Friday, March 30, 2007

Just when I hoped it was all blowing over...

The plot thickens greatly....
Unsurprisingly, it turns out there is more than one side to things.
I highly suggest reading this QCTimes article about the whole VanFossen/Webb thing. I even more highly recommend reading the private (nothing's private when you're a city employee) emails and correspondence about this. The documents, which the Times obtained through a FOI request, can be found on the QCTimes site under Multimedia. Of course everyone's favorite citizen, Susie Bell, plays her own part as well.

It turns out its all us bloggers' fault. By providing a place where anonymous people can say things, we are somehow the cause of all this. Or... maybe its a certain Alderman that can't seem to control himself. Nope, must be the inanimate blogs. Fortunately its the Colonel who people are after this time, so my not-so-anonymous self is relatively safe. Especially considering this quote from the QCTimes article:
Jan. 23, 2007 — Dolan, via e-mail, asks Malin whether he should look into the blog allegation. Malin responds and says, “I think Cindy may have grounds for legal action against the author and the blogmeister — she isn’t a public official and shouldn’t be subject to this kind of stuff.”

I'd like to post this piece of legal info for anyone who feels like coming after "blogmeisters."
Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code states:

"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

That means that just because this is my blog, doesn't mean I'm responsible for everything some dingbat says on here. Its a good thing. (For more info, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation's bloggers rights section, whose banner has quietly resided on the link bar of this blog for over a year)

So... what now, besides a big giant mess that could have been avoided if the 1st Ward had gotten to know the person they were electing?

I think the number one priority should be to block anything ending in from all city computers with the exception of the Library, Public Information folks, and possibly the council. This extreme measure was taken in the past for Fly's wildly popular blog. I don't really like this solution. I know a lot of city folks read the blog, and even sometimes provide information that helps citizens. If a city employee is trying to get information out there, a blog shouldn't necessarily be looked at as so different from any other form of communication. Unfortunately though, some people have spoiled it for everyone, as always seems to happen. The citizens of Davenport aren't paying our employees to sit around reading about political happenings, and CERTAINLY not sit around posting confidential, personal information or rumors.

I hate to say it, but ban us Craig.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Brady/Harrison/Welcome Way Corridor Meeting 2

Strangely enough, there were fewer people at last night's Brady/Harrison/Welcome Way corridor meeting than there were at the one a few weeks ago, despite it being considerably more interesting. RDG Planning and Design present some of their preliminary ideas for revitalizing the main North/South artery through Davenport. Apparently much of this will be on the web (somewhere) within a week or so, so I'll keep my comments brief until I can link to the study.

A few things that were presenting that jumped out at me:
  • Keep the streets one way, because there isn't room for a 5th lane for a center turn lane, and 2 lanes each way without a center turn lane would be a disaster
  • Instead of changing to 2-way traffic, change to 3 lane 1-ways in each direction, and add bike lanes on both Brady and Harrison, along with wider sidewalks set farther back from the curb.
  • Work to help the Hilltop district be more of a Campustown type district for both St. Ambrose and Palmer (I got emails after my last corridor study post suggesting this, so I was glad to see it in the presentation)
  • Possibly change the intersection of 12th and Harrison, dead-ending 12th at Ripley (connect the tennis courts) and creating a T-intersection at 12th and Harrison, potentially with 12th being an eastbound one-way from Harrison to Main (Apparently something the school district likes)
  • Orient the rumored CVS or mystery pharmacy at Brady and Locust so the parking is away from the intersection, instead of having the building separated from the intersection by a parking lot.
  • Connect St. Ambrose with Vander Veer by adding a "scramble cycle" to the light at Lombard, which gives all traffic red lights and allows diagonal intersection crossing by pedestrians
  • Make Dubuque Street more of a circulator street to get traffic from Harrison into the rear of the businesses along Brady.
  • Extend 32nd East to connect to George Washington Blvd and then on to Brady to provide a connection from Harrison, instead of having people drive through the Wayne Montgomery parking lot (QCI says: excellent idea)
  • Add a bike bridge aligned with Fair that helps allow bikes to get to Northpark
  • Add a bike path to the west of Welcome Way out toward Goose Creek Park
  • Install more signs or other ways to let interstate traffic know that there's more than what they can see immediately after getting off the highway, especially since they may get to industrial and abandoned buildings and turn around instead of making it to the top of the hill and the Northpark/Kimberly retail area.
  • Add various landscaping along the entire corridor
  • The RDG guys seemed to feel that Northpark is a very successful mall, and should be emphasized
  • Redevelop the old cinema/hotel site near 65th (Doesn't take a consultant to figure that one out)
  • Change the frontage roads north of 53rd to 2-way on each side, and move the east frontage road farther away from Brady to allow retail in between the frontage road and Brady, with less retail-oriented uses behind
  • Different strategies are required for different segments of the corridor, as Brady SoLo has little in common with Brady north of Kimberly
Lots more good stuff, but I'll hold off on more until the link is up. Also, I may have misconstrued or misinterpreted RDG's suggestions, so consider this only my recollection of their presentation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Typos, the symphony, graffiti and boulders

