Tuesday, August 29, 2006
But back to the meeting...
There was a lot of discussion of the upcoming website and computer system rebirth, and ways to coordinate information so things that are public knowledge really ARE public knowledge. Its obvious from some of the comments that the transition from NEO to Fire Department for inspections is off to a bumpy start, but a decision that bad is probably going to take a while to get working well. I definitely like the idea of being able to go to a one-stop place for landlords to check out potential renters, or renters to check on landlords to see their previous records.
Chief Bladel spoke for a while about what the police have been doing to crack down on crime, and from what I've seen its starting to work. Now they just need to do that all the time. There was a good amount of back and forth conversation with both Bladel, Malin and Tom Warner about various issues, and it occurred to me that our city staff is more available for 1 on 1 interaction than I think a lot of people realize. Many of the attendees were on a first name basis with these city employees. Maybe some of the QCTimes.comments folks should try actually speaking with these people about their issues.
I was also impressed with how Malin's presence was treated. Many of the people at the meeting are probably opposed to his continued employment by Davenport, but they seemed to be able to set that aside and try to work with him on things that need taking care of. One interesting part of the meeting occurred when Frink and Malin made references to an "outside group" being interested in purchasing the Swing. Alderman Meyer protested that he had been told not to mention this as it could cause legal trouble for the city, and Malin and Frink didn't directly answer this. It could possibly be explained as referring to the previous and well-known interest by the Des Moines group a few months ago, but I think it pissed Alderman Meyer off for the rest of the meeting. Alderman Hamerlinck also attended, but like Keith, he was fairly quiet throughout the meeting.
This is already getting too long for some people's tastes, so I'll let anyone who was there fill in any additional stuff in the comments.
Early in his first term, Keith made the mistake of writing and reciting a little poem. Honestly, I wasn't as offended by the slight racism of the poem as I was by the fact that this politician wouldn't know better than to read something like that. He was instantly marginalized by most of the council and the Mayor, and I figured he'd never recover. There was, however, a bit of a backlash of people that thought the incident was blown out of proportion, and who probably don't like Alderman Howard anyway.
Alderman Meyer also made himself popular with quite a few Taylor Heights folks when he blocked construction vehicles from starting early on the hated Cobblestone Terrace project. He won reelection against a well-spoken and well-qualified challenger, Bill Boom, in the last election, so obviously he has the support of slightly over half his ward's voters.
One of the best things I've been seeing with Keith lately is his presence on the blogs. He's practically an omnipresent force who people can address questions or comments to on nearly any thread, and receive a reply within a day. I know of a number of issues that he's worked to take care of after hearing about them on SoLo or other blogs. I'm not sure why he hasn't started his own blog, because with the time he seems to put in online I believe it would put Hamerlinck and Frink's blogs to shame.
During the recent Malin controversy, I felt he was making a valiant effort to separate discussions of who is going to sue who from discussions over whether Malin screwed up. However, there are clearly still people who don't take him seriously, although fewer than I would have guessed there'd be right after the Black Christmas poem. My only beef with Alderman Meyer lately has been that he can try to micromanage too much. During a recent meeting, he questioned Dee at length on various technical concrete/asphalt issues. While I applaud his passion to keep an eye on staff, at some point you have to trust your staff who have education and training in specific technical areas.
I suspect that as more residents move into downtown, and the 3rd ward demographic changes to include a greater number of younger urban pioneer types, Keith will eventually lose to a challenger who is more willing to invest public money in downtown development. However, until the population changes that much, he is absolutely representing what the majority of the people of his ward want. The people of the 3rd ward seem to want lower taxes and fees, and someone to keep the council and staff on their toes. I only wish that people understood better that most Alderman on both "sides of the aisle" are just trying to do what the people of their ward want, even if other wards may not agree. That's how our system is designed.
I may not vote for Keith, but I do believe he's doing his best to represent his ward.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Here's a shot from the Skybridge right at 5 when things are just starting to heat up.
The most important part, the ribs.
The band "Identity Crisis," as seen through the sound equipment.
There I go trying to be artsy again...
Saturday, August 26, 2006
He may have since been caught, but I haven't heard anything about it. Hopefully they catch these guys, although I'm surprised they're stupid enough to stay in the area.
Update on 8/29: They were stupid enough to stay in the area, and now all 4 police were looking for have been caught.
You are invited to attend my open/city meeting at 6:30 pm, Tues. Aug. 29th, at the Friendly House (1221 Myrtle). The meeting will be open to citizens from throughout the community and will center on current city topics and any ideas or suggestions individuals might want to share. I will be joined by representatives from DPD and City Legal, as well as a couple other aldermen. Please feel free to pass along this email to any others that may have interest.
