Saturday, March 03, 2007

A challenge - I claim that Sheila has no viable ideas - Prove me wrong

I know her ideas include starting public discussion groups, energy audits (which I like) and a Dilbert award for business. Fundamentally, her campaign is bankrupt of ideas to improve the city.

We have a couple of commenters who are Sheila backers, you guys seen to be able to nitpick every little detail. Does that mean you know something about Sheila's plans that the rest of us don't?

Feel free to use Sheila's campaign documents from her website. What are her ideas for improving the city?

I'm expecting more crickets (but she is Paul Simon's daughter) on this one.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've read the Brad's plan and its far shorter on specifics. Why argue this with you when you're unwilling to see what's right in front of you? She's obviously campaigning on more than her father's name, but I can't help you if you start from the assumption you're right and then interpret facts accordingly.

Again, why shout at the wind when I can get more done talking with voters?

milton said...

That's a cop-out. People who read this blog are voters. So by takinge a few minutes (time you would spend a 1 voter) you are adressing many dozens (if not more). I definitely would like to hear more details on her ideas and would appreciate the effort of anyone who supplied them.

Anonymous said...

OK, I give in because I'm a sucker, but I wholly expect Peter's response to be something along the lines of "That's not a plan" or "its not specific." Hogwash, but whatever....


From her plan:

Illinois places very few limits on campaign finance and disclosure. For example, people can contribute thousands of dollars to local campaigns and hide behind names of businesses, trusts or other organizations. My standards, and your expectations, are higher. I firmly believe that no one person should be able to donate huge amounts of money, and I believe you should know who my contributors are. You should not have to take my word for it -- you should be able to make an informed decision when you vote.

Campaign finance is undoubtedly one of the bigger issues in modern American politics and Illinois is behind the times (nearly all local governments are behind on this standard as well). Since she isn't running for state office, the best she can do is hold herself to what she sees as a more appropriate standard (a standard that can be debated). The specific standards she sets for herself are a $50 contribution limit, full asset disclosure, and disclosure of her donor names (which hasn't happened yet). The basic idea here is sensible and based on years of American experience with campaign contributions -- when you accept large contributions, you potentially compromise your independence. At a minmum with most Illinois politicians, you don't have enough information to make a judgement for yourself.

Again from her website,

Carbondale residents are concerned about how our city money is being spent. As private individuals we pay close attention to how we use our own money. The city should steward its resources in the same way.

Balanced budgets are, again, a tremendously important issue. While no one claims that Brad *hasn't* balanced the budget, I do believe she is suggesting that she disagrees with how he spends money in the budget. There are at least three specific examples of ways she would spend differently: 1) she would not have paid such an over-price on the American Tap property (implying she won't do something similar in the future), 2) cutting back on the road-paving program (hardly a popular stand, but one motivated by a concern for whether the roads need it), and 3) re-structuring the Carbondale Clean-Up so that it is both sustainable (which it is not under the way Brad has proposed it; even he has said as much) and so that the money is spent on people who need it rather than landlords and able-bodied citizens.

My goal is to provide as much public access to city records as is possible. Some matters, like personnel decisions, will still have to be closed, but most business should be conducted out in the open. If there is a question as to whether or not a matter should be discussed in public, I will favor openness.

OK, I admit "process issues" are not sexy. However, openness and style of governance are tremendously important to citizens, especially in a community as small as ours. I think that Sheila has a very clear record of wanting to increase participation in the political process and, at a minimum, making it easier for citizens to remain informed about what's going on. At the Smoke-Free debate, Brad wanted to shut debate down after three (or maybe three-per-side, I don't recall) people had a chance to speak. The council chambers were packed; what is the purpose of limiting debate in such a circumstance? Yes, it is more efficient but I strongly doubt any American democrat ever cared about efficiciency -- governing by the people is almost by default going to be inefficient. Toward this end, she has proposed some specific proposals such as clarifying the rules under which the minutes of meetings are disclosed to the public, making city records and council agendas available via the internet, and broadcasting a wider array of city meetings. Sexy? No. Important? Yes, if you care about openness in government.

And just for our local venture capitalist,

My goals are to promote the best of Carbondale businesses, take advantage of our existing strengths, and promote a better balance among public and private sector jobs. In order to promote the best in Carbondale businesses, I would like to work with the business community to recognize businesses that stay in Carbondale for the long haul. There are many programs that offer incentives to new and expanding businesses, but we should not ignore the many businesses that have been the backbone of our local economy for many years. In terms of new and expanding businesses, we need to focus first on taking advantage of the areas where we are currently strong. We can identify and recruit businesses that can complement our strengths in the areas of education and health care. And where we can, we need to promote a spirit of entrepreneurship – that willingness to invest.

Sheila has said in multiple public forums that she is not against brining in big box stores to compete, but that we ought to extend the same courtesies to local businesses. That is a substantial difference in philosophy between the two candidates. Toward this end, she has said she wants to budget for a business development position at City Hall whose main purpose is to gather information and advocate plans for local business (i.e., the folks in Main Street as opposed to some Walmart executive elsewhere). To my knowledge, this process tends to work informally so having it become professionalized will focus the city's attention on these issues. At the same time -- and this important -- she has never opposed the enterprise zone or the entry of non-local competitors into the market.

