Friday, March 31, 2006

More CityView Stuff

Today's QCT has an article about the CityView Apartments. Judging by the rainy pictures, I'd say they must have checked them out yesterday. Probably just a coincidence... I'm sure Matt McDonnell is happy about all the publicity, at least.

Here's the article.

Weekend Open Thread

It sure looks good on a map to have city streets laid out perfectly east and west, but danged if it isn't a pain in the eyeballs driving home at sunrise.

Also, just for the fun of it, here's a picture of this beautiful spring morning.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

CityView Apartments

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a tour of the new CityView Apartments, located at 7th and Iowa. I was shown the building by the owner, Matthew McDonnell. As many of you know, this building has a long and unfortunate past as the Courtland Apartments. Nearly all of you will be pleased to know that Mr. McDonnell is doing this project completely without taxpayer's money in any form. No city deals, no tax-credits, no low income housing credits, no historic credits. Considering the past of the building, filled with public money and wasteful failures, this is probably a popular decision.

These are luxury apartments. They aren't cheap, but they are very, very nice. They're also a completely different, more traditional style compared the industrial loft style of the Alexander properties. The building is made up of 36 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, ranging in price from $650 to $975 a month. The kitchens really struck me as the leading indicator of the "luxury" status of the apartments. Porcelain and ceramic tile countertops, ceramic tile floors in the kitchens and bathrooms, flat range ovens with built in microwaves, etc. They also have very nice woodgrain cabinets, and they fit in well with the luxury style. While the Davenport Lofts have extremely nice kitchens also, they are a bit more utilitarian in keeping with the style of the buildings.


The building is roughly U-shaped, but during one of the previous renovations, a center public space was built in the middle of the "U." The 2nd floor has railings overlooking the first floor common room, and the 4th floor overlooks the 3rd floor common room. I was especially impressed with how nice these rooms were, especially the 3rd floor room. They are big, with several groupings of tables and/or chairs. Because of the design of the building, only 8 apartments face each of the 2 big common rooms, so it seems like you could have a good atmosphere in there. Mr. McDonnell said they considered a pool table for one of the rooms, but decided that it had too much risk for noise complaints. They are both expected to have wireless internet access. Also, they will allow up to two pets. (Hear that WindingHills?)

The whole place has really been cleaned up, and I realized later that I should have asked if there were any "Before" pictures. There's a rooftop deck that has an amazing view from top of the hill. The main offices of McDonnell and Associates Rental Properties will also be located in the lower level of the building. There are enough off-street parking places for all residents, including 18 garaged parking spaces available for an extra fee. Matt really emphasized his commitment to maintaining a good environment with good residents, and certainly didn't come across as the type of landlord to let things slide as long as the rent is paid. Obviously I'm extremely happy about this, as another 36+ well-behaved residents added to the area should really help the momentum of the whole east side of downtown.










Click thumbnails for larger images

After my hour-long tour, we spent 2 hours talking city politics and apartment stuff, and that really deserves its own post sometime. I'll summarize it by saying that I wish Mr. McDonnell had as much impact on elections as the QCRPA has lately.

We should all be cheering for this project, and for a long-needed success story for the Courtland.
The website for the CityView apartments can be found at CityViewDavenport.com.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Coming Tomorrow: Cityview



I just spent 3 hours getting the tour and talking to the owner of the new CityView apartments in the former Courtland. I was impressed with both the building and Mr. McDonnell. I'll put together some pictures and impressions tonight and post them in the morning.

Some Random Things

Any more reactions from the public input meeting last night? Were citizens angry in general, angry at city staff, or pretty calm and reasonable about the issue? Did the landlords show up in force to defend the measure? I wasn't able to attend, but here's the QCTimes article about it.

QCTimes.com has got some artist's renderings up of the proposed Pierce School redevelopment. I don't know if they were in the printed newspaper, I just know they weren't in the online version when I read it the other day.

I predict about a million comments disagreeing with this letter to the editor...

Hopefully coming to this space in the next week or two: Images and my impression of the Cityview Apartments. Might be one of the few places with a better overall view of downtown than mine.

