Thursday, December 31, 2009

And Another One Bites the Dust

The Stotlar house, located at 507 West Main, is up for demolition. The house, an example of Prairie Style architecture dating back to 1916, was severely damaged during the windstorms last May. According to the article, a descendant of the original owner tried to purchase the building from the current owner, Home Rentals, but never had his calls returned.

It's interesting that the Preservation Commission says there's nothing the commission can do about the process:

Helen Deniston, a commissioner with the Carbondale Preservation Commission, believes it's a shame the home can't be saved, but says there's nothing the commission can do.

"It's sad that we don't have any way of preventing this," Deniston said. "Unfortunately, there's just so much we can do.

since the commission is having a demolition appropriateness meeting at the property next Tuesday at 3:30:

There will be a meeting of the City of Carbondale Preservation Commissions Certificate of Appropriateness Committee to review the demolition application for property located at 507 West Main Street. The meeting will be held on Tuesday January 5, 2010 at 3:30p.m. at 507 West Main Street.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fewer "For Rent" Signs

Looks like the "For Rent" signs have come down at the Mirror Image, Saluki Central, Shawnee Crisis Pregnancy and Saluki Bookstore locations in downtown. Since all of 'em, except for Mirror Image, have empty for several months to a year or more, it will be good to see businesses (hopefully) opne up in them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

End of Year Sales

While I'm glad to hear the local malls are doing well. this doesn't necessarily mean that local businesses are doing well. There's a whole lot more to the local economy than just University Mall and Ilinois Centre. The article ignored the downtowns of both Marion and Carbondale as well as th ewest side of Carbondale.

Naming Rights

I see the stadium and and arena naming rights that were negotiated by the city back to the university last spring could go for up to $10 million. Imagine what that could have done for the city's budget gap. I recalla there was some justification given for the right's reversion but don't remember off the top of my head what it was.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What Would Jesus Buy

If you're looking for something to do the night of Dec 25th, the Big Muddy IMC is showing What Would Jesus Buy at the IMC's international headquarters, 214 N. Washington Street. The movie starts at 7 p.m and is free.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cundiff Resigns

Williamson County Sheriff Tom Cundiff announced his resignation this morning. Last day on the job will be noon, Christmas day. Heck of a Christmas present.


Channel 12 has video posted of the First Presbyterian vigil Tuesday night. Pretty dark though, which makes sense since it took place at night.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lot of Burglaries Cleared Up

According to this release from the C'dale PD, the arrest of Marcel Martin and three juveniles last Saturday night may clear up over a dozen burglaries in the residential area north of West Main. Kudos to the Carbondale Police Department.

Hangar 9

Latest word on the Hangar 9 rebuild is the current set of plans got approved last month, after two previous sets were re-designed. This version located the beer garden at the front of the building, the idea being the music stays along the street and out of the neighborhood behind the Hangar, reducing the number of complaints from residents there. Some building has started, hopefully completed sometime this spring.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Student Retention

Just finished a short book by Neil Raisman on student retention. His company interviewed 640 students a year after they had left a school to find out why they had left. The study uncovered three major reasons: 1) a feeling the school only looks at them as a source of tuition revenue (30%); 2) dissatisfaction with how they are treated by the staff (yes, this includes faculty) (29%); just unhappy with the feel of the school or the program they are enrolled in (13%).

Of course, one must take the results with a grain of salt, since Raisman's company focuses on improving student retention rates through improving customer service at universities and colleges. Still, given SIUC's problems with student retention, it's certainly something the school should look at.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Neighborhood Alliance Meeting

Star the New Year off right. Come to the annual Neighborhood Alliance meeting (I guess there's only one a year). And there's free food, but only AFTER the meeting:

Please Mark Your Calendars for the 6th Annual Neighborhood Alliance Meeting ---Saturday, January 16th at the Newman Center, 715 South Washington, Carbondale.

Doors open at 9:30 am. Meeting begins at 10 am and ends at noon. Soup/Chile will be served after the meeting. The meeting will include the following topics. Feel free to send other topics for consideration:

Neighborhood reports; Map Your Neighborhood Updates and Information on Winter Storms; Introduction to Preparedness and Community Food Security; Updates and Calendar for the upcoming vote on "Carbondale's Comprehensive Plan" ; Overviews of the City's new computerized programs for mapping crime and code enforcement/rental inspection.

Another Take on Asian Carp

Jim Garvey, director of the Illinois Aquaculture Center at SIUC, says that concern about the Asian Carp may be overblown as there's little evidence the fish is harming other species.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Carbondale Chickens

This is what you miss when you get to city council meetings late. I didn't even know there was an ordinance against keeping chickens in the city, much less that some wanted to get it lifted.

Postpone Saluki Way

That's what this professor of English at SIUC proposes. Probably won't happen because, Lord knows, the university needs that new stadium next fall for the football team.

