Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Human Relations Commission

Meets this Monday night at 6:30.  Here's the agenda:

I. Call to Order
II. Approval of Minutes – April 7, 2014
III. Announcements
IV. Public Comments
V. Study Circles Report
VI. Non-Violent Carbondale Project
VII. Old Business
A. Law Enforcement Reports
B. HRC Responsibilities, Role, Charges
1. Educational Campaign Committee
a. Restorative Justice White Paper
2. Retreat
C. Community Discussions
1. Environmental Racism
D. Partnering for Social Justice
E. Illinois Municipal Human Relations Association (IMHRA) Conference Report
VIII. New Business
IX. Next Meeting – June 2,

For the life of me, though, I cannot see what the commission has ever actually done, aside from meet.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Saluki Stay Scholarship

One of the Chamber of Commerce's better initiatives:

  The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce is now accepting applications for the 2014 Saluki Stay Scholarship Program which aids in the retention of student at Southern Illinois University. One of the most unique scholarship programs at SIU, the Saluki Stay scholarship awards five returning students with in-kind gifts ranging from store gift cards and assistance with utility bills to meals in area restaurants. The total value of awards is expected to be nearly $1,500 each.
                To be eligible for the award, students must be enrolled full-time for the fall semester 2014, be juniors or seniors with at least a 2.8 grade point average, have attended SIU for at the last two years and must be employed by a current Carbondale Chamber of Commerce member in good standing. Preference will be given to students with demonstrated financial need. Completed applications are due May 9, 2014. Applications and additional information are available online at and searching for “Saluki Stay.”
                The scholarship program is an effort of the Chamber’s Saluki Pride committee that works to strengthen relationships between Southern Illinois University and Carbondale’s business community.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Attitude Designs

Attitude Designs will have its ribbon cutting and Grand Re-opening at its new location at 815 S. Illinois Avenue this Wednesday, April 30th from 4:30 to 6:30. Go see the new digs.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hidden SIU

The Chamber of Commerce will host a tour of Hidden SIUC next Thursday May 1 from 3 to 7 p.m. Patterned after last fall's highly successful and popular Hidden Carbondale tour, it will give tour attendees the opportunity to see parts of the campus the average person never gets to visit. Hopefully a visit to the tunnels under campus is on the itinerary.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More on Varughese Investigation

According to this story in the DE, the Pravin Varughese investigation keeps getting more and more convoluted. A second autopsy commissioned by the family reports  a "significant number of bruises on the hands, head and torso". The original report indicated no suspicion of foul play and no mention of bruising.

Additionally, the current investigation says Varughese's body was found with no shoes, the first time I remember this point coming up in the investigation, as prior police reports made no mention of him missing shoes

Coupled with the Molly Young case, the questions surrounding Varughese's death promise to keep troubling the Carbondale police department for some time to come.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Neighborhood Business District Tabled

The council spent about two hours last night not coming to a conclusion on how to modify the description of a Neighborhood Business District. The main sticking point, and it is a major one, is how to deal with larger commercial buildings grandfathered into what is now a residential area.

The primary sticking point is the area surrounding the intersection of Sycamore and Oakland, as the old Carbondale High School, National Guard Armory and Coke distribution nee Oakland Avenue Auto Repair buildings, all build before current zoning regulations went into effect but none of which are suitable for residential use.  How does the city, and by extension its residents, let the owners make use of their property while still maintaining the residential aspect of the area? While Oakland Avenue Auto Repair operated, those living in adjoining houses complained of auto exhaust coming into their homes on a regular basis. Going out your front door to a face full of car fumes is not what the residents expected when moving into their properties.

A proposal requiring towing services to provide additional tie downs around the wheels and detachable lights on the rear end of towed cars died for lack of a motion after strong arguments against the ordinance by local towing companies. Expense, possible damage to towed vehicles and increase in towing time, all argued by the towing companies, convinced council members not to move forward with the regulation.

Rather surprisingly, the budget passed with little discussion and only one comment from the audience, a call for further cuts to the budget including civic center staff and police department officers.