There are lots more specifics available via her on-line plan or at one of the multiple candidate forums, but this gives you an idea. (Speaking of which, if you were interested in specifics Peter why did you not attend any of the forums?) You'll also notice that I don't raise the issue of Paul Simon once.

Now, who is going to do the same for Brad? Its not clear why the default is that the incumbent is doing well and it is therefore on the challenger's shoulders to provide specifics. The incumbent and his supporters should have to do more than throw random bombs about sign malfeasence, Paul Simon, and Sheila's purported lack of specifics. Will they hold themselves to the same standard they hold for others? I'm skeptical.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I have written here that Illinois is the Land of Corruption and that I believe that until there are campaign contribution limits, nothing will change. I also think that $50 is a number that gives advantages to people tied to political parties, as long as the political party accepts unlimited contributions. If the Carbondale Mayor was a Statewide office and had something to do with campaign law, this would be a really good platform plank.

Since everyone is publishing who gives money and I don't think anyone in this race is willing to sell their soul for $1000, $5000, or $10000, I can't buy into this much.

I notice that Dave wrote about how the Arthur Agency did Sheila's webpage. If you do a logo, webpage, letterhead, hosting, and updates with most PR firms, you are looking at $5000 to $15000 bill. I guess since Sheila hasn't posted her expenses yet, we don't know how much she really paid. It might be possible she got a little price break? If she didn't and really ponied up $10k, that is a whole lot of her budget. I'm guessing that Brad has $500 in his, it isn't nearly as good.

I also notice that there is a PAC calling on Sheila's behalf for fund raising. I'll write about this soon in detail. Since they are asking for more then $100 on the phone, wonder how that works?

So, I agree that some campaign limits are needed and better. I'm also fairly sure that $50 is a number chosen to gain advantage. When Sheila runs for a State office in 4 years, we will see how this $50 things holds up.

I admire Sheila on this issue, both for taking the high ground and for choosing a number that gives such a clear advantage.

I'm going to move the rest of these issues out to their own listings, there isn't enough room to contain them. ;)

They are very good points and thank you for writing them.

Anonymous said...

I also notice that there is a PAC calling on Sheila's behalf for fund raising. I'll write about this soon in detail. Since they are asking for more then $100 on the phone, wonder how that works?

They might be asking for $100, but Sheila won't take more than $50. Past that, its irresponsible to make a vague claim and then provide no backing detail. I've sat here and provided detail after detail in defense of Sheila; these kinds of attacks -- without fact -- are not only unfair (which PAC are you talking about? how do we know they asked for $100? we just take your word for it?), but you're implying that she's lying about her contribution limits. That's pernicious, unfounded, and I know the voters of Carbondale won't take kindly to it.

Since everyone is publishing who gives money and I don't think anyone in this race is willing to sell their soul for $1000, $5000, or $10000, I can't buy into this much.

The key phrase here..."I don't think...." That's more or less her point -- by taking $50 or less, you remove the guesswork. Unfortunately, the long history of America is riddled with example after example that suggests politicans will sell their soul for large contributions. In this case, $10,000 would be roughly 1/4 of what Brad raised last time and, yeah, it would create a very uncomfortable situation for him if that person wanted something from the city (buy my property, clean up my yard, etc.). Now, I don't think he's ever received a contribution that large, but the point remains the same -- with one candidate you know and with the other one you think. Given the amount of control city government has over any sort of business, I'd say there is pretty good reason for preferring the later.



I notice that Dave wrote about how the Arthur Agency did Sheila's webpage. If you do a logo, webpage, letterhead, hosting, and updates with most PR firms, you are looking at $5000 to $15000 bill. I guess since Sheila hasn't posted her expenses yet, we don't know how much she really paid. It might be possible she got a little price break? If she didn't and really ponied up $10k, that is a whole lot of her budget.


The logo, webpage, etc. were all done by a volunteer. He got paid less than Brad's webmaster. I can't speak to hosting of the webpage because I don't know, but she's paying for it so there is nothing unethical going on there. To date, everything short of a few signs and one fundraiser has been done entirely by volunteers. The signs were paid for (though a bunch of those were also made by volunteers) and the fundraiser was a typical party fundraiser (just like the one Brad has this week in Springfield) that isn't part of the campaign finance laws.

Speak until you're blue in the face, but no one is going to be convinced by your argument on the $50 thing that hasn't already decided they are not voting for Sheila.

I'm guessing that Brad has $500 in his, it isn't nearly as good.

Funny, just the other day you refered to Sheila's derisively as amateurish and as obviously done locally. Pick your argument please, because you can't have it both ways.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I'll get to the rest eventually, but I said her campaign document wasn't very good and it isn't.

The look at feel of the website, is good. I think the graphic design is pretty good too. I like the little icon that shows up on my tabs in Firefox. Isn't it some number of days from the election and not the primary?

Anonymous said...

This is so lame... and you people are STUPID.
With a $50 contribution, Simon doesn't have to report on who the money came from.
"OH, but she said she would publish the list of donors on her Web site," you idoits cry!
But she hasn't.

Q: What's the difference if you have a buisness owner contribute $1,000 or having a "boss" that makes 20 of his employees contribute $50 each?????

A:You know who wrote the $1,000 check.

You guys suck, suck, suck.