Thursday, April 16, 2009

Worst Idea Since Pepsi Clear…

I think that charging 40.00 to have handicapped parking signs put up in front of residences is just crazy. Just when we are trying to eliminate meters downtown to make Davenport a more friendly place, we start charging a challenged population for a couple signs? This is a population that may be limited in the ability to work, and likely have prescription expenses and medical bills that make most people’s premiums look like pocket change.
According to the article in the Times, Justin and Ambrose are against this. Now, call whomever you want, your mom, book of world records, your senator, but I’m definitely with Ambrose on this one. Quite frankly, if you want to control something with handicapped parking permits, start regulating who gets them and who doesn’t. To this day it amazes me that someone has to have a parking tag, but will pay a physical therapist 600.00 an hour to walk on a treadmill. (No offense to the people that actually need them.)
I see one point with merit, that we should look at these placements every couple years to perform a needs assessment. Other than that, I think this needs to go away.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Malin and the Golden Parachute... Yes, a fantasy story come true...

I usually watch some portion of CNN or their Headline News channel during the day, and with the economy the way it is there is a myriad of discussion about bonuses and golden parachutes. It got me thinking about our own local golden parachute poster boy, Mr. Malin. I couldn’t remember the exact drama that unfolded in 2007, but I remember it being part of the foundation of my arguments that if Keith Meyer was better at communicating, we may have noticed that some of his ranting had merit. That being said, a little advanced search on the QC Times website led me to memory lane.

It seems that Mr. Malin’s contract expires in December of 2009, and I want to start the conversation now about what I think should happen in the revision of this document.

In the article ‘Malin lays out options for his possible departure’, back when the council was looking to oust him, it is clear that no matter how this guy leaves, he gets a parachute. And that parachute, is about what I would have to work between 2 and 6 years to make at my current rate of pay. The article reads:

“Although firing Malin, maintaining the status quo and opting to change the city ordinance to take power away from the manager and put it into the hands of elected officials have been discussed often, the “succession agreement” option is relatively new.
Such an agreement would require six votes to pass, and Malin’s agreement to a “graceful exit.” According to the document, that option would cost the city $156,000 — compared to the $416,000 if he’s fired or the $234,000 if his powers are stripped.”

*This, all of course, just prior to him getting a glowing performance review from the council… Who knew.

Here are the ridiculous numbers according to the document provided to the council which seem to differ from the article a little bit. (Here’s the link)
He’s Fired – 234,000
His position is changed or deleted – 416,000
And here’s the one that just pisses me off…. Administrator resigns without council control – 156,000. And wait, there’s more. He actually wrote the following statement: “… creates extraordinary impediments to future recruitments for professional staff (especially if City Administrator speaks unreservedly following separation.)” What the ?#!**!? Do I take that as, even after paying him 156,000, there’s no line in there about him keeping his pie hole shut??

With the political nature of his position and the ability of an elected body to remove him from his position, I am all for the severance package idea. But I think the package should be appropriate, and not a winning lottery ticket. I think a severance package similar to industry, like a week’s pay for each year worked, or even a months pay for each year worked, would still be far more appropriate than the fleecing of the taxpayer than what is currently in place. And I hope that there is a clause in there that in a case of blatant negligence, insubordination or illegal activity, etc., that would eliminate any compensation for termination.

And as far as leaving on your own, “making a graceful exit”, I think he should get what everyone else does. If you go to a restaurant and you eat, pay for your meal and then you leave, the restaurant doesn’t owe you a steak. Cash out your vacation, clean out your desk and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Promise and the S**tstorm...

I am glad to see promise under the rug. I wasn’t overly for or against the idea, but I think it was poorly pitched. I see where the benefits would have been, and I find it hard to believe that anyone that wasn’t college material to begin with would have anything to do with it. Oh well, I’m sure there’s other ideas out there to stimulate the economy around here, say infrastructure for example.

I am more interested in the s**tstorm that ensued before and continuing after the voting. This Mark Nelson thing just plain pisses me off. I am starting out with saying I would like to see an image of the actual document. Until then, I can’t say that it’s worth all that much heart burn. Rumor has it that both the bank and the Gills have signed off on having the document released, and it’s Mr. Nelson that has not allowed this to proceed so far. In that case I would begin to speculate that Mr. Nelson has something to hide. In fact, if the document is not eventually released, it will likely cement in my mind that the accusations are nothing but true and that this guy belongs among the likes of the other Davenport morons that appear to attempt sabotage on anything resembling progress.

