Latest Blog Posts

Who Came Out Ahead?

January 30, 2009 at 1:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Lincoln firefighters union has approved a 4% raise. Now the matter heads back to the City Council.

The firefighters contract has been bouncing around for a few months now. What isn’t clear is who is getting the best deal. Firefighters won’t get the cost-of-living increases to their pensions that they sought, but they will get a much larger raise (assuming the Council says OK). According to the Journal Star the previous contract would have cost the City $325,000 (annually?). No comparable figure has so far been provided for the latest contract.

I know plenty of Lincolnites would be happy to take home a 4% raise so we should expect a fair amount of grumbling. Is the grumbling justified?

Friday Five (Super Bowl XLIII version)

January 30, 2009 at 6:40am By: D.M.B. Posted in D.M.B. Sports Report

Since the Super Bowl is this Sunday I thought I would bring back the Friday Five with a football feel.  Today I’m going to give you 5 prop bets that you can actually bet on for Sunday’s big game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals.  We’ll tally up how many you get right on Monday.

1) Coin will land: Heads or Tails?

2) Who will win the coin toss: Cardinals or Steelers?

3) Total number of punts by both teams: Over or Under 9 1/2?

4) Who scores first: Cardinals or Steelers?

5) Largest lead of the game: Over or Under 14 1/2?

And finally as a bonus question:

Prediction (w/ score):

The trials and tribulations of a Nebraska basketball fan

January 30, 2009 at 5:07am By: D.M.B. Posted in D.M.B. Sports Report

Hi, my name is D.M.B and I am a Nebraska basketball fan.

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Downtown Restaurant Check-in

January 29, 2009 at 2:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Yikes, Roost is now only open from 11:00am until 2:00pm Monday through Saturday. I really hope that doesn’t mean Roost is in its death throes. I really like the general Roost concept and I want to see the restaurant succeed in the long term. Maybe it can do just that as a lunch-only joint. But surely doing that while paying Downtown rent isn’t easy. Here’s hoping Roost has a rosy future.

Now, how ‘bout Billy Brown’s? The Missus and I went there once, several weeks ago shortly after it opened. I haven’t heard much after the restaurant since that time. Have any of you been there, or do you know folks who have eaten there? Being a child of 9 South it has some potential, but it never generated much buzz and its tiny size really limits how much cash it can make in a week.

Speaking of 9’s, what’s the scoop on Red 9 in the former P.O. Pears building? The parking lot seems to stay fairly busy and their events calendar seems to be full. It’s a bummer Lincoln lost Pears, but it would be great if the building itself continued to live on.

How is Greenfield’s Doing?

January 29, 2009 at 2:39pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Have any of you had a chance to try out Greenfield’s, the IHOP replacement at 87th and Highway 2? I intend to try it soon, but I have been saying that for a few weeks now. My main hesitation—aside from just forgetting about it—is the lack of buzz. The restaurant opened to some fanfare when it was revealed it would feature “Garden Cafe-style” potato casseroles. The fanfare hasn’t continued.

So have you been there yourself? Have you heard about Greenfield’s from friends or family who have gone? Let us know how it is holding up.

Come On, People, Spend!

January 29, 2009 at 2:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Come on, Lincolnites, get out there and spend. Lincoln needs you!

Sales tax receipts are coming up short. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, or at least it shouldn’t. After all, In These Economic Times&trade people are simply buying fewer things, often at lower prices.

What isn’t clear is when budget cuts would have to happen. Late spring, perhaps? What would you cut, if cuts need to be made?

Magic Money

January 28, 2009 at 2:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I am fuzzy on Senator Amanda McGill’s LB85. The bill is supported by Mayor Beutler. I hope some of you can help explain it to me.

The bill would allow municipalities to created “growth districts” in areas of the municipality created since 1988. Then bonds would be issued for infrastructure improvements, proportionate to the ratio of the growth district’s size relative to the area of the municipality.

