Texas and South Carolina whites giving Obama 26%. The nearest states to those were Georgia at 23% and Oklahoma at 29%. I suppose it's not really fair to describe the Deep South white vote as a voting bloc. Whites in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are really in a realm of their own, separate from all other states. However, it's still the case that Texas whites did vote very similar compared to South Carolina and Georgia whites in 2008.

What you are doing is trying to find a single state fit based solely on voting behavior. Many posters here and most geographers recognize that TX is split between different regions. My point is that you can just as easily get the TX value by averaging voting patterns from different adjacent regions.

Yes, Texas has three different cultural strains, but if one had to pick a region to put the state in, the South to me is clearly the most appropriate choice. LBJ incidentally when he had presidential ambitions in the late 1950's agitated to have TX labeled a Western state, to get away from the baggage associated with the South as the Civil Rights movement was reaching critical mass.

I guess since I have spent quite a bit of time in the Dallas Metroplex, and I've had some visits to San Antonio and Austin, but very little to Houston, I have a hard time associating anything TX with the many Southern cities I've visited. Tongue
16  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you consider Texas part of the South? on: April 13, 2014, 07:21:11 am
In 2012 the white vote in TX was as close to SC as it was to AZ, KS, and NE (DKE). The Deep South (LA, MS, AL, GA, SC) average Obama white vote was 13.6%. The central and southern Great Plains (OK, KS, NE) was OWV of 25.1%. The Southwest (AZ, NM) was OWV of 36.8%. The average of those three are 25.1% and TX was 23.4%. That certainly suggests a model where TX is only about 1/3 consistent with the South.

I don't know that I entirely trust that DKE data. (For example, that shows Obama's share of Oklahoma whites being cut roughly in half from 2008 to 2012, which doesn't add up to me.) I was only looking at the 2008 exit polls (since they exit polled all 50 states that year). That showed both Texas and South Carolina whites giving Obama 26%. The nearest states to those were Georgia at 23% and Oklahoma at 29%. I suppose it's not really fair to describe the Deep South white vote as a voting bloc. Whites in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are really in a realm of their own, separate from all other states. However, it's still the case that Texas whites did vote very similar compared to South Carolina and Georgia whites in 2008.

What you are doing is trying to find a single state fit based solely on voting behavior. Many posters here and most geographers recognize that TX is split between different regions. My point is that you can just as easily get the TX value by averaging voting patterns from different adjacent regions.
17  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: What are Pat Quinn's chances? Should he have ridden off into the sunset? on: April 12, 2014, 05:58:14 pm
On Madigan's father: term limits in the Illinois House of Representatives (see CA term limits in 1990 due to Willie Brown) will force him to retire from the speakership sooner or later.

At some point, folks are going to get sick and tired of Mike Madigan.


There are no term limits in the IL House, though there is a current citizen initiative to institute them. If the initiative survives the court challenge and wins this year, the earliest Speaker Madigan could be forced out is in 2023 after the 2022 elections.

Folks may tire of the Speaker (he's served in that office for all but 2 years since 1983), but they can't elect someone else. Madigan does an excellent job of supporting Dems in their home districts and the gerrymandered map heavily favors a Dem majority. The House Dems are not going to elect anyone else as long as Madigan chooses to remain Speaker.
18  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Do you consider Maryland part of the South? on: April 12, 2014, 05:44:26 pm
Yes because the official classification of regions does.

The classification is for statistical purposes only. The Census wanted to move MD to the Northeast back in the 1950's due to the changing nature of the state. However, the data users wanted consistency going back to the 1800's so it was left in the South.
19  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: In which region do Kansas, Nebraska, & the Dakotas fit? on: April 12, 2014, 05:28:22 pm
I see those all as Great Plains states (West North Central to the Census). Ranching and crop farming are both seen throughout the area, it's just that as the rainfall drops ranches get bigger and crops need irrigation. Both are agricultural and that forms the basis of the states. The West is anchored in a tradition of mining so the Black Hills are an outlier of the West and are being joined by the oil fields of western ND. But by the same measure eastern CO is an extension of the Great Plains. State boundaries don't follow these cultural lines, so I go with the majority of the population.

The Census map is based on division from a century ago and were designed for statistical tabulation. By the 1950's they recognized that the divisions were outdated, and wanted to make changes like shifting MD, DE and DC. However, data users didn't want to break the chain of statistical data, so no shifts have been made.

To train's comment, MO is becoming less southern as areas like Little Dixie are losing their southern character in favor of a typical rural Midwest. The St Louis and KC metros make up over half the population and they aren't Southern cities. The only really Southern areas are in the Ozarks and Bootheel. The political shifts are more like KS than like the South.
20  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Why haven't any states gone the unicameral, parliamentary route? on: April 12, 2014, 04:59:49 pm
I would really like to see some states adopt parliamentary systems (let alone the US as a whole). I think it's a far superior system that provides for both accountability and transparency. Ultimately, the party in power holds full responsibility for the actions during its tenure. A parliamentary majority holds total responsibility for its actions and the opposition party is firmly established and ready to govern should the majority fail. The failure of the current system is that when one party is in power, the opposition is disordered and in disarray and always opposes. A parliamentary opposition has a face and can provide constructive opposition. As for divided government in our current system, both sides will essentially point the finger at the other side, which reduces accountability. Keep in mind that the crux of the parliamentary system is that the executive is ultimately accountable to the legislature. The executive must hold and maintain a majority in the legislature to keep power.

