Saturday, February 28, 2009

Livingston Group

It's bemusing to look over the select client list of the Livingston Group, the city's lobbying firm, and see the city of Carbondale, Il. listed among other clients such as Egypt, Azerbaijan, the City of New Orleans, Raytheon, Goodyear and Libya. Interstingly, the firm's most controvrsial client, Turkey, isn't listed.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Church Break-in

There was a break- in at the 1st Christian Church at the corner of Monroe and University last Tuesday. The thieves broke through an outside glass door and used a crowbar to gain entrance into an inner office. Two or three laptops were stolen, as well as some CDs and cash.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More City Property

Not only does the city own the American Tap property, we also own the now razed Peerless Linens and Southern Illinois Recycling properties on S. Washington. Asked what the plans were for them and mentioned a park, since nothing else seems happening and was told, "No park" , since the city wouldn't be able to generate any revenue off a park.

Update: The city does not own the Peerless Linens site. That is privately owned but the city may have contributed some money to the razing.

Comprehensive Plan Meeting

Sat in on last night's C'dale Comprehensive Plan meeting along with the inestimable Kevin Clark. It lasted just under an hour and the main focus was housing. Specific topics included:

--condemning dilapidated mobile homes, especially single units in residential areas, many of which pre-date 1974.

--doing "something" (not sure what) about The Crossings mobile home park on the north edge of town (this one might fit in well with the previous objective)

-encouraging more developments like the single family units off North Oakland

-- increasing teardown and replacement of decrepit homes in the area north of Sycamore and between Oakland and University.

If you're interested, next meeting is scheduled for March 11 and I believe a big public meeting is set for March 26.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reasons to Support Local Independent Businesses

Picked this up from a small grocery store in downtown Cape Girardeau:

1) Preserve local/regional identity
2) Far better benefit to cost ration as compared to chains (unfortunately, the flyer doesn't say what the actual ratio is).
3) More equitable income distribution (again no statistics but Starbucks is offered as an example. Which would you rather patronize, Starbucks or Melange?)
4) Better community reinvestment (45% vs. 13%) (This is an oft quoted figure that comes from a study done several years ago by a retailers association in Texas).
5) Better goods and services (assuming local is better, local businesses are more likely to buy local).
6) Adds richness to life (no-one ever comes back from a trip bragging about the great little McDonald's or Applelby's they ran across).
7) It's the right thing to do. (This one is pretty touchy feely. Who's to say what is right?).

I Was Wrong

A few weeks ago, I posted a comment about Saluki Central closing up owing Carbondale Main Street t-shirts that had been paid for. I was in error and apologize. All orders from CMS to Saluki Central were paid for and received before Saluki Central closed up.

Illinois Economy

Interesting article in the current Economist on the state of the economy in Illinois. Of course, as with most media sources from outside the state, Illinois is made up of Chicago and Springfield, and in this case, Peoria. Nary a mention of this part of the state.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet Kevin Clark

The city council candidates are starting to come out and Kevin Clark is quite the busy man. He will also be in the backroom of the backroom of the Longbranch Coffeehouse in downtown Carbondale this Saturday from 4-6 pm. The Longbranch will host this meeting so that Kevin can answer questions and talk about issues that he cares about in Carbondale.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Guantanamo Forum

There's a panel on closing Guantanamo at the Civic Center this Wednesday night. Wonder if they'll have anyone advocating keeping Guantanamo open? Given that the sponsors are the ACLU, Green Party and Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois, I rather doubt it.

Pay to Play and the Miners

From an email I received from Laraine Wright regarding pay to play and the SI Miners (italics are mine):

Initially, a southern Illinois medical doctor proposed the idea of his bringing a minor league team to the region. He was somehow convinced to back out of his efforts. In 2005, the announcement was made publicly that SIU Trustee John Simmons would build a ballpark in Marion, Ill., and purchase a minor-league team.

Early on in this venture, Simmons hired Dennis Poshard as his public relations and marketing director for this for the ball team and stadium. (That would be the Arthur Agency.)

