Latest Blog Posts

Mosquitos Can Suck It

July 30, 2010 at 12:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

West Nile is back for the season, with the first cases now being reported by HHS. I’m no mosquito expert, but it sure seems like I’ve been getting bit much more often this year. I’ll unscientifically blame that on all the rain we’ve received over the past month or two.

Remember that you can help the state track West Nile by reporting any dead birds you find. In Lancaster County you should call 441-8000.

UPDATE: It’s official. West Nile is in Lancaster Count.

When Budgets Attack

July 30, 2010 at 12:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Lancaster County Board has proposed slashing the County budget by a whopping 7.4%. That’s gotta translate into a property tax cut, right? Woohoo!

Er, wait. I guess not.

The decrease actually comes thanks to the sale of Lancaster Manor and its associated expenses and income. In fact, property taxes could still go up (or the budget could decrease) depending on how the latest property valuation numbers look at the end of August.

Sigh. So close.

Grandma’s New Digs

July 29, 2010 at 12:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

We took the family to Grandmother’s (70th and A) last night. I was pleased to see the interior had received a facelift since I was last there. I didn’t fully explore the restaurant—I never made it over to the bar, for example—so I can’t comment on all the changes. But the main dining room had a nice, clean, contemporary feel. The only thing that really raised an eyebrow for me was their decision to retain the red lighting on the ceiling in the dining room. It didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the design.

The menu hasn’t changed. It’s still the smaller, more focused menu they’ve been using for a while now rather than the lengthy, try-to-be-everything-for-everybody menu they had a while back. I had to laugh at two of their specials: the Bo Panini and the Carl Panini. I wonder if their namesakes have tried them?

Perhaps it was a fluke, but the place sure was hopping last night. Most tables were full, at least in the main dining area. That’s good to see since I’m a bit of a Grandmother’s fan. Now if they’d just serve a good meatloaf. Seriously, what kind of restaurant called Grandmother’s doesn’t serve a wicked meatloaf?

Oops, I Did My Job

July 28, 2010 at 1:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Cal Beard is confused by LPD Chief Tom Casady in a letter in today’s Journal Star. He wants to know why Casady is ashamed of doing his job—that is, enforcing laws. Fortunately for Mr. Beard, Chief Casady preemptively addressed the issue back on Monday. I don’t know if that answers all of Mr. Beard’s questions, but it does give some insight into Casady’s thinking.

As an aside, Mr. Beard also asks: “Our law enforcement agencies now have the mandate to decide which laws they enforce?” Yes, Mr. Beard, they do. Police prioritize their resources every minute of every day. Some laws need to be enforced every time, some need to be enforced in certain contexts, and others need not be enforced at all. Making those determinations is part of policing.

You Want a Pizza This?

July 28, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Two questions: First, who robs a pizza delivery person? That’s such a sad, pathetic crime. Aside from being horribly cliche, it’s also remarkably easy (relatively speaking). Where’s the honor or glory in that? I would think a criminal admitting to such a crime would be roughly equivalent to a web developer admitting he uses Internet Explorer 6 for his daily web browsing. The shame!

Second, I wonder if there’s a way to add a dye pack to pizza boxes like those added to bags of money at the bank. It wouldn’t have to be a literal dye pack, just some kind of inexpensive mechanism that achieves the same effect. Budding entrepreneurs, get to work.

The Forester and the Trees

July 27, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Does Lincoln need a forester? That sure has been a popular question lately. Without one we’ll save about fifty grand; if we keep the position, we get a pro in charge of the city’s trees. Frankly, neither option sounds particularly sexy. Fifty thousand dollars isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, so it wouldn’t take a whole lot for the position to pay for itself. The trick, of course, is placing value on the things a city forester does. That’s a pretty difficult task. You can’t easily say, for example, that trimming X tree branches costs Y dollars but saves Z dollars. And few Lincolnites can look around and say “Yes, I see what the forester does”. It’s just not easy for most folks to justify the cost in their own minds.

I would be more apt to lobby on behalf of the forester position if I had a better grasp on what the person in that position actually does on a day-to-day basis. I wonder if he trained the people who made their way down our street trimming trees away from power lines. They mutilated the bejeezus out of several trees. Did part of the forester’s crew do that, or was it somebody else (i.e. LES)? If the latter, is the forester be responsible for monitoring that sort of thing? I don’t know.

I love Lincoln’s trees. I want them to stay healthy and beautiful. But so far I’m not convinced we need a $50,000 forester to keep them that way. Neither am I convinced that $50,000 is too much to pay for somebody to watch over this community asset. I remain undecided.

