Actually, this is Stone County, which is just south of here. Well, south of Christian County, whose line is about a mile south of Nogglestead. But close enough. From the front page of the Stone County Republican:

To be honest, I have not seen offers like that in a while. And the Nogglestead furnace is still plugging along in spite of what the “courtesy inspection” guy would indicate. So I have no need to take advantage of this offer. Hmmm…. Unless I install zoned heating and cooling. Or put on an addition that requires a separate system….

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

In News They Would Prefer You To Think Are Unrelated

The home page of the Springfield News-Leader has three headlines about Springfield Public Schools:

They include:

Given that the Attorney General / Senate Candidate Eric Schmitt has said he’ll sue school districts that impose mask mandates, their legal costs in the next year are about to go up, too.

I am sure professional educational administrators think that their actions make sense and lead to positive outcomes, but I am not sure the actual outcomes back this up.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Springfield Public Schools Continues To Crown Itself In Glory

SPS asks for at least $170,000 to search for ‘critical race theory’ records sought by Missouri lawmaker:

A local lawmaker has made an official request for Springfield Public Schools to search three years worth of email and other documents for any reference to critical race theory and 21 other “trigger” words or phrases.

State Rep. Craig Fishel filed the far-reaching Sunshine Law request in early September. The district responded to provide the cost for searching, copying and redacting an untold number of public records.

The district requested a deposit of at least $170,000 to start searching different servers. The final cost, including any copying and redaction, was expected to be higher, although the exact amount was unknown.

Fishel, a Republican from Springfield, alleged the district used “worst case scenarios to inflate the cost of fulfilling the request,” according to a press release sent Sept. 28 by the Missouri House.

Remember, gentle reader, SPS was just sued by employees over equity training and revised its public comment policy at its school board meetings.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

High Mortality Rate For Springfield Pedestrians

This sign would seem to infer Springfield motorists are killing a lot of pedestrians:

I mean, what is the other option? I guess that the pedestrian had to yield to oncoming traffic.

This is positioned where it would be visible to those turning left across a cross walk, so perhaps that is the intent: to remind drivers to yield for pedestrians who have the walk signal.

However, distracting signage is not the way I would go.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Like the Cobra Scare of 1953

Cyclists, hikers find alligator along Ozark Greenways Trail in Springfield:

Cyclists and hikers spotted an unexpected reptile along a trail in Springfield over the weekend.

Jason Stratton said he was riding his bicycle Saturday afternoon when he received text messages from his son, AJ, who was cycling just ahead of him on the South Creek Trail. The trail runs from National Avenue to Battlefield Road.

“He sends me a couple text messages saying ‘Hey, you need to come down here,'” Jason Stratton said. “And then he gives me a call, ‘No, you really need to come down here and check this out. You won’t regret it.’”

About five minutes later, Jason Stratton arrived to find his son and a couple other folks staring at what looks to be a stick in the middle of the trail.

“I’m thinking ‘Why is this of any interest at all?'” Jason Stratton said. “As soon as I got up close to it, I could tell what it was we were looking at, of course.”

It was an alligator.

Not only do we have to sometimes worry about cobra around here, but now alligators.

Although I have to say it was a pretty active alligator for winter.

And before you ask, yes, that trail does run right by my boys’ school; they run on it during cross country season all the time.

UPDATE:Here is some security camera footage of the Greenway Trail the night before last:


Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Good Book Hunting: LibraryCon 2017, August 18, 2017

This year, I made it to the little free comic/science fiction/fantasy convention that the Springfield-Greene County Library puts together.

Unlike, say, St. Louis Comic Con last year, this convention included a number of sessions and panels with authors and artists. I wanted to sit in on a couple, but as it turns out, I dragged my youngest son to it, and he was only a little invested in it. Still, we made the rounds of the tables in an hour, and I bought a couple things.

I’m a sucker for independent, self-publishers. So I got:

  • The first three volumes of the S.T.A.R. Chronicles, Empire Triumphant, Revolution, and Total War by a kid from West Plains, Joshua Clark.
  • Obsidion Son by Shayne Silvers. It looks to be an urban fantasy thing set in St. Louis. At least the main character, being a male, won’t break my heart like Anita Blake did.
  • A roll-up edition of the first three issues of a comic called Noir City.
  • The first two issues of Spectral Void, a science fiction comic that looks to be light on the writing and heavy on the art, as my youngest read both of them in the truck on the way home. Although he might not really have been reading them.

I also got for the boys a small bit of art with Spiderman and Deadpool (sorry to my comic book artist friend who hates it when people buy these) and a larger print from the artist who did Spectral Void. They also got a selection of Free Comic Book Day remainders that the Library was giving out.

