Monday, January 31, 2011

Primary Unintended Consequences

John Jackson of the Paul Simon Institute has a piece up on the unintended consequences (aren't there always) of the state law allowing the skipping of a primary election if less than a certain number of candidates filed and the likelihood that the most popular one won't get elected.

Since we have 5 candidates for mayor, Carbondale has to have a run-off to pare it down, by state law to 4. With 4 candidates, one will be able to win with a plurality rather than a majority vote. One candidate could even do it with three candidates in the race. Plus as Jackson points out Arrow's Paradox says that each additional candidate in the race decreases the likelihood that the most popular candidate will win.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Liquor Advisory Board

The LAB is scheduled to meet next Thursday, Feb. 3 at 5:30 in room 103 of the Civic Center. Just because you want to know, the two things on the agenda are approval of a couple of Class F1 liquor licences so myriad people may consume large quantities of wine during Carbondale Main Street's two Art and Wine Festivals later this year. Also scheduled is a review of 2nd quarter reports from the police and fire departments, as well as Building and Neighborhood Services. You know you want to attend, don't you?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yard Signs

Since I has a free half hour or so this morning, I took a drive through the western side of C'dale looking for yard signs for the various candidates in the upcoming primary. While I didn't take any counts (the whole driving the car made that impractical), here are the general impressions:

Jane Adams and Don Monty are the only city council candidates with any yard signs out in the areas I drove through (Arbor District, southwest and northwest areas). Most appears alone in a yard, though about 15-20% of homes had both signs there.

All the mayoral candidates had signs out, though I did not spot a Brent Ritzel sign until late this afternoon, while driving down a side street off N. Oakland. George Maroney and Joel Fritzler had about the same number of signs out, with Fritzler more common in the Arbor District and just west of there, while more Maroney signs appeared out by Tower Road and to the west. Sam Goldman signs are common near the hospital and are the only signs in yards in the retirement community area north of Old Rt 13, but pretty space otherwise.

I only spotted 3 Steven Haynes signs, one in front of Hundley House and the other two scattered in the area around S. Oakland and Emerald Lane.

Though it is still about a month until the primary, signage gives an indication of the depth of current support for the candidates as only more dedicated supporters will have signs out in their yards now. This is also only support on the western side of town. I will check out levels of visible support on the east side next week.

Update: I see several Ritzel signs have popped up along W. Sycamore since yesterday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Property Transfer Ordinance

This ordinance, passed at last week's city council meeting, has disturbed some community members because it takes the responsibility of disposing of city property, specifically land, from the city council as a whole and vests it in the office of the Mayor. The ordinance allows the Mayor to transfer title of properties in residential the city has taken ownership of for delinquent tax liabilities. The Mayor may, as I read the ordinance, donate these properties to builders for the construction of one and two family homes without council approval. If no homes are built within 18 months, ownership of the property reverts to the city.

University College Model

I am thinking calling the proposed administrative restructuring at SIUC moving to a university college model a bad bit of marketing. The term does not describe the desired results and give the indication the entire university will get restructured rather than just administrative offices. At least, that is my impression of the final result from the illustration accompanying the above article. Why not just call it "administrative restructuring" and leave it at that?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Post Office

Given the financial strain the Us Postal Service is under and the pressure Congress is placing on the organization to cut its budget, I have to wonder how much longer Carbondale will have the luxury of two post office locations. The location on the west side appears to exist mainly for the convenience of the residence of southwest Carbondale with most of the work of mail arrival and sorting handled at the east side location. With talk of another rate increase and eliminating Saturday delivery, I expect the west side office to closed down within the next couple of years.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sustainability Commission

Sat in on the sustainability commission's meeting last Thursday evening. Pretty good attendance with 7 committee members there and 4 onlookers. The two major topics were a report on the Koppers wood treating plan cleanup from Kevin Beatty and a discussion of the proposed ordinance allowing city residents to keep chickens.