4 glaring typos in the QCTimes in the last 2 days:
"UFC owners by rival" I suspect they mean "buy"
"2,000 jobs at a meat processing plant." Isn't it only 1,000 jobs?
"Monday’s warmth went to an official 79 degrees, just 4 degrees short of the record of 84 degrees set in 1991." Isn't 84-79... 5 degrees difference?
"Oylmpic Steel ready to expand" Olympic, anyone? They got it right in the rest of the article.

So yeah, sometimes I have issues with the QCTimes. Hopefully its just the online edition, but still, its a professional newspaper. Maybe they could pay me $5 per typo I find while reading the news on my cell phone at work.

On the other hand, I've been really enjoying this series on nonprofits in the QC area that they're currently doing. I especially like today's article about the QC Symphony Orchestra. Its neat to think about the Quad Cities having one of the 20 oldest symphonies in the country, as the article points out. I'm sure if we tried to start one now, the negative commenters around the internet would mock it as a waste of money.

Here's something else I found interesting:
Park trends: fake boulders for climbers -QCOnline
Despite the cost, which seems high at first for simulated boulders, I think this is a great idea. I know as a kid I always loved to climb on rocks at places like Wildcat Den, or Maquoketa Caves. None of those rocks had relatively soft mulch underneath them either. I could definitely seem something like this in the "new" LeClaire Park. They look like they're just boulders, so it would be a playground without having the look of a playground. I can just imagine how popular they'd be during the Riverfront Pops concert.

Also, I visited the skatepark yesterday, and yes there is some graffiti. It didn't appear to be gang graffiti, or offensive, but its still vandalism. I have previously mentioned that I could see allowing non-obscene, non-gang graffiti inside the skatepark bowl, but it would definitely send mixed messages to allow it some places and keep it illegal everywhere else. That said, I don't know what the solution is. I suppose when (or if) they build the bathroom/concession pavilion, they will add security cameras. Hopefully that will stop the problem.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Downtown Panorama

I was downtown getting some images, and this is my new favorite panoramic shot. I'll probably be posting some more images either here or on Flickr from my day's wanderings.

LeClaire Park Expansion Public Kickoff

Well over 100 people turned out to learn how they can help shape the potential expansion of LeClaire Park. This meeting was just the public kickoff, but hopefully all of these people and more will be back this Saturday and next Tuesday for the first 2 actual input meetings. I'll be out of town Saturday, but I'm definitely going to be there Tuesday evening.

Here's the QCTimes article about last night's kickoff,
and here's the QCOnline article. They're both good.

Personally I don't have a ton of great ideas for LeClaire Park, although I'm definitely in favor of a more obvious place to rent bikes, and possibly even a small bike shop. I'd also like to see some sort of waterfront restaurant down there, although I don't know if I can see it attached to the Skybridge as some have mentioned. I generally lean away from the idea of an extravagantly designed pier, because I think it will kind of clash or visually compete with the Skybridge. The Levee Inn also needs to be resurrected. None of these are original ideas, so I'm hoping to come up with something of my own before Tuesday's meeting. There are a lot of other things I'd like to see on our riverfront, but maybe not in this stretch of it, such as kayak/boat rental, an observation tower, or maybe a fancy pier other than on Main Street.

Any of you blog readers have the perfect recipe for LeClaire Park?
If so, post it here, but also submit it on the city's site here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Where in the QC is this? #13

I've got a case of blogger's block today (all weekend really) so I'm putting up this picture that I took a while back. Its probably too easy, but oh well.

Keep the open thread type stuff relegated to the Open Thread below this, and we'll see how fast someone gets this "Where in the QC?"

Also, I must remind everyone once again to come to the LeClaire Park expansion planning process public kickoff meeting at the Redstone Room tonight at 6:30. If you don't help decide what goes down there, you can't complain about what the rest of us decide.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Open Thread

I'm going to be unusually busy today, so this might be all you get until sometime Saturday.

