Wednesday, October 31, 2007

seed money

Karen Fraley hauls sacks of seed to the Big Muddy Indy Media Center on Washington St. for a fund raising sale on Saturday to benefit the Shawnee Audubon Society (not to be confused (as I did) with the Southern Illinois Audubon Society). This the 3rd year for the sale.

Booby's and PK's Open Today. Rest Closed

Apparently PKs wasn't told by the city they could stay open today due to the boundaries of the bar closure district being changed. While that's good news for the bar, it doesn't say much for the city's communication for the owner to find it out from the paper.

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local dog lost

A reader needs help. His dog is lost. Wandered away near Pleasant Hill Road. Very friendly, but old, with poor eyesight. and a hind leg that doesn't work right. Answers to "Bristol." Pictured and described at SmallDog Dog Friends.

If you spot a dog who looks like Bristol -- and her tongue looks like she chewed an ink pen -- please notify her owner.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trick or Treat on Main Street

Well not Main Street exactly but around the Square and down Illinois. A dozen businesses in the downtown area will stay open from five p.m. until eight, handing out candy. Participating businesses include Longbranch Coffeehouse, Rosetta News/Tropicana, Town Square Market, Clayship Guitars, Arthur Agency, the C'dale Main Street and Chamber of Commerce offices, Castle Perilous Games and Books, Country Goddess, RagWear, Tantastic, Book World and Attitude Designs. Check the ads running in the Carbondale Times and NightLife or call the Main Street offices (529-8040) for more details.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Inspection Fee Meeting

According to an email sent out by the Chamber of Commerce, there's a Chamber meting scheduled for this Thursday afternoon (Nov. 1) to hammer out a proposal to take before the city council.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rental Inspection Fee Letter

Friday's DE has a letter from the ubiquitous Jane Adams regarding the proposed $35 rental inspection fee which makes some good points, though I would like to see some figures regarding the number of units in Carbondale that are dangerous or unhealthy. I do recall from the last council meeting that approximately 20% of existing units are inspected each year, rather than the 33% mandated by statute.

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Murdale Fall Fest

In case you're looking for something to do with the kids today, There's a festival of some sort going on in the Murdale parking lot with chainsaw carving demonstrations and inflatables to bounce and climb on.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Hundley House Redeaux

It's October so that means it's time for the local media to revisit the Hundley House, site of the most notorious unsolved murder in Carbondale, and a touchstone for local ghost enthusiasts. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a short, somewhat jumpy, video on the murder and haunting.


Halloween Thefts

Apparently there've been quite a few thefts of Halloween decorations from people's yards in the last week. I had a stuffed witch and plastic pumpkin taken from my front porch Wednesday night and a friend over on Glenview had about a hundred dollars of decorations stripped from his yard in one night. One family over in the southwest part of town puts out such a large display and has had stuff stolen often enough that they've installed permanent tiedowns in their yard to which their decorations are fastened. It's a darn shame that people can't put out something nice for others to look at without having to worry about a thief helping themselves.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rental Inspection Fee Status

Apparently the City Council is waiting to see what sort of proposal comes from Chamber of Commerces or property mangers on this. If no proposal is forthcoming, then the proposal as presented to the council gets voted on.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Smoke Free Illinois Act

If you're interested in the Smoke Free Illinois Act, the Jackson County Health Department has posted a one page summary of the act on its website. Click here, then click on Links and scroll down to the links related to the Smoke Free Illinois Act. Or you can just read it below:

Smoke Free Illinois Act
· Repeals the current Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act
· Requires all public places & workplaces to be smoke free
· Requires 15 feet from entrances, exits, windows that open, and
ventilation intakes to be smoke free
· Requires no smoking signs be posted & ashtrays removed
· Fines
o Fines are shared – ½ to IDPH and ½ to enforcing agency
o Person who owns or operates a public place or place of
§ Not less than $250 for first violation
§ Not less than $500 for second violation
§ Not less than $2500 for each additional violation within
one year of first violation
o Individual
§ Not less than $100 and not more than $200
· Enforcement
o Illinois Department of Public Health
o State certified local public health departments
o Local law enforcement
o IDPH shall establish a telephone number for complaints
· Exemptions include:
o Private residences except when used as a child care, adult day
care or health care facility or any other home based business
open to the public.
o Retail tobacco stores
o Private & semi-private rooms in nursing homes and long term
care facilities that are occupied by one or more persons, all of
whom are smokers and have requested in writing to be placed
or to remain in a room where smoking is permitted and the
smoke shall not infiltrate other areas of the nursing home.
o 25% of hotel & motel sleeping rooms
The entire law (Public Act 095-0017) can be found at


