Latest Blog Posts

A Chat with Jeff Crandon

October 29, 2005 at 12:18am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m going to chat with Scrumpy Jacks owner Jeff Crandon on Monday morning. Lincolnite is seeing a ton of hits from people searching for information about Scrumpy Jacks, so I’ve offered him a couple options for spreading information about his restaurant until their website goes online. Stay tuned.

Pedos and Peepers and Flashers, Oh My!

October 28, 2005 at 8:31pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln is in the early stages of a serious discussion about the rights of individuals convicted of sex crimes (aka “sex offenders”). Please humor me while I engage in a bit of a lunchtime stream-of-consciousness monologue.

Lincoln is in the midst of what is known as a “policy window.” The opportunity is ripe for modifying sex offender-related ordinances in Lincoln for several reasons. First is the fear that sex offenders will move to Nebraska from Iowa because communities there have enacted restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live. Many individuals have effectively been forced from their communities. Second is the recent sexual assault at Arnold Elementary School. Those two events, among other factors, have increased paranoia among the general population, and especially among parents and grandparents of young children. Lincolnites are ready to kick all sex offenders out of the city, with Police Chief Tom Casady leading the way.

The comparisons to post-9/11 Americans’ willingness to sacrifice liberty for perceived security are difficult to ignore.

Indeed, it’s the “perception” thing that gets to me. Do these No Sex Offender zones actually work? Do they protect anyone? Are repeat sex offenders more likely to commit their crimes within 2,000 feet of their homes than outside of that zone? I suspect there’s a short-term drop in sex crimes after these laws pass—that’s just a hunch, not based on facts—but does the drop hold over time? Do buffer zone laws cause sex offender registration to drop, thereby pushing more people under the radar? Those aren’t rhetorical questions. I really want to know the answers. Does anybody have them? Can we as a society enact this sort of legislation in good conscience without knowing the answers to these questions?

And what of the rights of the individuals being punished? Like it or not, they do have rights, and most of them aren’t monst

ers. Most are willing and able to be rehabilitated. Some of them already have been rehabilitated and want nothing more than to become productive members of society. They should be punished, sure. When one commits a crime against an individual one forfeits some rights in proportion to the crime committed. But punishments, except in very rare circumstances, should not be perpetual. They should be limited and well-defined. And punishments should be meted out by the criminal justice system, not by municipalities, and certainly not by the reactionary public. I have no problem with a judge telling a particular criminal that he cannot live within certain boundaries or engage in certain acts during the course of his probationary period.

I don’t support the type of restrictions Mayor Seng and others are proposing. I can’t. They’re too shallow, too reactionary. They are bad policy.

I know I’m nowhere near the majority on this topic. Some people have genuinely thought through the matter and have come to different conclusions than me. I’m fine with that. But I fear most people never get beyond the superficial notions that “It’s for the children!” or “Sex offenders are icky!” Those are the people I have a problem with. The proposed ordinance deserves a long, difficult community discussion. I hope it gets one.

Lincoln’s Best (and My Favorites, Too!)

October 27, 2005 at 7:38pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Wondering where to eat? In my latest Front Porch column I give you tips on where to eat When You Care Enough to Eat the Very Best.

(Comments on this blog post are closed. Leave your comments with the article.)

CA Waller at the Lied

October 26, 2005 at 8:53pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

From my inbox:

Hey y’all,

The folks at the Lied Center have decided that it would be better if I played the big house on Tuesday, November 15th, at 6 pm (hence the series name, FREE AT SIX).  Now, I had originally asked that the performance be in the Carson Theatre (smaller, more conducive to the blues), but the crowds have been larger than they had expected.  This is a concern.  Filling a 200-300 seat theatre less than full is not exactly great, but it is easier on the psyche than a much, much, much larger room filled with that same number of faithful.

SO, please spread the word that CA WALLER is playing the Lied on the above date.  Support live & local talent (or, in this case, me).  Thanks.

Craig Lowe, aka CA Waller

Consider the word spread.

