Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bettendorf's riverfront: Cranes, Casinos, and Semi Trailers

As I was in Bettendorf yesterday, I was forced to slow down and look at the tower crane that has recently been erected on the site of the 2nd Isle of Capri hotel. I must say I was struck with some jealousy, as Davenport hasn't seen a tower crane over our downtown since the Midamerican Building was built. Maybe they'll use one for the new Rhythm City hotel. I was not THAT jealous though, because Bettendorf's riverfront is essentially dominated by the casino complex. It makes Davenport's planned "casino intrusion" seem like a nature park. The bike path that goes all the way from Credit Island to the Davenport border (finally) and into Bettendorf comes to a screeching halt when it gets to the access bridges to the boat on the casino property. At certain times of the month, such as now, riverfront visitors are treated to a temporary semi truck and tractor auction turning the riverfront into Iowa80 Junior. Leach Park is pretty much the one exception to the casino-oriented riverfront. Even though IOC owns the property in Bettendorf, you'd think there'd still be SOME outrage at their expansion. Apparently the anti-Rhythm City hotel folks think Davenport's riverfront is more valuable.

Maybe because with their floodwall you can't see the river anyway.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Those are nice garages, but where are the houses?

I first spotted these on Middle Road near the round-about in Bettendorf when I was out taking the pictures of the future high-tech office park. I wished I had stopped to take a picture after I drove past. Fortunately, I had to make a rare trip to the suburbs(Bettendorf) this afternoon, so I decided to swing out and get a picture.

These condos embody everything that is wrong with current neighborhood design. Uniformity the Nazis would be proud of is about the only description I can give of places like this. Note the precisely one identical tree in between each driveway. Also, these demonstrate how modern American houses have become visually dominated by the garage. I would guess that almost 80% of the front of each condo is taken up by the 2 car garage door.

This is why New Urbanism is so important to me. Neighborhoods that look more like the places we grew up, with alleys, clotheslines, variety in house design, and fronts of houses that look like houses rather than garages. I'm sure some people think those condos are just the cat's pajamas, but personally, to me a neighborhood will always look like the one below.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

New Jail Courthouse Image

I hadn't seen this particular angle/rendering before, and I think it really shows what is being built. Note that the picture seems to show the 5th Street houses replaced by a forest, and doesn't include the skywalk to the new police station. For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the current courthouse and jail complex, the only buildings in the rendering that currently exist are the Old Jail and the Courthouse.
As always, click for a larger view.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thursday/Friday Open Thread

Anything interesting going on that isn't being talked about on the blogs?

Oh, surely there are interesting things:

There's crazy people jumping in the Rock River (I meant to participate, but thought it was in March)

The Blackhawk fire suspects have been caught and re-caught.

Government Bridge continues to be closed a lot lately...

Stuff still happening from the Cat fire of 2001, which took them about 5 years to clean up after...

Somebody's got to have something to say about one of those, and don't call me Shirley.

Not exactly what I meant...

A few weeks ago I posted my wish for CNN to do a story on Davenport's recovery from the 2001 flood, and the Quad Cities in general.

This isn't what I was hoping for:There we are as one of the top 10 headlines on CNN.com: Teen girl guilty of killing, cutting up friend

Definitely not the kind of publicity we need.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

QCI's Tax Plan

Ok, I'm starting with the figure of 2.2 million cost to repeal the stormwater fee that has been thrown around. Yes, you read correctly, my plan includes zero stormwater fee. The first few of these are straight out of Alderman Dumas's plan, so a definite thanks to him.

The QCI Plan

#1. Cut the General Fund & Trust and Agency portion of the Public Works Department by 3.5%

Savings: $158,779

#2. Eliminate Stormwater Credits

Savings: $325,000

#3. Move the Capital Improvement dollars to the Debt Service Levy

Savings: $250,000

#4. Eliminate four code inspectors from the housing department

Savings: $263,848

Total Savings so far: $997,627 (No cuts to Public Safety)

Ok, that gets us to about a million bucks out of 2.2 mil. Where does crazy QCI come up with the other 1.2 million? A cell phone tax.

Over 57% of Americans have a cell phone.
Davenport has between 93,000 and 98,000 residents, and if we follow the national average that means we probably own around 55,000 cell phones. Here's a USA Today story about the introduction of local cell phone taxes across America.