Vigil Becaue People Are Stupid

In case you're not busy the evening of the 22nd:

*In Respect of Sacred Space*
In response to the recent vandalism at First Presbyterian Church and the increase of theft and vandalism this year at houses of worship throughout Southern Illinois, the Carbondale Interfaith Council is hosting a candlelight vigil in solidarity. The community is invited to meet in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22 for the interfaith service "In Respect of Sacred Space," followed by a candlelight vigil outside First Presbyterian at 5:30 p.m.

What: In Respect of Sacred Space: A Candlelight Vigil in Solidarity
When: 5-6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 310 S. University Ave. Carbondale
Contact: Rev. Janice West, 549-2148 / Carbondale Interfaith Council,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I'll be away for a couple of days, so probably no posts until the weekend.

City Council Meeting

Got there about 8:40 just in time to hear Sandy Litecky inveigh against water privatization, followed by Donald Monty, who appeared to want the council to consider the effects of both an increase in the property tax and an increase in the sales tax. Next, and last was Randy Osborne, who asked the council to cut funding for festivals and events, such as the $3000 spent on fireworks for the Fourth, before funding devoted to social support systems, such as the Boys and Girls Club, where he is executive director.

There wasn't much discussion from the council after that. Both Wissmann and Fritzler came out strongly against privitization of C'dale water, while Lance Jack argued in favor of the property tax over a sales tax increase. The voting on various taxs went pretty quickly with Pohlman, Haynes, Fritzler and Wissmann voting in favor of raising the city sale stax by 1/2 percent to 8 1/4% starting July 1, with Jack and Cole against. Lance Jack was the lone vote against abating the city property tax, so porpoerty taxes will remain as they are. The votes wre unaimous in retaining the property tax levy for the city library as well as the levey for the downtown Special Service Area tax that provides some funding for Carbondale Main Street.

Before ending the meeting, the mayor spent a good chunk of time emphasizing that privatizaiton was only one of the six options he had proposed and that, because controversy has erupted over that one, the others had not been discussed before passsing the tax increase. He pointed out that the city had already cut $1.4 million from its budget and 16 full time and 23 part time positions over the past several years and was going to have to learn to do less with less. Council meeting ended about 9:10.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Poshard Letter

Here's the email that was sent out by President Poshard that Chancellor Goldman referenced in this morning's interview on WSIU.

Dear SIU Employee,
> Last week, at the request of the SIU Board of Trustees, I presented > the actions we have taken thus far in meeting the cash flow > problems we are currently experiencing as a result of a delay in > state funding. I emphasized the following points:
> 1. That the question of our ability to meet November and December > payroll had been largely resolved since the measures we have > employed have been successful and the comptroller's office has > fulfilled our request for $15.5 million in November and has given > us assurances of another similar payment by mid-December.
> 2. That January and February payroll would be fine since we will > be receiving new tuition and federal pell grant monies in January.
> 3. That in the interest of complete transparency our projections > of cash flow indicate that without any state funding whatsoever > from December through February, we would be facing an even greater > problem in March. I described this as "an absolute worse case > scenario" and as "unimaginable". The odds of such a scenario > evolving are almost nil but it would be irresponsible not to > prepare for even the very worst case possible. Other universities > in Illinois have also articulated the same predicament in the last > several weeks. While we have taken many extraordinary steps to > manage our cash flow over the past few months, this remote > possibility would require even deeper cuts, however in order to > maintain our high quality of education it is our goal to avoid > layoffs altogether. To enact substantial cuts in personnel at this > time when the likelihood of state reimbursement is great would not > be a prudent step to take and would cause unnecessary pain to > hundreds of our employees.
> The possibility of SIU being forced to close its doors from lack of > state support was only discussed in the context of this most > extreme possibility. I am absolutely confident that the state of > Illinois would never allow its public universities to fail and even > though the discussion of this remote possibility has caused concern > among the public, I am equally confident that the outstanding work > SIU performs in educating our students will continue unabated > through the spring and into future years.
> While it is in our best interest to be completely open and > transparent about this issue before our university community, to > allow such a remote possibility as school closure to inordinately > influence future decision making would be totally unacceptable.
> To be sure, in the foreseeable future, additional sacrifices will > be asked of every individual associated with SIU but we will meet > our challenges and be a stronger and more excellent university > because of it.
> Sincerely,
> Glenn Poshard
> President
> Southern Illinois University

Monday, December 14, 2009

Letter to the Editor

The Carbondale Times has an editorial in the Dec. 9th issue (still available at finer free newspaper racks around town but not online) arguing that those citizens who organized against Mayor Cole's water privatization proposal overreacted against a proposal that "never had any legs". I disagreed and just sent this letter to the Times:

I read the editorial in the Dec. 9 issue of the Carbondale Times with interest, especially the statement that the plan to privatize the city's water "never had any legs" because Mayor Cole was "only one vote in an elected body of seven people". After Mayor Cole presented his set of proposals, and prior to the community meetings about privatization,at least two city council memebers had stated they were neutral on the privatization option. It was only after members of the community showed strong opposition that all six council members came out opposing it.

