Monday, October 31, 2011

Street Lights Out

Mayor Fritzler has sent out a request to members of the community to report any street light that are out.  His email indicates he spotted 13 lights out in the downtown area last night.  The ones he spotted are listed below.  Please report any other lights out to Janice in the City Manager’s office at 457-3226 or

1.    SW corner of Illinois Ave. & College, Off
2.    Illinois Ave in front of the Bike Surgeon (across from Amtrak), Off
3.    SE corner of University & Elm , Off
4.    On University between Elm & Cherry, Off & On
5.    East side of University at Hospital Drive, Off
6.    East side of University at driveway to parking lot behind Quatro's, Off
7.    Corner of the curve of University Ave and the short section of University Ave (NW corner of the Island) by tattoo parlor), Off & On
8.    NE corner of University & Mill (SW corner of the Island), Off
9.    504 W. Mill,, Off
10.  NE Corner of Mill & Poplar, Off & On
11.  608 W. Mill, Off
12.  NW corner of Mill & Rawlings, Off
13.  1202 W. Freeman, Off

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

City Council Meeting

Might be a shortish meeting next week as it looks like the only things on the agenda are some votes to increase the 2012 budget for unanticipated items, wastewater treatment plant and and some storm related damage from last April.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Protest Tomorrow

In case you feel like a nice protest tomorrow:

The student-led Beyond Coal Campaign along with the Eco Dawgs, the Environmental Coalition, the Sierra Club and several other coalition partners will host a "Demand Healthy Air" rally Thursday 10/27 from 12-2pm in the free form area between Anthony Hall and the parking garage on the south side of SIU Carbondale's campus.  The Beyond Coal campaign has gathered 1,500 petition signatures from SIU Carbondale students demanding that the university administration protect their health by creating a retirement plan and setting a retirement date for the campus coal plant as soon as responsibly possible.  Our national coalition partner, the American Lung Association (ALA), has linked toxins from coal plants like the plant on SIU Carbondale's campus to over 60,000 premature deaths in the United States annually in addition to a dramatic increase in asthma rates and asthma attacks.

Strike FAQs

These have been up for awhile (since October 7)  but thought those not directly connected with the university might want to see the FAQs the Chancellor's office posted regarding the strike for faculty/staff and students. Here's the IEA's take on the Chancellor's FAQ.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prescription Drug Takeback

Not a lot of advance notice for this, but the C'dale PD is accepting unwanted prescription drugs at the Public Safety Center this Friday, so here's an opportunity to get rid of that extra OxyContin you've got floating around.

Steeerike! (Maybe)

The last of the four unions at SIUC voted to strike yesterday, if a contract isn't negotiated by Nov. 3.  Negotiating theory indicates that agreements are more likely to be reached with the pressure of a deadline in place, so we will see what happens.  If there is a strike and the graduate student strikers don't get some financial support from the other three groups, my bet is they would be the first to come to terms with the university, simply because most graduate students don't have the financial underpinnings that members of the other three unions do.

Monday, October 24, 2011

George Maroney Was Right... least about downtown Carbondale becoming an entertainment district. Took a walk through downtown last week and saw  at least three new businesses ( Evelyn's Restaurant, Kelly's Irish Boxy House, and the unnamed rumored micorbrewery), the new location of Cristado's and one expansion (Mary Lou's) going int.  All food related. Almost all the store fronts that have opened in the area in the past year, with the exceptions of Sew A Lot and Esther's Clothing, have been entrainment/food oriented ( various tattoo parlors and spas, Practice Pad, Crossfit Gym, La Unica Bakery).

Most of these serve as entertainment for their customers. they come in, eat, get a tattoo, work out, then leave.  They don't promote shopping by their customers, nor do their customers have a reason to move from one location to the other. The places where customers can buy "things" are quite limited, most of what you buy in downtown Carbondale are services. Generally, once the customer purchases the service, they leave downtown or, in the case of the bars, move onto another one.

