Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Send More Cops

The city just announced receiving a $560,000 grant from the federal government's COPS program to hire 3 more full time police officers. The grant covers all salaries and benefits for the positions but only for 3 years. After that, I guess we re-apply for another grand, come up with the money ourselves or discharge the officers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lance Jack Again

Looks like Jack will be giving up on his quest, for the moment, to get a liquor license for Fat Patties. From the city code, as posted by someone in the Southern's comments on the matter, there's no problem from a legal standpoint with Jack holding the liquor license:

caspuhlter wrote on Jul 22, 2009 11:18 AM:

" It seems to me that Fritzler's argument is incorrect. The city code specifically allows for this situation. In City Code 2-4-4 paragraph b. (Persons ineligible to hold a license) it states:

B. Any law enforcing public official, mayor or any member of the city council; and no such official shall be interested, in any way, either directly or indirectly, in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of alcoholic liquor, except that a license may be granted to a member of the city council (excluding the mayor) in relation to a premises or to an establishment in which the council member has a direct or indirect interest if:
1. The sale of alcoholic liquor pursuant to the license is incidental to the selling of food (class A license only);
2. The issuance of the license is approved by the Illinois liquor control commission;
3. The issuance of the license is in accordance with all applicable ordinances of this code; and
4. The official granted the license does not vote on alcoholic liquor issues pending before the local liquor control commission or the city council.

So, the city's own code says that Jack can hold a license and not vote. It may not be the best idea, but it is the law that the council must work off of.

Monday, July 27, 2009

New School Center CEO

SchoolCenter, the leading K-12 web solutions company (it says so on their website), out on Reed Station Road, has a new CEO.

Beer Garden

The Upside Downtown's new beer garden is almost done. The building that housed the Burgundy Room wine bar for a short time got pulled down and there's a pretty nice looking fenced in patio in its place.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Health Care

From Sadly No, interesting comparison between US and Canadian healthcare.

And from Nate Silver, why you shouldn't pay much attention to the daily news on health care in Congress.

More on Neighborhood Organizations

Received this email in response to the question about other neighborhood organizations in Carbondale (posted with permission):

There are other neighborhood organizations though they are less "formally" organized than the Arbor District. One such example is the the Oaklawn Neighborhood in the southwest corner of .About four neighborhood groups meet regularly on the first Wednesday of the month, 5 pm at Carbondale City Hall. This is called the Carbondale Study Circles Neighborhood and Housing Action Group. Ir was started some five years ago. The Neighborhood and Housing Action Group formulates programs and polices that address neighborhood needs. Examples of our work include the development of city transparency in leasing and zoning policies, yearly Neighborhood Alliance meetings and the training and organizing for a neighborhood based emergency preparedness program, Map Your Neighborhood (MYN).
I h ave been a member of this group since its inception. I am also an Arbor District member. The Neighborhood and Housing Action Group also met with the Consultants consultants on the Comprehensive plan. It has been an agenda item at our meeting for the past two year. Though I was unable to attend the meeting here is a portion of my letter. It reflects major topics of discussion at our meetings:
Increasing neighborhood safety and deterring the decline of housing stock and home ownership in Carbondale’s neighborhoods is a focus of our work. With this in mind, I recommend that:
1. A formal relationship between crime prevention, City/University planning and neighborhoods be established. Programmatically this would mean the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) would be integrated into all land use regulation (i.e. the Comprehensive Plan, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulation, landscape, architectural design and access for the physically and mentally challenged);
2. Performance Standards be utilized in neighborhoods. Many of our neighborhoods are already mixed use especially with respect to mixed residential use. This mix of zoning exists without the controls of performance standards which mitigate the issues that arise when different types of land use are in close proximity—lighting, parking, buffering, etc.;
3.Encourage more owner occupancy and the number of “stake holders” living in Carbondale by continuing and expanding programs for converting rental properties to owner occupied. This is particularly significant now as the growth in new rental properties is increasing the availability of single family homes. There is growing concern regarding the impact of vacant rental housing in neighborhoods such as the Arbor District. Conversion of this rental property to owner occupied should be one strategy in a plan to address this issue.
4. The staffing of the department largely responsible for the oversight and implementation of the Comprehensive Plan, Development Services, has been restructured and depleted. Successful development, implementation and evaluation of the above mention polices and programs will require more staff. A Neighborhood Planner is needed. This planner would assist neighborhoods work on CPTED, MYN as well, cultivate neighborhood organizations/leadership. More hires in code enforcement are needed.
Thank You for Your Efforts and Time,
Mary O’Hara, PhD
Study Circles, Neighborhood and Housing Action Group