This one (CNN article) has nothing to do with the QC in particular, but I'm both a computer nerd and a Beatles fan, so it appeals to me. Back in 1991 Apple the computer maker and Apple the Beatles' record company agreed that they could both be Apple, since one makes good music and the other (at the time) only made sort of crappy computers. Nobody's stepping on anybody's toes or business. Now suddenly Apple computers has become Apple iPods and iTunes and music, and the original Apple is a bit upset. The case goes to court today, and one tidbit that has come out is that the judge hearing the case owns an iPod. It'll be interesting to see the result of this one.

I'm thinking of putting together a blog-fans team for the Downtown Cleanup Day on May 11th. Let me know if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Public Input Meeting

From this notice at QCTimes.com:

City of Davenport staffers will host a meeting at 5:30 p.m. today at the Friendly House, 1221 Myrtle St., to solicit residents’ input on the upcoming switch of rental inspections and environmental enforcement to the Davenport Fire Department.

All the people you love to hate will be there, Malin, Clayton, Mike Loos... strangely enough even though none of them came up with this wacky plan, they get to take the heat for it.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Any-Day 5th Street Traffic Report:

Blocked, as usual.

It took the poor guy about 45 minutes just to get to that point. The loading docks of that building were clearly designed in the days of 24 foot trailers and not 53's. Its not a far cry from that hallway scene in Austin Powers. I don't know if 5th Street isn't technically a street there, or if the business has some kind of variance for blocking the street on and off throughout the day, every day. Oh well, it'll be condos in a few years anyway.

I'll make you a deal

As soon as everyone stops calling it the "Bridge to Nowhere", I'll stop calling people "againsters."

If you consider a riverfront park along the mighy Mississippi to be nowhere, then I don't know what you consider somewhere.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday Discussion Thread

Anything but downtown stuff, there's plenty of discussion of that 2 posts down. Not that I ever enforce anything...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Being the victim of a crime is now a crime?

From this article in the QCTimes:

"Car owners may want to carefully check out the person driving their vehicle because of a new ordinance proposed for Scott County... ...Vehicle owners, including those who lease cars or trucks, will be liable for a simple misdemeanor for fleeing a peace officer after being ordered to stop. Fines will be assessed at $250 for the first offense and $500 for any subsequent ones.Authorities will photograph the license plate with video cameras mounted in patrol cars and then track down the owners, Conard said. If the vehicle is rented or leased, the person’s whose name is on the agreement is liable for it. “This will discourage officers from chasing the cars, but it also makes the car owner liable for civil penalties,” the sheriff said. "

Maybe the article isn't explaining it properly, but it sounds like if someone steals your car and runs from the cops, you'll be charged with a misdemeanor. The problem that I believe is causing this new law is that criminals know about Davenport and other cities' rules on police chases. If its not a forcible felony, DPD won't chase you. So if you're about to get pulled over, just floor it and evade the police, who are required to stop and turn off their engine. Then call the police and report your car stolen. You can even say you loaned it to some unknown or made up people, and then you don't know what happened to it. This proposed ordinance would charge the vehicle owners for basically allowing their cars to be used in eluding the police. Maybe there's some exception for people whose cars have ACTUALLY been stolen, but I don't see how there could be. You'd essentially need a seperate trial to decide whether someone was just claiming they didn't have possession of the car when it was running from the police, or someone whose car was actually stolen from them and then used to elude the police. Maybe some people with more knowledge of county politics and ordiances can fill me in.

I would suggest a better solution would be to return discretion over whether to pursue or not back to the officer.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Repetition Does Not Equal Truth

A common refrain from the againsters is "we're spending all this money downtown, and nothing is coming of it." I hear this said constantly on the blogs, on the QCTimes.comments, at Hamerlinck's meeting, etc.

Its not true.

Downtown is doing much, much better than it was before River Renaissance. Driving through it tonight, there were people walking on almost every block. A new coffee shop just opened up in the former Java Hut. A new restaurant/bar just opened next door to another new bar, Shenanigans. The Mode gallery recently opened up on 3rd, and I could see several people browsing in there this evening. Final Fridays brings out hundreds of artists and art fans to the Bucktown Center for the Arts every month. Centro is always busy, and I often see large crowds at Mojo's listening to live music. Ad Group relocated to downtown, Chenhalls Staffing moved from Brady down the hill to 2nd street, and Living Passions opened up a studio/coffee shop. Developers are suddenly interested in redeveloping new areas of downtown, including the proposed market district.

