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Enough of This Serious Stuff

March 31, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

  1. I see rice, racers, Ritalin, and Reese’s. Where am I?
  2. I see sandwiches, clean cars, used clothing, and cinnamon rolls. Where am I?
  3. I see gas, paint, condos, and broken cars. Where am I?
  4. I see a bank, clean cars, donuts, and a field. Where am I?
  5. I see trees, ice cream, more trees, and a chicken. Where am I?

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.

Roads

March 30, 2010 at 1:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Among the common concerns about the Haymarket Revolution goes something like this: “Our roads are in terrible shape and you want to build an arena? Your priorities are out of whack!”. I happen to partially agree. I agree that we have neglected and we continue to neglect our critical infrastructure (not just roads).

I have a question for those of you who share the above concern, or a related variant. Let’s say the nays win in May. Are you then willing to put serious effort—perhaps involving a sizable bond issue—into improving Lincoln’s roads? That is, do you think better roads are an alternative to the Haymarket project, or is the state of Lincoln’s roads merely an indicator that we can’t take care of what we have and we shouldn’t add to our burdens?

Round and Round

March 30, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln could see its first multi-lane roundabout at 14th and Superior. That, or lanes could be added in each direction (how boring!).

I’m a big roundabout fan so generally speaking I’m inclined to support that plan over simple lane expansion. That isn’t to say I’ll end up supporting it in this case; there are plenty of variables that could cause me to change my mind in this specific scenario. I only (very!) rarely travel through that intersection, so there could be local factors that may swing my preference one way or the other.

Are you in favor of trying out Lincoln’s first multi-lane roundabout at 14th and Superior?

All good things…

March 30, 2010 at 12:13am By: D.M.B. Posted in D.M.B. Sports Report

Unfortunately for the womens basketball team the end probably came too soon.  This was a team that was better than the Sweet 16.  They probably got very unlucky to draw Kentucky as a #4 seed because this was the one type of team that was going to beat them.  The one who pushed back against Nebraska’s pressure.  Let’s get one thing straight Kentucky beat Nebraska. Nebraska did not beat Nebraska.  Unfortunately it ends a wonderful season that Nebraska basketball fans have never seen around here. 

Now we’re onto spring football, baseball and softball.

Plastic Chokes Your Favorite Local Businesses

March 29, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It’s awfully easy to get lazy and use a credit card or debit card wherever you go. But if you love local businesses—and I know you do—then spare them some fees and use cash instead. I try to always keep cash in my wallet so I can do just that, though I’m not always successful. The coins I collect wind up in my son’s piggy bank. Instant allowance and savings account!

A few local businesses don’t accept credit/debit cards because of the high fees. The Cookie Company in Gateway is one; Ivanna Cone in the Haymarket is another. I’m sure there are others out there.

For the record, businesses are not permitted to require a minimum purchase amount before you can pay with plastic. Their agreement with the credit card companies forbids such a policy. You can see how that puts businesses in a bind with small purchases: violate their contract or lose money on certain sales. When you pay cash you avoid all that unpleasantness.

Where in Lincoln is this?

March 29, 2010 at 12:37pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: This one was hidden away in the outskirts of town.

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The Arena is a Diva and She’s Bringing Down the Show

March 25, 2010 at 11:30am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It occurred to me this morning that the pro-arena folks have made a substantial marketing mistake. Intentionally or not, they’re selling an arena project. And yet the scope of the project is really much bigger than that. It’s a full Haymarket renovation. A Haymarket Renaissance. A Haymarket Revolution. The third-of-a-million bucks won’t just build a giant basketball barn. We will actually get:

  • A 16,000 seat arena, featuring an all-star primary tenant in the Huskers;
  • Breslow Ice Center;
  • A hotel;
  • 100,000 square feet of new retail space;
  • 100,000 square feet of new office space;
  • 100 apartments and condos;
  • Public festival spaces; and
  • Substantial new parking and roads.

When promoted that way, $344 million almost sounds like a bargain! But no, the focus has been almost entirely on the arena. That allows the antis—the aree-nos if you will—to simplify their dissent into a tight, pleasant little package. “$344 million is an obscene price to pay for an arena!”, they shout. And they’re right! $344 million is too much to pay for an arena. Anybody who hears their message can see that fact plain as day. What a boondoggle! The antis’ job is done and they haven’t even broken a sweat. All the extra stuff—the environmental concerns, for example—is just icing on the cake.

The arena has become a diva. She hogs the spotlight. “Look at me!”, she exclaims. “See how I sparkle and shine!”. Meanwhile the rest of the cast lurks in the background, awaiting their day in the center of attention. Occasionally the focus does shift to the costars, but it doesn’t stay long. The arena is always there, drawing attention to herself, a veritable cocktail party photobomber.

