Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wal-Mart Thefts

The C'dale police report a group of young male shoplifters that have hit both the Carbondale and Murphysboro Wal-Marts. They seem to really like Wal-Mart as they've hit other stores in Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky as well.

Pawel Sawicki

Got the opportunity to set down with Pawel Sawicki this afternoon for a few minutes and acutally type out his answers to my questions:

Why are you running?

I've lived in Carbondale since I was a little kid and want to give back to the community that made me what I am. Since I'm getting my master's in geographical information systems here, I'd like to use the major here and not take it someplace else. I've heard Chriss Wissman say that students are our greatest export and by getting on the council, I'd like to expand job opportunities so that graduates could stay ehre and not have to go th oteh communities to find work.

What do you bring to the council?
I bring a youthful and hometown voice. I've been here the majority of my life and I've seen Carbondale grow and I'd like to see it continue down that path. With the education I'm getting, I'd bring a green and sustainable voice to the council.

What issues are important to the people you are talking to?

Housing. Bike paths in Carbondale. It's funny, I didn't realize how much supprot there was for them in Carbondale. Safe neighborhoods, too.

Saluki Way was the most important topic to come up before the council int he past term. What are you heaing from people aboutit?

It's one of the more prevalent things that come up in coversation. From what I remember, it's about 50/50, peopleare either really for it or really against it. I saw an article in theDE where they surveyed the students and only about 47% of the students were in favor but it was a pretty small sample, only about 100 students.

Where would you like to see Carbondale 2 years into your term?

Shifitng its focus to revializing the Strip and making it a more pedistrial and bike friendly place for the community, not just a place for studnets late at night.

Lewis Park Incident

Last Saturday night, there was a fight among several men and women in the parking lot at Lewis Park, during which guns were fired. Still under investigation and police are looking for information.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Election Turnout

Courtesy of the city clerk's office, here's the turnout for the last 4 city elections:

Mayor & City Council election 2007 - 3,940
City Council election 2005 - 1,739
Mayor & City Council election 2003 - 3,640
City Council election 2001 - 2,809

I was expecting about an 1800 turnout for this election and was asked at one of the forums why I was so optimistic. One of the candidates commented that, based on people's awareness of the election when they were knocking on doors, they expected a 1400 to 1600 person turnout.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Locking the Barn Door....

Why wouldn't the SIUC BOT already have a policy in place about recusing themselves from votes where there might be a conflict of interest? That's basic good governance and one of the reasons the Liquor Control Commmission gave for voting down Lance Jack's liquor license.

Joel Fritzler

Much as with Chris Wissmann, Joel Fritzeler's comments on his campaign are paraphrased from my notes rather than verbatim:

Why are you running for re-election?
People asked him to. He blames his parents for instilling a sense of community and wanting to make a difference. It certainly has been an interesting experience.

What do you bring to the council?
As the only non-native Illinoisan on the council, he brings an alternative voice. He wasn’t brought up in Illinois politics and has no aspirations to higher office.

When you talk with people, what issues concern them?
Taxes, they’re too high and seem to be going up. The Saluki Way tax is a matter of concern as are property taxes. There’s a fear they city might reinstate the property tax. One constituent asked him to do something about the deer getting into their flowers.

The tax donation to the Saluki Way project was the most controversial item the council voted on during the past term. Are you still hearing from people about it?

Oh yes. People know he voted against the tax and all of the people he hears from oppose the tax. They’re supportive of SIUC academics since a quality academic program brings in the students but not the athletic program. He remembers getting calls from people outside the community lobbying him to vote in favor of the tax. Especially, there was one man from Springfield who called to urge him to vote for the tax so the caller would have a better place to watch football.

Where would you like to see Carbondale in two years?

