Tuesday, November 06, 2012

One person NOT to vote for

I'm not doing anything in the way of endorsements this year, although anyone who knows me could pretty easily guess most of them.

What I am doing, is one un-endorsement. Mark Nelson, who is running for the Iowa House in District 93. Just in case anyone has forgotten about this enemy of Davenport, check out this blog post from 2009.

For some reason the QCTimes article linked to in that post has moved, so it can be found here: Blackhawk Hotel project threatened by critical report -QCTimes

Here's a little excerpt:
Significant financing for Restoration St. Louis’ $36 million Blackhawk Hotel redevelopment project was jeopardized by scathing criticism of downtown Davenport’s investment climate that accompanied a commercial real estate appraisal of the nearly century-old building.The appraisal — conducted by Mark Nelson of Roy R. Fisher Inc. — included a cover letter that warned against lending money for downtown projects, said Amy Gill, one of the Restoration St. Louis partners.
“It was horrible, just horrible,” Amy Gill said, referring to the letter. “We had our financing lined up, and he basically screwed us.”

So, in hindsight, we can see clearly that Mr. Nelson's appraisal cover letter was far off base. The Hotel Blackhawk is considered to be one of the best if not the best hotel in the entire state. The residential units were sold out before the building opened. The commercial spaces are filled. The reception halls are booked up. The President of the United States has stayed there. Even the bowling alley is awesome. So... just a little bit wrong on that one, Mark.

Either Mr. Nelson injected his personal political agenda into his job, or he completely failed in his assessment of the project's chances of working with the City. Biased or inept, it doesn't matter, he certainly doesn't deserve to represent Davenport.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Real news happening

Jeez, go out of the country for a week and one of the biggest stories in Davenport political and development news comes along with this potential casino sale. I'll write a little more on it later, but I wanted to post that tonight (Monday) at 6:30PM (in about 90 minutes actually) there is a meeting at the Adler about the casino acquisition plan. Better head down there if you want to make your voice heard before Wednesday's council meeting.

Monday, October 08, 2012

2012 Fall Drive: Maquoketa Caves

This is about the perfect time of year in the QC for a fall drive. Clear skies and good leaf colors, although it sounds like neither will last too long. This is the first time I've been back to Maquoketa Caves State Park since the caves closed (and then reopened). Now there's about a 5 minute talk you have to hear about the fungal White Nose Syndrome that has been spreading among the bats, and how to avoid spreading it further. Its a pretty good compromise compared to closing the caves.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hilltop Campus Village Fall Music Festival 2012

The Hilltop Campus Village is hosting the 3rd annual Fall Music Festival on October 6th, from 5-10PM in the Hilltop Park at the corner of 15th and Harrison. Its been great fun the last 2 years, and it should be even bigger and better this year. The headlining band is the Tons O' Fun Band, which recently played at the Redstone Room, and includes City Planner Matt Flynn. There is also a musical act from each of the colleges in the HCV, Palmer and St. Ambrose.

Here's a commercial KWQC produced for the festival

Sunday, September 16, 2012

QCTimes joines QCOnline in suicide pact

The day has finally arrived. No, not the day that I officially resign from blogging. The day that the QCTimes, and specifically QCTimes.com resigns from being the go-to place for news and community interaction in the Quad Cities region.

Read their explanation of what's happening here

Think about it: What is the most visited local website? It's almost certainly QCTimes.com, and the reason for that is that they have always had great, FREE, content. QCOnline has almost always gotten this wrong. They used to have only the last few days' articles available, which caused me to almost never link to them. Why send my blog readers a link that essentially expires in a week. Then they opened up QCOnline for a while, but now they've gone to the same "x amount of articles per month" system that the QCTimes is implementing.

Even though I'm not in the journalism business, I've been following the print media's adjustment (or lack thereof) to the digital world closely. One voice that I've found to be extremely reasoned and knowledgeable on this subject is CUNY journalism professor Jeff Jarvis. He's written a lot of paywalls vs being the website that the community feels they're a part of. I'd suggest looking into his writings if you're interested in this issue. The QCT's online commenting system is a brilliant way of encouraging community discussion and engagement with the news, as wild and crazy as the comments sometimes get. In the first year of the online comment system, I was told by a QCTimes employee that they had over 10,000 usernames signed up. Obviously there are a few folks with multiple names, but that's still a massive number. I'm sure its only higher now. How many of those people who come to QCTimes.com for not only news, but community, are going to bust out their credit cards without batting an eye? The biggest value the QCTimes provides is engagement and relationship with their web visitors, not simply providing content for them to passively view. This encourages people to link to your articles on Twitter, Facebook, and their own blogs, which drive more traffic and more value to your website/newspaper.

One of the most unbelieveable parts of this is that people paying for home delivery are being asked to pay $2 a month for full online access. This will simply diminish the number of home delivery subscribers. Currently I pay around $200 a year for the actual paper newspaper to be delivered to my door. Now they are asking me to pay twice for the same information online. So since I'm not about to pay twice for the same articles, this new system pushes me to drop my $200+ a year subscription and sign up for the online-only, $5.95 a month setup. "$200 or $72?", is the question a lot of home delivery folks are going to be asking themselves. Newspapers' biggest income is still ads in the paper edition. What are these ads going to be worth if nobody gets home delivery anymore? If the circulation numbers drop by 50% will that massive drop in ad revenue be made up by some $6 a month subscription fees? I am not only complaining about this stuff because I like free online news; I am complaining because I want the QCTimes to succeed and prosper in the digital world, and continue providing the generally good reporting they do on local news. This downward spiral of less content->fewer readers->less money->less content is not where I want to see them go.

So what now? Well, in the age of the internet, we have options. Twitter and Facebook have already become important places that people go for news, both in link form, and firsthand accounts.  Patch.com is a local news site owned by AOL that hasn't taken off here, probably due to the QCTimes making it unnecessary. Blogs aren't going away, and in fact this one might be coming back from the dead to provide free and unlimited news to people disappointed in paywalls and limits triumphing over community engagement.. The movement of that "around the watercooler" discussion from blogs to the QCTimes comments made this blog less exciting for visitors and myself, so maybe the death of the QCTimes website will bring back local blogging. Or maybe everyone will think $6 a month isn't too bad. We will see.

In that mean time, I'm planning to be a little more active on Facebook, so I'd suggest all of you "Like" QuadCityImages at www.facebook.com/QuadCityImages

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Kerker Lofts

The only media coverage I've seen about this project is this article on KWQC.com, which probably means they also mentioned it on a news broadcast. I don't know a whole lot about the project, but its one more piece of progress for downtown Davenport.

I do know that the project is being done by The Alexander Company, which also did my former home the Crescent Lofts, along with the Sieg Iron lofts on 4th Street. This building completes the 3rd side of a square of buildings surrounding the parking lot that used to be owned by TriCity Electric. It will be interesting to see what kind of landscaping they do with it. The above article mentioned that it will have 18 units, and the Assessor's site hasn't yet been updated with any permits pulled for this project.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy V-Day folks. I'm always dreaming of a return to blogging, although I'm also considering switching things up and going with more of a Facebook microblog type of thing. We'll see.

What's the newest conspiracy theory that isn't making the papers?