I propose a $2 per month tax on owning a cell phone in Davenport. Two dollars, times 55,000 cell phone owners, times 12 months, should equal $1.32 million dollars. No one would be able to say that this tax (and we are calling it a tax) is making them choose between buying their medicine and buying food. If they are living so close to bankruptcy that $2 per month is going to finish them off, maybe they shouldn't be spending money on a non-necessity like a cell phone. Since there is a $120,000 surplus in this fee over the needed 1.2 million to balance the stormwater-free budget, I propose full credits for those that somehow show both financial hardship and the necessity of owning a cellular phone. An additional benefit is that the cell phone companies are the ones who administer the fee. Plus it taxes evil apartment dwellers like myself.

Cell Phone Fee: $1,200,000

Total $2,197,627

No Cuts to Public Safety, No Stormwater Fee

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

As Charlie Brown would say.... Argh

Anonymous said... (regarding the Freight House, on QCBackstage)

Cool. The deal is dead, Regency walked out on it. Kudos to the five that walked out. Your tactics worked, and you have saved the taxpayers a lot of cash.

This just doesn't make sense to me. Againsters are actually happy that we've scared away a developer. How about compromise and discussion or looking for alternate funding sources? Nope, we're just against it. Turns out some people are just against everything.

Publicity Stunt?

Isabel Production Stays

As many of you know, I don't much much stock in conspiracy theories, but this just makes you wonder. Seems a lot like when Ty said they were going to stop making Beanie Babies unless everyone went to their website to ask them not to, or Lifesavers threatening to get rid of Pineapple. Lets get everyone to rush out and buy the last non-Chinese sculptures and get a nice after-Christmas bumo in sales. Hard to say. Either way I'm glad they're staying, and hopefully the owners realize this would only work once.

Thanks to anonymous over on the other thread for pointing this article out to me.

Tuesday Morning News

Some really bad news...

Rocket Theater to close in downtown RI

and some good news... (especially if you're older than 55)

Bishops coming back to Iowa QC

and some news that has yet to be judged.

Budget deal cut

Monday, February 20, 2006

QCI Around Town

I noticed that I haven't posted any Quad City Images lately, so I took a quick drive/walk and got an assortment.

After a bit of spring, the river's frozen solid again.
Nash Finch Wholesale Grocers, as seen from Pershing
Construction crews are already going to town on the new PD
What's happening with the Linden? Nothing at the moment.
With the help of the new council, we'll probably be seeing this sign far into the forseeable future.

QCBloggers page


I'm know I'm late commenting on this, but I was trying to decide what I think about it. I'm sure most, if not all of you have already checked out QCOnline's page that essentially acts as a blog digest, with links to the newest articles. If not, I've added the link to my link bar over to the right. Basically I've decided its a good thing. I've been looking for a way to do something similar for my own use, possibly using the RSS feeds, so I could immediately see when new posts and comments appeared on the local blogs I read. Due to my general lack of RSS skills, that didn't happen. Now we have QCOnline providing us with an easy to use list of new blog posts. I still wish there were an easy way to see when new comments have been posted anywhere on the local blogs, but I'll just have to keep looking.

There are a few things, however, that bother me about this system. I would have a lot more objections to it if QCOnline didn't have any blogs of its own, but several of their reporters, especially John Beydler, are fairly avid bloggers. This at least means they're not just leeching off the independent blogs. I had a meeting with someone from QCOnline a few months ago, in November I believe, regarding blogs. I won't go into details because I'm not sure if this is their final answer, but I knew something like this was coming. I absolutely can't fault it from a business point of view, because they are providing a valuable service, and being compensated by the few AdSense dollars they'll get.

I'm not sure if anyone saw, but in the QCOnline article about the Blackhawk fire, there was a link at the bottom that said something to the tune of "More pictures at QuadCityImages" with a link to this blog. While I must admit I was tickled to see that on there, and it gave me my highest number of page views ever, I could see it as maybe becoming a slippery slope. Traditional media could ask themselves, "If local bloggers will supply the pictures, why bother sending our own photographers?" Obviously this is an unrealistic scenario, because myself and other local bloggers can't be at every event, and I'm far from a trained photographer. I don't really have much of a concrete conclusion from this, except that I want the folks at QCO to know that I have no problem with anything they've done so far, including linking to my blog for the photos. The QCBloggers page if anything will encourage more participation in the local blogs, so its definitely a good thing. Anyone have any thoughts about blogs, mainstream media, and cooperation therein?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ward Meeting

I might end up posting a number of things today, I might not. I know there's a lot I want to say.

First of all though, is this.