City Council Meeting

Got to last Tuesday's City Council meeting about an hour and a half late but apparently it didn't start until 7:30, due to the goings on at the Liquor Control Commission. Lance Jack apparently had about a hundred supporters there for his third (failed) attempt to get a liquor license for Fat Patties. The commission split 3/3 with Cole, Wissmann and McDaniel supporting the application and the other three opposing. Beer garden applications for Upside Downtown and Hangar 9 went through OK, though there were some questions about Hangar 9's putting its garden next to the street rather than behind the building. Express Burrito got the nod for its change over from fast Mexican to bar and grill, while the Spotlight Bar and Grill failed to get its application re-approved. too much liquor sold and not enough food for the class of licnese they have. Not sure what that means for the future of the restaurant/bar.

When I arrived, Councilman Wissman was finishing his mea culpa for his probably vote to close the Eurma Haynes Child Care Center, saying as a liberal it was hard for him to do. Councilmen McDaniel and Fritzler followed suit, lauding the center, its staff and his service to the community BUT...(when you are in a negotiation, if the other side says "But", it's shorthand for "ignore everything I've said up to this point"), they didn't see how the city could continue to support the center to the tune of $200,000 a year for only 33 families, half of which don't even live in Carbondale.

Councilman Haynes, a graduate of the Center, as he mentioned several times during his speech, argued for keeping the Center open, saying that maintaining the social support for the families was more important than then Center "making a profit or breaking even", which he said other council members had argued for. Must have been Pohlman or Jack (whose supporters had left by then: beer important, child care, not so much) as I didn't hear McDaniel or Fritzler (or the little bitt of Wissmann I caught) argue for the Center making a profit, so much as fewer people using it with ever increasing city support. One anecdote by McDaniel especially struck me. She mentioned seeing children, who lived only a couple of blocks from the Hayes Center, boarding a bus to go to a different day care center in the community.

After the Mayor's closing homily (and he did call it a homily) about the support the city had given the Center the past 5 years, the vote was called. Six to one in favor of closing the Center, the one being Councilman Haynes. After 34 years, the Eurma C. Hayes Child Care Center closes August 1st, except for HeadStart, which remains until August 18. Mayor Cole then directed City Manger Gill to look into alternative uses for the building and closed the meeting.

You can read unhappy parents' reponses here and here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Online License Renewal

Got a letter from the Secretary of State offering me the option of renewing my driver's license online, being as I'm a safe driver and all. Cost is $10 plus a minimal payment processor fee. Sounds good. Get to the website and find out that minimal processing fee is $1.75. I'm supposed to pay a processing fee of over 10% of the cost of the sticker, when the maximum cost to process a $10 charge on a credit card is about 35 cents? I realize the state is in financial difficulty but that just smacks of usury.

How Much?

So how much is an SIUC student worth? Monday President Poshard said about $17,000 per year. The same day, you've got the VP for Financial and Administrative Affairs saying about $7500:

The university’s fiscal year 2009 third-quarter budget report revealed a 399-student drop in the spring 2009. The shortfall could account for nearly $3 million worth of lost revenue, Vice President for Financial and Administrative Affairs Corey Bradford said.

No wonder the university is having financial difficulties if they can't even figure out how much each student brings in.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bucky's Dome Update

Had the opportunity to speak with Brent Ritzel from the Bucky's Dome Board of Directors last night. Despite the lack of new news on the website, the BDBOD has been busy. Ritzel says they have sent out a slew of grant applications and are especially hopeful about two that should be decided upon by October. Those two total aobut $303,000 which, if they come through, would allowing for a complete rehabbing of the dome, even getting the plastic sheeting off.

