Latest Blog Posts

Firetruck Saga: Finished?

October 31, 2006 at 2:00am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Could it be true that the firetruck fiasco is nearly over? Police Chief Tom Casady announced today that no charges would be filed in the case. The conclusion of the investigation seems to be that, although aspects of the deal were shady, nothing rose to the level of criminal behavior. That’s probably right. In any event, I’m just happy we can close yet another chapter in the saga. Now if we could just get a new chief hired…

Oh Happy Day

October 30, 2006 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Gooooood morning, Lincolnites!

It works better when said through a bullhorn, and when followed by the complete reconstruction of your home, but it’s all I’ve got right now. Anyway, I’m way too busy to write much of anything substantive this morning, but a fantastic day like today deserves a chipper “Hullo!”, so there you go. Have a great day, all.

Friday Five

October 27, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

My head feels like it’s being pounded by a baseball bat, so today’s Friday Five is probably a little lacking in the creativity department. I give you, five random demographic facts about Lincoln:

  1. Estimated population: 240,000
  2. Median regisdent age: 31 years
  3. Median household income: ~$45,000
  4. Most dominant ancestry: German (35-40%)
  5. Average cost of new home construction: $163,000

Mission Creep

October 26, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

How did the Mayor’s Arena Task Force end up debating an issue like moving the State Fair? A quick glance at the City’s website didn’t uncover their charge. Is this a case of mission creep, or was the State Fair a part of their original charge?

Thank You Thursday

October 26, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m very lazy when it comes to writing thank you notes, and I think we all, from time to time, forget to thank people for what they do. So today’s assignment: write a thank you note in the comments to a Lincolnite or local business or organization. Some brief rules:

  1. Only serious notes, please. Leave the snarkiness at the door.
  2. Try to write a note to somebody you wouldn’t normally thank.
  3. Major bonus points if you actually send the note.

My thank yous for the day:

  • Thank you, Inna’s, for trying. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.
  • Thank you, LIBA, for making Lincoln talk about complex topics.
  • Thank you, YMCA Youth Sports, for ensuring that every kid can play.

Smiling on Lincoln

October 26, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln has a negativity problem. Read the comments on just about any article at journalstar.com and you’ll see what I mean. Bitch. Moan. Repeat. And it’s not just an online issue, of course.

(I’m guilty of negativity more often than I would like to be. For some reason I come across as much more negative in writing than in person. Many of you who have never met me probably think I’m quite sour. I’m not, I swear!)

Why are we so negative? We live in a great city. We may not have everything we want—I hear 98% of Lincolnites really really really want a Cheesecake Factory—but it’s pretty hard to argue that we don’t have darn near everything we need. Midwesterners, as a general rule, tend not to be especially giddy, so it’s probably in our collective character to be a little down. But that doesn’t explain all of it. I think the fact that we have so many irons in the fire—beltways, Antelope Valley, an arena, thousands of blighted acres up for redevelopment—with completion uncertain or years off plays a role as well.

What does Lincoln need to break out of the negativity trap? A marketing campaign? A Husker football National Championship? Maybe. I think a strong, confident leader would help. One of my biggest complaints about Mayor Seng is that she doesn’t have a very convincing public presence. She doesn’t project an aura of “Lincoln is a great town and you’d be a fool to think otherwise”. I think that would really energize people. That’s not to say Seng is at fault for Lincolnites’ negativity; not at all. But she could do a better job helping us turn our frowns upside down.

Are a grin on our faces and a skip in our steps really that important? I think so. I think one’s attitude has a lot to do with one’s success, and the same holds true for groups. Perhaps the next One Book, One Lincoln book should be The Little Engine that Could.

Do you see the negativity too? What can be done about it?

Busloads

October 25, 2006 at 5:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I have been pleasantly surprised to observe that Lincolnites haven’t been bailing out on Star Tran, despite declining gasoline prices. I thought for sure that once gas prices started dropping, so would bus ridership. It has happened before. Instead, ridership—at least on routes 3 and 16—has been fairly constant. What’s different this time? I don’t really have any theories, except that perhaps people discovered that riding the bus isn’t nearly as scary as they had been led to believe. And for folks headed to and from Downtown, it really can be quite convenient and inexpensive.

