Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eclipse Numbers

The problem, as I see it, in preparing for the eclipse is that we don't have any idea as to how many people might show up. Last I heard, we still had a few (highly priced) rooms available, although rooms have been sold out for miles around Carbondale for several month. Of course,t his also happens during SIUC's graduation weekend as well. I have heard numbers floated anywhere from 5000 or roughly graduation weekend, to 50,000 to 100,000.

Fact is, we don't know how many people will show up. Carbondale is in competition with communities across the nation hosting events for the Great American Eclipse.  We are listed along with 9 other communities  as top places to see the eclipse and, while we are closest to the spot of longest totality, communities further to the west are projected to have better weather. Longest totality won't mean much if we have heavy cloud cover that day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Government as Business

Been doing some reading on entrepreneurship and got to thinking about the whole idea that government should be run like a business. When you think about it, that is really a flawed concept since the two constructs are vastly different. Could Carbondale city government run more efficiently?Most likely but government and business differ significantly.

Consider.  I run a business here in the 'dale but my needs are quite different from the needs of Thai Taste half a block away from me or Wal-mart on the east side of town or Murdale True-Value on the west. Each of us focuses on our own organization's needs and take actions that we believe will enhance our operations. I do not take into consideration the impact of my actions on Wal-mart, just as I am sure, Wal-mart's management does not take into consideration the impact of its actions on me. As long as they remain within the law, business is free to take whatever action it wishes without regard or consideration for other businesses.

Carbondale city government does not have that freedom. It is charged with balancing the needs and desires of a large number of consistencies, many of which are at odds with each other. Consider Carbondale bars. In order to increase profits, the liquor store owner wants to sell as much alcohol, within the law, to as many people as possible. However, people consuming alcohol have their inhibitions lowered, causing them to act more recklessly, endangering themselves and others. City government is tasked with balancing the desire of the liquor store owner to increase profits, with the homeowner who does not want drunk people throwing up in their yard. Eliminating alcohol sales is Carbondale would be one way of accomplishing that, at the cost of a a good chunk of the business sector. Requiring home owners to maintain vigilance on their own property against trespassers. Government's job is to create a reasonable balance between the desires of the two groups.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gold Diggers

Not sure what hours Gold Diggers (located in the old Blue Martin/Social House location) is keeping, but it sure isn't the posted ones.  Posted hours are 5 p.m. to around 2 a.m. 7 days a week but the last few times I gone by there about 9 p.m. , the place has been locked up tight. Doesn't look as if the operation has shut down as everything still looks in place but no sign of life and no posts to the business' Facebook page since mid April.

Monday, May 22, 2017

City Council Meeting

I am a bit late commenting on last week's city council meeting but better late than ever, says I. Most of what took place was covered on the consent agenda. I came in too late to catch the first part of the meeting but there were a few interesting items on it.

$29,500 contract awarded to Rawson Excavating for demolishing the old Sidetracks building. The building sits what is today considered an unsafe distance from the railroad tracks, so the railroad declined to renew the lease, causing Sidetracks, now renamed Trax, to relocate to new digs in the old Gatsby's building. The demolished area will become more downtown parking.

Resolution authorizing the city manager to purchase materials, property, services etc. from Henry Printing. Yes, owned by our Mayor Henry. I assume this was discussed prior to my arrival at the meeting and figure they wanted to get an authorization by council on the record approving    potential purchases from the mayor's printing company.

$27,420 to CivicPlus to update the city website, which, below the front page, apparently hasn't been updated in about 20 years. Also roughly $5000 per year for website maintenance. No idea if this is an open ended contract or not.

Apparently the questions over the parking lot next to the Interfaith Center got answered as the contract for redoing it got awarded to Samron Midwest Contracting.

However the big discussion of the evening is the plan to provide roll out trash carts to all residents of the city. Any city resident who get trash pick up from the city will receive a standardized trash cart. These carts are designed to allow city waste trucks to latch onto and automatically dump them, rather than require a human to pick up the trash and throw it in the truck, speeding up trash pickup.Concerns regarding costs of the receptacles was expressed by some residents as larger families will generate more trash but may have problems paying the cost of the additional receptacle needed. Council agreed to address these concerns before bringing the ordinance up for a final vote

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rent College Pads

Been seeing a lot of these Rent College Pads signs around town. Apparently it is an online search engine for students looking for rentals in over 100 university towns across the nation. Info about the communities for each college is provided on the search page but is pretty sketchy and apparently not updated frequently. In case you are coming to Carbondale, be aware that Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse is not within walking distance of campus and Social House's location is now occupied by Gold Diggers

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Chicken Coops

Did you know you can keep chickens within the city limits? The ordinance got passed a few years ago after several years of work and our city streets have not been taken over by raging flocks of poultry. If you would like to see some of the coops and get inspired to host your own flock, good news! There is a chicken coop tour coming up in June though I am not sure how beautiful they will be. I  had to clean out chicken coops in my misspent youth and they get messy:

Keep Carbondale Beautiful is planning a tour of “Chicken Coops of Carbondale”, set for Saturday, June 3rd from 2 to 5 p.m.  Chicken coopers are still being sought to participate.  The tour will run like previous garden tours:  The self-guided tour will begin at the  Old Train Depot/Carbondale Main Street (121 S Illinois Ave), where maps and tickets will be available for $5.  More information will follow.  Coop owners who are willing to show off their chickens are asked to contact Sarah Heyer at 618 525 5525.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We're #2, We're #2 (and #3) (and #1)

Here is a link to the actual website that ranks Carbondale as the 2nd best small city in the US in which to start a business. Although we rank near the middle of the 1261 cities examined in the research in terms of business environment, our ranking in the top 20% in terms of costs of operating a business and especially our #3 ranking in "access to resources" pulled the city up. Incidentally , Carbondale comes in at #1 in the rankings in terms of low labor costs. Good if you are starting a business, not so much if you are working to support yourself.