In 2005 – and this received much negative attention in the northern part of the state and among legislators – Blagojevich announced he would give $3 million for the infrastructure for the ballpark. At his press conference in Marion, he gleefully said he was adding $1 million more, for a total of $4 million. At the same time, local school districts were begging for money for much-needed construction projects of their own. Blagojevich’s promises to them remain unfulfilled to this day.(and probably will remain that way)

Among the interesting offshoots of Rent One Park is a newly constructed exit off I-57 just north of the original interstate exit in Marion, Ill. To the west, the traffic flow goes past a branch of Peoples National Bank (connected to the newly appointed SIU Board of Trustee William "Bill" Bonan II) on its way to – you guessed it – Rent One Park. (I spoke to a couple of people whose opinion about IDOT I respect about the new Marion exit and both were of the opinion there was no logistical or economic need for it, only a political one).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quigley Display

If you happen to be on SIUC's campus, there's an interesting display by the Interior Design department in the display windows on the south end of Quigley Hall. It shows the history of the Newell House building amd a proposed design (which won't be implemented since the upper floors are now offices for companies such as 1187 Creative) for converting the building into a hotel, stylistically based on Art Deco but incormporting modern amenities

South Side Development

Got curious about all the development on the south side of Carbondale since I thought there was a moratorium in place while the city re-evaluated building codes. Checked with the city and the properties currently under construction, including the ones just started at Saluki Pointe, had been approved prior to the moratorium and were grandfathered in.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I'd been meaning to contact Tom Grant to see how the rental property inspections were going. Now I don't have to. Thanks DE.

Indian Students Declining

I recall being told, when I came in '89, that Carbondale had one of the highest, if not the highest, ratios of Indian students to the rest of the population of any community outside of New York. We've come a long way down since then.

Renew Carbondale

Courtesy of D. Gorton, here is the final proposal for the Renew Carbondale project that Mayor Cole will receive next week:

Existing housing in Carbondale is threatened by a number of factors including new developments that both expand housing units as well as provide an attractive alternative to the existing rental market. It is my understanding that students have filled up new units such as Saluki Pointe and they now have a waiting list. More of these apartments are on the way.

The new developments are also an issue for the local business community: most or all of the development’s business is done with vendors and suppliers from other parts of the country. Very little banking, accounting or other services are done locally. Appliances, lumber and other materials are often bought elsewhere. Other construction firms often replace local workers. The profits of the complexes move out of the local business community.

Much of the existing housing, apartments as well as rooming houses, have felt the effects - with reported occupancy rates plummeting. This is coupled with a downturn in enrollment at the university that is lessening demand. A significant amount of the existing rental housing is substandard leading to fears of widespread vacancies.

Vacant and abandoned housing will create eyesores in the community, be attractive to crime and lower nearby property values. Unfortunately, credit markets may not support private efforts to rehabilitate the abandoned or substandard properties.

While there is a widespread view among the rental agents and landlords that the threat to them is from the new housing, our data show that substandard housing poses more of a threat to the existing market. Over 43% of the single-family houses and fourplexes in Carbondale are rentals. Of that total, over 50% are held by absentee landlords. A majority of the landlords in this category hold fewer than 3 properties. Landlords are scattered in 43 states, the result of students, faculty and others buying houses and moving around the nation.

Substandard properties also compete by neglecting maintenance resulting in unfairly low price points for rentals as well as unfair tax responsibility. While our data have not found an exact property-by-property correlation between absentee ownership and substandard housing, anecdotal evidence points to this conclusion.

In spite of the condition of the housing, local businesses state that their employees cannot find appropriate shelter, for the right cost, in safe and comfortable homes.

Renew Carbondale

I propose a not for profit organization, Renew Carbondale, to buy and rehabilitate existing, substandard housing. The goal of the organization is to assure safe, comfortable homes that will be made available at attractive rates to families and other homebuyers in Carbondale. The houses will be bound by a codicil that prevents them becoming rentals.

A board made up of appointees from the Mayor and City Council as well as several members elected from the community at large guides the organization. Its board is to set the policy for the organization and adhere to a written charter in its work.

Funds for the organization might be obtained from a number of sources: the city, bonds, as well as the Federal government and HUD. There may be opportunities for private investment as well in the form of REITs. The amount of funds that are needed should be determined by the scope of the initial effort.

A formula on the back of an envelope says that the costs of rehabilitation might be close to the costs of acquisition of the original property. For instance, a $30,000 purchase would need at least $30,000 in rehab costs. Assuming the goal of rehabbing 200 houses over 5 years, the costs might be close to $4,000,000 per year. These estimates and goals are necessarily inexact and are subject to extensive revision, of course. The moneys received from the sale of rehabbed housing would be placed back into the fund.

A goal of Renew Carbondale is to support local business. To the degree that it is legally possible, all services as well as banking, supplies and labor should be drawn from the local area. Local real estate agents and brokers should market the houses.

Removing the substandard and abandoned properties from the rental market rewards the good landlords who maintain their property, places a reasonable floor under the rental market, enhances nearby property values and improves the general appearance of the town.

This era of perilous economic conditions may bring as many opportunities as it brings pitfalls. We should be prepared to take advantage of any opportunities that come our way. An institution like Renew Carbondale has the potential for helping revitalize our town.