He’d like to see housing improved and the moratorium on new rental building lifted since he believes the decline in the quality of rental property is a major factor in the decline in enrollment at SIUC and quality rental housing will help to bring the students back. New development will put pressure on current landlords to improve their properties. He’d like to see deteriorating properties either pulled down or rehabbed, instead of being left alone to blight the neighborhood.
He world also like to see more emphasis by the city on downtown Carbondale, feeling the city could do more to promote use of the civic center facilities to draw people downtown.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Talking with Chris Wissmann

Had the opportunity to spend about fifteen minutes talking with Chis Wissman about his candidacy and what he would liked to see happen in Carbondale. I'm working from notes rather than a recording so the responses are me paraphrasing what I have written as his responses:

Why are you running for re-election?
Wissmann sees taking more responsibility for his surroundings as part of the progression of his life. He loves the community and couldn’t have done what he’s done here, starting the Nightlife and getting involved the way he has, anywhere else in the country. He knows lots of people who have the same feelings, graduated from SIUC and wanted to stay here but didn’t have the opportunities he did. By serving on the city council, he wants to preserve opportunities for the people that are here.

What issues are people you talk to indicating they find important?
Crime is a real issue with people. Though the police department says it’s decreasing, the perception among constituents Carbondale residents is that it’s increasing. People would like to see more neighborhood organizations ala the Arbor District. Housing and economic development are also important issues. The Rental Property commission and inspection program is helping to address the housing problems. Economic development is a little trickier. It’s hard to bring in factories and other traditional components of a strong economic base. The city tries to attract major retailers as well but fewer regional and national retailers are available. We can’t look outside the community to grow the economic base, Carbondale needs to grow from within, fostering more home and office based businesses, rather than manufacturing. The Direct TV tech support company coming to the city is not a perfect example but a good one. The people the company hires will get trained, then work from home, rather than going to a central facility to work. Developing an artist relocation colony, such as the one in Paducah, is anther form of development the city could pursue.

The tax donation to the Saluki Way project was the most controversial item the council voted on during the past term. Are you still hearing from people about it?

Yes, people know Wissmann voted against and are still taking about it. It still comes up in conversation with about half the people who bring it up in favor of it and half opposed.

Where would you like to see Carbondale in two years?

He expects to see an improvement in rental housing in the community due to the increased inspections and hopes to see a significant portion of the updated Comprehensive Plan implemented as the items in it reflect many of the community’s concerns.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Comprehensive Plan Committee Meeting

Sat in on the final meeting of the Comprehensive Plan Study Committee. It was a meeting with the consultants actually putting the plan together, to see what the study committee thought were the most important issues before the community wide meeting tonight. The consultants brought out 4 main issue statements the plan should focus on based on that feedback they'd gotten from the committee. There were also a number of suggestions brought up on how to accomplish each one:

1. Carbondale needs a well managed and responsive platform for future growth. The consultants project the city reaching population of 27,500 by the year 2030, a little smaller than the mayor's projection of 30,000. The city stayed relatively compact until about 1990 then started to spread into available spaces. Now the city needs to decide if it wants to continue to develop around its exterior or work on in-filling the vacant parcels located within city limits

2. Downtown has lost its pedestrian feel. It has become autocentric and car dominated, with few public places for people to hang out or shop, if they aren't going to bars or restaurants. Better linkages are needed to both SIUC and Memeorial Hospital (especially) to funnel pedestrians downtown. Some form of pediestrian friendly space, ala downtown Paducah, could be established but would have to be off both Hwys 13 and 51.

3. Enhance the community heritage by offering either self guided or conducted history tours. Make better use of Woodlawn Cemetary and other historic sites within the city. Possibly work to bring signage consistancey to the West Main Corridor.

4. Retain the character of the community. Establish neighborhood conservation areas with restrictions and standards to maintain the character of the neighborhood. make it harder, for example to put multi-story apartments in areas comprised of bungalows and single level homes. How to make better use of community events such as the Murdale and downtown Saturday markets, whcih draw people from throughout the communtiy.

