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Tornadoes, Sirens, and Telephones

April 11, 2008 at 1:06pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Apparently Lancaster County will soon have an automated phone call system in place to warn people in the path of a tornado. It’s one extra measure—in addition to sirens, television and radio warnings, and, you know, those scary looking clouds—to let people know they need to take shelter. It could be particularly useful for nighttime tornadoes.

Details are slim, though. The linked piece and a quick blurb in the Journal Star are all I’ve heard about it. I have a bunch of questions. Where do they get the phone numbers? How do you add a phone number? How do you opt out? What circumstances trigger a call? Will the program succumb to feature creep? The system is supposed to go online in a month, so presumably most of the answers will come then.

Coming Soon: JQH Arena!

April 10, 2008 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t know if John Q. Hammons’ proposal is the best option. But I do know I like the fact that Hammons’ company is interested in Lincoln’s arena / hotel / convention center project. Why? Because Hammons is a very successful businessman, and he is no dummy. He’s not going to work hard to get involved with a doomed project. Indeed, it may be telling that Hammons backed out of the “Catalyst One” project early, focusing instead on the Haymarket project.

Also interesting to note is that Hammons’ proposal includes a convention center up to 60,000 square feet—the size desired by City officials, but double the size recommended by a consultant. It’s comforting to know that the people with money on the line think a bigger convention center will succeed. Then again, a big chunk of the funding for the convention center could very well come from us, so it’s easier for a developer to be willing to gamble.

Now to sit back and see if the Scott brothers reveal any details about their proposal.

So Long, Wasabi Robbie?

April 10, 2008 at 1:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Long-time Lincolnite regular Foxspit contributed the following piece:

A much-anticipated lunch outing to Wasabi with my co-workers was stopped dead in its tracks today when we discovered that the restaurant is only open for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s still open in the evenings.

I noticed that they were loading out a big screen TV and some other things, so I’m led to believe this may be the beginning of the end for Wasabi.

I hate to see any local business suffer and I can’t help but think that Wasabi has never fully recovered from the move foisted upon it by the City’s impatience to replace the restaurant with a parking lot. I can see why they were in such a hurry, it is a pretty sweet parking lot. Thank goodness we aren’t bothered by those pesky, taxpaying local businesses anymore. Speaking of which, did China Inn (is that what it was called) ever relocate anywhere?

Anyway, a co-worker made a pretty astute observation. If a sushi restaurant is struggling, he doesn’t want to eat there. It’s never good to cut corners with raw fish.

The World’s First Weight-Loss Burger

April 10, 2008 at 1:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

If more fast food chains would try this, the obesity epidemic would reverse itself in no time:

Culver’s, 4940 N 27th St., March 21: Employee taking non-prescription medication in preparation area; and SlimQuick tablet found in customer sandwich.

Sadly, this isn’t some ploy by Culver’s to help its customers lose a few pounds. The Journal Star adds: “Note: Joyce Jensen of the Health Department said an employee accidentally dropped the non-prescription pill in the food prep area, searched for it unsuccessfully and hoped that it had fallen on the floor.”

Tokyo Review

April 9, 2008 at 2:33pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

If I piqued your interest yesterday with the post about Tokyo Steak House, you will want to check out the Wiscos’ review.

To the East

April 9, 2008 at 1:43pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I hadn’t really looked at it on a map until this morning, but now I see that the first continuous north-south street east of 84th Street is 112th Street. It extends from Highway 6 on the north (good) to Pine Lake Road on the south (bad—ideally it would stretch to Highway 2). Are any of you familiar with the length of 112th Street? If I wanted to take that road from, say, Pioneers Boulevard to Highway 6 in order to bypass 84th Street’s traffic, is it a good enough road that I would save time? How much of it is paved?

No Peeking!

April 9, 2008 at 1:32pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Deena Winter sounds a little annoyed by the City in her most recent column as she walks us through her efforts to get the City to release information about the Haymarket arena proposals. The Journal Star went all the way to the Attorney General, but they came away (mostly) empty handed. City officials are keeping the proposals locked up tight. One of the developers no longer in the running for the job has said he’s surprised by the City’s stubbornness; most cities, according to Greg Garfield, open up records to public inspection, or at least limit less of the materials.

Ms. Winter also notes that Dr. Tom and the City are “very, very close” to reaching an agreement that would place the Huskers in the new arena. That’s consistent with what a little bird is telling me. In fact, it sounds like the Huskers are much more likely to be tenants than not. That is huge, huge, HUGE news for the arena. A whole host of fence-sitting voters would be much more likely to vote to fund the arena if the Huskers will play there.

Has Anybody Been to Tokyo?

