Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Guest Post from the Fly

Shawn, Dee, process, and the council

DDP has turned away from city politics, so I didn't want to post this there. Besides, this is mostly just a few scattered thoughts, as my past posts have often been.

Interesting to see Hamerlinck grab the ball and run with it within the first 30 days of taking office. Kind of gives pause to the "accepted wisdom" that new alderfolk take a year or two to get their feet under them.

Dee. I'm inclined towards the point-of-view that city employees (from Malin all the way down) will take direction from council. Basically, none of them are nearly stupid enough to do otherwise. The real question is competency. There's little doubt that Dee's been competent enough to satisfy prior councils. If this council wants more/different, it's an open question whether Dee is competent to do that. And an open question is a far different matter than simply dumping the woman.

There's been some criticism of the make-up of this "get Dee committee". I'm fine with such criticism. But I've got to say that perhaps this is an improvement over the way things have worked in the past. Now we know who Shawn and the others are listening to. In the past, unless you were at the "meeting before the meeting" at Mac's, it was hard to know who was advising the council leadership.

But hey, good luck.

3 QCTimes articles that you should read

In order of importance:

1. Kraft to lay off 8,000- The article states that no one is saying whether Davenport's 1500 employees will be affected. I believe that if our former Oscar Mayer plant was to close, it would be a bigger blow to Davenport than even the BRAC result.

2. Hamerlinck's Un-Againster Activities Comission gets questioned by aldermen. - Unsurprisingly, Alderwoman Howard stated her opposition to Hamerlinck's idea, but surprisingly, Alderman Meyer seemed opposed to the committee having such a short time period before the budget is due. In what could be my favorite thing he has ever said, Meyer stated, “I don’t want this to be a witch hunt at public works.” I believe the commission is a good idea, but it shouldn't be hand picked by one alderman.

3. City tells county to go ahead and knock-em down - The so-called County Houses on 5th Street won't be with us much longer. While this is a sad end for them, there weren't many reasonable alternatives. The city could have tried to stop the county from tearing them down, but we couldn't force them to give someone hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fix them up, as the proposed project requested. Big-time shame on the county for years of demolition by neglect. Shame on the city of Davenport for not getting on their case about it all along. The article says 2 aldermen were voted against allowing demolition, but doesn't say which ones.

Where are Alderman VanFossen's test results?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Why only in Davenport?

Doesn't Bettendorf have any fiesty council watchdogs?

Here's another article about them discussing spending money to develop an empty industrial/commercial park. It worked so well for Davenport, I guess they have to try. Yet there hasn't been a wave of outraged citizens like there would be here in Davenport. Bettendorf people don't mind their city dabbling in land development I guess.

I personally like the idea of nice office buildings out along I-80, so people driving past think the Quad Cities actually are different than Tipton. I just don't get why businesses will sprout up at Middle and I-80 when they haven't at other area developments.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Stop asking about VanFossen

I want to know how his blood alcohol test turned out also, but I'm pretty sure it'll be in the paper when it comes out. Stop asking about it in every single thread.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Coming soon: Museum of Empty Industrial Parks

How is this....The location of the proposed "High-Technology" park at I-80 and Middle Road in Bettendorf

Better than....

The Iowa Research Commerce and Technology Park at I-80 and Highway 61 in Davenport. (Click picture for full size image)


Davenport's controversial Eastern Iowa Industrial Center at I-80 and Northwest Blvd in Davenport. (Click picture for full size image)

Answer... it's High-Tech!

Actually I don't know why its supposed to be better. From what I've read it's going to be very attractive, so I assume it will have a lake with fountains and such, and possibly more ugly sculptures than the IRCT.

The EIIC has 2 main tenants: a John Deere parts warehouse and the Scott Community College Blong Technology Center. It isn't exactly sporting a No Vacancy sign, but that is supposed to change when it gets its new federal pork-sponsored rail spur.

The IRCT has a baby-Hummer dealership, the corporate headquarters of a dairy, and one other non-descript industry. Plenty of room to grow.