I'd been curious about why no sign outside to dome to let people know about its historic signifcance. Aparently, there have been six signs put up since the rehab project started and every one of 'em has been stolen withing a week. Nice to know there are that many local fans of Buckminister Fuller. Now if they'd just kick in more money.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BOT Unhappy with SIUC Admin

Apparently the SIU BOT isn't very impressed with the administration's plans for getting enrollment back up. Fall enrollment is projected slightly down and PresidentPoshard said in yesterday's Morning Coversation that, due to cuts in grants and financial aid, he expects to see a signficiant hit in next springs enrollemnt numbers.

It's intersting that President Posard blames the impementation of the Banner software as a reason when enrollment is down:

Poshard said the drop could be attributed to several factors.

“We are implementing a new Banner system and that takes time to put together, particularly when we are in an enrollment period,” Poshard said. “And with the economic situation being what it is, it’s getting harder and harder to pay for higher education. Students are choosing to stay at community colleges.”

Comprehensive Plan and LCC Meetings

Just got this email from the Arbor District:

Kendig Keast, the city's consultants on the comprehensive plan, are meeting with the Arbor District neighbors tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. at City Hall to get our sense of what needs to be done, particularly about HOUSING. However, all other issues are fair game. The Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee members were just briefed about the "mobility" (transportation) chapter, and we'll be chewing it over during the next month or so.

I had thought that the meeting was with a number of neighborhood groups, but found out this evening that they specifically wanted to meet with the Arbor District. I sent word out to the Arbor District Board last week. Please forgive the last minute nature of this invitation, and if you know other people who you think would want to come, please invite them.

After this if you feel real civic minded, you can stick around for the 6 p.m. meeting of the Liquor Control Commission and watch Lance Jack have another go at getting a liquor license for Fat Patties and Express Burrito becoming Sergio's Mexican Bar and Grill.

Then at 7 to round off your evening of local politics, there's supposed to be a meeting of the City Council at 7 but clicking on the link brings up info about the Liquor Control Commission instead of the CC agenda.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Please ID Yourself

By request,I made it easier to post comments on here by allowing all posts, even anonymous ones. However, I would appreciate you identifying yourself when you post as it makes it easier to respond to them when warranted. No record is kept of your identification information, all that's recorded is your username. Thanks.

SIUC Student Value

Caught this interesting nugget on this morning's Morning Conversation with President Poshard. 1,000 SIUC students are worth $17 million in tuition and fees to the school. Breaking it down further, each student added or lost is worth $17,000 per year to the university.

Edited to reflect it was President Poshard not Chancellor Goldman, as noted in the comments

Blogging the Budget

Assuming revenues and expenses come in as projected (which is doubtful), we should see the following changes in fund balances as of April 10, 2010:

General Fund--up $2,431
Motor Fuel Fund--down $238,203
TIF District #1--down$22,562
Child Care Services--up $922
Debt Service Fund--down $568
Community Investment Funds--down $596,894

for a net decline in funds of $854,824.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Church Break-ins

Hearing about a break in at a church is becoming a weekly thing. Last week, it was the First Christian Church, this week, according to an email from the Arbor District, it's the First Presbyterian Church:

A break-in occurred at First Presbyterian Church between Thursday, July 16 after 8:45PM and the following morning. Two lap top computers and a small amount of money were stolen. The Carbondale Police Department is investigating.

If anyone has any information about this crime, please call the Carbondale Police Dept at 618-457-3200 or Crime Stoppers 618-549-COPS.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Whitney for Governor?

Rich Whitney has again thrown his hat into the ring as the Green Party's candidate for governor of the great state of Illinois. Given the results of the 2006 election, Whitney's comment below is (unintentionally) ironic:

On the matter of the state's current budget woes, Whitney took aim at lawmakers faulting them for looking to "borrow their way out of it."

