Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cates vs. Wexstten

Got a robocall the other day soliciting my vote for Judge Jim Wexstten in his run for the Democratic nomination for the 5th Appellate court. It piqued my interest enough that I went out looking for information on Wexstten (who bears a noticeable resemblance to President Bill Clinton) and his opponent, Judy Cates (who has lots of nice pictures on her website but would it hurt her to label them so I know who I'm looking at?). Cates says that she won't be influenced by politics or outside contributors and her campaign contributions disclosure report certainly supports that, as she or her law firm has loaned her campaign around $700,000. Pretty light on actual contributions though. She only received about $6000 in contributions in the last six months of 2007 but did get about $8000 in contributions this month, plus another loan of about $50,000.

Wesxtten, on the other hand, has been a relative piker, with only $15,000 in loans and $145,000 in direct contributions during the last six months of 2007. However, he's gotten another $260,000 in contributions and $110,000 in loans in the last 4 weeks. Most of his contributors are from southern Illinois, though a few come from the Chicago region.

WSIUI ran interviews with both candidates this week. You can listen to Cates here and Wesxtten here.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coach Kill Named Liberty Coach of the Year

From an email from the SIU Alumni Association:
Dear Saluki Fan,

During November and December you were asked to vote for former Southern Illinois University Head Coach Jerry Kill in the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Poll. Thanks to the support of Salukis throughout the nation, Kill was recently named the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year in a special presentation on ABC.

As a result of winning the award, $50,000 will be donated to the Coach Kill Cancer Fund. An additional $20,000 will be given to the SIU Alumni Association to implement scholarships.

Kill topped The Citadel's Kevin Higgins, Northern Iowa's Mark Farley, South Dakota State's John Stiegelmeier and Morehead State University's Matt Ballard in the overall voting at the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) level.

The Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year is awarded to the college football coach who best demonstrates responsibility, integrity, and excellence on and off the field.

The winner in each division was chosen using a combination of fan votes and votes received from members of the 2007 Coach of the Year Selection Committee.
Kill, who left on Dec. 13 after seven years at SIU to become head coach at Northern Illinois, is the first in Saluki football history to win the prestigious award. Under Kill, the Salukis qualified for the playoffs five-consecutive seasons from 2003-07. SIU was 12-2 and advanced to the final four this past season


Bad News for Southern Illinois

That was fast. Announced as a go on December 18th, it looks like the plug is getting pulled on the FutureGen project. Ostensibly the reason is cost of the project but Senator Durbin and Congressmen Tim Johnson and John Shimkus say the Department Of Energy never mentioned costs until Mattoon was chosen as the site for the project over Texas. Estimated costs of the project have increased from around $800 million when it was announced in 2003 to about $1.3 billion today. The plant is/was expected to create about 3,000 construction jobs, 150 permanent jobs and bring about $100 into the local economy.

Update: Apparently Texas is still in the running for a piece of the deconstructed FutureGen project if the DOE goes ahead with its plans

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Downtown Businesses Closed

Was walking back from Rich Whitney's media presentation at the Big Muddy Independent Media Center last Friday night and happened to glance through the doors at Club 51 and if the place isn't closed, it sure looks like it is. On a Friday night, the lights were all on but tables, chairs and stools were all missing and didn't see a soul inside. So either things start happening there much later in the evening or the place is closed.

Also, Sachi Japanese and American Cuisine has been closed since December 21st. That's the date on the notice on the door from the Jackson County Health Department, wanting the owners to contact the JCHD about the restaurant's food. I've been told the restaurant will reopen featuring Carribean food but haven't seen much indication that's happening anytime soon, though someone did pick up the phone books that had been dropped off in front of the door.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Of Water Bills and Late Fees

You may not have noticed but the city council voted a $5 late fee on water bills that kicked in on January 1st. Here's an email City Manager Jeff Doherty sent out regarding the late fees notices and timing of bills:

Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council:
There have been some recent discussions regarding the City’s water bills and the new late fee. Following is the billing cycle for a City water bill.
It takes an average of 5 working days to read the water meters. It takes 3 working days for the City to take the meter readings and process the bills. It takes 1 working day to print and mail the bills. The bills are delivered to the Post Office by the City on the day they are printed. How they are handled by the Post Office is the business of the Post Office.14 days are provided for payment after the day they are mailed (Due Date = Mailing Date + 14 days). 2 working days after the due date, the 2nd Notice is mailed (this allows payments made at banks to be received by the City) and 5 days are given before the water service is disconnected.
With 21 working days in a month, you can see that the current billing cycle uses every day. It is important that the cycle be completed before the next bills are prepared so that bills accurately reflect an account. There are 6 billing cycles comprised of the various routes in a month. In other words, there are 6 due dates each month.
The 14 day payment period could be lengthened by deleting the 2nd Notice. Most utilities do not send second notices; the City has done this historically as a courtesy and as a reminder that the water service will be disconnected on a certain date unless payment is made. By discontinuing the 2nd Notice, we could add time to the due date, which also becomes the date that we disconnect the service for non payment.
Jeff Doherty, City Manager


Friday, January 25, 2008

Mass Media

Tonight, Friday January 25, Rich Whitney will give a talk on the mass media - "They're Telling You What To Think".

It will be at 7pm at the Independent Media Center at 214 N. Washington St.

Saluki Way gets cool million

A member of the board of directors for Saluki Way, will donate $1 million to the first phase of the project. Former SIUC student, Greg Cook, part owner of Cook Portable Warehouses and his wife, Nancy, are making the donation in memory of his father, John," reports the DE: $1 million Saluki Way donation announced. Cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Free Tutoring For Students

Did you catch the front page article on District 95 in this week's Carbondale Times? If you want to read it, you have to pick up a copy around town as the Times don't do web. The main thrust of the story is that, since District 95 didn't meet the standards set by No Child Left Behind, it has to offer free tutoring to qualifying students, paying for the tutoring with 20% of the district's Title I budget. Parents wanting the tutoring have to apply for it by tomorrow, Jan. 25th, thought the article sasy the district will work with parents who contact it after the deadline.

I found the most interesting reading in paragraph 10, where District 95 Superintendent Linda Meredith says while meeting the standards for NCLB depends partially on students meeting the standards for scores in different subject areas, it also depends students in subgroups performing at a specified level. From what I gather, the three subgroups are race, income and special needs. If one of these subgroups does not meet the standards set by NCLB, the entire district is considered not in compliance and that, apparently, is what is happening with District 95. Could someone with more expertise in the area give more detail?


International Film Series starts this weekend

"Attention movie buffs – start freeing up Sunday nights for an entirely exotic cinematic experience. Four movies from around the world that range in style from artistic dramas to shocking documentaries will show this semester at Southern Illinois University Carbondale as part of the University Honors Program's International Film Series.

Each showing will be in Davis Auditorium, Wham Building 105 at 7 p.m. and will be free and open to the public." To see the list of films, click International Film Series kicks off Jan. 27.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Joint Review Board

Annual meeting of the TIF Joint Review Board is scheduled for Thursday, January 24, 2008, at 1:30 pm, in the Mayor's Conference Room on the second floor of City Hall. Since I attended the first meeting 3 or 4 years ago, I'll try to attend tomorrow, for old times sake, to see how things have changed. . . . like a class reunion.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cool Carbondale Meeting with Mayor Cole

Got the email below from the local Sierra Club today:

Carbondale as a Cool City: Conversation with Mayor Brad Cole on local efforts toward reducing global warming pollution

Carbondale area residents are invited to participate in an open conversation with Mayor Brad Cole on Carbondale as a “Cool City” at the Unitarian Fellowship at 7:00 pm on Thursday February 7. The meeting is sponsored by the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship. The Fellowship is located at the corner of Sunset and Parrish, just south of Parrish Elementary School.

To date, 755 mayors throughout the country, including Mayor
Cole, and 25 counties, have signed the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement (MCPA). This agreement provides a framework for cities to implement the most cost effective and energy efficient actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their local government operations and throughout their communities. The "Cool Cities" program has been described as providing solutions to global warming, one city at a time.