I think this is why the US is not ready for a parliamentary system. A strong majority of the public is used to, and desires, two parties that generally cooperate to craft major public policy. Much of this is a holdover from before the last twenty years when partisan divisions greatly strengthened, especially in Congress. Even now it is really only the base of each party that prefers solutions that are crafted solely from one side of the aisle. Most of those who consider themselves independent tend to prefer one party but express a desire for bipartisan solutions. In a parliamentary system there is no expectation of bipartisan solutions (barring a grand coalition) and that just won't mesh with the US public.
Do we really, though? Most Americans in theory want bipartisanship but when they actually get it hate it.

Most Americans over 30 except those in the partisan base do want and prefer bipartisan solutions. Most Americans are not in the partisan base, and I find they do like policies that are agreed to by most of both sides. Young Americans are less likely to expect that bipartisanship works, since they haven't seen as much of it in their adult life. For example, Clinton was adept at bipartisan solutions through his policy of triangulation and Reagan created bipartisan coalitions for all of his major policies.
21  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Health Care System Options for the United States on: April 12, 2014, 04:51:30 pm
Modified Bismarck:

All individuals must have mandated catastrophic and acute medical coverage.

There is universally available additional coverage for wellness and long term regular medical expenses (checkups, long term meds, etc.).

Individuals may pay directly or through a payroll deduction.

Employers pay a tax per employee based on the size and performance of the firm, similar to workers' compensation and unemployment insurance.

All households get a standard tax deduction sufficient for mandated and some optional coverage. The deduction drops off with increasing income and functions like the earned income tax credit to provide coverage for low-income households.
22  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Why haven't any states gone the unicameral, parliamentary route? on: April 12, 2014, 04:00:30 pm
I would really like to see some states adopt parliamentary systems (let alone the US as a whole). I think it's a far superior system that provides for both accountability and transparency. Ultimately, the party in power holds full responsibility for the actions during its tenure. A parliamentary majority holds total responsibility for its actions and the opposition party is firmly established and ready to govern should the majority fail. The failure of the current system is that when one party is in power, the opposition is disordered and in disarray and always opposes. A parliamentary opposition has a face and can provide constructive opposition. As for divided government in our current system, both sides will essentially point the finger at the other side, which reduces accountability. Keep in mind that the crux of the parliamentary system is that the executive is ultimately accountable to the legislature. The executive must hold and maintain a majority in the legislature to keep power.

I think this is why the US is not ready for a parliamentary system. A strong majority of the public is used to, and desires, two parties that generally cooperate to craft major public policy. Much of this is a holdover from before the last twenty years when partisan divisions greatly strengthened, especially in Congress. Even now it is really only the base of each party that prefers solutions that are crafted solely from one side of the aisle. Most of those who consider themselves independent tend to prefer one party but express a desire for bipartisan solutions. In a parliamentary system there is no expectation of bipartisan solutions (barring a grand coalition) and that just won't mesh with the US public.
23  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Splitting up Cities on: April 12, 2014, 01:01:56 pm
No. If anything, metropolitan areas need to be consolidated far more (such as the SF Bay Area being united under one jurisdiction a la NYC).

I agree that a large number of small suburbs and one large central city doesn't serve regional interests for the public when the only other entity is the state. Yet there are some problems for subregions in large metros if they are totally governed by the central city. Some of this occurs in Cook county where the suburbs with a little under half the population can end up losing their voice to Chicago in county decisions.

In some cases it seems like the public might be well served by a few large entities that span the metro region. NE IL transit is governed by a body appointed from each of the large metro counties plus Chicago. I also liked the balance between Minneapolis and St Paul (or Hennepin and Ramsey counties) in the Twin Cities when I lived there a few decades ago. In the Bay Area perhaps there should be three entities built around SF, Oakland, and San Jose and they provide input into regional decisions?
24  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Are you on any type of welfare? on: April 12, 2014, 11:30:16 am
The key is the connection to an individual in need. Employment by the government is not welfare since it is money in exchange for work. Government services available to the public at large would not be welfare either.

In higher ed an academic scholarship to a state university would not count, but a need-based scholarship would count.

Tax policy is designed to favor or disfavor certain types of economic activity, and are not really about money for those in need. An exception would be the earned income tax credit or disability-based exemptions which could meet the definition.

But aren't all of these things needs to the person that receives him?

I'm pretty sure if dead0man suddenly had to pay taxes on his mortgage, he'd be dire in need.

In the strict definition, needs are not wants though a person may feel otherwise.
25  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Most expensive restaurant meal you've had on: April 12, 2014, 10:52:30 am
With appetizers and wine I've had many meals that come to over $100/person. When it gets way over that, it's usually due to the cost of things outside the entree. I find that excellent meals from top chefs usually run around $50-$100/person. Earlier this year I had a meal for two at the Girl and the Goat for about $45/person, which was lower than I would expect due to the late hour (11 pm) and our smaller appetite at that hour. Last year the food highlight of my trip to Paris was a meal for two at Le Beurre Noisette in the 15th for 111 Euros.
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