Both existing industrial parks make use of pointless boulevards, and both are literally within yards of Interstate 80. Both sites are also conveniently located near strip clubs, although I didn't know that was that attractive to businesses. The proposed Bettendorf development will also be near I-80, and closer to Illinois, but arguably farther away from everything else. Is Bettendorf that much more business-friendly that corporate headquarters are going to leave dust clouds in their haste to move there if only they had a High-Technology Park to move into? Even without a rail spur or a strip club?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thursday/Friday Open Thread

The skybridge thing surprisingly didn't generate much discussion, so what would people rather talk about?

Updated Friday:
Check out this link
Its the city's CAT grant application, with tons of awesome renderings and maps and stuff of what Centennial Park and the Market District could look like. Why the city doesn't publicize this stuff more I'll never know. These are the kind of things that get young people excited about their city.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

QCI Hates Jerks: Part 2

Read Part 1 for Images and a description of the Skybridge vandalism

The Fix

Whatever you say about Alderwoman Howard, I believe she sometimes has some very good ideas. She was quoted in a QCTimes article about the Skybridge vandalism as saying " After the last vandalism, it was my understanding that the casino was suppose to use its security personnel to patrol the skybridge. We need to have another conversation to see how they are addressing that. "

IOC basically replied: Who, us? We don't have nothin to do with that thing. (Paraphrased... heavily)

Exhibit A.

All Systems Normal indeed... daily vandalism.

IOC might say that they have no reason to send their security folks across the skybridge into the north tower, after all, there's no IOC offices over there....

Exhibit B.

Rhythm City offices directly to the north of the Skybridge, nearly within sight of the vandalism.

Despite yesterday's daylight vandalism, I would suggest that the lion's share of Skybridge security is needed for night time. Even detailing one of their security guards to spend half his time from 9pm-5am patrolling the skybridge would only cost about $30 a day. Ten or twelve grand a year to prevent more $3000 window breakings, graffiti, nudity or bizarre middle age propositioners seems like a bargain to me. Or the city could hire someone full time to patrol the Skybridge, and the areas around the Figge, RME, River Center, etc. Or someone could cough up money for some decent cameras to keep an eye on the bridge.

There are plenty of solutions, but Rhythm City should be a part of it.

After all, its got their name on it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

QCI Hates Jerks: Part 1

I went down to check out the skybridge damage today, after reading that another pane had been broken/shot out today. There might have to be a QCI stakeout this weekend, or maybe the DPD could use some of its new VIPS folks. The important thing, unless we plan on tearing the whole bridge down, is to fix the damage quickly every time it happens. This is the only way to fight vandalism, as one broken window left alone is contagious.
As you can see from the picture, the damage is on the backside of the North tower, where there's a pedestrian alley between the RME, Savitris, and the River Drive parking garage. This way the idiots were able to shoot out the windows without being seen from either River Drive or Second Street.
This shot shows the second area that was hit, which is on the 2nd floor. This alley seems like a perfect place to put some high resolution security cameras.

This part was kind of scary to me, mostly because I'd always assumed these inserts were plastic. For those of you that haven't been in the Skybridge, these are opaque glass inserts in the floor, that allow the LED lights to be seem from below the bridge, and also allow even more light in during the day. I haven't read if they think this damage is from vandals or something else. It could just be one of the dozens of these inserts was bad. This is located about at the midpoint of the bridge.
A shot of this was shown on QCOnline as though it were vandalism damage. Aside from the tiny gang sign done in marker on the railing, the rest of this "vandalism" was done by birds. Normally birds aren't an issue because there is some sort of sonic bird repeller located in the roof of the outside overlook at the south end of the Skybridge. Either its broken, or the birds got used to the sound, and decided to roost there anyway.

For whatever reason, the outdoor overlook was closed by locked doors. Hopefully it is reopened soon. No matter what your opinion is on the Skybridge, vandalism is just stupid. The bridge is here, and its not going to be torn down, so we have to do whatever it takes to protect it. Later I'm going to post another topic on what should be done to protect the Skybridge, along with some additional pictures.