Under the MCPA, each city develops a local action plan based on an inventory of energy use and waste data, and adopts an emissions reduction target. Implementing the recommendations may include improvements in energy efficiency in transportation (“green fleets”), buildings and water treatment, office machines, city lighting, renewable power, and waste management. Monitoring the results is an ongoing process that provides feedback for improvement over time.

To learn more about the status of this program within our city government, please plan to attend this meeting. Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

1187 Creative

As noted over on Dave's blog, it looks link a number of staffers from the Arthur Agency have set up shop as 1187 Creative on the second floor of the Benning Building. Though the company has been running a series of commercials, I mean sponsorships, on WSIU , just launched their website today. At least, when I looked at it earlier this morning, their website just had a placeholder, but now it's up and running. Looks like there're two offices, one here in the 'dale and one in St. Louis. Looks like the company is looking for an account manger for the St. Louis office if you're looking for work, as well as promoting its video production services to the St. Louis market. Wonder how the loss of some apparently key personnel will affect The Arthur Agency.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Burrito Express

The C'dale LaBamba's, at 519 S. Illinois has broken with the parent company, located up in Champaign and now operates under the name Burrito Express, which explains the spate of ads for it in the DE recently. There's an article with more details on page 6B in today's Southern Illinoisan but my SI fu is not strong enough to find the online version.


Friday, January 18, 2008

More Money for Saluki Way

It's buried deep down in the story, which mainly discusses the city's donation of $20 million to SIUC for Saluki Way, it looks like there's been another large donation to the project:

Treviño also said at the meeting that the university would announce a "seven-figure" donation to the construction project at a press conference Jan. 24 at the Arena. Treviño would not give a name, but said the donor was from Illinois.

The Southern has a little more detail.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sunset Motel sold

Just like the title of the post says. Apparently sale negotiations were concluded satisfactorily before the property went to auction.


CERT Meeting

Just a reminder that this is this Saturday:

You’re invited to a
Neighborhood Alliance Meeting On Emergency Preparedness in Neighborhoods

Saturday January 19, 2008

First United Methodist Church

214 West Main Street

9:30 a.m. Registration and Refreshments;

10:00 Welcome, Introductions, Neighborhood Reports

10:30 Presentation on Elkville, Vergennes, and Dowell CERT --

"Community Emergency Response Team"

11:30 How can we start a

CERT program in Carbondale?

12:00- Stay for a Chili Lunch!

Sponsored by the Housing and Neighborhood Action Group

Carbondale Conversations for Community Action

A Study Circles Program of the Human Relations Commission

Info: 549-5302 x 386 or or Mary O'Hara at 618-713-0820


WSIU goes HD

This just in:

WSIU Public Radio, a public broadcasting arm of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), has announced they will be installing a new hybrid analog/high-definition (HD) digital transmitter next week.

The installation process will begin on Tuesday, January 22. WSIU 91.9 FM will be off the air on January 22 beginning at 9am and will remain off the air until about 2pm to facilitate the installation. WSIU Radio’s other stations – WUSI 90.3 FM and WVSI 88.9 FM – will not be affected.

After the installation, WSIU Radio will go live with WSIU 91.9 HD-1, a digital simulcast of their current analog stereo signal.

It will be the first local digital signal in the Carbondale-Marion market.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wal-Mart and the poor

Since a new Wal-Mart is soon to open near my house, this seems like an appropriate time to ask: Do we dislike Wal-Mart because it caters to the lower class?