After the discussion, the committee then broke into two groups, one of which will look at land use issues and the other to look at community growth issues. It's my understanding the committee will spend the next month examining these subjects, then meet with the consultants again in early May.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Candidate Forum

Made it to last night's League of Women Voters candidate forum despite the rain, which apparently slowed up several of the candidates as well as Kevin Clark was the only one to make it on time for the 6:30 meet 'n greet. The others slowly trickled in between 6:30 and about 6:50 and worked the room , talking with as many people as possible. A table at the back had a sample ballot and campaign literature from everyone except Yolanda Dean. Not content with leaving his promo material on the table, Chris Wissmann moved from person to person handing out buttons. About 60 people were in attendance, about a quarter of them looked of college age, probably there to support Justin Stofferahn and Pawel Sawicki as I saw a few wearing Sawicki t-shirts.

The forum followed a question/response format. The candidates had received the questions 2 weeks before, with the exception of Dean, who, due to a mixup, said she had only gotten them that day. The moderator read the question and each candidate had 2 minutes to respond. Topics covered were:

-potential budget shortfall. In general, the candidates agreed there was no easy solution to this. Wissmann said to work to end unfunded state mandates, Corene McDaniel emphasized this year's budget would be balanced but suggested looking at reducing employee hours to 37 1/2 per week, while Joel Fritzler pointed out that the last two budgets had only been balanced by dipping into city reserve funds.

--city manager. Great job. Everybody said so.

--comprehensive plan. Need to look at business and housing. Dean said we need to make consumers aware of programs available for them and used her recent purchase of a house as an example. Clark noted that Carbondale housing and neighborhood watch groups need to be emphasized.

--environment. This was right up Sawicki's avenue as one of his major platform planks is encouraging business recycling. Fritzler pointed out the city had not yet met the climate control agreement it signed several years ago. Either McDaniel or Wissmann pointed out the lamps in city traffic lights had all beeen replaced with LEDs cutting the energy cost significantly. I believe Stofferahn wanted to encourage landlords to use Energy Star rated rather than the cheapest appliances when building rental properties

--housing. It's bad and older units are getting worse. Need to look at zoning. The city needs to work on ways to give landlords and tenants incentives to maintain properties. it would be nice to remove all the old single wise trailers throughout the city, and non have been added since 1974, but due to grandfathering, they can't be removed. Even when they are no longer occupied, the owner can keep them in place for "storage". Dean wants the city to make it easier to buy houses, while Fritzler wants to encourage either demolition or rehabbing of them.

Each candidate was then given a minute to explain why they were running and why you should vote for them:

Dean--speaks the language most people understand. What is good for Ccarbondale is what she wants.

Clark--activly involved in Carbondale not-for-profits. Very good at communicating and implementing behind the scenes.

Wissmann--after 6 years, he's shown what he can do. Works hard but quietly for the benefit of the city.

Stofferahn--wants to give back to the community, would bring in a different perspective and new ideas.

Sawicki--his hometown. He wants to make it better, to make it the best city it can be, to make it more of a center for tourism.

McDaniel--been on the council 8 years. Once you're elected, it becomes not "I" but "we". Have to develop a relationship with others, but when it comes to a vote, it becomes I again and I try to do the best for you.

Fritzler--four years on council, has a background with the community with Carbondale Main Street and currently works with both city staffs and that of SIUC.

The forum ended about 8:30 but the people stood around chatting with candidates and each other for another half hour or so. The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring another one of these this Friday, then the NAACP has one next Monday evening.


The city ran an ad in last Sunday's Southern, officially notifying the public of upcoming road projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The four projects noted are:

--constructing the Marion Street Extension from College to Mill Street
--resurfacing Washington Street from Walnut to Mill Street
--resurfacing Wall Street from Mill to park Street
--resurfacing Oakland Avenue from Willow to Rigdon Street

No indication from the ad when to expect this to start but, since the city is accepting comments until April 6, I 'd guess not until then.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

20% Discount

Trying to get more students from southern Illinois, SIUC will be giving students from this area a 2o% discount on tuition. In marketing, we say that price is the easiest thing to compete on. If I want to compete with you on it, all I have to do is cut my price to be equal or near yours and, assuming I have a superior product, people will buy my product over your's.

