Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on City Council Meeting

The DE has a good write up on last night's city council meeting. Councilwoman McDaniels, the only council member besides the mayor to speak in favor of the proposal, is being disingenuous when she compares the proposal funding the district 95 reading program to funding provided for organizations such as the Women's Center and Boys and Girls' Club:

For those organizations, did we say, ‘We want a guarantee from you that you are going to succeed,’” McDaniel said. “No, we don’t say, ‘We want a guarantee from you.’ We give them the money and we trust that they will make the best decision that they can.”

However, if you look at the list of social service organizations the city supports (thumbnail #179), you will notice the most any one gets is $48,000. The two the councilwoman cites, Women's Center and Boys and Girls Club, get $12,500 and $30,000 respectively. and have to reapply for them annually. The reading and math proposal provides $150,000 annually, maybe a bit more, over a 5 year period with no provision for termination in the effect the program performs poorly. Hardly the same thing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

City Council Meeting

Caught a good chunk of the city council meeting tonight. Only actual piece of business voted on, besides the warrants approving various contracts and expenditures, was approval for the remodeling and expansion of the Long John Silver's restaurant on the east side of town. Passed unanimously with one question from city council candidate Lance Jack, asking if any city funds or inducements were offered to aid in the expansion. The answer was no, to which Jack responded that he had asked the question to emphasize that despite some perceptions, the city did not offer tax inducements to entice business to town.

Citizen comments on the budget opened up with a parade of council and mayoral candidates including Hugh Williams, Jane Adams, Sam Goldman and Don Monty. Though one speaker, Seymour Bryson, came out in favor of the mayor's proposed District 95 reading and writing program, all the others, including all the candidates, spoke in opposition to it, saying that, even though the projected finances of the city appeared improving, the program had no termination clause during its five-year duration if it proved not to work, and as written, no methods of evaluation regarding its success were included.

Another area of concern brought up was the recreation of the economic development manager position. Don Monty and Jane Adams were both concerned that the specifics of the position were unclear. What was the position's actual title, as it had two different ones in the budget and where was its position in the city's organization chart? Citizen comments closed when a younger community member, Baylon Earles, thanked the city council and manager for their work on the budget and improving the city.

Caught part of council comments on the budget. Steven Haynes expressed some concerns about the proposed economic development manager as far as how it fit into the city's organization. Both Mike Neill and Chris Wissmann focused on the longer term problem facing the city, that of pensions, with Wissmann pointing out, and the mayor concurring, that, given the rate of pension growth, the city would pay more in pensions to retired staff that it would in salaries to employed staff. Wissmann further pointed out the budget contains an increase of $400,000 for health insurance costs and $560,000 for retirement costs, such that hiring a new police officer, in Wissmann's example, was like paying for 1.47 officers.

I left the meeting as Corine McDaniels spoke in favor of the District 95, reading and math program, saying that, while it was true the city needed to concern itself with basic governmental functions, it also needed to work with the schools to help those who are the city's future.

I was mildly amused to see Chuck and Janet Vaught in the audience. Barely retired and returned from a Florida vacation and already back at council meetings.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Summer Enrichment Reading & Math Program

In case you want to see where the Mayor's proposed $150,000 Summer Reading and Math Enrichment program appears in the budget, click here and go to thumbnail #179. You'll notice funding for this one new program equals 75% of the funding provided for all of the contractural/social service providers to which the city provides money.

Also of interest is that this new program doesn't warrant a mention in the summary of the budget starting on thumbnail #10. Given that the city plans to spend $750,000 on this new program over the next 5 years, I would think it would get a nod or a note in the summary section of the budget.

City Council

If you have an interest, here is the agenda for tomorrow night's city council meeting. Expect a good turnout as discussion of budget items is on it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Carbondale Recycling

A few interesting insights came out of the presentation by the city's reycling program at Thursday's Sustainability Commission meeting. Number one, due to the regulations Jackson County has imposed at the landfill the city uses, the city has to have a recycling program in place. Two, due to the recession which has hurt the price paid for recyclable products such as cardboard, plasitic, aluminum etc. , teh city loses money on recycling.