I can’t help but think that if this were more of an ensemble project it would be easier to sell. As it is, one need only damage the star to bring down the entire project. But bring the entire cast to the table and a weakness or flaw in an individual is much less important in the context of the group as a whole. Yes, the arena is the natural focal point. But there are lots of other cool opportunities here. Doesn’t an ice center sound awesome to you? Think of the new ice skating and ice hockey opportunities for Lincoln’s youth! Wouldn’t it be great to expand and improve the Haymarket Farmers Market, with more vendors, more space, more Saturday morning entertainment, and more parking? Sign me up! And on and on. I don’t know about you, but to me it’s those sorts of mental images that really get me excited about this project. The arena opens a lot of doors to Lincoln, yes. But so do all of the other components of the project. They shouldn’t be neglected.

What’s your take? Have the pros missed opportunities and, if so, will that ultimately torpedo the project? How much more difficult might the antis’ job be if we were talking about the “Haymarket Revolution” instead of the “arena project”?

The Sounds of Spring

March 24, 2010 at 3:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Psst, hear that? That’s truly the sound of spring. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for it. I’m ready for walks and bike rides and playtime at the park and baseball in the front yard. Yep, those tornado sirens you hear right now are music to my ears. Welcome, spring!

A Half Million Down the Holes

March 24, 2010 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln’s pothole bill from this winter comes in at right around a half million dollars. Yikes. That can’t be good for the ol’ budget.

A piece in the Journal Star this morning—I can’t find it online and The Missus stole the dead tree version so I can’t give the name of the gentleman who wrote it—made the very valid point that we’re going to spend more and more on infrastructure fixes if we don’t start improving our preventative maintenance programs in Lincoln. That goes for streets, sidewalks, water lines, sewers ... all that good stuff. Good infrastructure is something I’m willing to pay well for. I wish more Lincolnites felt the same way.

As for all those potholes? Many (most?) of the holes will need to be fixed again once the weather warms up. The temporary patches in place now need to be replaced with a more permanent solution. That half million isn’t the end of the story.

Dem Bones (And Rocks And Artifacts)

March 23, 2010 at 1:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

10/11 reminded me that admission to Morrill Hall is free from 4:30pm to 8:00pm on Thursday. Robbie loves browsing around the museum even though he doesn’t understand most of the exhibits just yet. His favorites include the fossil rhinos—which he affectionately calls “the fat guys”—and the allosaurus.

An amusing story: A few weeks ago The Missus took Robbie to the museum. Normal admission is $5.00 for adults, while kids 4 and under are free. That should have brought their total to $5.00. Instead, the young lady at the front desk said “That’ll be ten dollars, please”. The Missus was confused.

“The family rate is ten dollars,” the woman continued.

The Missus replied, “But it’s just me and my son. He’s free, I’m five dollars. That totals five dollars.”

“You’re a family, right?” the woman asked.

“Right.”

“Then it’s ten dollars.”

This continued for a couple more rounds. Ultimately The Missus prevailed, but the young lady remained convinced that The Missus was somehow screwing her over.

Where* in Lincoln is this?

March 22, 2010 at 12:29pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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* (specifically)

EDIT: A well-known part of Lincoln apparently!

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Ten Minutes

March 22, 2010 at 12:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I knew that kids in public schools didn’t get as much time for PE and recess as they used to, but this is really pathetic. LPS 4th graders get a whopping 10 minutes of decent physical activity per day. LPS should be embarrassed.

Not that they don’t have their share of excuses and explanations. Public schools aren’t what they used to be. They get to deal with everything from boneheaded politicians, laws, and regulations to boneheaded parents and bizarre home situations. But don’t blame the teachers, or at least not any teacher I’ve ever spoken with. They’ve been unanimous for years in supporting more recess and PE. No, the ten minutes come from folks outside the classroom, not from within.

Maybe we should just install treadmills in every classroom. Then kids would never have to take their eyes off a textbook, much less step outside where they might skin a knee. It’s the perfect plan!

Lincoln Buys a Lottery Ticket

March 19, 2010 at 1:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It’s a far less sexy entry into the Google broadband sweepstakes than some cities have taken, but yesterday Mayor Chris Beutler formally announced Lincoln’s efforts to bring the Google Fiber for Communities program to town. What could Lincoln do with gigabit-per-second internet speeds? (I mean after the two-week drop in productivity immediately after the fiber arrives as everybody plays around with their new toy.) It’s fun to think about, isn’t it?

Foster Kid Q&A

March 19, 2010 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Tonight is our last night of foster parent classes. Tonight’s session will feature a panel of former foster kids, and/or current and/or former foster parents. It’s intended to be a Q&A to help us newbies learn a bit more about what it’s like to be in the system. I want to come in prepared with a handful of questions. I have some of my own, of course, but I’m curious if any of you have suggestions for questions I ought to ask. What sorts of things would you ask a panel of former foster kids who have either been adopted or who aged out of the system? What would you ask foster parents?

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