Unfortunately, students are not perceiving SIUC as offering a superior product or they would be flocking here, as they did up until the early 1990s. When you start competing on price, which, despite the tone of the press release, is what SIUC has been doing with its recent moves, you get studetns focused on price first and quality of education second. That's not a good basis on which to revitalize the university. You improve the quality of the product and students will come back to the university.

Candidate Forum tonight

There's another forum for city council candidates tonight in the City Council chambers at the Civic Center. Meet & Greet states at 6:30 and the grillin' starts at 7. Probably be another non-confrontation affair.

Road Work

Westbound 13 by the (now shuttered) Horizon Inn and BP Petroleum is down to one lane of traffic this morning due to road work. Traffic was backed up to Godfathers when I drove by this morning.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mellencamp on Music

More precisely, John Mellencamp on the music business and why it shouldn't be the responsibility of the musician to promote themselves but why they have to. Interesting read.

Kevin Clark

Had the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes with council candidate Kevin clark for a few minutes and quiz him his campaign:

Why are you running?
I’ve developed a lot of relationships in the community and feel I have a sense of what people would like to see happen in Carbondale. With my background in both business and community organizing, I have a good blend of both social service and business understanding. I like being involved in the community and feel I would be very good as a city councilman.
Why vote for you?
I would bring a perspective to city council that may not be there currently. I feel like I represent a good portion of the Carbondale community. I have the perspective of a SIUC student, business owner and resident.
How do you see the relationship between SIUC and Carbondale?
Communication between the two is important. At times, it seems like both are working on the same problem without talking to each other about it.
What are the issues you think are most important?
Housing, economic development and communication. Carbondale needs safe, affordable housing. Housing inspections are critical. Landlords should be encouraged to continually reinvest in their properties. Purchasing by the ci ty should be done locally as much as possible and businesses should be encouraged to participate. Finally, we need to improve communication between residents of the community, SIUC and city government. I will attend Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Council meetings on a monthly basis to listen to what they have to say. I will concentrate on being approachable, working within the strictures of city government. I want to go to where people are, rather than have them come to me.
Anything else?
Individuals need to come out. This (election) is very important. The city council spends your tax money and you should have a say in it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Think Fast 2009

In case you don't feel like eating next weekend, ThinkFast 2009, a daylong fast and associated programming to raise awareness of world hunger, starts at 6 p.m. on the 27 at the Newman Center.

Oak Street Vandalism

Three vehicles parked on the street in the 500 block of West Oak had windows broken out sometime Friday night/Saturday morning. Damage was confined to those vehicles on the street as cars parked in driveways nearby were undamaged.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wendler to Texas?

Looks like ex-chancellor and current professor of architecture Walter Wendler is under consideration for the dean's position at the UTSA's school of architecture. Interesting that they're lookin gat him, given his rocky past here. However, his time spent in the University of Texas system may be a mitigating factor.

Harbaugh's Review

Very positive, albeit mildly snobby, review of Harbaugh's Cafe. Maybe it's me, but "dive" is not the first word that comes to mind to describe Harbaugh's.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Property Tax?

Looks like Carbondale's budget for next year will run about $3.4 million short. Among other proposed solutions, re-instating the city's property tax.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vigil Tonight

There's a candlelight vigil tonight at the Peace Labyrinth next to the Interfaith Center on S. Illinois to mark the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Saturday the 21st, there's another vigil and march at the Town Square Pavilion, it doesn't say what time on the post, though.

Raid on Ohio Food Co-Op

With the local farmer's markets reopening soon, I thought this story on a raid by Ohio officers on an unlicensed food do-op timely. The Peach Chicken blog paints a significantly different picture of what happened.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Out of Town

I'll be sans internet for a couple of days so posts will be sporadic until the weekend. I hope to talk with Kevin Clark about his campaign on Friday.

