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You’re Right, We Shouldn’t Care What He Thinks

October 31, 2007 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

This new county jail is starting to look like as big a boondoggle as the LFR firetruck fiasco. Let’s run down a partial list: we paid way too much for the land; the location is iffy at best; the projected cost is 50% higher than a new jail in Iowa that is twice as large as our proposal; and today the Journal Star tells us that nobody has bothered to consult the Sheriff, who makes no bones about not liking the plan.

Anybody with full confidence in the County Board on this one raise your hand.

It’s About Time

October 30, 2007 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m still not sold on all of the new routes, but as for StarTran finally making changes—any changes—to its stale and anachronistic routes, it’s about time. The new routes will go into effect next summer.

Ultimately, however, I wonder if the changes won’t make things worse for StarTran rather than better. There will still be empty buses and the routes still don’t do a good job of moving people around the city efficiently. Most critically, StarTran continues to believe that (nearly) all buses should circulate through Downtown. Until somebody gets it through the StarTran folks’ heads that doing so is a tremendous waste of time and resources, Lincoln’s bus service will continue to be crummy. Imagine instead a system with, say, three hubs scattered across the city. Such a system would require more transfers, yes, but it would also serve more destinations more quickly, meaning more passengers, and thus more money.

Also holding down bus service in Lincoln is the notion that big buses running infrequently (every 30-60 minutes) are better than small buses running frequently (every 15-20 minutes). For years StarTran has claimed that large buses are just as cost-effective as small buses. I’m not in a position to judge that contention. But I can declare with full confidence that the public would be far less put off by five people on a small bus than five people on a full-size bus. Furthermore, let’s not overlook the notion that the perception of success and popularity helps breed success and popularity. I won’t explore that in detail here, but it’s a powerful force to be reckoned with. Take a look at the presidential campaign if you don’t believe me.

Anyway, I’m hopeful next summer’s changes lead to at least some improvements in efficiency and effectiveness for StarTran. But I won’t hold my breath.

Memories of Pioneers Park

October 30, 2007 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I love Pioneers Park, and I’m happy to see some investment going into the Nature Center.

I have oodles of fond memories at Pioneers Park. I remember racing my dad up the hill to Smoke Signal. I remember having picnics with the family on Sundays. I remember playing Frisbee golf among the trees. I remember when the concession stand used to be open every day, and occasionally my parents would buy me a frozen malt. I remember sledding down Choo Choo Hill, weaving and dodging the other sledders, and occasionally crashing and eating snow. I remember running cross country races through the park. I remember the only cross country race I ever won, a JV race on a cold, wet, autumn day. I remember taking walks with The Girlfriend all throughout the park, and I remember the walk during which I was so nervous I was going to lose the ring or forget my words, I barely said a peep.

I hope Robbie grows up with fond memories of Pioneers Park. It’s a different place than it was when I was a kid, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I often wish that, in addition to planning to make a splash for Lincoln’s future entertainment options with a new arena and convention center, Lincolnites would also plan to make some noise with another great recreation and leisure option. Some sort of Pioneers Park II or Wilderness Park II, perhaps in the vicinity of Stevens Creek. I wonder if such a park will ever see the light of day?

Not Kuhl

October 29, 2007 at 1:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Did you hear the news that Kuhl’s is closing? Or at least, their lease won’t be renewed after March 2008.

It will be sad to see a locally-owned, Downtown staple disappear off the map, if that is indeed what ends up happening. I can’t say I was ever impressed by the place, but hey, a local favorite is a local favorite. You’ve got to do something right to keep customers for 40 years.

Do you have any classic Kuhl’s memories? Do share!

People Live Over There?

October 29, 2007 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Say goodbye to your West O friends. After November 12, you may not see them for a year.

I won’t be surprised if we lose a business or two during the construction. I suppose it’s inevitable, especially if the business is already having a rough time. At least this project has been in the planning stages for three years, so folks have had time to prepare.

Do you ever go to West O? I know I don’t. West O is a huge turn-off for me. The word “bugly” was coined to describe things like West O. It ranks up there with parts of Cornhusker Highway on the list of Lincoln’s ugliest roadways. If there were more ways to access that part of town I have no doubt the problem would take care of itself in no time. At least there’s Capitol Beach and some other nice neighborhoods once you get off the main road.

A question for those of you who live in or frequent the area: What businesses should Lincolnites be sure to help support during the construction period? Any favorites that may have an especially hard time getting by?