You know, I enjoyed the pageantry of the convention and would have liked to sit in on those sessions as I mentioned. Perhaps I’ll make a greater effort to attend these sorts of things in the future.

Oh, and if you’re worried about me buying more comic books before completing my current goal of finishing all the others I already own, don’t worry–I only bought these three, and I’m down to a stack of about 20 New Mutants, a couple of Teen Titans, and a couple of other one-off things. So it’s not like I went and bought thirty old Battlestar Galactica issues (as I did at St. Louis Comic Con last year). I’m still on target to complete this life goal this year. Which will actually be the third–I guess you’ll have to hope for a year-end round up to see if I made it and to see what my other goals were.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

It’s A Bold Strategy, Cotton; Let’s See If It Pays Off For Them

Yesterday, we got the informational brochure for the upcoming season of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra:

Well, now.

You might wonder if perhaps the SSO is showing sympathy for the “Resistance” to the current duly elected President of the United States. Artistic types do tend to fall into the liberal camp. But Springfield, and its denizens, tend to skew a little more conservative than the people in St. Louis.

Perhaps the SSO is just trying to be topical and relevant with the unrest in the nation. However, I don’t think people are willing to presume impartiality so much these days.

I wonder if the choice of focus quietly costs the SSO support or season ticket holders. Time will tell, I suppose.

In a turn of events, the brochure arrived on the same day when a gunman opened fire on congressmen.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Today’s Top News

Ladies and gentlemen, the front page of today’s Springfield News-Leader, delivered to me by accident instead of the Barron’s I normally receive on Monday:

Headline: Cardinal Law, portrayed as protector of pedophile priests, once worked here

“Once” meaning 31 years ago.

Apparently, nothing happened in Springfield this weekend other than the paper’s columnist going to the movies.

Either that, or the newspaper’s editors somehow thought that their readers would best be served by rehashing a decades-old connection to a decade-old scandal. Or perhaps the paper just wanted to get “pedophile priests” in big print on their front page, with their columnist going through the morgue–no, sorry, it’s the newspaper archive these days, so going through the morgue isn’t as much work as spinning through microfiche, it’s running a computer search–and blatting up a column on it instead of doing any actual investigation.

This is why I no longer take the Springfield News-Leader; this is why I don’t accept one of the free copies they’re giving away at little tables in the grocery store and in the warehouse club store; and this is why I am very disappointed when I get one for free by mistake in my driveway.

Because all I’ll get out of it is a bit of fist-clenching ranting about it, and that frightens my cats.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

I’m Not The Shorting Sort, But I’d Short Simon Properties If I Were

I hit the local mall every couple of months when I have one of my vehicles serviced. The garage (who am I kidding, it’s not a garage; my Great Uncle Tony had a garage–I go to an Automotive Service Center which is a fast food restaurant of oil changery) that I use is in the out lot of the Battlefield Mall, owned by Simon Properties. I’ve been fairly impressed with the mall over the years, as it’s always been pretty busy and has had few vacancies (compared to my next-most-recent memories of Crestwood Plaza ten years ago, which was a movie theatre and a lumber showroom, or so it seemed with all the plywood on the storefronts).

Things must be changing.

I’ve noticed a couple more vacancies in the last couple of months and a whole lot of renovation, which means store turnover which might not be as bad as vacancies, but it’s not good.

Then I noticed that the lights don’t get turned on until 8:30; last year, when I got to the interior Starbucks at 8:10, the lights were all on for the mall walkers and early employees. But the lights were out and the mall was relying on natural light through the skylights for illumination. All right, I thought, someone at corporate is making small changes to save big dollars in the aggregate.

But there’s this sink in the men’s room.

Every time I’ve been into the mall since summer, the same sink has been “temporarily” out of service. Starting in May through August at least. I haven’t been back to the mall in about 2300 miles, so I’ll be back in to see if it’s been fixed yet in a couple of weeks. I’m not sanguine at this point. When I was in a couple weeks ago, the soap dispenser on the sink next to it was also broken.

It makes me feel like a detail-oriented stock analyst to dig deeply like this, to visit the locations and businesses I’m considering for buy or sell recommendations or merger and acquisition targets. Which I’m actually not, I’m just a guy using the bathroom at the mall.

But when one reads Forbes for the articles and not the pictures, one must be forgiven for framing every day experiences in terms of stock market analysis.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Springfield Gets Federal Grant To Desperately Need Tax Increase In 2019

SGF gets grant to hire 11 police officers:

The grant, about $1.3 million over a three-year period, comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program. The city must match 25 percent. After the three years, the city is expected to fund 100 percent of the added officers.

