Wednesday, December 28, 2005

QCI's Top 5 New Year's Wishes

Instead of sleeping, which I should be doing, I'm writing down my 5 biggest wishes for Davenport in 2006. I'd post this closer to New Years, but my flight for sunny Arizona leaves in a mere 4 hours. I'm not sure how many posts I'll be able to make in the coming days.
Anyway...

I hope that in 2006 Davenport can:

5. Reduce crime. Somehow, some way, make Davenport safer. Enough said.

4. Help prairie Heights succeed. I'm a big fan of new urbanism, mostly because it reminds me of the way I grew up. I spent my childhood in a neighborhood where I could walk to the park for baseball, stop in at a corner store and buy some Laffy Taffy or baseball cards, and where the front of our house was dominated by a door for people, not cars. We can create new neighborhoods like this.

3.Continue the downtown "momentum." As much as people would like to pretend that all the downtown progress isn't working, it really is. The Crescent Loft district is sprouting new downtown living, new businesses are moving downtown, and PEOPLE can actually be seen walking around on downtown streets. Continuing this will help keep the 20-somethings (my generation) from going elsewhere.

2. Redevelop the former Showcase Cinema and Ramada/Wickliffe Inn on North Brady. These 2 parcels add up to over 25 acres, and don't provide the best welcome to Davenport to visitors coming off of I-80. Surely something could be done with the property.

1. That all of us could honor and respect Fly's Rule #3, and honor and respect each other, no matter what their personal politics or views are. No one deserves personal attacks just because they are passionate about their views, whichever side they're on. We're all doing what we think is best for Davenport.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A New Blog about the QC

As Fly used to say, I get email. I got this one the other day from a QC resident who has quietly started his or her own blog about the Quad Cities. Its located at http://bridgetosomewhere.blogspot.com/. Obviously, this is a play on the infamous "bridge to nowhere," although I haven't heard quite as much complaining about that lately. In the email which I've posted below, Pioneer asks some good questions, such as how the area can get a good perception to outsiders. I've experienced some similar things with people who last visited Davenport in the 80's when the only thing that was happening downtown was historic buildings being demolished. They tend to say something like "Davenport? There's nothing to do there" and go to places like Peoria that have similar or even fewer attractions than the Quad Cities. I was amazed at how many people at WIU in Macomb didn't even know where the QC is located. Hopefully we can change that over the next few years.

Hello,

I've been following the various blogs related to Davenport and the Quad
Cities that you guys have been running, and I've enjoyed reading them. I
just wanted to pose a question that you may consider as a subject for one of
your blogs, or maybe just for general discussion: How much of Davenport's
problems are purely perception?

To put it another way, it's the classic chicken-and-the-egg:
Do positive impressions about an area develop because it actually is a nice
area?
OR
Does an area become nice because people have positive impressions about it?

I think perception is a huge problem, but I may be biased. I grew up in
Davenport, went away for college and lived in other places around the
Midwest for about 8 years, before landing back here (a story for a different
time). I got to see firsthand how Davenport and the Quad Cities are
perceived around the Midwest. My first stop was in Southern rural
Wisconsin. Most people there assumed how glad I must be to be out of Iowa.
I usually told them I didn't see much difference between rural Wisconsin and
Iowa, and that, actually, I preferred Davenport because there was more to
do. My brother recently moved to Madison from Des Moines, and suffers
similar conversations frequently. He likes both Des Moines and Madison.

I experienced similar things elsewhere. The people who had heard of
Davenport or the Quad Cities usually had negative impressions. I think this
area does a very poor job about getting the word out about the good things
we have. So, most people assume we have nothing. All they hear is the news
reports about a plant closing, a crime, or the river flooding. The Figge
made a splash, but that good press is already fading.

Not sure if you've seen my blog (bridgetosomewhere.blogspot.com). I try to
stress the positive things happening in the area, because, quite frankly,
someone has to. I'm not trying to pretend that there aren't problems, or
that they shouldn't be discussed. I'm just trying to make a point that we
have GOOD things in this area, along with the bad that seem to get more
attention. I'm a big believer that changing perceptions goes a very long
way to changing reality.

I could talk for hours on this subject. What do you guys think?