MEETING IN 8TH WARD , Open to Public
Alderman Dumas, Alderman Frink
THUR. FEB. 23RD, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
ALEXIS - PERRY POINT (Community Room)

Hopefully more than the 20 folks that showed up to Hamerlinck's will attend. Its hard to argue how concerned you are about your city's government unless you participate.
#3 I believe in the notion that we can disagree and yet be able to sit down, share some beer, and enjoy each other's company. Try to act like you believe in the same notion, even if you don't.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

What the Freight House Market would be.

http://cityofdavenportiowa.com/images/latest /rv/Tab-F-Public-Market-Farmers-Market.pdf

Obviously this is still sort of a concept, which would probably be narrowed down by the study during the $15,000 studying time.

Edit: Also... why the hell is it up to bloggers to show off this concept and convince people its a good idea?

Friday, February 17, 2006

There's always the 00.0001% Sales Tax

This Freight House thing is just silly.

The City, D1, the future developer, or someone could have a "Save the Freighthouse Market" fundraiser and raise $15,000; its not worth getting the project derailed over. I'm completely in favor of the Freighthouse redevelopment, because that area of downtown is hugely important in expanding the "friendly" area of downtown to the west along the future Centennial Park. Anyone can look at various projects in downtown Davenport and Rock Island and see that there is a market for downtown living. This new proposed market district would nicely compliment the warehouse district sprouting up around 5th and Iowa, and bring more residents downtown. Let's stop arguing about progress and get it done. As soon as I see the Save the Freighthouse Market campaign, my $20's in the mail. Only 749 more.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sometimes Illinois Just Bugs Me

Why is it that Illinois can scrape together $140 million dollars for a prison they don't even use, but not $13.8 million for the first phase of the WIU riverfront campus. Heck, why not spend $50 million and build the whole campus. If the single community of Davenport managed to spend 35 million bucks on an art museum, I would think the fifth biggest state in the US could find $14 million laying around. Unfortunately non-Illinois resident alumni like myself don't have much sway with IL politicians. I urge everyone who lives in the Illinois Quad Cities to contact your state representatives, US congressmen, and the Governor and ask why this pocket change can't get tossed Moline's way.

Obviously school construction contractors don't get to donate to IL governors.

1 Accused Blackhawk Meth Enthusiast Arrested

One of two Blackhawk Hotel arson suspects arrested -QCTimes

From the article it sounds like both of the suspects are pretty much career scumbags. The second suspect, who is still at large, apparently crashed a portable meth lab into a phone poll last summer in Kewanee. There seem to be a lot of meth-related incidents down there. The younger female accomplice was arrested this morning in Joplin on unrelated charges... another winner.

I am pretty curious to know how Blackhawk/IOC employees didn't smell a meth operation in their own building, but there could be reasons. Its possible they hadn't started cooking yet or they had some kind of high-powered exhaust system. I'm also curious about their statements about being booked full the night after the fire, which a number of people have questioned on the blogs. I don't see why it would be in their interest to lie about that, but it seemed strange to go from 14 rooms occupied to all of them in one night.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Blogger's Block Open Thread

I can't think of much to say today. (and there was much rejoicing...yay) but Thursday I'm having lunch with Alderman Frink, and there are several ward meetings coming up, including Mr. Frink's, and possibly Alderman Lynn. I also emailed Craig Malin with a few questions about various issues, so there could be some posts about those forthcoming. What's on people's minds?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Meth, Streets, and a Head like a Hole

Meth could be a factor in Blackhawk fire -QCTimes

The first thing I thought when I saw the fire was that it was drug-related. I even said to my roommate something about wondering if it was a meth lab. Hopefully the people involved are caught and charged to the full extent of the law.

As far as all the people predicting gloom and doom and the city getting stuck with the cost of the fire, I'm pretty sure it'll be IOC's insurance on the hook for this one, since the city has no ownership of the building at this time. However, if the building is slated for a complete renovation in the next few years, it doesn't seem like they should bother completely repairing those rooms just so they can be gutted in a couple years. As long as they don't leave the windows covered by plywood...

Tax Hike vs Street Repairs -QCTimes

I'm undecided on this one, but my gut reaction is to cut back somewhat so as not to increase taxes so much, but not completely stop repairing streets. While I don't believe that perfect streets attract residents and companies like libraries, music venues, or a vibrant downtown scene, truly bad streets are definitely not helpful to that goal. One thing I was struck with was Craig Malin's quote: “What you would effectively be doing is taking a breather while you build the police building.” I like the guy, but I expected something that was slanted more to the idea that we should absolutely raise the tax levy. Something like "We could keep taxes lower by completly giving up on having good streets." Instead he said something that makes it sound like a decent idea to "take a breather" from extensive street repairs.

