Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Get Out of Town: The County Courhouse Computer System

Over the course of the last two or three years, there have been a number of press releases…I mean news stories…bragging about how high-tech this state is when it comes to its computer system. I’m here to say don’t believe the hype.
This story begins around six weeks ago when I received that little reminder card concerning the license plates of the Hudsonland Jeep. Although I intended to mail in my payment to avoid visiting the county courthouse, in typical Hudson fashion I blew it off. When I realized this weekend that Tuesday was the last day for me to purchase my tags, I prepared myself for the annual misery of a lengthy line.
I showed up at at the courthouse a little after one, and the line was already halfway down to the north end of the building. Luckily, my son and mother were already there because we had another transaction so I took my place just to the left of the entrance.
Fifteen minutes later, we had not moved. A courthouse employee…I believe it may have even been the county auditor…appeared with a clipboard and announced that the computers were down and the wait could be ten minutes…or it could be over an hour. It was at this point that I started to get a bit impatient.
A few minutes later, we started to see some movement. Not much movement, however, as it was obviously smoke break time for the majority of the vehicle registration staff. Only two out of close to a dozen windows were open. Gradually, we moved forward until we were in the front of the line. Then the computers once again froze.
This time around, it took only a couple of minutes for the computer system to reboot…but they were working at the snail’s pace of a McDonald’s drive-through. We finally made our way to the counter, where the clerk informed us that this is a normal occurrence on the last couple of days of the month. With every county seat at their busiest on these days (although I have my doubts that some of those West River county seats ever see more than a person or two on their worst day) the system in Pierre just can’t keep up.
But Pierre supposedly never admits that they have a problem. The clerk explained that whenever they call about computer crashes they deny there are any problems. Well, I’ve been to Pierre. It’s a real life Fargo, the movie. Those people would never notice if their mainframes blew up and started on fire. And if it did, they would just stare at it in amazement.
“Well, Jed, what the heck should we do?”
“I don’t know, Otto. Maybe we should call that computer-fixer guy.”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just runnin’ a little hot.”
“Yeah, and Frank the computer man said he was goin’ fishin’. He told me any problems can wait until Monday.”
“I’ll just pour some water on it to cool it off.”
I begin my transaction, and when the clerk asked for my cash I whipped out my bank card. I’m not informed that they don’t take Visa or Mastercard, so for me to use my card I’d have to us it as a debit card. Unfortunately, I’ve never used it as a debit card so I have no clue as to my PIN number. I have enough cash on me, though, so I hand it over.
At this point, the computer is running so slow that I now have to wait for it to spit out my new registration. Instead of a few seconds, it takes longer to communicate with Pierre and print this out than it does for my mother and son to complete a bill of sale and title transfer. Of course, we now have to wait for that to also print.
If this was an isolated incident, I would have no reason to complain. As the famous saying goes, shit happens. I knew this would be no quick visit, and I was prepared for it, and computer do occasionally break down. But this is not something that should happen at the end of every month. Around the time that this was becoming a problem in the biggest cities in the state – Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, Watertown – there should have been some action to improve and/or upgrade the mainframe in Pierre. I guarantee you that the computer system that runs video lottery is immediately upgraded when needed.
Beyond the computer problems, there also needs to be some improvements in the staffing of the courthouse. For years, the lax staffing and multiple coffee/smoke/lunch breaks has been a running joke. I had been told that the added hours on Saturday had helped reduce the lines, but when I took my son to get his driver’s license changed from a learner’s permit to a real license last week I noticed a pretty lengthy line that afternoon. If breaks are keeping these lines closed, maybe there should be a couple extra people around to fill in these gaps. There’s no excuse for only two or three windows open when there’s a line running almost the entire length of the building.