Happy Holidays,

pioneer98

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas is Over Open Thread

I'll be busy preparing for my trip these next few days, but I've got a few posts planned. What else is on people's minds?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas from QCI



Have a wonderful Christmas, and enjoy the best time of the year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Sears Joins the Silliness

If ever there was a media-created story it would be the so-called "war on Christmas." John Beydler had a pretty good post about it on his blog, Passing Parade.




Sears, however, seems to think its a real issue, as suddenly every one if their doors had a white paper with plain black text wishing people a Merry Christmas. I guess Sears goes whichever way the wind blows. It was clearly sent out by the high-ups with orders to post it everywhere.

Might as well open a discussion on it

D-port alderman-elect under investigation after train mishap

As Fly said when McGivern's thing came out, "people will want to discuss this."

Mr. VanFossen did email the Colonel, Ambrose Fulton and myself a written statement, which they have both posted at their sites. I find it strange that while he appeared to be unaware of DDP and the Rule #3 Party, he seems quite aware of who runs the 3 Davenport politics blogs now. However, I have to compliment him on getting a statement out, and including bloggers in his media release. I won't repost the statement here, as I bet anyone that reads this blog probably reads SoLo.

I suspect this will be a bit different than McGivern's DUI, coming at the beginning of Alderman VanFossen's service instead of the end. It will be interesting to see what happens here. Obviously he's innocent until proven guilty, but I don't think that proof will take long. Maybe he'll plead guilty right away like Fly always wanted Bob to do. I'm not sure what will happen if Mr. VanFossen is unable to keep his seat on the city council, and whether there would be a special election or not. It seems somewhat logical to me to just give the seat to Gibbs. Since it seems logical to me, I'm sure that's not what will happen.

It serves to remind me that my 3 drink maximum is a good policy.

Dismissed or not Dismissed??

One of our lead againsters has been anonymously posting all over the place about how the judge didn't throw out the Susie Bell lawsuit, yet I read this morning in the Times article about the police station groundbreaking that the lawsuit was dismissed.

The exact quote is:
In another court action, a judge Wednesday dismissed an action sought by citizen Susie Bell to block the current council from doing any more spending before new aldermen take office on Jan. 3.

So which is it?

I find it strange that the Times doesn't have an article about the hearing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Crazy QC Hotel Scene

Davenport Holiday Inn now a Clarion

I must say that it fits the Clarion brand (supposedly the ritziest of the Choice Hotel chain) a lot more than the former downtown Clarion, now a Howard Johnson.

Too bad someone doesn't come along and rehab or demolish the former Ramada out there on Brady, with the old movie theater next door that's a big chunk of land close to I-80.

Happy Birthday Bill

Bill Wundram

One thing Davenport has that no other city can claim.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Triumph's Triumph Confirmed

As I predicted exactly 2 weeks ago, it looks like East Moline is moving forward with the hog processing plant. I wish it could have been a more thorough, more public process, and I hope there is some recourse if the plant isn't everything they claimed it wouldn't be.

Apparently pigs are in such a hurry to be slaughtered we couldn't wait another month.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Busy Week Open Thread

Sorry about the lack of posts, but I had a family Christmas get together here Saturday night, so there was some apartment cleaning to be done. I suspect most of my loyal readers are pretty darn busy themselves preparing for the big day.

Its only going to get worse around New Year's, because I'll be in Phoenix from December 29th-January 7th. I'll hopefully throw up a couple threads during that time, but no promises.

Some of you may want to discuss the impending EM approval of the pork processing plant, which I think is showing Davenport that IL folks know how to rush projects through even better than us.
Update 8:50pm: It appears they've approved it.

I'd also like to know some kind of timeline on the 3 lady lawsuit, as far as when the hearing or dismissal or whatever is supposed to be. I wish it would be settled, because surely there's some other contentious issue everyone could argue about.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Chicago City Images

I was checking out one of the blogs linked to on the Inside Dope blog, and that blog had a link to this blog. Its not a place you're going to find any in depth discussion, or political debate, but this guy takes some amazing pictures of mostly downtown Chicago. Kind of a 6 degrees of seperation type thing, but that's how the internet works.

http://www.iconeon.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Linden may get torn down after all