A Few Good Lincolnites

October 25, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Melissa Lee’s piece in this morning’s Journal Star on local business leaders struggling to find a solution to brain drain in Lincoln caught my eye. As I read the article, I kept picturing a room full of flustered 40-pluses stumbling and bumbling as they tried to unlock the secrets to connecting with young minds. Such a scene would make great sitcom fodder.

I see a few problems with current efforts to get young people active in the community. First, many of Lincoln’s active community groups are perceived as insular, closed-off, old boys (and girls) networks. The fairness of that perception varies widely by group, but as I so often tell people, perception is reality. Membership in many groups seems to be based more on who knows whom than anything else. Some people call that networking; others call it isolationism.

The next problem is that efforts to engage young people are very frequently tied to business and entrepreneurship. That has two effects: it blocks young people who aren’t interested in business; and it almost invariably leaves the impression that money is a prerequisite to involvement in the community. One seems to have to already have money, or have the goal of making lots of it. Engagement efforts ought to promote community entrepreneurship, rather than leaning so heavily on business entrepreneurship.

Last, as a result of the first two problems, engagement efforts miss a tremendous number of bright and motivated young people. A common perception is that you have to be part of the L Magazine crowd to play in Lincoln. What about the young teachers, preachers, mechanics, and (non-wealthy) stay-at-home parents? What about—if you’ll pardon the momentary hubris—people like me, not to mention people like many of you regular Lincolnite readers? Granted, in my case a good chunk of the blame lies with me. I am, and always have been, an extroverted introvert. I hesitate to involve myself in new social situations, but once I’m in, I tend to become a leader. That hesitation has kept me from going out and pursuing opportunities I probably should have pursued. But what gets me is that despite for years knowing and working with several members of various local leadership groups, all of whom are familiar with my passion for Lincoln, not one has ever asked me to join, or even to attend an event. Shouldn’t somebody, after all these years of running Lincolnite, have said, “Hey, here’s a guy who loves Lincoln. I’m going to drop him an e-mail and see if he wants to join our team”?

That’s not to say, by the way, that Lincoln’s community groups are doing a bad job. On the contrary, many local organizations have done excellent things for the community. I want to emphasize that. But if they want to improve—and they seem to—then I would suggest they step outside their comfort zones a bit and look around. A whole bunch of Lincolnites are sitting quietly in the classroom, while the boisterous kids get all the attention. Will the teacher recognize that silence doesn’t equal disinterest and call on those who may have an answer the other students overlooked?

Happy Snowversary!

October 25, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Where were you when Lincoln turned white nine years ago?

I spent the evening with The Missus (then she was The Girlfriend) and her family at their house on Gertie Street. We probably played Scrabble or watched a movie. Whatever we did, we weren’t paying attention to the weather outside, despite the house’s large windows in the living room. When I went to leave late in the evening, I said my goodbyes, opened the front door, and…stopped. I turned and rather uneloquently said, “Uhh, there’s a tree on your front porch.” And there was, too. A small tree in their front yard had bent over and plopped itself and its heavy white cargo right in front of the door. That should have been my first clue that something unusual was going on. But I was a stupid college student, so I simply climbed over the tree and waded to my car.

Even at that point I didn’t realize how much snow had fallen. Once I had pulled onto Gertie, however, reality quickly set in. Mere blocks from the house the power was out. It was snowing so hard that I actually had to turn off my headlights and turn on my parking lights in order to see. (The headlights just reflected every which way off the snow, showing me nothing more than a wall of white in front of the car.) As I pulled onto 40th Street an important realization hit me: if I stopped the car, there’s no way it was going to start moving again in all that snow.

Fortunately there were very few vehicles on the road, so I didn’t ever have to stop. The fallen (and falling) trees and power lines were a little unnerving. I couldn’t tell exactly where the road lay, so I just stayed between the houses and aimed for the traffic signals (most of which weren’t working). Once I made it to Capital Parkway I was joined by two other vehicles and we formed a caravan toward Downtown. At 27th Street our caravan picked up a police car, the driver of which didn’t seem to have any idea what to do with the mess unfolding before him. Eventually I made it to the UNL campus, where I ran into a new problem. Cars were stuck near the entrance to my parking lot. Again, I could have done the smart thing and just abandoned my car on the side of the street (several others already had). But no, I hit the gas, somehow navigated between all the cars, and stopped near to a light pole.

