Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Facebook Frustrations and Condo Dreams

In many ways, the rise of news site comments and Facebook contributed to the decline of local blogging. Even in the height of the QC blogosphere, however, and even with the crazy comments this blog used to get, I always felt like the blog comments were better than the comments on the newspaper websites. One of the arguments back then was always whether or not to allow fully anonymous comments, which certainly has its pros and cons. Many insisted that the quality of comments would go up if people were forced to use a consistent screenname, or even their own real name. I opted to continue allowing anonymous comments, which is still true today, because I felt it allowed more insider info that people would have felt uncomfortable logging in to post.

Now, over 10 years after the launch of QuadCityImages, Facebook has proven that no matter how much peoples' identities are revealed, they will still say incredibly stupid things. I won't even get into the current national political scene, but locally, I've spent far too much time trying to argue with people on Facebook who seem to have no grasp of reality. This post on KWQC's Facebook page is a perfect example. The news story posted was essentially a reminder of old news, regarding the 400 River project, but over a hundred comments poured in about how stupid people felt the proposed condo building was. Here are some examples, with names removed so as not to embarrass them further.

The comments ranged from those above, doubting that anyone would want to live downtown, or not understanding that some people in the QC can actually afford $500k+ homes, to people with no concept of how capitalism or city planning work whatsoever. Stuff like wondering why "they" don't build "affordable housing" instead. Over the years I've learned that a lot of people seem to think the city just plunks down businesses, factories, and homes like they're building a Lego city. I'm sure many of those commenting would be shocked to find out the going rate of apartments in the newer market-rate downtown apartment buildings, as it wouldn't fit into their stuck-in-the-1980's view of Davenport.

All that said, the 400 River condos may well not happen. Even if there are 36 people who are willing to spend $465k and up for the units, they may read the kind of garbage above and worry about their chances to resell them in the future. I am extremely hopeful that the building is built as planned, because it looks great, it would be the biggest skyline-changer since the Figge, and also a slap in the face to all the people underestimating downtown Davenport over the last decade. I applaud longtime downtown (and QCI reader) JJ Condon and his partners for having the vision to put something bold on the table. Now let's hope they can make it happen.

If it doesn't work out, there's always a $695k condo still available in Kone Center.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Where in the QC is this? #20

Bringing this feature back again. Where in the Quad Cities was this taken? Since there aren't that many readers here, I'll also be posting it over on Facebook.

The Answer?

Finally, the Clayton House/Best Western/Clarion/Hojo/eyesore will be history starting Wednesday at 11am.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

2015 City Election Thoughts

It's election day in Davenport, and we've actually got some excitement this year. There are a lot of good candidates running in a number of wards, and also, Phil Yerington! But seriously, here are my semi-rambling thoughts on some of the races in Davenport.

Topping the list is the closest battle for Mayor in years. It's one of 2 votes I'll have to make today that I've really struggled to decide on. In general, I've been pleased with Mayor Gluba's performance over the years. I didn't even have a problem with his 2 vetoes, as I've lost patience with St. Ambrose's misplaced suburban sprawl model of central city development, and the Dock proposal could have indeed used some added protections for the city. However, as I posted back in June, Gluba has been acting increasingly erratic in some of his leadership. The final straw, in my opinion, was his sudden and unilateral request for Craig Malin to resign over mistakes with the casino/Elmore contract. If Gluba wanted Malin to resign, he should have put forth his resignation at the same time, as his was the only signature on that casino agreement.
On the other hand, Frank Klipsch has done a lot of good with the Y over the years, but is running as a bit too much of a Republican in our non-partisan city election. In the excellent WQPT discussion with the Mayoral candidates, Klipsh says "City government should not be involved in owning and operating entities that could, in fact, be done by the private sector." My first thoughts were some snarky things along the lines of "Like opening partially-taxpayer-funded YMCA's attached to North and West High Schools?" I'm not sure where the line is. Davenport is in need of new revenue streams, and there are only so many places to create them. While I can understand folks' opinion that the city shouldn't get involved in new "business" areas, I don't always agree with it. Dubuque has shown the a city owned casino can work, and I will always believe Davenport missed a huge chance to have a Restoration St. Louis-quality casino downtown. Instead, "the private sector," potentially interested in protecting their Riverside Casino profits, is building a casino that will leave Davenport still in 3rd place in the QC casino competition on Opening Day. I do, however, like Klipsch's ideas for the riverfront better than Gluba's crazy skybridge restaurant idea.
It's a tough choice, but I'm leaning towards voting against Gluba's recent unpredictability.

This is another interesting race, and difficult choice for me personally. I would love to have Barnhill, Gordon, and Gripp all on the city council, but that's not possible since Barney chose to run for At-Large. I'll probably go with Gordon and Gripp, despite the latter's lack of consideration of the benefits of a publicly-owned casino. He's far from alone on that front. Hopefully Alderman Barnhill can get some kind of recognition for his years of service on the city council if he is defeated. One thing I'm curious about, with 3 "mainstream" candidates for At-Large, is whether that voting block could be split to the point where Phil Yerington can pull in enough naysayer votes to make it onto the council. That would certainly bring back some unneeded excitement to the council chambers.

1st Ward
Rick Dunn has always been awesome for the 1st Ward, especially back when they lacked competent representation of the Council. I can certainly see why he's not opposed, because while I may not agree with some of his opinions, he does a great job of representing his ward.

2nd Ward
Bill Edmonds is quite a character, but I can't say I'd be too sad to see him off the council. I don't know enough about Maria Dickmann to form much of an opinion of her as a potential council member, but I suspect Edmonds will be reelected anyway.

3rd Ward
I've supported Bill Boom in every election, and this will be no different. He represents the 3rd Ward well, and has been a huge, huge supporter of downtown Davenport.

4th Ward
I feel like Alderman Ambrose has been saying less crazy stuff in the last few years, but maybe I'm just not paying as much attention. David Sodemann spoke briefly at a Hilltop meeting I attended, and he seems like he'd bring some new ideas to the Council. I don't think the 4th Ward is particularly demanding a change though, so again, the incumbent will probably win.

5th Ward
It was a tough choice between Sheilia Burrage and Barney Barnhill back in 2013 for my 5th Ward vote, but this year Barney has simplified that by running for a different job. Rita Rawson has been involved in city politics for years, but I was quite pleased with Alderwoman Burrage's performance as 5th Ward's representative in the past, so I hope she can pick up where she left off.

6th Ward
Jeff Justin has been a great guy to have on the council, and seems to represent the 6th Ward perfectly. That probably explains why no one chose to run against him. He also actually responds to emails!

7th Ward
Looks like Mike Matson will continue to represent the 7th Ward.

8th Ward
And finally, the 8th Ward. I don't know much of anything about Bob Babcock, but Kerri Tomkins hasn't overly impressed me on the council, especially her attempts to kill various downtown riverfront amenities. I suppose it doesn't hurt to have someone on the Council keeping the pro-Downtown folks honest.

That's it folks. I may not post often, but I sometimes make up for it by writing 1000-word essays at the last minute. The most important thing, of course, is to exercise your rights and vote for your local representation. As I always say, if you don't vote, don't complain about what you end up with!

Find your precinct here, if you don't already know it.