D. Gorton
1/31/ 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Upcoming Internet Safety Seminar

Courtesy of the City Clerk's office:

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole invite parents, teachers, school administrators and other interested parties throughout Southern Illinois to attend an:

Thursday, April 2, 2009
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. (including a question and answer period)
Carbondale Civic Center
200 South Illinois Avenue
Carbondale, Illinois


More on Justin Stofferahn

Stofferahn is running to increase student involvement in Carbondale government, wanting to raise it from the non-existent level it is now. His four more specific objectives are:

--establishing a city funded weatherproofing program targeted primarily to start at home purchased under the city’s rental conversion grant program. Unlike current state and federal weatherproofing programs which target lower income families, this program would tie in with the grant program so that new homeowners would also have funds available to make the building more energy efficient.

--post notices of housing violations on the city’s website in a database searchable by location. He feels this would be of great assistance especially to students who would like to find out about problems a property had in the past before the student signs the lease.

--establish a tiered schedule of fines for noise violations. This one actually came out of a meeting between city residents and Carbondale interim police chief Grubbs, with recurring noise violations mentioned by several attendees as a problem needing addressing. In general, first violations at a location would get the basic fine, while subsequent calls would increase the ticket amount significantly.

--set up a program, funded by the city and administered by SIUC’s financial aid office, to provide 100 $200 grants to SIUC students to help defer the cost of textbook purchases through Carbondale bookstores,

He’s not sure from where funding would come for the two grant programs, so they would wait until the city gets on a stronger financial footing or he has found an alternative funding source. The increased ticket amounts for recurring noise violations and the searchable database of housing code violations, he would work on getting council approval and implemented as soon as possible. Stofferahn would also like to see the budgeting process opened up with multiple hearings on different sections of the budget. He feels that one hearing and a vote is just not enough discussion to decide how to spend 42 million taxpayer dollars.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Planning Commission Non-meeting

The Planning Commission tried to meet at7 this evening but, of the eleven members on the commission, only five managed to make it. So, for the third time in two months, chairman Naveet Kang canceled the meeting at 7:15, leaving approval for Damian Estates on New Era Road still hanging and the developer in limbo. Also awaiting approval is modification and clarification of city codes regarding "semi-trailer and other similar movable structures in residential areas", something the group developing the city's updated comprehensive plan is evaluating at as well.

City Council

Sat in on city council last night and the place was pretty packed. Kicked off with a five minute meeting of the Liquor Control Commission that quickly approved a temporary liquor license for Carbondale Main Street for the Pig Out and an A-2 license for the Stadium Grill.

Next up was the swearing in of new C'dale police officer Barry Bailey ( sp?). He left right afterward, followed by about 10 people, family members, I'd guess. The announcement afterward that Feb 23rd was designated Rotary International Day in the city freed up another dozen or so seats after the obligatory picture.

No citizens comments or public hearings so the mayor moved straight into the consent agenda, with everything passing as a group, except for item 2 which Councilman Fritzler asked to have voted on separately since he wanted to discuss travel expenditures by the mayor (about $3300) and other staff members. Fritzler pointed out that some staff members were traveling and training on the city's dime, then leaving city employment soon after and wondered if there was some way to prevent avoid this. The mayor responded that the city manager was looking into it. The exchange went much more smoothly this time then their last one.

Then, it was time for the big event, the reason so many people had shown up, the consideration of funding requests for community organziations. These were pre-applications that had to be submitted for evaluation and council approval prior to actual funding in April when the 2010 budget is set. All of the requests were approved without debate except two.

Carbondale Main Street had requested a 3% increase in funding to $12,021, while the city staff recommended funding remain at $11,660 and the lower amount was the official amount being voted on. Lance Jack moved the funding increase back to the original $12,210 level and the increase passed, with the mayor and Councilman Haynes voting against.

WDBX's $4000 request was the other item voted on separately, with the funding earmarked for a stand-by generator for the station. The radio station originally planned to ask the city to fund the full $8000 cost but had been told they funding was more likely to get approved in the form of a 50/50 grant, with the station raising half the necessary funds. The station's rationale for asking was that, in an emergency, the city could use the station's transmitter to communicate to the region. However, when asked, Jim Wall, vice-chair of WDBX's board said they station had not raised any matching funds yet. The funding request was voted down with only Councilman Wissmann and Councilwoman McDaniel in favor. Mayor Cole did suggest that the council would look more favorably on the request in the future if matching funds were raised.

The only other groups speaking were representatives from the Boy's and Girl's Club and the I Can Read program, both of which brought program participants to thank the council for past funding and tell how the respective program had benefited them. After announcements about the Boy's and Girl's Club Night at the Oscars fundraiser and the African American Museum's Obama exhibit reception, the meeting adjourned about 7:55.

