Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let's Get Us Some High Speed Stimulus!

Tip of the hat to Yglesias...

Apparently the stimulus bill includes $2 billion (and perhaps more) for grants to build high speed rail in the Federal Railroad Administrations designated high speed rail corridors:

The Stimulus Plan includes provisions modeled after the High-Speed Rail for America Act (the Act), introduced by Senators John Kerry and Arlen Specter on November 19, 2008, to bring American rail infrastructure up-to-date with current world standards. Specifically, the Stimulus Plan provides $2 billion for rail projects related to trains reaching at least 110 miles per hour and exempts interest incurred from private activity bonds for high-speed rail from the Alternative Minimum Tax. By providing this tax incentive, the Stimulus Plan will promote public-private partnerships (P3s) between government agencies and private sector companies by giving them a financing vehicle to access the tax-exempt capital markets.

source

The FRA's dedicated high speed rail corridors include ...


...wait for it...


Cleveland - Columbus - Cincinnati

and

Cleveland - Toledo - Chicago

and

Cincinnati - Indianapolis - Chicago

Really! Here's the map:


Can we muster up the kind of dogged determination (like we did to build the Euclid Corridor Project) to secure these federal funds and build high speed rail through Ohio's three largest cities, and onward to Toledo and Chicago?

This could be huge project for Ohio. To design it, build it, maintain it -- and not the least of all, to RIDE it. Will we do it? If not, why not? There are lots of other high speed rail corridors -- we can build this, or sit back and watch others build theirs and then kick ourselves for missing the boat train.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Under Construction

My new law practice's website is under construction, but here is the URL:

http://www.ohiolegalcounsel.com/

The placeholder up there now has my street address, phone number, etc.

I am open, seeing clients and taking cases.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Reanimation

I'm back. And it is great to be back.

I took down The Audient Files last May because I was exploring my career options. I looked at moving to Columbus, I looked at staying in Cleveland. I looked at going to another law firm, I looked at going in-house with a corporate legal department. I took down my old blog and all of its archives because I didn't want to offer up my occasionally crass observations as representative of what I am all about. Even though at times it may well have been reasonably accurate.

Over the holidays, I did some serious soul searching. I had applied to various places (both in Cleveland and Columbus), had interviews, had opportunities presented to me, and none of them were suitable. And I realized that it was because none of it was what I wanted. I really didn't want to work in-house for an insurance company, or toil away thanklessly as an associate making some other guy look good. What I wanted, what I have always wanted, was to practice law on my own.

Back in 1999, I left a firm where I'd been an associate for over two years because I was restless. I printed up business cards, opened bank accounts, got some file cabinets, and started scaring up some cases. I'd been at it for a couple of weeks when I was approached by a law clerk of a local judge who was looking for her next law clerk. I met with the judge, and she offered me the position. I liked her, and it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Besides, I'd been an attorney for barely three years, and I thought this would be a great way to grow professionally – and it was.

When I finished my term at the court, I did what most outgoing law clerks/staff attorneys do: I parlayed my experience at the court into an associate position at a reputable law firm. At the time, it did seem like the right thing to do. And it worked for me for awhile. But ultimately, I knew that my head and heart were elsewhere.

Which brings me back to that holiday soul searching. I was only 24 when I sat for the bar, and I've been that young kid attorney now for about a third of my life. And while I've done some wonderful things, things I'm proud of, things that helped some people who really needed help, I realized that I had fallen into a bit of a rut. And that if I wanted to reach the next level, I was going to have to leave the relative safety and shelter of the law firm and once again do what I had originally set out to do almost ten years ago: hang up my own shingle.

I thought about the bad economy. Why not wait for a sunnier day? But the truth is, I could always have found reasons to wait. Other times, it was some big case that was going to trial that I wanted to see through, or some such thing. I decided that there was no better time than now – for if not now, when? In another ten years? Or would I wait till I had tuition bills to pay for the kids? Or to have a sick parent in a nursing home? No, there is no better time than the present, the now, to live the life I want.

The difference now is that I have so much more experience than when I first tried this. I have the support of my wife and family. I have a small (and hopefully soon to be growing) group of great clients. And most of all, I have never felt better, and cannot ever remember being more invigorated about the practice of law than I am now. For years I wrote this blog as a side project. I kept my name off of it because I thought that I needed to keep a separate identity from my professional life. That ends now. And whether you know me as "Audient" – the one who listens (and sometimes rants) – or if you know me as Michael Dylan Brennan, attorney at law – the one who listens, solves problems, and seeks justice – this is who I am, who I've been, and who I will be.

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