Monday, October 22, 2007

Unofficial Halloween Unofficially Over

Apparently Carbondale made it through unofficial Halloween with only hundreds of people arriving on the Strip rather than the thousands that joined the Facebook group focused on making it happen. About 90 people got picked up during the revelry for underage drinking. Luckily, it appears no-one engaged in the type of violence and vandalism that marred past Halloween celebrations. However, it's going to take more than one peaceful, albeit drunken, night to convince the University and city to eliminate the ban on official Halloween.


Friday, October 19, 2007

SIUE Faculty Senate Votes to Split

SIUE's Faculty Senate voted yesterday to call for President Poshard to step down as the leader of SIU, 45-5. Meanwhile, the Southern continues to call for healing and reconciliation, while its readers call for some action to be taken to show that the university cares about plagiarisms. Meanwhile, the Tribune weighs in again.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

City Council Meeting

As usual, I got to the city council meeting late. Both the housing grant proposals had been unanimously approved and landlords were weighing in , generally opposing the rental inspection fee (What a surprise!). The general drift of the anti fee presentations was "I am a good land lord and should not have to pay the fee. Only the bad landlords should have to pay the fee."

I'm not familiar enough with the landlords in town to know who the various speakers were but there were some interesting statements and analogies made. When I got there, the gentleman speaking was comparing the rental inspection process to a driving test in that as long as you show competence, you don't have to retake the test. Ergo, as long as you have not complaints, I guess you shouldn't have any inspections. Of course, I do have to pay for my plates each year, whether or not I have to take the test.

The next speaker argued there were two ways to run the inspection process (I think), a market based one or a command based one. He wasn't clear as to how the current market based one worked but the city council wants to impose a command based one. I guess if you let your properties run down enough, the invisible hand of the market works and all your tenants who can afford it move to the nice new apartments going up on the south side of town.

The last gentleman, Jeff Woodruff, I think (but don't hold me to it), argued that since everybody's property in Carbondale, whether owned or rental, could be unsafe, everyone should pay a fee and everyone should be inspected. Actually, that's not a half bad idea but somehow I don't think he meant it as a serious proposal. I wouldn't mind having an inspector in every three years to make sure my building is safe since he's trained to see things I'm going to overlook. I think he was approaching it more from the "Why are you discriminating against the landlord's angle" though.

There were a couple of pro fee presentations as well. One was pretty fast and was more of a "I support the fee in crease" speech. The other was from Sandy Litecky, president of the Arbor District and a landlord herself. She pointed out that other college cities with inspections funded them through fees and cited an example of one land lord's property that had a full page of citations, then a month later had a page and a half when reinspected. However, that's only one example from one landlord and you could argue that's one extreme example.

The council went into closed session shortly after this. Anyone care to fill in what happened earlier? I got a look at the Chamber of Commerce's statement but didn't have much time to study what it is I'm supporting so am hoping to get a copy of it this week.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jane Adams Weighs In

Jane Adams from the Arbor District sent out this email regarding the rental inspection fee:

Here is a note from Jane Adams about the delay in the licensing fee-

I'm extremely puzzled about the delay in voting on the licensing fee that the City Manager just announced. If you'll recall, last March 15, during the election campaign, Brad Cole promised that such a fee would be included in this year's budget. It wasn't, and only appeared months later -- after the City Manager brought forward a tax increase that included a provision to give SIU a million dollars a year for the next 20 years. That proposal, you will recall, had only one evening for discussion and vote. It was notable for the lack of detail that one would expect from a professional staff.

The City Manager has had ample time to have developed a solid proposal for licensing rental property. All interested parties have known for months that such a proposal was to come forward and have had plenty of time for comment. There was no substantive opposition to the proposal at the last City Council meeting, aside from two landlords indicating that, while they supported better code enforcement, they didn't want to pay for it.

The City has surveyed other towns in the state and presumably made a reasoned judgement that the proposal they developed was best suited to our situation.