Update: The DE has a report up on the meeting as well
Update: Here's the Southern's article on the meeting. I see it has the old figure for Carbondale Main Street's funding.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Murder

This one on S. Gay Street. That's two and we're only halfway through the month.

American Tap

Checked with the city about the status of the American Tap property, and, according to both Mayor Cole and Kevin Baity, the city has actively tried to sell the property since purchasing it, talking with realtors both local and national, but nothing has come of it. According to the mayor, the city tried to sell it in conjunction with the building now occupied by The Counttry Goddess, but the asking price for the Goddess' building was too high. The city is now working with a developer who is acquiring other parcels in C'dale. If you're interested in the property, Asst. City Manager Baity sent along some details about it and is supposed to get back to me with a ballpark figure of how much the city is looking to recoup:

The Tap property has 55 feet of frontage and depth of 100 feet. All utilities are on the lot and a new sewer tap and service line were recently installed. Any development there would get a major real estate incentive through the Enterprise Zone. This is due to the City owning it and the lot does not have an assessed value. Therefore all of the improved value would receive 100% abatement for 5 years and then 50% abatement for the second 5 years.

Update: I just realized it's been over 4 years since the Tap was demolished.

Fund Raising for Travel

Wonder if this is something Mayor Cole would consider?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Outstate Focus

Given the number of complaints I've heard at meetings regarding the lack of recruiting by SIUC in southern Illinois, the expansion of in state tuition to students in Missouri and Tennessee is interesting. Widening the pool is good but the university ought to make sure all the fish are caught in its local pond first. I've heard that high school graduation rates are dropping in southern Illinois and that's the reason to go outside the area but I haven't been able to find any statistics to support or disprove that.

Calling All Artists

The city and Carbondale Community Arts are still looking for artists to submit proposals for the five mural panels across from the Amtrak station. No particular limitations on what the topics are, except that the city would like the central panel to feature some sort of "Welcome" image.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Not Good for Burris

Apparently Roland Burris, despite his testimony, was approached by Gov. Blago's brother and asked for a $10,000 donation before the ex-gov. appointed him to Obama's Senate position.

Scales Retiring

The AP and the Southern say James Scales won't return to his position as Director Of Career Services at SIUC, retiring on March 1st and using vacation days until then. Like most news that organizations don't want a lot of attention paid to, SIUC released the press release late yesterday afternoon. And guess what's not on the Saluki Times as of about 4:30 today?

Justin Stofferahn

Had the opportunity to talk with city council candidate Justin Stofferahn earlier this week. The main theme of his candidacy is bringing the student perspective to city council, esp. since the USG president, who apparently is a non-voting student representative to the council, never bothers to show up. His main issues are:

--city assistance for middle income families in weatherproofing their homes
--housing code violations online by location
--increased fines for additional noise violations at the same location
--city funded grant program to help students buy textbooks

Stofferahn got interested in running for city council after becoming friends with Joe Moore and hearing about his experiences while running for council. His interest in politics in general grew while interning for Sen. Durbin last summer and currently he's interning for Rep John Bradley and serving as president of the College Democrats (who really need to update their website). He's a junior at SIUC but will stay in the area to serve out the 4 year term.

Upcoming events include a fund raising concert at the Big Muddy Independent Media Center, a forum on campus sponsored by the Students for Peace and Democracy (who need to update their website too, but not as badly as the Democrats) and forums/debates on March 23, sponsored by the AARP and March 24, by the Jackson County League of Women Voters (the Jackson County League of Men Voters being defunct since 1983).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Laraine Wright Transcript

If you'd like to read the transcript of Laraine Wright's presentation to the SIU BoT yesterday, here, as far as I know, is an accurate copy:

Presentation to the SIU Board of Trustees
February 12, 2009
by Laraine Wright

I’m here to point out significant political and financial connections among three members of this board, SIU President Glenn Poshard, and ousted governor Rod Blagojevich. $25,000 was the basic play-to-play price for earning an appointment to a public board.

Roger Tedrick, insurance agent in Mt. Vernon – You gave Blagojevich $26,000, of which $5,000 came just two weeks after you became board chairma n.

Last month, the SIU legal counsel, Jerry Blakemore, said he had conducted an "internal audit" of the board at your request. Blakemore announced, "We wanted to make sure ... that none of the board members were in any shape, form or fashion appointed with a condition like financial contributions." He then pronounced you clean! Does the public believe any of this? Absolutely not.

John Simmons, Alton attorney – Your direct contributions to Blagojevich total $30,000. You have quite a happy relationship with him. You own the Miners baseball team and Rent One Park in Marion. With great glee, Blagojevich dropped $4 million into the $25 million venture while ignoring pleas from local school districts that had construction needs of thei r own. At the time, House Republican leader Tom Cross said, " certainly smells of ‘pay-to-play’ ... It’s frankly unbelievable."