Liquor Control Commission

The Liquor Control Commission, who cunningly disguise themselves as the Carbondale City Council, met right after the city council meeting to consider two resolutions, one concerning Carbondale Main Street and one for Melting Pot Inc.

Carbondale Main Street was again bothering people about the Downtown Wine and Art Fair, this time asking for a F-1 permit, temporarily allowing them to sell beer and wine during a 48 hour period. I'd guess the 48 hours has to be continuous, though this point was never brought up. Anyhow, it passed unanimously.

Next up was Lance Jack, who had recused himself from the Commission tonight so he couple present a request for a Class A-1 license, allowing his soon to open Fat Patties restaurant on S. Illinois to sell beer and wine. In his presentation, Jack pointed out he was opening in a location that had sat empty for two years, that he was bringing jobs to Carbondale, and, while he expected to success without it, having a beer and wine license would certainly make it easier for the restaurant to turn a profit.

Councilwoman Pohlman made an awkwardly worded motion to deny the license, saying it was not in the best interests of Carbondale to open it. Councilman Fritzler seconded it, saying he feared that, if Jack got the license,he would have to recuse himself from all issues regarding liquor coming before both council and commission, making it harder for both to do their jobs. Jack then spoke again, asking them to treat him as a regular citizen and not as a councilman. Didn't work though as Pohlman, Fritzler, Haynes and Wissmann voted in favor of denying the license, with McDaniel and the Mayor voting against.

Mayor Cole dismissed the commission at 7:47.

City Council Meeting

City Council moved at a very brisk pace tonight with everything wrapped up in about 20 minutes. There were a couple of announcements about upcoming events, then straight into the consent agenda. Nobody wanted to question the warrants this time, but the Carbondale Main Street Fair Days resolution for the Downtown Art and Wine Fair on May 1 (blatant plug there) got pulled out for a separate vote. Seems CMS wanted to extent the events time an extra hour to 11 p.m since people were coming to the event early, going to Tres Hombres or Newell House for dinner, then coming back about 10 to find the Fair closing down. Since the city has a amplification ordinance against noise after 10 p.m., the council wanted to vote on the extension separately, with the understanding that, if there are complaints, CMS probably won't get the extension next time. Councilman Wissmann was pretty enthused about this resolution as he jumped in to make it before the mayor finished reading if off. Despite that, the resolution passed unanimously.

Next up was a resolution approving the final plan for the expansion at Prairie Living on Chautauqua. This will add 75 additional assisted living units to the facility, targeted toward higher income residents. After some questions about drainage and erosion from the mayor, this also passed unanimously.

The last item on the agenda was an ordinance adopting an identity theft program. Apparently the Fair and Accurate Transactions Act of 2003 requires cities to adopt ordinances saying identity theft is bad and bringing their operations, especially regarding billing, into compliance with the Act. After a couple of clarifications requested by councilman Wissmann, this too passed unanimously. The council was getting along very well tonight and adjourned about 7:20, to reconvene in their secret identities as the Liquor Control Commission

Election in Full Crawl

Starting to see a few yards signs out for Joel Fritzler and Chris Wissmann and the DE ran a profile yesterday on Corene McDaniel so there is some impetus towards the upcoming election. There will also be a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters next Tuesday but I don't see a lot of interest in or enthusiam about the election. Carbondale only managed to turn out 4,000 voters for the much more hotly contested 2007 contest between Sheila Simon and Brad Cole.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pets & Pounds

It never fails to amaze me that people don't have their pets spayed or neutered There are about 43 million households with dogs in the US and about 37.5 million with cats, most with 2 of each. About 75% of those are neutered, however 90% of dogs and cats dropped off at pounds are not. And the top ten reasons someone drops off a cat or dog at the pound or shelter are.....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Comprehensive Plan Committee Meeting

As I noted yesterday, I sat in on last Wednesday's Comprehensive Plan Review Committee meeting. According to the committee's analysis, C'dale faces a number of problems with three paramount (two of which are housing related):

--large amount of sub-standard housing throughout all areas of the city
--critical shortage of single family duplex housing ($100,000-$125,000 price range)
--revitalization and upgrading of downtown and the square

Other issues cited as important to the plan but not paramount are: recreation, city appearance, transport and utilities.