April 8, 2008 at 1:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I have heard exactly zero, zilch, nada about Tokyo Steak and Seafood House since it opened in March. The new restaurant is located in the Bishop Heights shopping center at 27th and Highway 2 in the former location of Bob’s Gridiron Grill and Jax—both of which I miss—where it’s easy for folks to forget about it. For example, word of mouth is what helped Bob’s take off, and the loss of it—plus the fact that they switched to fake mashed potatoes!—hastened its doom.

Have you been to Tokyo Steak and Seafood House? Do you know anybody who has? What’s the buzz out there?

A Snowball’s Chance This Spring

April 7, 2008 at 2:09pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Place your wagers: Will it snow again this spring? Or are we going to make it through April (and May) without any more flakes?

(Not) In a Rut

April 7, 2008 at 2:04pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I realize I don’t drive nearly as much as many of you do. But in my travels around town I haven’t noticed very many gaping potholes so far this spring. There have been a few, sure; there always will be. Yet all of the most substantial holes on all the routes I frequent have been patched pretty quickly.

Have your tires been eaten by any potholes this spring? Have you noticed any persistent problem spots the City has missed?

Tell the City About Your Budget Priorities

April 7, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The City’s budget priorities survey is now online. The survey gives Lincolnites a chance to rate the relative importance of various aspects of the budget, and to provide written feedback on a number of topics.

I haven’t completed the survey yet, but so far it’s pretty much what I expected it to look like. I do worry that some populations will have a hard time with the survey. I’m not sure that a lot of “computer inexperienced” people will be able to figure out the drag-and-drop interface, for example. It looks pretty, but it isn’t necessarily intuitive to those who aren’t used to it. I am also concerned that the form isn’t “accessible”. That is, according to my testing the form is unusable by visually impaired users, and it is very difficult to use for those with certain mobility impairments. Phrased more bluntly: a lot of handicapped people are going to have troubles with it.

Fortunately, a paper version of the survey is available at all city libraries. That fact isn’t stated on the online survey website, but the Mayor’s press release confirms it. That should be a viable option for most people that the online version misses.

If you use the survey, let us know your thoughts, both about the survey instrument and about the topics it covered. Is it useful? Were you surprised by anything?

Syruppy Fingers

April 4, 2008 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Well thank goodness Lincoln’s Village Inns aren’t closing. No seriously. There just aren’t that many breakfast options in Lincoln, and I love breakfast.

Hmm, I wonder who has the best breakfast in Lincoln? I think a lot of folks would push for Stauffer’s and Green Gateau. You’ve got your classic “healthy” (hah!) options at Hi-Way Diner and Shoemaker’s. There are the Hy-Vee restaurants. And then of course there are the various Sunday brunches around town.

Where do you go out for the best breakfast in Lincoln?

We’re Down to Two

April 4, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Two finalists have been selected for hotel and convention center projects that will accompany the new Haymarket arena—if voters decide we want the arena. The finalists are: John Q. Hammons Industries, of Embassy Suites and aborted hotels on Q Street and 17th Street fame; and Robert and Will Scott of WRK LLC, who have been very actively lately in a number of projects around Lincoln. There are no details on either of the proposals.

We do know a little bit about the proposals that didn’t make the cut. One proposed a 7,000 seat arena—a far cry from the 15,000 - 16,000 figure often thrown around by the folks with the loftiest goals. Another developer is dubious about the amount of private financing the two finalists might be proposing, implying that taxpayers are in for more of a hit than we’re being told. If true—and remember, this is coming from somebody who lost the bid, so take it with a grain of salt—it would not be surprising. It’s almost a truism that the public gets sacked with a much larger bill than they were promised in these things.

I want to take a quick moment and critique the Journal Star’s headline on this news: “2 finalists selected for arena project”. There is a lot of confusion among the public about the distinction between the arena, and the hotel and convention center projects; who is in control of each part; who will pay for each part; and how much say the public has at each step of the way. To me, the use of the phrase “for arena project” in the headline is very misleading. Sure, the project is related to the arena, but in fact the developers are working more on the stuff that sits next door to the arena, not the arena itself. To be fair, it’s all sort of one big jumbled mess at this point—especially since voters could still shut down the entire project—but it would be nice to see the Journal Star try a little more actively to help clear up the public’s confusion.

Calling Time Warner and Windstream

April 3, 2008 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sure wouldn’t complain if Comcast were to bring a little 50 mb/second action to Lincoln. Suddenly Windstream’s 6 mb/sec and Road Runner’s 10 mb/sec just feel ... pokey.

The Fourth Meeting

April 3, 2008 at 1:27pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

As I mentioned the other day, there will be four meetings in the coming weeks at which the public can talk about the City budget process. Three of the dates and locations had been announced; now the fourth location—Lincoln North Star—has been added. Here are the four:

  • April 22: Lincoln Southwest High School
  • April 24: LPS District Offices
  • April 29: Lincoln North Star High School
  • May 6: Lincoln High School

For more details, see the press release.

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