Council went into closed session about 10:40.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

City Council Meeting

The city council meets tonight, right after the Liquor Control Commission.  Since the only think on the LCC's agenda is a request from Aldi's for a license to sell beer and wine, that should move quickly.

There's an ordinance regarding lights on tow trucks and the approval of the next year's budget on the council agenda.  Expect to see the budget passed after much discussion, not so sure about the two truck ordinance.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Historic Properties Bus Tour

In case you are free from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this evening, a bus tour of historic properties in Carbondale leaves the City Hall lobby at 5 p.m. this evening. Limited seating so call Planning Services at 457-3248 to reserve a seat.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Saluki Way Sales Tax

Some years ago, when the Carbondale city council increased the sales tax for the purpose of donating $20 million to SIUC for the purpose of funding the Saluki Way project, proponents of the increase had two arguments:

1. replacing the hulk that was McAndrew Stadium with a brand new football stadium and remodeling the Arena, along with the additional construction comprising the Saluki Way project would draw more students to the university, thus benefiting the community as a whole by increasing the customer base for businesses in Carbondale.  That hasn't worked so well.

2. Building the sports complex would draw more people into town to attend games. These people would then spend money, thus driving up sales tax revenue. That hasn't worked so well, either.

However, so as not to end the evening on a down note, here are some pictures of cute cats.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Debate Team In Action

Promoted from the comments, if you have never seen SIUC's debate team in action or are curious just as to what a debate team does, SIUC's team will debate this Monday night, with the topic  "Should the State of Illinois increase the minimum wage to $10.10?":

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Debate Team Follow Up

Following up on yesterday's post about the SIUC debate team, it is rather a shame that the university does not choose to devote more resources to supporting the debate team, given how well it consistently preforms at the national level as compared to say, the basketball team, which has not made an appearance at the national level since 2008.

However, the university keeps tossing resources at the athletic department, while cutting them from debate, indicating where priorities at the university remain

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SIUC Debate Team

SIUC's debate coach Todd Graham made quite an interesting presentation at today's Chamber of Commerce lunch, pointing out that SIUC's debate team was nationally ranked, won back to back national championships, has won at least one national championship in every decade AND has placed in the final four at the national level for the past seven years.  Pretty impressive.

Also pretty impressive is that they have done this while fielding one and a half teams (one member dropped out halfway though the season), going up against universities fielding 4 and 8 teams.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SIUC Research Booklet

Received a spiral bound booklet from SIUC, mailed in a box, highlighting professors and students conducting research at the university. Nice looking booklet but not sure why the university sent it out. It only highlights 4 pieces of ongoing research and most of the booklet is taken up with pictures. There is a call to action on the last page, directing me here to find out more, and I am certainly glad to see that members of the university conduct research but still not sure as to the reasoning behind the mailing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

EPA Meeting About Koppers

Just a reminder that there is a meeting with the EPA tomorrow night at the Eurma C. Hayes Center.  According to the press release, representatives from Brightfield's will be there as well to answer questions

The Carbondale Community is invited to an Information Session on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., regarding the cleanup of the former Koppers Wood-Treating Site. The meeting will be held at the Eurma C. Hayes Center, 441 East Willow Street. The USEPA is the sponsor of the meeting which will feature an information session, poster session, as well as a question and answer session.
The public is advised that although representatives from Brightfield's will be present at this meeting to answer questions that might arise regarding their proposed solar panel project, this meeting is not considered one of the two meetings required by the City of Carbondale as part Brightfield's Special Use Zoning Permit process.

More information on this meeting can be obtained by contacting Rafael Gonzalez, USEPA - Chicago, at 1-800-621-8431 or

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pravin Varughese Death

The results of Pravin Varughese's toxicology report came back negative, indicating he was neither drunk or under the influence of drugs when he died.  The thing that bothers me about Chief O'Guinn's statement in the story is that the terrain where Varughese fled to is "difficult terrain". If you are familiar with the area, it is not. Located just east of Buffalo Wild Wings, the area is quite flat and covered with small trees. While in spring and summer, the area can get quite swampy, in 14 degree temperatures, the ground would have frozen solid and, with no leaves on the trees, the lights of Buffalo Wild Wings are easily visible less than 100 yards away from the area into which Varughese ran. Assuming he was conscious, he could have made it to the building in less than five minutes.