A couple of points were debated. First was the importance of the university to the city's future. Though the committee appeared to agree that the health of the university is vital to the health of Carbondale, mention was made of the riots of May 1970 as evidence of a one-sided relationship between Carbondale and SIUC, that is, SIUC will do whatever benefits the university with the city's welfare as an afterthought. There was disagreement expressed with this view but most members seems to agree it's in the city's best interest to seek out other economic engines to supplement the university, though I'm not sure how feasible that is.

Another major point of discussion was the focus of point 3 on downtown rather than the entire community. The west side of Carbondale has a number of empty storefronts, easily comparable with the 13+ in downtown, and maybe the focus ought to be on upgrading buisness areas on both the east and west sides, as well as downtown.

Members also commented on the focus on $100,000 homes in the plan with a note made that there were no $250,000 homes availalbe in town either and buyers for those were locating in Carterville and Herrin. Meeting adjoured at 7 p.m.

There's another meeting of the review committee on March 25 and a community wide meeting at Carbondale Middle School on the 26th.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Funding Coming to Southern Illinois

Or as Senator McCain might call it, "pork". Looks like we've got about $5.5 million for projects for the region and about $58 million for repairs to locks and dams on the Mississippi River.

Carbondale and the 1970 Riots

Sat in on the City's comprehensive plan meeting last night along with councilman Joel Fritzler. It was interesting to hear people bringing up the May riots of 1970 and the tear gassing by the National Guard. I'm not sure how relevant they are to today's situation, except that there still seems a strong undercurrent of antipathy towards the university among long-time C'dale residents as a result of the riots and the university's response to them.

More on the actual meeting later

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carbondale Foundation for a Better Environment

Never can tell what you're going to run across when poking among old files. I found these records of meetings of the Carbondale Foundation for a Better Environment on SIUC's website. The organization started off as the Mayor's Beautification Committee in 1968 and gradually morphed into the CFBE about 1970, which influenced the creation of Turley Park, the Green Earth organzation and the designation of C'dale as a Tree City during the early 1980's before going defunct in 1985. The influence of the CFBE can still be seen in Keep Carbondale Beautiful, the Student Environmental Center and the beautification projects of Carbondale Main Street

Downtown Design Display

Students in Architecture 252, "Downtown Environments" have a display in the civic center hallway of designs showing adaptive reuse and rehabilitation of buildings and streetscapes along south Illinois. I especially liked the redesigns of the street in front of PKs and the block containing Mary Lou's and Sound Core.


The Anna Walgreens is coming merrily along, however, the Carbondale location is still stuck in the negotiation stage. Hopefully, something will happen soon, to go along with the sale of the old Hardee's building.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Year in Review, Already?

For some reason, the Post-Dispatch has decided to take a look back at some of the controversies that hit SIUC in the past year. They're either a little late, really early or expect a whole lot more to happen this year and wanted to get a jump on things.

Start Planning Now

Two solar eclipses will be visible in the Carbondale area in the next 20 years. One takes place on August 21, 2017, the other on April 8 2024. Reserve your seats now.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Carbondale Crime

Not sure if crime in Carbondale is up or down. The police department says it'd down, the Arbor District says it's up. Illinois State Police statistics appear to support the Arbor District, but as the ISP site says:

"Caution should be exercised when reviewing and using this information. Many social factors
related to crime and a community’s population must be considered when making statistical
comparisons. For example, a community may have a small residential population but a large
transient population due to a substantial number of employers, motels, entertainment attractions,
etc., within its jurisdiction. A large transient population increases the potential for criminal behavior
within a small jurisdiction. The resulting higher population-based crime rate calculation does not
compensate for a transient population. The final statistics can lend to the impression that crime is
more prevalent due to the exclusion of the transient population in calculation processes."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Southern Hills Destruction

In an email, Laraine Wright points out the plans to raze the Southern Hills student housing complex and replace it with living facilities for retired SIUC alumni and faculty, which went moribund in 2003, are attracting attention again, with investors intersted and a survey being sent out this year to gage demand.