We have a City Manager form of government so that the professional staff can develop sound recommendations that our elected representatives can then support. Is the delay an indication that our staff lacks this competence? Or are other forces at work to scuttle this proposal through inserting language that would so weaken it that it would not be enforcible? When taken in the context of the 10 years since the passage of the ordinance requiring inspection of rental properties every three years (Ord. 93-73, Section 4-4-16), and of the City Manager's inability or refusal to implement that ordinance over the same 10 year period, a reasonable person would suspect that one or the other is causing this delay.

If in fact the proposed ordinance is strengthened and improved - while it demonstrates a lack of competence in our professional staff - I have no problem with the delay. However, we should be inclined to look at the proposed changes with a very keen eye, and perhaps seek legal counsel on whether the changes might make it unenforceable.


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Monday, October 15, 2007

Riparian Rap

Another local blog: Riparian Rap by Steve Gough (who recently bought Peter Gregory's building on East Main St. across the street from Woodlawn Cemetery).

Steve describes his blog as "mostly Little River Research & Design and my personal life, but also river geomorphology and the business, politics, and science of river ecosystem conservation." Most recent post features the Saturday Farmers' Market.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Inspection Fee Pushed Back

The vote on this has been pushed back to the next council meeting. The ostensible reason given is so that the Chamber of Commerce could finish polling its members.
There's got to be more to it than that. I received the email asking for my opinion on the inspection fee increase last Tuesday with a Friday deadline so that the Chamber board could discuss it. There wasn't any problem putting together a Chamber position on the sales tax increase within the same time frame when the Chamber asked the membership for its opinions.

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City Council Meeting Tuesday

Here's the agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting. Look fro discussion on the retail fee inpection program as well and the rental housing conversion grants. It's also time to submit the city's application for the Illinois HOME program so that will be on the agenda as well.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Plagerism Report

Here's a link to the full report by the committee investigating Pres. Poshard's plagiarisms.


Unofical Halloween

Interesting piece in the DE today about unofficial Halloween. I've been hearing some talk about this. I found the last couple of lines in the story pretty disingenuous:

Mulderink, however, said he disagrees and thinks if students prove they can handle themselves in a Halloween setting without riots he is sure Carbondale will remove the restrictions.

Mulderink said he was doing everything possible to keep this celebration from turning out the way past Halloweens have.

"I don't want any rioting to take place, and I've been trying to do everything to prevent that," he said.

You've got 8000 people interested in coming downtown the 20th to drink and don't think there's going to be trouble? I'd like to know what the "everything possible" he's doing to prevent riots is? Somehow, I don't think it includes him hiring security for crowd control out of his own pocket. And I don't think people are going to be remembering warnings on a Facebook page when they're out at PK's or Hangar 9.


Ghosts 2

This week's story is on DCI Biologicals. Apparently the basement is downright creepy.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

You're Guilty but Oh Well.

Apparently President Poshard is guilty of violating today's style of citations but not those of 1984 in his college. He agrees to admit he made errors and update his papers to the style consistent with today's standards. Wonder how long before students ask to have that included in the university code of conduct as an option.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hazardous Waste Collection

Just got this reminder about the collection on the 20th:

Event: Household Chemical Collection Event (Open to all Illinois residents. No items accepted from businesses, institutions, or units of government.)

Date/Time: Saturday, Oct 20 from 8am - 3pm

Location: Southern Illinois Airport, northwest of Carbondale (follow the signs)

For additional information, contact: Bart Hagston,

Items collected: Paint, aerosols, all types of batteries, motor oil, antifreeze, old gasoline, cleaners, solvents, adhesives, pesticides,
herbicides, insecticides, poisons, pool chemicals, cooking oil, mercury containing items such as fluorescent bulbs, thermometers, & thermostats.

Also accepting old medicines (no controlled substances, leave in original container, may black out personal information but leave drug
name visible; no needles or syringes).

We will be doing another mercury thermometer exchange. First 100 people to bring in one or more mercury thermometers will receive one digital, non-mercury thermometer. Mercury thermometers have silver liquid; ones with red liquid are alcohol, not mercury, and should not be brought in. (Mercury thermometers are safe to use, the reason we do the exchange is to get rid of old stockpiled ones that people might not be using any longer and prevent them from being thrown in the trash.)