Hopefully I'll write up a little something about Alderman Frink's ward meeting, especially the DPD's statement that they will work with the Guardian Angels in a limited manner. It sounds like they're willing to put on a civilian academy for them, although it would still be open to the public as well. Or maybe this is just the usual civilian academy, and Captain Murphy was just saying that the GAs could attend that.

In (rare for this blog) Illinois news, there will be some new development in East Moline's "The Quarter" that I had mentioned in my post a few weeks ago. It will be good to see some changes, since it has consisted of only 2 buildings for a number of years.
Here's the QCOnline article about it. (QCOnline is down as of 6:30, but I'm sure it'll be back up soon)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

2 Reminders

Don't forget:

Tonight's all-wards meeting with Alderman Frink
Ian Frink, ald. at large, will host an all-wards meeting from 6:30-8:30 pm, Thur. March 22nd, at the Roosevelt Community Center (1220 Minnie) in the first ward. The meeting is open to citizens from throughout the community and will focus on current issues before the council and items citizens wish to discuss.

A representative from the Davenport Police Department will participate. Frink will also provide a short overview of Sunderbruch Park, the city's new park scheduled to open in the first ward this spring.

And especially don't forget the kickoff meeting for the LeClaire Park design process. Here's a page about it on the city site. Check out the video that's linked to on that page. (I've got a cameo) This meeting is Monday at 6:30PM in the Redstone Room at the RME. If you don't show up to some of these planning meetings, you don't have a right later to complain about whatever is done with LeClaire Park.

How to spend weeks arguing over $500,000
Also, Open Thread

Mostly this is a good ol' fashioned Open Thread, but I do want to mention a couple things about the great bathroom debate of '07.

Here's the QCTimes article about how the council tabled this important restroom-related decision.

According to the article, "Professor" Lynn pointed out "At this price per square foot, I could buy a 1,500-square-foot house with all gold fixtures in it.”

That's real interesting there Bill, but has about as much to do with a flood-proof concession/restroom pavilion as if I'd pointed out that I could buy 525,000 McChicken sandwiches with that money.

Barb Ickes also gets into the act in her column, comparing the cost per square foot to structures many times the size of the proposed building, completely ignoring the economy of scale. She also continues the myth that all we'd get for our half million is a bathroom.

The funniest part of this to me is that this money is already budgeted towards the "Active Recreation" section of Centennial Park, so saving $200,000 by going with ugly prefab restrooms and no concessions, lockers, utility rooms, etc is only going to leave $200,000 more for fancier basketball hoops or something else for the park. Why not build a central hub for this segment of Centennial Park that will even earn income for the Levy Improvement Commission.

Sometimes I wonder if some of the Aldermen are the types to give kids $1 for Christmas and tell them to buy themselves some new roller skates and a pack of Bazooka Joe.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

One way to spend $500,000

New riverfront building's cost surprises some -QCTimes

I'll confess that I didn't know anything about this until Cruiser's post about it yesterday.

The city wants to spend half a million on a multipurpose pavilion near the skatepark. It would combine restrooms for Crescent Park with a concession counter for skateboarders, seating, lockers, and various mechanical functions for the park. Part of the expense is apparently related to the need for the building to be built above the flood plain.

Most of you could guess which Aldermen and Alderman in particular would be against this, and in some ways I can see how $500 grand sounds like a lot. Neither Cruiser's post or the QCTimes article specify whether this is part of the money that is already budgeted for Centennial Park in 2007, but I would guess that it is.

The skatepark is probably the most successful thing Davenport has built in years. If all of our projects were as well-used, Davenport would be one of the most vibrant cities in the Midwest. So really, why shouldn't we build off the success of the skatepark and have it be a more emphasized feature of Centennial Park? I'm also curious to see what the city gets in rent for the concession operator, because it seems like a lucrative opportunity. I'd actually like to see the concession open and staffed 24 hours a day, since the skatepark is supposed to be open 24/7. Having an employee there would be another set of eyes to keep an eye on the place at night. I highly doubt that will happen, since there's probably only a few people who need to buy their Red Bull or whatever for a 3am skate session.

It makes sense for the city to keep the kids safe by cutting down the number of trips across River Drive to the gas station, and it also makes sense to capture some of the potential revenue from all the hungry and thirsty skaters. I'm no engineer, but it also seems to make sense to combine multiple uses into one building. Sure, half a million isn't pennies, but this project is worth it. Or we could always just build a White Castle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rock Island Riverfront News

New armory designs unveiled -QCOnline (link should work for a week)

I previously said that I didn't think the idea of turning various walls and pieces of the RI Armory into an amphitheater made sense, but the rendering in the story goes a long way towards convincing me. I still have to wonder how many outdoor concert venues we need within sight of each other.