Upcoming posts

I spent 90 minutes this afternoon driving around the Iowa QC getting some pictures for some posts. Tonight I'll put up some of them, including the requested Skybridge damage pictures. Despite putting at least 25 miles on my car, I don't believe I got any camera speeding tickets.

More stuff happening downtown

Here's a nice QCTimes piece about the Midwest Writing Center moving into the Bucktown Center for the Arts.

Anyone who hasn't been to Bucktown should stop in and see it. When I first walked through it during last summer's Bix street fest I was amazed. It got relatively little publicity, but it should be getting tons. It should be on anyone's list for showing out of town visitors. You can walk from studio to studio, meeting the artists, looking at their works. Its like a Beaux Arts Fair year round, only better.

Now if only Todd will get to work on his building across the street.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

2nd Ward Meeting

Alderman Shawn Hamerlinck held a meeting Saturday morning for people from his ward or other wards to come hear him speak and speak with him. It took place in the community room of the new Fairmount Street library, and LaWanda Roudebush attended and made sure the logistics went smoothly, which they did. I would say there were about 15 people there at the beginning, and 20 eventually as more drifted in. At least a quarter of the people, including myself, were from other wards. Many of them had either been impressed by Mr. Hamerlinck's actions so far, or just were interested to see his constituent meeting, which not all aldermen offer. Shawn handed out a lot of documentation for people to pass around and look at, such as the city budget, the 2025 comprehensive plan book, and Mr. Ashton's documentation regarding his opposition to the casino hotel proposal. He seemed to be a big fan of transparency, (Fly would be proud) and Ms. Roudebush pointed out that a number of these things are available at the libraries.

The meeting basically boiled down to a gripe-fest, which is to be expected, and there's nothing wrong with that. Its important for citizens to let their representatives on the city council know what's going on, and what problems they are facing. Shawn made it clear that he is doing everything he can to repeal the stormwater fee, and would not touch public safety in order to pay for it. He mentioned a few ideas, and many of the attendees had their own suggestions for places to cut fat from the city budget. If there was anyone there in support of the stormwater fee they were very quiet, because it seemed like the people there were nearly 100% opposed to it. JoAnna Graller-Hintz was there to voice her opinions and suggestions, some of which unfortunately involved physical harm to various city officials. I'm sure she was joking, so I won't elaborate on that. Others had specific issues with how the stormwater fee was being calculated on their rural property, upcoming zoning issues, or corruption on city committees. The meeting was wide open for anyone to talk, and it lasted over 3 hours.

While I disagree with many of Shawn's opinions and politics, I do believe he is honest about what he thinks and what he wants to do. He could be a leader on the new council, although I am concerned he could come off as acting like he has all the answers so early in his political career. I do believe I can trust him not to pass a "fix the budget" fee and call it a stormwater fee, or hold "Riverfront Input Meetings" where input is the last thing they want. This is similar to the praise I gave to Bill Boom before the election. Even if I disagree with someone's politics, I'm glad to have people that are truthful and transparent on the council.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

One way for Davenport to balance the budget

Apparently we need a miniature train.

Niabi train nearing its last tour -QCOnline (Look quick, their articles don't stay free)

According to the article, Niabi Zoo's miniature railroad took in $157,122 in 2005 alone. The article states that they are looking into to buying a new locomotive, because theirs is starting to show its age. It seems a brand new miniature locomotive costs about $130,000.

So, throw some miniature tracks down snaking through Vander Veer, Duck Creek Park, along the riverfront, or 14th and Gaines if you want more of a thrill ride, and charge $1.50 a ticket like Niabi does. The locomotive will be paid off in a year, and from then on we're raking in money like robber barons.

Clearly I'm in the wrong business.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

How are you going to PAY for it???

Stormwater fee repeal gets 1st OK

Someone just tell me where the money's coming from. The new council makes it seem like this is easy as pie, but the way I figure it there's 2+ million bucks that are going to be missing from the budget.