Items NOT ACCEPTED: Explosives, ammunition, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fireworks, propane tanks, medical waste, radioactive materials, tires, appliances. No containers over five gallons in capacity without contacting Jackson County Health Dept. prior to the event.

Event co-sponsors: Southern Illinois Airport, Jackson County Board

To see or print a flyer for this event, please see visit:

Southern Illinoisan Weighs In

The Southern has an editorial in yesterday's paper supporting both of the upcoming proposals before the city council: the rental inspection fee and the single family grant.

The Chamber of Commerce is also polling its members to get a feel for how they stand on the rental inspection fee.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Letter to The Council

Just sent the email below to the mayor and city council members regarding the upcoming agenda. Feel free to comment on it, or better yet, send your own thoughts to them:

Mayor Cole and Councilmembers,

Since I don't think I'll make it to the next council meeting, I'm emailing you regarding two items on the upcoming agenda: the rental inspection fee and the housing grant program

Regarding the inspection fee, thought I neither rent nor am a landlord, I think having additional inspectors to help the overwhelmed ones already employed is a good idea. Renters in the Carbondale community should expect that the property they live in meets a certain standard as measured by the city code. Older rental properties in Carbondale have a reputation fro being run down and regular inspection would help address this. $35 a year is not much. If the landlord passes the fee along to the tenant and the tenant cannot afford $2.70 a month in rent more, the landlord probably shouldn't rent to that person in the first place.

Regarding the rental housing grant, I'm of two minds. While the idea is laudable, there's no evidence the $5000 grant will induce a person one way or the other to purchase a house for conversion and the city may just wind up giving away $5000 to a person who would have bought the property. The research I've seen regarding offering tax incentives to business to locate in a community indicates the incentives have little to no influence on the business' final decision (I'll be glad to send you a link to some of the research if you'd like to see it) and I'd think this proposal would have the same result. Also, given the financial status of the community and no funding for this program aside from the general fund, is this something we can afford to spend money on currently?

If you do decide to go ahead with it, I'd recommend a 2 year pilot program to see if it has the desired effects before implementing it permanently.

Also, I'd like to support exercising the option on Jeff Doherty's contract as he does a pretty good job as city manager.

Scott Thorne
Castle Perilous Games


Monday, October 8, 2007

Housing Grants

From what I've read about the proposed housing grants, I'm not too thrilled about them. The proposal states whoever wrote it up has absolutely no idea whether or not it will induce people to buy rental housing and convert it back to single family housing. Much like the $20 million donation to SIUC (yeah I'm back on that again), we have no idea what the outcome will be and those proposing either haven't shown any figures indicating what the results will be. This sounds to me similar to offering a tax break to a business in the hope it will locate in your community. The research shows in general, the business would have located there anyhow without the subsidy. I fear this is what will happen with these grant. People who would have bought the houses anyhow are getting taxpayer subsidies to get them to make a decision they would have made anyhow. Plus aren't we having tax shortfalls anyhow? I thought that was why we got a sales tax increase?

I'd like to see this put into place as a pilot program for 2 years and see how it works before fully enacting it into law.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Smoke Free Illinois

The Southern has an article on the details of the upcoming smoking ban in pubic places. In case you feel like reading over the thing, here's a link to the Illinois Register where the regulations on Smoke Free Illinois are published. You're going to want to scroll to page 13672 and be prepared to read over 25 pages of text.

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Oakland Cemetary

The DE has published the first in their annual series of articles on haunted places in Carbondale and Southern Illinois. Hopefully, they can get through the month without Huntley House or Hickory Hill.


Friday, October 5, 2007

City Council Meeting

The DE has a more extensive report on Tuesday's council meeting, as far as the inspection fee and conversion grants go. As far as the inspection fee goes, I'm neither a renter, nor a landlord so it doesn't affect me directly. However, having rental properties up to a certain standard does affect the overall quality of life in the 'dale and past experience has show that relying on voluntary standards or good intentions doesn't work.
I know of a restaurant in town that's had the building inspector out three times so far this year because of leakage from its dumpster. Each time, employees have gone out, washed out the dumpster and washed down the pavement. Would they do that without the inspector's warning? Doubtful, since it keeps happening even with the warning. Are they intentionally thumbing their nose at the law? Doubtful as well. They're running a business keeping customers coming through the door is a much higher priority than keeping grease in the dumpster. When they're reminded, they take care of it promptly. That's the purpose of the building inspectors, not to catch people and fine them for the city coffers but to remind landlords there's a certain standard our society has decided they should offer their tenants. Unfortunately, instead of viewing it as an additional level of security for their tenants, the comments I have read from landlords have viewed the fee solely as money coming out of their pockets.

