Monday, April 30, 2012

City Council Meeting

City Council meets tomorrow night.  Nothing too exciting on the agenda.  There's a vote authorizing fair days for this summer's series of Sunset Concerts.  Look for Councilwoman Corene McDaniel to cast the lone "no" vote, as she typically does, since she opposed alcohol at events held on city property.  Also look for her to request that one of the concerts be alcohol free, at which the Carbondale Park District representatives will nod politely and say they will look into it.

Contracts with various civic organizations will also be approved during the meeting.  Likely no  controversy with any of those, save for items 5.4.7, the contract with the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau for $276,500.  It's likely that several council members will offer proposals or recommendations for clauses they wish to see include in the in the contract with the CCTB, including a guarantee of a proportional number of city representatives on the CCTB board and an explanation from the CCTB board for their expansion of the size of the board at the March meeting.  Though it was obvious why the board voted to expand, it would certainly be interesting to see the board members appear before council and offer a justification for the expansion.  Expect to see pointed questions from the council and interesting turns of phrasing from the CCTB board if any of them appear before the council.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Musicians in Carbondale

Interesting article in the DE on the lack of top-level performing artists in Carbondale. While there is a lot of interest in Sheryl Crow (and the CDB too for that matter), Walkers Bluff will have to sell over 800 tickets to cover the cost of the singer's fee. I see the SIUC Arena has no-one scheduled to perform for the foreseeable future and, while Travis Tritt appeared at Shyrock last February, nothing is scheuled there for over the summer either.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bike to Work Day

is coming. From the city:

Mayor Joel Fritzler and Lt. Governor Sheila Simon invite you to join them for Bike to Work Week. On May 14, 2012 there will be a Bike Rack Ribbon Cutting & Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at the IDOT Building, and May 18, 2012 is Bike to Work Day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


From what I understand, the status of the National Guard Armory is still up in the air, with no new bids or sale of the property announced.  However, it does appear that, in order for the property to be used, the city will have to rezone the property as the building date in the late 1930s predated any city zoning and ensured  the city grandfathered it in when the city originally zoned the area and leaving the building zoned residential refers it useless for any purpose to which a purchaser might put it.

While the city is doing that, I would expect it will expand the rezoning to include the building housing the Oakland Avenue Auto Repair, also build before the city zoned the area  Though some in the area might not like it, that would solve the problem of the business operating in an area zoned residential, continue to make use of a building that had sat unused for several years, and keep a thriving business going. Moving the business to the closed Johnny B's Pro Lube building on the west side of town, as I have heard suggested, does not appear feasible,  due to the amount of business OAAR currently does.  A look inside the shop doors at any time of day shows 3-6 cars undergoing repair, more than the Johnny B's facility would hold.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More on Pepsi

Here's a link to minutes of the city council meeting at which the agreement with Pespi MidAmerica was enxtended until 2025 (scroll down to Item 5.10).  The reason given for the fifteen year extention was Pepsi MidAmerica's providing lighting for Carbondale High School's sports facilities:

The City later entered into an agreement with the High School for the construction of tennis courts needed for use by the Carbondale Community High School “Terrier” tennis team, the students and Carbondale community at large. Then, at the joint request of the City and the High School, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Marion, Illinois, agreed to install lights at the tennis courts at a cost of $114,000.00, which brought the total amount of financial assistance provided to the City and High School to $864,000.00. In exchange for this, the High School extended its Exclusive Beverage Rights Agreement with Pepsi-Cola Bottling Companyof Marion until March 31, 2025.

The contribution of the lights at the tennis court provided to the High School serves the interest of the
students and the Carbondale community, who also use the courts. In consideration for said contribution, it is in the best interest of the citizens of Carbondale to extend the current Exclusive Beverage Rights Agreement, which covers the Civic Center and City-owned recreational facilities constructed on property located within the Superblock, for an additional ten (10) years or until March 31, 2025, which will mirror the addendum agreement extended by the High School.

The vote on Feb 8 was 5 to 1 with only Chris Wissmann voting against.  In an email, Councilman Wissmann says he voted against the agreement becasue the cost to the city cause the city to have to vend Pepsi products for significantly more than Civic Center users would pay at local grocery stores.  The agreement at the time was slated to expire Feb. 23 and, from what I remember hearing at the time, Coke was quite interested in submitting a bid but the city felt the sports field lighting sufficient inducement to sign the fifteen year extention with Pepsi.  Nothing illegal about the contract but it certainly went through quickly.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fight at Premier Lounge

Missed the original police report on this fight at the Premier Lounge.  Haven't heard a lot about police being called to the area and the Carbondale crime map doesn't show much activity in that block in the past month.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Don't Tread on Me

