Us and Them

March 30, 2010 at 7:22pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I can’t help but think that today’s press conference put on by arena supporters is exactly the wrong approach:

Eleven current and former Lincoln City Council members—whose service spans five decades—came out in support of the Haymarket arena project on Tuesday.

From former Councilman Lloyd Hinkley (who served from 1961 to 1969) to current Council Chairman Doug Emery, past and present politicians filled the pro-arena campaign office in downtown Lincoln for a press conference pushing for a “yes” vote on May 11.

It’s certainly not a terrible thing to have current and former City Council members—or any “notable” people—on board with the project. The latest television commercial sends a similar message:

But one of the project critics’ biggest complaints is that the project reeks of monied interests trying to sucker Joe Lincolnite into paying for a fancy new toy we can’t really afford, all so local “big dogs” can laugh all the way to the bank. It doesn’t matter whether or not the charge is true. What matters is whether that’s a perception that sells well among the voting public. It does. The celebrity sales pitch approach to drumming up “Yes” votes will cement in many individuals’ minds the notion that this is Them (the rich and powerful) versus Us (the boring ol’ citizens).

Of course others will see this approach quite differently. They may think, “Gee, a ton of intelligent, successful people from a wide variety of backgrounds think this project is worthwhile. I’m in!”. I assume that’s what the folks behind this campaign are hoping for. Maybe it will work.

Maybe not. I would like to see more “regular” people in these marketing efforts. More people like, well, me. And you too. Even more compelling might be local small business owners, in particular restaurant owners who would be very directly affected by the extra 2% tax their customers will have to pay. Or how about some “young people”. You know, the ones supposedly clamoring for a good concert venue. And so on.

One of the compelling aspects of the No2Arena movement is that it is 100% grassroots. That’s appealing to lots of people, and on its own it’s enough to get lots of people to vote “No”. The pro-arena folks could take away that advantage if they wanted to. Instead, so far they seem content to let the anti-arena folks have that particular high ground. I think they do so at their peril. They need to do a better job integrating “Us” into their current selection of “Them”. Their message will be much stronger for it.

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The Comments

meatball March 30, 2010 at 8:23pm

I agree. The pro-arena group has set itself up for some backlash. Perhaps (I hope) the Average Joe component of the campaign is yet to come.

On the other hand, there are those of us (OK, maybe it’s just me) who are completely annoyed by the Anti-Arena Crowd’s woe-is-me, we’re-always-being-taken-advantage-of, the-rich-get-richer-while-we-just-get-poorer, Lincoln-is-such-an-old-boy-town attitude.

Dave K March 31, 2010 at 1:24am

Where have you seen that attitude?  I’m a part of the anti-arena crowd and the only part of what you said that remotely applies to me is the being taken advantage of:  we’ll all be taken for a ride by city leaders when we place them in charge of a $350M project. 

... and possibly the part about the rich getting richer.  The government (the only entity, aside from Warren Buffett that is allowed to be rich these days) has enough taxpayer money as it is.

Mr. T March 31, 2010 at 1:40am

I think these sorts of messages will be very successful. Although it is true that this might play poorly with that minority segment of Lincoln who believe in the

hbrogan57 March 31, 2010 at 6:40am

too many times Lincoln goes ahead and does exactly what they want.  This “vote” won’t account for much.  If it’s “yes” then there will be much in the way of congratulations.  If it’s “no” then the “good ‘ol boy” syndrome that permeates Lincoln will take over and they will go ahead with their plans anyway.  They WILL find a way to get this thing built.  After all, it’s GREAT for the University.

Lincoln really needs to get out of the dark ages and come into the 21st century.  This backwoods thinking needs to stop.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future.

Fletch March 31, 2010 at 12:49pm

I’m already “arena’d” out.

Gene March 31, 2010 at 1:17pm

I can respect people like Dave K that have concerns over the cost of the project, but the paranoia some Lincolnites have about the “powers that be” is just silly.

JT March 31, 2010 at 3:33pm

The O Street Gang all died about 30 years ago. We can’t step into the 21st Century with Pershing Auditorium as our city’s civic centerpiece.

I do agree about the avg. person messaging. I think the above ad is effective in breaking down any possible partisan lines, though.

Dave K March 31, 2010 at 5:39pm

For what it’s worth, I don’t oppose this because of the cost.  I oppose it because involvement in the entertainment/arena management business is not an acceptable function of city government.

hbrogan57 April 2, 2010 at 3:27pm

Partisan lines???  You mean you actually think that this is going to benefit ALL the citizens of Lincoln???  I doubt it.  But they ALL will have to pay for it.  And the Big Red Machine will dominate the events all year long.  Much like it did when the Devaney center was built to accommodate various events.  Which turned out to be a crock of B.S.

Just take a look at how fast the new roads, bike paths and other construction gets completed if it’s UNL related.  Take a look at the Big X….....Or the Antelope project???  Why wasn’t THAT completed closer to “O” street first so that new businesses could move in???  Because it wasn’t UNIVERSITY related.

There ARE numerous other areas in and around Lincoln that WOULD have been a LOT cheaper and easier for roads to be constructed.  But….THOSE areas were NOT considered.  Why????  Because the UNIVERSITY isn’t close enough.

Michael Marshall April 4, 2010 at 11:45pm

I have been expecting that the pro-arena folks would come out with something powerful, persuasive, and truthful regarding their project.  I am still waiting and waiting and waiting.  Perhaps they have nothing, and only now are beginning to realize it.

meatball April 6, 2010 at 3:43pm

Michael Marshall April 8, 2010 at 9:29pm

Evaluated your 5 reasons.  The results are as follows:

1.  False
2.  False
3.  False
4.  False
5.  False

hbrogan57 April 9, 2010 at 1:13am

1. AGREED
2. AGREED
3. AGREED
4. AGREED
5. AGREED

After looking at those 5 reasons I have to come to the conclusion that these people are nutz.  Not have an effect on property taxes??...yeah right.  And the JOBS???....what…MORE minimum wage, part time positions.

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