My other concern is the mayor. I wasn’t sure if I was watching Mayor Gluba on TV or if it was the gaff master himself, Joe Biden. I understand that Gluba was mad, and so was I when I heard some of the allegations, but you have to be a little politically correct. That kind of riled response is part of what made the council a circus to begin with. Take a breath, stop the name calling, and stop whining. Make a case with hard evidence and move on.

The timing of the Times article to me is suspect, but I do take the follow-up by the Times in the comments at face value that they were checking facts and would have run it earlier if they could verify what the Gills were saying. Who knows. What I do know is that regardless of the timing, the content of the appraisal, or the outcome of the overall project, someone is leaving this with egg on their face.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm Back...

As I have more time on my hands, I think it’s time to fire this thing up again. I miss blogging, but my work has been crazy, especially with this economy and job cuts.

I guess I fell off the face of the blogosphere a while back because there wasn’t much to complain about. I usually only complain when there is some genuine complaining to do. There have been a few temptations, but nothing that I had an overwhelming opinion on.

Well, here it is, Pachino at it again. There have been the usual comments on the Times, mostly continued worthless drivel. However, some make sense. I would point out the 3-Strikes rule that Hamerlinck suggested be proposed at the state level. I think it truly is what we need to curb some of this crap, for lack of a better term. (Well, maybe there is a better term, I’m sure there are plenty of more colorful suggestions.)

I would like to take note at the jabs at Judge Dalton. I am completely on the fence about the church sentence. On one side, I believe that since the charge was only a misdemeanor, and she could have let him go completely, that someone who wants to be rehabilitated should have that opportunity. For example, you can’t quit smoking if you don’t want to quit. If Pachino wanted to quit being a menace, he should have the opportunity to quit and be rehabilitated. Nothing in Pachino’s history would have led the judge to believe that he wasn’t seriously willing to grow up, and to give it a try on a misdemeanor may not have been that bad of a move.

Now the flip side, which I think most people would believe in more, and that is once a menace always a menace. To let someone rehabilitate themselves is one thing, but why not supplant probation or parole with the church sentence. Granted, the sentence for the misdemeanor would have been minimal, but at least let him serve that stent, then commit to his rehabilitation. So, I can’t really fault the judge for trying rehabilitation, I just think the judge should be less lenient on someone with a rap sheet longer than my nieces Christmas list.

I have some other things to drum on over the next few weeks, so I’ll leave it at that…

Monday, May 5, 2008

3 Strikes Revisited

I am still for three strikes.

Exhibit A.

Prosecutor to request Pachino Hill’s probation be revoked

Oh, and here's to May 5th and my shortest blog post ever.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Work Smarter, Not Harder

I was always a person growing up that would be for a flood wall, much like our neighbors, to control the flooding that seems to be an annual spike in the blood pressure of public works and the media. As I get older, I see the benefit of not having that to look at all the time, and being able to see the river, despite its murky appearance. I think today was one of the best things I’ve heard in awhile, about using an alternative to sand bags. My back began hurting just watching the news with people, including some firefighters, filling sand bags downtown. Ickes, despite my being a little on the fence about her writing after the Trice shooting, wrote a good article about some floodwall technology that may be helpful. Of course, this was all vague, so off to Google I went.

I noticed there are several solutions that seem to be possible replacements for our sand bagging technology that is currently in use. Of course, I am taking this with a grain of salt, as most of the websites seem to be marketing tools which are often sugar-coated. Of the several things I saw, it seemed that one of them had some pretty in depth information, as well as studies by the Corps of Engineers in 1997. The Aqua Levee seemed to be a pretty simple solution to the problem, and comes in cheaper to buy than to be putting out sand bags. There were a couple other solutions I noticed, the Aqua Dam and the Aqua Barrier, all of which operate under the same concept. All of them are water filled devices that hold the water back. The Aqua Levee seemed to be superior to me because it has a plastic outer shell that can absorb impacts from debris, as opposed to the other devices’ unprotected water filled bladders.

I am unsure that the concern Dee has about water flow was that big of an issue, as all of the sites seem to be more concerned with depth. All of the devices come with anchoring options as well, so it would be interesting to look at some of the other data surrounding these. I am a little dismayed that we didn’t look at something like this in the past. The article seems to note that Dee pointed these items out in the past and attempted to purchase them, with little to no backing of the council to get it done. I am all for saving tax dollars, and I think this is a good idea. I think even if we have to replace these items on an occasional basis, it would still be cheaper overall than building a permanent levee.

Aqua Levee Engineering Document
Aqua Levee Video (They actually stop a river from flowing)
Aqua Dam Information
Aqua Barrier Information
QCT 4-28-08 Technology May Replace Sand Bags

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Is It All That Bad?

