Friday, August 31, 2007
President Poshard Defends Himself
Blatant Fundraising Plug
BTW, the Dymaxion Sundaes sold a couple of weeks ago at the Dome as fund raisers were Fuller's favorite dessert and consisted of orange sherbet topped with chocolate syrup. He ordered it often enough at Colletti's Restaurant, located where Key West is now, or so I've been told, that the management added it to the menu. If anyone reading this still has a Colletti's menu with the Dymaxion Sundae on it, the Bucky's Dome folks would sure like a copy for their collection.
Labels: Bucky's Dome
Not a Real Suprise
I did like this quote from Trustee Samuel Goldman:
I am convinced - as I was before it even began - the issue we face I think is the difference between intent and error," Goldman said. "And to be a plagiarist, you have to show intent.
How do you take from 30 sources without intent? I'll be interested in seeing how this shakes out
BTW, here's the Merriam Webster definition of plagiarism.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
President Poshard Plagiarism Charges
1. Someone pointed the paper at it. No one goes back and looks at a 24 year old dissertation on a whim.
2. The DE is getting help from someone. The DE reporters did a good job, but no-one who's not trained in the area could dig out 30+ examples of plagiarism in the week the DE says it's worked on the story.
From what I've heard, the Chronicle of Higher Education is preparing a story on it as well, much as the magazine did with the controversy over Wendler here and Dussold up at SIUE.
Councilman Fritzler is a Bad Guy
One of the things that has struck me about the whole sales tax debate was the focus on the proposal and the process. There weren't a lot of "I'm right, you're wrong" or attacks on the supporters of the opposing position. People took a position, sometime strongly, defended that position, sometimes strongly, and attacked the opponent's position, also sometimes strongly. That's something I was happy, and given a lot of what happens at the national political level, surprised to see.
Maybe I missed them, but aside from the Saluki Talk discussion boards, I didn't see a lot of direct attacks on opponents. That's why this reference in the RAVWS column struck me so strongly.
More Financial Aid for Students
The average student loan debt for a college graduate is currently around $18,000, and with consistently rising tuition rates, this number is sure to climb, burdening our college graduates with significant debt before they have the opportunity to establish themselves professionally. Such debt greatly affects purchasing power, making a house, a car, a family, and other key ingredients of the American Dream difficult to afford.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Stage Company Fundraising
Labels: Stage Company
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Letter to the Mayor
August 28, 2007
Mr. Brad Cole, Mayor
City of Carbondale
200 S. Illinois Avenue
Carbondale, Illinois 62901
Dear Mayor Cole:
I am writing to express my concern about one issue involved in the sales tax increase approved by the City Council on Tuesday, August 21, 2007. That concern is the lack of disclosure in the intergovernmental agreement with SIU. Neither the public hearing documents, the proposed ordinance, or the Council resolution authorizing you to execute the agreement disclosed any of the understandings, provisions, safeguards, or other important contents of the twenty-year, twenty million dollar arrangement.
As you will recall, this issue was raised in my prepared statement during the public hearing on Tuesday, August 21, 2007. My comments were as follows: “This proposal does not contain any attached agreements or written provisions that set forth the understandings and conditions for a commitment to SIU. Are you going to vote without knowing what you are committing to or without exploring the financial and legal ramifications of this commitment in writing? That would be totally irresponsible. What about the public? Don’t they have a right to see and react to any proposed agreement as part of the proposal before there is a vote?”
A proposed agreement should have been drafted and included in the proposal packet for the Public Hearing and the Council meeting. This would have been consistent with previous practice by the City. You consistently include contracts, bond documents, and other agreements as part of board meeting packets. Why should this agreement be an exception?
I feel the public has the right to ask for full disclosure on proposed agreements that commit large sums of tax money for non-city purposes for extended periods of time. As a long-time resident, registered voter, and taxpayer in the City of Carbondale, I am requesting that you and/or the City Manager do not sign the intergovernmental agreement until it is available for public comment and returned to the City Council for approval.