One more quick bitch before my security team leads me safely to my vehicle. I have nothing against the YMCA’s clothing drive, but if I’ve said no to their pickup every month for the last ten years, why am I still on their list for calls? Shouldn’t somebody be purging the names of non-responsive people so that not only is my time not wasted but also their volunteers? Just a thought.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Jenna the Ipod's Memorial Weekend Selections:

1. The Decemberists, "The Sporting Life" (Picaresque)
2. Magnolia Electric Company, "Give Something Else Away Every Day" (What Comes After The Blues)
3. Bob Dylan, "Seven Days" (The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3)
4. Pavement, "Nail Clinic" (Crooked Rain Crooked Rain)
5. Joy Division, "Ceremony" (Heart And Soul)
6. The Slits, "Newtown" (Cut)
7. Bob Dylan, "Meet Me In The Morning" (Blood On The Tracks)
8. Elvis Costello & The Attractions, "Senior Service" (Armed Forces)
9. The Replacements, "Happy Town (ASD demo)" (Flowers in the Dark)
10. Beck, "Hell Yes" (Guero)
11. Seedy Gonzales, "Maddie's Day" (EP)
12. The Kinks, "Days" (The Ultimate Collection)
13. Bob Mould, "Black Sheets Of Rain" (Black Sheets Of Rain)
14. R.E.M., "7 chineSe bros." (Reckoning)
15. The Cure, "In Between Days" (The Head On The Door)
16. Magazine, "Shot By Both Sides" (No Thanks!)
17. Ryan Adams, "Harder Now That It's Over" (Gold)
18. R.E.M., "The Great Beyond" (In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003)
19. Uncle Tupelo, "Watch Me Fall [demo]" (Still Feel Gone)
20. The Cure, "The Holy Hour (Band Home Demo 9/80)" (Faith)
21. Johnny Hickman, "Little Queen Bee" (Palmhenge)
22. Camper Van Beethoven, "We Saw Jerry's Daughter" (Camper Van Beethoven)
23. Frank Black, "Pie In The Sky" (Teenager Of The Year)
24. Pinback, "Syracuse" (SummerIn Abaddon)
25. Bright Eyes, "Let's Not Shit Outselves" (Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground)
26. Echo & The Bunnymen, "What Are You Going To Do With Your Life?" (Crystal Days)
27. Radiohead, "Karma Police" (OK Computer)
28. Bright Eyes, "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)" (Digital Ash In A Digital Urn)
29. Grandpaboy, "Get A Move On" (Dead Man Shake)
30. Camper Van Beethoven, "No Flies On Us" (II & III)
31. Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (Bringing It All Back Home)
32. The Replacements, "Achin' To Be" (Shit, Shower, And Shave)
33. The Cure, "The Hanging Garden" (Pornography)
34. The Replacements, "White and Lazy" (Stink)
35. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, "Arms Aloft" (Streetcore)
36. Liz Phair, "Johnny Sunshine" (Exile in Guyville)
37. Yo La Tengo, "Big Day Coming" (Prisoners Of Love: A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs)
38. The Costello Show, "Having It All (Solo Demo)" (King Of America Bonus Disc)
39. R.E.M., "Texarkana" (Out Of Time)
40. The Pretenders, "The Wait" (No Thanks!)
41. Frank Black & The Catholics, "Bullet" (Dog In The Sand)
42. New Order, "Guilt is a Useless Emotion" (Waiting For The Sirens' Call)
43. Bob Mould, "One Good Reason" (Black Sheets Of Rain)
44. Replacements, "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" (Simply Unacceptable)
45. The Cure, "Boys Don't Cry" (Greatest Hits)
46. The Kinks, "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" (The Ultimate Collection)
47. Steve Earle, "Telephone Road" (El Corazón)
48. The Pandoras, "Something I Can't Have Demo)" (Stop Pretending)
49. M. Ward, "Silverline" (End of Amnesia)
50. Earlimart, "Hold On, Slow Down" (Treble & Tremble)
51. The Cure, "Pictures Of You" (Disintegration)
52. Bob Dylan, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (Bringing It All Back Home)
53. The Velvet Underground, "Hey Mr. Rain (Version One)" (Peel Slowly And See)
54. The Replacements, "Here Comes A Regular" (Shit, Shower, And Shave)
55. Paul Westerberg, "Crackle and Drag" (Pantages Theatre, 11/6/04)
56. The Replacements, "Love You Till Friday" (Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash
57. Echo & The Bunnymen, "Simple Stuff" (Crystal Days)
58. Mercury Rev, "In The Wilderness" (The Secret Migration)
59. Low, "Everbody's Song" (The Great Destroyer)
60. Patti Smith, "Glitter In Their Eyes" (Land)
61. Badly Drawn Boy, "Everybody's Stalking" (The Hour Of The Bewilderbeast)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Retail Service Sucks!!!