Third, apartment dwellers help subsidize the recycling program for the rest of the city as the city doesn't pick up recyclables from apartments of 5 or more units but adds the recycling fee to their water/sewer bill. Finally, due to fuel price increases, the city expects to break even on recycling by the end of this fiscal year. It is much cheaper to haul stuff to Southern Recycling than the 20 miles out to the county dump.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bike Surgeon

The Bike Surgeon has its grand re-opening this weekend at its new location at 406 S. Illinois (the old Booby's location). Combat Squad Tattoos opens the same day at the old Bike Surgeon location, next door at 404 S. Illinois

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brent Ritzel's Endorsement of Steven Haynes

In case you would like to read the whole thing, here it is:

Brent Ritzel’s Endorsement of Steven Haynes for Mayor of Carbondale
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 10:00 am - Carbondale Civic Center

Good morning. I would first like to thank everyone for their patience, as I was originally expecting to make these endorsements about three weeks ago. The combination of losing a grandparent and being rather sick for a week brought me pause, and made me realize the potential importance of these decisions that I make, and these words that I share with you now, in the future direction of Carbondale. At least, for the benefit of Carbondale and the region, I hope to play that role.

Two of the things that where made quite clear to me in this campaign season are that,
1) democracy only works if we participate in it... the less “we the people” vote, the more power, influence and control that MONEY has over our elections... and the further we slip away from being agents of our own destiny. The only thing that CAN trump money in an election IS participation, so please make absolutely certain to vote in our upcoming general election Tuesday, April 5th.

If what happens in Carbondale concerns you, but you are not a registered voter in the City of Carbondale, then please “adopt a voter.” Find a friend, someone you know, who is registered in the City of Carbondale, buddy up with them, and take responsibility for making sure that they make it to the polls to vote. There are a number of ways to participate in democracy, and voter education and advocacy is one of the more impactful.

The second thing made quite clear to me is that the residents of Carbondale crave “connection.” We crave connection to each other as a united community, we crave connection and access to our beautiful surroundings, and above all, we crave leadership that is truly connected to our needs and interests as the residents of Carbondale. We need leadership that is connected to the reality of 100% of the residents of Carbondale, and creates policy that reinforces those values.

Coming to know Steven Haynes through this election process I understand him to be a very intelligent, open minded, comprehensivist thinker and feeler, who prioritizes the residents of Carbondale over any institutional or ideological commitments.

Of all the mayoral candidates Steven has put forth the most positive and inclusive vision for Carbondale’s future that is grounded in immediately implementable plans that focus on local business creation, and a return to mixed use progressive city planning that takes advantage of natural cost saving measures like energy efficiency and utilizing renewable energy sources.

I also find Steven to be most insightful concerning the nature and make-up of the full diversity of Carbondale, including our economic diversity, as he stands as the only remaining "people's candidate" fully capable of considering 100% of ALL residents of Carbondale.

Steven Haynes understands the current reality of Carbondale as having the lowest median household income in the entire United States, for cities of 20,000 or more people. Steven understands that four out of nine of our residents live in poverty, and one in four Carbondale residents are living on less than $106 per week. There can be no doubt that we live in a special needs community.

Right now, we need the in-touch, engaged and collaborative leader that is Steven Haynes. According to my friend Peter Lemish, who has been leading a social and economic justice study of several candidates for local office, “Steven Haynes applies a balanced, comprehensive & inclusive approach to dealing with the town’s significant problems, such as housing, racism and economic growth.”

The most important thing that I want you to know about Steven Haynes is that he supports the continued AND expanded funding of Carbondale’s social service, educational, arts, and preservation non-profit organizations...
Now this is where comprehensivist thinking is essential to understanding complex non-linear systems like a City.... here is an example....