Grizzly Adams Causes a Wreck

October 29, 2007 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Manley man falls asleep while driving, hits trailer

Lunch at 9 South Chargrill

October 28, 2007 at 7:59pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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Last week we went to the 9 South Chargrill on 9th and South. I ordered the hamburger, which like all the sandwiches comes with a choice of two sides (I ordered onion rings and potato salad - which makes for a very filling and reasonably priced meal for $7-$8). I really enjoyed my burger. Having a really good burger can speak volumes about a restaurant, and the burger at 9 South Chargrill was definitely very, very good.

The burger was so big that it left me with that sluggish, drugged feeling of having a third to a half a pound of red meat in my gut. But it was also on a really nice toasted bun (which didn’t fall apart) with fresh lettuce, tomato, and red onion. Additionally, the burger was very nicely seasoned - enough seasonings that if you don’t like putting on heaps of ketchup or mustard (which I despise) the ground beef patty can stand alone on its own. Somehow, I also managed to have this vanilla malt for dessert as well, which was just as equally satisfying.

Mr. Wilson – who has been there before - had a philly cheese steak. He mumbled something about it being much better meat and less greasy than the cheese steaks he is used to.

I would recommend people try out 9 South Chargill if they are looking for a good lunch. It’s a pretty nice establishment and it was packed with families, office-types, and blue collar workers when we arrived. The kitchen and cook(s) were within open view, the wait staff was courteous and not overbearing, and the overall environment was really pretty classy for a place with a straightforward “Nebraska menu” without being pretentious.

This Hallow’s Eve: Where in Lincoln?

October 27, 2007 at 12:17am By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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After work today I was nearly run over by bikers rushing home to catch the “Magnum P.I.” reunion on TV tonight. And I caught a picture of one assailant. Where in Lincoln is this? I am going to be very surprised if someone doesn’t get this one - Especially if some of you Lincolnite regulars don’t know this location. Happy Halloween all.

Corporate Restaurant Notes

October 26, 2007 at 4:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

A couple observations from recent trips to two fast food chains:

First, The Missus and I hit the downtown Taco Bueno a week ago. It was underwhelming, which is pretty much how Jeff Korbelik describes it as well. Although the meal was forgettable, the bill was not. Actually, the price we paid at the store wasn’t so bad. But then next day when I checked our bank account online, I was pretty shocked to see that we had been charged $72.38. Huh? I let it sit for a couple days to see if it was some sort of weird debit card glitch. Apparently it was. The $72.38 was credited back to the account without me having to do a thing. In the end, the meal was free. Odd.

Last night I ate at Popeye’s for the first time. I had just wrapped up a soccer match and my dad and I were looking for a place that was open at 9:45pm. We found Popeye’s at 70th and Pioneers. The two girls behind the counter were very friendly, despite the fact that the store was supposed to close in just a few minutes. They fed us well, gave us more food than we paid for, and smiled the whole time. It wasn’t your typical almost-closing-time fast food dining experience. As for the food, I’d eat there again. It was no four-star grub, but it wasn’t half bad for fast food fried chicken. I really should write a letter to the store’s manager. Thanks to those two girls, that location is assured a return trip from me. Surely that deserves a little recognition.

A Nice White Blanket

October 26, 2007 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’ve been waiting for the Journal Star’s coverage of the October 1997 snowstorm as my cue to reflect on one of Lincoln’s all-time greatest weather events. That storm was awesome. Sure, there was plenty of damage and inconvenience, and two Nebraskans were killed. I especially don’t want to minimize the impact of the deaths. But as a weather event, you really have to admire Mother Nature for that one. It was a doozy.

Then again, I love dramatic weather events. When I happen to get caught in the middle of such an event, even better. I still can’t believe my poor Ford Tempo made it through Lincoln’s dark streets that night. These days it can hardly drive through a rain storm, much less through snow. I remember finally pulling up to the University parking lot, only to realize that even if I were to make it through the snow-packed driveway, how was I supposed to know where the parking spots were? I eventually opted for the “gun it until you hit a snow drift” method of entering the lot and parking. The method worked pretty well, except it took me forever to unbury my car later that week.

Can you imagine being a visitor to the city that weekend? Ha! Those people are probably scarred for life, swearing to never again to return to Lincoln.

If you weren’t in Lincoln at the time, you really missed out. Now you have to put up with everybody else referring to “The October Snowstorm” and waiting for them to finish their stories—which you’ve heard 100 times—any time it comes up. No worries; every generation has its great weather event. Hang around for a while and you’ll find yours.