The Davenport Lofts project is bringing hundreds of new residents to downtown. Alexander Company has said that they got interested in downtown Davenport because of our commitment shown through River Renaissance. The second phase of their loft apartments is under construction now, bringing additional local construction jobs with it. Secondary effects from the Alexander development include redevelopment of the Courtland into luxury apartments overlooking downtown. Houses around the area are being renovated, or at least re-sided. There are plans to demolish the old cement plan that Bill Wundram gets so upset about. All the new downtown residents are increasing the chances for more downtown commercial activity, including the possibility of a grocery store. The future has potential for additional mixed use development in the area between 4th and Federal and Iowa and River Drive, including the Crossings project under discussion. The Mississippi Hotel renovation will bring even more residents downtown, increasing street life and commercial demand.

You folks who oppose everything can keep telling yourselves that downtown is all empty museums and bridges to nowhere, but you're fooling yourselves.

River Renaissance is working.


Took this coming up the stairs yesterday morning after work.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Around Town today

I stopped out at the Quad City Suzuki grand opening to see what the free car contest was about. It was one of those "keep your hand on the car" things, and the contestants had already been chosen. I think I could do pretty well at one of those, but I don't know if I'd miss work for one. The Mayor was there, and the D1 redcoats, along with the Bettendorf Chamber of Commerce and some other group of matching blazer-wearing folks. Maybe the CEO of Suzuki America was so impressed that he'll build his next auto plant here.

The hole out past 53rd between Brady and Welcome Way for what I believe is the new gateway/welcome sign is enormous. I was going to stop for a few pictures, but it was rush hour and that didn't seem prudent.

I am curious how Moline plans to pay for its $7 million Ben Butterworth Parkway reconstruction if the entire state of IL can't scrap together $15 million for the WIU campus that would anchor it. If Rock Island County homeowners were unwilling to pay a few bucks for Blackhawk College, what are the chances they want to spend 7 million bucks on a nice front yard for WIU: QC?

Shootout at the Crestwood Corral / Open Thread

It was either too late at night, or deemed unimportant, but it didn't make the QCTimes. The trouble's already starting up out in the warzone known as Crestwood Village and Northwood Village. Multiple 911 calls of shots fired, people seen carrying either a shotgun or BB gun, (big difference) and people scattering into apartments. A number of police units responded, only to find a gas leak in addition to their shooting problem. Firefighters were already on the way to a possiblly dangerous area in case of shooting victims, only to hear that more companies were being called out because of a natural gas leak. Despite the problems at 14th and Gaines, the real race for most police calls to a single area is probably between Heatherton and the Northwood/Crestwood Villages. Dahl employees will probably be out this morning checking their cars for bullet holes.

And its not even hot out yet.

Anyone who even considers cutting police should have to spend a night out there this summer when its 85 degress out and tensions are high.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More Davenport Lofts Phase 2 Images

A forklift unloading building materials last week. You can see the plastic sheeting covering the interior courtyard in the lower building.

Similar image, only after the first floor loading dock area has been torn off the back. Try coming home from work and sleeping through the sound of concrete being smashed...

I'm looking forward to the point when I can get inside pictures.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Random Stuff / Open Thread

Some East Village Shops lack licenses -QCTimes
This only reinforces my feelings about the area. Fortunately these "acceptable," but delinquent, businesses (including Mrs. Winborn's) will be given time to get their licenses before we implement the anti-Orozco moratorium. That seems about right.

One thing I forgot to mention in my post about the 2nd Ward meeting Saturday: Aside from the kids mourning our occupation of the Children's section, Alderman Hamerlinck and I were possibly the only people there under the age of 30. I wish everyone my age had an interest in local politics and city issues.