Linz C. Brown
Fusion Now Open
From what I've heard, it's already attracting quite a clientèle, despite no advertising. The martinis apparently are quite good and, at $7, are a bargain compared to the $20 you'd pay for the same thing in Chicago.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Park District Goings On
One thing that really stuck out in the article that ran in the August 15th issue was the proposal by the Stage Company to build a theater on the Park District acreage catty-corner to the old high school football field. Two proposals were offered. Under one, the Stage Company would take out a mortgage, buy the property outright, make payments on the loan and obtain private funding for the building. Under option two, the Park District would front the money for the building, which the Stage Company would then occupy as a rent paying main tenant.
I don't see either one of these working out. From what I've heard, and feel free to correct me if you have more info, the Stage Company has been looking for funding for a new building ever since they lost their $1 a year lease on the old bank building when it was condemned and no angels have stepped up.
Option two also looks unlikely, given the amount of debt the Park District is carrying from the building of the golf course. Refinancing the loan has helped the Park District with their budget but not to the point where they have the kind of cash flow coming in to fund a major building project like a theater.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
House Prices Down Nationwide
Unless the real estate downturn is much worse than economists are expecting, the declines will not come close to erasing the increases of the last decade. And for many families who do not plan to move, the year-to-year value of their house matters little. The drop is, of course, good news for home buyers.
Well, That's Intersting.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Also, there's a big yard sale at the pavilion in the Town Square. Lot of furniture when I was there yesterday.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Two Out of 3 Ain't Bad
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Another Letter on the Sales Tax
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
City Council Meeting
I did notice the parking lot was packed when I passed by about 9:15 but there were a lot fewer people inside than I would have guessed from the cars. The Southern says around 150 present. The Chamber of Commerce/athletics block occupied a full row and a half of chairs in the back and broke into applause during both Haynes and and Mcdaniels' speeches.
Anything else go on I missed? One commenter says President Poshard appeared downright angry during his presentation.
Labels: City council
Sales Tax passes
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Jane Adams Responds to the DE
Daily Egyptian All Over the Tax Proposal
SalukiTalk Discussion on Sales Tax
Monday, August 20, 2007
Yet Another Letter
Here's my take on this issue...
Top Ten Reasons for Not Supporting the Sales TAx
Top Ten Reasons
For Not Supporting the Proposed Sales Tax Increase
10. This proposal places small business owners in a no-win situation. In order to show support for SIU-- which many want to do--, the small business owners stand to lose some business. How much they will lose remains to be seen. One very prominent, local business owner who is a consistent supporter of SIUC and the community told me that he probably would support the proposal, but his business would take a “hit.” Already, a few residents have told me that they plan to buy out-of-town as a protest if this proposal is adopted by the Council.
8. The long-term impact of this proposal burdens and constrains future Councils; and, as a result, threatens future operations and services.
2. This proposal ignores the $40,826,276 of unmet needs documented in the FY ‘08 Community Investment Program (CIP). There are no stated provisions or priorities in the proposal for these unmet needs. Who should be taken care of first, the citizens of Carbondale or SIU. I have always heard that charity begins at home.
AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON FOR NOT SUPPORTING THIS PROPOSAL IS:
1. This proposal bypasses the will of the people. The magnitude and length of this unprecedented commitment to spend $1 million a year for 20 years for non-city purposes needs broad support from the tax-paying citizens of this Community. For as few as four people to push the proposal through at this time would be an unwise and irresponsible use of power. Why an unwise use of power? Exhibit #4 in the proposal provides a partial answer. This exhibit lists the sales tax rates for 27 communities in Illinois and 10 local communities in southern Illinois.
I did some research on the reasons for recent increases and the decision-making process followed in other local communities listed in Exhibit #4 of the proposal. My focus was on cities with sales tax rates of 7.75% or higher.