Mayor Cole has an enviable track record of both getting the city council to approve his proposals or implementing them as part of his office. Offhand, I can think of:

ending the closure of city offices during the lunch hour
enacting property tax abatement
closing the city supported child care program
putting into place a moratorium on new apartment construction
passing the Saluki Way tax
implementing the summer youth work program
purchasing and demolishing the American Tap
passing the rental inspection fee and program
eliminating the building and neighborhood services manager position

with at least three of those (Saluki Way, child care and neighborhood services manager) enacted over significant opposition from various segments of the community. Given Mayor Cole's success in implementing his proposals in the past and the amount of detail the mayor put into supporting this proposal, I think it is fair to say that those citizens opporsed to privatization had enough cause for concern to justify their organization against the proposal.

SIUC Retention

I think this means that retention for the spring to fall semester is up, though 10,216 students registered for spring at this time compared to 12,885 at the same time last year doesn't sound like much to celebrate to me. Also, this was an interesting paraphrase from the Chancellor:

Chancellor Sam Goldman said at the executive session of the SIU Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday he believes the university’s retention problem has been tackled.

Given the enrollment trends at the university for the past 20 years, I don't think one semester is enough to consider the problem "tackled".

Comment Moderation On

Since some comments appeared in the comments section consisting of what looked like nothing but clickable Japanese kanji repeated over and over, I've turned the comment moderation on to avoid getting anything posted in comments that might infect a reader's computer if clicked upon. If nothing else happens, I'll turn moderation back off.

Armed Forces Career Center

Looks like the remodeling work done on the old Kopies and More building on S Illinois was to make room for an expanded Armed Forces recruiting office, as there's a sign extending across the building front proclaiming "Armed Forces Career Center."

While I'm glad to see something in there, I really wish it had been a retail establishment, as a recruiting center like this will not generate any sales tax revenue for the city, or state for that matter.

On a related note, there's a new awning on the building further south that houses UniversiTees, Kampus Kuts and Book World, a beige overhang that looks made of vinyl replacing the somewhat tattered maroon one.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

North Highway 51 Closed

According to the C'd Police website, around 1:30 this afternoon, a freight train derailed in the north part of Carbondale, across from the Crossings mobile home park. Though there is no suspected health or safety threat, traffic on 51 through the area is being detoured over to New Era Road.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

SIUC Football Attendance

Thought this was interesting. Attendance at the last regularly scheduled game in McAndrew Stadium was 11,500, give or take. Attendance at the first game of the playoffs for the division 1A Championship, 5860. Granted it was cold, but it was still a playoff game for the divisional national championship.

Friday, December 11, 2009

CRAA Office Meeting

In case you're free next Thursday evening:


A Community Hearing

On the

City of Carbondale’s Proposal to Eliminate the Position:

Community Relations/Affirmative Action Office

Some City Officials want to disband the office that is currently responsible for

The City’s Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Programs, and

Assign the duties of Affirmative Action to other persons who have other job

duties with the city. The successful implementation of an affirmative action

Plan depends upon reliable, effective and complete monitoring systems that are

Administered by a person dedicated to such objectives and well versed in State a

and Federal requirements. The City of Carbondale does not have a positive past

in its practice of retention and promotion of African Americans and other

Minorities; isn’t it time to move forward?


Thursday, December 17, 2009 at Eurma C Hayes Center, 6:30 PM

441 E Willow Street, Carbondale, IL 62901


Don Jackson, Esq.-President, Illinois State Conference NAACP

Dr. Janelle Norman, 3rd Vice President, ISC NAACP

The Hearing is Sponsored by Carbondale Branch, NAACP

Reverend Sidney Logwood, President

Rita Cheng

The SIU BOT approved the hiring of Rita Cheng as chancellor yesterday at a salary of over $350,000 including benefits. I immediately thought of the banks, which are using the same argument the BOT used when justifying her salary: you have to pay a top salary in order to get or keep, top people. Apparently her track record as University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee convinced the BOT that she can turn around decades of declining enrollments at SIUC.

New York & Company

Looks like things come in threes again. Got an email from reader LS saying that New York and Co. at University Mall has large signs in its windows announcing "Store Closing" and "50% Off" and about half the store is empty already. Employees aren't sure as to why it's shutting down, other than to say it's a "corporate decision.". They last time I walked by there, I was surprised by how little stock the place had at the time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mirror Image Moving

Mirror Image, the salon located at 118 S. Illinois, next to Mary Lou's, is closing its Carbondale location and relocating to Murphysboro. The move should be completed by early spring.

Booby's Closed

Longtime Strip stalwart Booby's has closed. The sign on the door says "Temporarily Closed" but I have heard that all employees were let go as of December 8th and a couple of other businesses are already eyeing the spot..

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crime Map

This is pretty cool, in a slowing down to stare at accidents kinda way. The C'dale Police have put up a crime map to show where all reported crimes occurred in Carbondale within the past 3, 7, 14 or 30 days.

