Forbes magazine, in the Feb. 18 issue, had a story called “America’s Most Miserable Cities.” Cleveland, Ohio got the prize for being the most miserable. Obviously such a story can never be scientifically accurate, but the authors used eight indicators such as violent crime, unemployment, taxes, corruption, and commuter times in trying to rank the cities. 

Forbes magazine, in the Feb. 18 issue, had a story called “America’s Most Miserable Cities.” Cleveland, Ohio got the prize for being the most miserable.

Obviously such a story can never be scientifically accurate, but the authors used eight indicators such as violent crime, unemployment, taxes, corruption, and commuter times in trying to rank the cities. 

Then in the March 1 issue of The Nation a story called “The Cleveland Model” caught my attention. It praised the foresight and successes of Cleveland’s employee owned cooperative endeavors called “The Evergreen Model.” They have built impressive enterprises such as a 230,000-square-foot greenhouse, a community owned newspaper and other businesses that will provide employment for approximately 500 new jobs over the next five years.

Of greatest interest to us living in the greater Kansas City area is that Cleveland co-ops are exploring building components for mass transit systems because of the proven need and the fact that there is minimal U.S. involvement in that manufacturing arena.

Yet The Nation points out that “The Department of Transportation estimates that a $48 billion investment in transit capital projects could generate 1.3 million new green jobs in the next two years alone.” 

We are fortunate that our county executive, Mike Sanders, has great interest in creating an economically feasible commuter  rail system to serve greater Kansas City.

While this is a huge and complex undertaking, much of the right-of-way problems have relatively easy solutions. Also, there is the distinct possibility that Jackson County could become a pioneer in the manufacturing of an entirely new system of commuter light rail cars weighing around 20 tons compared to the present 50-ton cars now being used. This would truly be “going green,” plus making a positive long range impact on our present and future “misery index.”

 A single mother with two school-age children working 36 hours per week at $10 an hour at Wal-Mart must have a car that, with payments, insurance, gas and repairs, will run around at $625 a month. A commuter rail system could lower her costs considerably as well as shifting our economic and housing patterns to better fit the needs of the next century.  I think it would be wonderful if we could all work with Sanders to bring a modern mass transit system to the greater Kansas City area.