Of course, the city won’t have the money in three years, so it will need to raise taxes to cover the “free” money from the Federal government.

At which time, undoubtedly, the Federal government will have a different grant or program to add to local ongoing expenses.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Some Silver Has A Cloud Lining

Strategic Fundraising closing Springfield call center:

St. Paul, Minnesota-based Strategic Fundraising is closing its Springfield call center.

Some employees were told Thursday afternoon that they were out of a job, effective immediately. Communications Manager Jeremy Landon told the News-Leader on Friday morning that the office will be fully closed by Feb. 7.

This is a telemarketing fundraising operation: The people who call you up and will exchange decals for some charitable organization or association, and after they collect the proceeds, they give something like 15% to the organization on whose behalf they’re calling.

Believe me. I did this for the space of three weekends when I was twenty-two.

Hopefully, this is an indicator that the business model is collapsing and they’re all going out of business. More likely, though, it probably indicates they’re either moving these calls off shore or going to an automated system, which makes the whole thing even more annoying than it already is.

Still, it sucks for the employees if it was their only job. In my case, it was one of two, soon to be replaced by another job measuring car advertisements in newspapers for marketing research purposes.

And that, friends, is how I knew that my English/Philosophy degree was paying off. I was on my way.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Our Own Royko

The Springfield News-Leader has a metro columnist now. His debut is entitled “Springfield as good a place as any“. Highlights:

Springfield, in my estimation, is as good a place as any. It’s got its own drama and history. It has highlights and faults.

It has culture and religion and art. And, if you’d prefer to avoid a 15-hour flight for comparisons, you can just take my word for it.

. . . .

I’m not saying I’ll never leave Springfield, but it’s got enough to continue my curiosity, for awhile.

This piece, by way of introduction, is to explain what I’m doing as the News-Leader’s metro columnist.

I am pretty sure he’s serious.

The newspaper, meanwhile, is almost to the point of its distributors taping it to rocks and throwing it through living room windows.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Alternative Headline: Downtown Springfield About To Be Overbuilt

City Sees Private Investment Boom In Downtown Springfield:

The sights and sounds of construction are hard to miss across downtown Springfield, and city officials say that’s because private investment has hit a high.

The city’s Economic Development division put out a “Heat Map” that shows development in the Queen City of the Ozarks’ urban core has been red-hot — far more concentrated than any other part of town — since the beginning of last year.

“It does seem like ‘boomtown’ in downtown Springfield with all the construction going on everywhere,” Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith said. “This is probably the largest investment we’ve seen for maybe 100 years.”

More than $230 million dollars has been spent on downtown development. Smith said more than $125 million more is in the pipeline, as some of the city’s most iconic structures are getting complete renovations.

Hopefully, the supply for housing and retail downtown will not outstrip the demand, which could lead to boom and bust sorts of cycles that you see in St. Louis, which are not so much boom and bust as public financing and bust. That is, hopefully the people pouring private money into downtown won’t find that they’re completing projects simultaneously and are competing for the same limited number of tenants and retailers so that the prices decline, buildings go into foreclosure, and nice renovations start getting decrepit quickly.

What sometimes then happens is the government starts flinging tax dollars at developers, businesses, sports teams, and whatnot to get them to stay/build in downtown, and each major development is going to return the city to its glory days and the news stories are all positive (but the demand for housing and retail remains almost the same). When the public money dries up. the new structures fall into disrepair and disuse until such time as more public money flows….

Look, that’s the Story of St. Louis. That city has been on the verge of a major reawakening every decade or so when St. Louis Centre, the new convention center and football stadium, the renovation of Union Station, and so on. Every time the big public spending binge (including tax credit programs and advertising campaigns), there’s a blip, and then it returns to normal.

Because cities don’t grow because the capacity for growth is built. Cities grow because businesses grow there and because people move to be near those jobs. St. Louis has shed a lot of employers over the years, and cupcake shops are not going to make up form manufacturing or middle management cubicle farms. Employers in the St. Louis region have better places to go, including the county, where the cost of business is lower and the parking is free and plentiful.

Springfield is still a growing regional hub, with transportation networks centered in the city or just outside and growing medical facilities that draw people in from all over southwest Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. Additionally, lower labor costs (and no pesky income tax) There might, might be enough demand to keep it growing and to avoid the cycle St. Louis experiences. If Springfield can keep its government in check and not get in the way of the organic processes that create employment and grow cities.

