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When Does Private Become Public?

January 21, 2010 at 2:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

For many years some Nebraskans have complained about the Nebraska School Activities Association‘s (NSAA) freedom from the requirements that other governmental entities must obey, such as open meetings, open records, and so on. Here’s the thing: the NSAA is a private non-profit. A substantial majority of its member organizations are government entities (public schools), but the NSAA itself is private.

Our own Sen. Bill Avery wants to change that. LB 1021 would force the NSAA to abide by open meeting and open records laws. If it doesn’t, its assets will be liquidated and distributed to its member schools. That sounds like something straight out of Venezuela.

To the best of my knowledge the NSAA is a voluntary, private organization tacitly approved by the State, but not explicitly created by or controlled by the State. If that’s true, Senator Avery’s bill makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like the idea of the state government taking over a private entity by force of law. If Senator Avery thinks the NSAA is so terrible, why doesn’t he instead craft a bill that creates the state’s own controlling body for school activities? Or simply forbid public schools from joining organizations that meet (or fail to meet) specific criteria?

Even putting aside the creepy “do what we say or we’ll take over your organization” perspective, Senator Avery’s bill takes school activities exactly the wrong direction. There should be far less government control over (most of) the activities overseen by the NSAA, not more. LB 1021 takes Nebraska farther into a quagmire we ought to be working our way out of.

I could go on about that for hours. What do you think of Sen. Avery’s bill, or the NSAA in general? Is Avery on the right track?

What’s New in Mr. Wilson’s Life?

January 21, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Missus and I attended our first foster parent training course through Christian Heritage last night. We came to the decision to go through the training fairly recently, but foster parenting is something we had considered for quite some time. Various factors came together a couple weeks ago and, well, here we are. If all goes well we will have finished our twice-a-week, three-hours-per-session training by the first week of March, and state licensing will come shortly thereafter. And after that? Who knows!

Nebraska’s system is undergoing a lot of changes these days, hopefully for the better. It will be interesting to see how things work as a participant, as opposed to just reading headlines in the Journal Star.

Have any of you done foster parenting, or do you have any experience with the system? Would you like to get started?

Left Turn Lane to Nowhere

January 20, 2010 at 4:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I went out to Fallbrook last night to attend a meeting at the YMCA. On my way there, I got suckered in by this false left turn lane:

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OK, I get it. It’s there in preparation for some future development. But wouldn’t it make sense to block it off until there’s something to turn left to? Maybe the City likes trapping unsuspecting drivers in turn lanes to nowhere. Sadistic punks.

Congratulations, Edvin!

January 20, 2010 at 2:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

This isn’t Lincoln related, but I have to share it anyway because it’s so darn exciting. I want to congratulate Omaha’s Edvin Jurisevic for being named Nebraska’s first ever FIFA International Referee. Edvin is one of only six such referees in the United States.

This is a huge achievement for Edvin and for Nebraska’s referee development program. Edvin has gradually worked his way up the ranks, beginning with youth and high school games here in Nebraska, and working his way up to MLS and various international assignments. As a FIFA International Referee Edvin will be able to referee any match in the world, including World Cup matches.

I have had the pleasure of refereeing with Edvin several times, both as his assistant and with he as mine. It’s a joy to see him achieve this honor. Edvin will be officially presented with his new badge at a ceremony in Omaha tomorrow evening.

Congratulations, Edvin!

If You Build It, They Will Come

January 20, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

From Deena Winter:

“Don’t build it and I guarantee your taxes will go up.”—Councilman Doug Emery, in one of his many comments arguing in favor of building a new arena posted on a JournalStar.com story.

But the opposite is also true: build it and your taxes will go up. Granted, a good chunk of the burden of those taxes will fall on visitors, but certainly not all of it. The message here seems to be “One way or another, your taxes are going up”. That’s not a very sexy marketing slogan.

Lincoln’s Best Local Clothing Stores

January 19, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Now that Rothchild’s is gone and Knight’s Clothing is closing up shop, I wonder just how many local clothing stores there are in Lincoln. Can you help compile a list? I can’t think of many, but I don’t know if that’s because there aren’t many, or because I just plain don’t shop for clothes.

The only two that come immediately to mind are The Black Market (Downtown on O Street) and Pixi Chicks (College View). Actually, I’m not even sure The Black Market still exists since I haven’t been near there in many months. I know Pixi Chicks is around, though, since I drive up 48th Street all the time.

Can you help add more local clothing shops to the list?

Five Guys Named Yum

January 18, 2010 at 7:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Matt Olberding says Five Guys is coming to Downtown. Commence salivating.

The only question is, where in Downtown will they locate? Matt previously reported on some action in the bugly building next to the Douglas Building (nee Cinema Twin). That wouldn’t be a bad location for a burger joint.

Where else might they end up?

Where in Lincoln is this?

January 18, 2010 at 3:26pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: Good going Steve!

Read more...

Common Answers Results

January 17, 2010 at 10:41pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Thanks to all of you who participated in this week’s Common Answers: Winter Wonderland game. A total of 23 people submitted entries. Who won? Find out inside.

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Favre Fever

January 17, 2010 at 9:08pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

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Yes! The dream continues! No one can deny that this Vikings offense is championship caliber, and in the last few games they have been showing how much juice they really have. Clearly, Brett Favre is playing at peak performance levels, and with him the Vikes’ offense has to be one of the most complete in the league with Adrian, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and so many others. It really makes you wonder why Brett stuck with The Pap as long as he did.

But today it was the Vikings’ defense that really shined as they completely hammered the despised Cowboys. Only the most emotionally dead NFL fan wouldn’t admit to experiencing pleasure watching pretty boy Tony Romo being chased and smacked around today by Jared Allen and Ray Edwards, and the cuts to him sitting on the sidelines sulking were priceless. Hey Tony, what hot celebrity date are you going on tonight!?