Arbor District Position Paper

The Arbor District board sent out the following regarding privatization and taxes:

Arbor District Position on Proposed Taxes and Privatization of City Assets and Services

The Arbor District Neighborhood Association Board met Wednesday, Dec. 2, and resolved 1) to oppose the sale of the City's water and sewer system; and 2) to support reinstitution of the property tax and a .25 percent sales tax with a sundown of two or three years. Our rationale was as follows:
Regarding sale of the water and sewer system: We believe that sale of assets, particularly our water system which provides a basic necessity and is a natural monopoly, would be shortsighted and irresponsible. Through the proposed sale, the city would lose control forever of this vital necessity. We urge the Council to seek a way to assure that the City's water and sewer system can never be sold to a private interest, such as putting it in a Trust.
Regarding the property tax: The proposed tax would be slightly more than the current tax for Logan College. For homeowners, that runs a bit more than $100 a year per $100,000 assessed valuation. We are businesspeople and homeowners and realize that business properties do not have the homeowner's exemption. We believe that income earning property should share the burden of supplying city services, along with consumers. We strongly seek redevelopment of blighted properties and areas, which the Mayor suggested in his Budget Planning Discussion document might be hindered by an increase in property tax. However, income-producing property has historically been viewed as the foundation for government funding. Further, most business property in Carbondale is rental property. The rental units require considerable amounts of city services -- police, fire, and so forth -- that are funded through the General Fund.
To encourage investment in these properties, we urge the Council to establish a property tax abatement policy for property owners who significantly upgrade their properties.
Regarding the sales tax: We judge that a one-half percent sales tax increase significantly reduces Carbondale's competitive advantage both in relation to neighboring cities and the internet. We encourage business development in the city, and think that increasing the sales tax is unwise. If necessary to bridge the period between collection of the property tax and to replenish the General Fund that was drawn down by the May 8 storm, we believe a 1/4 percent sales tax increase might be justified. It should, however, have a near-term sunset.
Regarding sale or contracting of the City's refuse and recycling services: We anticipate that a private provider or providers would not provide the level of service we now have. Living in the Arbor District, we are acutely aware that the young people who live among us often pile large amounts of trash on the curb -- when they move in and move out, after parties, and so forth. Our trash collectors are very good about picking up these piles, leaving little if any debris on the ground. Current private trash collectors do no clean up around the dumpsters they service. The City Public Service Department also makes special runs during the August moving week, picking up unsightly mounds of trash almost as soon as they are placed on the curb. We anticipate that private services would continue not this necessary service. Further, the refuse and recycling programs are entirely paid for through billing customers, including a portion of the City’s administrative and operating expenses. No action should be taken without a careful study to see whether citizens could obtain less expensive service from private contractors, and whether the city would save any money from privatizing this service.
We believe there may be additional revenues possible from fees, and urge the City to carefully study the fee structure for all relevant units.
We urge residents of the Arbor District, and Carbondale citizens in general, to contact the City Council members to voice their opinion on these very important issues.

More Thoughts on State of the City

In the first part of his speech, Mayor Cole strongly emphasized the importance of SIUC to the economic and cultural well being of Carbondale and the effect of enrollment on the community:

The enrollment issue at SIU is, by far, the most important issue facing our region’s economy; get enrollment and retention back to where they should be and a lot of problems are solved. Every employee of that university should be working toward that goal.

Apparently it was an ad lib, as it's not in the text of the speech, but he also added that every citizen of Carbondale should be working toward that goal as well.

He also made reference to unsolved murders in the community, noting an arrest in the Falon Taylor case, and mentioning several cases still open:

Likewise, we are fully committed to closing the remaining unsolved homicides with arrests and convictions. I would remind everyone of our effort to gather information that could lead to arrests in the Pyramid Apartments fire (December 6, 1992), the Connie Cole-Holmes homicide (June 6, 1996) and the Ryan Livingston homicide (July 12, 2006). As an incentive, we have established a $5,000 minimum reward for each unsolved homicide case in the City. The reward money won’t bring back the victim, but it could be enough to get information from an informant or someone who can help us bring closure to a terrible tragedy.

This mention generated some murmur from the otherwise quiet crowd.

He only noted the Saluki Way initiative obliquly, with a reference to the ongoing planning for the police and fire stations.

Given his emphasis on the city's steps towards sustainability,

As a signatory on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and a member of their Climate Protection Task Force, I have joined with mayors from across the nation to help promote more sensible energy solutions and to find ways to reduce our energy consumption. I am also active with the National League of Cities and, following their Green Cities Summit this past spring, I saw the need to refocus some of our efforts in the areas of energy and the environment. Because of that, I named a new Sustainability Commission that is charged with bringing recommendations to the City and to working with other groups and individuals that are equally committed to our long-term viability.

I would like to take a moment to mention a couple of other achievements in this area.

First, we greatly expanded our curbside recycling programs this year, with the addition of collecting mixed paper and cardboard. Our new green bins are specifically for clean and dry paper products. New materials that can be collected include junk mail (including window envelopes), office paper, magazines, catalogs, books, newspaper, cardboard, paperboard boxes and shredded paper. We also continue to utilize our blue bins for recyclable household items, specifically collecting aluminum and steel food and beverage cans, glass bottles and jars, and plastic bottles. We have one of the most comprehensive recycling programs of any community in the region, if not the most comprehensive, and I remind everyone that recycling is a simple, yet effective, way to reduce waste, save energy and lessen the demand on natural resources.

