Latest Blog Posts

Kiss Your Ash Goodbye

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

The little buggers aren’t here yet, but emerald ash borers are on the way. Maybe. The larvae of the green insects kill ash trees, much the way Dutch Elm Disease wiped out Elm trees a few decades ago.

So do your civic duty. If you see any metallic green insects walking around this spring, squash ‘em.

An Odd Kind of Hope

November 23, 2007 at 10:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Several local families are watching carefully for more news about potential human remains found today near 120th and Van Dorn. That one of those families could receive closure in their search for their lost loved one is both good and tragic.

Black Friday

November 23, 2007 at 4:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I really don’t like the term “Black Friday”. It’s such an ugly term. It reminds me of the Black Death. That’s not what the marketers are going for, I’m sure. Then again, some people would say that the rampant consumerism that happens on Black Friday is somehow analogous to the Black Death. That characterization is a tad over-the-top for my tastes, but then again, so is Black Friday.

Anyway, The Wilsons will be venturing into the Black Friday crowds today, if only by accident. The Missus scheduled a family photo at JC Penney’s at 1:00pm. Yes, we’re going to Gateway on Black Friday. And yes, I’m getting my photo taken in the middle of a Husker game. *sigh* Look for us if you’re out there. We’ll be the only people at Gateway not shopping.

Are any of you braving the Black Friday crowds today? What deals did you get?

It’s Snowing!

November 21, 2007 at 3:54pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Ahh, it warms my heart to see the first snow of the season falling on the Capital City. Welcome, winter! I missed you!

Oh cheer up, warm weather lovers. May is practically right around the corner.

Classy

November 21, 2007 at 2:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Nothing like a good drive-by shooting to give hunters a boost in reputation. You can almost hear the twang of the banjos, can’t you?

Judge the Price Tag

November 20, 2007 at 2:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

A preliminary estimate of the proposed UNL research park’s cost to taxpayers is $300 million. Quick, what’s your first impression of that price tag? Got it? OK, read on.

My first impression was that the cost sounded about right. It may even be a bit on the low side of my expectations. The overall public/private investment estimate is around $1 billion. Again, that feels about right. The Antelope Valley’s price tag has been pegged at around $1 billion as well ($250 million public, $750 million private).

I hope the debate over State Fair Park’s future use doesn’t turn into a simple decision centered on the cost of the available options. The issue is so, so much more complex than simple dollars. At play are the emotional attachment to the State Fair; the future of UNL; usage of a critical piece of Lincoln real estate; and dozens of other factors.

I support UNL’s vision for the land. I don’t want Lincoln (or Nebraska) to lose the State Fair, but the Fair’s potential contributions to the city and state are far below what we should expect from a research campus. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about the Fair’s future, but right now the evidence doesn’t suggest to me that the Fair is a good long-term investment. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise. A research park, on the other hand, is an excellent long-term generator of quality jobs, tax income, and private investment.

Getting back to UNL’s estimated price tag, $300 million, despite being near my expectations, certainly isn’t cheap. I would be much more comfortable with spending that kind of money if I knew that private research firms were committed to starting up operations on opening day. I don’t doubt that’s possible—even likely—but it’s something we won’t know until we’ve committed to building the park. Classic chicken and egg. Generally speaking, Nebraskans like the sure thing, or at least what they perceive to be the sure thing. Right now, the State Fair—in existence for years and years—is the sure thing. Unseating it will be no easy task.

Bruning Bowing Out?

November 20, 2007 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Could it be true? Is Jon Bruning leaving the Senate race before the race even really begins?

If it is true, I don’t get it. Why quit so early? I don’t think he’ll win, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he could win. And it’s not like he and Johanns have to worry about beating up on each other so much that a Democrat could sneak into the seat. Nebraska’s Democrats are down to, what, their 43rd choice at this point?

Maybe Bruning’s campaign knows something we don’t. Perhaps they’re afraid more details about Bruning’s inappropriate behavior could come out if he stays in the race. That would screw up his Senate ambitions and his career as Attorney General. Maybe there’s some other skeleton in his closet.

Or perhaps Bruning is just choosing to focus on the areas in which he knows he can have success. It’s an awfully conservative approach for somebody as driven as Jon Bruning, but it’s not an unreasonable way to go.

Without some external motivator, I don’t understand Bruning’s decision. (If it’s true, of course.) It seems premature. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time Bruning’s actions have confused me.

So Far Today

November 19, 2007 at 4:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Have you ever wanted to know what’s going on in Lincoln today? View the summary.

That’s a Lot of Cash

November 19, 2007 at 3:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Nebraska is sitting on $540 million in cash reserves. That could be a good thing. We want to be prepared for the all-but-inevitable collapse of the corn ethanol industry, for example. (Was that too cynical of me?) Or it could be a bad thing. It’s cash that could be in taxpayer pockets.