Virtual Blight

October 25, 2005 at 2:26pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

In case you missed it, the City Council voted unanimously yesterday to declare 1,800 acres of land in north Lincoln blighted. It’s really just a financing trick, so it’s not nearly as big of a deal as the messier Samurai Sam’s and 48th & O blight designation boondoggles. And yet, I’m concerned. I see a pattern of behavior where Lincoln is tossing around blight designations rather flippantly. Need we fear a slippery slope, I wonder? Consider:

  • In The Grand case, the City used a blight designation to help buy out property owners who were willing to sell anyway. The move kept Douglas Theater Company’s costs down significantly.
  • In the so-called Samurai Sam’s case, a developer said “I want that land.” The City said “OK, here you go!” Public outcry halted the property theft, but just barely.
  • At 48th & O, the City has a general redevelopment plan in mind. Rather than build upon the success of the businesses already there, the City wants to bulldoze the entire area and start from scratch.
  • All of West O has been declared blighted (opening the door to land-takings and other shenanigans), when the City really means merely to encourage investment and development in the area.
  • And now a huge swath of mostly-empty land in north Lincoln has been declared blighted.

Does blight actually have any meaning any more? Is a blight designation becoming an unnecessary show of force the City will use in less and less appropriate situations?

No-Bid is No Good

October 25, 2005 at 2:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The bidding process for the proposed police substation in University Place may or may not have been fair. But the fact is, a whole bunch of people perceive the process to have been unfair. Urban Development Manager Wynn Hjermstad said there is no problem because “the project has been handled the same way all other redevelopment projects have been” handled. That’s hardly a sufficient explanation; the mere fact that something has always been done a certain way does not make that way correct.

Governments—local, state, and national—seem to continuously get themselves in trouble over insufficient contract bidding competitions. Wouldn’t a wide-open, competitive bidding process better serve the interests of the people than a closed or semi-closed process?

Griping Just Got Easier

October 21, 2005 at 2:29pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The City of Lincoln’s new ACTION online complaint management program is a laudable step in the right direction for government transparency in this town. After a very superficial peek at the system, I have to say that I am pleased by its simplicity. Now I just need to come up with a complaint so that I can try out the submission and tracking process. Does anybody out there have a complaint we can follow?

My only disagreement with the program at this point is the name. I’m not a fan of contrived acronyms, which ACTION—Acting with Citizens to Improve our Neighborhoods—most certainly is.

Eatin’ in Lincoln

October 21, 2005 at 2:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I added it to the blogroll a few days ago, but I want to give a more visible shout-out to Swoof’s Eatin’ in Lincoln, a new blog dedicated to—what else?—eating in Lincoln. Bon appetit!

Another Tasty Meal at Crawdaddy’s

October 21, 2005 at 12:43am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Missus and I dined at Crawdaddy’s last night. The food and the atmosphere didn’t disappoint.

Crawdaddy’s is an odd little restaurant. Located at 700 ‘O’ Street, Crawdaddy’s can be difficult to find. But like all diamonds in the rough, it’s worth looking for. Here’s a hint: it’s under the O Street viaduct south of the Creamery building and the old train station. Crawdaddy’s has atmosphere up the wazoo. Like its predecessor, George’s Red Pepper Grill, the emphasis is on the food, not on the decor. It’s a bit of a dive. That’s ok, though; in fact, it helps give the impression that you’re in an old restaurant somewhere off Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Don’t go in expecting the Applebee’s Chipmunk Quintet to sing you a happy song on your birthday. A sign at the bar puts it bluntly: “I am not a bitch. I am THE bitch.” And yet, although the servers won’t win any Miss Congeniality contests anytime soon, they have great personalities. Our waitress last night made fun of a couple out-of-towners for not knowing about Dorothy Lynch, and she harassed another guy for not being able to finish the huge plate of ribs he ordered. She had no problems eviscerating his manliness in front of everyone. The people at Crawdaddy’s actually have personalities. It’s refreshing.

The food is diverse. Crawdaddy’s serves variations on cajun, barbeque, and Mexican. My favorite entree is the Ultimate Big Ass Burrito, a honkin’ meat and beans burrito smothered in the homemade salsa of your choice and topped with jalapenos. If you’re ordering something called the Ultimate Big Ass Burrito, you’d better be asking for the mofo salsa. The Missus goes cajun with the crawfish pie, a cajun pot pie of sorts. It’s a cornbread shell filled with crawfish, tomatoes, red peppers, and all sorts of other goodies. Last night her dish was overflowing with crawfish. I ordered the crawfish etouffee last night, a fir

st for me. It featured a tomato-based sauce filled with crawfish and colorful veggies, served around a mound of rice. It was no Big Ass Burrito, but it was pretty darn tasty.