"This is more of the same," he said. "And what's the definition of insanity? Repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

The same could be said of running as a third party candidate in Illinois.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Crime

This time a residential burglary in the 800 block of West College. The cash I can understand but a television stand?

Lieutenant Governor Position

Some state Republicans, including assistant GOP leader Ron Stephens, are lobbying to eliminate the now vacant Lieutenant Governor's position, saying it would save the state about $2 million a year. It won't happen, of course, but the fact that anyone is proposing it says a lot about the esteem the office that Mayor Cole (and Scott Lee Cohen) aspires to is held in.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Important Crime Career Tip

If you are wanted by the police currently, getting involved in things that attract their attention is a VERY bad idea.


The city is touting its growth of 2.4% between July 2000 and July 2008. while any growth is good, that works out to an average .3% per year. That could easily be due to the natural growth of the city, rather than any influx created by the new building Asst. Manager Baity cites.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Illinois Reform

While Sheila Simon was disappointed with the results of the reform commission, Charlie Wheeler says the glass is more half full than half empty. By Wheeler's analysis, changes that affected the executive branch were adopted, those that affected the legislative branch were not. No, the reform bill that was adopted isn't perfect, but, given Illinois politics, I'd say we came ahead.

Dine for Charity

In case you're planning on going out to eat next Tuesday the Relay for Life would like to recommend these fine establishments:

          Tiffany Heil/IL/ACS/US

          07/15/2009 10:47 AM



Dine & Donate- Carbondale restaurants
Hello from the American Cancer Society,

The Relay For Life of Jackson County Carbondale is partnering with local Carbondale restaurants for the first annual Taste of Hope- Carbondale. We need your help! Please dine in at any of the below listed restaurants on Tuesday, July 21 from 5:00pm until the close of business and 20% of the net profit will come back to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Jackson County Carbondale.
  • Quatro's Pizza
  • Houlihan's
  • Newell House
  • Tres Hombres
  • Giant City Lodge

Please forward to anyone you think would be interested. We would love to see the restaurants packed for our fight against cancer! Thank you for your support of our lifesaving mission.

Tiffany Heil
Income Development Representative
American Cancer Society, Southern Region
4503 West DeYoung, Suite 200C
Marion, Illinois 62959

Water Quality

According to this year's water quality report, Carbondale's water is unmatched in the state of Illinois in terms of purity. According to the report testing conducted between Sept 15-17 , 2008 found no actionable levels of lead or copper in the water and monthly samples found no coliform bacteria present either. The report also shows minuscule amounts of disinfectants, nitrate, fluoride and barium. The contaminent with the highest level looks like chlorine, coming in at 3.5 parts per million, safly unter the safe level of 4 parts per million. Manganese and sodium both test present in the water but there are no federal standards for either. The state standard for manganese is 150 micrograms per liter and Cedar Lake's water tests at 4 micrograms per liter. The report does note that if you are on a sodium restricted diet, you should consult a physician about the 12 milligrams per liter of sodium present in the water.

This just confirms what I've heard from city employees. There's no good reason for anyone to complain about the taste of C'dale water, unless you've got rusty pipes in your house.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mayor cole

I called it. Not that Mayor Cole's announcement was any big surprise given his lack of name recognition outside the area precludes a run for Governor or Secretary of State and he doesn't have the legal or financial background for a run at the other offices.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Notes from Pickle's Alley

Lots of rain here over the weekend.
Gill's already been here a year? Wow it seems like... a year.
Looks like peaches will be ok despite all the storms.
Cuban bound pastors will be at the Unitarian Fellowship tomorrow.

Ryan Livingston.

Today is the third anniversary of Ryan Livingston's still unsolved murder. No new information announced on the case since the unsigned letter received last year. Thanks to D. Gorton for pointing this out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Walkaround and Shoes

Would have liked to read more specifics regarding where the staff went in their walkaround of downtown C'dale. No indication they made it over to the Levee. And sometimes shoes are just shoes:

A pair of shoes hanging from a power line in an alley appeared random but were anything but according to new Police Chief Jody O’Guinn who said, in his experience, the shoes serve as a signal to people looking for drugs.