Ever since 1997 The City of Carbondale Police Department has been receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Grants Office to coordinate activities related to improving the criminal justice response to domestic violence offenses. For example, on September 23, 2009, the City of Carbondale was awarded $366,351 in funding under the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program (GTEAP).

At that time Mayor Brad Cole stated, “This award demonstrates the City of Carbondale’s commitment to enhancing victim safety and offender accountability in cases of domestic violence through pro-arrest policies and a coordinated community response. The collaborative partnerships between the criminal justices agencies, victim service providers and community organizations which respond to cases of domestic violence are an integral part of the criminal justice system and this grant will further enhance their efforts.”

The Project Steering Committee for the GTEAP consists of representatives of the City of Carbondale Police Department, Carbondale Women’s Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety and School of Law, First Circuit Probation Services of Jackson County, Jackson County State’s Attorney Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Murphysboro Police Department.

Due to these Pro-Arrest grants, the city of Carbondale and Jackson County have achieved significant gains in providing a coordinated community response to domestic violence. These “charities” like the Women’s Center and the Boys and Girls Club are irreplaceable services AND vital players in our comprehensive problem solving strategies as a City. They are key to the City of Carbondale even getting these funds to begin with.

We simply cannot allow our own personal ideologies or purely intellectual commitments stand in the way of meeting the real life, day to day needs of the people of Carbondale. Steve Haynes understands that an individual’s personal ideological commitments can NEVER stand in the way of doing what is RIGHT for the residents of Carbondale, to always deliver the best possible Return On Investment.

Some candidates in this mayoral race prioritize their ideologies, the thoughts in their heads, over the practical needs of the residents of Carbondale. There simply is no room for such myopic perspectives in local government, especially when they run counter to the well-established values of our community.

Some candidates are committed to defunding all City-supported social service, educational, arts and preservation non-profits... dismantling decades of progress and the City of Carbondale’s comprehensive approach to problem solving... and erasing our civic commitment to high value programs that deliver proven returns on investment.

These programs are vital pieces of the City of Carbondale’s comprehensive problem solving methodologies that have both short and long term impacts on the most pressing issues of our community: childhood education, after school crime, domestic violence, and civil rights violations, among others.

These non-profits are essential partners in our city’s comprehensive problem solving strategies for economic development, criminal justice, and fostering civic-minded residents. These programs add immense value to our community, improve our overall quality of life, and are the type of amenities that attract people to live in our community.

Not only must we support them, we need to expand them. Why? Because it improves us on all levels as a community, and gets an incredible short term and long term Return On Investment. These essential services cannot be left to the vagaries of private tithing, especially given their proven effectiveness and impact, and the essential services role they play in our community.

Steven Haynes gets it. You can find the following on
“As mayor I will fight to continue the current level of financing for community programs and support the efforts of those organizations. In order to provide a more stable revenue stream for these critical community programs 1/4 of 1 percent of the city sales tax should be dedicated to community service organizations. To do this I will ask the new council to place on the next available election cycle a request of the Community to vote on this proposal.”

Steven Haynes also understands that these key social service non-profits foster economic development, as they create jobs and they raise up the most vulnerable among us so that we are all more capable of participating in our economy!

We need a mayor that prioritizes the RESIDENTS of this community, especially those most vulnerable among us. Those ARE OUR VALUES as a community. That is why the City Of Carbondale is committed to supporting organizations and programs that deliver high Returns On Investment both socially and economically: Boys & Girls Club, The Women’s Center, The African-American Museum, Carbondale Community Arts, Carbondale Main Street, the I Can Read Program, Attucks Services Board...

As Steven Haynes has reminded me, “if we do not take care of those in most need now, our whole community will pay a much greater price in the future.”

More Mayoral Meetings

In can you can bear to miss the Sustainability Commission's meeting tomorrow night, there's another meet & greet for the mayoral candidates at 6:30.