Lincoln’s Cops Are Number One! ... In a Bad Way

July 26, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln doesn’t look good in the latest police misconduct rates published by Injustice Everywhere. Lincoln has the highest misconduct rate among cities with 100 to 499 police officers. That makes LPD look pretty bad, right?

Except ... what kind of misconduct are we talking about here? Beatings? Theft? Bribery? No, nothing quite that serious, though it did involve about 9% of LPD’s officers.

I’m glad Injustice Everywhere is tracking police misconduct, but I have a hard time putting much stock in a report that treats watching movies the same as, say, murder.

The View From Inside the Bubble

July 26, 2010 at 12:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I spent all of last week inside a “bubble” of sorts at Abbott Sports Complex. Lincoln hosted the largest sports event in its history and I witnessed only a tiny sliver of the action. That kind of myopia has an odd effect on a person. Here I am surrounded by claims that Lincoln is a changed city and that the 2010 Special Olympics National Games were a resounding success, and yet despite my participation I have no way to judge if those things are true or mere hyperbole.

Based on my experience at the soccer venue I suspect a lot of things went very well. Lincolnites played nicey-nice with our guests; businesses saw a boost; the weather cooperated as much as July weather is going to cooperate; and so on. Organizationally I’m not aware of any major snafus.

Also based on my experience I suspect a lot of things could have gone better. The problem with bringing an event like the Special Olympics National Games to a city (and state) that has never hosted such a thing before is that there are few people around with the experience to know how to manage such a beast. The soccer venue was, in many respects, just another soccer tournament. Lincoln has been there, done that. But soccer was also just one small part of a much bigger event. That fact makes the event much different than, say, the Lincoln Cup. There were complications we should have foreseen but didn’t, and others we never could have anticipated. The management team learned and adapted on the fly. We’re all better for it. I assume the same is true for all the other events going on across the city.

My biggest complaint with the Games was the lack of faith in local volunteers. I know, I just said that we locals were ignorant of what it takes to pull off a huge event like this. But sometimes fresh eyes bring new—and better—perspectives on how things could or should be done. Those perspectives were not given the support they deserved. Instead, the Games Organizing Committee (GOC) strongly preferred its own methods. Fair enough—they’re the ones with experience, after all—but some of those decisions harmed the Games experience. I encourage Special Olympics to find ways to make the GOC more agile, in part by increasing its faith in local volunteer managers.

The GOC must also make information more easily accessible. And by information I mean all information. Consider that local volunteers didn’t get to see the Games Management System (GMS, the Games’ computer support software) until the Thursday before the games, and only a tiny fraction of volunteers were allowed access to it. Overall, the GMS was cloaked in mystery and the end result was harmful to the Games. Or consider that I didn’t receive any of the paperwork I needed to do my job until Sunday morning, despite months worth of requests by me and my supervisor. Or consider how difficult—if not impossible—it was for fans to find out when and where their teams (or any teams) were playing. I personally dealt with dozens of fans who complained about the paucity of event information available at 2010SpecialOlympics.org, and the misleading or incorrect information available from Lincoln Journal Star. (But please note that the LJS was very likely not to blame for the bad information. They received it from Special Olympics.) People—whether volunteers, athletes, coaches, heads of delegation, or fans—want and need information. Give it to them, preferably before they even know they need it.

But lest I sound too negative allow me to be clear: the soccer venue, at least, succeeded in our mission to provide an excellent experience for the folks we served. We are proud of that. I hope other venues—that is, everything outside my little bubble—can say the same.

Two last things. First, I want to give a shout out to Sgt. Todd Beam and others from the Lincoln Police Department and other area agencies who provided security at the soccer venue. To my knowledge they didn’t actually do much security over the course of the week. Thank goodness. Instead, they did what good police do: they were present and visible; they interacted with participants, volunteers, and fans; and they helped out in non-traditional ways, such as by fetching stray soccer balls from a cow pasture. Most importantly, they were prepared and it showed. Kudos to Sgt. Beam and the rest of the team for all their hard work, and kudos to LPD for supporting them.

Second, I want to give a thank you to all of the folks from the Nebraska National Guard who helped out with the Games. I don’t think most Lincolnites realize just how much work Guard personnel did for the Games. In short: a whole bunch of men and women in uniform worked their butts off last week (and before). Thank you.

OK, that should be enough Special Olympics posts for a while. grin

Where I Spent Last Week

July 25, 2010 at 10:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

This is where I spent last week. I didn’t witness all of the events captured on that site, but I witnessed a lot of them. A good time was had by all.

