Managing Editor’s Comment

We Made A Working Definition For The Emerging Policy Framework That We Call "Triple Sustainability."

Now, Let's Explore Its "Deal."

            Learning from past deals will help us construct a new deal so we can compete in the 21st Century. The previous century built a policy framework, labeled it as the "industrial welfare state" and it was packaged best by FDR as "The New Deal."

            That social contract worked so well it converted the Great Depression into an unprecedented middle class prosperity stretching from 1946 until the 1970s. Similarly, today's low-growth and recurring budget crises need a new policy framework if we are to rebuild the middle class so it makes the investments we need to compete in the global economy.

            The emerging public-private framework is what this website calls "Triple Sustainability." Government's deepening fiscal crises will force us quickly to mesh public and private interests into a framework that controls debts and makes suitable policies.

            But a policy framework needs a social contract before taxpayers will make the required investments. Such a deal may seem quite improbable given the public's growing disgust with government. Clearly, rebuilding the middle class with a functioning deal has got major roadblocks.

            A curiously rational road may be to create a new level of government. If Chicagoland can transcend the nonsense in today's politics and propose policies that citizens in our region will embrace and taxpayers will invest in long-term, then our work can serve as a national prototype. This leadership runs in our region's blood.


A) Let’s review our evolving definition for “Triple Sustainability.”

            This editorial will link you to earlier pages of Chicagoland Citizens Central (CCC) and adds two new pages for greater details. To start, below is a quick refresher for the visual side of your brain. In it, three elements -- environment, economy and public services -- intersect and support each other to grow an efficient and effective society. That is Sustainability’s promise. Let’s start simply with this sketch by clicking here.


            When CCC was built in 2010, a chief goal was to broaden “sustainability” and show it was more than environmental; that as a policy framework, Sustainability also must stabilize economic growth and simultaneously promote fiscal balance and better public services.

            CCC’s activity called “The Citizens’ Guide To A Sustainable Chicagoland” suggested this conceptual foundation with graphics and narrative that you can find as Theme 4 by clicking here.

            While Theme 4 outlines the multiple benefits of compact communities and is a key design ingredient to the region’s progress through the 21st Century, Step 2 of “The Guide” broadens to a more generally applicable economic and political framework.
            Based on the historically proven process, Step 2 is when Sustainability’s “synthesizers” (regional nonprofits) continue the region’s evolution with a multi-disciplinary design of a sustainable policy idea. (The Chicago Architecture is featured.) Then to improve the design, other nonprofits develop a few local prototypes. (The Metropolitan Planning Council is featured.) As an example of sustainable planning, Step 2 separately reviews the Bid for the 2016 Olympics.

           Each of these three nonprofits serve the region by synthesizing the systems of Sustainability that CCC limits to its metaphorical tripod. Our review of each group starts as Step 2 on "The Guide's" main page. Read about them by clicking here.

            CCC borrows from and is indebted to many other efforts defining this framework. As a quick review of who contributes to the foundation of Triple Sustainability, click here and go to a new page explaining its evolution.

         To summarize this linked page.  All three notions of sustainability must work together for any to work well. Progress comes from a virtuous dynamic as in this example: a government cannot balance its books unless the economy creates enough jobs that also do not increase public costs (such as pollution, alternative transportation, stormwater management.)

            Henceforth, defining Sustainability’s framework is the job of larger websites. Advocates for an integrated Sustainability can be proud of our progress in building this concept and in proposing early policies to prove the promise of Sustainability. In its role as an “ideas guy,” CCC now shifts to its Phase 2 and explores Sustainability’s Social Contract as a unifying vision for rebuilding public Trust and a middle class that will invest in the future.

B) Let's Propose A Fair Deal That Solves Problems Long-term

            A Sustainable Deal requires politicians to think anew… something they currently do not do well. Taxpayers’ extreme dissatisfaction does not result just from a superficial disgust over endless budget lies and fights. In their guts, taxpayers know our leaders need to develop a new regimen to move the nation forward. This Overview proposes three strategies.

            A) Chicagoland can be a national leader.

            B) Simplify the problems before trying to convince the

            C) Adapt what worked previously.

           Click here to read further details of these three strategies as preparation for our eventual proposal.


            Conclusion to Overview: Most admittedly, this is ambitious. But much as Chicago was the nation’s industrial and transportation center for the 20th Century, we hope this new contract renews our leadership again in the Sustainable Century.

             The Introduction and subsequent 5 Parts will be posted as described in the Table of Contents on the left. And if you want a simple, visual summary of the eventual argument, then look immediately below.