Prices at Crawdaddy’s vary widely. The cheapest entrees begin in the $6.00 to $7.00 range, and they max out at $49.99 for some sort of massive shareable barbeque platter. Most cajun items come in at around $10.00 to $13.00, while the Mexican items tend to be a bit cheaper.

On Sundays Crawdaddy’s features its famous $.25 tacos. (The less frugally minded can still order off the menu if they like.) It’s a college student’s perfect meal, and the taco line often snakes out the door.  My personal best is 17 tacos. (I actually set that record at Knickerbocker’s on a Thursday, but they’re the same tacos.) Maybe we can have a taco-eating contest some day.

If you’ve never been to Crawdaddy’s, give it a try. You’ll love it. Even my ultra-picky father-in-law enjoyed it when he ate there last year. And if you just haven’t been there lately, what’s your excuse? Support one of Lincoln’s tastiest hidden gems!

Shame on the Journal Star

October 19, 2005 at 2:22pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Journal Star printed an interesting letter to the editor this morning:

Saturday evening’s full-house performance of “Blast!” was interrupted by a fire evacuation after their first number. It seems the stage smoke effects set off the alarm system (although hardly the first time such effects have been used).

The staff is to be commended for the swift and orderly move of the 2,400 or so to the streets where all stood around for more than 20 minutes before two fire department trucks finally showed up. Any alarm from a public building should have resulted in an immediate and substantial response. I understand that only the fire department can reset the alarms.

While it was a false alarm, the slow fire department response reminded me of FEMA. Lincoln police were not even dispatched until the audience was returning to their seats. Many did not return at all. Mayor Coleen Seng, who attended this performance and did return, needs to investigate this serious breakdown in emergency procedures. This Lincoln fire and police response was pathetic and would have been disastrous had it been a real fire.

William R. Ramsay, Lincoln

That’s not good. That’s not good at all! Fire the fire chief! I demand an investigation! But wait, what’s this?

More than a thousand people — including the mayor — evacuated the Lied Center Saturday night after the smoke machine used during the first number of the “Blast!” performance set off a fire alarm.

The drum and bugle corps production was interrupted by an alarm and repeated intercom warnings to “proceed to the nearest exit, there is a fire in the building.”

The audience evacuated the building safel

y and was left to stand outside for some 15 minutes, waiting for firefighters to show up and wondering what was taking them so long.

Fire Chief Mike Spadt said a university operator was alerted but did not notify the Fire Department. Instead, a maintenance person was contacted.

Meanwhile, an off-duty firefighter in the audience called the department.

Once the Fire Department was alerted, firefighters arrived within 40 seconds, Spadt said.

Spadt said he has asked the Lied to discontinue the practice of not calling the department and engaged the state fire marshal to help make sure “it never happens again.”

Doesn’t the Journal Star read its own articles? Wouldn’t it have been appropriate for the LJS to either: a) not run such a misleading letter, or b) include an editor’s note saying “Hey, go check out our other article that explains what really happened”? A lot of newspaper readers go straight to the letters to the editor. All of those readers who did not also read Deena Winter’s article exonerating the fire department will now be angry at the LFD for something that is clearly not its fault.

Get Out Yer Pocketbooks!

October 19, 2005 at 2:18pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

LPS costs could reach $409 million Which, of course, means they’ll reach much more than that.

$400M+ for this, $250M for the south and east beltways, $250M for Antelope Valley, $150M for a new arena… boy, being a taxpayer sure is expensive.

A Slice of Green Cheese

October 17, 2005 at 2:28pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Did anybody else notice the partial lunar eclipse this morning?

Another One Bites the Dust Part II (the rumors)

October 15, 2005 at 11:53pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

As a follow up to Mr. Wilson’s original post on the topic - I found it fitting to share some of the rumors I’ve been hearing about the “real reason” why Klein’s is closing its doors today (since it is closing day). Hell, I live a few blocks away and talk to a lot of my neighbors so word travels fast.

Ok here goes- And this is based on rumors (some credible, some not) partly pieced together with personal observations and a half-assed knowledge of the law:

It was reported in the LJS that Klein’s is losing money. This I can definitely believe. Although I’ve only lived in the near south area for a few years, most people in the neighborhood seem to drive or walk over to Russ’s IGA on 17th and A. Klein’s is the kind of place within walking distance where most people pick up a few things they forgot to get at the larger grocery stores. I go to Klein’s about once a week to pick up $1-$4 worth of items: laundary detergent, a carton of orange juice, a soda, etc.. I doubt the place has sold more than $75 to a single customer in one visit in a few years.