What would you advise the state to do with that cash?

Street News

November 19, 2007 at 3:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

How’s all that street construction around the city doing? South Street is open, Pioneers Boulevard is open, and I hear South 27th around Yankee Hill has at least partially opened. The O Street bridge, of course, is closed for the next year. Any other streets around town we should know about?

Speaking of streets, I’ve had an annoying revelation. It won’t be long before the fastest way for me to get to Omaha will be taking HIghway 2 to Highway 77 to I-80 and around the north side of town. The “84th Street Freeway”, which I’ve relied upon for so long, is slowly but surely bogging down with traffic. How are those South and East Beltways coming along, Lincoln?

LJS Comment of the Day

November 17, 2007 at 3:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t know about you, but I get a kick out of reading the comments at journalstar.com. Sometimes they are witty, sometimes depressing, and sometimes hilarious (often accidentally). “Lee Baugh” left a comment last night that caught my eye regarding the proposed arena and convention center:

Who cares about public participation? Lets be honest, do you really want the lowest common denominator making decisions that could very well determine the future of our City? The average citizen in this town cares more about who the next football coach will be or what Britney Spears is up to, and comparatively nothing about economic development, economic multipliers, tax incentives and tax breaks for investors. If we listened to the majority of voters, we’d still be picking up the pieces from the one term Al Gore presidency. I think the sensible among us can see the fallacy in following the majority. I, for one, trust the business community and the investors in this community to make the best choices when it comes to business and investment issues. The rest of you can have your say when it comes to issues you actually have expertise in, like flipping burgers or greeting consumers at Wal Mart. Investors, shareholders, and the self employed are the real heroes in a capitalist society like the USA. To be against this project is un-American. If you don’t like it, move to Massachusetts.

There’s a lot going on in there, all of it worthy of discussion. Some of his points make for pretty good debate fodder. For example, do we really want “the lowest common denominator” helping to make decisions? It’s an inflammatory question, sure, but an intriguing one if you’re willing to dig into it. And he is right that most voters—even those not among the group Mr. Baugh labels “the lowest common denominator”—are ignorant of many important topics. He also leaves plenty of room for ridicule. Being against the arena is “un-American”? Who knew?

At least he thinks I’m a “real hero”. That makes me feel good about myself.

So have at it, folks. What does Mr. Baugh get right, and where does he miss the mark?

What’s the Difference? One Gross Million

November 16, 2007 at 2:47pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The difference in cost between building an “ideal” Fair somewhere else and sprucing up the existing facilities is about $144 million, according to the latest consultant report. I suspect the $175 million figure for a new Fairgrounds and the $31 million figure for a refurbished Fairgrounds are too high and too low, respectively. Even still, there’s every reason to believe the gap is at least, say, $80 million, and quite likely more.

I’m not surprised that the 2015 Vision folks aren’t phased by any of this. They’re thinking about benefits to the state far exceeding any of these costs. And good for them. They’re thinking big. But how in the world are they going to convince the public to support their ideas to enough of a degree that key decision-makers who oppose their ideas change their minds? Selling their vision to Lincolnites isn’t too big of a challenging. Selling it to folks in McCook, Chadron, and Norfolk, on the other hand, was just made much, much more difficult.

Berans Drop Their Suit

November 16, 2007 at 2:44pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Beran family has dropped their suit alleging negligence against LPS. Brady Beran, you probably recall, suffered a serious head injury during a high school football game. His injury forced LPS to reevaluate its policy about not paying to have ambulances present at sporting events. Today, Three Eagles Communications pays for the cost of ambulances at high school football and soccer games.

Snow News is Good News

November 16, 2007 at 2:42pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

SNOW!!!

Sorry, I just wanted to get the snowphobic all riled up.

Learn to Share

November 15, 2007 at 2:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I want to support the idea of the University of Nebraska and the State Fair sharing the same land. It sounds like a fine idea. Compromise, yay!

Sometimes compromise is great, but more often than not, compromise creates as many problems as it solves. This may be one of those cases. In the short term, a land sharing agreement would be fine. Sure there would be some problems with parking and transportation during the Fair, but those issues could be resolved. In the long term—say, 15+ years out—there’s no way a successful Fair and a world class research park can commingle. If we’re going to put resources into both the Fair and the research park, eventually the two will butt heads. And then what?

If UNL is going to create a research park at State Fair Park, eventually the Fair has to leave. Not today, and not necessarily five or ten years from now. But that time will come, and it will come sooner than we might think. That doesn’t make the land sharing idea a bad one in the short term, but let’s not forget that a compromise today is only putting off the inevitable.

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