DMPerspective's blog

It is my hope that Barack Obama is elected to the office of President of the United States. It appears at this time to be the likely result. As the next President, Obama will inherit a stinking putrid mess:

  • Our military is stretched to the breaking point prosecuting two wars without definable "win" goals.
  • Years of deregulation have created a financial system best described as a foggy swamp. Nobody knows which direction the exit is located.
  • Millions of Americans are without health insurance, many of them children. Those that have health insurance see their premiums rise by double-digits every year.
  • Many of our cities struggle to provide basic services, education, police, and fire protection to increasingly poor populations.
  • Increasing economic and cultural segregation have lead to a polarized country, half "other" and the other half consumed by fear of "other" - terrorists, Muslims, Black people, Mexicans, welfare cheats, poor people, anti-Semites, socialists, Marxists, Arabs, Indians, community organizers...

Unfortunately, in his desire to win, John McCain is drawing on a politics of division to make his case. He has passed the point of "Country First" and proceed on to a new strategy of "Win at All Costs".

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I stay on top of a lot of progressive architecture blogs. For my money (time), Progressive Reactionary is one of the best. The most recent blog post over there says in much better words than I could why Barack Obama is the right option for people who are interested in urbanism and urban revitalization.

A key quote:

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The Des Moines Register has endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. No doubt, those predisposed to believing that the media are uniformly "librul", will play down the steady drip-drip of high profile endorsements falling to Obama.

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Vote for Obama - Iraq

19 Oct 2008

Every election is important, from school board to county supervisor, from local ballot initiatives to the quadrennial circus of the presidential election. This one is no exception.

On each of the most pressing issues facing this country today, there is a clear choice between candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

This is the first in a series of blog posts detailing why Barack Obama is the candidate best suited to lead this country through the next four years. They are guaranteed to be tumultuous. It will require a steady, thoughtful, and charismatic leader like Barack Obama to navigate us through these treacherous waters.

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Victorian Home in Danger of Demolition: This home is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list and may be demolished if deficiencies are not corrected in a timely manner.Victorian Home in Danger of Demolition: This home is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list and may be demolished if deficiencies are not corrected in a timely manner.A charred Sherman Hill mansion and a former one-room schoolhouse have been named among “Des Moines Seven Most Endangered Buildings” by the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. Over the period of about a month, the Club received nominations from the public for buildings, homes, and other structures within the City of Des Moines in danger of demolition or neglect. The resulting list will help raise awareness of endangered structures in Des Moines and promote opportunities for rehabilitating them.

In no particular order, the following have been selected as “Des Moines Seven Most Endangered Buildings”. Visit for more information and photos of the buildings.

  • 692 17th Street, Sherman Hill neighborhood.
  • East Woodlawn School, 2930 Euclid Avenue.
  • 1910 Officer’s Quarters, Fort Des Moines.
  • Kingsway Cathedral Church, 901 19th Street.
  • Roadside Settlement House, 620 Scott Avenue.
  • Gas Station, 203 E. Grand.
  • 1021 26th Street.

The last one on this list is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list. Being listed as a public nuisance is technically a legal action, and subjects the owner to fines if the deficiencies are not corrected. Ultimately, if the items listed on the public nuisance action are not remedied, the structure may be demolished by the City.

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Republican Polk County Supervisor Bob Brownell is building a significant online presence including:

According to his Linked-In page, Brownell's interests are: homelessness, affordable housing, economic development, lead paint poisoning and bureaucracies. As a Supervisor, and as a Board Member of Neighborhood Finance Corporation, he has demonstrated his understanding that a strong urban core is critical to a healthy region.

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Scenic Vista Drive: From Google Street ViewScenic Vista Drive: From Google Street ViewThe West Des Moines City Council placed itself in citizens' living rooms this evening when it adopted an ordinance dictating that no more than three "unrelated" adults may live in a single-family home.

People most likely to be affected:

  • Same-sex couples
  • Immigrants
  • Non-traditional families
  • Economically struggling families
  • Young homeowners

Ordinances like this have not-so-hidden racial and economic undertones. While Iowa courts have found other cities' attempts constitutional, that doesn't make it right.

There are legitimate reasons to restrict the number of people who may reside in a house: building codes already have standards regarding how many people can safely inhabit a dwelling unit. The number of people has nothing to do with the relationship between the residents. A good example of this is same-sex couples, who are currently not recognized by the State as being related. Regardless of what the politicians say, this legislation is intended to restrict the types of people who can live in West Des Moines.

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My job takes me downtown every so often for a variety of reasons. I don't typically like to park in garages, but sometimes circumstances warrant it.

Inaccessible Curb at Elevator - 7th & Grand Parking GarageInaccessible Curb at Elevator - 7th & Grand Parking GarageIn this picture, the elevator is accessed through a short walkway (note the sign hanging from the ceiling. From a pedestrian perspective, there are two major problems with the design of the pedestrian route from the elevator to the street:

  • The elevator walkway dumps pedestrians out into the automobile drive aisle instead of onto a sidewalk. The photo below shows how in order to exit the parking garage, a pedestrian is directed out into the path automobiles use to enter the garage.
  • There is a six inch drop, with no curb cut anywhere along the path of travel. Since this isn't the only elevator, perhaps it is not a technical violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but it is at a very minimum a poor design solution.

Now, to be fair, the other elevator appeared to have a usable path from the designated accessible parking spaces to the public sidewalk. However, since the actual accessible route isn't marked, it is entirely conceivable that one could assume all elevators are connected to accessible routes. Someone with a mobility impairment could end up having to make a difficult choice between attempting to navigate the treacherous curb/auto obstacle course or trekking all the way back up and around to the accessible route. Since we know how to make an accessible path, why not just do it?

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As I write this, Congressional leaders are meeting with the White House to hammer out details of a massive bailout of troubled financial firms and banks. The public has been presented with the following extortion scenario: pay us $700 billion or life will return to the dark ages. I've been doing a lot of reading and there seems to be a general consensus among academic experts and political analysts:

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Urban Schmurban

19 Sep 2008

According to the Des Moines Register, Hubbell Realty has purchased the mixed-use Fox Prairie development out of foreclosure for just over $10 million. Because Hubbell purchased the project at a discounted rate, they believe they will be able to offer the residential condo units at a competitive price. It is certainly not odd or surprising that suburban commercial and residential developments are feeling the pinch now, particularly with the tightening of the financial markets.

But that's not what I want to talk about here. The real shocker in the article was a quote by Rick Tollakson, Hubbell's chief executive:

"It's very convenient to everything," said Tollakson, who described the lofts as urban living in a suburban setting.

It is impossible to have urban living in a suburban setting.

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