We begin today’s bitch-fest with a story. It’s New Years Eve ’95, or maybe ’94. The year doesn’t really matter. It was my year to have my kid over the holidays, so we decided to have a nice meal to celebrate before the Beavis and Butthead marathon began. We headed to Hy-Vee and stocked up on t-bones, shrimp, soft drinks…and a bit of bubbly for myself.
We’re in a bit of a hurry because the first episode of the Moron-o-thon was set for 7 p.m. Ahead of us in line was a middle-aged couple with just a handful of items. No problem, I thought. We’ll be out of here in a minute or so.
Alas, this was not the case. The old clementime ahead of me had a coupon to save a quarter on her favorite brand of aspirin. My guess is they were actually for her husband, whose defeated look reminded me of an older Al Bundy. All should have been well, except that Hy-Vee had their own sale on that particular item – buy one and get one free.
A normal person would have just put their coupon back in their pocket, wallet, or purse. Not this cow. She demanded that both sales be honored – in other words, she wanted to be paid a quarter to take that aspirin off their hands.
The pimple-faced cashier did everything he could to explain why this was not possible. This wasn’t good enough for her. He had to call a manager, and when she still didn’t get her way she demanded somebody even higher.
Finally, I had enough. I pulled out a quarter and flipped it on the conveyer belt. “You obviously need this more than I do. Take my money and hit the road, bitch.” You can imagine her response, but out of the corner of my eye I saw her husband fight back a smile. It was probably the happiest moment of his life.
I’m re-telling this story today because these sorts of situations are becoming more and more commonplace these days. At least in this example, it wasn’t the fault of the store. I’m the first to admit that I’m pretty impatient. But there are situations where I know walking into the store that things are not going to run as quickly as I desire. For example, I know that when I walk into Barnes and Noble there’s a good chance that a senior citizen will attempt to start up a lengthy conversation with the sales clerks about…well, nothing. It’s probably her only contact with another human being, so I let that one slide.
There’s also a good chance that at least one of my numerous stops at Black Sheep Coffee will see me behind a group of yuppie scum ordering foo-foo specialty drinks for their entire office. You know, like a half-skim, half-soy medium decaf mocha with lo-fat whipped cream, sprinkles, and two ice cubes. I just shake my head and deal with it.
Yet there are other situations where there is no excuse for such a wait. For example, just yesterday I visited a local electronics store for new release Tuesday. Typical for this store, there were only a couple of checkout lanes open. And typical for my luck, the guy ahead of me was purchasing something that required a ton of paperwork and a lengthy phone call to open an account with the manufacturer. Plus, he gave in to their annoying pleas to subscribe to Entertainment Weekly and/or Sport Illustrated. Jumping to another register was not an option, as there were similar transactions going on and not a single line was moving.
Finally, I escaped…but I had another stop. This time I headed to Office Max for some materials I needed at my office. There’s no reason why this visit could possibly take more than a minute or two. Fifteen minutes later, I was finally out the door. Only a couple of registers were initially in operation, and when another finally opened a half dozen people were able to jump in ahead of me. The reason for my wait? The clem ahead of me was special ordering an item, so not only did he have to fill out a couple of forms but the cashier had to find help for a couple of questions, and he had to get the order okayed by a manager…or at least that’s how it seemed to me.
These situations are not isolated incidents. Questions are not reserved for the employees that are wandering the stores – they’re asked at the register. Warranties, rebates, delivery schedules, special offers, magazine subscriptions – these items could and should be handled in other ways. I may not have a life, but my time is precious.
