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April 20, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Lincoln Journal Star’s political leanings are no big secret, and it’s not like they have any obligation to be “fair and balanced”. (Any news organization that says it is without bias is lying.) But this morning’s article by JoAnne Young on Bush’s budget cuts struck me as particularly slanted and sloppy.

Actually, I’m just moaning because articles like this remind me how much I miss finding real news and intellectual stimulation in my newspaper. Oh well, the Journal Star is what it is. And lately, it’s like reading a print version of Lifetime.

Outsourcing Legal Assistance

April 20, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The City Council opted to hire a private attorney rather than use the City attorney after being sued by Developmental Services of Nebraska (DSN). The five Council members who voted against allowing DSN to add a fourth individual to three of its group homes will be questioned under oath regarding the case. DSN argues that the City’s policies are discriminatory and create a shortage of housing in violation of federal law.

The lawsuit itself doesn’t bother me. These sorts of things happen, and ultimately they help clarify what everybody’s responsibilities are in terms of protecting individuals’ rights.

I am a little concerned about the Council deciding to hire a private attorney, however. The action seems unnecessary considering the City has its own attorney on the payroll. I know several of my regular readers have legal training. What’s your take on this? Is it a reasonable action, or does it strike you as unusual?

Raising Cane’s Coming to Town

April 19, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Swoof, over at Eatin’ in Lincoln, has noted that Lincoln is about to be greeted by a Raising Cane’s restaurant near 48th and ‘R’ (obnoxious website warning). Apparently it’s a chicken finger joint with a bunch of locations in Louisiana. As far as I can tell, their menu includes chicken fingers, fries, and cole slaw, in various combinations. (Fingers, fries, and cole slaw; fingers, extra fries, and cole slaw; lots of fingers, lots of fries, lots of cole slaw; and so on.)

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly contain my excitement.

One quick question for the grammarians out there: what’s with the apostrophe in Raising Cane’s? Raising Cane’s what? Raising Cane’s blood pressure? Raising Cane’s car insurance premiums?

Colleen Seng Has Gas

April 18, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Since that whole thing with the fire department taking over ambulance services went so smoothly, Mayor Seng would like to get into the gas business. I bet I know where she’ll propose to put it.

$2.7 Million for a Long Strip of Grass

April 18, 2006 at 12:00am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Is $2.7 million for 130 acres of linear parkland along the South Beltway worth it? That’s $20,769 per acre, or about $.48 per square foot.

I’m torn on this one. On the one hand I like parks—who doesn’t like parks?—and I enjoy it when major roads are softened by green space rather than miles of strip development. On the other hand, $2.7 million for little more than a strip of weeds (the money doesn’t include development costs) seems a bit pricey, especially in the context of Lincoln’s overall economic picture. Lincolnites are being asked to fork over a hefty chunk of change these days: $250M for schools, $250M+ for the Antelope Valley Project, and on and on.

Jerry Hoffman, president of the Nebraska Trails Foundation, notes that the bond would only cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $1.60 per year. That argument works in a vacuum, but it degrades quickly when you begin to add up all of the “insignificant” costs we’re already saddled with.

Not only am I not sure how I will vote on this issue, I really don’t have a good feel for how Lincolnites as a whole will tend to vote. Are they willing to put up with another “insignificant” cost now in order to benefit from gains they won’t see for at least a decade? Or did the LPS bond issue zap much of their generosity? I’m looking forward to listening in on conversations over the next few weeks.

Defend the Racial Division

April 17, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I have been against the three-way OPS split since I first heard about it. Problem is, I’m not sure why. Most of my opposition has been purely reflexive. But that’s sloppy. Reflexive opinions are fine in limited cases where a quick decision is necessary, whereas for deeper, longer term problems, reflexive opinions are not especially useful.

So I’ve thought about the OPS division a fair bit these past few days. And you know what? I still don’t get it. I can’t understand why such a big chunk of the Unicameral thought it was a great idea. I’m missing something, some big, important detail. But what?

Some say that smaller districts are better. Perhaps that’s true. But why is it the state’s job, rather than the local residents’ responsibility, to determine how big is too big? Senator Ernie Chambers had the gumption to point out the elephant in the room by bringing race into play. He says black people should be in charge of black people, whites in charge of whites, and so on. But then why not a boys district, a girls district, and a “confused” district? Or districts for the smart kids, the average kids, and the special needs kids? The jocks, the geeks, and the artsies?

Surely somebody can explain this to me. If that somebody is you, have at it. Even better if you can explain the implications the three-way split has for Lincoln.

Friday Five

April 14, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Five things to do this weekend in Lincoln:

  1. Wake up early and take care of spring yard clean-up and garden prep.
  2. Attend the Spring Game.
  3. Take a walk to Coyote Point at the Pioneers Park Nature Center.
  4. Invite some friends over and play Lincoln On Board on the patio.
  5. Grab an ice cream cone from Ivanna Cone.

One City, Three School Districts

April 13, 2006 at 10:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

A white district, a brown district, and a black district. It’s an entire rainbow of fun up in Omaha. I just can’t get over it: a race-based, Ernie Chambers-endorsed school district resegregation plan just flew through the Unicameral. Bizarro.

