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Tickets for Sale: NU vs. ISU

September 30, 2005 at 8:01pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

For sale: Two tickets to the NU vs. ISU football game on 10/01/05. $90 for the pair (face value). Cash payment only, please.

The tickets have been sold.

 

Blighted Farmland?

September 29, 2005 at 2:19pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Is it just me, or is Lincoln going a little blight crazy these days?

ZT in the Big O

September 28, 2005 at 2:28pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Omaha is fighting Zero Tolerance nonsense after a butter knife fell out of a four-year-old’s backpack.

City Council Doublespeak

September 27, 2005 at 2:32pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It’s a bad policy, but we’re going to keep it around anyway.

That’s the word from the Lincoln City Council regarding Lincoln’s ban on movie theaters outside Downtown with more than six screens. By all accounts Lincolnites oppose the ban. That’s a surprise to Councilmembers:

Councilwoman Robin Eschliman said she long has supported Lincoln’s theater policy but was shocked by the public’s opposition to the policy and Douglas Theatre Co.’s domination of the movie market. The Grand and all of Lincoln’s first-run theaters are owned by Douglas.

“Lincolnites have had 20 years to get used to this policy, and they still do not support it,” Eschliman said.

That’s right, Ms. Eschliman. They don’t support it because it’s bad policy. A policy doesn’t magically earn support merely by virtue of its age. Apparently, though, 23 years is too old for a policy. “Eschliman favors changing the policy in a few years.” Well, sure. Three years make all the difference. Or maybe seven, says Jon Camp. Ken Svoboda thinks five to seven years sounds good. Or “down the road,” according to Patte Newman’s wishes. Or even “perhaps at a certain date or based on economic criteria downtown,” says Annette McRoy.

“To do nothing is to somewhat endorse a single (theater) operator,” Eschliman said. “I believe we need to be a welcoming community, not a community that turns its back on those who want to invest in us.”

Wait wait wait. Wait. To do nothing is to endorse a monopoly. We need to allow businesses to invest in our community. And therefore we are going to do nothing, continue endorsing a monopoly, and prevent businesses from investing in our community?

Councilman Dan Marvin makes the valid point that “it wouldn’t be fair to Doug

las to change the rules now” because “we’ve asked Douglas to play by certain rules [and] they’ve played by them.” Normally I would scoff at that sort of statement, but the City of Lincoln really has jerked Douglas around. The City played hardball in getting Douglas to build The Grand. Although Douglas is a willing recipient of the perks associated with having a monopoly in town, the City is the one that has provided that monopoly.

Had the Council flat-out supported the theater policy, I would have been disappointed. But at least they would have showed conviction. As it stands now, however, the Councilmembers have, yet again, proven to have the backbones of jellyfish. They admit the policy is flawed, yet they will neither overturn it nor commit to its revocation according to specific and predictable criteria. We are truly governed by boobs.

That’s a Lot of Blight

September 27, 2005 at 2:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I agree that West O Street could use some sprucing up. But designating 1,361 acres as blighted seems like overkill. That’s a whoooole lot of opportunities for shenanigans like eminent domain abuse. Hold on to your butts, folks, this could get interesting.

Happy Faces

September 26, 2005 at 7:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I love watching tourists as they enter and exit Nebraska Bookstore. It is a destination for them, a Place We Have To Go While In Lincoln. They accelerate as they walk in, and they almost always turn back to look into the windows just one more time when they exit. They are drawn to the place. It is great fun to observe individuals and groups as they enter and exit the store, something which I get to do almost every day while walking to and from my office.

Not So Grand

September 22, 2005 at 2:27pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I doubt this surprises most of you, but The Grand isn’t doing as grand as either the city or Douglas Theaters had hoped. The article does a good job of showing how dirty the city’s hands are in the fiasco that is The Grand. The article states that the city squeezed Douglas to take a risk on The Grand in exchange for allowing Douglas to maintain its monopoly in Lincoln (via the restrictions on theaters outside of Downtown). That Douglas didn’t call the city’s bluff shows how little common sense the company used before diving head-first into a project that few people outside of City Hall and the Downtown Lincoln Association thought could succeed. It doesn’t help that The Grand’s interior is not especially well designed, and that, despite its moniker’s implication otherwise, it is just another theater. Douglas didn’t even bother to follow the nationwide trend of sprucing up food and drink options at the snack bar.

I can’t help but be reminded of another project for which expectations among a few were high, but support from the public was weak. Like the Archway Monument, The Grand can be saved. (The question of whether or not it, like the Archway, should have been built in the first place is moot at this point.) But at what cost? Specifically, at what public cost? Lincolnites have already been forced to chip in over $3 million to support a theater that few of them have been willing to support with their business. Is it fair to ask Lincolnites to help out again by keeping out the very competition they may want to support?

Fire Steve Pederson!

September 21, 2005 at 4:30am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The title of this post is a lie. I don’t actually want Steve Pederson to be fired, but apparently a whole bunch of people do. How do I know this? Well, for one thing I’ve blogged on the topic before. But that was last December. Surely Husker fans are over that by now, right?

Wrong.

I’ve been watching some interesting trends in my referrer logs lately, and a ton of people have been coming across Lincolnite by searching for “fire steve pederson” or variations on that theme. It isn’t just the same guy over and over again, either. Different people, coming from different search engines, using slightly different search phrases. Day after day after day.