The Arbor District Neighborhood Association has invited Mayoral Candidates Joel Fritzler, Steven Haynes, Sam Goldman and George Maroney to a meet and greet on THURSDAY, MARCH 24, FROM 6:30PM TO 8:30PM. The event will take place at Arbor District President Sandy Litecky ‘s home at 603 W. Walnut. Parking is allowed on the north side of W Walnut, west side of Maple and in the lot of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church at the corner of Poplar and Walnut. The Litecky ‘s home is located due west on the south side of Walnut - about a half block.

The evening will focus on neighborhood issues.

This will be an opportunity to meet the candidates in casual conversation. Sandy will have a prepared list of questions that she will ask the candidates at some point in the evening. They will each be invited to respond.

For more information contact Sandy at 549 9571

Sustainability Commission

Meets tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center if you are so inclined. Nothing much on the agenda, save for a presentation on the city's recycling program.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chamber Survey

In case you missed it, the Southern published the results of a survey by the C'dale Chamber of Commerce of its membership asking "Who do you plan to vote for to be the next mayor of the City of Carbondale?" Of the 59 valid responses, 28 say George Maroney, 17 said Sam Goldman, 10 went for Joel Fritzler and 4 for Steven Haynes (who received Brent Ritzel's endorsement for mayor today). Given that the Chamber has over three hundred members, the puts the response rate at 15-20%, which seems low.

However, one does need to consider that a large number of those members are corporate businesses with headquarters elsewhere (Huck's, Wal-Mart, Kroger, to name a few), business members that do not have a location in Carbondale (Sam's Club, 17th Street Bar & Grill, Trails End Lodge) and a number of locally owned business members with businesses here but live outside of Carbondale (that's a problem both George Maroney and Joel Fritzler have alluded to in their interviews).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Metropolis Honeywell Plant Update

Even more disturbing given what is going on in Japan. From the Huffington Post:

Remember that uranium enrichment plant that's locking out its workers? How good an idea is that? - HuffPost: "At the Honeywell Specialty Materials plant in Metropolis, Ill., the sole U.S. refinery that processes uranium for use in nuclear power plants, a union lockout has left temporary workers in charge of the facility. The locked-out members of United Steelworkers have erected 42 crosses in front of the Honeywell plant in memory of coworkers who succumbed to cancer in the past decade. Twenty-seven smaller crosses represent colleagues who survived a brush with cancer. When the plant began hiring replacement employees after the June lockout, the NRC found that management coached candidates on how to properly answer questions on a required examination to work there. According to the NRC, the temporary workers were given answers prior to questioning and were helped during the course of the evaluation process if they became confused. "The labor force was locked out and the Honeywell facility was trying to qualify as many operators as they could to make sure the plant could operate," NRC inspector Joe Calle said. "The process got overwhelmed, so to speak." Honeywell is run by big-time Obama backer David Cote.

City Council Forum

6 of the candidates for city council appear at the Civic Center tonight at 7 p.m. The next six appear on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jane Adams Meet & Greet

Jane Adams is still campaigning strongly. Meet & Greet with her this Friday at Hundley House from 5-7 p.m. Invitation only however, due to the Jackson County Heath Department.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Since one of the points coming up int eh mayoral primaries is the dirtiness of Carbondale and the need for the city to work on keeping itself clean, I would like to point out that residents of Carbondale are not exactly taking the bull by the horns in cleaning up themselves. While anecdotal rather than empirical, three times this week, I've walked past the same shattered beer bottle on the sidewalk in front of an operating business in the downtown area. The lack of concern by this business (and they are not a bar) is amazing, and I am afraid, not atypical in the downtown. I see too much emphasis on waiting for the city to clean up trash as not enough initiative taken by business in the area.

