Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A sad note, and a few other things

Pilots killed at two air shows -CNN
Jim Leroy was one of the pilots who was recently killed during these two air show accidents. He was the last surviving member of the Masters of Disaster stunt team that I believe performed at the QC Air Show, and he was just here this year flying the same Bulldog stunt plane that he was killed in. He was considered one of the top air show stunt pilots in the world, which just goes to show how incredibly dangerous their profession is.

Skatepark news vans
There's a lot of talk about the cars that keep pulling up onto the cement apron around the skatepark, but has anyone stopped to wonder where they got the idea? I drive past the skatepark on almost a daily basis, and whenever there's any kind of story the news vans feel its their right to drive right up there onto the berm. Why is this any less bad than the kids doing it?

Fair traffic fun
This article mentions that the police are going to move the barricades for the locust street construction to try and match the flow of traffic. For those of you who have been to bigger cities, I imagine this will be similar to the middle lanes where they have the lights that show which direction the lanes are going. This allows lanes to be used for traffic into downtowns in the morning, and out in the evening. It'll be interesting to see how it works on Locust.

Wells Fargo Street fest relocation
Does anyone know the reason for moving the Bixfest back west of Brady? I heard it was to be closer to both the jazz fest and the 3rd street bar scene, but I wondered if there were other reasons. It seems to work better there, especially having the main stage in the parking lot next to the Mississippi Plaza. Anyone dislike the new/old location?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Some Bix Pix

The Brady Street Hill.

The men's and women's winners, Duncan Kibet and Wude Ayalew.

The Race for the Jackpot wasn't even close this year, with Christy Lazaridis easily getting the $3300 prize. The shot on the right is of the post race party, taken from the roof of the Crescent Lofts. The Wells Fargo Street Fest, back in its old location west of Brady.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Picnic Table-Garbage Can-Bottle-gate

I'm throwing out a discussion thread about the Alderman Meyer incident. The QCTimes' posting of the police reports, showing 2 completely different stories, are required reading before any commenting.

I don't know Alderman Meyer personally. We've corresponded via email, but never really in person. That said, I have a really hard time believing that he acted the way the lady at the skatepark is accusing him of. The swearing I could maybe believe, but the crap about running this town and owning the skatepark has to be an exaggeration. If those statements by Ms. Fuller are somehow proven false, I would hope she would be in some trouble herself.

That said, even the things that Alderman Meyer has admitted to doing are fairly serious mistakes. Losing your temper is no way to solve a situation, and now this is just one more circus-like incident hanging over the city council's chambers. More scandal and controversy should be the one thing we can all agree that we don't need.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stuff I missed, or did I?

I have been in news/information withdrawal lately, with no internet access and not even the ability to read the news on my phone. It bothered me greatly, but now that I am back, part of me wonders what it is that I miss.

I start reading people slamming on Malin, slamming on Winborn, slamming on whoever... I guess its just not the stuff I read blogs for.

I will admit that Winborn's decision not to seek reelection is pretty big news, especially since back on the Louisville trip I heard him say that he was going to run again. I wonder if another 8 months of negativity changed his mind? Yerington, Howard, Lynn? None of the above, please. If it had to be someone who's already been involved, I'd probably pick Ian Frink. I think someone new might be a good idea though.

Lets try to keep things civil around here today; I've seen enough wasteland lately.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Long Weekend (for me) Open Thread

Over the next few days, or for as long as a week, I'll have very little opportunity to post anything. Among other things, I'll be driving and flying a combined total of over 3000 miles. Use this thread for discussing anything in the mean time.

Also, did anyone see those clouds yesterday morning? I didn't have a camera with me, but I managed to get the shot on the right with my cell phone. They were probably the most ominous looking clouds I've ever seen in Davenport. I really expected them to start swirling around and destroying stuff at any minute. Fortunately I don't know anything about meteorology, and they didn't do anything like that.

Have a good weekend, and I'll definitely be back in action in time for Bix festivities.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Where in the QC is this? #16

This one's probably too easy, but its all I have time for right now. Where is it?