Not sure what drew them to downtown Carbondale but there were a couple of protestors on the town square Thursday evening for about an hour or so.  Two of them stood along the south side of Hwy 13, waving American and Israeli flags. One wore a "Don't Tread on Me" t-shirt and the trailer parked nearby bore a similar logo and was gone when they were, shortly after six.  I assume they just came into town to wave flags at the passing cars for a couple of hours, most of which just drove by, with only a couple honking in apparent agreement with the waving flags, which I guess symbolized the Amrican-Israeli relationship.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brad Cole and Pepsi

I have heard from two different places that former C'dale Mayor Brad Cole, last heard from working as a member of Sen. Mark Kirk's staff, has left that position and taken one with Pepsi MidAmerica.  Not too surprising, given that Cole had worked well with Pepsi during his time in office, even signing a 10 year contract with the company for the city, without allowing other companies to bid for it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

City Council and CCTB

Looks like another light agenda for the City Council tonight.  One interesting thing is the contract providing funding from the city to various civic organizations.  Yo may notice that the Convention and Tourism Bureau is not on the list of organizations funded.  According to Councilwoman Jane Adams, the contract has been removed from the other contracts and will be negotiated separately. It appears the council at least wishes to negotiate language into the contract giving the city representation on the CCTB board commensurate with the amount of funding it provides to the CCTB, currently about 80%.  City funding will prove even more important to the CCTB now that the organization has severed ties (and funding) with Jackson County as the Carbondale Times reported in its April 11 issue. 

According to the article, the CCTB board sent a letter to the Jackson County Board in early February, asking if Jackson County wished to continue its relationship with the CCTB and giving a March 15 deadline for a response. The county did not respond and the CCTB decided to forgo the $12000 annually it received from the county, choosing instead to focus on Carbondale, which is problematic to say the least, given the current relations between the board and city council.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Program Shift

Local experimental music program "It's Too Damn Early", celebrates 10 years on the air with a time shift and a new name.  The program moves to its new time, 5 p.m. Sundays, starting this Sunday.  Host DaveX will broadcast 2 more sessions of the show at its longtime 4 a.m. timeslot, ending with a live broadcast on April 21.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Death of the DVD Rental Industry

A friend mentioned in passing that she had rented a DVD from Family Video and didn't care much for the way management had laid the sotre out, with DVDs classified in terms of how recently they released, rather than by genre, at least for more recent titles.  That got me thinking about the general decline of the availability of DVD rentals in Carbondale. 

When I moved to town in 1989, if I remember correctly, there were 3 locally owned video rental places, plus Blockbuster.  Over the last two decades, Hollywood Video and Family Video both moved to town, amidst some controversy as both located in areas of town (across the street from each other) that had served as rental/residential areas. for decades. All of the independent rental places closed down, as did Hollywood Video several years ago and Blockbuster last year, leaving only Family Video and Redbox as the sole sources of physical DVD rentals.

This mirrors what has happened in the DVD industry as a whole, as companies shift more to online  and streaming, there are fewer places to walk in, browse and rend a DVD for the night.  As internet access speeds up, people find it easier to go online and download a movie immediately.  Rather than make the trek to the video store, click a button on your computer and watch it on the monitor, or, if you had it hooked up, hook your PS3 up and watch the movie on your TV.  As household cable penetration increases, even video rental kiosks like Redbox will go away.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Name Change

I see the owners have renamed Lewis Park "University Village".  I guess the name "Lewis Park" has too many negative associations within the community, though really, their target market is univeristy students which turns over every 4-5 years.  If they would just clean up the area, improve the management (from what I have heard, it was pretty lackadaisical in the past), the name wouldn't matter in about 6 years.  However, the new owners probably don't want to wait 6 years to see a turnaround in perception, hoping that the current reuptaion will fade in 2-3 years with the new name and people's short memories.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BP Closed

Just noticed that the BP gas station on East Main has closed, with a big "Store for Rent" sign in front.  Not sure what this means for the Greyhound patrons as that was a convenient drop off point for them.  Certainly not as convenient as in front of the Amtrak station but still, they had a lighted area to disembark from and access to a bathroom and assorted foodstuffs. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tony Alamo Ministries

Drivers of automobiles parked in downtown yesterday morning found newsletters from the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries tucked windshield wipers.  The interesting thing is that one was a screed defending Alamo from the charges that sent him to prison in 2009, attacking the witnesses against him as liars and claiming the FBI had threatened both a witness family and Alamo's life if she did not lie on the stand about him.