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Dillinger's for Sale

I am sorry to report that Dillinger's Feed Store is for sale. This is a middle of town small business struggling to compete against the big box Rural King.
I try to patronize Dillinger's whenever possible. You can't get your chicken wire cut to order at Lowe's!
It would be a shame to lose this store.
By the way, you also have to pay to park at Dillinger's. Another example of the city profiting off the backs of those who try to shop locally.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Councilman Haynes Reponds

Got the following email from Councilman Steven Haynes regarding what he expects/would like to see happen in Carbondale during 2008:

Thank you for your inquiry, some of the state of things that i would like for carbondale are as follows
1. Continued efforts for improvement in the minority community, ie employment, communication relationships and the such.
2. City continued promotion of the eurma c. hayes center
3. city involvement and work with the chamber and with mainstreet to continue efforts for positive growth and development of downtown carbondale. ie continue to improve sidewalks, more handicap accesability, more downtown events( maybe a sunset concert type event at the train depot)???
4. Improve, continued growth of single family housing for the community in an orderly and community/neighborhood positive way.
5. Continued infrastructure improvements throughout town
6. improvement of the language and policies of our city government and continued discussion on all points of interest. ie bringing up the possible change of some current city ordinances or policies and getting discussion and input form the community.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Wal-mart to Open mid-March

According to this article on the installation of a traffic light on west 13, the new Murphysboro Wal-mart opens in mid-march. Yes, very soon yet another place to buy yet more stuff.


Primary Candidates in Carbondale

While it is true that the war mongering candidates have ignored Carbondale, Cynthia McKinney has already campaigned here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

One Less Location for Rent

I see that, while Carbondale, and pretty much all of Illinois, is ignored by most of the primary candidates, Ron Paul's campaign has opened an office in the Wright Properties' strip next to Mike's Music.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Carbondale Comminique

In case you didn't find a copy in the Carbondale Times, here's a link to the current Carbondale Communique. Looks like the city received over $6 million in sales tax revenue last year and manager Doherty credits a lot of that to the Enterprise Zone. I'm not sure if I do, since a lot of businesses are looking to expand into smaller markets like Carbondale, and the tax benefits are just icing on the cake.

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Email from Jerry Costello

Got this email from Rep. Costello, touting his accomplishments in the past year:

I wanted to drop you a note to update you on legislative issues that may be of interest.

I recently contacted you about legislation that was being considered by Congress before the end of this year’s legislative session but had not yet been finalized. We did finish all three of those bills dealing with energy efficiency, the Alternative Minimum Tax and health insurance for children.
The energy efficiency bill takes important steps to conserve energy, including having auto manufacturers raise gasoline miles-per-gallon standards for the first time since 1975, increasing the use of biofuels such as ethanol to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and setting new energy-efficiency standards for appliances and buildings.
In addition, legislation was also passed to prevent 25 million taxpayers from having to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax. I voted against the final version of this legislation because its cost - $50.6 billion – was not paid for and will further add to our national debt and the burden we are passing on to our children and grandchildren. I voted for two earlier versions of this legislation that were paid for, but those bills were defeated in the Senate.
Congress also passed an extension of the current State Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 2009, ensuring six million children will maintain their health insurance. This bill also cancelled a scheduled 10% cut to doctors’ payments in the Medicare program, which will allow our seniors access to quality medical care.

I look forward to the second session of the 110th Congress and will continue to work hard on behalf of our region.

You are invited to sign up for future electronic newsletters. Please feel free to forward this message to friends and neighbors you think might be interested in these issues.


Jerry F. Costello
12th District of Illinois


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Auction Called Off

Sorry for those of you looking to invest but according to the sign in front of the building, this Saturday's auction of the Sunset Motel complex has been canceled.

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Urban Sprawl

We've had comments on the unseasonable weather and the high cost of gas and the perverse growth of the city. These can all be tied together, along with terrorism.

The cost of gas in going up, despite or because of the US government invasion of Iraq. Mayor Cole supposedly is on board with the mayors trying to stop global warming. Big Brother is closing the net on our freedoms, watching our communications and -soon to come- forcing us to carry a biometric specific ID card to show to authorities on demand. This, we are told, is to keep us safe from oil rich terrorists. Why not move to deprive the "terrorists" of their oil dollars? Thereby also solving the global warming and high gas problems?

Well, the city leaders pay lip service to this, but the sprawl along Hwy. 13 continues unabated, while the gutted inner city remains vacant. Those of us trying to keep small businesses open are rewarded with a city employee whose only job is ticketing our customers, while the big box stores have tax supported acres of free parking.