At least these sorts of situations can be avoided at Hy-Vee and most other grocery stores. They figured out years ago that people with a six pack of beer and potato chips shouldn’t have to wait for a heavyweight family of six to unload their carts. This concept of an express lane should be extended to other retailers. Why not have a lane just for CD’s and DVD’s at Best Buy? Why not a lane at Office Max just for those of us carrying only an item or two? How about a cigarette line at gas stations? A drinks-only register at movie theaters? A non-foo-foo drink line at coffee shops? I beg of my favorite retailers to give these ideas a few thoughts. The quicker I can get in and out of any place (other than a strip joint) the more cash I’ll drop on junk that I don’t need.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Jimmy Kimmell imitating the world's worst late night talk show host.
Posted by Hello

This will be the greatest trial of all-time!!!
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Get Outta Here Pat, Paula, and Corey

Because I missed last week’s appearance thanks to the Springsteen show, I have plenty of venom stored up. There’s so much that I could vent about – KELO’s self-created controversy over the new adult toy store, the war of words over Bush’s judicial nominees, Tom Cruise hiding his gayness by making out in public with self-professed virgin Katie Holmes. Oh yeah, and the people who loudly complain about my rants without bothering to hear or read my words.
And, of course, there’s the closing of Ellsworth Air Force Base. Obviously, that’s quite a blow to this state, particularly the western half. But please keep in mind that these are just recommended base closings, and a good number of bases on the list will never close. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s a little game being played here. I would be willing to wager money that some time in the near future something will be engineered to prove to us that John Thune certainly does have the ear of the President. Another possibility is that whoever will run against Herseth next year or Johnson in 2006 will use the issue during the campaign, and then will miraculously save the base if they’re elected.
But that is not my topic of the day. At first, I wasn’t going to bring this subject up, but it has been eating away at me for a full two weeks.
Let’s go back to the last time that I was sitting in front of this microphone. After my appearance, I put in a full day of work and headed home to relax. After my normal early evening of PTI and the previous evening’s episode of Springer, I began my nightly chore of scanning the dial.
I decided to have a true evening of white trash television, but I had no clue just how bad it was going to be. In fact, I have to say that Wednesday, May 4 will be remembered as the night that prime-time network television hit their lowest point in history.
The evening began with a meeting of the two biggest pieces of pond scum…and one of them is from Sioux Falls! Yes, I’m talking about party boy Pat O’Brien and Son of Satan Dr. Phil. How they fit their gigantic egos on my small television screen is simply a miracle.
If O’Brien really wanted to air his dirty laundry on national television he would have chosen a real journalist. Instead, Dr. Phil just threw softball after softball, not pressing O’Brien when he claimed he couldn’t remember what happened on the night he supposedly hit bottom; letting him get away with a claim that it was “just a little coke”; and completely throwing his dead mother and father under the train with the belief that he inherited his problems from her drug habit and his drinking. Please.
What’s worse, we had to endure twenty minutes of promos for his awful Insider show. We had his co-host, or reporter, or coffee fetcher (whatever) talking about what a wonderful man he is to work with. I bet Nancy O’Dell (or whatever her name is) doesn’t agree. Then we got to witness him coming back to work, and the celebration from his staff. C’mon; you know those people couldn’t wait for those cameras to be shut off.
Why was Dr. Phil selected to do the interview? It’s called network synergy. Dr. Phil is owned by Viacom; so is the Insider. The program was broadcast on CBS, also owned by Viacom. It’s win-win for those clowns, and lose-lose for journalistic standards – a term that Mr. O’Brien has obviously never heard.
Following that debacle, I decided I had nothing to lose. I actually tuned into American Idol. I knew I’d have to take a shower sometime after the Dr. Phil suckfest, so I figured I might as well get a little dirtier.