The thing that bemuses me about this is that someone felt strongly enough about Alamo's innocence to spend a couple of hours placing these things under people's windshield wipers.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Armory Overgrown

The grass around the National Guard Armory is getting a bit long.  Since, due to the warm weather, the local flora has grown quite rapidly, I' ve seen several of the city's yellow "Mow this Grass" signs around town and the Armory has some weeds over a yard tall but no yellow sign yet.  Wonder if that's because it is National Guard property still and the city doesn't have the authority to enforce local ordinances?  Haven't heard anything in recent weeks regarding the sale of the property since the first round of bids.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

City Council Meeting

The Carbondale Observer has done a good job of summarizing last Tuesday's City Council meeting.  I only caught the first hour and  had some observations/comments based on that:

Local Attorney Hugh Williams spoke for a good five minutes on the subject of the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau, calling for the city to pull all funding from the organization, which would reduce the CCTB's budget by some 70%.  I have seen figures indicating the CCTB already plans to cut expenses, reducing funding to local organizations and cutting the budget for its website from $8000 to $3000.  Executive Director Debbie Moore attending the meeting, sitting in the back row, but, if she spoke, it was after 8 p.m.

Don Monty is establishing himself as the most knowledgeable member of the city council and the most focused on details.  He pulled two items out of the warrants just so that people watching the council meeting would know what boards and commissions  had their minutes approved and whom the mayor had appointed to the CCTB board.  Later, he was the only member of the council to want to discuss the budget and it appeared he wanted to critique the way in which city staff had drafted it but he would up saying staff had done a very good job developing it.

Council seemed leery of taking up the proposal to criminalize spending the night on city property with hesitations on both the motion and second.  Concerns included freedom of speech issues,camping at Cedar Lake and the effect on groups like the Lion's Club who may spend the night on city property preparing for their pancake breakfasts.  Lee Fronabarger eventually withdrew his original motion and Corene McDaniels her second.  Technically, I don't think that was permissible under standard parliamentary procedure, as once a motion has been seconded, it can't be withdrawn but must have some action taken on it.  However, the council, like most organizations today, doesn't adhere to strict Roberts' Rules of Order.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CCTB Bylaws

Borrowed a copy of the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau's from councilman (and CCTB board member ) Chris Wissmann, and, as councilman Don Monty pointed out during tonight's city council meeting, you may not like what the board did, but they did not violate any rules in dong so.  According to Article 3, section B:  "The Board of Directors shall consist o of not less than fifteen (15) members, including the officers."  Nowhere in the bylaws does it state anything about a maximum number. According to Article 5, section C,  "A simple majority of the current Board of Directors shall constitutes a quorum for the purpose of conducting business."

Further, in Article 5, section E, "All actions of the Board of Directors shall require an affirmative vote by a simple majority of the Board Members present."  Since the size of the board is not proscribed by the bylaws, the board appears to have the power to change the number of members on it by a simple vote and vote directors to those positions by a simple majority.  Nor is there anything in the bylaws requiring such actions to take place at a subsequent meeting.

Apparently due to the contract the CCTB has signed with the city, giving the Bureau revenue from the city's motel tax, the city gets to appoint a certain number of members to the board, currently 8.  According to councilman Wissmann, there is no language in the current contract mandating the city have a certain percentage of members on the board, something he hopes to insert in the next contract.

Further, from my reading of the board's bylaws, just because the Mayor chooses a slate of appointees the city retains under its current contract, the Board of Directors is under no obligation to seat them. Article 3, Section C states "Directors shall be elected by a simple majority of the current membership of the board."  Plus, Article 3, Section F:  "The appointment of individuals recommended to serve as Directors holding designated seats shall be approved as Board members at the next regular meeting of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall act on all applications for request of a seat on the Board of Directors and may approve or deny such application in accordance with the Bylaws" (italics mine). Theoretically, the current Board could keep voting down Mayor Fritzler's appointees and keep doing business as long as a quorum of members of the expanded Board attend meetings.  I don't think they will do this, but then no-one that I had spoken with expected them to vote to double the size of the board either.

Dangerous City

Neighborhood Scout, based on crime rates per capita, ranks Carbondale as the 95 most dangerous city in the United States. Go on, take a look for yourself.

Monday, April 2, 2012

City Council Meeting

City Council meets tomorrow at 7.  Main item on the agenda is a discussion of the 2013 budget, including the proposed $50,000 cut to the CCTB budget.  Retailed to that is the mayor's appointment of 8 members to the CCTB board, which is a consent item but may get pulled out for discussion, especially in the aftermath of the CCTB board's decision last week to increase its size by a third.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


As the Carbondale Times reported, and as I posted earlier this week, the Carbondale Convention and Tourism board voted last week to greatly expand the size of the board.  According to an email I received, the board expanded from seventeen (15 voting) to 31 members, 29 voting and Mayor Joel Fritzler and someone representing Rep. Jerry Costello as ex-officio non-voting members.  That's an awful lot of people to oversee a $400,000 budget.

It appears that two members of the board voted against the expansion, Councilman Chris Wissmann and the Jackson Count Board's represenative, Ed Benyas.  Then, after the vote, all of the current city appointees, with the exception of Wissmann, were appointed to the newly created seats.