DuQuoin is the first of those examples. It has the highest sales tax rate of the local communities listed. This city recently increased its sales tax rate by 1/2 percent, but the increase was voted upon by the citizens in a referendum, and the increase was used as matching funds to build a new high school. The community, not the council decided on the increase. (Source of Information: Telephone conversation with Bonnie Alvis, Executive Director, DuQuoin Chamber of Commerce, August 13, 2007)
Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County is another example. This is the second highest of local communities listed in Exhibit # 4 of the proposal. The City had only a 1% home rule sales tax as part of an existing 7 1/4% sales tax, but the county recently asked for an additional 1/2 percent for safety expenditures and debt payment in a successful countywide referendum. Again, the community decided, not the city council or the county board. (Source of Information: Telephone conversation with Mary Bechtel, Director of Economic Development, Jefferson County, August 13, 2007)
DuQuoin and Mt. Vernon/Jefferson County are not the only ones to establish precedents by using public referendums for large projects. The Carbondale School District used a public referendum in 1999 to fund the new high school. This is the same project for which the city contributes $800,000 a year. Why does the Carbondale City Council not want to follow these examples? Are we to be less democratic than our neighbors?
The scope of Carbondale’s proposal is beyond anything that voters entrusted to Council members. Why didn’t those proposing and supporting this proposal mention it to the voters in the last election. Proposals of this type do not come out of thin air. It takes time to formulate such ideas and to coordinate with key individuals at the university.
SIU needs to demonstrate that it has the capacity to raise $20 million that would match the proposed offer by the city. Why should the taxpayers of Carbondale be the major financial supporters of a State-supported institution?
SIU is important to this community and it deserves our support, but a financial issue of this magnitude and length of commitment must be carefully considered and must have broad support from the citizens of Carbondale.
I have heard that politics is the art of compromise. It is the extreme of my-way or no- way that bothers me whether it is at the local level, the state level, or the national level. The Governor’s stance on the State budget is a good example. I hope that this Council will do the rational and responsible thing by not voting for the proposal as presented.
I would urge you do one of two things: (1) authorize a public referendum on the current proposal, or (2) reduce the proposed increase to 1/4 percent, set up specific priorities with community input and discussion, stop deficit spending and unwarranted proposals, and lower the SIU commitment to a more modest amount.
Field of Dreams
Police Station Falling Apart.
Sierra Club Weighs In on Sales Tax
Carbondale Community Global Warming Committee
899 Rowan Rd.
Makanda, IL 62958
August 15, 2007
Dear Mayor and City Council Members:
Sierra Club and the Carbondale Community Global Warming Committee are not prepared to take a position on the merits of the proposed increase in sales tax. However, on behalf of our members who live in Carbondale, if the City Council approves the tax and the earmarks for Saluki Way and the fire and police stations, we strongly urge you to use the opportunity to help reduce global warming gases and fossil fuel usage with the money that would be generated by the tax increase.
Mayor Cole and Mr. Doherty are proposing to earmark half of the sales tax revenue from the half cent sales tax increase to help build the Saluki Way project - an estimated $1 million per year. This is a forward-looking proposal with the goal of a future benefit for both the university and the City of Carbondale. We are urging you to be even more forward-looking by attaching the proviso that SIU-C must sign an agreement to make the new buildings meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. In addition, we urge you to pass a resolution requiring the new police and fire station buildings to also be built to LEED standards, or to be at least 50 percent more efficient than energy codes now require.
If the city and university are to be truly forward looking, we must plan new buildings that will be energy efficient. We have already felt the "shock and awe" of higher electric bills and higher gas bills. The price of energy will only go higher in the future. Also, we must wean ourselves from fossil fuels in order to avoid the worst effects of global warming. Just this year, we saw the effects of a warmer spring when the trees bloomed early and then were bitten by a week of frosty nights in April. No peaches for us and no acorns for wildlife this year. This is only a hint of the climate changes that scientists predict will be the result of continued global warming.
Mayor Cole has already signed the Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, which pledges the City of Carbondale to decrease global warming gases by 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. Now is the time for the members of the City Council to get involved and act on this pledge. This is a golden opportunity for the City of Carbondale to take the lead in reducing global warming pollutants and at the same time cutting energy waste and energy bills.
Attached is a copy of the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which has been signed by Mayor Cole, and also a Courier-Journal article on green arenas and stadiums. Members of our committee would be delighted to talk with you about LEED standards, the Mayors' agreement, and suggestions for further actions that the City of Carbondale can take to help curb global warming, cut energy expenses, cut energy waste, and lessen our oil addiction. We will be testifying at the hearing on the proposed sales tax increase on August 21st.