The cleanup continues to move along slowly. Apparently part of the reason for the slowdown is continual changes in rules and requirements from the EPA. Although the entire area covers about 10 acres in northeast Carbondale, the actual area requiring cleanup only covers about an acre, it is just spread in several locations over the property.

The proposed chicken ordinance would allow a maximum of six chickens per household for egg production only (no roosters and no raising chickens to slaughter for Sunday dinner). The committee based much of the ordinance on the current C'dale dog ordinance. Chickens have to have a license ($5 per chicken) and must stay on a leash when taken outside the back yard. Whoops, scratch that last part. They will probably have a leg band to identify licensed chickens. Chickens must stay confined to the back yard and the ordinance has specifics regarding location and construction of their coop, based on ordinances passed by other chicken friendly cities (Napierville IL and Columbia MO).

One point inserted into the ordinance after listening to community input is a provision that a dog that kills a loose chicken shall not be considered, for that reason alone, a dangerous or vicious dog. Still under discussion are regulations regarding the disposal of dead chickens, which, since people don't eat dogs, is not an issue covered under the dog ordinance.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Illinois Poison Center

Just received an email announcing the revamped website for the Illinois Poison Center. Probably a good site to have bookmarked if you have kids.

False Police Report

Why in the world would you call the police to report the theft of $30,000 in property that you never had? Planning to file a insurance claim, maybe? Not a well thought out plan, since it appears the scheme collapsed during the course of the investigation.

Landmark Designation

I see the Preservation Commission is giving a landmark district designation plaque to the Rogers-Parkinson house at 803 West Pecan this Monday at 4 p.m. No indication that the plaque will actually get mounted on the property, though hopefully it will afford the property a bit more protection than a Historic District location did for the Stotlar House.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Trivia Night

Like watching Jeopardy? Why not play it yourself?: Come give it a shot at the Carbondale Public Library’s Trivia Night Fundraiser. You’ll put together a team of up to six players ($120 for the team’s table). You’ll conspire with your teammates on all your answers. No geniuses required! The game is played in topical rounds.

Saturday, February 5th 6:30pm – 9:00pm (Game begins @ 7:00pm). $150 Grand Prize to the winning team, plus lots of other prizes!

Pre-Register @ the library circulation desk, or call 457-0354 ext. 1 to register with a credit card. $120 per team/table. Each team receives 6 tickets. Buy your team tickets, then distribute/sell them to your best and brightest friends. Discounts for kids (Hey, really, who’s smarter than a fifth grader?). ($20 per adult ticket; $10 per child 12 & under. For example, an all-adult team pays $120 for the evening’s entertainment. A team of adults and two kids pays only $100).

Come have fun and support the library! We are hosting a silent art auction too! Feel free to distribute the attached fliers and email!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Parking Removed

After last night's city council vote, landlords owning property along E. College will no longer have taxpayer subsidized parking to offer their tenants:

The council unanimously approved a proposal to convert a stretch of East College Street between Washington and Wall Streets from one-way to two-way traffic with no parking on either side.

The council was met with objections from property owners who thought the removal of on-street parking would adversely affect their rental properties.

I imagine rent prices may drop in the area now that tenants have no place to park their cars. Either that or the landlords will have to build a parking lot or otherwise provide parking for their them. I cannot imagine any resident of Carbondale willing to rent a place to live that did not have someplace provided to park an automobile and it is not the city's job to provide it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sustainability Commission

The City of Carbondale Sustainability Commission will meet on Thursday, January 20, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. in Room 103 of the City Hall /Civic Center. Only things on the agenda are an update on the Koppers Wood Treating site and the chicken ordinance.

Neighborhood Alliance Annual Meeting

In case you feel especially civic minded this Saturday, the Neighborhood Alliance has its annual meeting from 9-1, with a lunch meeting with assorted candidates for Mayor and city council:

We hope you will be able to attend Carbondale’s Neighborhood and Housing Action Group annual Neighborhood Alliance meeting on Saturday, January 22, 2011, 9:30 am to 1 pm, at the First United Methodist Church in Carbondale (214 W. Main). 2011 marks the seventh (7th) year of Neighborhood Alliance meetings. Neighborhood Alliance meetings provide an excellent opportunity to meet citizens of Carbondale, hear about their neighborhood and community work, as well as ,learn about local issues they feel are significant.