Truthfully, I was hoping that this great website, Votefortheworst.com, would continue their magic and keep this silly fat white guy who thinks he’s urban on the show. I did put the sound on mute to protect my dog’s ears from Ryan Seacrest, the Whitney Houston wannabe, the bimbo country girl, and this guy who is supposedly a rocker. C’mon, no true rocker would ever appear on this show, particularly when his so-called rock song was a Los Lonely Boys track that’s on the playlist of the muzak station next door.
Unfortunately for America, the antics of votefortheworst didn’t work this time, and the fat boy with a “phat” attitude was sent back to the trailer park he came from. I suggest that he hook up with William Hung for a duets album. That’s bound to sell at least ten copies.
My evening was not quite over, though. ABC was poised to waste an hour on Paula Abdul, and I had to witness that tragedy. I shouldn’t have wasted my time – ten minutes of material was stretched to a full hour. The so-called victim, Corey Clark, was shown time after time recording this awful song about the twit, and he also probably set a record by the number of times he ended a sentence with “you know what I’m saying”.
He probably did sleep with the twit, but who cares? It certainly didn’t deserve a full hour of television, nor should it have been the Michael Jackson-ish story of the week on all of the news channels. The quote of the week, though, came from Fox when they complained about ABC using an hour of prime time television for “tabloid trash”. Excuse me, this is the network of Greatest Police Chases, Nanny 911, and Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, let alone their silly little cable news channel.
That was my evening from hell, and after it was finally over I made a major decision. With the exception of Family Guy, I am now boycotting network television…which isn’t as tough as it sounds. I skipped the millionth Elvis miniseries, the final Raymond (I never watched any of the other 209 episodes, why would I now tune in?), the ten thousand CSI and Law and Order programs. Just give me Springer, Stern, Stewart, Kornheiser, and NBA playoffs, which should keep me entertained until the baseball all-star break.
Jenna the Ipod Presents Today's Music Selections:

1. The Cure, "Temptation Two Aka Lgtb (Robert Smith Studio Demo 7/82) (Pornography: Rarities 1981-82)
2. Doves, "Walk In The Fire" (Some Cities)
3. Jeff Tweedy, "We've Been Had" (Vic Theatre, Chicago 3/5/05)
4. The Replacements, "Po Box (PTMM 86 demo)" (Flowers in the Dark)
5. Green Day, "Letterbomb" (American Idiot)
6. Steve Wynn, "Collision Course" (What I Did After My Band Broke Up)
7. Paul Westerberg, "Lookin' Up in Heaven" (Detroit, 4/22/05)
8. Elvis Costello & The Attractions, "Clowntime is Over" (Get Happy!!)
9. The Replacements, "Never Mind" (Pleased To Meet Me)
10. Frank Black, "I Heard Ramona Sing" (Frank Black)
11. Paul Westerberg, "Alex Chilton" (Troubadour, Hollywood 9/17/96)
12. Joy Division, "Chance (Atmosphere" (Heart And Soul)
13. Paul Westerberg, "Runaway Wind" (14 Songs)
14. Son Volt, "Question" (Park West, Chicago 9/11/99)
15. John Doe, "Ready" (Forever Hasn't Happened Yet)
16. Wilco, "Kamera" (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)
17. Graham Parker & The Rumour, "I Want You Back (Alive)" (Squeezing Out Sparks & Live Sparks)
18. Bruce Springsteen, "Born To Run" (Born To Run)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sometimes Me and My Ipod Just Don't Get Along

Today, Jenna the Ipod was determined to make me listen to Ryan Adams. Jenna kept choosing him, but I just wasn't in the mood. At least eight songs in a row appeared on the screen, but I needed something a bit more rocking. Finally, I relented when a track from his most excellent new album, Cold Roses, came on.
Jenna must have felt bad about this, though, as she later provided me with plenty of Replacements tunes, culminating with three highlights in a row from Westerberg's tour, which ended last night in Orlando.