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It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

No, not Christmas. Despite stores putting out tree trim already, we've still got three more months. Halloween's the holiday where it's at. When else can you run around in a mask, extorting candy from innocent households with official sanction, then gorge yourself until you're sick to your stomach.

This is also the time of the year when it's cool to talk about one of my favorite topics: ghosts. I've already done two interviews on the topic. So here's your chance to post your favorite experience or story about someplace local. Had an experience at the Huntley House? Seen the blue glow in Oaklawn Cemetary? Ran into the student wandering the halls of Faner? Inquiring minds want to know.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Public Money for Sports Stadiums

Here's an interesting report on the public funding process for the new Yankees' Stadium in the South Bronx. Apparently no public comment, rammed through quickly, over half a billion in public subsidies and no evidence of any benefit generated for taxpayers or the community.

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Cowardly Attacks

I see we're back to attacking the messengers again instead of the message. Scroll down to read the latest two letters supporting President Poshard. Considering I haven't heard anything from the members of AFAC since the first week the story broke, I don't see any organized continual attack on him. Near as I can tell, AFAC, or someone, gave the info to the DE, offered it to the Carterville and Herrin papers (and maybe the Southern), and let events take their course.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

City Council Meeting

I didn't make it there until only the TV3 van was left in the parking lot so have no idea what went on. If I were a betting man, I 'd bet that both of the major initiatives (rental unit tax and conversion grant). Furthermore, I'd bet the rental conversion grant proposal passed 7-0 and the rental unit tax passed either 7-0 or 6-1 with a slight grinding of Mayor Cole's teeth as he voted for it and maybe Councilman Haynes voting against it.

Anyone care to enlighten us as to what happened at the meeting?

Must have been a slow meeting. Took a look at the Southern's website to see what happened and there's no mention of it.

Well, according to WSIL-TV3, the tax proposal was only discussed last night, not voted on. No mention of the housing grant.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

More Break-ins

From the Arbor District mailing list:

"Our neighbor at 602 W Walnut (Home Rentals property) was broken into sometime
between noon and 8 PM Saturday. The upper half of the front door is glass and
lock is not a double cylinder dead bolt lock. The glass next to the lock was
broken. Nothing was taken, however his door is not secured. When I call Home
Rental's number I get a message "Due to heavy calling press star..." and then
I was cut off. The police officer said there has been a rash of break-ins in the area
directed at student rentals."


Ohio Plagerism Problems

SIUC is not the only university with plagiarism problems. Ohio University has a couple of lawsuits filed against it by a professor who was stripped of his duties to advise graduate students and denied pay raises for a year after a finding of 20 years worth of plagiarism among graduate students in the engineering program.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Single Family Housing Grants

Also on the agenda for tomorrow night is this proposal creating a grant program for families that take what are currently rental units and converting them into single family housing. The proposal provides for a waiver of all inspection fees and a grant of $5000, providing that

1) the house has been a rental unit for at least 2 years
2) the owner of record occupies it for at least 10 years.

There's no money in the budget for the proposal, so any funds needed would have to come from the city's general fund. Also, apparently there's been no research indicating how much demand there is for such a program. Quoting from the proposal, "It is very hard to project the participation the proposed program will generate."

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Additonal Building Inspectors on CC Agenda

Should be an interesting city council meeting tomorrow night. The agenda item that will probably attract more controversy is the one calling for a rental inspection fee of $35 per rental unit to add two neighborhood inspectors to the five currently employed and cover the estimated $287,000 cost with inspecting rental units. The fee would generate approximately $315,000, which would probably be applied to covering the total cost of all 7 inspectors, about $382,000.


Happiness is a warm doc

A friend's in town to get material for a documentary about happiness. Tomorrow night the producers of the film will be at the Unitarian Fellowship for fund raising event with live music by Pat York and company and a talk by Sirriya Din and videotaping (but no video showing). I uploaded the Happiness Film Press Release with the details.

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