As long as we’re dividing school districts, let’s do Lincoln. How would you divide up Lincoln into three screwed up districts (not necessarily by race)? I think my (extremely rough) plan would look like:

  1. Everything north of ‘O’ Street and west of 70th Street
  2. Everything south of Old Cheney Road plus everything east of 84th Street
  3. All the rest

Grounds for Impeachment?

April 13, 2006 at 5:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

As much as I think Dave Hergert is a putz, I don’t think his impeachment is appropriate. As Matthew Hansen points out, the debate seems to focus more on moral conceptions of right and wrong than on the legality of the vote. While it is fine for the public to offer up simple arguments like “what he did is just plain wrong and therefore he should be kicked out of office”, I’m bothered that our state senators are using the same rhetoric. When politicians start using “it’s just wrong” as a justification for their actions, somebody (or a group of somebodies) is going to get screwed.

It’s easy not to get fired up about these indiscretions when the involved party is somebody like Mr. Hergert. I don’t know if Mr. Hergert is really the villain he has been portrayed to be, but the guy really hasn’t done much to exonerate himself in the eyes of Nebraskans. He could really use some PR training.

But not getting fired up is, in the eyes of the politicians involved, the practical equivalent of supporting their actions. I support their disdain for Mr. Hergert, and I agree with the tongue-lashing Mr. Hergert has received from the Legislature. But his impeachment—which went against the best legal advice of nearly everybody the Unicameral consulted—I do not condone. Long story short, the Unicameral has voted to waste taxpayer resources to engage in what in all likelihood will turn out to be a quixotic and short-lived adventure through the courts. Will our senators’ quest to prove their moral superiority prove worthwhile? Doubtful, especially when one considers all of the time and energy they could have put into more productive pursuits.

Dave Hergert’s impeachment will benefit no one and punish at most one person. Is that a cost-benefit ratio you’re willing to support?

Campaign Ads

April 11, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Two notes about advertisements in the Nebraska governor’s race:

  • Tom Osborne has a new radio ad campaign going right now. One of the ads asks, “How often have you had the chance to vote for someone you felt like you really knew, someone you watched for more than 30 years?” I told myself early on that if Osborne pandered to Husker fans with shameless “vote for me because I was a good coach” pleas he’d get knocked down a few notches in my book. Consider him knocked down.
  • I heard a Dave Heineman ad on Z-92 this morning. It was the (or a) “Good for Dave Heineman” ad. Whoever is responsible for that thing should be kicked in the shins. Does the Heineman campaign really expect anybody to take that ad seriously? I’ve heard parodies that weren’t that tacky.

In other news, I caught just a couple minutes of David Kramer on Z-92. He probably made some friends (or at least soothed some enemies) with his appearance. The guy sounded pretty good on the radio. Very senatorial.


April 10, 2006 at 11:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

This isn’t directly a Lincoln issue, but I’m putting it here anyway. Nebraskans enjoy complaining about taxes, and a common complaint is that Nebraskans pay more in taxes than do residents in other states. The Census says that’s only half right: Nebraska is 24th in per capita taxes, at $2,158.36. In other words, we’re not too far from average.

Whether or not we get a decent bang for our buck is a whooooole other issue.

Rescuing the Rescuers

April 10, 2006 at 5:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Lincoln Fire Department needs help because many of its promises failed to materialize after it took over ambulance service in 2001.

The city-run ambulance service lost nearly half a million dollars last year, owes about $1.5 million to the city and has requested a $250,000 city subsidy this year.

The ambulance service has been run by the Lincoln Fire Department since 2001, after voters were convinced [the fire department] could deliver the service faster, better and cheaper.

Did you hear that deafening roar just now? That was the plan’s critics hollering a simultaneous “I told you so!”

Immigrants’ Rights March Today

April 10, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Folks who want to join in on the immigrants’ rights march today will want to meet at Cooper Park (6th and D) between 9:00am and 10:00am. The plan, as I understand it, is to march to the Federal Building at 10:00am. Participants are encouraged to wear white.

Whether you plan to be a participant, a counter-protester, or a passive observer, please play nicely. And a quick piece of advice for participants: despite what you may have been led to believe by watching your bretheren march in other cities, waving upside-down or modified American flags isn’t likely to earn you or your cause much respect.

More on the inside.


The Link

April 10, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Congratulations to all of the participants in The Link, Lincoln’s first (hopefully annual) urban adventure race. I really wanted to participate, but with all of the soccer I’ve been reffing this spring, there just wasn’t any time to do any bike training. (That, and my bike is a mess right now.)

I would love to hear from any participants. How was the race?

Accomplishments? Uhh, We’ll Get Back to You

April 7, 2006 at 6:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I know this is a bit juvenile, but it’s Friday, so get over it. I was looking for the KPMG convention center study on the City of Lincoln website so that I could read the report over lunch. (I still haven’t found it. Anybody got a copy?) While I browsed around, I stopped by Mayor Colleen Seng’s website. On her site she lists her accomplishments.

The page is blank.

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