However, the bank from Highway 13 down to that area is about 30 feet long and fairly steep. If Varughese tried to run down it in the dark, he could easily have slipped, fallen and knocked himself out. Lying on the frozen ground, in what are described as a t-shirt and jeans, he could have died from exposure in a couple of hours.

Friday, April 4, 2014

City Government Employee Pay

In case you were ever curious about the pay of those in Carbondale city government, here's a handy list of those making over $75,000 per year, along with vacation days and sick days earned:

Vacation Sick
Employee Position Compensation * Vacation Days Granted Sick Days Granted
Baity, Kevin City Manager 143,079.68 15 12
Kimmel, Mike City Attorney 99,875.28 15 12
Snyder, Leonard Assistant City Attorney 80,493.12 15 12
McCoy, Deborah Admin Svcs Director 99,875.28 25 12
Ursini, Donald Finance Director 98,142.24 10 12
Davis, Jeffrey Accounting Manager 82,231.68 20 12
Jones, Mark Information Systems Mgr 83,651.52 20 12
O'Guinn, Jody Chief of Police 108,539.80 10 12
Grubbs, Jeff Deputy Chief of Police 95,949.16 20 12
Reno, Stan Deputy Chief of Police 87,875.56 20 12
Vacant Position Lieutenant 82,000.00 10 12
Reno, Heather Lieutenant 86,448.76 20 12
Goddard, Mark Lieutenant 83,219.32 20 12
Stearns, Mark Lieutenant 82,363.24 20 12
Edwards, Paul Lieutenant 85,592.68 20 12
Brunner, Richard Sergeant 84,257.80 16 10
Wilson, Douglas Sergeant 81,731.32 16 10
Dunning, Matthew Sergeant 81,731.32 20 12
Banks, Kevin Sergeant 81,731.32 16 10
Kemp, David Sergeant 80,436.76 16 10
Michalesko, John Fire Chief 110,086.64 20 12
Keim, David Ass't Fire Chief 96,058.70 9 6
Heern, Gary Ass't Fire Chief 96,666.20 9 6
Lomax, Ted Ass't Fire Chief 83,984.96 9 6
Kaufmann, Terril Fire Captain 82,784.96 8 12
McBride, Steve Fire Captain 80,042.72 8 5
Wallace, Chris Develop. Svc's Director 97,326.72 15 12
Henry, Sean Public Works Director 98,831.28 15 12
Belles, Gary Civil Engineer III 79,641.36 20 12
Hardin, Robert MES Manager 80,206.32 10 12
Snider, Don Traffic Control Supervisor 81,036.00 20 12
Harrison, Anthony Mgr of Water Operations 81,036.00 10 12
* Compensation includes wages and salaries, employer share of health insurance,
clothing and vehicle allowances, and other contractual benefits.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Farmer's Market Opens

I assume you already knew this, but if you did not, the Murdale Farmer's Market opens for business this Saturday.  This early in the season, most likely just flowers, bedding plants and maybe some hothouse grown produce. Rain should be over by then but likely to be a bit cool.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Koppers Meeting

In order to address concerns about the ongoing cleanup at the Koppers wood treating site, and its potential home for a solar array, the EPA will host an open meeting from 6 to 9 p.m.  on April 9th at the Eurma C. Hayes Center, 441. East Willow.

The session starts with a poster session, whatever that is and someone feel free to post a comment or email me explaining what a poster session it, then moves to presentations and Q&A at 6:45 until 7:50, followed by another poster session until 9.

Since most of the controversy over the Koppers cleanup has come from residents of the northeast side of Carbondale, I would hope there is a good turnout from that area.  I also hope those who attend come ready to ask questions in order to clarify points about the development, rather than wanting to confront the EPA in order to re-confirm their own beliefs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Aldi Wants to Sell You Beer

The only thing on the agenda for this Thursday's Liquor Advisory Board meeting is an application from Aldi for a Class C2 license, allowing it to sell package beer and wine. Given Aldi's business model, I don't imagine the store will offer a very large selection, probably 1-2 types of beer and an equally large selection of wine.