The second guesser, Anonymous at 11:04 AM correctly identified the image as the clock tower on the depot in Rock Island. As Anonymous said, its now a reception hall known as Abbey Station, operated by the owners of the Abbey Hotel.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

12 Headlines that would be good for Davenport

Every morning I when I start reading the paper, I hope for some positive news for Davenport instead of the usual circus and controversy. Here are a dozen of the kind of headlines I'm waiting to see. I don't feel that any of these are impossible, and some are downright probable. Some of these are good only for Davenport, such as #2 and #8, and some are good for the whole Quad Cities. In keeping with my belief that downtown is the heart of Davenport, about half of these are downtown-oriented.

Please add your suggestions for the list in the comments.

1. "X Company" to build 20 story corporate headquarters in downtown Davenport
Something like this would be the last piece to tip the scales for downtown success.

2. Alderman Van Fossen resigns his position on city council
No need to explain this one.

3. 20 story condo tower to be built in downtown Davenport
Similar to #1. If Moline can have one, why not us? Or even a mixture of #1 and #3.

4. (Dave & Busters, InPlay, GameWorks, pick one) to open downtown Davenport entertainment venue
See this blog post.

5. Brady Street Cinema and former hotel site to be redeveloped
Its a huge site, and currently providing a terrible first impression of Davenport

6. Toyota to build 2000-employee manufacturing plant in Davenport industrial park
Sure, we shouldn't pin all our hopes on heavy industry, but we shouldn't ignore it either.

7. 46th Street bridge to be built between Brady and Eastern, connecting the last piece between Harrison and Elmore.
I haven't even heard about this lately, so I'm guessing its years away. It would certainly help out 53rd and Kimberly, although at the expense of people who live on 46th.

8. New operator for Davenport casino license to build state-of-the-art casino hotel downtown
I'd settle for the same headline with "IOC" replacing new operator, but I don't see that happening.

9. Event similar to X-Games to be held at Davenport skatepark
We've got a world-class skatepark now, so why not add an event the size of Sturgis on the River to take advantage of it?

10. Amtrak returns passenger rail to the QC area
Say goodbye to I-88 tolls anyone?

11. Quad City International lands direct service to Phoenix
Ok, this one's slightly selfish, but I'm pretty sure I've read that Phoenix is the biggest final destination for QCIA travelers.

12. BRAC reverse decision, TACOM to stay at Arsenal
At this point the move to Michigan isn't going to save any money until 2030 anyway, and who knows what will be happening by then. Might as well leave them here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Another home invasion, Van Fossen, and more cameras

Early this morning there was another home invasion robbery, this time near 13th and Carey. The victim stated that he was upstairs and he heard shots fired at the house and the front door kicked in. With a description like this, you can imagine the number of squad cars that started heading his way. Unfortunately, the victim gave 911 dispatchers the wrong address, so all the officers were surrounding a house 4 blocks away. By the time they made it to the right house, the suspects had escaped. It sounded like they had some leads, and some of the stolen property was recovered as well. Stuff like this makes me long for the heavy police crack down that we saw after the murder of Vincelina Howard.

Judge issues injunction against Van Fossen -QCTimes
This is the story that just won't die. It doesn't help that Webb's lawyer has had it in for city hall for years and years. Does anyone really think that Malin, city staff, and the Howard/Frink side of the council is working to protect Van Fossen? They're just as sick of his antics as the rest of us, and he nearly always votes against them anyway. What is in it for them to protect him? People who think the whole council is a secret society/good-ol' boys club are a bit too paranoid for my tastes. If anything people should be accusing them of running him out of office to take a vote away from the Lynn/Hamerlinck side of the council. Also, the guy is doing serious harm to the Van Fossen name by not resigning.

Davenport to set up more cameras in city -QCTimes
In some ways, I don't mind this, but in other ways I find it worse than the speed cameras. At least those only work when someone is definitely breaking the law. With all the politics that get tangled up with the DPD, I can imagine some admittedly unlikely scenarios where the cameras are misused.