Cheney shoots hunter -CNN

My only reaction to this was, "what the heck." The final line of that article says "The nature of quail shooting ensures that this will happen. It goes with the turf." I'm not sure if I agree with that one. I doubt many gun safety classes say that hunting accidents "go with the turf."

Nine Inch Nails at the Mark -QCTimes

While Sean Moeller may use phrases like "Undiluted and phosphorescent, Trent Reznor’s primordial aggression and searing anger were sights to behold and marvel at," I will just say "They know how to put on a show." It was kind of sad to see only about 4,000 people there, but that's what they get for not putting out an album for 6 years.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Blackhawk Fire Pictures

From my living room

From the roof of the MidAmerican parking garage.

Not a good day for an auto show. The north side of the RiverCenter had to be evacuated, probably to protect against anything coming through the atrium ceiling.

A crowd gathered to watch from behind the police tape.

Apparently people capable of operating the QC's biggest ladder truck were on duty today.

Hoses were run all the way over to Pershing.

Hopefully all of the employees, guests, and firefighters are ok, and I truly hope that the building will also survive this. Isle of Capri, or their insurance, should still be the one who has to pay for repairs, since the building has not yet been given to the city.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Isabel Bloom comments w/ Loft Picture

This started out as a picture of the lofts' phase 2, but now its mostly a discussion of Isabel Bloom's move to outsource the making of their handmade sculptures to China. QCTimes Article (with 80 comments, mostly angry) and another Times article.

The second article has this quote:
However, the marketplace has changed dramatically, and “virtually the entire U.S. gift industry bases its production overseas while retaining creative control in the United States,” the company stated in a news release.“I’d challenge you to go into a gift shop … and find something that is not made overseas,” Gilfillan told the Times.

Right.... and that's why people were willing to pay $100+ bucks for a piece of cement. BECAUSE, unlike other things, they're made here.

Happy Birthday again

Well, I'd been planning a Happy Birthday Fly post for today, but John Beydler beat me to it. Guess I should have scooped him and posted it yesterday. In the last year we've gone from having no QC political blogs to having closer to half a dozen. Also, I'm pretty sure if you'd mentioned "SoLo" to anyone at City Hall in February 2005, you'd have gotten blank looks and people thinking you were starting a singing career. Now many of them would understand you're talking about the South of Locust area of Davenport. Too bad the power of blogs has been unable to determine what's up with VanFossen's test results.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Something that would prove QCI super wrong

Apparently there's already "An unidentified Fortune 500 financial services company" considering or thinking about considering building an $80 million office project out in the Bettendorf "hi-tech" park that doesn't even exist yet. There are still other sites and even other states in the running though, so lets all hope we can get these 1000+ non pork related jobs for the QC. Maybe the other "sorta might be happening" news about the WIU riverfront campus maybe getting funded will help lure this unidentified company.

Seems like a lot of maybes, ifs, and mights, but I hope both the riverfront campus and the office complex become realities.

Read the QCTimes article here

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

3 Things from the QC Business Journal

The QCTimes puts out this monthly paper they call the Quad City Business Journal, which is mostly made up of articles from the regular times, so I can usually skim through 2 months' worth in about half an hour.
Here are a few things I learned from it this time:

Quoted from Manufacturing Briefs:

Wonder facility stays open

Interstate Bakery Corp., parent company of the Wonder Bread facility in Davenport that closed in November, have announced plans to keep the facility indefinitely and use it for distribution and administrative operations.

The company initially planned to sell the facility and find a smaller location to run its limited operations.

Obviously this doesn't mean the bakery is staying, but just that they'll be using the building as a warehouse and distribution center instead of adding another vacant hulk to Davenport.

Arsenal to relocate 300 jobs

The Arsenal Island-based Defense Finance and Accounting Service will be sent to three undisclosed locations this month as part of a realignment approved by the nine-member Base Closure and Realignment Commission, or BRAC.

About 300 jobs are expected to be transferred to Columbus, Ohio; Rome, N.Y.; and Indianapolis.

Nothing but bad news there. The longer they had waited to move jobs the more people could have taken early retirement and maybe stayed in the QC.

Quoted from Economic Briefs:

Apartments built downtown

McDonnell & Associates Rental Properties, a Quad-City developer, soon will complete wall-to-wall renovations of the five-story apartment building at 321 E. 7th St. in downtown Davenport.

The City View building will have 36 apartments with views of the downtown and Mississippi River. Model units are expected to be open early this month.