The luncheon portion of the meeting will feature an introduction of candidates running for Mayor and Council and an informal opportunity for candidates to talk with Carbondale citizens. If you have questions or would like to volunteer with set-up or clean-up, contact Mary O’Hara at 713-0820, or Sarah Heyer at 549-5302 x 386 or

Thank you,

Mary O’Hara


I. 9:30-10:00 –Sign in ; Browsing Tables; Coffee/Tea /Bakery

II. 10:00—10 :30 -- Meeting overview Neighborhood reports/ Map Your Neighborhood

III. 10:30- 11:0O—Carbondale’s Comprehensive Plan—Case Study and Update

IV. 11:00-11:30 – Food security/ Sustainability

V. 11: 30- Noon-- New Endeavors

VI. Noon- Lunch with the Candidates

Monday, January 17, 2011

Questionaire Responses

4 of the five mayoral candidates have sent their questionnaire responses to the Shawnee Green Party:

Joel Fritzler
Sam Goldman
Steven Haynes
George Maroney

Looking over the responses, George Maroney's focus is on safety. Half of his answers involve improving or increasing the safety of Carbondale as an answer to the community's problems. He views city government's function as maintaining civic infrastructure and public safety, then getting out of the way of business.

Sam Goldman's
long involvement with both SIUC and the local health care community are evident from his answers. He sees both SIUC and SI Healthcare as economic drivers for the region and would have the city be supportive of both. Like Maroney, Goldman believes city govenment should encourage business and " where warranted, change regulatory policies and actions to assure that they are not unnecessarily burdensome to business, while preserving the quality and standard of living our citizens expect. We need to aggressively pursue business enterprises and offer incentives for them to “set up” shop in Carbondale. Of special interest is the development of business activity at the Southern Illinois Airport." Incidentally, Goldman's website was developed by city councilwoman Mary Pohlmann.

Joel Fritzler's answers emphasized his experience with the city due to his service on the city council and his time with the Carbondale Main Street program. His responses to the sustainability and environmental question posed by the survey are more detailed than the previous two candidates, nor does he mention the city needing to lessen regulatory burdens on business as they do. He does not mention the university or health care as economic drivers for the region and there's no indication of any proposal to increase city growth, save for downtown revitalization. Fritzler goes into the most detail of any of the candidates in his answers to the survey questions.

The last of the four to turn in a questionnaire response, Steven Haynes, also emphasizes his council experience and as well as the importance of SIUC to city economic well being. He does not view safety as such a vital issue as Maroney does, nor does he place as much emphasis on healthcare as an economic engine as Goldman. He would enforce current statutes and regulations to enhance sustainability and environmental health within the community. Haynes gave the most general answers of the four, twice refering readers to his website for more information on his positions in response to a question. None of the other candidates referred to their websites in response to any of the questions.

Edited to fix an error in Sam Goldman's name. Edited again to correct the spelling of Mary Pohlmann's name.

More Candidate Meetings

From the Carbondale for Joel Fritzler Facebook page:

The Boys & Girls Club and the Rotary Club of Carbondale - Breakfast are sponsoring a Mayoral Candidate Forum on Thurs., Feb. 3 from 7 to 9 pm at the BGCC at 250 N. Springer St.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cigarette Ban

Article in the Southeast Missourian looking at the effects on business of the smoking bans enacted in Columbia MO (4 years ago) and Carbondale (2 years ago). No indication in the article regarding any economic or health effects from the ban in either city, just feelings on the part of each mayor that business hasn't been harmed but, in the case of Mayor Cole, also a belief that proponents of the ban haven't gone into bars more often as a result of putting it in place..