I've recently started using a website that tells me how people found my site. It provides constant amusement.
Today some of the Google searches people used to get here:
(Clicking these takes you to the Google results)
Strip Clubs near the Quad Cities -interesting
moosie -#2 on Google for people searching for moosie... neat
skybridge to nowhere -Ugh
Wayne Hean -at least I didn't make the first page

Also, I was serious in my earlier post about finding out what's going on with the building (Possibly called the John Forrest block?) at 4th and Brady. Somebody has to have read or heard about it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

March 2nd Ward Meeting

Yesterday I attended Alderman Hamerlinck's ward meeting out at the new library on Fairmount. I missed his previous meeting because I didn't notice the announcement of it until too late. Yesterday's meeting was a far cry from his first 2nd ward meeting that I attended in January. Around 20 people showed up for that one, while I would say over 50 were at yesterday's meeting. We had to move out of the room originally scheduled for the meeting and basically take over the children's section of the main library room. I don't know much about Lawanda Roudebush, but she has been at both of the Saturday morning meetings I've been to, and doesn't seem to mind physical labor. That gives her an extra point in my book.
Once again, my pro-downtown, pro-Malin views were extremely unpopular at the meeting, but once again I kept quiet since its not my ward. However, I suspect at least a third of the people at the meeting were from wards other than two. I did pipe up when Shawn mentioned that there were no full buildings downtown, saying that the Davenport Lofts are full, but then he added the qualifier that he meant commercial buildings. On that charge he is quite correct. The meeting was pretty much a series of Shawn relaying the last month's happenings with a consistent reaction of outrage from the people at the meeting. It sort of became a refrain to hear "but it was 5-5 and the Mayor broke the tie." People seemed quite angry at this, forgetting that the city had democratically elected all 11 people involved in those votes. Apparently they only like representative democracy if their side wins.

There was a lot of talk about how the city is spending money on things downtown when they can't really afford it, and about the Freight House project being included in the bond issue along with things the citizens have been waiting years for, such as Northwest Boulevard street repairs. One of the interesting parts of the meeting came when Shawn asked what he should do in an upcoming bond vote for renovating the Annie Wittenmyer complex. The issue was basically that he feels its a good project, but hates to do something that could raise taxes yet again. I was impressed to note that most people supported the project. My usual issue with "againsters" is that they aren't for anything, but these people didn't have that problem. Growing up a few blocks from there, I of course would like to see Annie Wittenmyer in good shape, but I'm for most things anyway...

The one thing that bothered me at the meeting was the constant disapproval of anything being done downtown. I was at most, if not all, of the RiverVision meetings, and these people must not have been. RiverVision did not cause a consensus on the hotel or casino, but the one thing people agreed on at the meetings is that we should start on the project right away. I remember one guy standing up and saying something along the lines of "let's get started" to overwhelming applause. All 10 Aldermen on the previous council voted to add the RiverVision plan to the comprehensive plan. If people in the 2nd ward are so against RiverVision, why weren't they at the meetings?

Alderman Hamerlinck definitely has the support of the anti-Malin, anti-downtown crowd, and seems to be one of the leaders of the 5 againster-types on the council. The other leader, Alderman Lynn, was also at the meeting yesterday. Many of Lynn and Hamerlinck's ideas make good sense, especially for using St. Ambrose students to do the work we often pay $50+ an hour consultants to do. The only issue there is making sure they aren't all just Lynn loyalists. George Nickolas was also at the meeting, but everything he said sounded like he was running a campaign for best alderman Davenport ever had. I would say some of Niky's supporters have switched to being Shawn supporters, so it was interesting to see him at the meeting. There were a lot more important things talked about at the meeting, but this post is already getting way too long. Maybe I'll put up a Part 2 later, or else anybody feel free to put in their observations from the meeting in the comments.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

St. Patrick's Day Parade

I've been up for 24 hours straight, including a difficult-to-sit-through 2nd ward meeting, so I think I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. More on Shawn's meeting later; I'm going to sleep.



Coming soon: What?

I'm saddened to admit it, but I somehow have not heard any mention of this project in the QCTimes. It was probably in there, but I must have missed it. My roommate's parents saw something about it on the news, so I'm probably the last to know.

Can someone fill me in on the plans for this building, or hopefully this whole block?

Friday, March 17, 2006

3rd Street is ready

Hopefully I'll get up in time to get pictures of the parade, or maybe just stay up and go to Shawn's ward meeting also.

Make Harrison a two way? This elderly gent thinks we already have

Saw this on my way home from the bank a few minutes ago.