So the Courtland is reopening. I don't know if I consider it downtown, but I could see how they'd rather be associated with downtown progress rather than 10th and Iowa crime district. I had originally heard that these were going to be condos, so I'm curious what else they changed their minds on. I hope to stop in and tour and photograph these apartments when they get finished. I truly hope they succeed, because this could be something that reaches out from the warehouse district to tie into the surrounding community.

Monday, February 06, 2006



That's an invitation to bid on a project to replace one column and its cement base down at the compost center. For those of you that haven't been down there, the whole building is fairly wide open so end loaders and such can drive around inside moving compost and grass clippings.

It sounds to me like one of them drove into a column. I hope they don't let aldermen work down there...

Monday Open Thread

How about them Steelers?

I'm looking forward to the auto show this coming weekend at the RiverCenter and having some friends in town for a concert.

Anything else interesting going on this week?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

2 Things

1. Thanks a lot to Blogspot for keeping my blog unavaible nearly all day. It seems like being owned by a huge company like Google would allow for 24/7 support. Or even a support email address...

2. Goodbye to All-Hit 98.9. While listening to some of the stuff on there makes even me feel old, I did occasionally still listen to it. I listened to the last night's broadcast while at work, and it was nice how many people seemed to have stories about it over the last 19 years. Not many other frequencies around here have stayed with one format that long. They ended their broadcast with "American Pie," as it was on February 3rd, the day Buddy Holly was killed. Now I have to find a different station to set my clock-radio to.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Holy Holes Batman

There's finally some visible progress on the second phase of the Davenport Lofts, aside from dumpsters and fencing. Today they began cutting holes for the windows on the east wall of the building. Before I know it there will be fellow downtown dwellers looking back at me when I look out my window.

Way to go Mainstream Media

As I said yesterday, I read several news websites every day. As I looked at CNN.com and saw that for the 2nd day one of their top stories is how a girl got kicked off her cheerleading team for working at Hooters, I wondered how things become national stories. Aside from the questions of how the national media decides to focus on particular missing child cases but not others, I want to know how they pick their random human interest stories. I have had friends from Arizona tell me that they saw various Dwyer and Michaels stunts on their local news, so maybe the Quad Cities do get some attention in this way.

What I would really like is for CNN to do a "5 Years Later" special about Davenport's downtown. From the reporting in 2001 of how we were "the largest city on the upper Mississippi without a floodwall, you'd think that the city was going to be swept clean and all of us silly Iowans would never be seen again. I know that when telling people from out of the area that I was from here, they pretty much always asked me if my house got flooded. I always tried to explain to them that if the area where I grew up near Garfield Park gets flooded by the Mississippi, the whole country would be in need of an ark. I'm sure many people saw the TV coverage and assumed Davenport's downtown was pretty much done for.

Instead its 2006 now and we have a new art museum, a Roots music museum, a baseball stadium, a skybridge, loft apartments, Bucktown Center for the Arts, the Mississippi Plaza office building, a renovated Federal Building and the New Ventures Center. In the next few years we'll add to that a new police station, a new hotel, a renovated hotel, a renovated and expanded jail, more loft apartments, a skatepark, and hopefully a new market district, chiropractic museum, another renovated hotel, and even more downtown housing.

And we still have a view of the river.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Morning Ritual & Where's Shawn?

Every morning when I get home from work, I have kind of a list of sites I go through. I check about 4 email accounts, read the news at Google News, CNN.com, QCOnline, and QCtimes, read all the blogs listed over on the right side of this site, read a few non-QC blogs such as Looper, and some of my friends' personal blogs. I also usually check to see how many pennies I made from my Google ads ($0.00 yesterday.) On Thursday mornings I read RCReader.com, and I check the Council Updates every other day or so. I'm sure many of you have similar rotations of sites. I'm just curious if any of you have any suggested sites that those of us interested in the Quad Cities should be checking frequently.

The second thing, which is semi-related, is that my daily check of Alderman Hamerlinck's blog is getting pretty boring. Why have a blog and not occasionally post what you've been up to lately? Unlike me, Aldermen actually have inside information about many of the things going on in Davenport. There are more people in the 2nd Ward and in Davenport than just the 20 of us that showed up to Shawn's ward meeting, and I think his blog would be an excellent way to keep the rest of the people up to speed. Even just a weekly "What I've been up to this week" kind of thing. Otherwise I might have to move davenport2ndward.blogspot.com way down by SmartRiverfront in what could only be called "below the fold."