1. Ryan Adams, "How Do You Keep Love Alive" (Cold Roses)
2. Wilco, "Hotel Arizona" (Being There)
3. Green Day, "St. Jimmy" (American Idiot)
4. The Replacements, "Swingin' Party" (Tim)
5. Bruce Springsteen, "Mary Queen Of Arkansas" (Tracks)
6. The Replacements, "Favorite Thing" (Let It Be)
7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, "Talk - Action = Shit" (A Retrospective: Tepid Peppermint Wonderland)
8. Bruce Springsteen, "Give The Girl A Kiss" (Tracks)
9. The Who, "Glow Girl" (Odds & Sods)
10. Scud Mountain Boys, "Kneeling" (Dance The Night Away)
11. The Velvet Underground, "I'm Waiting For The Man" (Peel Slowly And See)
12. Pixies, "Hey" (At The BBC)
13. The Jayhawks, "Wichita" (Hollywood Town Hall)
14. Spoon, "Metal Detektor" (Series of Sneaks)
15. The Velvet Underground, "Femme Fatale" (Peel Slowly And See)
16. The Rolling Stones, "Stray Cat Blues" (Beggars Banquet)
17. The Cure, "Demise (Rhino Studio Instrumental Demo 12/81)" (Pornography: Rarities 1981-82)
18. Paul Westerberg, "Waitress in the Sky" (Ogden Theatre, Denver 3/3/05)
19. Jeff Tweedy, "Remember the Mountain Bed" (Vic Theatre, Chicago 3/4/05)
20. Neil Young, "For The Turnstiles" (On The Beach)
21. Buddy Miller, "Don't Wait" (Universal United House Of Prayer)
22. Bob Dylan, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" (Blood On The Tracks)
23. Steve Earle, "I Don't Want To Lose You Yet" (Transcendental Blues)
24. Scud Mountain Boys, "Reservoir" (Pine Box)
25. Wilco, "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)
26. X, "Big Blue House" (The Best - Make The Music Go Bang!)
27. The Replacements, "I Don't Know" (Pleased To Meet Me)
28. Whiskeytown, "Bar Lights" (Pneumonia)
29. The Jayhawks, "Sioux City" (Blue Earth)
30. Bruce Springsteen, "Nebraska" (The Essential Bruce Springsteen)
31. The Cure, "The Figurehead (Rhino Studio Demo 12/81)" (Pornography: Rarities 1981-82)
32. Paul Westerberg, "As Far As I Know" (Pantages Theatre, 11/6/04)
33. Paul Westerberg, "I Think I Love You" (Henry Fonda Theatre, LA 2/23/05)
34. Paul Westerberg, "AAA" (Ogden Theatre, Denver 3/3/05)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

This Week's Rant - Runaway Twit and Sweetheart City Dealings

Before I start with the main section of this week’s bitchfest, I have a serious plea to all of the national news networks. Please, please, please quit already on the “Runaway Bride” story. It’s not worthy of any time other than a short human interest spot at the end of a day’s recap. Instead, the same 30 seconds of footage of this freak show being escorted through the airport has been broadcast on an endless loop on all three channels, accompanied by self-professed expert after expert babbling on and on about her mental state. How do you become an expert on women fleeing an unwanted wedding?
While we’re at it, let’s also quit calling her the “Runaway Bride”. Just the fact that this is the name of one of the worst Julia Roberts movies of all time (and that’s saying something) should disqualify any sane person from using this description. Let’s come up with something original. What about “Bug Eyed Bitch”? Or let’s turn the tables and call it the “Luckiest Man in America” story? All of this just confirms my beliefs that people should not get married. I tried it once and the only good that came out of that was my kid.
One good thing has come out of this story…or at least I hope so. When the story first surfaced last week, everybody was ready to hang this poor bastard. All men are evil was the underlying current of these reports, so this guy must have killed his bride-to-be. Hell, I would not have allowed a polygraph, either. These channels were hung by their own guilty-before-tried mentality, and if there is any self-analysis of their conduct they will have to change their ways. Yeah, right.
Ok, on to the main topic. There’s a certain business ownership group that run a number of successful restaurants in our fine city. They run wonderful eateries – a number of them make appearances on my Best of Sioux Falls section of my website (http://scotthudson.20m.com).