Linden owner given 90 days to repair or raze apartments

It was originally reported that the Linden Apartments would have to be torn down because of structural damage after the fire that happened there in October. Then it was reported that they wouldn't be ordered demolished by the city, as the structural damage wasn't fatal. That's still true, but apparently the owner's insurance money won't cover renovations and repairs, so it will probably be torn down anyway. Its a bad situation, but you can't expect the owner who was basically running a tenement house to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on fixing up his building. Its too bad the building will probably be torn down instead of renovated, especially since it has a fairly small footprint on which to build anything new. Maybe a Davenport version of Rock Island's Clipper Condos can be built there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ok, this is just a cool picture



QCI pretending to be a real photographer

A Couple Things From the QCTimes

County frustrated by preservation action

The Davenport Historic Preservation Commission gave the county a taste of their own medicine in tabling their request to demolish the 5th street houses. The county folks seemed surprised by this, but when you slap down a plan to renovate historic houses instead of demolish them, and then go to the HISTORIC PRESERVATION Commission, how can they be surprised that the board isn't overjoyed with the demolition plan? Apparently the county didn't have drawings of artists renderings of what the property will look like after the demolition, or with any potential office buildings. The office building idea is a new one for me, and I kind of think that the 4th street government corridor has no need to jump across the railroad tracks and start moving up the hill.


Here's a letter to the editor from someone suggesting we return to partisan elections to "keep the mayor in line." You know... so nobody steps out of the lockstep party line, and for example, says things that people don't want to hear.

Somehow I don't think that's the answer. If there's one thing more screwed up and adversarial than Davenport politics, its partisan Democrat vs Republican politics.

Monday, December 12, 2005

If I wasn't sure before...

A copy of the 3 ladies' lawsuit is included in this week's Council Update.

Reading it further convinces me that it doesn't stand a chance. The IOC proposal is indeed mentioned, even though it has nothing to do with the bond issue.

Reading this, it becomes clear the lawsuit is basically 3 citizens suing a city for doing things that they personally don't agree with. Its filled with opinions and hearsay, and I didn't see anything in there that would make a judge mandate what Davenport elected officials can do during the term they were elected for.

EVERYONE should read it, if they haven't already.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Maybe I'm missing something

Several people have mentioned that the recent lawsuit to stop the city from accomplishing things is partly based on the city spending money on something they're not sure of yet, namely the IOC realignment. Maybe I'm missing it, but I don't see anything about that on the list of items.

Here's a file that list where all the money goes.

Someone show me where any of that relies on anything to do with the IOC hotel project?
I really could just be overlooking it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Continuing Our Tradition of Crazy Lawsuits

Court action seeks to stop city spending

One of their complaints is apparently that the current council can't do this because its close to the end of their term. Here's a newsflash ladies: yes they can. They were elected to serve until January, not until November. Somehow I think if the roles were reversed, and the incoming council was the one going out, and they tried to limit city spending for the next council, the ladies wouldn't have any problem with that particular "tying up" of newly elected council folks.

Apparently this 50 cents per $1,000 of property value is just going to break the bank for these ladies. If they are living in $100,000 homes, that's $50 a year. I'd be more than willing to bet they spend that much money in a year driving to City Hall twice a week. Yet this weekly expenditure doesn't force them to move away. Better give the Today show a call and tell them their story about how affordable Davenport is must have been wrong. Or wait until you move to Seattle or Phoenix or even Des Moines and see what you can get for your $100,000, and what their taxes are.

Lets face the facts people: Federal taxes have decreased. This has put more of the burden for paying for services onto local and state governments. The state then turns around and passes their burden to the cities. Unfortunately, the cities don't have anyone to pass the buck to except us, the citizens. Fortunately, the lower federal taxes supposedly put more money in our pockets... to give to the city. People continue wanting the same, or even more services, but without an increase in taxes or fees. I believe the insurance of every person reading this costs more this year than it did 2 or 3 years ago, but the city is expected to pay for health care of its employees on a stagnant income? That's impossible, so our current council has tried to be proactive and do things that might cause Davenport's population and tax base to grow. The building I'm living in is an example, and driving through downtown last night I saw several more examples of increased tax base directly tied to River Renaissance and other proactive things Davenport is doing. When city costs still rise with a stable or even decreasing number of employees, staying the same is falling behind.

After watching this election, if I ever run for council in Davenport I'll just tell people I can quickly eliminate taxes and fees altogether, yet somehow increase services and pave all the streets with gold. Logic just doesn't work on some people. Quite possibly enough people to get elected.