Not sure what it means, but I found it intersting that representatives from the Laborer's International Union met with Pres. Poshard to discuss investing a portion of their pension funds in the project.

Saluki Way Changes

The DE has a good article looking at major changes in the Saluki Way project from inception to current status. Funding, of course, is a major change. The ordering of buildings is the other major altertion. Current plans move a student service building up to first phase and bump a state of the art academic building to second (as yet unscheduled) phase.

I guess technically the money raised so far is pledged, since the BOD pledged $41.5 million in increased student fees and the city pledged $20 million in sales tax collections but I always thought pledges were more, well, voluntary on the part of the donors. While the $2 million anonymous donation announced during the ceremony was nice and the donor has the right to do whatever they want with their money, I can't help but think about the cash strapped charaties in the area.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Who Watches the.....

Roger Ebert loves the Watchmen movie. Not everybody does though. Midnight showing sales were certainly good.

Saluki Way Shortfall

The city is projecting coming in at less than the expected $1 million promised to SIUC this year for the Saluki Way project. Looks like this year's contribution will run around $10,000 short.

Update: Courtesy of Chris Wissmann, here's the applicable text of the contract between the city and SIUC:

"The City agrees to pay the University an amount equal to 1/4 of 1% of the revenue generated each year by the city from its Home Rule Retailer's Occupation and Service Occupation taxes to assist in the payment of costs associated with the Saluki Way project. In no event shall said amount exceed [$1 million] per year or [$20 million] over the entire term of the contract."

Bucky's Dome

Nice write up on the state of the Buckminister Fuller home. Certainly more recent info about the status of the building than you'll find on the Bucky's Dome preservation site.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More Plaudits for City's Website

Or it might just be one plaudit repeated by several different sites as the conservative website Illinois Review posted a positive press release without comment from the Sam Adams Alliance about the Sunshine Review's positive opinion of the City of Carbondale's website.

I would kinda like to know who else has adopted the Sushine Review's checklist that they say has quickly become the standard that governemtn websites should be measured against:

“Sunshine Review has developed a ten-point Transparency Checklist, which consists of information that Sunshine Review and the Sam Adams Alliance believe should be easily accessible to the public,” said Paul Miller, Communications Director for the Sam Adams Alliance. “This checklist has quickly become the standard that all levels of government should be measured against.”

Sexual harassment at SIUC

Despite complaints about the sexual harassment code at SIUC, one of the TA's here from Bangladesh wrote a glowing commentary comparing SIUC's current code to the state of sexual harassment codes in his home country..

Kevin Clark's Platform

From the mailer he sent out last week:

-promote safe neighborhoods
-support housing inspections
-support neighborhood preservation

Economic Development
-promote local business
-cultivate living wage employment
-provide youth development programs

-serve as a safe-haven where community members can present thoughts and concerns
-reciprocal communication between and among city government, SIUC and the larger Carbondale community
--Active listening, which fosters collaboration and productivity.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Planning Commission Meeting

With only two members missing tonight (Hunsaker and Hall), the Planning Commission got through its agenda in pretty short order, wrapping up in about 15 minutes

Under old business, there was a discussion of what a cargo shipping container or seed container was. A couple of members expressed concern that, if an ordinance was passed allowing placement of cargo shipping containers in residential areas, members of the community might get a semi trailer, knock the wheels off and call it a cargo shipping container. The commission decided to research standard sizes of shipping containers and use that info in better formulating the amendment.