Mr. Simmons, you seem to have plenty of money. In 2004, you said you would spend $40 million of your own dollars on a run for the U.S. Senate. Why, then, did Blagojevich believe you needed $4 million of our money?
Well, happily, you did have enough to hire a marketing director – Dennis Poshard, son of Glenn Poshard. But then several people with knowledge of the history of the Miners have called to tell me that you, Glenn Poshard, are a silent partner in the Miners yourself. If so, that $4 million benefitted you as well.

A firm called Holland Construction Services built Rent One Park. Now, there’s a familiar name. In a no-bid deal last year, this board approved $7.2 million to hire a construction manager for the $83 million Saluki Way project – none other than Holland Construction Services.

Then there’s the state requirement that construction contracts must be accompanied by contractor insurance. Which firm sold the required policies to the Saluki Way contractors? You can’t be too cynical when it comes to this board: Roger Tedrick’s firm happens to specialize in contractor and construction management insurance, and a Freedom of Information request should answer that question for us.

A third board member is William "Bill" Bonan II, regional president of Peoples National Bank and Market Street Bancshares of Mo unt Vernon – Your family gave $272,000 to Blagojevich who appointed you to this board in October.

Here is an example of the fun you can have as a trustee: In October 2006 Blagojevich gave $400,000 to SIU to support Connect SI, a fledgling regional broadband initiative based in Glenn Poshard’s office and chaired by Poshard.

Only five months later, $100,000 of that Blagojevich gift went to Dennis Poshard. Yes, this board of so-called trustees approved a no-bid service contract of $100,000 for the Arthur Agency, whose president and majority owner was none other than Dennis Poshard. Gee, this calls for another "internal audit"!

Last month, Glenn Poshard said, "We can’t control public perception ... About all that we can do is try to do the right thing." But the very actions of you and this board have created all of those negative perceptions. And just what is your definition of "doing the right thing"? And why shouldn’t we be highly worried if mega-millions in public dollars finally come to SIU for more construction, as long as these play-to-play board members and President Glenn Poshard are still here.

We now have a new governor, new Ethics Reform Committee, and a new director for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute who has pledged to become involved in state reform. So to Governor Pat Quinn, to Sheila Simon who serves on the committee, and to David Yepsen, new Institute director, I have one thing to say: "Go get ‘em."

It Never Ends, Does It?

More ethics questions at SIUC, this time relating to the Board of Trustees, which just let out 22 contracts costing $28 million for construction on the Saluki Way project. This follows on the heels of questions about James Scales, who apparently still is working while the university conducts yet another internal investigation.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sexual Assault Update

From the Carbondale Police website:
On Saturday February 7, 2009, at 9:00 p.m. the City of Carbondale Police Department received a report of a criminal sexual assault. The victim, a 20 year Carbondale woman, reported she was pushed into some shrubbery and sexually assaulted while walking near the intersection of West Main Street and Illinois Avenue.

The victim reported the suspect was a college age black male with green or yellow eyes, about 5'08" tall, medium build, with sideburns. The victim said the suspect was neatly dressed, wearing a white baseball cap (worn sideways), and a beige sweater. The victim said the suspect met her while she was walking from the area of East Grand Avenue and South Wall Street to where the attack occurred. The victim said the suspect was very polite prior to the attack, and told her his name was “Mike ”.

The victim also reported a male and female walked down the sidewalk during the attack. She said the couple may not have realized she was being attacked.

The Carbondale Police Department would like anyone who may have seen this incident or the suspect to please call (618) 457-3200. Anyone with information about this incident can call the Crimestoppers line at (618) 549-COPS (2677) where callers can remain anonymous. Anonymous tips can also be made online by selecting “Crimestoppers” on the main page of this website.

Strolling Down Illinois

Got curious as to where the CCA has installed their Stars on Main plaques so took a walk down S. Illinois Ave to see if I could find them. Noticed a few changes along the strip besides the big one, namely the huge hole in the roof of Hangar 9. Other changes:

The Country Goddess is now located in their new digs at the corner of College and Illinois. No posted hours of operation though. Haven't heard if they ever caught the idiot that did this.

Saluki Central is closed. Closed up last Sept, which shows how often I've gotten to that area.

Fat Patties looks closed and there's no signage up announcing an opening but I've been told everything, including kitchen equiptment, is installed and ready to go. Lance Jack fired up the grills last weekend and cooked burgers for a select few.