Robert Munson, Managing Editor




Working Table of Contents

Managing Editor’s Comment

Main page: Overview   

Part A) “Triple Sustainability”: The Evolving Deal     

       page 2: “Triple Sustainability Gets Defined

Part B) Let’s Explore The Deal

       page 3: Three Strategies Detailed
       page 4: “A Very, Very Concise History Of The Social Contract and Its Relevance to Chicagoland.”

posted November 24, 2011



The bubble diagram to the right shows how key parts of environmental, economic and fiscal systems synergize to make a more efficient deal. Also, think of Triple Sustainability as a stable tripod to view problems through a surveyor's lens that can develop consistent solutions. With each system as a leg of the tripod, this metaphor will help us build a policy framework that will stick.


Introduction: How To Fix The Broken Tripod 

3 Principles of Chicagoland’s Sustainable Deal
main page

     page 1) Reinvent Public Service Delivery.

     page 2) Rationalize Taxes Using Regional Government.
     page 3) Protect The Deal With Corruption Prevention Reforms.

Posted December 21, 2011.

Recognizing only super-human efforts can keep active a one-man blog, Robert Munson's current writings can be found on "The Urbanophile" where he starts with his "'Chicagoism" series of five posts. As each article is posted, the title below will become live and you can link to it.

Introduction: Is Chicagoism "The Third Way" for the Sustainable Century?

1) The 20th Century: What We Did Right… and What Needed Work.

2) Daley’s 2nd Decade Begins The Transition To Sustainability... and What Still Needs Work.

3) Progress And Perils In Rahm’s First Two Years: Reinventing Services; Expanding Accountability

4) How Chicagoism Works Again: Shape the Transportation-Commerce Synergy; Give Hope to Fiscal Sustainability

5) Conclusions For Now: 
* A Review of Chicagoism Series; 
* The Flag’s Fifth Star; 
* Next Steps To Meld A Sustainable Chicagoism and (most important) ... 
* What “Third Way” Works For Your City?

to be incorporated in future articles:
Triple Sustainability, the New Regionalism And Chicagoland’s Leadership.
* How our metropolitan region might be creating this “New Order Of Things.”
* How regional government can sustain municipalities.

to be incorporated in future articles:
How Expanding Three Methods Of Accountability Can Protect Chicagoland’s Sustainable Deal.
1) Improving Ethics can set a higher standard.
2) Increased Disclosure of lobbyists and campaign gifts help, but don’t protect the Deal.
3) Corruption Prevention comes best from campaign finance reform.
4) Why ROI matters to taxpayers.

conclusion to be incorporated into future posts:
Deal or No Deal:
Repeated Deceit Has Changed The Politics Of Public Investment

* Why the Sustainable Deal’s tripod must be set simultaneously.
* Why taxpayers will not automatically agree to taxes without good government reforms to protect their investment.

deal stop

    Recall the sign at the top of this page is the yellow sign for caution. This is good advice when trying to construct a policy framework that angry middle class taxpayers, eventually, will invest in.
    The two signs immediately above also give us guidance because if we don't soon get the "green" light for good government, then today's "No New Taxes" stays in force for all practical purposes.
    George Bush Sr's campaign slogan ridiculed 24 years ago now has caused middle class taxpayers to dig in their heels. Making a deal with them is essential to moving forward.

Future Proposals That Can Make The Deal Work
TRIB, The Taxpayers Regional Investment Board
* How To Raise Public Funds And Maximize And Protect Taxpayers’ Investments

CC, The Congress for Chicagoland:
* How Regional Government Has Worked In Portland And Europe And How Those Successes Can             Be Adapted To Chicagoland

Send your ideas for articles and your critique of this website to the Editor:

Introduction To The 5 Part Series:

Fix The Broken Leg With A Deal Based On
Three Principles



I like this photo. It offers us a comical comment on today’s tragedy in politics. Metaphorically, the photo also introduces this 5 Part series proposing Chicagoland’s Sustainable Social Contract. Let’s see how.

Note the two cameras on the photographer’s shoulders. His face implies they are unstable and will not take steady photos; not unlike government’s sorry missteps responding to its crises of confidence. Label one camera as local government and the other as Illinois. Since most governments are insolvent and fractured, what they do appears to be gimmicks, wobbly to the taxpayers.

On the left, note how two legs are grounded. They respectively represent how our environmental and economic systems largely are stable; albeit with foreboding challenges that, nonetheless, seem solvable if reasonable heads would work together.

Note also the third leg is not grounded and, instead, is held by the man’s hand. This, also, often results in an unbalanced scheme that isn’t reliable enough. Consider this third leg to be public services. It is the broken leg that needs to be fixed so services support a balanced environment and a growing economy.

Currently, a cynical citizenry does not want to invest to fix services.

With a scant single-digit approval rating for Congress and other governments also at all-time lows, this indicates governments are operating without a social contract. Consider this contract to be the camera lens through which the public evaluates their services so they can trust that their tax dollars will be reasonably well spent. This lens is how the “consent of the governed” gets reinforced. Today’s lens is distorted by corruption. And taxpayers have cause to shut their wallets.

