Latest Blog Posts

The Politics of Firefighting Redux

March 31, 2011 at 12:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Fire Chief Niles Ford has resigned with a departure date of April 29. Great.

I get a little shaky whenever major changes to LFR are on the agenda. Firefighting, for reasons I still cannot comprehend, is so blasted political. Most folks’ explanations boil down to “it has always been that way”. That’s less of an explanation than it is a description. To add to the fun this time around, Ford’s departure comes in the midst of an election. Read: more politics. Wheee.

One of the best things about Niles Ford is that I don’t know very much about him. That means he didn’t make headlines very often, which means we made it four years with few fire department-related political shenanigans. (Contrast that with the era before his arrival.) More of that, please. I’m not sure if that outcome is best achieved by hiring from the inside or the outside. Generally I prefer advancement from within—why train good people only to chase them away because they can’t have the top jobs?—but again: politics.

Do any of you have strong opinions on Ford or his successor?

Green Globs of Goodness

March 31, 2011 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I asked this on Twitter but only got one response, so I will ask again here. I’m in the midst of some major guacamole cravings. Where in Lincoln can I find the best guacamole at the best price? I don’t care if it comes from a store or restaurant, and I’m not too picky about style. My only requirement is that it actually be guacamole, not that green sour cream that a lot of restaurants try to get away with (I’m looking at you, D’Leon’s!).

I only discovered my love for guacamole (and avocados in general) within the past year. I went from “won’t touch the stuff” to “gimme gimme gimme” rather quickly. I have to laugh at people who won’t touch it because it “looks gross”. Those same people tend to have no problem eating ground up cow flesh. Go figure.

I called out D’Leon’s above for their iffy definition of “guacamole”, but they aren’t the only guilty parties. Feel free to point the finger at any other offenders you’re aware of. I should also mock Applebee’s interpretation of guacamole. I’ve only had it once (alongside their fajitas) so perhaps I got a bad batch. But whatever was in that thimble-sized container was so horrid, so wretchedly awful I can’t fathom why they would subject their customers to it. It did appear that an avocado played a role in its construction, so they get points for that. But something in the toxic mixture was downright rancid. I still have nightmares of that meal.

StarTran Joins the Multi-Modal Age

March 30, 2011 at 12:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It’s fantastic to see that, as of Monday, StarTran will feature bike racks on all of its buses. I hope Lincolnites use them. I would have loved to have access to a bike rack back in my bus-riding days. Having access to a bike would have shaved time off my commute and it would have given me more options for which bus I could catch (meaning less standing around waiting at the bus stop).

One question remains unanswered for me and, although it’s moot, I’m still curious about it. For years, one of StarTran’s excuses for not pursuing bike racks was that the buses wouldn’t fit in the garage with bike racks attached. What changed? Did the buses shrink? Did the garage grow? Are the racks some new type that wasn’t previously available?

Another question that may be relevant to air-headed commuters is what happens to bikes that are forgotten on the rack. (You may scoff, but it’ll happen.) StarTran’s website says that lost bikes will go to Capitol Towing’s impound lot. Are bicyclists going to have to pay an obscene fee to recover their bikes? I sure hope not.

I’m eager to see if Lincolnites use this new opportunity to expand their commuting options. I would try it in a heartbeat if my commute were longer than a walk downstairs. Do any of you plan to take advantage of this?

Like a Record Baby Round Round Round Round

March 28, 2011 at 12:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

More of this, please.

Where in Lincoln is this?

March 28, 2011 at 12:37pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

image

EDIT: Unsolved.

Read more...

More Mowing, Less Mowing

March 28, 2011 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln will mow some acres of parkland even less this summer as 8 acres are converted to native grasses. Parks and Recreation is doing both a good thing and a bad thing here. On the one hand, there’s no point in mowing areas that don’t need it. And putting native grasses in some of those areas (rather than just leaving it to weeds) is a good thing. I would like to see even more land given to native grasses. Large portions along the Boosalis Trail could use it, for example.