Even in the case of purchasing things, there is no inducement to convince customers to remain downtown to shop as most of the stores, the bike shops excepted, are dissimilar from one another. A customer at Priority Sports is not likely to move on to Sound Core to shop nor will a purchaser at Old Town Liquors move on to Univeristees.  There are no clusters of similar stores, or "strings' as they are called, save for the group of bike shops, spas, bars and restaurants, ergo no reason for customers to engage in the traditional shopping behavior of moving from store to store,looking for the perfect, or at least satisfactory, product.  People come downtown for entertainment and find it in the form of bar and restaurants (and the Varsity).  The question is, does Carbondale accept that it does not have a viable shopping district for a downtown but does have a lively entertainment district or does it put in the extensive (and expensive) work needed to change this.

Auto Repair Shop

Sign and remodeling indicate a new auto repair shop moving into the old Blue Star Limo building at the corner of N. Oakland and W Sycamore.  Nothing posted regarding a projected opening date.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Haunted Carbondale

If you are out in the Boskydell area at night, keep an eye out for lights floating along the railroad tracks near the crossing/.  People have reported seen lights both there and further north by the Makanda crossing as well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trivia Event/Contest

Received an email advertisng this:

The League of Women Voters of Jackson County is sponsoring a
 Fall LWVJC Fun-raising Political Trivia Event Saturday October 29 7-9 pm - Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship
The goal is to meet some potential members, raise some money, and have fun. 
Event price will be $10 and will include wine, desserts and lots of fun. 
It would be fun to have one table for each political party that energizes our democracy.
Please check with your partisan friends and put together a table of six.
RSVP to Gayle Klam at  Questions? Call Sarah at 549-5230 or Gayle at 549-1868

Friday, October 21, 2011

Getting Closer

According to this story, the SIUC Faculty Association has set Nov. 3 as the date for striking if negotiations with the administration fail.  Neither side is going to come out of this well. The administration is distracted from other problems at the university and the Faculty Association may see a call for its removal as the negotiating agent for the faculty.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Schnuck's Remodel

Schnuck's is remodeling the inside of the store today.  So far, they have pushed the counters about 4 feet towards the back of the store, giving more space between the front end of the counter and the cash register.  There is a crew of about 2 dozen+ staffers out there this morning relaying out products on the shovels.  Looks like the same Lozier shelves still used though.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


From what I understand, the revision of the microbrewery ordinance paved the way for one to open up in the old Pag's location on S. Illinois.  Not sure when from from the speed of the remodel, it will probably be before Christado's opens its doors.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

City Council Meeting

Well, that was over fast.  With minimal discussion, the council unanimously (absent councilpeople Lance Jack and Jane Adams) approved ending minimum rates of water and sewer as of April 30 of 2012, switching to charging for the actual amount used and bumping that up over the next 5 years to pay for needed infrastructure improvements to the system.  Not much of a surprise here.

Also, council voted unanimously to participate in the League of Cities  Prescription Discount Card Program. This is a program that allows residents of participating cities to sign up for a discount card they can use as participating pharmacies for an average discount of 23% on prescriptions not otherwise covered by insurance.  The city considered participating in the program several years ago but decided against it at the time since only a couple of local pharmacies participated and council felt the program would both give an unfair advantage to those pharmacies and implicitly give the city's endorsement to them.  Now that approximately twelve pharmacies in the area participate, any advantage appears moot.

It is interesting to note and a commentary on how difficult it is to operate an independent pharmacy in today's market, that a search of participating pharmacies returns only one in Carbondale that is not part of a discount or supermarket chain.

On the Agenda

The Liquor Control Commission will vote on approving a Class A2 license for Evelyn's tonight.  Evelyn's is a new Cajun/comfort food restaurant opening at 519 S. Illinois, in the location previously occupied by Express Burrito and Jimmy John's.