I did finally find the plaques. There's one in front of the Chamber of Commerce offices, which shows the Stars on Main logo, one in front of the Varsity Center for the Arts, also with the logo and two on the sidewalk by the Carbondale Labyrinth, one with the Stars on Main logo (they sure love that logo) and one with an illustration of 60's Carbondale resident and world class thinker Buckminister Fuller (warning: 41 minute video here).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Funding Priorities

Maybe it's me but there's a subtle disconnect between celebrating raising $100 million for Saluki Way with a black tie dinner and not having enough money to finish the top two floors and bring the books back to Morris Library?

Comprehensive Plan

Just got back from this evenings meeting of the committee tasked with revising Carbondale's comprehensive plan, the current version of which dates back to 1997. From the 1997 plan, here's what's completed, what's in process and what's still undone ( dang long list but most of it involves major infrastructure work):

Sign conformation
Designate major gateways
Revise bikeways
Update downtown plan
Improve Grand Ave. from Lewis Land to Gian City road
Construct Mill Street Underpass
Widen and realign 51 from Mill Street to Old Rt 51
Extend Sycamore to Rt 51 north
Develop Superblock

In Process
Relocate west side fire station
Build public safety building

Still not done
Revise zoning planning agreement with Murphysboro
Initiate land transfers with SIUC to extend Mill to Chautauqua
Construct teen center
Traffic lights at Mill and Chautauqua
Encourage cross easements at Ill. 13/US51
Construct street north of University Place between Lewis Lane and Giant City Road
Extend McKinney Ave from Lowe's entrance to the above
Improve Giant City Road from terminus north of Rt. 13 to proposed bypass
Secure jurisdiction development agreements with surrounding communities
Establish a system of truck routes
Develop an additional industrial park
Develop plantings for major gateways
Create an open space//pocket park in west central area
Bury utilities downtown
Extend Oak to Lewis Lane
After you get the land transfers, actually extend Mill to Chautauqua
Extend Crab Orchards Estates access road to Reed Station Rd.
Undertake planning and design for North Carbondale bypass (hard to do due to the wetlands there)
Connect superblock access from Walnut to College

Tuscan Lodge Update

Got some more information regarding Maier's $20,000 bid on the demolition of the Tuscan Lodge. Apparently the council had budgeted around $45,000 for demolition costs but Maier's bid doesn't include any charges for taking the bricks from the building to the landfill. Higher bids included a dumping and landfill charge for all materials. Instead, Maier takes ownership of the materials from the building and will be able to resell the bricks to cover a significant portion of his costs.

There is a thriving demand for old bricks, especially for landscaping and remodeling projects. When I had some work done on my chimney a couple of years ago, I was told by the mason that he had pulled down chimneys like mine for no charge, as long as he could have the bricks from them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sexual Assault

The Carbondale Police are investigating an alleged sexual assault that occurred somewhere in the city over the weekend. There's nothing currently on the CPD website about it but according to officer Randy Mathis:

"We had a report of a sexual assault that occurred elsewhere in the City which is being investigated. Details of that investigation are not being released at this time."

Jerry Costello on Lilly Ledbetter

Just received the following press release from Rep Costello:

I wanted to drop you a note to update you on legislative matters that may be of interest.

As you may know, the first bill passed by Congress during the 111th Congress and signed into law by President Obama was
S. 181, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This legislation is an important step toward ensuring the concept of equal pay for equal work.

Lilly Ledbetter was an executive at Goodyear Tire who after almost two decades with the company realized she was making less in her position than men who had much less experience. She sued for pay discrimination, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in a contentious 2007 decision that she had waited too long to file her claim, stating that claims needed to be filed within six months of the initial discrimination occurring. Ledbetter was not aware of the discrimination within that timeframe, making it impossible to seek legal action.

To correct this problem, S. 181 changes the statute of limitations in such cases back to what it was prior to the 2007 ruling, that such a suit can be filed within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck. This change places the law on the side of those discriminated against, and should serve as a deterrent to companies from pursuing unfair pay practices. I supported this bill and will continue to support legislation that promotes workplace fairness.

Arbor District

Had a conversation last night about the meeting between Arbor District members and the police and the question came up, "What is the Arbor District?" Here's the Who We Are page with info about the officers as well as Neighborhood Watch captains.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Snow and SIUC

Letter from a visually impaired student decrying the opening of campus two days after the big storm is interesting. However, what's REALLY interesting is the comment below, apparently from a member of the groundskeeping staff:

Let me just say that every student on this campus has the right to be extremely angry with the decisions made. But, there is more to this than what you guys are covering. Find out why, up until last year, this campus was always kept free of snow and ice, no matter how large the storm. Find out who made the decision to force the groundsworkers to go home during the storm for the second straight year. Find out why we were not allowed to fight this storm until it was all over with. Decisions are being made that merit investigating. 3 people are making the decisions resulting in this winter weather fiasco. They need to be exposed, as do their feelings regarding the safety of the students. Do not let this topic die!!! I implore you.....and yes, I am speaking from inside the dept responsible. For obvious reasons, I need others to follow up on this. The information is available. Ask the right questions. Research how snow removal was done in the past which was so successful, up until last year.