It feels good to rant once in a while.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Continuing Our Tradition of Crazy Rich Guys

A few weeks ago when some friends of mine were in town, we visited the Figge and later the IMAX at the Putnam. The IMAX tickets now include admission into the museum, so we walked around in there a bit.

Between the two museums we saw a lot of stuff from V.O. Figge and the various Palmers, and I had to explain to my out-of-towners how we once had a surplus of world-traveling rich folks to fill our museums and galleries with random stuff.

Demonstrating that the Figges haven't lost their way, here's an article in Forbes about people who collect wooden duck decoys, some of which sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of the featured collectors is Thomas K. Figge, V.O.'s son. He apparently used to dress in jeans and drive junk cars to help in his bargaining efforts with decoy owners. The article estimates his collection of wooden duck decoys is valued at between 5 and 10 million dollars. Maybe in 30 years Davenport will have the World Museum of Wooden Ducks.

The article is here, but you do have to register with Forbes.com, which is free and may not even require a real email address.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What surprise?

Apparently, the QCTimes or Tom Saul didn't see the tax hike to pay for the $35million+ bond coming.

How did they think it was going to be paid for?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Stars and Bananas Factory

Pick up a River City Reader this week, or head over to www.rcreader.com, because their cover story on the proposed nightclub for the East Village is the best article I've read about it anywhere. It discusses good and bad points of each side of the disagreement, to the point where I'm not sure which side Kathleen McCarthy is even on. I often disagree with the Reader's seemingly rabid dislike of the Davenport council, but they certainly provide a different perspective from Tom Saul.

Personally, I'm undecided on the issue. Parking is an issue, but I have to confess I don't know how full that lot to the south is at night. If the owners are just misleading people and the club will really be Los Bananas South, it clearly shouldn't be allowed. I remember watching 4-8 squad cars lining up next to Dahl Ford at closing time on certain nights of the week when the club would be extra busy. They weren't there in case something happened, they were there because they knew something would.

On the other hand, I would like to think that we don't operating on a 1-strike and your out rule. Its possible that Mr. Orozco got involved with the wrong kind of club, and now wants to open a better one. I do disagree with the Village folks portraying the East Village as some kind of crime-free family zone. There are bars down there now, and there are crimes. The real question is do we assume that the club will be another Bananas, or do we assume that it won't be? It seems like a tough decision to make before it even opens.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holiday Slowdown


Since we're all new to this whole QC blog thing (seems like its been more than a year though), I'm not sure what normally happens to political type blogs over the holidays. Just in the last few days I've seen a definite decline in comments on here. It could just mean I've gotten boring-er, but that can't be! Actually, its probably partly that, and partly the fact that everyone's busy at the mall, stuck in traffic on Elmore, or at various holiday functions. I would think many people would be less interested in politics for the next month, including politicians, but that's not true. The local city councils don't take a break for December, so I'll keep posting what they're up to. Unless my 12' tree tips over sitcom-style and demolishes my computers.

P.S. Fly's site has quietly started disappearing

Triumph Triumphs

Its a done deal.

That's my prediction after reading that the EM council voted unanimously to continue negotiations about the pork plant. I'd even say its more of a done deal than Davenport's IOC riverfront hotel was, which is saying quite a bit. There are a number of similarities, even down to the somewhat well-organized groups in opposition: SmartRiverfront for Davenport and Progressive Action for the Common Good in East Moline. Both of the opposition groups even have vague names that disguise the fact that their sole purpose is to oppose their particular enemy project. There are also differences though. Davenport's political scene is rowdier, and the EM city council doesn't have any Keith Meyers on it. The pork plant is also not in the middle of their downtown.

Some folks would assume that I think the open-shut/done deal strategy that both these projects used is a good thing, just because I supported each of the proposed projects. This couldn't be further from the truth. SmartRiverfront.com saved Davenport money by questioning the agreement with IOC. If there had been little opposition to the hotel, think how few concessions Davenport would have been able to get in the bargaining process. Hopefully PACG can accomplish something similar in East Moline, and get their city a better deal with Triumph.

What I wish both groups could have done is run an honest campaign. SmartRiverfront did some stuff on their site that I thought bordered on propaganda, such as showing "what the hotel will block" by inserting a giant grey box into current pictures representing the hotel. Any building would be opposed if its artist's conception was a giant grey box, but fortunately that's not what IOC is going to build. Now PACG is adamant that new Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) will start springing up everywhere around here, but ignores the fact that the hogs could be trucked in from longer distances, or that our local counties might have something to say about a sudden influx of CAFOs. I don't believe in scare tactics when there are real issues to debate. Smell is a huge one. If all of EM smells like a pig farm when the plant opens, that won't be worth 1000 jobs. Pollution is another, and the quality of the new jobs is yet another good topic that EM citizens need to ask hard questions about.