Granted the business may not have made the mess, but the person who made it is probably not going to come back to clean it up and business should not wait until cited by the city before taking action. Downtown needs more pro-activity and less re-activity.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Southern on Lowrey

The Southern comes out pretty strongly that Chris Lowrey should be fired but won't because of the severe stress it would put on the university's finances. I don't pay much attention to SIUC sports, except for the amount of money funneled through the Saluki Way tax to the athletic department but $750,000 sure seems a lot of money for a coach at a second tier university.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

City Furloughs

Interesting to remember that, in this time of frenzy over SIUC requiring furloughs from employees to cut costs and the concern from the community about it, the city required all non-union employees to take 4 furlough days in late 2009. Granted, they weren't union but there was sure a lot less hoopla about it and I certainly don't recall anyone offering the furloughed city employees a discount as a sign of thanks for their service to the community.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mayoral Forums

Just got back from the 2nd Carbondale mayoral forum in as many days. This one, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, was not nearly as well attended as yesterday's, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Of course, yesterday's came with lunch so food was a draw then.

The thing that struck me most about the forums was George Maroney's sense of humor. He didn't show much of one during his interviews or meet & greets earlier in the campaign but it certainly came out during these two events. Fritzler, only the other hand, wasted a good opportunity to differentiate himself from his opponents Wed. night during the "pose a question to your opponent" section of the forum and chose to ask what their favorite pizza topping was.

Overall the candidates acquitted themselves adequately. Suprisingly, I heard little mention of either downtown development or development of the northeast section of the city. Haynes and Goldman were mushc more general in their responses than were Fritzler and Maroney. Fritzler would like to remove moneys generated by the hotel tax from the Convention and Tourism bureau (which has funded a number of Mayor Cole's trips over the years) to the city's General Fund and would reactivate the city's street sweepers which were put into storage to save the city $200,000 per year, despite the fact that the city is still paying on them.

Maroney is also concerned about city cleanliness, though he didn't get as specific as Fritzler, feels that zoning regulations should be loosened and is very concerned about the amusement park completed proposed for Marion, which he feels will hurt Carbondale greatly if it comes to fruition.

Based on what I have seen from these events so far, it looks as if the election is really between Fritzler and Maroney

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Council Meeting

Well, that was a comparatively short council meeting. Mayor Cole chose not to put the chicken ordinance on the agenda so, since the next council meeting focuses on the budget, chickens likely won't come up for discussion again until after the election. Tom Egert's request for a special use exemption for his property on Springer Ridge Road was approved after he withdrew the request for an additional three cabins and submitted a request for the city to just approve the three already standing there.

City Council

Apparently the city expects a large turnout for tonight's meeting as seating has expanded to twice the normal space. Guess lots of people want to weight in on the Cabin by the Lake zoning and the chicken ordinance.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Southern Moving

As noted on the Beetlejuice blog, the Southern Illinoisan is closing its Marion office and consolidating all operations in Carbondale. It is my understanding that the expansion to Marion in 2007 was part of a larger plan to de-emphasize Carbondale coverage and focus more on Marion and the rest of southern Illinois. The feeling at the time was that Carbondale coverage (and subscriptions) was saturated while Marion and surrounding areas provided more opportunity for growth. The opening of the Marion office signified an expanded focus on Marion with a commensurate growth in subscriptions and advertising. Apparently that didn't work.

Friday, March 4, 2011

American Tap Lot

In case you are interested in the American Tap lot, next to El Greco's in downtown C'dale, the city's asking price is $150,000, which covers acquisition and demolition of the property. Assistant city manager Kevin Baity says the city will entertain other offers "especially if there is job creation and development included".

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Being for the Benefit of....

And a benefit event too.

Benefit to support Ranchhod Hospice and Orphan Care Center, Kabwe Zambia

Emma's Revolution Concert and Silent Art Auction (sponsored by Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship and Cousin Andy's Coffeehouse)

Saturday, March 5, 2011, 7 p.m. Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

Admission at the door: $18 for adults, $10 students

Meet the Candidates

Upcoming forums for various candidates for various local offices:

League of Women Voters of Jackson County forums:

March 9, 7-8:30: Candidate Forum for Mayoral Candidates at Civic Center

March 21 7-8:30 Candidate Forum for half of Council Candidates at Civic Ctr

March 23 7-8:30 Candidate Forum for half of Council Candidates at Civic Ctr