I may be just a young fool, as many people say, but it seems to me that this will either require cuts or additional sources of income. I'm not sure what happens if a council votes to run a deficit, which is illegal, but I assume it would mean the state wouldn't certify the budget.

So come on Keith, Shawn, or Bill... let us in on how this is going to work. Keeping in mind that some of you have said that public safety won't be cut.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Speed Cameras Are Watching

I'm actually somewhat worried, but not as much as I will be when they drop the leeway to 8 or 10mph. I predict that the River Drive camera will catch a ton of people, because I don't think the locations have been as well-publicized as the red light cameras were. Plus a lot more people speed than run red lights.

The QCTimes has a Map of where the cameras are located.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Remember Summer? It'll be back before we know it. This shot from last summer of Vander Veer's Grand Allée should remind us all of green grass and warm weather.
Anything interesting going on that's not making it on QCTimes or QCOnline?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Some Old Christmas News

Here's an article in the QCTimes about the new, living Remembrance Tree in the former site of Judy's Antiques at River Drive and Iowa Street.

Here's another article from Genesis's website about where the tree came from and what it stands for.

It sounds like Bechtel Trust is taking the lead on turning this gateway to downtown into a small park, with a living Christmas tree as its centerpiece. The article reveals the Bechtel was behind the repainting of the pawn shop across the street, and is working with them to find a new location. This could mean a better welcome to downtown than an abandoned lot and a pawn shop, so I'm all for it. If it turns out that Bechtel Trust is paying the lion's share of the costs, I'm even more for it.

If anyone has seen any plans or designs for the park I'd be interested to see them.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Chalk one up for the west side

I have to agree with Bill Wundram on this one and say wow. Only my "wow" isn't just at the facility, but at the public reaction. I got to the area of the library about 10 minutes before the ribbon cutting was scheduled, and figured I'd park in this huge 160-space lot I'd read about. Instead I see a traffic jam like there was a folk concert or something going on. People were walking from every direction and cars were parked everywhere. People were even parking on Heatherton Drive, where I wouldn't park even in daylight hours.

When I got inside I saw where the people from the hundreds of cars were at. The place was packed, and not just with the usual D1 and Library dignitaries, but with a broad cross section of Davenport. There were neighborhood kids signing up for library cards, little old ladies, Craig Malin, families, and librarians in cowboy hats. There were also people there who you could tell had been using the library on a daily basis before the ribbon cutting, and probably viewed all of us with annoyance. I took the behind-the-scenes tour given by one of the library staff. There's a computerized system that keeps track of your daily 10 free pages you can print, and even lets you put credit for the printer/copier on your library card. Twenty computers are given prime real estate right inside the entryway, and the computers in the kids section even have educational games.

The community rooms were open for the public to see, as was the store for discarded and donated books. The coffee shop/cafe is supposed to open in early spring, which should be nice for folks riding past on the bike path. There's a spur right from the bike path to the library bike racks, so people won't even need to drive. If they do drive, there's a drive-up window where you can pick up books you've reserved online, and the usual 24-hour drop boxes.

There were speeches (way too many) from various folks, including both the current and former mayors. Nearly all of the speakers had similar things to say, which boiled down to thanking people for allowing such a wonderful project to happen. I suspect most if not all of the people in attendance had voted for the library levy, so there were many thanks given to the voters also. Most of the current and former aldermen were there, although I was surprised to see that Alderwoman Howard wasn't in attendance.

The facility itself is great, but even greater was seeing so many people there who I would never describe as "againsters." The library was made possible by people willing to pay a bit extra to have a better city for us and our children, who seemed to be enjoying themselves greatly. I can't wait to see the upcoming east-side branch. I left smiling... at least until the mud.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


The west side of Fairmount is in dire need of a sidewalk. When I walked from my car at 9:45 the ground was still frozen, but after an hour of speeches the ground had thawed into mud.
I just spent 15 minutes scraping mud off my shoes, so I think I'll wait until this evening to post the rest of my library opening pictures. I will say that it was quite an event with hundreds of people there.