You’d think some people aren’t happy with the offense or something.

Sunset

September 21, 2005 at 4:16am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Did you all catch the sunset tonight? It was a good one. I love this time of year for its sunrises and sunsets.

New Taxes on the Way

September 21, 2005 at 12:38am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The City Council quietly approved a new joint public agency with Lancaster County.

The JPA would have taxing authority, and would use the money to secure right-of-way for an east beltway and fund the Rural to Urban Transportation Streets program. The RUTS program would help the county build roads in a way that would make them easily converted to city road standards as the city grows to encompass them.

It’s good to see the city and county playing nicely together, but this is a little bothersome:

The prospect of increased taxes wasn’t enough to bring anybody out to the public hearing, however.

I can think of a lot of good reasons for that, but one possibility in particular jumps out at me: Did anybody even know this decision was about to be made? My plan for Lincolnite is to help fill those knowledge gaps. Until then, most Lincolnites will only find out about these decisions ex post facto.

72 Percent of Lincolnites Think I’m an Idiot

September 20, 2005 at 2:30am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It’s a sobering figure, but according to a survey conducted by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services regulation and licensure section of data management a whopping 72% of Lincolnites think I’m an idiot. Err, that is, they support Lincoln’s smoking ban. (I, on the other hand, think it is evidence of majoritarian tyranny. Hence my idiocy.) In related news, those same 72% of Lincolnites think liberty is “ok in theory” but in practice liberty should take a back seat to “my right to tell others how they ought to live their lives.”

What I find most amusing about the smoking ban is that it criminalizes private behavior on private property, forcing that behavior into public space. That strikes me as bass ackwards. Isn’t it in the public interest to force undesirable private behavior out of the public space and into private space, where only those who are willing to be subjected to the behavior will be so subjected?

Here’s an alternative smoking ban for you: All smoking is banned in all public spaces, indoor and outdoor, and in any location in which those present do not have the freedom to choose whether or not to enter that space. (An example of the latter would be when a public entity, such as the city, holds a public meeting or event in a private space.) All smoking is banned in any space occupied or inhabited by any individual unable to freely consent to being in the presence of cigarette smoke. In other words, smoking is prohibited anywhere children are present, including private residences and vehicles. Smoking is permitted in all other locations, including all businesses, so long as they post a modest sign or decal at every entrance to the building or designated smoking area. If smoking and non-smoking areas are to be provided within the same facility, the amount

of smoke-related material in the air of the non-smoking area must be below [some stringent air quality standard I’m not qualified to specify]. Smokers may occupy the same space as persons who do not consent to the presence of smoke if some sort of (probably hypothetical) technology is employed that completely contains the smoke.

That’s a smoking ban I can support. Why? Because it values the right of private individuals to behave as they wish on private property, while protecting the health and well being of every individual who does not or cannot consent to being in the presence of tobacco smoke. It also severely limits smoking outdoors, which eliminates the “smoking corridor” problem near the entrance of major buildings, and it will dramatically reduce cigarette-related litter in public spaces. The most obvious concern is banning smoking in private space whenever children are around. The ban has to be structured that way because children are, legally speaking, unable to consent to the types of risks smoking presents. It’s not like such a restriction is without precedent. Society requires children be raised in much safer environments than those that adults can live in if they choose.

My ban sounds a bit backwards, I suppose. But which is more backwards? Pushing an obnoxious private behavior into public space, where non-consenting individuals are forced to put up with it against their will? Or keeping that private behavior isolated in private space—away from all public space—where only consenting individuals have to (get to?) put up with it? Which is more Orwellian (if by majoritarian means), and which embraces the (supposedly) American notions of liberty and personal responsibility?

LPD Bags a Big One

September 19, 2005 at 2:19pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Something tells me Brent Musburger had some choice words for Lincoln’s boys in blue after one of LPD’s finest cited him for consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle.

The LJS Investigates E10

September 16, 2005 at 2:22pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Journal Star ran a good article on ethanol this morning. I applaud the LJS for reminding consumers that E10 unleaded is typically not as efficient as regular unleaded gasoline, though it can still be cost effective. But one thing really bugged me about the article: the basis for many of the calculations made in the article, that E10 unleaded decreases gas mileage by 1.5%, comes from a single study (PDF) by the American Coalition for Ethanol. With all due respect to the integrity of the folks at the American Coalition for Ethanol, I’m going to take the results of their study with a very large grain of salt. Surely other studies on E10’s effect on gas mileage have been conducted. I’m a little disappointed—but sadly, not surprised—that the Journal Star didn’t make an effort to look for comparable studies from a non-industry source.

Money Runs Short at 48th and O

September 15, 2005 at 2:28pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Expected federal funding for the 48th & ‘O’ redevelopment didn’t pan out. 48th & ‘O’ is incredibly valuable property (blighted designation aside). Why are tax dollars needed to support the project anyway?

Nebraska Wesleyan: We Aim for Excellence; We’ll Settle for Idiocy

September 15, 2005 at 2:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Everybody’s favorite puking documentarian, Morgan “Fulla Bolgna” Spurlock, is in town to speak at Nebraska Wesleyan’s “Visions & Ventures Symposium.” Apparently each year the symposium invites America’s biggest frauds to give the keynote address. In that case, Spurlock was an obvious choice.

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