Friday Catsup

Haven’t been blogging much this week. But it’s Friday,and I feel obliged to catch up.

Here’s my take on five big things happening this week.

1. Obama — I resisted and resisted writing about Obama’s race speech, mostly because nobody cares what a sheltered vanilla Midwesterner like me thinks. I know the polling looks bad, but I think, in the long run, he probably saved his campaign. If he wins the White House, which I still have this odd feeling he will, we’ll look back to that day in Philly. (Same goes if he loses) It was a landmark moment in American politics, and  most of the people belittling it or condemning it are either among his pre-existing critics or they’re conservative hacks who’ve made their professional way claiming racism is a figment of Al Sharpton’s imagination. It still may not work. But it took guts, and that alone is an accomplishment in one of the most gutless periods in American political history.

That’s it, nothing special. Now I’ll go back to wondering when I should apply crabgrass preventer to my suburban lawn.

2. Disunion at the Steakhouse – I frankly don’t care that much whether the Legislature expands the scope of collective bargaining for public employees. I understand the arguments on all sides. Yes it is a Democratic giveaway to the party’s union buddies. Yes, it may lead to bigger settlements and higher taxes. And yes, I do not feel much sympathy for school boards and others who now have to crack heads in negotiations just like private sector bosses. It’s been 30 years. Time to take the training wheels off.

What I don’t like is the shady way Dems have tried to jam this through the General Assembly like they’re sneaking a trunk-load of frat boys into a drive-in movie. This is a big deal and Iowans should have been given more time to weigh in. But I know how the Statehouse works, and I know the GOP pulled this same crap when it was in control. All’s fair in love and war and Steakhouse sausage-making.

3. One way, two way, no way — The CR City Council is talking about making current one-ways Fourth and Fifth avenues SE into two-way streets downtown. There are also ideas floating around for making room for sidewalk cafes, bike lanes and diagonal back-in parking. A couple folks who called me this morning had little good to say about the whole thing.

I understand why leaders want to spruce up downtown, but the timing was probably bad. Hearing about downtown street improvements while they bounce along their own street-turned-moonscape doesn’t sit well. People are in a foul March mood, and when you start talking about spending bucks to make room for sidewalk cafes, they tend to frown. And hey, I love Al Fresco. Good guy.

I lived with diagonal back-in parking in Des Moines and am not a fan. One caller also wondered what happens if they need to pile snow in the middle of a street with diagonal parking slots. Good question.

4. Smoking ban — I’ve pretty much said my piece on this issue. I think local business owners should make the call. If not them, at least their locally elected city council members. But right now the smart money is on a statewide ban that exempts our precious casinos. So be it. The times are a changing.

5. Drake — I don’t hold any grudge against them for waiting until the moment I left central Iowa to finally break through. As I write this they’re behind at halftime and its looking like the wheels may finally fall off the bandwagon. They may come back, but even if they don’t, it was a great ride.

Happy Easter, or equinox or whatever you’re celebrating.

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