Coming Soon: A Tax on Dining in Lincoln?

July 29, 2009

About a month ago I had an extensive discussion with City Finance Director Don Herz to try and get as much information as I could about how the arena financing plan will look assuming IMG/ISG gets on board in the coming weeks.

After that conversation, I came away fairly impressed that the stated plan appeared to cost citizens of Lincoln nearly nothing, given that the majority of the funding would be through ISG supplemented with state-approved turnback of sales tax along with occupation taxes on out-of-towners via hotel rooms and rental cars.

Today, I found what some might describe as the first chink in the armor in the arena financing plan.  As I asked the Mayor today if there would be any other “out of the blue” funding sources, he mentioned that he believed a city-wide restaurant tax would be necessary (audio here). 

Part of me thought the appearance that Lincolnites were shouldering almost none of the arena cost was too good to be true, and it looks like that will turn out to be the case.  What does this mean for the arena vote still tentatively scheduled for next Spring?  This city’s collective mood would indicate that it is certainly not ripe for taxation, but the equivalent of a ‘user fee’ on dining out?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I still hope my days of walking what feels like four miles to park at Nebraska basketball games are numbered.


Fantasy “O” Street – Part II: 27th to 48th

July 24, 2009

We continue down America’s longest main street with the heart of “O”, the stretch between 27th and 48th.  This stretch really shows the difference between new and old Lincoln as the city goes from it’s outskirts to its inner-city and downtown.

At the same time, this is also a difficult stretch to map out.  As you will see, there are a number of businesses and building omitted from my map.  This is where I could use your help.  While some things (like Wyuka Cemetery) have been here since the beginning, many other lots have changed their look several times.  If there is something that needs to be added or changed, in your opinion, send me an e-mail or comment below.

GREEN - exisiting business; YELLOW - changes to existing O Street.  There's plenty that didn't make the map - comment below if one of your favorites is missing.

GREEN - exisiting business; YELLOW - changes to existing O Street. There's plenty that didn't make the map - comment below if one of your favorites is missing.

Coming next: the most difficult stretch – Downtown Lincoln.  This promises to look really different in fantasyland.

Fantasy “O” Street – Part I: 48th to 84th

July 22, 2009

WOW!  What a conversation we had Wednesday morning about Fantasy “O” Street.  Hopefully, you got to participate or at least hear it (Segment 1)  (Segment 2).  If not, we continue the discussion over here.

With that said, I have created an initial mockup of what Fantasy “O” Street would look like based on Jack and my thoughts as well as your suggestions.  THESE ARE NOT FINAL.  So don’t dispair if your favorite “O” Street icon is not included.  Also, I cannot totally verify accuracy of the location of all of these businesses.  So please offer comment below or e-mail to the Cartridge World inbox and I can make the necessary corrections.


GREEN - existing business; YELLOW - changes to existing O Street

GREEN - existing business; YELLOW - changes to existing O Street

GREEN - existing business; YELLOW - changes to current O Street

GREEN - existing business; YELLOW - changes to current O Street

GREEN - existing business; YELLOW - changes to current O Street

GREEN - existing business; YELLOW - changes to current O Street

This is a pretty intense little graphic project, so Part II (27th to 48th) and Part III (downtown) are still to come.  After the first trilogy, I’ll get with George Lucas to see if we go into the prequel, Part IV (West O).

Watch the Creation of…a Head.

July 20, 2009

The Parks & Rec department has included a link on their website to allow users to watch arist James Tyler create the giant head that will be gracing Lincoln’s Union Plaza, providing aesthetic value and also somehow paying tribute to Nebraska’s groundwater resources. 

Note:  he appears to be working again right now (3:43 CST).

Vegas rips Lincoln

July 16, 2009

Watch it till the end.  Ouch.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire, Part LXXXVII

July 15, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to think that controversies surrounding Lincoln Fire & Rescue were over……(you finish the line.)

Here’s the full story.  The bottom line is this:  the city’s contract with the firefighters demands that 76 firefighters be on duty at all times.  When the stipulation was negotiated and voted on by the council last year, they did so under the notion that we were already at those staffing levels and the stipulation would cost no extra money.  Ooops, somebody screwed up….it’s going to cost us $300,000 this year and God only knows how much more every other year.

Today (Wednesday) with Coby on vacation, Jack and I are “taking over” the afternoon show.  Oh boy, I bet Coby wishes he could be on the air.  He and LIBA were dead set against this stipulation.  So too were councilmen Jon Camp and John Spatz who voted against it.  Spatz told us this morning that the financial information the council receives for these kind of things comes from the personnel department.  The fire union says “blame the administration.”  Fire Chief Niles Ford says “we had incorrect data.”

It is up to Jack and I to get to the bottom of this coming up at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.  Oh, joy!

Anytime a fire department controversy arises, I get ticked off and Jack gets indifferent.  It’s just a matter of perspective.  I have been covering this kind of crap for-seemingly-ever.  And as long as there is a firetruck there when Jack starts a fire with his gas grill, he’s happy.  Jack will have his hands full keeping me from spouting off things like this….

From now on all fire truck sirens should be replaced with “Yakity Sax” (otherwise known as the theme of “The Benny Hill Show.”

LFR Controversy:  The joke’s not funny anymore!

Should we say goodbye to Pershing…no matter what?

July 13, 2009

Last month, we shook our heads a little when the city council had to throw Pershing Center a $150,000 lifeline on top of the roughly half a million dollar annual subsidy it already provides.  So it should have been no surprise when we read this weekend about how much difficulty the venue is having turning any profits.  Apparently, so far in 2009 there hasn’t been one touring “major” concert interested in stopping at Pershing.  Plus, even when events do come to town, no one wants to spend any money on food or beer because the concourses are so small that waiting in line is even more unpleasant than usual.

So, we all understand the city will dispose of Pershing if we’re getting a new arena, but that’s far from a done deal.  What if we reject the arena next Spring?  Presumably, in that scenario, State Basketball would also soon be on the way out of Lincoln, rendering the venue even less useful. 

If the new arena is rejected, is there any reason to keep this place open, spend at least a half million (plus future bailouts as maintenance costs increase) of increasingly valuable and rare city revenue to subsidize it, all so we can bring in roller skating championships every other year?  I’m not sure the benefit of keeping Pershing running outweighs the cost, and that says nothing about the fact that perhaps a rejected arena initiative would signal sentiment that the majority of Lincolites are fine with Omaha satisfying all our needs for concerts and other large-scale entertainment events. 

In any case, we’ll take this discussion up tomorrow with Wendy Birdsall from  the Chamber at 7:20 and we’ll also take your thoughts as well.