So people are subtly forced to drive by city design, and penalized for patronizing small business.
And the city council just voted to turn a soybean field in the flood plain outside of town into a subdivision, against the unanimous vote of the planning commission.

Where's the beef?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Councilman Wissmann Responds

In response to the email I've sent out out the citycouncilpeople, Chris Wissemann has this to say about what he would like to see and expects to see happen in Carbondale this year:

We're going to hire a new city manager.

I think during the last five years or so we've seen some modest gains in SIU enrollment and in bringing in new employers. But we need more dramatic improvement in both areas, especially in the quality of jobs available in Carbondale.

The city needs to make sure SIU is a safe, fun place where students can receive a world-class education. That should be our primary role in helping to rebuild SIU enrollment. Finding fun is rarely a problem, but safety is. I hope that rental-housing reforms enacted during the last four years will help improve housing safety. Now we need to develop faster, smarter ways of responding to violent crime, and more innovative ways of preventing it in the first place.

The city has never quite figured out how to capitalize on the presence of a major research institution. SIU professors have, for example, developed new, low-cost methods of coal gassification. The city needs to try to entice production facilities for such inventions into our industrial parks, or otherwise turn these knowledge innovations into local jobs outside of the university.

I hate the city's suburban-style zoning code, and hope we can try, if only in a few pilot areas, some mixed-use zoning with small neighborhood shops or cafés (like the now-defunct Jim and Ruth's grocery), and see how it works.


Chris Wissmann,
Carbondale City Councilman


Warm Weather

It's 65 degrees out as I type this. The National Weather Service says temperatures like this are not particularly unusual for January. However, the Old Farmer's Almanac says to expect a mild winter with only cold days rather than cold spells.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Plagiarism again

President Poshard is not happy that someone is citing him as an example of how cases of inadvertent plagiarism should be handled. According to the student, who had her degree from Argosy University-Chicago stripped before the school allowed her to re-enroll and submit a new dissertation, since her plagiarism was inadvertent, she should have been allowed to retain her degree and correct her dissertation as President Poshard was.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Carbondale This Year

Out of curiosity, I've been slowly sending out emails to the city council members asking what changes they expect to see in C'dale this year and what changes they expect to see. Here's Joel Fritzler's response:

I expect to see construction start for at least the new police
station and hopefully a land purchase made for the new fire
station. I'm expecting a new Mexican restaurant but I'd really
like to see an old fashion bakery. The new Murphysboro Wal-
Mart will adversely affect retail sales and sale tax revenues
in Carbondale, and it is yet to be determined if the new store
will receive a liquor license.

For the last two years, to become a more environmentally
responsible city and to control certain costs, I've been asking
for changes in the city's garbage and recycling collection
processes. The flat fee of $7.25 a month for garbage pickup is
not cost effective when there is no limit to amount of garbage
a household can pile by the curb. With rising fuel,
maintenance, labor, and landfill costs the city needs to
encourage recycling by charging by the size of the container
and the number of containers. The curbside recycling program
(or a similar pickup process) needs to be expanded to
apartments, care centers, and businesses.

I expect to see (hear) more live music in 2008 as I won't have
to worry about dry cleaning bills or being congested for a
couple of days due to smoke filled rooms.

With rising gas prices, transportation is becoming more of an
issue for residents of Southern Illinois. I expect to see an
increase in Amtrak ridership. I would like to see Greyhound
reinstate a more direct bus route to Chicago. I would like to
see Amtrak and Greyhound work out an agreement to use the
terminal building together. And, after being in existence for
almost 55 years, I would like to see the Southern Illinois
Airport Authority serve a larger group of the property
taxpayers that fund them by working towards returning a
commercial carrier to the airport.

Happy New Year,

Joel Fritzler, Councilman
Carbondale City Council


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Ought to be entertaining. So far I haven't had any customers complain or even appear to notice the increase in the sales tax. I did have one mention it it passing but it didn't affect their purchase decision in any way.


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