Larry's BBQ

I haven't confirmed it but a blog reader informs me that Larry's BBQ, on the east side of town, has closed down.

Friday, January 14, 2011

League of Women Voters Events

The LWV has two "Meet the Candidates" events scheduled prior to the primary election:
(All sixteen council candidates have been invited)
*February 9, 7:00-8:30 PM, Carbondale Civic Center:
"Meet & Greet" Carbondale City Council Candidates (Candidates will be seated at tables. Voters may meet/speak individually to as many candidates as they wish.)
(All five mayoral candidates have been invited)
*February 10, 7:00-8:30 PM, Eurma Hayes Center:
"Meet & Greet Carbondale Mayoral Candidates (Candidates will be seated at tables. Voters may meet/speak individually to as many candidates as they wish.)

Early Voting

In case you realllllly want to vote in the Carbondale primary election, an email sent out by candidate Jane Adams says that early voting has already started. The Shawnee Green Party has posted links to websites of candidates for both mayor and council and will post responses to the the Green Party's questionnaire sent to all candidates starting Jan. 15.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Student Refund Checks

Looks like students getting refunds from financial aid checks this spring will pump about $25 million into the local economy. The money comes from financial aid they receive. Any left over after the aid is applied to campus charges such as tuition and room and board gets distributed to students to spend as they see fit.

Missing Girl

Kimberly Akers, aged 19, last seen the afternoon of Jan 7th in the 600 block of West Main. Contact the C'dale Police at 457-3200 if you have any information.

Update: Returned home voluntarily Jan 12th.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Non Violent Carbondale

The next meeting of the Non Violent Carbondale Project will be Jan 24 at 5:30 in the Civic Center. The plan is to work on the goals discussed at last night's Human Relations Council meeting. Meeting place for the Violent Carbondale Project to be announced later.

Monday, January 10, 2011

On Off, On Off, On...

Looks as if layoffs at SIUC are off the table again. The university has rescinded the reduction-in-force letters sent out last month and both university officials and the union have agreed to move to arbitration. According to this story from the AP, the two sides have reached a general agreement with the arbitrator brought in to help finalize the agreement. Generally, I've found in the past that it's never a good sign when you have to bring an arbitrator into the negotiation, no matter how close both sides appear to be. Keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Human Relations Commission

The Human Relations Commission meets ths Monday night, Jan. 10 at 6:30 in Room 116 of the C'dale Civic Center. Main thing on the agenda appears to be study circles reports.

Edited to correct the date.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ghost Lab at Hundley House

According to this email from the mayor's office (forwarded courtesy of councilman Joel Fritzler), the Ghost Lab episode shot at Hundley House last fall will show this Saturday at 1 a.m., so set your DVRs.

The Discovery Channel will broadcast Saturday at 1 a.m. CST the Ghost Lab episode filmed at the Hundley House in Carbondale. It is the first showing of this segment. Not prime time but it is finally being broadcast.

Cigarette Tax

The new taxes proposed to fill the gap in the Illinois budget include a dollar a pack increase on cigarettes, nearly doubling the current tax level on them. While that won't affect locations in the state that are a couple of hours away from the border, cigarette sellers in cities closer to state lines will certainly see an impact as smokers drive the extra to save an extra $10 per carton in taxes. I already know people in C'dale who drive to Paducah to buy their smokes because of the tax differential and the extra buck will likely convince more heavy smokers to make the trip.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Simon Reception

In case you happen to be in Springfield this Sunday, Sheila Simon would appreciate your company at a reception honoring her inauguration as Lt. Governor:

Please join the Lt. Governor Elect Sheila Simon for a Dessert Reception Sunday, January 9, 2011 with her band, Loose Gravel from
8:30-10pm at IEA Professional Development Center, 3440 Liberty Drive in Springfield, Illinois.
We look forward to seeing you there.

State Employee Pensions

Given the concern over state employee pensions and its effect on Carbondale's budget, I thought yesterday's Diane Rehm show on the topic was quite interesting.