Sorry about the image quality, but driving and taking pictures don't go together.

2nd Ward Meeting Saturday

From Alderman Hamerlinck's blog:

Announcement

This Saturday at the Fairmount Library I will be holding a ward meeting at 9:00am. We will be discussing the issues which have come before the council in the past month and issues which may arise before our next meeting. Everyone is welcome to attend and engage in the discussion.


Shawn Hamerlinck

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Village O' Hypocrites

City blocks new growth in East Village -QCTimes

Yep, we're really trying to get development here.

This just baffles me, because the East Village is not some idyllic, quaint mecca for peaceful activity and churches. There are a LOT of police calls to the existing bars in the East Village. During the times that the proposed club would be open, the arts and crafts type shops are mostly closed, and all that's open are bars and Rudy's.

What are they afraid of, letting in another business that might have the same problems THEY have? I am really not one to throw around racism charges, but I just think there's some subconscious motives here. Something tells me that if this was a country music " dance club" there would be suddenly less concern about the "parking problems." Where is the parking for half the bars that are there now? On the street, and in the surrounding blocks. Apparently its all about being there first, and then creating new rules to keep anyone else out. I can't be kept away from Rudy's, but I think I'm done with the rest of the folks down there.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's back on

The Centennial Bridge lights were turned on again tonight for the first time in months.




I like how in that last picture the bridge seems to come out of the reflections.

Mid-week Open Thread 2

I'll try this again, although random discussion only seems to happen in threads dedicated to something in particular. There are plenty of things that I don't feel like writing a whole post about right now.

Lots of good articles at QCTimes today, so many I won't bother linking, just go there.

TouchPlays probably getting the boot (Good)
Aldermen trying to be the boss of the legal dept (Pointless)
Clinton getting ADM plastics plant and more jobs (Good)
Bill Wundram thinks that ties and corsages mean innocent kids (Not true when I was in high school)
Davenport's upcoming new website (Good)
Centennial Bridge lights coming on tonight! (Good!)
IL considers graduation requirement for drivers licenses (Good)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Our penlights didn't go to waste after all


I've been meaning to call the Illinois DOT to ask what the heck is up with the Centennial Bridge lights not being on. Davenport and Rock Island's River Vision plan called for lighting Lock and Dam 15, maybe the Government Bridge, and the Crescent Railroad Bridge, not unlighting things that we've already got right. I remember standing in Centennial Park with what seemed like thousands of other people, (I was 6, I barely remember it) all holding penlights purchased to pay for the lighting of the bridge. I was worried that when the State of Illinois took possession they may have nixed the lights.

Fortunately, while searching local news sites during the wacky weather Sunday, I ran across this blurb at KWQC.com. It basically says that a truck took out an all-important wire that keeps the lights on, but that it should be repaired soon. I look forward to seeing them back on, and now I don't have to wait on hold for hours while the IL DOT tries to figure out who I should be transferred to.

Monday, March 13, 2006

What the skatepark would be, and why we need it

First of all, some commenters over on SoLo seem to be under the impression that this will be an indoor skatepark. This is not the case. Here's an image of what the park may look like, taken from the city's CAT grant application.
(Click to enlarge)

This was apparently designed with the public input of local skaterboarders, BMX bikers, rollerbladers, and parents at a series of public meetings. I didn't attend any of the meetings because I am terrible at all 3 of those activities. Maybe someone who was there can add something in the comments. Maybe they could also explain what half the things in that design are, such as a "hubba ledge" or "fun box."

As a popular T-shirt says, "skateboarding is not a crime," or at least shouldn't be. The crime comes when private or public property is damaged by "grinding" along it with the metal trucks on the bottom of a skateboard. Many local properties have been damaged by this, and have taken measures to try and prevent it. The problem is there are no legal places in Davenport for skaters to particpate in their sport. I believe the skatepark would help alleviate this problem.

I am sure that there are as many skaters/rollerbladers/bikers in Davenport as there are tennis players, yet we have multiple city-owned tennis courts scattered around the city, and no skateparks. I think I've seen the tennis courts at Garfield Park being used about 5 times over my lifetime, yet the city still has to maintain them and clean them off after floods. We have places for soccer, bike riding, baseball, softball, tennis, basketball, and sand volleyball. Why shouldn't skateboarders get a place? A bunch of railings, cement shapes and empty swimming pools aren't going to require thousands of dollars to clean up after a flood; they'll require a hose.