Davenport alderman writes his novel in spare time -QCOnline
If any of you Davenporters don't usually read QCOnline because of its focus on Illinois news, check out this profile of Alderman Meyer. I learned several new things about my Alderman.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jeff Speck at the Figge review

I attended Jeff Speck's lecture last night at the Figge, but due to various issues wasn't able to write a post about it until now. Cruiser has already posted his impressions of the evening here.

As others have said, the turnout was excellent. People wearing everything from a bicycling outfit, to jeans, to suits, which is great. There were people standing along the aisles of the auditorium in the Figge, and he seemed very well received. I wondered how many people were there for the free museum admission and free grub, but the number of people buying his book and having it signed after the event really showed that many of the people were really into Speck's points.

As far as the lecture itself, it was pretty textbook new urbanism stuff. Jeff pointed out during his talk that planners and others familiar with new urbanism may find it a bit basic. Many of the topics, such as building narrower streets, alleys, houses that look like houses instead of garages, and walkability have been discussed around this and other local blogs. I think this is the perfect introduction to this topic for people who have only heard a bit about new urbanism, or maybe have just a passing familiarity. This makes sense, since the lecture was taken in part from the Mayors Institute on City Design. I can definitely see it having an impact on people who were elected for skills other than city design and planning. One thing that I really have to commend him on was his illustrative images. He's been able to find intersections, developments, and photo angles that really show the downsides of suburbanization. Some of the sprawl images caused an obvious negative reaction from the crowd.

Mr. Speck admitted to not knowing all that much about Davenport and the Quad Cities specifically, and even hinted at coming back sometime to give a lecture that is directed more at our particular issues. I think this would be a great thing, especially now that at least 150 people are familiar with the concept. One of the only things that I took issue with was his criticism of the Skybridge. He discussed how strange it is to build a parking garage away from a casino, build an enclosed bridge from there to the boat, and have people walk over downtown without ever hitting the streets. I agree that that would be strange, but disagree that that is the point of the Skybridge. To me it will always be an observation bridge and landmark, and after the boat leaves that will become even more obvious.

All in all, it was a great event, and it was good to see so many people out at the Figge for something related to city planning and design. I was able to meet Jeff Speck, and I now know that he's at least been shown both this blog and Cruiser's. I'll be very interested in the results if he takes a closer look at the QC area and comes back with his specific suggestions for our issues.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Airport or car dealership

I was over at the airport Sunday to pick someone up, and I kept trying to catch a glimpse of one of the few PGA folks coming to the John Deere Classic that I actually recognize. As I heard a guy who had just grabbed a piece of luggage containing a set of clubs say into his phone, "I've got your clubs," I realized that PGA pros have people to wait at baggage claims for them.

When I was leaving I saw that a section of the short-term lot was blocked off, and was filled with brand new Buicks for the arriving players and tournament officials. There were 3 or 4 rows of precisely parked vehicles. I believe these are Buick Lucernes.

Serious Child Abuse

Thanks to Alderman Meyer for emailing us bloggers this police release.

Date: July 8, 2007 (15:02)


For Release: Immediate

Saturday, July 7, 2007 5:47 pm 1630 West 42nd Street

A two year old child is in serious condition at University Hospitals in Iowa City. He was taken there by air ambulance after initial treatment at Genesis Medical Center.

The little boy was found unresponsive when emergency personnel responded to a medical assistance call at 1630 West 42nd Street at 5:47 pm Saturday.

It is very apparent that the child sustained a severe beating as there was extensive bruising and trauma to the majority of the child’s body.

The mother, LIZABETH GARCIA, 24, has been arrested and charged with CHILD ENDANGERMENT with SERIOUS INJURY. She claims that the injuries happened as long as three days ago but that she did not seek medical attention for the child because she was afraid that DHS (Iowa Department of Human Services) and the police would get involved. Therefore the child was left to suffer.

Garcia said that injuries happened when she left the child in the care of her boyfriend while she went to work. The location of the boyfriend is currently unknown.