An article in the Times about housing starts has spawned some interesting comments. Getting past the mindless drivel is easy, to see some interesting comments about the good and bad that is Davenport.

4-6-08 Davenport Leaders Worry About Tumbling Home Starts

Every US city, regardless of region, has good and bad aspects. I currently choose to live here and rather enjoy it. The only point I see in moving away from here is the weather, and after this winter, most of you may be nodding your heads in agreement at this point.

The good…

I like being in a city that has many of the amenities of large cities without the headaches that they present. We have good shopping areas, recreation, a small touch of culture and great attractions and festivals. I can guarantee each and every person enjoys at least one event in the area every year. What we don’t have is traffic jams, minus the occasional bridge delay, a high rate of crime, over priced amenities, and most of the other problems faced by areas with high density populations.

The complaints fly, but what is there to really complain about? Is it really that bad? We complain about parking downtown. Well, I went to the University of Iowa and had to have a vehicle due to the job that I had at the time. I paid almost as much in parking as I did in tuition. At 10-15 minutes for a quarter, that was an expensive day, especially with the lack of residential parking and meter-less areas. Parking ramps are a complaint as well. To eat dinner in downtown Chicago costs over 20.00 at a parking deck. Much more expensive than anything I could imagine paying here.

Police are an issue, always complaining about how the cops don’t do what they are supposed to and are ineffective. Well, I did notice that of all of the homicides in the QC in the last couple years, it seems that the alleged inadequate DPD has had someone in custody within 48 hours. Personally, I think this is a bar that is set pretty high, and one that larger cities couldn’t reach if they wanted to.

We have excellent fire protection. If you have questions about that, ask your insurance man. Mine says we have one of the best fire ratings out there, hence a cheaper policy premium. Though I take exception to some of the rest of the city services as being in need of improvement, if you compare this again to other cities we are doing pretty well. Have you driven in Clinton, Iowa City or other areas during or shortly after a snowstorm? I would say the snow removal we have here is pretty good. Unfortunately, we have Bettendorf next to us that exceeds expectations on this one.

As far as cost, I think we are on the level with most places in the area, and certainly living a lot cheaper than other areas of the country. If you want to point to Bettendorf all the time, remember, they are the first ones to charge more. They were the first to charge a garbage fee, the first to charge for yard waste pick-up and has more city fees. And for all that, here’s what you don’t get… Bettendorf has been horribly behind on fire protection. That blew up in their face recently in the major house fire, that likely wasn’t the fire department’s fault. To have fire protection where you must rely on other cities, including Davenport, to fight a simple house fire, is not an amenity that I would like to sacrifice. I think I would rather have a little snow on my street than have to worry if the fire department could put out a fire in my home. Bettendorf, though on the surface looks to have better amenities, it is evident that they are cutting corners where Davenport does not.

The bad…

Streets. But look at a statement in the article. Bettendorf has done better on development starting in the 1970’s since the town was all new. New streets, new infrastructure, and after all, we all like new things. But look at Bettendorf now. I would argue that the streets in Bettendorf, once new and attractive to development, are deteriorating to levels that are at or worse than Davenport. The problem becomes keeping up with maintenance and replacement of deteriorating streets, especially in a region with weather that is horrible in relation to heating and freezing, rendering havoc on pavement. I think that in the very near future, Bettendorf is going to need to address the issues of their deteriorating infrastructure, just as Davenport does, causing a cutback in amenities that currently exists due to Bettendorf’s seemingly minimum expense in this area.

Crime. For the density of population, crime is a little high. But I see many positives here. The crime free housing program seems to be having an impact, at least in the public eye. It would be interesting to talk to some of the officers and see if they are seeing impact with this program at all. I know that comments have been made in relation to crime and its source being in rental housing. Hopefully the new chief, with experience in other areas of the country, will provide a vision of how some mitigation in the department can help improve efficiency and maybe even prevention strategies.

Infrastructure. I think a serious lack of good decision making in the past has led to a situation in a couple areas that are now at just short of crisis level. The sewer situation and the fact that we have a large business park along I-80 that doesn’t have the infrastructure to support it. I am hopeful that the current council has the priorities right to get some of these critical projects underway. I am not upset at the investment in Centennial Park, as it has been years of planning and countless hours of public input. There does have to be a balance between attractions and necessities. I am interested to see if the council, mayor and Malin are able to secure federal funds for some of these projects. I think that if the city gets aggressive in securing outside funding, this may come out in the end as a relatively significant win for Davenport.

So that’s what I have off the top of my head. Maybe someone can add to the list. Here is the challenge. Instead of complaints like are present on the Times. Try this. If you list a bad, also list a good. It’s worth thinking about good things on occasion.