The dorms were abuzz with activity, as one might expect. Already students could smell a class cancellation. (And they were right; classes were eventually cancelled the following Monday and Tuesday.) Many of them spent the next few days getting wasted. I spent the next few days getting a workout by helping people dig their cars out of the mountains left behind by the snow plows.

And The Missus? She had the unfortunate pleasure of spending the next week cooped up in her powerless house with her parents, and a fallen powerline set their fence on fire. I’m sure a few of you can empathize.

Already?

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

It seems like the new county jail was just completed, and now plans are already in the works to build a new one. How is it possible that the current jail lasted so little time? And based on its short lifespan, why should we trust the consultants who tells us that a new jail should last until 2025?

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

October 24, 2006 at 5:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Any move is a loooong ways off, so there’s no point in getting all in a twit defending your position. But with talk of moving the State Fair becoming more and more common, I have to ask: Where would you move the State Fair? Do you agree with moving it to North 84th Street, or would you go elsewhere? Or would you stay put?

If it weren’t for the millions of dollars the Fair brings to Lincoln every year I would suggest moving it to the tri-cities of Grand Island, Kearney, and Hastings. But hey, I like those millions, so I’d rather keep it here. Honestly, I don’t necessarily care if it stays put or moves. I do, however, place any move awfully low on the priority list, and I would oppose any move that substantially drains public and private resources away from other local commitments and priorities.

Extreme Lincoln Makeover?

October 24, 2006 at 1:00am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Rumors are flyin’ around town that Ty and the Extreme Home Makeover crew are due in town next week. Froggy 98.1 morning show personality Gary is apparently the originator of the rumor, his source being his brother’s girlfriend. Is it true? We’ll have to wait and see. If it is true, look for the Huskers to be involved somehow, and you can count on Cindy Lange-Kubick to track Ty’s every move.

Right Woman, Wrong Road

October 23, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

When I first saw that the local chapter of the NAACP wants to rename part of Capitol Parkway after Rosa Parks, I thought, “Oh man, that would be a pain! Think of all the addresses that would have to change…”

Then I realized that they’re talking about Capitol Parkway from 9th Street to Highway 77. That deals with my initial concern—nobody has an address on that stretch of Capitol Parkway—but it raises another: how much of an honor is it to name such a boring, unloved stretch of pavement after someone? Not much, in my opinion.

So then I tried to come up with a better road to (re)name. Three possibilities immediately came to mind: the new north/south Antelope Valley roadway; the South Beltway; and the East Beltway. I think the Antelope Valley roadway already has a name, but since most of it doesn’t exist yet, renaming it would take little more than changing a few planning maps. The beltways, I admit, are almost vaporware at this point, but due to their prominence they would be more of an honor. Some day.

Another possibility that I would propose is giving Highway 2—aka “Nebraska Highway”—a “real” name. Once the South Beltway is completed it won’t be Highway 2 any more. And personally, I think that renaming it will make it seem less like a highway, and therefore people will treat it less like one. (Cornhusker Highway, I suppose, could also be a candidate, but its environs will take a lot of work before I would consider naming it after Rosa Parks.)

What current or future stretch of road would you name after Rosa Parks?

Loopy Logic

October 23, 2006 at 12:30am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Sometimes I wonder if the Journal Star editors really think about their editorials before they put pen to paper. Consider the opening paragraph of today’s editorial:

Gov. Dave Heineman showed that he could accomplish the improbable when he made up a 40-point deficit to win the Republican gubernatorial primary. That augurs well for his performance in a full term as governor.

To recap: Dave Heineman is a good politician. Therefore, Dave Heineman will make an excellent full-term governor.

I don’t follow. The politician theme continues as the editors describe Heineman as “a politician who positions himself carefully” to manipulate situations “to his political advantage”, and he is “the sort of politician” who “has a network” consisting “of contacts he has made over the years.”

Frankly, I don’t think Nebraskans want to or ought to choose their governor based on his political savvy. Political skill gets one elected, and it gets one advanced through the party hierarchy; it has little to do with one’s fitness for the governorship, or any other public role. I have no doubt the Journal Star editors more or less agree with me (based on earlier editorials I’m too lazy to go look for right now). So why make “he’s a good politician” a cornerstone of their rationale for electing Heineman?

White Stuff

October 21, 2006 at 1:48pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

First snow of the season: 8:45a.m.

Granted, it’s just barely snow, and none of it is sticking. But it’s still snow.

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