Here’s the first thing I don’t understand. Other than defining the maximum amount of bonds that can be issued, the growth district itself is meaningless. The infrastructure improvements don’t have to occur within the district. Thus, its boundaries are unimportant. All it really means is that municipalities that have seen a lot of growth since 1988 can issue larger bonds than those that have seen less growth. The bill is inherently pro-sprawl; municipalities are effectively punished for infill and rewarded for taking up as much space as possible, regardless of how many people live in that space.

Another thing I don’t understand comes from Lincoln’s own Sen. Bill Avery, who said “It will not cost the state anything. And my belief is it will not raise taxes.” It is his “belief” it won’t raise taxes? That’s comforting. The money to pay for these improvements has to come from somewhere. If it isn’t coming from the state, it’s coming from the municipality. And if it is new spending by the municipality, the funds to pay for it won’t just appear out of thin air. There is no such thing as magic money that manifests itself out of the ether. (Well, not at the state and local level. The Feds have pulled trillions of dollars out of ... well, out of some place.) Anyway, the point is this money has to come either from spending cuts or new taxes sources. Spending cuts are unlikely because, at least in Lincoln’s case, no amount of budget cutting is going to get us enough money to fully fund our infrastructure needs. That leaves taxes. We can always hope that tax receipts increase on their own. That would be nice.

Notably, this financing mechanism would not require a vote of the people. Senator Dennis Utter’s AM57 would change that.

All that being said, I’m the first to admit that I am extremely ignorant when it comes to financing matters. I try to educate myself, but it’s an ongoing process. Can anybody explain this to all of us—factually!—in a way that helps us decide just how great or terrible this idea is?

Why Oh Why?

January 27, 2009 at 2:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Unicameral is considering a bill (LB107) that would require employers to give employees a reason why they are being fired. The text of the law:

No employee ... shall be terminated from employment until such employee has been given the specific reason for the proposed termination and the employee is provided a meaningful opportunity to present the employee’s position in response to the reason for the proposed termination.

The first part of this section of the law requires a reason. But what is a “specific reason”? To me “we no longer need your services” is a specific reason, and yet those are basically the words one of the people who testified in favor of the bill thinks are insufficient. Is “we don’t want you to be our employee any more” valid?

The second part of the quoted section gives employees a chance to rebut. Fantastic. The law actually requires employers to permit a potentially-infuriated ex-employee to argue. How is that going to benefit anybody? It doesn’t benefit the employer; she has to be careful she doesn’t inadvertently invite a rebuttal that scares away customers, for example. It doesn’t help the employee; it gives the employee an opportunity to say or do something stupid that won’t do him any favors on his job hunt.

In addition, the law feels like a bit of a liability trap for employers. If an employer doesn’t word his “specific reason” very carefully, he could expose himself to legal troubles. As a result, employers that consult an attorney will all end up giving out a boilerplate “specific reason” that doesn’t actually mean anything at all. Employers that do not consult an attorney—most likely to be small, local businesses—will occasionally choose their words poorly and wind up in court. The little guy loses, and the employee doesn’t win.

Is there a way to achieve the goals of the bill in any meaningful way without facing the problems I noted?

Victory Against a Bad Law

January 27, 2009 at 2:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Christian Firoz is not guilty of selling salvia. Congratulations, Christian!

I don’t personally give a hoot about salvia. I do, however, care very deeply about bad laws and other abuses of government. The law that Tom Casady’s crew tried to use to justify arresting Mr. Firoz is frighteningly vague, so much so that the coffee in your hand right now is almost certainly illegal in Nebraska. Rather than tell the Unicameral to stick their bad legislation in their ear, LPD instead chose the route of selective enforcement. How unfortunate.

The jurors on the case noted that the government offered exactly zero evidence that salvia is any sort of a threat to public safety. My research suggests the plant is a relatively harmless short-term hallucinogen that only works for some people. We’re not talking days-long trips here; we’re talking a few minutes of oddness. Sen. Russ Karpisek doesn’t want to take any chances, so he hopes to ban the latest devil weed (LB123). Sen. Karpisek is from Wilber—the very same Wilber that every year hosts a giant festival that invites revelers to partake of a mug or six of beer, the consumption of which is associated with all sorts of threats to public safety and personal well-being. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, I doubt salvia will be available much longer in Nebraska (if it is even available now). If LB123 does happen to pass, be sure to buy Sen. Karpisek a beer if you see him at Czechfest later this year.