The two twin sons seem cool to me. After all, I am a regular patron, and I give them kudos for being hospitable and friendly to their patrons.

Having said that, I have also witnessed/overhead directly - or heard hearsay (albeit from sources I tend to trust) - of horrible confrontations between the owner and his sons and the employees. And when I mean employees, I mean some of the older women who still work there as cashiers.

And that’s where the rumor mill kicks in. Rumor is: the owner - whether a mix of intentional calculation or poor management - underpaid employees for years. And when I mean years, I mean many years.

So one day, the good old sweet grandmas who have been working there finally wise up and hire an attorney or two. A few weeks later, the Klein’s gets a letter - I imagine registered by US postal - asking for backpay. Like around, say, $50,000 in backpay.

Maybe its just a coincidence that the bankruptcy regs are changing now? Perhaps the attorney’s involved have been brushing up on their corporations law? 

So we all know the story. Liquidate everything now (Klein’s has been selling all goods 50% off for the past week or so). File for bankruptcy. Terminate the corporation. Simmer on medium heat and stir until….Walla! You have an entree called “Semi-immunity from a lawsuit.”   

So what’s next? Well one rumor is the Klein’s will incorporate anew and put in a new “liability-free” store. After all, I guess they have first dibs since they own the entire building. The other neighborhood rumor is that the owner’s of the Mexican-American discount next door (who also own the grocery and taco shop on 13th across from the community center and the El-Charro restaurant) will move in and put in a grocery (although I kinda doubt this since they will be competing against the Russ’s on 17th and A that has really been pounding on expanding its market for near south’s Latino/Hispanic population).

Ahhhh, well. I will report more on Klein’s Corner as things unfold.

Remember, these are all rumors…


Klein’s Last Day, October 15, 2005

October 15, 2005 at 5:52pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

This morning I walked over to Klein’s and took this pic. The sign says “We are closing our business. Thank you for keeping us in your neighborhood for 77 years!!!”


The Wilsons Do Scrumpy Jacks

October 13, 2005 at 2:26pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

[Update 10/28/05: This post is getting a ton of hits from people searching for information about Scrumpy Jacks. Welcome! I have good news: I am going to chat with Scrumpy Jacks owner Jeff Crandon on Monday morning (10/31/05). A feature article will follow shortly thereafter. And to those who are wondering, no, Scrumpy Jacks doesn’t have its own website yet. But it’s coming soon. I will post updates here. In the mean time, won’t you check out the rest of our blogs?]

The Missus and I ate at Scrumpy Jacks last night. Scrumpy Jacks is a new restaurant in Edgewood, where Shogun used to be located. It reminds me a bit of Eighth Street Iron Works, which has since closed. Food options include burgers, chicken, steaks, and seafood, but the entrees are not prepared or presented in your every day way. Prices range from about $7.00 to $20.00; average entree price is probably around $12.00.

I had the Scrumpy Sand (what happened to the wich?), an open-faced steak sandwich with sauteed mushrooms and onions. It was served with an arugula salad and Scrumpy’s homemade waffle potato chips. The sandwich was fine. Not excellent or poor. Just fine. The chips were a nice change. They were still warm when they were served, and they had a distinctive homemade taste. The Missus had some sort of chicken sandwich (my memory fails me). She really enjoyed her entree, enough that she kept eating long after she was full.

Some miscellaneous notes:

  • The atmosphere was nice. Very similar to Iron Works. Dark, cozy. A little noisy, though.
  • Our server was very average. Other servers looked like they were doing a good job.
  • Scrumpy Jacks features a “frost bar.” The bar was, well, frosty. I’m not sure what the point is, but apparently it’s pretty nifty. I’m not really the s it-at-the-bar type, so what do I know?
  • The owner stopped by our table and we chatted for a while. Jack was his father (who passed away about 12 years ago). He added Scrumpy because he thought it sounded good. The owner designed the restaurant’s distinctive—and, in my opinion, very well-done—logo.
  • The neighboring Dough Boy restaurant is owned by the same guy. It will open in a month or so.

I will review Scrumpy Jacks more formally after a follow-up visit.

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