East Moline's dealings with the public started out even worse than Davenport's were during the casino hotel "debate." The River Vision proposal didn't have a red box that said "We don't know anything about a proposed hotel," because our city leaders at least managed to avoid flat out lying to us. Unfortunately that can't be said for our Illinois brethren. Its not too late for EM to make this a more public, more inclusive process.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Brits are reading about us

This article in the Guardian, a British paper, is about Figge Architect David Chipperfield. It mentions Davenport and the Figge a number of times, in a completely positive light.

People in the UK are reading about OUR art museum here in Davenport.

Once again, this would not be happening without River Renaissance.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Open thread = Failure

My favorite comic lately is Pearls Before Swine.

Besides all the silly stuff with the police station, pork plant, and stormwater fee, what else is on people's minds?

Update: Quiet day Sunday... I'll leave this up here today in case there's some big D-port story waiting for a blog commenter to break it.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

No idea...

As far as the police union delaying the new police station they've been waiting decades for over parking? I really hope there's more to it than having to park too far away during construction.

Friday, December 02, 2005

QCTimes & Keith Meyer Possibly Blind

Sometimes reading the paper just makes me shake my head.

Earlier this week, the QCTimes had an article praising the collaboration between the Scott County Family Y and local schools, hospitals, and organizations. Towards the end of the article they said this:

This wonderful collaboration sends a powerful, can-do message. It’s not necessarily a new message. We heard it before with Rock Island and Davenport RiverVision planning; and Scott County, Davenport and Bettendorf’s support of River Renaissance. But in a community where a new Davenport police station is being built independently right next door to a new Scott County jail and sheriff’s headquarters, these collaborative lessons still are needed.

Then today the Times says this about the planned skywalk between the jail/courthouse complex and the new police station:

Alderman Keith Meyer, 3rd Ward, questioned the need for a skywalk that will connect the police station to the Scott County jail and courthouse complex. Now, he said, he sees very little foot traffic crossing Ripley between the police department and the jail.

What??

Ok... first of all, later in today's article they say this, pointing out how wrong they were in the previous article.

But the new station will share a number of functions with the Scott County Sheriff’s Department, such as evidence storage and processing, training, record keeping, fingerprinting and, potentially, dispatch services, said Police Chief Mike Bladel. Davenport detectives also routinely bring inmates over from the jail for questioning. (Emphasis added)

So... they need lessons in collaboration, yet they're going to share multiple services.

Then we have Alderman Meyer saying that people rarely walk between the police station and jail/courthouse. During short involvement with the DPD, I made that walk at least 50 or 100 times. During a murder trial myself, officer witnesses, and detectives each made the walk across Ripley many times. Also, if someone is arrested in the police department, which happens fairly often, they don't typically get driven half a block to the jail. Officers "walk them over" to get booked in the jail. A big reason for having the jail downtown is its proximity to the courthouse, so why shouldn't they be physically connected?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hogs, NIMBYs, Dopes

The Inside Dope blog has been the site of an ongoing debate about the proposed pork processing plant being vaguely discussed for East Moline. There's a group trying to convince people that having one of these will cause an influx of concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs), or basically commercial hog lots. I haven't seen a great increase in cattle farms in response to meat packing plants, but maybe they're right.

The secretive process taking place for the last few months over there would incite a riot among blog-readers if it happened in Davenport, but as usual, things are different in Illinois. Annexing land to the city without telling the citizens what its really for makes the Davenport IOC hotel ordeal look like a public process.

My big question with the processing plant is the smell. If that can be negated, its just another heavy industry with its associated traffic problems. The smaller question is whether locals will work there, or if it will bring in mostly immigrants, who then become locals. Hopefully a mixture of both, and I would think some of the folks that stand around Labor Ready would be happy to do a nasty, but decent-paying job like that. The temp jobs they end up doing for $7 or $8 an hour aren't exactly glamorous.

If these concerns could be answered, my next question is "If they don't want it, can we put it in our failing Eastern Iowa Industrial Center?"