But that’s a big if, and Springfield government (and Greene County government) are amusing themselves with various commissions and tax credit schemes that could very well tamp its growth in the middle and long term.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

The Bed of Nails Tax Was Not On The Ballot

Hotel Motel Tax Builds Bed of Nails at Discovery Center:

Each year visitors to Springfield pay a small tax when they stay at a hotel or motel.

Some of those dollars are earmarked for the Wonders of Wildlife museum.

And even though museum doors have been closed since 2007, taxes are still collected.

The funds collected prior to 2011 have been donated back into the community, but the money collected since then is now being split up between nonprofits in Springfield.

Each year about 300,000 dollars will be available for projects that promote tourism and education.

In 2013, the first year for this program, four local organizations received funds, including the Discovery Center.

It’s not the most comfortable bed, but it’s more for education than rest.

The newest feature at the Discovery Center is called the Bed of Nails.

When these hospitality taxes are put on the ballot, as they often are, they’re often pitched as ways to get people to visit your fair municipality. They’re not often cast as ways to soak non-residents to subsidize a selected industry and to provide fungible funds for frivolity, but that’s what they are in truth.

Do you think you could get a Bed of Nails Tax on the ballot and to pass? Of course not.

Do you think you could get this sort of tax repealed? Of course not. After all, non-residents who pay this tax don’t get to vote, and the regional chamber of commerce and hospitality trade organizations and lobbyists will be present and loud in support of it.

This ratchet so often turns but one way.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

The Governance Dilemma

The same-old, same-old budgetary woes: No easy choice in budget options to fund public safety:

To get more cops on the street, should Springfield leaders freeze raises for city employees? Should they cut funding to homeless shelters and other nonprofits?

Or should they slash a projected upgrade in insurance coverage — leaving the city open, city staffers say, to significant liability in the event of a multi-million dollar lawsuit?

Which is more important, the basic functions of government or doling out money to the politically active?

To be fair, the city manager did lay out some budgetary options that include cancelling travel for employees and stopping spending money on lobbyists who agitate on the city’s behalf in Jefferson city in addition to raising taxes and fees. Actual elected officials also proposed cutting things like the Mayor’s Commission for Children. So fiscal sanity and prioritization are not completely dead in this corner of the state.

But I’d expect the eventual solution will be another sales tax increase on the ballot to fund the core business of government while the Mayor’s Commission on Children and block grants to charities are never subject to direct voter approval.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Springfield Building Streets to Serve Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Roundabout to slow traffic for pedestrians, bicyclists:

Drivers turning onto the westbound lane of Walnut Lawn Street from National Avenue will be met with “road closed” signs through next week.

Just down the road, crews are constructing a roundabout intersection at Walnut Lawn and Maryland Avenue.

. . . .

A traffic stop was not an option for the intersection. Gugel said the roundabout was the best option for making the street safe for pedestrians and bicyclists and will allow traffic to travel “fairly uninterrupted.”

Right. It’s going to bollix travel for automobile drivers, but that’s okay. Commissions and committees have proven that people who sit on commissions and committees, not to mention the urbanist consultants putting out thousands of dollars of reports, all favor riding bikes. And urbanists who love their bikes and dog parks attend government meetings.

So the future of governments will continue to be written by people who like government. And drivers who just want to go from the Walmart to the car wash at the end of Walnut Lawn will have to go around in circles to please them.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Running on the Orwellian Ticket

Apparently, there’s a Congressional candidate running the Democratic primary for MO-7 who has a way with words:

I am not a conventional candidate. I’m a progressive conservative who believes we must build the future by honoring and learning from our past.”

Unfortunately, it’s an Orwellian way with words.

If you read his policy positions, it’s Democrat all the way down except for being a gun-rights supporter. Probably a reasonable gun rights supporter.

Now, if only he could get Claire McCaskill to run an ads calling him too conservative for Missouri to help him out in the election.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Lileks Visits Springfield (Virtually)

In today’s Bleat, James Lileks puts up a picture of the Country Club Center on Glenstone here in Springfield, but says:

I forgot to copy the town, and have only the screen grab, and the newsletter is at the office, but otherwise I have all the information you need to enjoy . . .

Here’s the sign he favors:

View Larger Map

You might remember I put up a picture of the Country Club Center in 2010.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Paging Dr. Gideon

In addition to the normal collection of relatively recent celebrity magazines, the local doctor’s office affords a bit of heavier reading:

Quite opposites, the reading selections

Some people would be offended, no doubt, much like many people who would take umbrage when grocery store clerks or garage sale purveyors ask strangers if they have a “church home.”

But for the most part, those people do not yet live in Springfield or its environs.

As a wise man once quoted, “If you don’t give a heck about the man with the Bible in his hand, just get out the way and let the gentleman do his thing.”

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories