Fall is over, Christmas is upon us, and it’s time for a breather. But before the year comes to a close, here’s a look at my recent appearances and stories.

In late December, I talked to Minnesota Public Radio about the closing of Ford’s St. Paul truck plant. Ford built vehicles in St. Paul for 89 years, and the St. Paul plant escaped closure time and again. But Ford is consolidating much of its business, focusing primarily on Michigan, Ohio and Ontario (with plants still in Kentucky and Missouri).

I also had a little fun in Atlantic Cities with a story about my home town, Ann Arbor, Mich. Citizens are in a polite uproar over a recently implemented pedestrian ordinance. The city council is at work to come up with a revision of the ordinance, which has strained nerves, caused car crashes and resulted in tickets.

I recently became a contributing writer to Atlantic Cities, and I’m looking forward to more reports on urban America. You can read all my Atlantic Cities stories here.

Stay tuned for some news about another writing project. In the meantime, wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

It’s been a splendid fall in Chicago, with warm days, cool nights and no snow on the horizon yet. But Chicago’s new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, isn’t relaxing.

The city has a budget deficit of $637 million, and Emanuel is trying to get Chicago’s city council to approve a full slate of reforms. He’s had to give up for now on one of his signature demands: a longer school day for Chicago’s school children, who have the shortest school day of any big city in the Midwest.

I wrote about the new mayor and the city’s problems recently for The Atlantic Monthly’s new AtlanticCITIES page, and I’ll be keeping track of him as he tackles his wishlist.

Here’s my story. What do you think of Mayor Emanuel thus far?