Barbara McKasson, Chair
Carbondale Community Global Warming Committee
(618) 529-4824 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Letters to the City Council
That's 125 projects the city has determined are important enough to undertake but is having to put off because there's no extra cash in the General Fund to do them.
Thanks to D. Gorton for directing my attention this way.
Property Tax vs. Sales Tax
There are two sources of revenue controlled by the City of Carbondale that can generate the amount of revenue required by the City to continue delivering the quality and diverse services to its citizens and to continue funding community organizations in support of their programs. The two sources of revenue are the property tax and the home rule sales tax.
Exhibit #2 provides a five year projection for a General Government tax rate that would be required to maintain the General Fund's minimum fund balance. A property tax levy would be required in December 2007 for taxes payable in 2008 and received by the City during its 2009 fiscal year. The property tax levies and corresponding tax rates would increase annually thereafter. The benefit of a property tax levy is that property taxes are a steady, reliable source of revenue.
The property tax rate in Carbondale is high compared to many other communities. There are different reasons for this including a large amount of tax exempt property, multiple units of local governments, demands for services from the citizenry and the lack of an industrial base. In 2007, the property tax rate per $100 Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) in Carbondale and within the Carbondale Elementary School District #95 is 8.44352.
The City of Carbondale has been the leader in reducing the property tax rate in Carbondale. Through its economic development initiatives, Carbondale's Equalized Assessed Valuation has increased from $112 million in 1992 to $247 million in 2007. The City maintained a policy for 10 years of not increasing its property tax rate, but rather to absorb the annual increases of the tax levy into the General Fund's general revenues. In 2002, the City eliminated its General Government Property Tax levy of over $1 million completely, thereby reducing the overall Carbondale tax rate by 0.592. In addition, the City adopted a 1/4% home rule sales tax in 1999 to assist in the funding of a new Carbondale Community High School and thereby avoiding an additional property tax levy by the high school district.
The history of the City regarding property taxes during the past 15 years has been first, to maintain its tax rate and later, to eliminate its property tax rate altogether. Increasing the property tax for General Government purposes would be a change in the philosophy of the current City Council and of previous City Councils. It is essential for community growth that efforts to lower the property tax rate be continued.
Home Rule Sales Tax:
Carbondale has consistently been the leader in the region for retail sales. The FY 2008 budget projects sales in Carbondale to approach $640,000,000. The City receives sales tax revenues from the regular 1.0% tax provided by the State of Illinois (from the 6.25% standard state sales tax) and the home rule 1.0% tax levied by the City. The total tax rate in Carbondale is currently 7.25% on general merchandise. The home rule 1.0% sales tax is not applied to items licensed by the State (cars, trucks, boats, etc.) or on groceries and medicine. Together, these sales taxes are projected to provide the City with $10.9 million in revenues in FY 2008.
Sales tax revenues in Carbondale have shown steady growth. Revenue from the regular 1.0% sales tax has increased from $5.35 million in FY 2004 to $6.1 million in FY 2007, a 14% increase in three years. The home rule 1.0% sales tax increased from $3.86 million in FY 2004 to $4.37 million in FY 2007, a 13% increase in the same three year period. The Five Year Budget anticipates continued growth in sales tax revenues as shown in Exhibit #3.
The home rule sales tax has been a popular source of revenue for home rule communities for many years. Carbondale adopted a 3/4% home rule sales tax in 1992 and increased the rate to 1.0% in 1999 to help fund construction of the new high school. In 2006, the State of Illinois extended the ability to adopt a local sales tax to non-home rule communities. Exhibit #4 lists current sales tax rates in selected Illinois communities.
Illinois law allows the home rule sales tax rate to be increased in one-quarter of one-percent (1/4%) increments. The State, which serves as collector of all retail sales taxes, adjusts its collection rates twice a year, in January and July. Further, it requires municipalities to notify the Department of Revenue three months prior to those months in order for the retailers to be properly notified of increased rates. Any ordinance increasing the home rule sales tax must be approved by September and March, respectively.
