Latest Blog Posts

Attack of the Mexicali Zesto Frog

April 30, 2008 at 5:51pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

A big thanks to beerorkid for grabbing a photo of an interesting partnership—the Zesto at 11th and South now offers up grub from Mexicali Bullfrog. The Bullfrog, you might recall, croaked late last summer. It wasn’t the best Mexican(-ish) food in town, but it was good, different, and locally owned. Plus, it was conveniently located for me to grab a bite after soccer games at Abbott, Nebraska Wesleyan, or Seacrest. This partnership with Zesto doesn’t sound like a situation that’ll survive over the long term, but hey, I’m happy to be proven wrong.

I think I may have to venture out for a burrito and a caramel shake in the near future.

The Wide, Wide World of Lincoln’s Newest Streets

April 30, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I am curious what other Lincolnites think about the width of Lincoln’s newest arterial streets. Take the newest section of Pioneers Boulevard between (approximately) 74th and 84th Streets. When I drive on that section of road I feel like I’m on an expressway. The road is wide, the lanes are wide, and there is that gigantic stretch of useless pavement in the middle that is ostensibly for left turns, but in reality is mostly used to store excess sand and garbage.

I have studied bits and pieces of traffic engineering and transportation planning so I know the basic reasons folks in those fields will give for those features. They’ll cite safety, first and foremost, but they will also talk about traffic efficiencies, vehicle widths, and so on.

As Lincoln struggles to find the cash to maintain its roads and build new ones, I think this is a very relevant topic. Is Lincoln building its new roads too extravagantly, and thus wasting cash we could put to other purposes? Or are we building wisely and safely, planning for future capacity needs, preventing ourselves from having to modify or redo our major roads ten years from now?

Turn Around

April 30, 2008 at 1:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Have you noticed all the new signs around town relating to the legality or illegality of u-turns at various intersections? It seems like they are popping up everywhere. What gives? I had noticed what seemed like a change in the city’s attitude a couple years ago. Back then, I remember for the first time seeing signs that explicitly condoned u-turns. There’s a spot just south of 27th and Highway 2 that comes to mind, but I know there were one or two others as well.

When I was growing up, I remember hearing people talk about how lame it was that Lincoln was so strict about u-turns. “You can do a u-turn in every other city!” was a common complaint. Did something change?

Indeed it did. Apparently, the City Council changed the Municipal Code (PDF) to allow u-turns back on December 19, 2005. I don’t remember reading about the change in the Journal Star or hearing about it on the news. A quick search of the LJS’s website doesn’t turn up any relevant results. So apparently I’m not the only one who missed the change.

For your information, here are some basic rules (PDF) governing u-turns in Lincoln:

  • U-turns are legal at street intersections or median crossovers, unless prohibited or regulated by signage or some other indication;
  • If you can’t make the turn in one continuous movement, it’s not a legal u-turn;
  • You can’t do a u-turn for the purpose of entering a parking space on the other side of the street;
  • U-turns are illegal within specified “congested districts”;
  • Bicyclists are not affected by these restrictions so long as they first yield to vehicles with the right-of-way.

So there you have it. Feel free to turn thyself around!

Cinco de Mayo? It’s Greek to Me

April 30, 2008 at 1:50am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I really, really wish I could go to The Parthenon for their Cinco de Mayo celebration. That’s right, one of Lincoln’s best known Greek restaurants is serving an “authentic Mexican menu” all day on May 5.

What does a Greek restaurant know about Mexican food? That’s a question I would love to know the answer to. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like the Wilsons are going to be able to hit the town that night. If any of you go, I would love to hear how it went.

“I Tell You, I’m a Loner”

April 29, 2008 at 2:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Since I know some of you are big Ernie Chambers fans, I want to point out this profile in the New York Times. Though not a long article, it’s a pretty accurate portrait of Nebraska’s most infamous state Senator.

Cop Catches Perp by Leaning in His General Direction

April 29, 2008 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

That’ll be the headline after LPD puts a few Segways on the streets of Lincoln. Remember Segways? They’re the two-wheeled, gyroscopically balanced doodads that were supposed to change the world. Yeah, that didn’t really happen.

LPD’s Segways are part of a push to both improve service and give the folks in blue a touch of green. If the Segways replace cars, then yeah, they might be a bit greener. But if they’re replacing foot or bike patrols—which is what a Segway would seem most useful for—they’re more wasteful, not less.

Personally, I think we should give cops those shoes with the retractable wheels. That would give officers three speeds: walk, run, and roller derby. The shoes could even have little red lights and sirens. Admit it, you would love to see a bad guy running down the sidewalk with a cop skating in hot pursuit. And the body check into a parked car to end the chase? Priceless.

And the Developer Is…

April 29, 2008 at 1:16pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

We still haven’t answered Question #1—Should we build it?—but if we do build a new arena in the Haymarket, the Scott brothers will lead the charge. Poor ol’ John Q Hammons got left in the dust again. Don’t get too worked up over any details, though. Very little is set in stone at this point. A couple LJS commenters refer to the arena pictured in the mockup as a “barn”, but that is most certainly not what the final arena will look like. For one thing, the rendering shows the arena and hotel as being separated, whereas the textual description in the article says some of the hotel rooms will actually look into the arena.