Second, in response to my directive to staff for an energy audit of our facilities and services, I am pleased to report that great strides were made in our Public Works Department. By systematically reviewing all of our usage areas and their associated costs, by reconfiguring some systems and by making common sense savings, the Department has been able to project approximately $150,000 in annual energy reductions and cost savings. This comes from identifying creative ways to reduce energy usage by 27% at our Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant, saving nearly $50,000 a year. It comes from synchronizing air temperatures in this building, saving more than $13,000 a year. It comes from upgrading HVAC units at the Eurma Hayes Center, estimated to save more than $5,000 a year. It comes from reducing the pumping needs and increasing efficiencies at the Northwest Wastewater Treatment Plant, saving nearly $20,000 a year. It comes from now recycling 100% of the waste oils, hydraulic fluids, scrap metals, tires, appliances and other items in our Maintenance and Environmental Services division. It comes from turning off lights and using more natural lighting at our Central Laboratory, and emailing lab reports to clients instead of mailing them, which saves more than $500 a year in that function alone, and also cuts down on the use of so much paper.

These steps show our seriousness in addressing the issues of sustainability and they show our on-going concern for environmental awareness, saving money and creating better ways to provide services to our customers.

it should be interesting to hear how the city is rated in the State of the Sustainable City address this afternoon.

Art Show

This is closing on Friday, in case you want to take a look:


The 10th Annual Fundraiser For Kids’ Sake Art Show, a silent auction to support schools and orphanages in Bangladesh, is being held at the Longbranch Coffeehouse, 100 East Jackson St. The auction runs from November 10 through December 11, 2009. The auction ends at the Closing Reception, Friday December 11 from 6pm to 8pm, which will include live entertainment and delicious hors d’oeuvres. The fundraiser has over 140 pieces including artwork by children from Bangladesh and Southern Illinois, as well as professional artists. The silent auction also includes products and services donated by local businesses such as, weekend getaways and theatre tickets.

For Kids Sake sponsors fundraising events which support over 3,000 children in Bangladesh. 100% of all proceeds from the Art Show will benefit orphanages and schools in Bangladesh.

For more information, contact Shema Jamaluddin at (618) 529-5044 or

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

State of the City

Sat in on Mayor Cole's State of the City address today, catered by Great Boars of Fire and attended by many of C'dales movers and shakers (shifters and tremblers?). Over half the city council showed up as well, with Corene McDaniel and Steven Haynes choosing to sit at the mayor's table, while Chris Wissmann and Joel Fritzler opted to join the hoi palloi.

For the number of people there, Cole's speech was pretty devoid of any major announcements. He recognized some of those in attendance, recapped May 8th and the aftermath, then discussed some of the grants and awards the city had received, as well as the revamps to the city and police websites.

He then moved on to the city's activities in the areas of climate and sustainability, which ought to make those throwing the Sustainable State of the City Address happy, and development in the city in the year, about $52 million worth. He also noted the relatively low unemployment in the city, 6.6%, as compared to 7.8% for Jackson County and 9.9% for Williamson County.

Moving on to new stuff, he announced the arrival of Chili's (another chain restaurant, yes!), to be built in the area in front of Dick's Sporting Goods and several new businesses occupying empty storefronts in the University Place strip mall (couldn't say what they were yet).

He touched briefly on his six budget options from last month, got the impression he acknowledges lack of support for selling off the water system and indicated he figured the city council would probably vote to raise taxes, though he indicated a preference for cutting city jobs and expenses. In line with this, he proposed turning the Eurma Haynes center over to a local not-for -profit, albiet with some city financial assistance for programs. Design is still going on for the new fire and police stations and the mayor put out a call for developers to contact the city with proposals for the large chunk of empty space along Washington Street as well as other parts of town, as well as a "Bank on Carbondale" initiative designed to bring together banks and low income families to make it easier for families to purchase homes.

Finally, the Mayor reminded the audience he was running for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor and announced that even if he didn't win, he would not run for a second term, saying he believed in term limits and wanted to open the office up for new ideas. All in all, a pretty quiet speech with no major new announcements given to a pretty quiet crowd

Monday, December 7, 2009

State of the City

Mayor Cole gives his annual State of the City address tomorrow. He had a little over two years to go in his second term as speculation is already mounting as to whether he will see a third one, which he says he will address in tomorrow's speech. Given the current state of the city, with the financial difficulties the city is facing and the specter of the Saluki Way tax for any opponent to bring up, I'd bet he announces he plans not to run again, even if he fails to win the Lieutenant Governorship, and will spend the remainder of his term working for the betterment of Carbondale. By that time Sen. Luchetfeld shoudl be retiring, opening the way for Mike Bost to move into his slot and Cole to run for Bost's state representative seat.