The idea of leaving 1 wall up to "preserve" the historic Armory seems along the same lines as forcing casinos to have a Styrofoam basement to qualify as "floating casinos." However, the rendering looks a lot better than what I was picturing after reading the earlier article's description. I think that this could be a really great concert venue, and perhaps my lingering negativity towards it is based on jealousy that this could outshine Davenport's bandshell or propose Crescent Park amphitheater.

I guess almost anything is better than what's there now.

Monday, March 19, 2007

4 Monday Things

1. The Colonel has returned!
Colonel Davenport's newest blog is up now at His first real post discusses the current and potential future 1st Ward Alderman, and contrasts them with the previous one. His blog is also added to my link bar, and I've moved the link to his old blog down a few spots.

2. I'm not sure what the QCTimes doesn't have an article on this yet, but the Salvation Army building on River Drive across from the Freight House has received some federal money to be renovated into the "RiverWalk Lofts." Here's an article from the DSM Register that mentions it, and here's an article on According to KWQC:
The former Salvation Army Rehab Center on River Drive will become "River Walk Lofts". There'll be forty two units, a community room, technology center, and fifty parking spaces, construction should start in august.
After this project, and possibly the already-planned 3rd phase of the Davenport Lofts, even I might think we have enough affordable apartments downtown. Neither article really spells it out, but I hope there's some market-rate mixed in.

3. I went to the LeClaire Park expansion meeting at noon Friday, and it was pretty interesting. The existing LeClaire Park and bandshell aren't really part of the area being discussed, so hopefully that means we won't be fixing anything that's not broke. There were a mix of city staff, RiverAction folks, and regular citizens at the meeting, and quite a mix of ideas. Pretty much anything's on the table for the area currently occupied by the casino and parking lots, and its up to us as citizens to decide what goes there. There was discussion of extending the Skybridge, what kind of a pier would look good at the foot of Main Street, and whether we need a restaurant overlooking the river to replace the Dock. The public kickoff is a week from today at the RME, so mark your calendars.

4. Today's QCTimes has an article about the police union and officers complaining about the pursuit policy. It also seems that the policy is being toughened to stop any pursuits of the same car within 24 hours of it running from the police. I guess this will cut down on wear and tear on criminals' engines since they will only have to elude police once a day. High speed pursuits are a lose-lose situation, but they should be up to an officer's discretion. We don't (yet) have a problem in Davenport with people being killed by accidents caused by pursuits, but we DO have a problem with crime and criminals getting away (and potentially killing people). I'd say we should solve the problem we do have instead of further restricting pursuits.

4 and a half. TONS of kids were down at the skatepark yesterday. Maybe I'll get some pictures of our newest and most popular amenity this week.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

2007 Davenport St. Patrick's Day Parade

Despite the colder temperatures than last year, I would say there was an even bigger crowd.
Here's the crowd on 3rd between Ripley and Harrison right as the parade is ending.
Here are the cops spending a lot of effort to cram all those people onto the sidewalks in order to open up all of 3rd street. I was thinking they left part of the street closed, but now I remember they did this last year also. Why not close off a couple of lanes of 3rd street in that block, or even close that block entirely? It seems easier and safer than trying to smash 4 lanes worth of people onto 2 sidewalks. We close downtown streets for lesser events than this.

St. Paddy's Day Open Thread

I may not have any Irish in me, but I still wish all you loyal readers a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures up from the parade this afternoon, and then I'll return to regularly scheduled blogging.

Until then, what's on your minds?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

LeClaire Park Improvements

Expanded LeClaire Park planned -QCTimes

The planning process for some changes at LeClaire Park is beginning. The casino is almost certainly leaving the riverfront, and there's going to be a lot of surface parking that has never been a good thing for LeClaire Park. Imagine a blank slate from the lock and dam to the bandshell, with citizens deciding what happens with it.

The QCTimes article didn't emphasize it, but this is being done entirely without paid consultants. The citizens of Davenport are being asked what we want, and they really are going to listen to us. The members of city staff in charge of this process really believe in public input, and hope that this can be a model for future planning processes. This isn't the casino meetings all over again.

