Make Your Guess

By: Mr. Wilson on January 16, 2008
Wow, now they're saying 3 to 6 inches of snow in the next day or so. I didn't even realize we were expecting snow this week. Maybe now is a good time to mention that I'm soon headed to Fort Lauderdale... Lincolnites love to sit around and talk about the weather, so here's your chance for today. Make your guesses about
  1. the time the snow is going to start, and
  2. how much we'll end up with.
I haven't been paying any attention to the forecasts, so I'm guessing blind here. I'm going with:
  1. 2:00pm
  2. 4.5 inches

Bleeding Hart

By: Mr. Wilson on January 16, 2008
Housing slump? Impact fees? Shrinking market for "affordable" homes? Increasing competition? Whatever the cause, Hartland Homes is laying off "a few" of its twenty employees. Hartland Homes is Lincoln's largest homebuilder, so seeing them endure layoffs is pretty concerning to the local housing market.

Another Survey

By: Mr. Wilson on January 16, 2008
Uh oh, Dave K isn't going to like this one. Mayor Beutler wants to conduct a citizen survey this year to find out what we Lincolnites think about a host of issues. I wouldn't mind seeing the results of such a survey. My only fear is that the responses will be difficult to interpret because of poor question wording. I really hate poorly-constructed surveys. Creating a perfect survey is all but impossible, but crafting a good one isn't all that difficult. Unfortunately, crappy surveys are drop-dead easy to create, and that's the category most surveys end up in. Mayor Beutler wants to use local resources to create and run the survey. I don't know what's available on the commercial side, but I can think of several people and organizations at UNL that I would trust to run a good survey. Whatever the survey looks like and whoever does it, I want to strongly encourage Mayor Beutler to release all of the aggregate data to the public in an easy-to-use format. If we pay for it, we should have full access to the results.

Test Thy Marrow

By: Mr. Wilson on January 15, 2008
If you have ever considered donating bone marrow, now's the time to start the process: from 2:00pm to 6:00pm on Thursday, a marrow drive is being held in honor of Steffanie Roach at Christ Lutheran Church (4325 Sumner St.). Ms. Roach already has a donor, but many patients never find a match that could help save their life. Don't know what marrow donation entails? It's the sort of thing you want to study up on. There are two types of donation -- the patient's physician decides which is needed -- and both are somewhat invasive. If you do decide to get tested on Thursday, the procedure is simple and painless (a cheek swab), and it costs $25 (to cover the testing process).

The First Five Bucks

By: Mr. Wilson on January 15, 2008
Like it or not, the City Council voted to spend about $5 per Lincolnite -- $1.2 million -- on studies that will help form the foundation for next year's vote on a new arena. The folks from 2015 Vision will chip in the remaining $1.65 million. I don't know how many members are in 2015 Vision these days, but I think $1.65M comes out to quite a bit more than $5 per member. To me, this feels like money we have to spend. It's only fair that we vote on the arena, and the only way to have enough information to make an educated decision is to pay for it. I, for one, look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Great News at NW 48th and I-80

By: Mr. Wilson on January 14, 2008
I was happy to see the news this weekend that a commercial and industrial area is planned for the northwest corner of NW 48th and I-80. It's an area that, to me, has seemed ready for development for a long time. My only concern is NW 48th Street itself. Is the road still just a narrow two-lane with no shoulders? That's no good for a road serving an industrial area. I've got to think that the road will need some improvements before too much more development occurs in that part of town.

Back on the Job

By: Mr. Wilson on January 11, 2008
Officer Travis McClintick is back on the job, six days after shooting and killing Scott Gannon. Police Chief Tom Casady put McClintick back on the job after reviewing the department's internal investigation report. A state grand jury and special prosecutor are now investigating.

We’ve Got Rhythm

By: Mr. Wilson on January 10, 2008
Kansas City is jazz. Seattle is grunge. Austin is country. If Lincoln were a music genre, what would it be?

Another Bad Sex Offender Law

By: Mr. Wilson on January 10, 2008
Most of you know by now that I don't like sex offender housing restrictions because they provide a false sense of security, they encourage offenders to drop out of the tracking system, and they ignore the most likely offenders (family and friends) in favor of the most easily targeted. Senator Tony Fulton's LB735 takes that one step further by limiting how closely to schools and daycares sex offenders can work. Here's a rule of thumb: if a politician proposes legislation in reaction to a single specific incident, it's probably a bad law. The rule applies here. The biggest giveaway that LB735 is all fluff and no substance is that the restriction deals only with distance. It would be illegal to work in a suit-and-tie office 400 feet from a school, but it would not be illegal to work with and/or serve children in a business 510 feet from a school. In other words, the legislation has nothing to say about actual interactions with kids, only how close you are. If proximity were really the problem, why not ban sex offenders from ever being within 500 feet of schools and childcare centers, no matter their reason? Senator Fulton's heart is in the right place, but his head is in the clouds if he actually believes his law would do anything substantial to protect children. Feel-good legislation isn't the answer he's looking for.

Hy-Vee’s Slap on the Wrist

By: Mr. Wilson on January 9, 2008
Hy-Vee nearly learned a tough lesson about local politics when its liquor license reapplication was nearly denied. Councilman Doug Emery voted against the application because a Hy-Vee store in his district -- at 48th and Leighton -- will soon close, but Hy-Vee won't lease out the space to another grocery store until at least 2013. That leaves the University Place neighborhood with no nearby grocery store. Jonathan Cook and John Spatz joined Emery, making the usually routine reapplication process a 4-3 near-disaster for the grocery chain. I'm not nearly familiar enough with the grocery store business in general or with this situation specifically to if Hy-Vee is behaving badly or just disagreeably. What do you think?

LES Survey

By: Mr. Wilson on January 9, 2008
How would you like LES to prioritize sustainable energy projects in 2008? The projects include:
  • Promotion of energy-efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescent lights
  • Development of energy conservation kits for homeowners
  • Incentive programs for customers to purchase ENERGY STAR® appliances
  • Energy-efficiency programs for low-income customers, such as energy conservation workshops, energy audits, energy-efficiency devices, among others
  • Revitalization of home or business energy audits
  • Development of carbon footprint reduction programs
  • Promotion and demonstration of hybrid electric vehicles
  • Additional wind generation
  • Development of a Children's Museum exhibit featuring energy conservation and efficiency
  • Funding for UNL's Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research
Go take the survey.

The Alcohol Creeps Closer

By: Mr. Wilson on January 8, 2008
The City Council is pondering decreasing the distance that restaurants that sell alcohol must be from homes. The current restriction is 100 feet; the new proposal is 25 feet. 9 South Chargrill, situated very close to homes at 9th and South Streets, is one of the primary reasons for the proposed change. Future businesses in older parts of town would also benefit. I support the change. In fact, I would drop the distance altogether except in situations where harm to the neighboring residents is likely. After all, 25 feet is not very far. Heck, 100 feet is not very far. Not far enough to make any substantial difference, anyway. Who here will defend the current 100 foot limit? Or going the other direction, who's with me for getting rid of the distance requirement and instead relying on other types of regulations that better deal with the type of impact a business can have on a neighborhood?
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