On the other hand, some areas that should be (and are) mowed aren’t mowed often enough. It’s awfully hard to play ball or fly a kite when the weeds are up to your kids’ knees. When the rains are good, even waiting a week between mowings means that grass can get very long; the City’s mowing cycle can be as long as two weeks, if I’m not mistaken. That’s fine for some areas and some portions of the year, but as a blanket policy it stinks.

I know it adds a substantial amount of complexity to mowing operations, but I would like to see a four-tier mowing program:

  1. Frequent use areas: Mow once per week, unless conditions don’t require it;
  2. Low to moderate use areas: Mow once every 10-14 days;
  3. Native grass areas: Mow 1-3 times per year;
  4. “Natural” areas: Never mow.

A rough plan like that sounds great in my head, but I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why it isn’t ideal. Another option I haven’t seen get much play is asking neighborhood associations to do some mowing in frequent use areas. We should also put on the table the option of having local mowing companies “adopt” parkland. If they keep the land at or above a certain condition, they get to put up a sign.

To be fair, all of this chatter is coming from a guy who can’t even take care of his own yard. Insert grain of salt here.

On Turds and Pockets

March 24, 2011 at 1:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Here’s one of the strangest questions you’ll hear all day. Growing up, my mom used to say: “Who is ‘we’? Got a turd in your pocket?” It’s a pretty odd little saying. I wonder who else’s parents (or grandparents) say or used to say it. Anybody?

The State of State Fair Park

March 24, 2011 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Wilsons went out to the Ice Box last night for a little ice skating. It was a successful trip: no broken bones, no blisters, no frost bite.

But wow, State Fair Park sure does look weird these days. I haven’t been out there since 2009. Things have changed. With most of the buildings gone it looks much smaller. On the other hand, with most of the buildings gone it appears full of potential. I can’t wait to see the first new facilities sprout up.

Oh, and the Industrial Arts building? It looks really, really sad. In the context of the State Fair I never noticed how badly it needs repairs. But seeing it stand there all alone ... yikes. I don’t really care if it stands or falls, but it’s easy to see why the University wants to tear it down.

The Case of the Disappearing Dollars

March 24, 2011 at 12:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

There are a lot of things most of us take for granted about government. Among them: that the government has any idea where its money is.

As City Council candidate Deena Winter has shown, that’s not always the case. Specifically, Winter wants to know how much leftover TIF exists and what we can do with it. Considering our budget situation that’s a pretty reasonable question to ask, although knowing about extra cash sitting around would be nice even in lush budget times.

What stirred up the question was the City’s plan to use leftover TIF (from Lincoln Mall) for improvements to Centennial Mall. Did you see that? Somebody’s actually going to put some money into Centennial Mall! Huzzah! At this point $100 could double Centennial Mall’s value; what a sad little stretch it is. Here’s hoping it becomes something to be proud of within the next, oh, three decades or so.

Ruh Roh

March 23, 2011 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Place your bets on this one, folks: Mayor to Address Romantix Project Wednesday.

My guess is that the demolition has revealed that another building is unstable and they won’t be able to finish demolition of the Romantix and Gourlay buildings until a wall is stabilized. That’ll make some folks angry. (Including LJS commenter “JoeyRamone”, who called Mayor Beutler “Rat Boy”. I can’t say I’ve heard that nickname for Beutler before.)

Any other predictions?

To Vote or Not to Vote in Camp Haymarket

March 22, 2011 at 12:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

What should we do with Jon Camp and the Haymarket? He’s in a tough position. The man knows the Haymarket as well as anybody in town and he owns several properties there. But that property ownership means any Haymarket-related issue that comes before the City Council is a potential conflict of interest for Mr. Camp. How can Lincolnites trust him to vote “correctly” when his own interests are so clearly at play?

The State Accountability and Disclosure Commission says Camp is in the clear, at least on matters currently before the Council. Camp declined to vote anyway. The move was purely symbolic, however. Monday’s vote was 6-0.