Tim Damian, developer of forthcoming Damian Estates on New Era Road, got the approval of annexation he'd been seeking, along with a variance of the city's ordinance regarding inclusion of sidewalks in subdivisions. The city council will have to approve the annexation and variance at its March 17 meeting.

Councilmember (and ex-officio commission member) Lance Jack then went over various annexations and other matters relating to the commission the city council had approved at prior meetings. The commission then dismissed at about a quarter after seven (7:17, if you want to be precise).

Planning Commission Meeting

The city's planning commission meets at 7 tonight in the council chambers. Be interesting to see if they manage to approve their minutes from last December, much less act on anything on their agenda.

Big Muddy Winners

SIUC has posted the winning entries in this year's Big Muddy Film Festival, oldest and largest student run film festival in the country.


There's been a spate of burglaries in C'dale recently. I counted 6 residential burglaries posted on the Carbondale Police website in the past week. Officer Randy Mathis, contact for the city's Neighborhood Watch program, sent out these tips for reducing the chances your home is burglarized:

With the recent activity the City of Carbondale Police Department is urging residents to be on the look out for, and to report, suspicious behavior immediately. Posted below are tips that residents can use to help prevent the occurrence of residential burglaries.

Burglary Prevention Tips While Away From Home

- If you are away from your residence, use timers for your lights, television or radio to give the impression that someone is home.

- Do not let newspapers or mail pile up while you are away. Place a hold on these items or have someone collect them for you.

- If possible, have someone check your residence.

- Electronic equipment (computers, digital cameras, video game systems, etc...) are a common target for criminals. Consider taking these items with you.

Burglary Prevention Tips While At Home

Many cases involve the criminal going from house to house looking for unlocked doors or windows. Often the criminal will knock on the door of a residence to see if anyone is home. If someone answers they will ask for a person and pretend they have come to the wrong residence. The suspect may ask to use the phone, or make another statement to keep you from knowing their actual intent.

In order to make you and your home less of a target, please keep in mind the following :

- Keep all doors and windows locked, even if you are at home, will only be gone a short time or are "just going next door." Make sure all locks are functioning properly.

- Never allow someone you don’t know into your residence. If someone comes to your door needing assistance, offer to call the police for them, while they wait outside.

- Keep valuable items out of sight of passers-by.

- Be alert to persons going from house to house, looking in windows or knocking on doors. Report suspicious persons to the police. Make note of the person’s physical description, clothing, tattoos or other distinguishing characteristics and give that information to the police.

- Keep all entrances to your residence well lit and maintain landscaping to prevent hiding places.

- Beware of burglars posing as solicitors. All persons must have a Solicitation Permit issued by the City of Carbondale prior to going door-to-door. After you verify the solicitor has the proper permit and you choose to let them in your residence, do not leave them alone.

- Keep a list of your valuables, including the serial numbers and unique characteristics. If a burglary does occur, providing this information can greatly help in the investigation and recovery process.

- Don’t advertise the property you recently purchased or received as a gift. Put the boxes in a trash bag or trash container. If you leave them out anyone can see what you now have inside your residence.

- REMEMBER! The best crime prevention tool is alert neighbors. Be aware of suspicious activity in your neighborhood, and report it to the police.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

City Council Meeting

Tonight's City Council meeting was pretty short as they had gone into closed session by the time I got there about 10 'til 8.

City Website Transperancy

The new Carbondale city website gets a positive review from one transparency advocate. It appears there is a set of standards for transparency on government websites and the new Carbondale site meets all of them.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Out of State Tuition Program

SIUC is willing to offer in state tuition to out of state students but refuses to participate in a program already in place that does just that. I'm not a big fan of offering in state rates to out of state students but, if the university is going to do that, it makes sense to particpate in the MSEP. Illinois is already a member of the program, it's just that no Illinois univeristy particpates. By participating, SIUC would be a first mover, get access to students in eight other states before other Illinois state universities, and still charge 150% of in-state tuition.