The kickoff meeting is scheduled for 6:30PM on Monday, March 26th, at the River Music Experience. However, if you just can't wait until then to weigh in on this, there will be a sneak preview TODAY (Friday) at noon. This will be held at the Design Center/Parking Office, which is located at 2nd and Brady in the first floor of the MidAmerican Building. Its part of the Design Center's Friday lunch bag series of meetings and discussions aimed at downtown workers. Hopefully lots of folks will grab a sandwich and head down to the meeting to share there thoughts for LeClaire Park. If you can't make the sneak preview, I hope everyone comes out to the kickoff meeting on the 26th.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mississippi Lofts

I was able to walk through the Mississippi Lofts Monday, so here are some images from downtown Davenport's newest residential option. While they are mostly limited-income apartments, there are 4 market rate units. I believe all 4 of those are on the 10th floor of the 10 story building. The lobby is my favorite part, especially the elevator doors and the arrow that points to the floor the elevator is currently at. To the right is a closeup of the elevator door detail.

As you can see, work is still ongoing. However, from what I was told the top few floors should be ready for move-in within the week. The number for the leasing office is (309) 644-1137. Parking is provided in the RiverCenter ramp across the street, which should please those of you that worry about our city parking ramps going empty. I'm sure parking manager Tom Flaherty was happy to make this deal with the Mississippi Lofts. The apartments themselves seem very nice, and I've got some images of them below.
Talk about a nice urban view, the Mississippi Hotel is pretty much in the heart of downtown Davenport. This shot and the 2 below were taken in the model apartment, which is one of the market rate units.

Many, if not all, of the bedrooms have French doors, and the kitchens seemed very nice as well.

The view to the South towards the Lock and Dam, and the view to the West down 3rd street. I believe both of these were taken from the 10th floor.

There is also a community room on the first floor that will include a TV and a fireplace. You can see it through the windows as you drive past on 3rd Street. Overall this was a very cool project to walk through, and bringing 60+ more apartments to the downtown should really help push us towards the critical mass where restaurants and retailers begin to follow residents downtown.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Open Thread

I'm off to the bustling metropolis that is Macomb, Illinois to visit the ol' Alma mater.

The population is about 20,000 counting students, and 8,000 without. Considering that its spring break, it should be a ghost town. There's always Walmart I guess.

Chat amongst yourselves, and hopefully I'll get my review of the Mississippi Lofts posted soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rooftop Panoramic

Inspired by the Inside Dope's panorama pieced together from multiple pictures at the Barack Obama rally, I decided to try out something like this. My camera came with some software to do it, so I went up on the roof with my tripod and took some pictures facing off to the East.

Here's what I ended up with. As always click for a larger (much larger) view.
I'm pretty happy with the result, so you can probably expect more of these in the future. Also, I took a lot more pictures around downtown and got a tour of the new Mississippi Lofts, so expect those posts in the next 2 days.

Monday Mix

Pioneer98 has a good article over on his blog, Information Swimming, about the signage suggestions from our visiting tourism expert, and the plan that has been sitting on a shelf for several years. Check it out.

I have been thinking about this a lot since the articles about Bill Geist's visit to the area, and his tourism report. Coming across the Arsenal into Iowa, I was thinking... if I was a visitor and started seeing all these signs about entering a military base, and NO signs about entering Iowa, I'd consider turning around right about now. It doesn't seem like it would be too hard to have some sort of "Iowa, this way" signs along that route. Obviously there should be the equivalent, "Illinois, this way" signs facing the other direction.

I don't try to criticize the River City Reader much, because I believe it serves a valuable purpose. That said, I seem to disagree with practically every viewpoint they hold. This past week's "Words from the editor" however, I have to say something about. I tried to state my case in the comments on the site, but for some reason that doesn't seem to be showing up. Here's the 2 paragraphs from their views on the committee meeting changes that got me riled up:
The old adage "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up" characterizes the modus operandi of four Davenport aldermen - Jamie Howard, Charlie Brooke, Ian Frink, and Brian Dumas - and Davenport Mayor Ed Winborn.

It is especially appropriate relative to their collective refusal to submit to the public's demand (and the majority of the council's vote) to leave Thursday's standing-committee meetings intact.
It seems like it would take a lot of nerve to use that quote in the first paragraph and then totally misstate the facts in the second paragraph. The first vote on changing committee meetings was 5-4 IN FAVOR of changing. However, it requires 6 votes to make such a drastic change to council procedure. Supermajority or not though, I hardly consider 4 to be a "majority of the council." Is it not fair to have the vote when all 10 aldermen are there? Apparently retrying the vote when the entire elected body is present is somehow undemocratic. Also, did they take a poll to know that the "public's demand" is for the meetings to stay the same? If they're judging what the public wants by who shows up to the meetings, I have to disagree. If the people who speak at city council meetings were representative of Davenport as a whole, we'd have Niky as mayor and a whole council of Keith Meyer-types. The fact that the Reader seems to be "against" nearly every single decision made by the city of Davenport is how they get their "againster" label, not because of their attitude towards business.