Sierra Club Meeting

Shawnee Group Programs are held at 7:30 PM in the back meeting room at the Carbondale Township Office at 217 East Main St. in Carbondale. Parking lot is behind the building, and is best accessed from Monroe St., just West of Marion St. and the first street south of Main St. Enter the meeting room through the green door off of the parking lot. Front door will be locked. Free and open to the public!

The Trail Where They Cried": The Cherokee Trail of Tears - with Mary McCorvie - December 10th, 7:30 - During the harsh winter of 1838-1839 over 15,000 Cherokee Indians passed this way through southern Illinois on their Trail of Tears. Many hundreds perished from cold and hunger on this long and tortuous trek from their homeland near the Smokey Mountains to new government-designated lands in eastern Oklahoma. It took approximately eleven weeks during the fall and winter to cross the 60 cold

and rainy miles between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The days and weeks spent in crossing southern Illinois were the most brutal for the Cherokee Nation - bitter cold mixed with rain and snow. This presentation will include an overview of the Cherokee removal, and a travelogue of the trail as it passed through southern Illinois
Mary McCorvie is
the Forest Archaeologist for Shawnee National Forest.

Sustainable City

This Wed. at 4 p.m. Awkward title though:


An Address by The Carbondale Climate Action Network

Wednesday December 9th 2009 4 pm

Civic Center, Room 118 Carbondale, IL

What is a sustainable city and why is it important that Carbondale become one? Furthermore, how would the city go about doing it? That is the focus of the State of the Sustainable City Address to be presented by The Carbondale Climate Action Network on Wednesday, December 9th at 4pm at the Civic Center.

The State of the Sustainable City Address will introduce ways our city can reduce its carbon footprint with the support and participation of its leadership, citizens and businesses. The State of the Sustainable City Address draws upon the key points of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, endorsed by the 73rd Annual US Conference of Mayors in 2005, and signed by Carbondale’s mayor Brad Cole. The Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement outlines the actions a municipality can take to reduce emissions. Using this Agreement as a starting place, we can create a vision and plan for Carbondale to become a model city of innovation, sustainability, stewardship and action.

Representatives from some of Southern Illinois’ leading environmental groups will discuss the work of their organizations, and the challenge and possibility created by climate change. The address event kicks off two weeks of activities in conjunction with thousands of cities around the world on the occasion of the International Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

The press and public are encouraged to attend.

The address starts at 4pm with a question and answer session to follow.

Carbondale Climate Action Network

State of the Sustainable City Address

Carbondale Civic Center, Room 118

Wednesday, December 9th , 4:00 PM

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stolen Kettle

I see the really stupid thieves are out again. I was going to include self centered but if you steal that automatically makes you self-centered.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Privatization Done?

It is according to this article in the Southern:

With the prospect of privatizing city water and sewer services behind them, council members and Mayor Brad Cole must now decide how to best fill a budget deficit the city projects could be $5.8 million in the next two fiscal years. The city's overall budget this past year was about $42 million.

If it's in the Southern, it must be so. I don't see anyone actually cited in the article as saying the prospect is finito though and the folks who showed up at last night's film showing are certainly still concerned.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FLOW Presentation

Just got back from the Flow presentation at the civic center. About 25 people at the start, closer to 40 by the end. Questions were asked, statements were made, petitions were passed. Some interesting points brought out during the discussion:

1. $42 million for C'dale's water plant is a fire sale price. A new one would cost at least that much to build and that's not including the infrastructure already in place, nor the present value of future monies generated by the plant.

2. A call to the mayor of Urbana, which privatized its water some years ago, asking if Carbondale should do the same, got a strong NO from the mayor herself, who was quite willing to take time to talk about it. It seems after privatization, water pressure declined throughout the city to the point wher the fire dept. had problems functioning efficiently. At least two homes were lost to fire because of insufficient water pressure. Water quality and pressure to private residences declined as well.

3. The average Illinois household pays 36% more for water from a private utility that from a municipality.

The general feeling I got from the meeting was that the attendees prefered either a reinstatement of the property tax or a increase in the sales tax by 1/4% or even 1/2%. The latter would bring our sales taxes equal to Marion.

Dec. Schedule at the Big Muddy

In case you're looking for something to do on Friday nights in December:

Come to the Big Muddy Independent Media Center, 214 N. Washington, Carbondale, every Friday at 7:00 p.m. for our progressive film series. One block north of Town Square. Moderated discussion follows film.

December at the Big Muddy: We Raise Questions of Class

Dec. 4: The American Ruling Class, by John Kirby. Lewis Lapham, long-time editor of Harper's magazine, presents a provocative examination of power and class in America's presumed classless society. Guiding two actors playing recent Yale graduates, Lapham introduces the duo to privileged holders of power - James Baker III, Bill Bradley and Lawrence Summers - who respond to Lapham's thesis on America's ruling elite. An unusual hybrid of documentary and scripted drama/satire, complete with an occasional musical number. With Howard Zinn and Barbara Ehrenreich.