Banks and Debt

Interesting piece on Talking Points Memo today regarding liability when the debtor is deceased and how banks try to collect. Apparently, my dying and owing the bank money precipitated our current crisis.

James Scales

Director of Career Services James Scales is still listed as the director on SIUC's website, despite the furor regarding his claims of military service and the rumor he was planning to step down as a result. If the allegations are true, he could serve up to a year in prison and pay a $100,000 fine.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

SIU Board and Ex-Gov. Blago

Looks like at least three members of the SIU Board of Trustees donated over $60,000 to Gov. Blago's re-election campaign. Frank Bonan is linked to $30,000 donated by his family, while Messers Simmons and Tedrick donated at least $25,000. Of the nine board members, six were appointed by ex-Gov. Blago. Of course, an internal investigation by the board's general council found no indication of anything illegal. I did a quick search on the BOT's website for the investigation's report but couldn't find anything.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Businesses Leaving Carbondale

I'm going to see if I can get ahold of the list of the 25 businesses that left Carbondale last year. that figure is surprisingly high, especially given that only 10 were local. And I wonder if the mayor means some businesses had a 10% increase in profits or 10% profit total:

Cole said some stores had 10 percent or greater profits this year, but said he would not disclose the names of those businesses

Update: Checked with Kevin Baity and was told the city doesn't have an official list, the 25 business figure was compiled from various sources: Chamber of Commerce, Carbondale Main Street, enterprise zone certificates, occupancy permits, etc.

Out of town

I'm out of town this weekend with limited Internet access, so posting is rather light.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tuscan Lodge Demolition Costs

DaveX makes a good observation. The winning bid by Gary Maier (and the slightly higher bid by Ellis Excavating) for the Tuscan Lodge demolition is about$20,000 lower than the next lowest bid of $43,000. The other bids are in the range of $50,000-$200,000. It will be interesting to see how Maier handles the demolition for so much less.

Update: Looks like the demolition will start in less a month and will take about three weeks to complete

Darwin Day Coming

SIUC will celebrate the 200 birthday of Charles Darwin's birth next week with lectures on Monday and a movie showing on Wednesday. 'course, being SIUC, they miss the actual day by one.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Simon Institute Director Announced Today

The Southern says it's David Yepsin and his hometown paper agrees. Apparently Rep. Dan Turner was Pres. Pohsard's first choice but he withdrew from consideration, maybe feeling that since the Institute's board preferred Yepsin, it would have been harder to work with them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Well, That Was Fast

That city council meeting I just posted about? It's over, done with, finus. According to council candidate Kevin Clark, the only thing that any citizen spoke on was the annexation of Froesch Acres and he was for it. No one even said anything about the demolition of the Tuscan Lodge and I figured local preservationists would be all over that. Nope, not a soul. Of course, there is the small detail that gettting the Lodge back into habitable shape would run well into six figures, if not seven. I was inside about a decade ago and the interior was pretty unsafe then.

The Mayor and council members Fritzler and Wissmann complemented city staff on the job they did in keeping city operations running smoothly during the snow, then recessed at 7:26 to go into closed meeting to review closed meetings. There is a chance the council will come back into session to anounce a snowplow attack on Marion, Hub of the Universe, but I doubt it.

City Council Agenda

Here's tonight's agenda. Be interesting to hear the discussion about the Tuscan Lodge.


1. Roll Call

2. General Announcements and Proclamations

3. Citizens' Comments and Questions

4. Public Hearing and Special Reports

  1. Public Hearing on the Proposed Vacation of aCertain Alley Running North/South Between West Baird Street and West Rigdon Street and Bounded by 500 and 504 West Baird Street
  2. Public Hearing on Annexation Agreement Between the City of Carbondale and Michael and Janet Althoff for Froesch Acres