The adoption of an additional one-half of one-percent (1/2%) sales tax in Carbondale would begin generating approximately $2.3 million annually as shown in Exhibit #3 and would provide the City with the additional revenue required to continue delivering the quality and diverse services to its citizens and to continue funding community organizations in support of their programs.
The revenue from the additional 1/2% sales tax would also provide the City with the resources to address four major community capital projects. First is a new Public Safety Center for the City of Carbondale Police and Fire Departments and Emergency Management Services to be located on the site of the former Lincoln Middle School (now owned by the City) in the event that federal funds are not secured to construct this facility. The second is a new Fire Station on the west side of Carbondale to replace the existing station on South Oakland Avenue. The third project is open space development involving the construction of bikeways, sidewalks and greenways in the community. Finally, the fourth project is the Southern Illinois University Carbondale initiative to replace McAndrew Stadium and upgrade the SIU Arena through the Saluki Way project.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Is Local Food Better?
Surprisingly, despite shipping 11,000 miles to Britain, the New Zealand lamb produced fewer carbon emissions per ton (1520) than did the British lamb (6280). Since the New Zealand land grazes on sunnier grassier hills tan do the British ones, they require less care and therefore less carbon emissions.
Oh, and do you feel virtuous because you walk everywhere instead of drive? Not so fast, walking burns calories, which you have to replenish through eating food, driving doesn't. And producing food is much more carbon intensive than burning gasoline.
You can read more about effects of local food here and here. Me, I'm going to have another locally grown tomato and finish reading my magazine.
McAndrew Stadium Falling Apart
Councilman Fritzler's Positon Paper
Friday, August 17, 2007
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Carbondale Chamber of Commerce
Board of Directors
August 15, 2007
Official Statement in Favor of the “Proposal to Invest in the Future of Carbondale:”
The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors would like to officially express their support of the proposal submitted by the City of Carbondale for a 0.5% increase in the Carbondale home rule sales tax. After sufficient research and discussion, it is the opinion of the Board that this proposal is a direct investment in the future prosperity of Carbondale and its businesses.
The proposal estimates that a 0.5% increase in Carbondale’s sales tax will generate approximately $2.3 million annually. Due to increases in various operating expenses, the City of Carbondale must find another source of revenue. A portion of this revenue will be used to continue providing its citizens with quality services and to fund many of Carbondale’s diverse community organizations.
Carbondale is in urgent need of a new Public Safely Center, which will house the Carbondale Police Department, Carbondale Fire Department Administration, and Carbondale Emergency Management Services. The Westside Fire Station located on south Oakland Avenue will also be replaced. The current facilities for these departments are inadequate and must be replaced in the near future. The extra revenue generated by the Proposal will also go to fund open space projects such as greenways, bikeways, and sidewalks, which will improve Carbondale both functionally and aesthetically. Additionally, a one-time grant of $35,000 will be given to the Carbondale Park District for necessary infrastructure improvements.
Another portion of the subsequent revenue will go towards funding Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s “Saluki Way” project. This will be in the form of a $20 million donation over the next 20 years, and will primarily support the renovation of the SIU Arena, and the replacement of McAndrew stadium. These two facilities host events year-round, which are attended by thousands of people from across the country. Improvements to these venues will make them more accommodating, and therefore more attractive to prospective event coordinators and entertainers. Increased traffic to the SIU Arena and Mc Andrew Stadium will bring thousands of new consumers to Carbondale businesses. This large investment in SIUC, one of our community’s greatest resources, will likely bring millions of sales dollars into Carbondale, strengthening our economy.
The Chamber Board of Directors considers this proposal to be a clear, specific plan which will directly benefit Carbondale, its businesses and its citizens. As shown in Exhibit 5 of the Proposal, there are defined financial targets that will have to be met to fund the projects in a financially responsible way. It is the opinion of the Chamber that the City of Carbondale has consistently produced accurate forecasts in their budgeting processes over the past several years, and this plan is expected to follow suit. Therefore, we support the Proposal to Invest in the Future of Carbondale, and feel that it will have a positive impact on the members of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.
CoC in Favor of Tax
Hopefully, the Chamber will get a position paper out soon.
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