Dec. 11: Wetback, by Arturo Perez Torres. This award-winning documentary chronicles the life-and-death journeys of Central American and Mexican migrants as they try to gain entry to the United States without going through proper government immigration channels. The subjects' first-person perspective sheds light on individual motivations for the trek and the hazards encountered on their way to the American dream.

Dec. 18: Class Dismissed, by Loretta Alper. Featuring interviews with Stanley Aronowitz, Barbara Ehrenreich and others, this film dares to open our eyes to television s role in disappearing class from the American consciousness. The carefully crafted interviews set against humorous clips show how stereotypes of working-class buffoons distance us from the reality of corporate greed.

December 25: What Would Jesus Buy? by Rob VanAlkemade. A perfect film for Christmas, it follows Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir as they go on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse: the end of mankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Citizen Comments

Decided to listen to citizen and council comments from last night's city council meeting. Up first, Chuck Petrocki spoke on the privatization of Atlanta GA and Urbana IL's water supplies. Atlanta's experience was an increase in unreliability of water service, with an increase in dirty water and water outages. Urbana's privately locally owned water system sold out to American Water and almost immediately saw an increase in boil water orders. Urbana's mayor even traveled to Germany to American Water's headquarters to ask about re-purchasing the water system. He was refused,the company saying they were willing to sell the system by not to a municipality as that would set a bad precedent. His comments ended with a lng round of applause from the audience.

Next up, Rich Whitney with an invitation. Waddya bet he invites the mayor and council to the presentation of Flow Thursday night? Yep,I'm right.

Berardino Baratt next, advocating the council think long term, rather than short term, which in his case means looking at alternative energy sources. He also supports both a sales tax and property tax increase in the short term.

Up now Treesong, who also doesn't want the water system privatized and advocates putting the water system eventually in a public trust.

Now, Hugh Williams, wants to speak against the privatization of the water, laying blame for the fiscal problems of the city partially on the tax increase for Saluki Way, along with a couple of digs at the mayor's traveling.

And here's Jane Adams, who requests the mayor come to the next city council meeting with documents showing due diligence has been done regarding the legal ramifications selling C'dales system to a private system, as well as a throughout assessment of the value of the system by a third party before it is sold. She adds that she has heard from others that the quoted $42 million figure is a "fire sale" price for this asset.

Now, Bill Weinhoffer who is speaking for the city plumber and pipefitters union which is also concerned about the sale. His speach is pretty short.

Curt Wilson is opposed to the privatization but is more concerned about climate change, at from his comments.

Up now, Yolanda Kaminski, who contacted the Food and Water Watch in Washington DC and asked for info to be sent to her to pass along to the council. She made copies for the council which tey take and will distribute.

Finally, Rafal Kos has one question: where is the company that is interested in buying the water system so that it can answer questions about the purchase.

The mayor then comments that there is no proposal on the agenda for this meeting or the next to vote on the privatization and that the only thing on the next meeting's agenda is a discussion of the property tax level. He then says that to call the privatization a proposal is an overstatement, as that misrepresents the fact that it is one of six options that have been made available to the council and public. He also comments that the city has been approached by several companies over the years about buying the city's water, but there are no current discussion.

Chris Wissmann then comments that a lot of the discussion misses the point, that the precipitating factor is runaway pension inflation, without which the city wouldn't have the financial difficulties it finds itself in. It's not enough to oppose water privatization, he adds so "let's not form a new party of no" or even" float vague exhortations" to look for other solutions to the problem, we need some real specifics from those who came out tonight regarding what tax packages you will accept. Long term the city needs real pension reform. Taxes can only be raised so much. He ends by commenting that pensions need to be restructured in such a way that the people who have earned them get them while keeping them affordable for the city.

Pohlman's Comments

Here's the text of Councilwoman Pohlman's comments regarding budget alternatives from last night's city council meeting:

I’d like to thank Mayor Cole for his comprehensive look at our budget options that he presented at the end of our last City Council meeting November 17th. The options he put forth have generated a good deal of public discussion, but Council members as a group are not permitted to discuss this outside of an official announced Council meeting. Since the council members and public have now had some time to digest the contents of the document Mayor Cole presented, I believe that some of us might appreciate time to discuss the various options presented – and perhaps others. At our next meeting, December 15th, we must vote regarding the possible abatement of property tax. Rather than making extemporaneous motions at our next meeting with possible amendments from the floor, I would like the opportunity to discuss our preferences as to such motions at this time. This will give guidance to staff on the recommendation (singular or plural) that we would like to consider.

Some sentiment has been expressed in support of a combination of property tax and sales tax increase. One question I would like answered is it possible to abate only a portion of the property tax levy – for example – abate half of it? As I understand the projections Mr. Gill presented, half of the property tax levy would produce only $645,000 for Fiscal Year 2011 and $675,000 for FY 2012. Clearly, half of the property tax levy alone would not come close to balancing the projected deficit of 2.6 million in FY 2011 and 3.2 million in FY 2012. The full property tax levy would produce approximately 1.3 million annually.