The boyfriend has been identified as HERMAN CARL MORRIS, also known as JAMES DOZIER or JAMES WILLIAMS. He is a black male, 27 years old, 5”10” tall and weighs 170 pounds. He is currently wanted on arrest warrants unrelated to this horrific crime. Those warrants, from the Davenport Police Department and Rock Island County include:
• Sex Abuse 2nd degree
• False Imprisonment
• Felon in Possession of a Firearm
• Assault with Intent to Commit Sex Abuse

A car owned by Garcia is unaccounted for and it is thought that Morris/Dozier/Williams might have that car. The vehicle is a green, 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme four door. It has Iowa license plates 520 SIN.

Anyone having any knowledge concerning this information and/or the location of the Morris/Dozier/Williams is asked to immediately notify their local law enforcement agency or Crimestoppers.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Blue Sky July Open Thread

Good luck to all the competitors that will soon be descending on the QC area to participate in the John Deere Classic. I'm hoping to make it over there on one of the free days, although it promises to be just as hot as last year.

Congrats to the SoLo blog, as the very next post by Ambrose Fulton will be #600 for the oldest active Davenport politics-related blog around.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Jeff Speck at the Figge

If you haven't already heard about this from the QCTimes article, RCReader article, QCOnline article, or Cruiser's post, here's the info. As you can see, I'm late in the game on posting about this.

Jeff Speck is the author of Suburban Nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream. I'm embarrassed to say I haven't yet read this book, even though its right down my alley. Maybe I'll pick one up and get it signed Monday. He's an expert on New Urbanism and city design, so it should be a pretty interesting presentation. You also get a free chance to check out the Figge along with the free lecture and free snacks.

Date: Monday, July 9th, 2007

Venue: John Deere Auditorium, Figge Art Museum (2nd floor gallery)


5-6 p.m.: Reception (heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages [cash wine and beer bar])

6-7:30 p.m. Presentation
  • 5 minute intro from Mayor Winborn
  • 60 minute presentation from Jeff Speck
  • 20 minute Q&A
7:30 – 8:15 p.m. Book Signing: Suburban Nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream (sponsored by the Design Ranch)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

4th of July Flood

Once in a while mother nature has to remind us who's really in charge. In a repeat of last year's storm, we got several inches of rain last night, and a lot of roads are flooded and washed out. Of course Locust Street near St. Ambrose was flooded and closed, but also Eastern and 29th. I think when the floodwaters start hitting the bridge the city starts worrying about the structural integrity and closes Eastern, because it didn't look like any water was actually over Eastern.Here's the view looking northeast towards Brady Street and Arby's from the Sancho's parking lot.

Hopefully the newly laid asphalt on the bike path east of Eastern survived the flood waters. I doubt this piece of submerged equipment near Jersey Ridge is going to be in good shape when crews get back to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Clintons visit

Here are a few images from today's Bill and Hillary Clinton rally in downtown Davenport. It was great to see an urban location chosen for something like this, instead of just something with corn of a fairgrounds in the background. We need to show people there's more to Iowa than what they stereotypically think. Just to preempt any political debate that we don't really need, just remember I'm registered Independent and attended this as an important downtown event only.
Hillary and Bill, working the crowds. Check out the rest of my images from this afternoon on my flickr page here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday morning assortment

I took a drive/walk around downtown last night around 3am, hoping to get some good images with my camera and tripod. I didn't have much luck, with the shot of city hall to the right the only one that came out ok. I didn't see another pedestrian while I was out. Not exactly a vibrant street scene, but I didn't see any criminals or drug dealers out either.

Speaking of downtown and crime, the QCTimes has an editorial today that fits with the argument I've been making around this blog for 2 years. Downtown in safer than many neighborhoods, but a couple of bad intersections and a lot of bad perception and media attention lowers people's opinion of downtown safety.

In the opposite of downtown news, QCOnline has a piece on Prairie Heights. It mentions a mixture of residential and commercial, but last time I saw the plan there was little to no commercial mixed in with the residential areas. Maybe someone in the know can correct me on this. I'm looking foward to seeing homes going up in the next couple months.

Thanks to whoever's decision it was to paint dotted lane lines across Brady at 3rd Street. The lanes jog by half a lane's width as you go through the intersection, and I've seen a lot of near-accidents there. Now its 100% obvious what lane you're supposed to end up in when you make it to the east side of Brady.