And finally, unrelated from Davenport, here's a damn good article about how my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers are abandoning "Dodgertown," their spring training camp in Vero Beach, Florida. Phoenix's version of Bettendorf, Glendale, has lured them out of Florida with promise of a 15,000 seat modern stadium. The Dodgers' horrible, money-grubbing owner, Frank McCourt, jumped at the chance to make more money, even off of spring training. Who cares about 50 years of tradition, there's money to be made! I know one thing: I'll be taking a trip down to Florida next spring for the last ride of Dodgertown.

But right now, I'm heading out (without a coat) to take some pictures.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The 2nd Guardian Angels Meeting

So, I decided to wake up early and go to the Guardian Angels meeting at United Neighbors today. The full parking lot itself sends a pretty strong message to the Chief about Davenport residents' opinion of city safety.I've previously stated that I disagree with the philosophy of this group, but I still wanted to hear what they had to say, and also see the local reaction. I would guess that, as usual, I was the only one with an opposing viewpoint to show up and get the other side's views. Aldermen Lynn, Ambrose, and Meyer were in attendance, and Cruiser said that the Mayor attended the earlier meeting.

Mr. Sliwa is quite a public speaker, and he has a very interesting personal background, so he definitely was able to keep the people's attention for nearly 2 hours. He did seem to use a lot of cliches, rhyming phrases and slang, but I suppose that's just his speaking style. At times the meeting had a religious atmosphere, with Sliwa "preaching" and people in the crowd affirming him with the occasional, "that's right," and such.
It was fantastic to me to see such enthusiasm for fighting back against crime in Davenport, but I still can't agree with the methods of this group. If they were simply a national and enthusiastic neighborhood watch group that conducts patrols with radios, cameras, etc, I'd have signed up myself.

Unfortunately, their policy of "physical intervention" is a recipe for disaster. Mr. Sliwa uses the most extreme example, a woman being raped, as explanation of why this is the right thing to do. Of course you should intervene in that case, but the other example he gave was more interesting. He talked about 2 people fighting outside of a bar, and said that the GAs would break up the fight and send them each on their way. This is the kind of thing where you're asking to be stabbed or shot. Instead of a 2 person fight you end up with a brawl. Also, the idea that the mere presence of red-bereted citizens will prevent violent gang crimes seems hard to believe. These folks have shown willingness to pull guns on and fire at armed police officers, so why would the worry at all about unarmed citizens? Mr. Sliwa admitted that 6 GAs have been killed in the line of duty, and I think that's a real possibility here as well. He also didn't address the cell phone aspect, where dozens if not hundreds of people can show up in minutes ready to fight.

I also have some concerns over the fact that many of the Guardian Angel members seem to be wannabe cops. One of the GAs from out of town at the meeting was wearing swat-style cargo pants, and a police belt with a flashlight, handcuffs, and other things on it. I was interested to see if he had Mace and/or an extendable baton, but I didn't get a good enough look. The fact that he'd wear this to a citizen meeting makes me think he likes the outfit a little too much. I was involved with the Davenport Police Explorers back in high school, and there were members of that who were in it for the "power," or uniform, as opposed to helping out the community. If I had to guess, I'd bet those are the kind of people Bladel is worried about.

So, what to do...
I believe the answer lies with the existing DPD VIPS program. If I recall, they even wear similar red jackets. If we could get this much citizen excitement about that program, I feel it could make just as big of a difference at the Guardian Angels. Unfortunately, the VIPS program is currently filled with all, or nearly all, retired senior citizen-types. We need the full spectrum of the community participating in this program. The VIPS also carry police radios, save officers time usually spent doing things that don't require a sworn officer, and do things like patrol the downtown. They've been supported and working closely with the DPD for over a year, and I think they could make a real difference, with more members and more publicity.

Its probably too late for Bladel to propose that though, and judging by the enthusiastic response, I suspect we'll be seeing Guardian Angels patrolling Davenport by summer.

Friday, March 09, 2007

50 Degree Open Thread

Talk about anything except VanFossen-gate stuff here. Please continue using the thread a couple posts down for that.

I don't have much to say this morning, except maybe another wish for the WIU:QC riverfront campus to actually get some funding this year. It seems like there'd be some rich alumni that could step in and put up a few million as further leverage for the fine state of Illinois to fork over some money. It really makes you think about the $120 million+ prison sitting there in Thompson.