New Library Opens Today

Today the Fairmount Street branch is officially opening.
The ribbon cutting is schedule for 10am.

I hope to see lots of folks there, and I should have pictures posted tonight.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

McGivern heads to the slammer (sorta)

According to QCOnline, Alderman McGivern pleaded guilty to the drunk driving charge in exchange for the open container violation being dropped. His blood-alcohol content was 0.171, and you have to keep in mind that it was only measured after he was arrested and taken to jail. His lawyer probably recommended he delay the breathalyzer test as long as possible to allow for a lower score. Apparently he was plenty drunk. I'll link to the article, here, but it will probably be unavailable by the time anyone clicks it.

According to the article, he was sentenced to 120 days in jail, which he will have to serve 2 of. Two days in jail may seem easy, but if you've ever had a tour of our jail you'll know that its not. However, the article also says, "Mr. McGivern will have to arrange with the jail when he will serve his time, but he also could serve his sentence at his home." So nevermind the 2 days in jail thing, I guess. He'll also get a year of unsupervised probation and have to take some alcohol classes. Judging from others I've seen go through this, the whole process will end up costing him quite a few thousand dollars for a first time offense.

Now I guess we just wait to see if Alderman VanFossen's score is higher or lower! Maybe we should start doing breathalyzer tests on anyone walking in to turn in their petition to run for office.

What happened to 12mph?

The speed cameras will be starting soon, as seen in today's QCTimes article about them.

Apparently after only 90 days the 12mph buffer zone will decrease to only 10mph in "residential areas" and 8mph in schools zones.

I disagree with having the speed cameras send out tickets for anything that the average police officer wouldn't stop someone for, and 8 or 10mph is pretty iffy. I'm also curious what counts as a residential area. Is 2700 Brady residential? The 2900 block of Harrison? There are houses along those streets, but they're more like cross-town arteries than residential streets.

I wish they'd just set them to only ticket people going 15 or more over. I think they'd catch plenty of people.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Library now has a nice website

I can't say that I've been to the Davenport Public Library website lately... probably not in the last 6 months or a year. However, I am pretty sure their layout is newly updated. I know I don't remember it being so snazzy before. There is lots of information about the new branch opening Saturday, including pictures and floorplans.

Check it out over at www.davenportlibrary.com

Monday, January 09, 2006

WIU gets some $$, or maybe just one $

Western gets $2.4 Million for its Riverfront Campus
I am, of course, biased. I went to WIU at Macomb. I loved the campus and the quality of professors I had, but I was not a very big fan of living in a town with a total population of 20,000, with 12,000 of that being WIU students. Having KMart or Walmart as my 2 shopping choices isn't my ideal situation. I considered going to the QC campus, but I wanted the real college experience, and currently the Quad City campus is essentially a community college that gives Bachelor's degrees.

We're one of the largest communities in the country without a full 4 year public university. Deere came along and gave WIU the land to build a beautiful riverfront campus, and room for expansion, but now we're stuck waiting for IL politics to throw some spare change our way. Its happening, but far too slowly. With the deal that allows students from border counties to get in-state tuition, I think WIU could build a QC campus for at least 5,000 students. Hopefully once construction gets started, things will snowball quickly.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I have returned from the desert

I'll try to start posting the usual commentary again immediately. I also hope to attend Alderman Hammerlinck's first meeting over at the new library.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Arizona Images

Its hard to be away from Davenport while the new council is coming in, but everyone needs a vacation. I haven't been following the weather back in the QC, but its too HOT here; it must have gotten to 80 degrees Monday. I'm sure all of you are sympathetic.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Block Party doesn't mess around when it comes to security. Or horses. Unfortunately, my picture of SWAT team members standing around holding MP5s didn't turn out.

The 10pm fireworks can be seen over the Motocross demonstration ramp.

Aaron risks his life juggling flaming objects for the benefit of maybe 12 spectators. Aaron wishes he had a better spot for his show.

The year 2006 arrives, and is welcomed by Blues Traveler. It will take until February for me to stop writing /05 at the end of my dates.