Shoes appear in that alley with regularity. I used to think they were drug signals, but found out usually they are cast-offs by people who bought new ones right around the corner at Victory Sports, change into the new ones, and leave the old ones sitting on the dumpster sitting in the alley the chief speaks of.

Notes from Pickle's Alley

Used to be owners would just abandon dogs and cats.
C'dale is a bicycling Mecca, isn't it?
No community pool? It's Mayor Cole's fault. (despite the fact that there's not enough money or real community interest for one).

No Second Term for Mr. Burris

You've probably already read this elsewhere but the estimable Senator Burris announced today he was not going to seek a second term. I hear the sound of the even more frantic baying of the hounds seeking to replace him.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Madigan Staying as A.G.

Lisa Madigan has apparently decided she prefers state to federal government as she has announced she's seeking re-election to the attorney general position rather than going after the governor's chair or Roland Burris' Senate seat. Despite the fact that her dad has managed to not get a budget passed on time for how many years in a row now, she'll probably win re-election easily.

Earth Age

No matter what you might say about Illinois legislators, none of them would make a statement like this. (At least I hope not on camera). On the other had, betcha she's gotten the budget passed on time.

Notes from Pickle's Alley

One Mexican restaurant closes, another takes its place.
We're doomed, doomed I tell you, unless we elect Randall Stufflebeam.
Why civics is important.
More on the shooting of Toto Kaiyewu.
Okay, I guess we need a cyborg guide to Carbondale.
Simon Public Policy Institute takes a page from public radio's playbook.
Minimum wage and SIUC students.
The money just ain't there for two Bucky Domes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jerry Costello on Cap and Trade

Got the following email from Rep. Costello regarding his vote on cap and trade legislation:

As you may know, H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 was recently passed in the House of Representatives. I opposed this legislation because the bill will drastically increase utility costs and does not provide for adequate use of coal as the country continues to develop renewable sources of energy.
H.R. 2454 does not provide a bridge for coal and other fossil fuels to develop and demonstrate new technologies to provide reliable energy and meet the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The timelines contained in this legislation do not provide sufficient time to put these technologies in place. Energy costs will skyrocket and workers will face layoffs and plant closures.
I am also concerned that without similar action by other countries, there will be further negative impacts on the United States. We must consider the consequences of enacting this legislation when other countries, like China and India, have not taken steps to reduce their own carbon emissions. Without some measure of equity on this issue, our emissions may appear to decrease, but they will simply shift overseas, taking jobs and industries with them. Quite simply, this is the wrong bill at the wrong time.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Butt Can

Some really desperate smokers here in the 'dale. This makes twice in a week someone has dumped the cigarette butt can in front of the store, looking for butts that someone else didn't think were worth finishing off. High class of bum we're getting around here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Fourth

And what could be more patriotic than a tour of the US as seen through its hot dogs?

Budget Cut

Almost no one wants to see budget cuts to Illinois social services or the university, especially the university as it's the economic engine for the region. However, with the legislature unable to pass a budget with a tax increase and the governor unwilling to sign one without it, our region is looking to take a major economic hit. Even attempting to borrow money from the state pension funds, the underfunding of which is a major reason we're in this economic mess, didn't work.

Update: You can listen to WSIU's discussion of the fiscal mess here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Quinn to Veto Something

According to this press release, Gov. Quinn is set to veto something this afternoon. Probably the budget the legislature sent to him yesterday.

Minimum Wage Increase

Goes up to $8 a hour today and $8.25 an hour next July. iw as struck by this comment from the article:

Jason Bourque, who owns Common Grounds coffee shop in Carbondale, said the increase will be tough for small business.

Bourque said, while he understands the need for people to make a decent living wage in a full time job, those are not the employees who come to work for him.

"When you primarily employ part-time employees, it's not a means of their lifestyle, it's extra money, say for college students," he said, before noting that a means of delineating that difference in wages would be desirable.

Guess that explains the people in their 60s working part time at McDonalds.