Mr Gill optimistically projects a ½ % increase in sales tax revenues without any increase in our sales tax rate. With these optimistically increased sales it is estimated that we would collect only $57,500 over previous projections in FY 2011 and $116,685 for FY 2012. According to Mayor Cole’s figures, a ¼ % sales tax rate increase would yield $1 million over a full year of sales tax collection. The earliest we would realize increased revenues from such an increase implemented in July would be October, thus for FY 2011 the most we could anticipate from a ¼ % raise in the sales tax rate would be half a million, but in 2012, if sales are strong, we would realize the full million. We could double both of these projections with a ½ % sales tax rate increase.

Last week I requested staff to come up with the figures for a partial property tax abatement and ¼ % sales tax proposal. I recognize that this was Thanksgiving week. Since I did not receive this information, I did some figuring on my own. If it is permitted to abate half of the property tax levy and raise the sales tax ¼%, I projected increased revenues of 1,145,000 for FY 2011 and 1,675,000 for FY 2012.

So I have my set of three options:

A. PProperty tax – this is Mayor Cole’s Option B

B. SSales tax with ½% increase in the Home Rule rate, bringing the applicable sales tax rate to 8.25%. This is Mayor Cole’s Option C changed to ½% rather than ¼% sales tax increase and eliminates the need to cut six positions in Development Services, Finance and Public Works.

C. HHalf and half (abate half the property tax and increase sales tax ¼%). Implementing two tax increases is complicated to justify, though to some it may seem more equitable than relying on either property tax or sales tax alone. However, it seems to me the relatively small amount to be realized from half of the property tax levy doesn’t seem to justify the trouble of adding it to the mix.

The three options yield roughly the same revenue. One can make an argument for any one of them on philosophical, economical or political grounds. Clearly, with any of these options, we still need to make cuts in our spending, including administrative adjustments and personnel changes in order to come near to closing the 5 million dollar 2-year deficit.

I would welcome further input from my colleagues and from the public.

City Council Meeting

Didn't get to the city council meeting until about 8:45 last night. Apparently comments from citizens about Mayor Cole's water privatization "option E" took up better than half the meeting time and, even though the meeting ended at 8:08, there were still a few people discussing it when I arrived.

Some notable points of the meeting were Mayor Cole's comment that there were no bidders on the water works and no action had been pursued on it aside from drafting the proposal (have to wonder where the $42 million figure came from then), Councilwoman Mary Pohnman's presentation of budget alternatives, and Councilman Chris Wissmann's call for those opposing privatization to come up with their own proposals.

Expect to see yard signs popping up throughout town opposing privatization and a good sized turnout for the IMC's presentation of Flow next week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Go With The Flow

Heck, in case you don't have anything to do tomorrow night (Dec. 3):

Come Learn Why Privatization of Water Is Not A Good Idea for Any Community

On behalf of the Carbondale Coalition Against Water Privatization, we will be screening Flow: For Love of Water, by Irena Salina. Flow builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question "CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?"

When: Thursday December 3, 7 pm.

Short discussion following film.

Where: Carbondale Civic Center

Sponsored by Big Muddy Indy Media and Community Center and Big Muddy Film Festival.

State Week and SIUC

You know things are bad at SIUC when State Week in Review takes time to mention that Chancellor Poshard is having to dispel rumors that SIUC won't open next semester due to lack of funding from the state.

Art Over Easy

In case you're looking for something to do this Friday night besides trimming the tree:

You are cordially invited to join us for the 5th Annual Art Over Easy Event on Friday, December 4th from 7-9:30pm at the Surplus Gallery of the Glove Factory, 432 S. Washington in Carbondale. Tickets are $25 per person and will be available for purchase at the door the night of the event.

The Silent and Live Auction will provide everyone the chance to purchase beautiful art and the opportunity for SIUC to showcase the tremendous talent that comes from the School of Art & Design and Southern Illinois area. For a sampling of some of the great art that will be auctioned off and learn more about this event, please visit this link:

Art Over Easy began December 10, 2004 at Harbaugh's Cafe. That first event had a few dozen art lovers in attendance and raised just over $5,000. AOE has since grown to average over 250 guests and in four years has raised over $70,000 to benefit our nationally ranked and internationally known School of Art & Design.

This year is a particularly critical one for us. December 31, 2009 is the closing date for a major challenge grant from the Windgate Foundation: we have been offered a dollar-for dollar match of up to $250,000 in Foundation funds to support student scholarships, and up to $250,000 to support research by our students and our faculty. This is a rare opportunity and honor. We received the pledge based on the high regard for us in the art and design educational community. Funds generated at Art Over Easy will be applied towards this match. We believe this will be the best-attended and highest earning Art Over Easy yet.

If you need more information, please contact me at the information below or Tracee Norris, Director of Development for the College of Liberal Arts, at (618) 453-4563,

We look forward to seeing you.

With all best regards,

Peter Chametzky
Director, School of Art and Design
& Associate Professor of Art History
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Carbondale, IL 62901

(618) 453-8632