You Know You Were Sick When…

January 27, 2009 at 2:21pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

...the Health Department calls you at home.

Fortunately it sounds like I wasn’t part of any sort of outbreak of food poisoning. And since the Health Department knows about me, now my small bout of discomfort will probably show up in national health statistics. Sweet.

C. jejuni is No Friend of Mine

January 26, 2009 at 2:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

My nemesis has a name: Campylobacter jejuni. You can call it food poisoning from dead bird juice.

You may recall that last week I mentioned I was ill. Mild symptoms began on Wednesday. A fever and more severe symptoms began on Thursday. Friday morning at 2:00am is when the real fun began. I’ll spare you the gory details and say simply that my bathroom was the cause of 2/3 of the residential water usage in Lincoln in Friday’s wee hours. My fever got worse, too. At one point it spiked to 105. That got my attention. Fortunately a little Ibuprofen and simple cooling techniques quickly brought things back into a safer range. I saw my physician later that morning. He ordered some lab work, I went to see the very nice folks over at the lab at St. E’s, and by Sunday I knew the source of my troubles.

Apparently Campylobacter is the most common source of food poisoning in the United States. Campylobacter bacteria live in the guts of birds. That means the most likely source of campylobacteriosis is eating either poorly prepared poultry or other food that was cross-contaminated, perhaps by sharing a cutting board or utensils with an infected bird. Some people show no or minor symptoms of campylobacteriosis. Most people put up with a diarrhea for a few days and the problem resolves itself. A few people—including me—get really sick. A handful die.

Why did I get so sick? Who knows. I was feeling pretty darn healthy before my symptoms came on. I didn’t even have a cold. Fortunately, Campylobacter doesn’t typically transfer from human-to-human so I was extremely unlikely to pass it to my family.

Some of you probably wonder if I have tried to trace the source of the bacteria. I have. A home-based source is all but ruled out. I ate at two restaurants during the probable infection period (2-5 days before the symptoms). I did have chicken at both places, but the chicken itself seemed to have been prepared well. In my mind, cross-contamination is more likely. But what do I know? In any event, there weren’t any obvious warning signs on either plate. What went on in the kitchen? I’m not so sure I want to know the answer to that, though one of the establishments does have an open kitchen.

I’m still not fully back to normal, but at least my fever and achiness is gone, and now that we know the offending critter it is much easier to deal with. Now I get to deal with the unpleasant task of catching up on a backlog of work and finishing this week’s tasks. Giddyup!

Where Did All the Bad Boys Go?

January 26, 2009 at 2:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m a little late on this one, but it’s still worth highlighting. Have you seen Lincoln’s crime statistics for 2008? They are impressive, showing a continuation of the decline that has been occurring since the 1990’s. Despite increases in population, Lincoln’s crime numbers continue to drop.

The cause of the decline? Who knows. No doubt many factors are at play: changes in policing; community activism; public investments in specific neighborhoods; and so on. It certainly has to help that LPD’s crime clearance rate has improved by six percentage points since 2005 (28% from 22%). That means that not only is LPD arresting more people, they are arresting more of the right people.

Do you feel safe in Lincoln?

Where in Lincoln is this?

January 26, 2009 at 1:35pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

image

Edit: Good going Peter! You correctly identified the location of this picture.

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New Blog in Town

January 23, 2009 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

There’s a new blog in town. Jack Mitchell and John Bishop, from the KLIN morning show, started a blog recently. Welcome to the blogosphere, guys!

The Thrill of Omaha

January 23, 2009 at 1:26pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

From America’s Finest News Source:

Rural Nebraskan Not Sure He Could Handle Frantic Pace Of Omaha

NORTH PLATTE, NE–Lifelong North Platte resident Fred Linder, 46, revealed Monday that he doesn’t think he could cope with the fast-paced hustle and bustle of Omaha, the Cornhusker State’s largest city.

 

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