The main thing on the council proper's agenda is the proposed ordinance adjusting city water and sewer rates, which will bring in about $10 million for sewer and water line repairs over the next five years. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Carbondale

In case you happened to notice the tent encampment that sprung up at the corner of S. Illinois and E. Grand, that his ground zero for the Occupy Carbondale movement.  By my count, there are half a dozen tents out there. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


The city sent out the following pre-release regarding FOI requests in regard to police investigations, specifically the one relating to the murder committed with Chielf O'Guinn's gun:

Recently questions have been raised about the City of Carbondale withholding reports and documents related to ongoing police investigations, even after these are requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. The Freedom of Information Act is meant to allow citizens access to information on the activities and policies of government entities. However, the Act provides a number of exceptions specifically for law enforcement activities. These exceptions are contained in Section 7 of the Act.  One of these exceptions is for information related to ongoing criminal investigations. This exception exists for a number of reasons:

1.      Premature release of information can place witnesses in danger.

2.      Premature release can tip criminals to the leads being followed and allow criminals to destroy evidence.

3.      Premature release can cause innocent suspects to seem guilty as a result of being questioned by law enforcement officials.
4.      Early publicity can prejudice juries and threaten the conviction of guilty suspects.
The theft of Police Chief O’Guinn’s gun has now been linked directly with a homicide investigation.  There are two criminal cases currently pending in Jackson County Circuit Court relating to the homicide and the stolen gun. The investigation into those two cases is on-going. Two individuals have been charged by the State's Attorney's Office in these matters. These two defendants each have the constitutional right to a fair trial in a courtroom untainted by pre-trial publicity. The Illinois Supreme Court limits that which a prosecutor may say regarding a pending criminal case. The Court has essentially extended those limitations to police departments. The City of Carbondale and its Police Department will adhere to those rules so that these two defendants may receive a fair trial in a court of law. This is the FOIA exception that the City has been claiming in denying the release of this information.  Denials issued on this basis are easily appealed to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.  Over 270 pages of related documents have been reviewed and released by the City, primarily in response to media requests. 

The City of Carbondale and the Carbondale Police Department serve to protect the health and safety of all its citizens.  Crime victims and witnesses deserve to know that investigations will be completed in a manner that protects them as much as possible. Information on such investigations is released when it is appropriate to do so. The Carbondale Police Department routinely releases more public information than any other department in the region, as evidenced by the Department’s web site.

Questions should be directed to Allen D. Gill, City Manager at 457-3226.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Economic Development and Highways

Caught the C'dale Chamber of Commerce's noon presentation on economic development in Jackson County.  A good chunk of it was a promotional spiel regarding upcoming events at SIUC's Small Business Development Center and development at the airport.  Betwix the two was an interesting presentation by the Jackson Growth Alliance on their efforts to push through a 4 lane highway from Carbondale to St. Louis that doesn't run through Marion.  The organizations proposed plan is to widen 127 to 4 lanes, bypass Pickneyville to the west and link up with the interstate at Nashville.  This is something that various organizations have promoted for the region since the mid 1960s.  The Pickneyville route is the least direct but also requires the least amount of construction, totaling only about 43 miles with a cost of around $140 million.

I am not an expert on this but I have talked to someone who is, as they worked for IDOT for a number of years, and they are of the opinion that this won't happen, at least not in the foreseeable future, for two reasons. 

Number one is the way in which highway districts in Illinois are laid out.  The border between District 9 (where we are) and District 8 (north and east of Pickneyville including the Metro East area) runs right through Pickneyville, which means both districts would have to contribute funds and approval to the project.  While District 9 probably could find the money to put into the highway, any additional funds District 8 comes up with would get funneled into infrastructure improvements in the East St. Louis/Metro East population density and road usage is much greater there than anywhere in District 9.

Number two is traffic flow.  If you look at the statewide traffic flow map, there are about 30,000 cars that enter or exit Carbondale daily from the east.  13,000 enter or exit from the west side and the figure drops to 11,400 on the est side of Murphysboro.  The north side of Murphysboro handles about 7200 cars per day and it drops to 5500 by the time you get to Nashville.  There is just not enough traffic in that area to justify an expenditure of $144 million in the hope that "if you build it, they will come."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Business comments on strike

The DE called around this week asking local business about the potential effect of a strike on local businesses.  The consensus appears that, while the labor strife isn't hurting business currently, an actual strike would certainly harm the university and, by extension, the local economy.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Faculty Group

A new group of faculty, calling itself the Faculty for Sensible for Negotiation, has sent out a letter calling for desertification of the Faculty Association as the bargaining representative of SIUC's faculty.  the letter calls for turning negotiations over to the Faculty Senate.