Interestingly, the article doesn’t say a word about the size of the arena in the Scotts’ proposal. That’s an odd omission considering how contentious that topic has been.

Also interesting, for a much different reason, is the City’s selection of the relatively-untested Robert and Will Scott. The team they bring to the table has a lot of experience with this sort of project, but the brothers themselves are still fairly green. The Mayor’s rationale—well, a portion of it, anyway—is pretty transparent. He wants the local connection. Two Lincolnites can sell the project to their neighbors much easier than an outside group can sell it.

Any thoughts on the choice of developer? Anybody else with me in wishing we could vote on this thing this year, rather than waiting until next year?

The Law is the Law

April 28, 2008 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

As he promised, Neal Obermeyer turned one of last week’s conversations into a cartoon in Sunday’s Journal Star.

The Stubbornest AG in the U.S.?

April 25, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Attorney General Jon Bruning is stubbornly refusing to cooperate with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission on housing discrimination cases involving illegal immigrants. Bruning says that undocumented individuals are not entitled to the state’s support. The NEOC says that the individuals aren’t receiving support, rather federal law is being enforced. Almost everybody around the country sides with the NEOC.

The immigration issue isn’t the only problem here. The Attorney General’s office has been a thorn in the NEOC’s side for quite a while. The NEOC says the AG won’t investigate cases like he is obligated to do; the AG says the cases are poorly investigated by the NEOC.

Regardless of who is right or wrong by law, this seems to be the sort of situation that illustrates just how wishy-washy we are on immigration issues in this country. If being here illegally is, well, illegal, why aren’t landlords within their responsibilities to deny housing to illegal aliens? Isn’t it their civic duty to prevent people engaged in illegal activities from living on their property, just as it is their civic responsibility to boot out, say, folks operating a meth lab? The one thing Bruning has going for him on this issue is the consistency of his assertion that illegal means illegal. Protection from housing discrimination is not an inherent right—such as protection from bodily harm—to which illegal immigrants are entitled.

Is this a case of everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong? Any guesses on what the outcome will be?

Just Up the Road

April 25, 2008 at 1:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The folks just up the road are having a heck of a time dealing with a soccer player getting shot at a middle school, along with gun-related incidents at an elementary school and at Westside High School. I’m sure LPS officials are awfully nervous right now, lest the trouble make its way down the interstate.

No More Volleyball Downtown?

April 24, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It looks like the days of playing sand volleyball Downtown are over. Oh well, sand volleyball courts aren’t exactly the most efficient use of space, and if their removal means Downtown gets some fresh retail and office space, so be it.

9 South Gets Thumbs Up for Booze

April 23, 2008 at 10:06pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Looks like 9 South Chargrill can finally sell alcohol. I’ll see if I can find out when they will actually begin offering alcohol with meals.

Ethics Schmethics

April 23, 2008 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Yeah, why doesn’t the City have a true ethics code? Why has it been tabled for six years?

Ours is a Pepsi Town

April 23, 2008 at 1:49pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t think I have ever blogged before about how odd I find Lincoln’s passion for Pepsi over Coke. When I travel, it seems like Coke products are the default pretty much everywhere, and by a wide margin. Not in Lincoln. I’ve never done a census, but sometimes it seems like Pepsi’s lead in terms of restaurant contracts is 70-30. The margin probably isn’t that big. Still, it’s much easier to get a Pepsi in this town than a Coke.

Now Matt Olberding tells us that our new theater owners are Pepsi people. Marcus has to honor Douglas’s current contract with Coke, but whenever that expires you’ll get/have to enjoy a Pepsi with your popcorn.

I wonder why we’re such a Pepsi town? Surely UNL’s contract with Pepsi has something to do with it, but that’s a chicken-and-egg circle. Is Pepsi cheaper for businesses? Is the service better?

I wouldn’t care who served which pop if only Coke would put Mello Yello in more machines. You can only get Coke’s version of the yellow stuff at a few places in town. Until they increase Mello Yello’s distribution, I’ll continue to look for the nearest Pepsi machine for my periodic dose of Mountain Dew goodness.

The Results are In

April 22, 2008 at 1:46pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The results from the Mayor’s budget survey are in, and though the raw data aren’t yet available, we do have some basic numbers to work with. Emergency services came out on top by a wide margin, while public transit came in dead last. Neither of those two results is surprising. One of government’s most fundamental jobs is to protect the citizenry, so emergency services should always score high. On the other hand, public transportation has a terrible reputation in Lincoln—much (but not all) of which is well earned through mismanagement and missed opportunities.

At this point it isn’t clear what the outcome of the survey will be. I suspect at least two things will happen. First, I suspect the City will have to find additional revenue to cover part of the $6 million budget shortfall. Yep, despite respondents’ disapproval of tax increases, I think that’s what we’ll see. I don’t see how the City has much choice. Second, I expect (or at least hope) to see more pressure placed on LPS to take good care of their budget. LPS is the big pig at the trough, after all, and the City ought to be tired of taking more than its share of the blame for the local property tax rate.

My biggest “Huh?!” moment comes when I look at the results to the question about how people would pay for their highest budget priorities. Fifty-eight percent of people said they would either keep current funding levels; increase taxes; or take the money from elsewhere in the budget. An astonishing 42% of people want to use “some other approach”. What other approach? Put out a tip jar?

What are your thoughts about the survey results?

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