A few years ago, these fine folks ventured to the west side of town for an old-fashioned sort of restaurant. While it was a great place, this establishment didn’t perform as well as expected (which is actually quite typical of this overrated, over-developed section of town). After a couple of years, they closed down. Don’t feel bad for them, however, as they reportedly re-sold the property for close to seven figures.
I have a feeling, however, that this situation ate away at these folks. Like Bob Dylan once sang, “there’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all”. A couple of months ago, they announced plans to bring this restaurant back to life, located on a prime spot of city-owned land.
At first, this situation didn’t bother me. I was happy to see it come back. But rumors started to fly about a sweetheart deal that allows them to pay nominal rent – some rumors placed the rent as low as a thousand bucks a month.
Now I’m no real estate agent, but thanks to my family business I have some idea as to typical rents for commercial real estate. The very minimum would have to be around five thousand, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar piece of property go for close to ten thousand.
Knowing this information, I figured these rumors had to be false. There’s no way that under the current climate of close scrutiny of city finances that our elected officials would cut such a sweetheart deal to a city insider. So I put the question up to a friendly face with an office in City Hall.
This person confirmed that a sweetheart deal was reached with these folks, although the figure of a thousand a month was a little low. Believe it or not, I have no problem with the restaurant owners agreeing to such a deal. Hell, I’d take it a minute myself…and that’s the problem. I’m not going to get such an offer, nor is anybody besides a select few city faves, and I’m sure they’ve all received quite a few similar deals that we’ll never hear about.
My contact added that the reasoning behind this low rent was based on the income that location was currently receiving from monthly parking rentals. At approximately fifty buck a month, the city was taking in just over a thousand bucks a month. If the city’s not losing any money, why not rent this land for the same amount?
Here’s what should be the official policy for these sorts of deals. The city should either open these spots for bids (with plenty of contractual covenants to ensure that some fly-by-night operations don’t result in an undesirable winner) or at the very least have a fair market value determined by a unbiased appraiser. When it comes to dealing with the government, there should never be even the slightest appearance of ill conduct.
On a related note, if there’s more than enough downtown parking that we can rid the busiest section of the area of 50 prime spots, why are we also building a new lot three blocks away at the former site of Acme? Isn’t there enough empty spots in the ramp built where the Pomp Room used to be? I just don’t see the need except for the handful of times per year where the entire downtown is closed for bikers, Germans, pseudo-Irish, and other ethnic parties? And judging by the amount of beer sold at these events, they should all be leaving their vehicles at home.
Tiring Tuesday Ipod Mix:

1. Guided By Voices, "Glad Girls" (Human Amusements at Hourly Rates)
2. Bob Dylan, "I Want You" (Blonde On Blonde)
3. Pixies, "There Goes My Gun" (At The BBC)
4. Hole, "Rock Star" (Live Through This)
5. The Replacements, "Another Girl, Another Planet" (Shit, Shower, And Shave)
6. R.E.M., "Leaving New York" (Around The Sun)
7. Joy Division, "Colony" (Heart And Soul)
8. Wilco, "Pick Up The Change" (A.M.)
9. Liz Phair, "Never Said" (Exile in Guyville)
10. Elliott Smith, "Alameda" (Either/Or)
11. Eels, "Losing Streak" (Blinking Lights and Other Revelations)
12. Supersuckers, "Gato Negro" (Devil's Food)
13. Paul Westerberg, "Once Around The Weekend" (Eventually)
14. Jeff Tweedy, "Not For the Season" (Vic Theatre, Chicago 3/4/05)
15. Supersuckers, "Kid's Got It Comin'" (Devil's Food)
16. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, "Straight To You" (The Best Of)
17. The Who, "Substitute (Live)" (Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B)
18. Jay Farrar, "Barstow" (Sebastopol)
19. Bruce Springsteen, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find (Pittsburgh)" (Tracks)
20. The Moaners, "Oh Christy" (Dark Snack)
21. The Smiths, "This Charming Man" (Hatful Of Hollow)
22. Elvis Costello, "Glitter Gulch" (King Of America)