Changes

October 25, 2007 at 11:41pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with Kathy Rutledge before, and must say that she is one great person. Best wishes on whatever the future brings.

A Lincolnite’s Scuffle with the TSA

October 25, 2007 at 1:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincolnite Jake Rhymes with Cake had a bit of a run-in with the TSA at Pittsburgh International Airport. I’ll say this first: his comparison of his incident to the movie Rendition is way over-the-top. Let’s be honest, the two situations aren’t even close.

That doesn’t mean Jake’s experience isn’t serious, however. The relatively minor damage to his laptop isn’t the issue. Accidents happen, and it sounds like the guard who dropped his laptop just goofed. But then the guard did not respond properly according to Federal regulations. He should have either told Jake how to file a claim, or he should have directed Jake to the supervisor. The supervisor also responded contrary to Federal regulations. She should have told Jake how to document the damage and whom to contact. Taxpayers are out a few bucks for the damage, Jake goes home satisfied that the problem is in the resolution process (but not happy about the damage), and the guards go on about their day. Problem avoided.

Of course that’s not how events unfolded. If you follow TSA-related stories in the news and around the web, you’ll know that TSA officers are not known for their competence, their consistent adherence to regulations, or their desire to protect civil liberties. (Or, for that matter, their desire or ability to ensure travelers’ security.) Sadly, Jake’s situation is but one of countless similar situations, and it will be quickly forgotten as a result. He may end up being reimbursed for the damage, but that’s beside the point at this juncture. Law enforcement and security personnel have to get these things right the first time. Getting it right only after the victim spends hours forcing the issue is morally equivalent to never having gotten it right at all. In this case, what could have been a complete non-event instead becomes yet another example of TSA officers on a power trip.

Now, to put a local spin on this, my interactions with TSA in Lincoln to date have been, at worst, neutral. Some of the officers have an unnecessarily customer-unfriendly demeanor—I’m not looking for Cold Stone-style singing, but “Good morning” would be nice—but I haven’t experienced anything resembling misconduct. The officers appear to do their job, and they do it relatively efficiently.

Do You Recall?

October 25, 2007 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Hawthorne’s supporters are talking about a recall to get back at the School Board members they disagree with. That’s a great civics lesson to teach the kids, isn’t it? Forget regular elections, if you don’t like an elected representative’s single vote, just try to kick ‘em out right then and there. (And even if you don’t succeed in booting them, at least you’ve intimidated them a bit.) Personally, I prefer to reserve recalls for more serious matters than simple policy disagreements.

Not that I don’t have some sympathy for Hawthorne’s supporters. I do. But then they go and say things like this quote from Chip Stanley:

“We want representatives that think for themselves and listen to their constituents.”

I have to suspect Mr. Stanley doesn’t really want his representatives to think for themselves. He wants them to think like him. Now, that’s not an atypical attitude. Of course we want our reps to vote the way we want them to vote. But is the best response to pout and demand a recall whenever things don’t go our way on a major issue? Besides, Board members clearly did “listen” to their constituents, both literally, and in the sense that they fielded phone calls, read e-mails and, presumably, followed the coverage in the news.

Mr. Stanley goes on to levy an accusation at Board members:

“We’re tired of a rubber stamp board that is doing the will of (Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent) Susan Gourley and the administration.”

I wasn’t aware that Dr. Gourley ruled over the Board with such an iron fist. Can anybody with knowledge of LPS confirm or deny the “rubber stamp” charge?

In the end, I have to suspect that any recall effort will fail. My guess is that most Lincolnites desire efficiency and cost savings more than they desire Hawthorne to remain an elementary school. If the recall is going to succeed, supporters will need to make the case that the Board’s vote will cost more than it will save.

A Great Idea ... Except for All the Bad Parts

October 25, 2007 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Creating a new low-income housing development at 10th and Military seems like a great idea. Except:

  1. It’s in a flood plain
  2. It will require the expensive demolition of asbestos-tainted buildings
  3. It involves public land, but bids were not sought
  4. It may require approval from the Army Corps of Engineers
  5. And the Navy

Just to make those complications more fun to deal with, if the project doesn’t move forward by November 30, the project will lose out on a heap of state tax credits.

Other than that, the project should be a breeze.

Short Film Lovers, Show Your Stuff

October 24, 2007 at 1:59pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Got an idea for a short film? Got one sitting around the house you’d like to show off? Enjoy watching classic and new short films? On Wednesday, November 14 at 6:00pm head over to the Ross for an event hosted by Nebraska Independent Film Projects. Read the press release on the inside for details.

Read more...

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