While I don't particularity care for any organization that calls itself "Sensible", as too many times that's a code word for "let's roll back regulatory protections", the FA has been around for 15 years now and seems to have had problems with all five of the administrations that have cycled through during that period. Either the university has a habit of appointing very poor chancellors and administrators (not that far fetched given the number that have cycled through) or the FA is a very contentious organization.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Water and Sewer Rate Meeting

Caught last night's meeting discussing proposed increase in city water and sewer rates.  The summary of our systems is that, while the systems are well maintained, there is a need to replace significant amount of pipe and tanks that are damaged due to wear and tear and aging.  The city has averaged about 61 water main breaks  and just over 120 sewer line stoppages per year over the past 4 years (significantly higher in 2008 due to damage caused by the windstorm).  Needed repairs include replacing water mains, lining sewer pipes, repairs to sewer lines, replacement of underground tanks and enlargement of some mains, and looping of water lines.

Currently the city charges residential and commercial customers $3.35 per 1,000 gallons, with a minimum monthly fee of $10.05 for the initial 3,000 gallons  Sewer fees run $3.56 per 1000 gallons.

The proposed rate increases would eliminate the minimum monthly fee and generate approximately $10 million over the next 5 years.  This would fix the most immediate problems and see us well into this century (To bring the entire system to tip top shape would cost an estimated $50 million).  If you are a low use user (1000 gallons per month, your approximate rates would would run  $21.78 in 2012 then drop too $14.67 in 2013 and increase up to $19.01 in 2016.  A moderate level user (2600 gallons per month) would see rates increase from $21.78 in 2012 to $27.31 in 2013  and to $35.41 by 2016.  A high usage customer (4200 gallons) would see rates increase from $30.49 in 2012 to $39.95 in 2013 and up to $51.81 by 2016.  The city does not expect to see rates drop back to pre-repair numbers after the repair work is completed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

City Council

Walked in to city council meeting at the tail in, just as they voted to go into closed session.  I understand everything on the agenda passed, which means we have updated definitions of micro-breweries, Fair Days (allowing public consumption of alcohol) for the Hangar 9's Cartoon Network Carnival Event (the idea of consuming alcohol at a Cartoon Network event is bemusing but animation has gotten much less aimed at children over the years). There was also a presentation on water and sewer rates and changes that might need to be made.

Also passed was an ordinance allowing the issue of bonds to pay for a new fire station on the west side of town, back behind the new Walgreen's drugstore.  It's probably a good idea to go ahead and replace the existing fire station since it is over 50 years old, located in a location that does not allow easy access by fire trucks and has a number of structural defects.  Funding to cover the bonds will come from the increase in the sales tax passed a few years ago.  Additionally, in 2018, some funding obligations to the school district end, freeing up additional money for bond servicing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

GA Strike Vote

According to the DE, the Graduate Students United voted today to authorize a strike after this Thursday..  From the article, it appears that the union tail is wagging the graduate assistant dog.  Of the 1700 graduate assitants on campus, only about 130 of them actually are members of the union, meaning that less than 10% of of the graduate assistant are determining the fate of the other 90%.  Of those 130 or so, 88%, according to the article, voted to go out on strike.  Since they have the union representing them, for better or worse, if I was a graduate assistant at SIUC, I'd join up with GA United, just so I would have a say in events like this. 

It will certainly be interesting, given how few of them joined or voted, how many graduate assistants cross the picket lines should a strike be called.  I'd bet the vast majority will opt to report to work as ususal, given how few of them appear to have any interest in the negotiations.

Strike on Facebook

For those wanting to follow the discussion on the possible strikes at SIUC, the pro-strike faction has a Facebook page here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Haunted Carbondale

It's that time of the year again.  The Little Egypt Ghost Society will host a presentation on haunted sites throughout southern Illinois on Oct 23, starting at 11 a.m. at the Giant City State Park Visitors Center on Sunday, Oct 23.  This event is free to the public:
We will also display our ghost hunting equipment for show and tell.  Copies of "HISTORY, MYSTERY and HAUNTINGS of SOUTHERN ILLINOIS", LITTLE EGYPT GHOST SOCIETY T-shirts and GHOST METER EMF meters will be offered for sale.