Of course, some QCTimes commenters are opposed to expanding our only effort towards a public 4 year university... I don't know why I still look at them.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Upcoming meetings, etc

Bix Birthday Bash
Friday (Tomorrow), 11:30AM River Music Experience
(Experience the RME for free)

Alderman Hamerlinck's 2nd Ward Meeting

This Saturday, 9:30AM Fairmount Library

Guardian Angels public meeting w/ Curtis Sliwa
This Saturday, 1:00PM United Neighbors

Barack Obama rally (for those that are into that sort of thing)
Also, this Saturday, 5:30PM North High School gym

CitiBus Public Forum
Wednesday, March 14th, 1:00PM Davenport Main Library

Alderman Frink's All Ward Meeting
Thursday, March 22nd, 6:30PM Roosevelt Center

And yes, someday I'll probably get tired of taking sunrise pictures. But not yet.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Anyone else sick of this?

I'm really sick of the crap going on. Its all a big sideshow and none of it has anything to do with making Davenport a good place to live.

Somehow we've gotten from blaming Alderman VanFossen to blaming Craig Malin. As I said on a lower post, who's at fault here shouldn't have anything to do with whose political side you're generally on. Instead we have people who are thrilled to direct attention away from their no-voting Alderman and towards the evil city administrator.

VanFossen needs to resign, that's pretty much agreed upon by most people around here. Can anyone explain to me why he hasn't done this yet?

Ms. Webb needs to explain how the things she is doing help anything. Does it make her feel better to bring all of this out to the media? Sending the "letter to legal" to the media smacks of revenge. Revenge for what? No one has ever said on ANY of these threads what city staff could have done about the alleged sexual harassment. They offered to move her desk, and she refused. City staff can't "fire" an Alderman; its the other way around. I could potentially change my entire opinion on this issue if someone could explain what action the CA was supposed to take.

According to today's Times article, Ms. Webb now wants no contact with VanFossen or Dolan. The HR guy isn't probably an integral part of her duties, but how is she supposed to do her job as council administrative assistant when she can't talk to 10% of the council?

This has just turned into such a mess, and its just not a good thing for Davenport. Malin's getting screwed, and the public manner that its happening is only going to hurt Davenport's chances of ever getting a quality replacement when he someday leaves his position. Who is going to want be Davenport's city administrator after all this? I guess the thing I'm most mad about is how any of this helps the "victim," Cyndi Webb. Does creating a giant controversy and making Davenport look like even more of a joke help anyone?

This is about my worst-written post in months, but I don't really care. I'm tired of reading new scandals every day in the paper, especially when Davenport has bigger problems that need addressing. I'm just sick of it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Magic Budget

Budget likely to sail to passage -QCTimes

This article really makes it seem like happy times at City Hall, and I'm sure the Aldermen elected last year are feeling pretty good. They can claim victory because taxes aren't going up, and no staff positions are being cut. Remember that bad stuff last year? Not this year! Its like magic...

Or, its due to the sacrifices of the previous council, especially those who fought for the stormwater fee and were defeated in the election. If you think our crime problem is bad, think how it would have been if the council had caved to the anti-fee folks and cut public safety last year? Think how much trouble we'd be having adding cops this year without the million bucks from the stormwater revenue.

Its not like the new folks came in and stopped all this crazy downtown spending. The 08 budget includes money for Centennial Park, the Freight House, and Prairie Heights.

Its kind of ironic that Hamerlinck and Company's failure to eliminate the stormwater fee has actually made their jobs much easier this year.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Other Stuff Open Thread

Let's not forget that there are plenty of non-Alderman-related things we can be arguing about... I mean, discussing in a rational and courteous way.

Here are a few pictures I took yesterday of the Bettendorf Isle of Capri hotel expansion. I know probably 95% of you use I-74, but for those who don't and for our out of town readers, here's what Bettendorf's riverfront is looking like these days.
I wouldn't mind having a building that tall added to downtown Davenport, although I would hope it wouldn't be as ugly. We already have the MidAmerican building...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Guest Post from the Colonel
Soap Opera Antic’s – 3rd & Harrison

So Ronnie VanFossen is in the paper again, this time claims of sexual harassment. Blog readers need to understand this has been a problem for years down at City Hall, and one administration has tried to grasp. Unfortunately, our local elected have stood in the way.

What am I talking about? Folk’s I am talking about the supervisory capacity (or lack of) of a public employee position that makes some good bucks. The Council Assistant does the letters, phone calls and such for our elected. But there is no supervision or accountability.