Should Camp never be permitted to vote on Haymarket-related matters? That seems overly harsh. Likewise always permitting him to vote is too lenient. The answers lies somewhere in between, but there are oodles of shades of gray we could fight over. There are situations where Camp’s financial interests are provably involved, for example. Then there are cases in which there’s nothing more than a widespread perception of personal gain or loss. Is perception enough?

I don’t know what the answer is. And to be clear, I’m not trying to pick on Mr. Camp. His interests are just particularly visible because he’s so actively involved in a chunk of the city that’s receiving a lot of attention right now. There are plenty of community members out there who, if they were on the City Council, would have far more conflicts than Mr. Camp.

And not that personal interests are such a horrible thing. Active, intimate involvement in the community gives a person valuable knowledge that the City Council can and should tap. That the knowledge is colored by personal interest (with the possibility for gain or loss) doesn’t automatically render it worthless.

I’m just thinking out loud here. Feel free to do the same.

Comparing the Candidates

March 21, 2011 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Journal Star has a couple brief overviews of the candidates for Mayor. Check out the profile of Chris Beutler and the profile of Tammy Buffington.

I don’t have a lot to say about these glimpses at the candidates because, frankly, neither candidate put much on display for us. Mayor Beutler’s responses are significantly more concrete than Ms. Buffington’s. Answering whether that’s due to Mayor Beutler being the only one with a record to point to or Ms. Buffington’s inability to give a straight answer is left as an exercise for the reader.

I haven’t written much about the upcoming election for mayor because, frankly, I don’t feel like I’ve had anything nice to say. About Ms. Buffington, that is. I don’t agree with Mayor Beutler’s every move, but he hasn’t done anything to scare me off. Ms. Buffington, on the other hand, has given me no sign that she’s ready to be mayor. She doesn’t seem to have any sort of leadership resume, and her “solutions” to Lincoln’s problems boil down to “trust me, I’ll be able to fix that after you elect me”. I’d feel much more confident if she had real solutions up for debate right now (on her website, for example).

What’s your take on the mayoral race right now?

Indian To Go

March 17, 2011 at 12:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

On America’s Next Great Restaurant, one of the competitors wants to start a fast food Indian restaurant. I think it’s a fantastic idea. In fact, Mr. T and I have had several conversations over the years about how it’s actually pretty surprising that such a concept doesn’t seem to exist in the U.S.

But I wonder: would fast food Indian go over well here in Lincoln? The Oven (and others) have done a great job getting Lincolnites to try (and love!) Indian food. Are we ready to bump up Indian from “special occasion” food to everyday, grab-a-quick-bite food?

I don’t think we’re there yet, but boy I wish we were. What do you think?

Day One

March 17, 2011 at 12:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I know most of you don’t care, but I am excited for today’s start of the high school soccer season. Check out summaries of Lincoln’s teams and a feature on the Lincoln East boys team. The East boys, you may recall, won State after a 24-0 season last year.

As usual, as a referee I have to be pretty careful about what I say about teams, players, and coaches, so don’t expect too many posts about soccer throughout the season. If you’re a fan and you think I’m missing a story that Lincolnites should know about, please let me know. And if you see me around, please come say hi. Or berate me for being dumb as a post. Either one is fine.

A Company That Gets It

March 16, 2011 at 12:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

So this is fantastic.KLIN is in the midst of its annual Munch Madness competition, pitting restaurants around town against each other to see which is the best. Runza won last year, but this year they were barred from entry thanks to a rule change that blocked chains from competing. Runza took offense and replied with this missive (PDF). Runza calls its exclusion “a snub in the highest order. A slap in the face. A shot across the bow of cabbage-infused brilliance.”

The whole letter is well worth reading. It shows a wonderful sense of humor that too many companies are afraid to expose to the public. As I tweeted yesterday, if there were a veggie Runza I would go get one immediately to show my appreciation for the letter.

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