Special Olymipcs Check-In

July 22, 2010 at 10:28am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I apologize for the lack of posts this week. I’ve been getting up at 5:00am all week (as you can tell by the time this is being posted), and my evenings have been spent napping, hanging out with the family, or preparing for the next day’s activities. I’ve been out at Abbott Sports Complex volunteering at the Special Olympics soccer venue. Soccer has gone well so far. There have been a couple hiccups, but if I remember correctly each has been beyond our control. We just deal with the hiccups as best we can and move on.

Two or our divisions have their championship matches today. The remaining five divisions wrap up tomorrow. Both the action and the temperatures are starting to heat up. Speaking of the temperature, this week has so far been much cooler and wetter than expected. Thank goodness for that—well, for the cooler part anyway. Today’s temps are a little worrisome, but we’ll do our part to keep the athletes safe.

How are the Special Olympics National Games going from your perspective? I would like to hear from you whether you’re a volunteer; a spectator; a participant; or just a Lincolnite observing all this from your front porch. Let us know!

That Could Have Been Ugly

July 22, 2010 at 10:25am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

No offense to Curt Donaldson’s enthusiasm for building bridges for the City, but since his track record is so spotty let’s not have him build any more. Twenty elementary-aged kids could have been dumped into Salt Creek. That could have ended very poorly. Thank goodness nobody was seriously hurt.

Where in Lincoln is this?

July 19, 2010 at 1:25pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

image

EDIT: Solved!

Read more...

Best Buy’s Out, Trader Joe’s is In?

July 16, 2010 at 1:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I suppose technically it isn’t official, but the fact that Trader Joe’s has applied for a liquor license at 3120 Pine Lake Road is a pretty good indication that the store will soon fill the spot at SouthPointe formerly rumored to be eyed by Best Buy. It’ll be interesting to see how TJ’s fits into Lincoln’s supermarket scene. I’m particularly curious to see if other stores—for example the nearby Super Saver and Hy-Vee locations—will adjust their food selection in response to TJ’s popularity (if it does, in fact, prove popular).

Some of you out there are big foodies. How huge is this news for you?

I Hope You’ve Made Your Reservations

July 16, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

So a little thing called the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games fires up this weekend. You may have heard of it. If you haven’t already made hotel, rental car, dinner, or other reservations for the week, good luck!

I cannot possibly more strongly encourage you to participate in the games in one way or another. Many of you are official volunteers, and that’s fantastic. The rest of you can one hundred awesome points by getting out and attending events, cheering on the athletes, and so on. Here is a rough schedule of events. (Note that it’s a very rough calendar. Surprisingly bad, in fact. For an event that craves community participation they’ve made it disappointingly difficult to track down details about the schedule.) I would love to see you out at Abbott Sports Complex. I’ll be out there all week, Sunday through Friday, from dawn (or earlier) until ... well, until we’re done for the day.

Even if you haven’t volunteered and you can’t make it to any of the events, you can still help put on a good show by just being a good ambassador for Lincoln. Smile and be helpful and all that. Not that I have to tell you that, of course. Lincolnites already do all that stuff day-to-day. Don’t stop.

This is a huge event for Lincoln, folks. Be proud of it.

Oh Good, LFR is Back in the News

July 15, 2010 at 1:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’ve been wondering what topic(s) we might bicker about here in Lincoln now that the arena vote has come and gone. There are plenty of possibilities, but one possibility we haven’t heard much from lately is Lincoln Fire & Rescue. Fortunately, the frequently under-performing department is back in the news thanks to firefighter response times that fall far short of department goals: LFR strives to arrive within four minutes 90% of the time; they’ve lately been hitting the 4-minute mark a mere 63% of the time. Ambulances are meeting their goal of arriving within 8 minutes 90% of the time.

There are a lot of factors that could make firefighters’ slipping times more or less understandable. Their goal could be unrealistic, for example. Perhaps they just set the bar way too high for themselves. (But making unobtainable targets is itself a problem.) Perhaps construction season is hurting response times. To cite one example, South 48th Street is closed in College View. That can’t be helping Station 6’s response times. There are plenty more possibilities.

Just as concerning to me as the lagging response times is the fact that Fire Chief Niles Ford doesn’t have a good explanation for them. The times have gotten worse “pretty consistently”, in his words. If that’s true, why hasn’t he been proactive in reviewing the available data? If this problem has been building over, say, several months, shouldn’t explanations already be available?

I should note that my response to this issue is distorted by the fact that The Missus and I are currently halfway through Season 3 of The Wire. Those of you who have seen the third season know how I envision Chief Ford could be questioned about this.

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