Next stop: The Saints for the championship. This will be a tough one. But even hardcore Green Bay fans I know are getting behind Minnesota. Who couldn’t support Brett and the Vikings in this magical run for the big win? As far as I am concerned, Brett Favre has been the sports story of the year (at least on a national level that is, excluding the forthcoming Winter Olympics and World Cup 2010).

Go Vikings!

It’s (All But) Official: We’re Gettin’ Ourselves a New Arena

January 15, 2010 at 7:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Now that LIBA has announced their support for the Haymarket arena, I can’t imagine this May’s vote failing. Darn near every major group in Lincoln has come out in support of the arena. Opponents are many, but they just don’t have the political oomph that supporters have. Far be it from me to declare the arena a winner, but at this point it’s going to take one hell of a hail Mary pass to take it down.

Last Chance to Play Common Answers!

January 15, 2010 at 2:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Today is your last chance to play Common Answers. Go play now!

The 21st Century Dragon Hath Slayed the Knights

January 15, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Knights Clothing is closing. I saw an advertisement saying as much the other day, but for some reason I thought it was old news. I guess not. Knights has been around Lincoln for over 55 years. That’s a not-too-shabby run. I remember shopping there with my mom a couple decades ago. Knights was always on our list if we were running around town shopping for clothes.

Here’s wishing the best to the owners as they move on to the next stage of their lives.

How Many Jobs Will the Arena REALLY Create?

January 14, 2010 at 2:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Expect to hear a lot from Citizens FOR Jobs and the Lincoln Haymarket Arena in the coming months. And expect me to pick on them over those months, at least if they keep spreading dubious “facts” about the arena.

Consider the number of jobs they claim the arena will create. I’ve picked on this before, but it bears repeating. The group claims: “In the future, the Lincoln Haymarket Arena will add more than 1,000 permanent jobs at the arena and in the surrounding retail, commercial and residential area.” There are several problems with the number, but let’s focus on three.

First, note that “jobs” is a fuzzy term. What is a job? Is it an FTE? Any position that earns any money? Without a good definition the term has little “punch” and supplies very little value to the discussion.

Second, we don’t know what sort of assumptions have been made to generate the “more than 1,000” value. Starting assumptions are extremely important. Assumptions about what is possible very often differ substantially from what eventually transpires. The assumptions that drive these figures almost always overestimate the good and underestimate or bury the bad. As long as the assumptions are transparent we can deal with that and make decisions accordingly. If the assumptions aren’t made known the figure is worthless.

Last, note this wording carefully: “the Lincoln Haymarket Arena will add more than 1,000 permanent jobs at the arena and in the surrounding retail, commercial and residential area”. It does not say “the Lincoln Haymarket Arena will add more than 1,000 permanent jobs to the community”. In other words some of these jobs—we have no idea how many—will simply be transferred from one area of the community to the other. That’s a hugely important distinction. Some of these jobs will no doubt be truly “created” in the sense that they would not have occurred had the arena not been built. But others—some? many? most?—will not. If Cheesecake Factory comes to town because of the arena, then we can say those jobs were “created” by the arena. If, on the other hand, Cheesecake Factory would have come here regardless, then the arena does not get to take credit for creating those jobs. However, due to the wording noted above the arena supporters still get to count those jobs toward their total.

Further note that the same is true for the arena’s overall economic value to the city. Some economic value will be “created” by the presence of an arena and surrounding developments. But not every dollar that ends up in the arena and its environs will in fact have been “created” by the arena. Some of the money will simply be transferred from elsewhere. That restaurant that could have gone in at Fallbrook will instead go in the Haymarket; the apartments that could have gone into Antelope Valley will instead go into the Haymarket; and so on. The exact same thing happens with every major development around town: some new economic value is created, and some of the economic activity could just as easily have located elsewhere.

I’ve stated this before but I’ll say it again: don’t misinterpret these sorts of comments as indicators that I’m rabidly anti-arena. I’m not. I simply demand honesty and transparency so voters can make the best decision possible. Once the formal anti-arena groups really get going—I’m sure we’ll hear more from them very soon—I will probably pick on them just the same. That’s what I do. Now you folks get to do what you do so well: argue amongst yourselves grin

Boom Shaka Laka

January 14, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m curious what you folks think about Senator Rogert’s fireworks bill making its way through the Unicameral this session. In short: it would make certain larger shells legal; bottle rockets and night parachutes would remain illegal; metal-handled sparklers would become illegal; and fireworks would be legal to use and sell on more occasions. Or put another way: bigger booms in the air, fewer burns on the ground, and more opportunities to blow stuff up.

My views on fireworks are wildly conflicted. I grew up loving fireworks, and after high school I ran a few fireworks tents. That experience, for various reasons, made me completely ambivalent about the fireworks aspect of Independence Day. Within just the past two years I have started to become more of a curmudgeon, viewing the whole exercise as a giant, wasteful barrage of foolishness and—all too often—incivility. I’ve become a party pooper.

The youthful side of me thinks the bigger booms would be awesome; the cranky old man side of me wishes people would be satisfied with snap pops, parachutes, and sparklers, with the big stuff reserved for big shows. To which the youthful side of me says: I’m not ready to be “that guy”!

Anyway, a big chunk of this discussion may be moot because Lincoln’s fireworks regulations will still trump state law. Lincoln is always going to be pickier about fireworks than the state as a whole. Of course we all know that on July 3 and 4, City regulations are a joke. So although legally these changes may not directly affect us, practically speaking they will.

Where do you folks come down on this? Bigger booms for all? Fireworks are the devil’s tools? Commence ranting and raving.

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