Crazy Storm Follow-Up

The images I took minutes after the worst part of the storm can be found in the post directly below this one.

I decided that on my way to pick up my weekly late Sunday night fast food, I'd take a spin around town and see how the cleanup was going. Armed with the seemingly common sense knowledge of not driving into water I don't know the depth of, I set out to check on the spots I had photographed earlier. Third and fourth streets near the QCTimes were back to normal, and River Drive was mostly cleared of large debris. I can't be sure at night, but I believe that parts of River Drive have actually been scoured by water and rocks until they are rough. The Federal and Farnam sinkhole was more heavily barricaded, and the dump truck load of gravel and debris that came out of the sinkhole had been bulldozed out of the way. Rockingham by Oscar Mayer was also back to normal. I didn't bother taking pictures of Locust by St. Ambrose earlier, because that floods every time it sprinkles. Locust was still closed from Ripley to Gaines at 3am, and street sweepers were working there. I saw a number of city vehicles all over town.

I was pretty impressed with the cleanup actually, and anyone who didn't watch the news last night or look at pictures this morning might not even know how bad it was. However, I think every small asphalt patch in any Davenport street has been washed away, so our roads are populated with unfilled holes and hole-sized chunks of loose asphalt.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

2 Inches of Rain in 30 minutes

Its crazy out there. The police station apparently had water running into the lobby, cars were stranded, swift water rescue squads were called out, streets are washing away, and power and stoplights are out around town.
Click to Enlarge
Cars that were stranded on Rockingham near Kraft (Oscar Mayer), although I believe the waters had gone down quite a bit by this point.
River Drive at the bottom of Oneida covered with brick -sized pieces of asphalt and concrete.
An 8 foot wide sinkhole or storm sewer blowout at Farnam and Federal.
This debris came out of the hole in the previous picture and washed onto Federal. There were no barricades yet set up despite the rock and gravel being at least 8 inches deep.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More awesome Quad City publicity

If you do a Google search for Davenport Bus you can see that 56 different media outlets picked up the story about the bus driver that dumped the 6 year old kid off the school bus when he pointed out that he was being taken to the wrong school.

Top of the list? The Washington Post. There are others from as far away as Australia.

I don't think we've gotten any positive national media attention since the large wave of national and international articles we had the first few months after the Figge opened. Or maybe the Today Show story about how cheap our housing is.

What's it take to get a feature article about River Renaissance or the introduction of industrial loft housing into a mid-sized city in Iowa?

Talk about an unrealistic education

This has nothing to do with the QC, but I found it interesting.

Private high school tuition can top $30,000 per year. -CNN

Imagine going to school only with people who are rich. How do you learn empathy and the ability to relate to those different than yourself? I've always thought PV and Bettendorf were bad, but at least the ALLOW poor kids to attend.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dark for the rest of the day

There will be no further articles posted today in honor of Darian Willette.

QCTimes article about him.

He was a year ahead of me at Central, and while we weren't super close, he was a friend. I played on a softball team with him and we had a lot of mutual friends. He was a good guy back then, and seems to have become even more of a good guy since.

He was killed February 28th in a bus crash in Peru, where he was teaching English. With as much as he had accompished by the age of 24, we will sadly never know what great things he would have done with the rest of his life.

As always with something like this, it makes the usual bickering and pettiness seem a little less important.

QCTimes censorship?

The purpose of this blog is to attempt to promote discussion and debate about the Quad Cities, and especially Davenport. This discussion and debate is sometimes messy, but that's ok.

The purpose of the QCTimes and QCTimes.net is to make money. The purpose of their allowing comments to their articles was to maintain readership and continue making money. Therefore is it at all wrong for them to arbitrarily censor their own comments?

Yesterday there were lots of comments on this letter to the editor from Alderman Brooke. Right now there are just 2, including someone asking what happened to all the comments. Did the QCTimes.net staff delete them for a reason? I didn't see how out of hand the discussion was getting, but I don't see why all comments would have to go.

I say let the newspapers make the newspapers and the bloggers make the blogs.