The last council assistant (Robin) had a “relationship” with then Alderman Tappendorf (must be something about the 1st ward water), and really came and went as she pleased. I am told by good sources that two years ago, prior to Ms. Webb’s employment, City Administrator Malin pleaded with the council to redirect that position with-in Administration. Lead by Barney Barnhill, the request was quickly rejected.

You see, it’s all about accountability. Ms. Webb (and before that, Ms. Linville (Robin), never wanted to be accountable to anyone. Heck, it’s easier to have ten bosses that come and go, then just one. And some elected view this as the last wall or fortress between the elected and administration. Just think about it, if administration oversaw the council secretary, who will make the coffee? Worse, how will the secretary drive alderman “A” here or there?

Some important questions to ask here! When was the last time the ten elected council folks sat down and gave Ms. Webb a job evaluation? Which alderman knew about the allegations from Ms. Webb, and what did they do from a supervisory position. And finally Ms. Webb, how can you sit down at a bar with your supervisor (also a married man in a struggling marriage) and not view this as a really bad idea?

Folks can’t have it both ways. And that’s the problem down at city hall. Maybe Mr. Dolan was correct, with his observation of Monica Lewinsky. It’s difficult to play footsy with your boss, and not have people start to judge and talk. Foolishness (even unintended) seems to bread when a lack of accountability is prevalent. Only ten elected officials have the ability to fix this.

Good day,

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The downfall of a public figure

First, if any of you haven't watched the clip of Craig Ferguson's monologue about kicking people, especially celebrities and public figures, when they're down, you should.

Here's a link to the video posted by CBS on YouTube.

That said, this site isn't necessarily designed for humor, or making fun of people anyway. Its supposed to be discussion and images relating to the Quad Cities, local politics, and a lot of downtown Davenport stuff. Unfortunately, the story below relates to local politics. In addition to constantly being told what is happening with Anna Nicole's body, or Britney Spears's head, locally we have Alderman VanFossen.

Alderman faces sexual harassment claim -QCTimes

I read that headline this morning, and just thought "Please, not more..." First I'm going to comment on the substance of the newest issue, and then I'll say my piece.

Cyndi Webb, as many of you know, is the council's administrative assistant. One of the 2 or 3 comments I've deleted in 2 years of blogging alleged a relationship between her and the Alderman in question. I didn't think that kind of thing belonged on my blog, but now that this has happened people are going to talk about it whether I do or not. She has accused VanFossen of sexual harassment. I have no idea what did or didn't happen. I just have a couple points that I found interesting in the article. One, is the city administration's response. Supposedly, they said "What do you want us to do about it?" That sounds heartless, but really... what CAN they do about it? Its not like Mr. Malin can fire one of his bosses, Alderman VanFossen. Talk about a political hot potato, but its just another of the many awkward situations being created lately. I'd like to know what Webb thought Malin or Dolan would do?

The second thing is who is representing Ms. Webb. Maybe we don't have that many lawyers around here, but I find it odd that Mike Meloy would be involved in this, fighting the traffic cameras, Yerington's fight against the city, Taylor Height's fight against Cobblestone, and Rick Meyer's fight against the city on cleaning up his River Drive property, among other things. Its like the guy is making a living at representing people who want to fight Davenport City Hall. Like I said, maybe its just a matter of a limited number of QC lawyers, but I sure see his name a lot. So there might be more to all this than just an Alderman self-destructing. Or there might not be. Unfortunately, it somewhat fits with the recent pattern of news.

And now, QCI's opinion:
If VanFossen wasn't an Alderman, the news coverage on his personal problems would be beyond bizarre. However, he's one of the 11 people who is in charge of leading the City of Davenport. So on one hand, saying negative things about the man is certainly kicking someone when they're down. The guy is down; even those close to him would admit that, I think. On the other hand, the guy continues to submit himself to this scrutiny by refusing to step down as 1st Ward Alderman. If his reasons for staying on the council are truly honorable, at some point he has to see that all of this is not good for a City Hall already suffering from image problems.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Budget and Eminent Domain Open Thread

I'm wussing out again this morning. As I've bee whining all month, this winter is not to my liking.

There are 2 main things that I'd like to see people share their opinions on.

One is the Davenport budget, and the other is the proper use of eminent domain. That half of the discussion could be either about the Bettendorf Middle Road thing, or the whole "condemning for private companies" issue. I might throw my 2 cents in this afternoon, or maybe even post some real content.

Also, is anyone else surprised to see 70+ comments on the QCTimes article about Sonic coming to Davenport? Sheesh.

Lastly, all of us who start to complain about icy roads and shoveling walks should take a minute to think about the tornado victims in Alabama. Our problems aren't so bad compared to theirs.