Monday, April 27, 2009

Bathroom update

It's officially been eighteen months since this project began with some demolition, and a full year since the 2008 tax return and construction began in earnest. Progress is coming slowly but it is coming, which is more than can be said for KC's downtain renaissance. As of late I have put a lot of effort into the tedious details. I've posted some pics of a couple of nice, custom touches that are wrapped up.

First is the window casing. The interior corner trim doesn't show in this pic because it's too small. It is a corner shaped cove stacked on top of a round-over and round gives the inside jambs more polish than a simple bead of caulk. The photo does show an embellishment that was super easy to install and will really enhance the French provencial style of the room.

These faceplates are custom-made. It was difficult to find faceplates that had the right arrangement of holes and a style that goes with the rooms planned decor. Anything we found that was suitable started at $20 per plate which was outrageous! I made these by starting with the cheapest, white, plastic faceplates available, about $1 each. My wife selected a toile print fabric on clearance at Walmart that matches the style and I used a clear adhesive to glue the fabric to the faceplates. In order to give them some durability- this bathroom is mainly for the kids and guests- I sprayed them with thin layers of a high gloss finish. Once the finish visibly built up over the bumps of the fabric, I sanded between layers with 320 grit sandpaper and 600 grit before the last coat. I was very pleased with the end result, especially for the first time. In the end I think it was around $15 for the four faceplates.

Friday, April 17, 2009

TIF'd off

This is an excellent article on the failure of TIF's in KC. I don't usually agree with this guy, certainly not on big picture issues, but on this issue we are in absolute agreement. Of course I've been ranting against the TIF's for a while. I never believed they would drive a true downtown renaissance, or sustainable progress anywhere else. I have detested that most of these are awarded to out of state, much less non-local, companies. And just as was suspected, as City revenues are falling, the City is giving it's money away to enable private developers who are in turn are getting a competetive edge against local companies and driving them out. TIF's are just a small-scale, localized version of the massive Federal bailouts and wrong for all the same reasons.

It would have been far more equitable and sustainable to simply lower sales tax rates. This would have placed money in the hands of consumers instead of developers, and encouraged suburban consumers to shop in KC, instead of the other way around. Increasing the desire to buy in KC would mean that smart businesses would seek to enhance their edge by moving to KC, instead of away from it, especially the small to mid sized businesses that make life- and shopping- much more interesting (the way the Plaza used to be and the Crossroads district is). More shoppers and more buying would have meant more revenues and, on top of all this, happier citizens. We could have been happy about the flourishing of local businesses, instead of suspicious of corruption and "outsiders" coming to push out local guys and we could have been happy about a better economic position. We also could have been happy with- heck, even proud of- our local government. But far be it from our City Council members (and I use the term 'member' in the lowest sense of the word) to make a right decision when there's good money to be made in making the wrong one. Bastards.

And as a post script, these miserably implemented TIF's happen because a private developer comes along with a plan. In this plan they boast a grand picture of economic development: so many jobs will be created, so much revenue will be generated and the face of the City will be given a lift. The Ephors at the Council buy into this and move to grant special favors to the developer. But there is no follow-up and no accountability for these claims. There is very little questioning of the assumptions that go into the grandiose claims and no research on the actual impact. The developers can and will say whatever they want to seduce the self-indulgent politicos into their bed. In short, they get away with it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

TEA Party

Tonight I attended the TEA Party at the Liberty Memorial. I had no idea what to expect so I went sans family. The weather was perfect but the parking was horrible. I arrived just a few minutes after they had begun. I'm not expert on guestimating crowd sizes but I'll give it a shot and say about 4,000 people were there. It was full of families, posters, American flags as well as some Don't Tread On Me flags. Everyone seemed normal and I did not detect any KKK, Nazi or Aryan Nation types. One guy yelled something about rejecting the New World Order but he was on his way out and drew no attention anyways. There were even a few minorities there. It wasn't exactly a demographic crosss section of KC, but it wasn't pure vanilla either. It was, however, full of people that are fed up.

There were two speakers and I can't recall who they are. I've never heard of them. They did a fair job, though, of delivering nice speeches. But I felt that they lacked energy and failed to tap into the volume of frustration and anger that the crowd brought with them. I was glad that the speakers stayed away from bashing or embracing either of the two party Lizard system and the first speaker was outspoken in aknowledging God. All in all the speeches and the crowd were very subdued. Another weak point is that there was not tangible action plan or any direction on where to go from here. I guess we've had our say and now we feel better and can go back to ingoring the politicians as much as they ignore us. At least until next years budget comes up.

I wholeheartedly believe that this will be entirely unnoticed by the politicians who ignorned us in the first place. They will continue to mortgage the future, socialize the present and uphold businesses which are not viable anymore.