Blogspot Problems

Blogspot is running terribly slow for me, so I was trying different web browsers than my usual Mozilla Firefox, and noticed it is working slightly better in Microsoft Internet Explorer. I also noticed that my right side link menu seems to have placed itself below the entire blog. Has everyone always been having this problem, or do some of you see the links to the right of the text like it should be.

I always use Firefox, and it looks fine in that.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Magic Snickerdoodles

This week's River City Reader has an article about Beverly van Hook, the author of the Supergranny series of children's books. She's going to be speaking Saturday at a Midwest Writing Center banquet at the Outing Club in Davenport.

The Supergranny series was one of my favorite sets of books as a kid, and I've been known to still read them on occasion. According to the article she has sold more than 100,000 of the books, which feature a crime-fighting senior citizen named Mrs. Oglepop. They are set in an area very similar to the Quad Cities, and include a book centered around a Ride the River style bike ride.

I'm not sure if these books can still be bought around here. I remember years ago seeing them for sale in the old Putnam Museum store, but I haven't seen them in the new IMAX gift shop. If someone knows any local retailers that carry the books, which I believe are still in print, let me know. I still have my copies of all 7, but they're looking a little worn. There aren't exactly a ton of children's books that relate to the Quad Cities, so I think this author should be considered a local treasure on par with Max Allan Collins.

Some Good News for a change

Iowa is the 3rd "Most Livable" State -Cedar Rapids Gazette

Maybe people are starting to realize we're not all corn and pigs.
I know insurance, gas, and home prices are definitely a lot better here than in the Phoenix area. A friend of mine who moved to California wasn't amused when I was showing him beautiful 2-story homes on Kirkwood that he could get for a lower monthly payment than he was paying for a 1 bedroom apartment in the Oakland area.

Wrong school, eh? Get off my bus

School bus driver leaves child on corner -QCTimes

Here's what the bus driver had to say in the article:
“I picked up children at a stop. One was crying and said he needed to go to a certain school. I said, ‘This bus doesn’t go there,’ ” she said. “We were running about 20 minutes late. I thought his bus was going to be by later. … He was pretty upset. But 6-year-olds get upset if a leaf falls. I am not alarmed by crying 6-year-olds because I see a lot of them.”

I bet you do...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mid-week Open Thread

If you judge by QCTimes letters to the editor, people aren't pleased about the upcoming inspector disappearance. Just as reading the blogs doesn't give you a good feeling for how the public feels, the Opinion page might not either. I wonder what most people actually think about the budget solution.

What else is going on?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tuesday TouchPlay

This is an interesting article from the QCTimes about TouchPlay machines.

I especially liked this part,
"At a convenience store in Waterloo, gamblers dropping dollars in the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay video gambling devices are welcomed around the clock with free soda, coffee and a place to smoke while they play.Those amenities and the around-the-clock access have made Waterloo’s Pantry Express home to the busiest TouchPlay machine in the state.....“We have a couple of times — late morning, early afternoon — when it’s kind of slow. But other than that they’re pretty much going all the time,” store manager Pat Smith said. Pantry Express has four TouchPlay machines in a room within sight of the cash register that is monitored by video surveillance.“We try to make it very comfortable,” said Smith, who wants to add free popcorn as a perk for people trying their luck at TouchPlay."

Now if only we could get rid of these pesky gas pumps and hot dog cookers, we could bring in 20 more TouchPlay machines and change the name to Waterloo's Pantry Casino.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Late Night with QCI and the 5th Street Orchestra

Just a few things:

I dislike Walmart, and try to go there as little as possible. That said, I'm not very financially "comfortable" (spend too much on rent) so I can't really afford to pay much higher prices on principle. One thing I learned in my time in Macomb, (where Walmart is one of only 2 places to buy household items) was that the best times to do your shopping there are between 1 and 4 in the morning. Here in Davenport, I'd say this is even more true. Think Elmore is a pain? Its a 4 lane pleasure drive at 1:30am.

I swung through downtown to see what was up on the way uptown. What was up? Not a whole lot. I did see a car parked across from the Starting Line on Brady Street that had enough snow on and around it to show that it had been there since at least Saturday night. I believe the limit in Davenport is 24 hours, so I hope it will be gone by morning. Unless the parking attendants have given up on even writing tickets since we don't make people pay them.

Sitting in the drive-thru at McDonalds on East Kimberly on my way home, I could see there were flashing lights on the other side of Eastern. Big surprise, some sort of disturbance at Las Bananas. Actually it was somewhat surprising to me because it was quarter to 2am on a Sunday night. Seems like all these folks should be getting to bed so they can get up for their jobs in the morning... They must all work 3rd shift like me. That particular club/bar is the poster child for charging a fee for frequent police calls. At one point I know the police would just count on spending from 1:30-2:30am on one particular night a week babysitting the customers as they got in their cars and headed home. I believe this was a few months after a stabbing had taken place in the lot at closing time. It seems like any business requiring such heavy police attention should lose their liquor license, or at least be heavily charged or fined. Just shows not all problems are south of Locust.

On a more positive note, I can think of one particular property downtown that used to attract crime and provide a place for prostitutes and their clients to park. Its looking a little better now, even if some people can't accept its success.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Jewel on the Mississippi

I took this last night from the Skybridge.

Which one is different from the other?

Looks like a pair of slot machines to me. Unfortunately, while the one on the right was taken this evening in the Rhythm City Casino, the one on the left was taken a week ago in the East Kimberly HyVee. If we're going to become Vegas, where there are slot machines in the airport, gas stations, and hotels, we should at least admit it and allow land based casinos to come in and start building Egyptian pyramids and Eiffel Towers.

Or better yet, leave it on the riverboats and reservations. I'm sure Nevada or Atlantic City can help out by purchasing our 5,000 Touchplay machines.

More discussion of this at QCBackstage here.

An Educated Electorate?

City leaders neglect West Davenport -QCTimes Letter to the Editor

This individual seems to believe that the city council is in charge of choosing where stores, restaurants and clinics decide to build their businesses. It reminds me of a class I had at Scott where students were complaining about the Mayor for building a Walgreens and an Osco across the street from each other. Do people actually think that's how things work?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Couple Loft Progress Pictures

Construction on Phase 2 of the Davenport Loft project is continuing. I believe all the window openings have been cut, and the courtyard has been cut into the roof of the lower building.



(Click for a larger view)

Budget problem solved (sort of) and QCTimes borrows an idea from me

No Cuts to police, fire Staff -QCTimes

Apparently it was all a bluff after all.


Help Davenport get Freight House on track -QCTimes

This sounds to me a lot like what I said in this post back on February 17th. They even end the editorial with a similar promise to donate, just as I did. I'm sure its just a coincidence... at least I hope it is.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Not all my predictions are as wrong as my 2006 council picks

I believe Davenport's budget problems can't be solved without either cutting services or raising income. Whether that's a tax increase, or a fee of any sort is immaterial. Either more money had to come in, or everyone start enjoying 20 minute response times to your next police emergency. I think a lot of people are going to get elected to city council on the "No new fees or taxes" rallying cry, and then immediately find out that in the real world of city finance, new taxes are sometimes necessary.
-Me, May 9th, 2005 in my first post on DDP

Here we are with a new council, partly elected on a "No new fees or taxes" platform. The working deal doesn't completely repeal the stormwater fee, yet it also cuts public safety. It seems like no one wins here. Shawn and his gang have failed in their campaign promise, and all 11 elected officials are going to be on record with a cut to police and fire. Police and Fire. Do we have less need for police suddenly? No, I would argue we have a much greater need lately. Do we have less need for firefighters? No, considering how much building has been going on in the last 10 years.

As I've said, this seems bad for all politicians involved. However, the anti-fee squad told all of us that the city was just scaring people about public safety whenever fee-repeal talk came up. Now the city is not even repealing the whole fee, yet public safety is indeed being cut. Apparently the scare tactics weren't just a bluff. Many people also wanted a council that could behave like adults, and instead we have half a council that takes their ball and goes home when things don't go their way. I would say we could have another big turnover election in 2007 if our council keeps going this way. The people who wanted civility in the chambers aren't happy. The people who wanted fee cuts with no cuts in service aren't happy. The people that wanted continued growth and downtown progress aren't happy. At least we haven't had any Christmas poems yet.