If you are unable to attend, please do not hesistate to contact me with any comments/concerns.
Say what you will about Ian, but at least he provides avenues for citizens to let him know their feelings and concerns. That's more than over half the Alderman seem to do.
Friday, August 25, 2006
This shot is on the west side of the Sieg Iron or 4th Street Lofts or Davenport Lofts Phase 2 or whatever the final thing is going to be called. Maybe when I pay my rent Friday I'll ask if they've decided on a final name for the second phase. Right now they're resurfacing the concrete frame of the building, just as they did on the Crescent Macaroni building.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Officials unveil new I-74 design -QCTimes
This was actually my favorite of the bunch. Cable-stayed bridges are pretty amazing looking, but they're sprouting up everywhere lately, so this should be a more unique design.
Q-C airport studies parking -QCTimes
Seems like a parking garage might be in the near-to-medium future for my airport (it is the QCI Airport) and I can see how it would need it if we ever get direct service to Phoenix. At least the airport folks are still working on it.
Davenport adult club ordered to close by the city -QCTimes
Nothing but good news here. This business adds nothing to the well-being of the city, and has been the site of many crimes, including a shooting/robbery a year or two ago.
Conservatives ask FBI to investigate hotel porn -CNN
The party of small government now wants to decide what you can watch in your hotel room. Good family values or too much control? I'm no libertarian... maybe Ambrose Fulton should weigh in on this.
Speaking of links, adding Cruiser's blog last week reminded me that if anyone else knows about any other QC area blogs, or websites that fit in with the general theme of this blog, let me know. I'm considering getting rid of all the state representative links, so let me know if you blog readers use those and want them to stay.
Also, what does everyone think about the QCTimes' 3rd effort at joining the blog scene? Whatever you think of QCOnline, at least their blog page includes independent blogs.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I figure the move would save the city a mere $30,000 plus any benefits the at-large Aldermen take. I suspect the real reason has more to do with who those alderman are rather than saving the city money. If the at-large positions were filled by people aligned with Hamerlinck, Meyer and company, I doubt we'd be hearing about this now.
If that's true, this is a maneuver just as shady as trying to sneak the 4 year terms vote by during summer. The at-large aldermen provide representation to those who don't agree with, get along with, or know how to get ahold of their ward's alderman. This would just be another effort to get around the current democratic system that's in place. Right now, 2 of the 10 aldermen are elected by the city as a whole, and if the city as a whole tends to lean towards the Frink/Howard/Brooke side of the aisle, than that's democracy in action.
Update at 6:30am Here's Tom Saul's article about this very rumor.
Update some more: Alderman Meyer posted over on SoLo (down towards the bottom of the comments) saying that according to his records, the COLA raise was never approved. Personally I suspect the QCTimes was wrong on this, but anymore I really don't know. If after ALL of this, it turns out Malin was entitled to the raise, there should really be some repercussions.
The editorial page of Sunday's QCT states that Malin's pay was budgeted at $156,801 in December of 2005 and this included COLA's.
I am really confused now, did Malin receive more than the approved amount? It now looks like he was paid the proper amount that was approved by the council.
If Malin received the correct amount the City of Davenport is in for one tremendous lawsuit.
Here's a link to the QCTimes article that mentions the budgeted amount as $156,801.
What the hell is going on here?
Update: I moved this to the top because its considerably more important than my nighttime errands.
Heading all the way out Brady to 53rd, across to Elmore, south to Kimberly, over to Eastern and back downtown, with stops at the bank ATM, HyVee and McDs mixed in there would take well over an hour during the day. At 3am it took about 20 minutes. I think I passed a total of 10 cars on the whole route, and one of those was a squad car.
I did see a couple deer leisurely strolling across Eastern by Annie Wittenmyer. I tried to take a picture of them, but either they were too quick or my camera was too slow.
Its hard to imagine, but driving around Davenport's biggest streets is actually relaxing... at the right time of night.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
Craig Malin lives here -American City and Country
Just a few weeks after he moved his family from Vernon Hills to Superior, Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank's house was firebombed on the order of a jailed gang leader. The bombing galvanized Malin, who was already feeling protective of his new home.
'I was so angry', he says. 'Dan and his wife are the same age as I am. They live down the street from my house.' Malin was determined to find a way to show those responsible for the firebombing that the community would not tolerate their actions. He discussed it with his wife, Marcia. 'I want to put a sign in the yard that says, 'Dan Blank lives here,'' he told her. She agreed.
The idea took root. Fariba Pendleton, a youth development educator in the county's extension office, and County Board Chair Doug Finn ran with it, extending it community-wide. The plan was that everyone in Douglas County would have a yard sign proclaiming his or her home as the residence of the Dan Blank family. Additionally, billboard companies donated space proclaiming the same thing.
This article makes Malin look like a saint. Ambrose's article makes him look like a power grabbing liar. Which is true? Probably neither. He's just a person trying to do a job. I urge anyone who feels the need to accuse him of things to have a conversation with him, or at least meet him before they attack.
Is he perfect? Of course not.
Is he corrupt, or purposely trying to steal? I do not believe so.
Is Davenport better off than we were before he was here? Yes
Is all of that because of him? Of course not.
Is some of it? Probably
Has he been a good city administrator with the exception of this pay raise scandal?
I believe he has.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Despite disagreeing with him on, well... almost everything, I've added Cruiser's blog to my link bar. There's room for all opinions around here.
Check this out, its a cross between Google Maps and Wikipedia called WikiMapia. You can hover over buildings that users have labeled and see what they are, and label or edit the labels on buildings yourself. Practically the whole world is included. I've added quite a few labels in the downtown area since hearing about this site over on Absolute DSM's forums.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Apparently these people were just born already good at golf...
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I don't see how Brady and Harrison can be turned into 2 way streets without causing a large loss in efficiency. I guess we have to decide if streets' purpose is to move cars, or to help businesses along those particular streets. Imagine Brady with 2 lanes in each direction. I'm going north and want to turn into Kmart. I have to wait for a gap in the southbound traffic. Are we going to pay to widen many miles of streets to add a 5th lane to use as a center turn lane? Even then you have to wait to turn, but at least then you don't take up half the lanes in your direction while you wait.
I'd suspect the big downturn in business along these streets may have had more to do with the explosion of retail along Kimberly, 53rd, etc that has occurred over the years than the direction cars are traveling. I know I've never not gone to a place on either Brady or Harrison because I had to take 3 seconds to think how to get there. It also seems that if we make them both 2 way streets, that half the north/southbound traffic that now drives past businesses on Brady or Harrison won't even see them, as it will be going north/south on the other street instead. I also would expect more accidents to happen when traffic is moving in 2 directions instead of just one. That doesn't even take into account the cost of new traffic signals, signage, line repainting, and figuring out what to do where the streets merge back together past 53rd.
But what do I know; I'm not a highly paid consultant.
Monday, August 14, 2006
This picture is small and low resolution because it was taken on an early digital camera where 20 or 30 images at a time were stored on 1.44 megabyte floppy disks. Now the images I get, even off of my cheap camera, are around a megabyte each. The cost of progress...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I didn't think there were any festivals in Davenport this weekend, so I couldn't figure out why downtown was packed. I asked one of the VIPS (Volunteers In Police Service) patrolling the Skybridge, who let me know that Palmer's Homecoming party was down on the levy.
Apparently the chiropractic extravaganza had spread to 3rd street, where a stage was set up between the bars down there.
Friday, August 11, 2006
However... not all the problems people think. Many people hate Alderman Brooke, but that doesn't mean anything unless they are from his ward. Wards elect people to serve their interest, and obviously the interests of the 6th ward are going to be different than those of the 1st. Its the same sort of representative democracy that we have on the national level, where people from Connecticut and people from Texas probably hate each other's representatives, but each represents his or her own constituents, not the nation as a whole.
So when I go to meetings and people sit around talking about Brooke, or Dumas, or even Frink and Howard, as though they're evil incarnate, they're missing the point. They're not evil, they're doing their job. If anyone was "tricked" into voting for Howard or Frink for Alderman-at-large, they really didn't do their research. I believe the voters knew what they were getting, and now we're getting it. For some of us, that's a good thing. For others, not so much. I think Davenport's moving in the right direction, things are better now than they were 10 years ago, and we should continue the things we're doing as a city. Others feel we're going down a wasteful path of spending without much gain.
If 5 alderman vote for something, and 5 against, with the Mayor breaking the tie, that's democracy in action. Its not shady, its not something to boycott, its how the system works. When they original walkout 5 boycotted the Freight House meeting, they were avoiding the democratic process because they knew it would be 5-5 with the Mayor breaking the tie. The new 4 that walked out this time were also dodging the democratic process because they knew that without their 5th member present, the other 5 could pass almost anything they wished.
For once we may have to look to the state for guidance on this. When the state senate became tied 25-25, they made agreements not to "ram things through" while people were absent from either side. This would have avoided the walkout in the first place, and save Davenport some embarrassment. Despite the fact that I personally agree with some of the alderman on most of the issues and direction Davenport should go, I believe none of the 10 should ever walk out of a meeting. Neither group that did it was right. So do we try and get rid of the entire council next election, or do we try to make it clear to this existing council that these kind of antics aren't what Davenport wants?
We've already got one clown show in Washington DC, we don't need a miniature one here.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Or.... he can just try to sue the city.
On one hand I feel bad that Shawn and his "get Malin out" squad have basically won this round, but on the other hand, taking the $6000 may have truly been an incorrect interpretation of Malin's contract, so he shouldn't be allowed to keep it. Either way, this will sure be a hit with Hamerlinck's monthly meeting crowd (the very crowd that brought forth a suggestion of hiring a hit man to get rid of the administrator without activating his golden parachute...) I'd really like to see Malin just stay on and keep doing what he's been doing as far as moving Davenport forward along a progressive path.
But somehow I think this isn't over. Lawsuits, resignations, something... I feel like something else is still coming.
Beam me up Charlie.
Everyone at the meeting was fairly respectful towards Craig, the Mayor and council, but obviously there were calls for firing or at least punishment of our city administrator. Alderman Meyer made a valiant effort to separate the issue of what the contract says from the issue of who's going to sue who, but he was foiled by the legal department's insistence that the entire discussion should be in a closed session. Alderman VanFossen also voted against going into closed session, but the rest of the Aldermen apparently agreed with legal. I would assume that we will hear later today what the result of all this will be.
I believe our city is better off now than it was before Mr. Malin's arrival, and I even believe that he contributed to the improvements, so I hope that the council and administrator are able to work something out.Pretty much all the press from the area were there, and you can also see Walter Skovronski sitting in the audience in this particular image. None of their articles will be posted 30 minutes after the meeting like this one though...
Edit: Small QCTimes article up at 9:22. Not too bad Mr. Saul.
"But you are dressed as one."
"They dressed me like this!"
I'm off to watch the angry mob demand to burn Malin at the stake. We'll see how many of the angry mob types like going down to city hall at 8am on a weekday I suppose.
I also did a bit of experimenting with time-lapse photos of the storm this morning, but they didn't turn out well. Here's a tiny sample (with NO lightning!?) but I wouldn't recommend clicking this unless you have decent bandwidth, as the file is 500kb.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
On one of the other blogs a public works employee who was supposedly fired for patching his driveway with city asphalt on city time is being frequently mentioned. Did this employee admit to doing this on his paperwork, or did he try to hide it? I suspect he didn't write down on his timesheet, "patched my own driveway." The difference between that guy and Malin is that that guy knew he was stealing, and Malin still believes that this is the way his contract reads.
Also, I can't find the old Times articles looking through their archives, but I remember stories about Malin turning down "cost of living allowances" in the past. If he didn't have a right to take these raise/allowances, why didn't the QCTimes question why he was declining them back then? How can he turn something down he isn't allowed to take?
All this comes down to is a difference in contract interpretation, not thievery. Either he's allowed to apply the non-bargaining employee COLA, (it seems like he's a non-bargaining employee) or he's not. If he's not, he should give the money back to the city. It was stupid of him to offer to donate it to charity, but I suppose it shows how strongly he believes that he had a legal right to this raise. If he were to give it back to the city that practically admits wrongdoing. What I think he should have done was say that if some sort of independent (IE, not only made up of people that have been trying to get him fired for years) group decides that he was in error, then he will give the money back to the city. If they find it was his right to take the raise, then he could still donate the money to charity if he wanted to.
I have still yet to see proof for either side's argument, and I don't know that I can decrypt the legalese in a contract to know proof even if I saw it. I still believe that 99% of the comments being made are similar to mine, in that we just don't know the facts yet. Except many of the other comments are written as though we do.
I tried at 3 different rest areas, two westbound and one eastbound, and I was unable to see the wireless network at any of them, much less connect to it. I'm no networking whiz, but I don't have trouble connecting at other hotspots, including Panera, Mojos, the QCIAirport, etc.
Therefore, I didn't get to post any of my images while on my trip this weekend, but I'll have some up later today.
Also, why is it that whenever I leave town there's a big political story like this Malin thing?
Thursday, August 03, 2006
In other areas of hypocrisy, we constantly read comments around the blogs about how inept the city legal department and Mary Thee in particular are. Yet today many of the same people who have been saying they should be fired are citing their opinions of whether Malin is in the right or not. They're either inept or they're not, they can't just be inept when they disagree with your opinion.
I have yet to see a copy of Craig's contract, and I suspect that very few of the commenters, even those claiming to be city hall employees, have seen it either. At some point it will be decided if Mr. Malin acted improperly by applying the non-bargaining employee cost of living raise to himself, or if that is how his contract reads. Until that point this is just a bunch of people who have wanted Malin out for a long time gloating and throwing around accusations.