Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hail! Hail! The Gang Is NOT Here

Here we go again.

Today's news brings us the report that Jeanne Gang has completed her work for the Webbs.  She has been paid and the euphoria, that swept through Lexington back in July, has given way to the gray clouds of the approaching Winter season.  Many will obviously blame the stuffy, old conservatives of our city for rejecting the "bold" and "innovative" thinking of a Chicago architect, but others will again sigh a brief breath that maybe common sense is returning to downtown development.  I wonder if we will get what downtown Lexington needs or what a number of folks (without  a financial stake in it) feel would be good for our urban area.

I remember the royal flap that went on over the "boiler plate" economic study draft that was presented which appeared to be a cut and paste job applicable to many mid-sized cities, yet we still hear of a desire for a boutique hotel and enhanced art and entertainment offerings which could keep us on par with Louisville or Cincinnati.  I guess that the Gratz Park Inn does not count on the one hand and the literal explosion of downtown activity which has transpired since the demise of The Dame on the other.

There are people who follow the trends of the convention business and I guess that they see a need for more space in Lexington, even if you or I do not.  Mrs. Sweeper has even told me that we don't have that many conventions here, but I think that she is missing the weekly notices that the Herald-Leader lists each Monday.  She may also be considering a group of 300-400 to be less than a "convention".  I keep seeing good sized groups of folks leaving the Lexington Center wearing name badges and carrying he obligatory satchel or backpack full of goodies, so we do have a fairly steady flow of conventioneers coming to town.  Do we need more room for larger conventions, I have no idea.

I took a good long look at the sign which has stood on the block for well over a year and noticed that the J.W. Marriott name is still proudly displayed there.  They seem to think that it was an excellent idea back then and I doubt that they have changed their minds for the long haul, though there may be some blips in the short term.  I also do not see Dudley coercing them into something just so another bland building can rise from the rich limestone soil. (I think that the limestone richness was wrested from that location nearly 200 hundred years ago.)

The sad part of all of this is the fate of the four other architecture firms who were chosen to participate in the lesser structures.  They were going to bring some fresh, new ideas to the streetscape.  We will be left with just one firm who, no doubt, will continue to spread their "signature" style across the urban landscape.  The EOP style is distinctive and readily recognizable, whether it be an artistic bus stop, a downtown condo block or a satellite facility of a mega church.  Much like the often used (some say overused) model of the elementary schools of the '70s from Johnson/Romanowitz, we may find that their style will appear dated sometime in the near future.

So, here we are, back at nearly the same spot which we found ourselves just about a year ago.  Still waiting for an acceptable design and financing (I still think that it is a sure thing) and excavation to begin.  The Gang gang is gone and the Mayor is embroiled in some serious situations at City Hall.  We hear that the economy is improving, but I cannot prove that from my bank account.  Downtown is looking better but there is still much to do.

Maybe, in a few weeks, we will have another wave of euphoria to get us through the winter.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

If They Can Create Jobs, Let Them Start Now

I voted for the first time in 1968.  I guess that you can do the math but I've been voting for a long time.

For as long as I can remember, the candidates have always been saying what they will do for the American public once they get into office.  I have voted for some strictly on that basis and, like the majority of you, I have been disappointed on more than one occasion.  Many times it was that I was wanting a different direction than the majority.  Sometimes, the winner just did not do what he promised and others, the victor was hampered at every step by the opposite party.  My greatest disappointments come when they just can't get the job done.

This year, in both the gubernatorial and presidential campaigns, our candidates seem to be finding more flaws with their opponent/s than actually solving the problems at hand. In last night's presidential debate, all of the speakers told of their grandiose plans to right the government, create jobs and lower taxes, all without losing any of the gains in our American lifestyle or costing anyone any more money.

Multiple strategies and multiple directions which arrive at the same point, low unemployment and good, high paying jobs.(i.e. full recovery from this recession).  I would think that most economists think that this can not be done but economists are not running for President.

These debates serve the function of job interviews and allow the candidates to showcase their qualifications and accomplishments.  It is too bad that they gloss over he details of how and focus on the broad statements of a job well done while leaving out the facts to support them.  One thing that they all agree on is that we need to get Americans back to work, paying taxes and growing the economy.  It just has to happen AFTER they get into office.  The Obama administration cannot get any of the credit for any job creation.

I have been on both sides of job interviews before and have always been more impressed by the ones who had really done something lately and not he ones resting on way past performances.  

Since the election is still over a year away and we need the jobs right now, maybe we should make part of the contest a real race to see which one will create the most jobs in the next 12 months.  They each have a plan which they will be allowed to implement but only if the follow the same rules. They can not use public funds of any kind, they can not use tax breaks or incentives to lure jobs and they can not poach existing jobs from other areas in the U.S.  The end result should be an unemployment rate of  less than 5%.  The candidate with the highest total of jobs to which he can be directly linked by the end of October 2012 should be declared the winner by acclamation.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Help Preserve Our Food Freedom

The government is well on its way to taking away another of your fundamental rights. Soon, you may not have the right to enter into a legally binding contract with just anyone for the reasons of your mutual agreement. You may have to get a governmental agency to allow you to do so.

Last month, a Dane County, Wisconsin Circuit Court judge ruled that people in Wisconsin do NOT have the right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd. That is ludicrous on its very face.

Wisconsin has long been known as “America's Dairyland” and so much so that it has been emblazoned on their license plates for years. The locals up there are known as “cheeseheads” because of all the dairy products. But these people are now being told that they have no right to sell the milk that they obtain from all the vast dairy herds in that state. Since corporations are now classified as “people”, even they do not have the basic right to use cow's milk as they see fit.

Throughout history and particularly American history, we have been told that the pioneers went west with their families and their animals to settle the frontier. Cows milk was a very staple of that trek since there were no local grocery there at the time. Little did they know that they were breaking the law of a state yet to exist.

The Court also ruled that having a private contract does not fall outside the the scope of the States' police power and therefore the State can tell you that any contract is “null and void” in its entirety or in part. Does this sound like a State where you would like to live?

Finally, the Court ruled that the DATCP [Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection] . . . had jurisdiction to regulate the Zinniker Plaintiffs' conduct. This appears to be the same direction that the FDA is heading on the national level.

This is not just a Wisconsin problem nor is it solely related to raw milk, this is about food freedom and food security. With poor economic times upon us and likely to get worse we must all now plan for our food safety and security. I think that leaving food safety to the large agri-businesses will make us more susceptible to the massive food recalls which have populated ti news of late. These recalls have only grown larger and more frequent with the consolidations of the mega farms concept and the agricultural lobbying done by a select few corporations.

This is why I now urge you to support HR 1830 currently making its way through the House. I may not agree with all that Ron Paul advocates but this is one that we all need to back. The key points of this bill are:
  • We believe that there is a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of our choice including raw milk.
  • We believe the federal ban against transporting raw milk for human consumption across state lines is a violation of our rights.
  • We should be free to obtain raw milk from sources outside our own states' borders.
  • We demand the termination of an unjust law that interferes with the exercise of our legal right to consume raw milk.
  • We support passage of HR 1830 into law - a bill that would effectively end the interstate ban.
If you agree with me, please sign the online petition to support HR1830. Go to and then help spread the word. I think that our food future depends on it.