For the tons of money required to bail-out governments and invest in the 21st Century services that economic growth needs, taxpayers will not open their wallets again unless they get guarantees. Here’s our proposal to reassure them and change their mind for good.


Overview: How to fix the broken tripod.  We can construct a social contract for the services of the Sustainable Century by using principles  that taxpayers trust and, metaphorically, can see results through their lens.  After a summary analysis of three key problems, this Introduction proposes 3 Principles as the basis of solutions.  Each Principle also helps justify a regional government.

To help make all this talk better grounded in the difficulties of changing government, we also suggest 3 Phases for reconstructing public services; each predominantly guided by a corresponding Principle. Let’s get to work.




1) Summary Analysis: Services are unaffordable. Governments are haplessly broke. They run deficits on ineffective services and incur debts that prevent adequate economic growth. To end these fiscal disasters and service failures, let’s apply lessons from the last effort: the “Reinvent Government” movement that peaked in the 1990s. The first lesson is that change withers because vested interests grew to control their “piece” of the public’s pie. Second, reinventing services often works better with private sector partners. Both lessons have a corollary solution: the public must control their pie much better.

Solution: Reinvent public services. Phase 1 of the Sustainable Deal uses damage control strategically.  We must stabilize government’s credit ratings mostly by cutting waste, reinventing services and renegotiating pensions…. Click here for further details showing the limitations of these tactics.

2) Summary Analysis: Taxes are viewed as a bad value. This is the key mid-term issue that gets resolved in Phase 2. With today’s wide range of local and state taxes developed for different times and previous problems, each tax carries a correspondingly wide range of discontent. But the bottom-line on many remains: public services are not worth the money we pay. And a clear majority of taxpayers view this confusing panoply of taxes as unfair. This un-fairness unravels further the New Deal’s framework and requires us to construct a sound foundation for a new social contract.

Solution: Rationalize taxes and services with regional government.  This helps change today’s stalemate of “who pays” and, instead, emphasizes delivering quality services….Click here for suggestions on a Phase 2 can rearrange services so taxpayers start to get value.

3) Summary Analysis: Government programs lack discipline.  The other two legs of the tripod have discipline. (The economy has the marketplace. The environment has Mother Nature to whack us.)

Government has ranging methods of discipline; although rarely are they effective lately. Among the most extreme are voter reactions (as in the 2010 landslide.) This can lead to insane Congressional behavior, such as signaling to lenders that Uncle Sam will not honor his debts.
Other methods of accountability rely too much on disclosure and have limits. Revealing to the public what goes on in smoke-filled rooms is neither an honest recounting, nor simple to enforce, nor proactive. Other methods are largely reactive to problems or after laws have been breached. Inspector Generals fall into this category. Punishing wrong-doing is reactive and does little to make public services more effective. After all, many of the most destructive forms of influence-buying (campaign gifts) are really legalized corruption.

So, these reactive methods will not protect the roughly 25% of the average middle class household’s income that goes to taxes. Taxpayers are fed-up with watching their money wasted. They want protection before they can be expected to pony-up to pay for politicians past mistakes or to invest in the future.

Solution: Protect the Sustainable Deal with Corruption Prevention. If Accountability methods are too reactive to be effective, then consider a more proactive methods we call Corruption Prevention….For an overview of this 3rd Principle and Phase, click here.

Concluding This Introduction to the series. From the bird-eye of a blogger, I admit it is easy to talk about “a new order of things” and create a regional government to deliver services cheaper and better…. and, as long as we are making a wish-list, all parties should play like nice-nice citizens in unison. Wouldn’t change be easy then!

From the ground-eye view of an elected official, change is far more difficult than just talk.

But, leaders will learn to use today’s chronic fiscal crises as an opportunity to forge a new deal with the middle class. We can help leaders shape a Sustainable Deal whose strategic dynamic takes problems previously thought to be separate and, instead, starts to solve each other and yield multiple benefits.
We explore these multiple benefits in the “Citizens Guide To A Sustainable Chicagoland.”   As an example of this dynamic, we outline how evolving to more compact communities can solve multiple fiscal, environmental and economic problems.  This is labeled as “Theme 4” and you can read more about this example by clicking here.

Whether or not you read Theme 4, the strategic advantages of a Sustainable Deal will become more apparent as this series develops its 3 Principles and Core Solutions. To recount them…

1) Reinvent services to serve citizens and corporations better as a first big step to giving middle class taxpayers better value.

2) Create a “New Order of Things” in which regional government rationalizes taxes and invests in improving regional and local services.

3) Implement Corruption Prevention techniques to protect the deal; starting with a regional government that has its elections regulated by the public financing option.


What Is To Be Done? To bring all these Principles down to Earth, Part 1 describes the Emanuel Administration’s reforms. We view this as a first draft of the new municipal synthesis that we package as “Chicago-ism”. This article will be posted before Spring comes in 2012.