5. Consent Agenda

  1. Approval of Minutes of the Regular City Council Meeting Held on January 13, 2009
  2. Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 12/29/08. FY 2009 Warrant # 1055
  3. Approval of Warrant for Period Ending: 1/12/09. FY 2009 Warrant # 1056
  4. Acceptance of Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees
  5. Appointments to Boards and Commissions
  6. Acceptance of Deeds and Easements
  7. Award of Contract for City Reservoir Spillway Outlet Channel Erosion Control, CIP No. WS0907
  8. Ordinance Approving an Annexation Agreement Between the City of Carbondale and Michael and Janet Althoff for Foresch Acres
  9. Resolution Approving the Froesch Acres Subdivision and Subdivision Agreement Located on North County Line Road
  10. Ordinance Amending Title Six of the Carbondale Revised Code to Include Burials Within Snider Hill Cemetery
  11. Ordinance Vacating a Certain Alley Running North/South Between West Baird Street and West Rigdon Street and Bounded by 500 and 504 West Baird Srreet
  12. Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute Amendment No.1 to an Engineering Service Agreement With Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc.,for Water Storage Improvements (WS0201), Approval of an Amendment to the Five-Year Community Investment Program and Budget Adjustment

6. General Business

  1. Award of Contract for Demolition of 201 North Washington Street (Tuscan Lodge) and 204 East Jackson Street (old Fish Market)
  2. Ordinance Authorizing the Filing of Condemnation Actions to Obtain Real Estate for the Reed Station Road Corridor Widening Project

7. Council Comments

8. Closed Meeting

  1. Closed Meeting to Conduct the Semi-Annual Review of Closed Meetingg Minutes

9. Adjournment

Crime Meeting

Sat in on a meeting between residents of the Arbor District, Interim Police Chief Jeff Grubbs and City Manger Allen Gill. Councilman Joel Fritzler and council candidate Justin Stofferahn (who brought cookies, an admirable quality in a city council person) were also there. The main concern I heard brought up was a break down in communication between the Neighborhood Watch captains, a few of which were present, and the police department, especially regarding a couple of recent muggings and a sexual assault in the area. The Watch captains were concerned because they found out about the crimes through the news media rather than through the officer coordinating the Neighborhood Watch.

Chief Grubbs heavily emphasized checking the police department's website for the latest information regarding crimes in the city and signing up for emailed press releases from the department but never did explain why the Neighborhood Watch officer couldn't set up a mailbox to send out emails to the Neighborhood Watch captains regarding incidents in their neighborhoods. The chief reacted without much enthusiasm to the idea of a My Space or Facebook page for the department, saying he preferred to funnel people to the department website rather than pushing information out. He also said crime in Carbondale was at "the low end of a 10 year cycle" and that burglaries in the District were half what they were the previous August through January.

There was also some concern expressed about enforcing maintenance codes regarding vacant and rental properties, which Manager Gill said would be looked into. When an inquiry was made about additional street lighting, Gill said if a list of requested spots was turned into his office, the city would survey them and see if the site met the regulations for installing another light. The meeting ended shortly thereafter.

Costello on Stimulus Package

Rep. Jerry wants us to know he's really earning his paycheck in Washington:

Washington – Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) today voted for H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, an $825 billion dollar plan to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The bill would mean over $1.8 billion in infrastructure spending for Illinois as well as over $2.7 billion to the state to meet pressing needs. It also includes $275 billion in tax cuts, many targeted to the middle class and small businesses. The bill has been endorsed by hundreds of economists and a variety of national organizations, including the American Medical Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, for its expected beneficial effect on the economy.
“Like most legislation we consider, this is not a perfect bill, but we need to act and it will help our economy,” said Costello. “It is estimated that this bill will save or create 203,600 jobs in Illinois by the end of 2010 and reduce the state’s unemployment rate by 1.9%. I have said repeatedly that infrastructure spending is the best way to create jobs and make our transportation system more efficient, and Illinois will see a substantial direct benefit from this funding. In addition, money for family planning programs and landscaping on the national mall has been removed, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to improve the bill as the legislative process continues.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Carbondale Homicide and Arrest

The C'dale Police Department has posted info about a shooting and murder yesterday on S. Crestview, along with a mugshot of the man arrested for the crimes.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Flu Alerts

Google has a pretty nifty new tool out if you're concerned about the flu. Based on the assumption that people are more likely to search for information about the flu when they have it or feel they are at risk of it, the Flu Trends tool tracks by state the level of searches in Google using keywords such as " flu" or "flu remedies". According to Consumer Reports on Health, warnings on Google Flu Trends tool have beaten announcements by the Center for Disease Control by about two weeks.


Welcome to the Carbondaze Gazette (and thanks to Elaine for helping me come up with the name). The Gazette part is a tip of the hat to an alternative student newspaper published in Carbondale back in the 70's called the Big Muddy Gazette.

Most of my posting here, as on the Bytelife, will focus on news and events here in Carbondale and Illinois, with some digression into national and world affairs if I find something I think may have been overlooked. You will have to register if you wish to post a comment, mainly becaue it's easier to respond to a particular posting if there's a name attatched to it rather than it being one of a series of "anonymous"es. Thanks