Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sheila takes credit for Arbor District PAC's idea? Is lying to the press ethical?

I don't know if you caught the story about building inspectors today in the DE. Looks like the Arbor District is winning the war on this issue, congratulations to the hard working folk there (even though I'm not sure more inspectors are needed). I don't know how to describe the center of that neighborhood association, except by calling them a Political Action Committee (PAC). Wouldn't it be great if more people cared about the city as much as that group?

We now have two plans to look at - Sheila's that will not work well, because it is underfunded and Brad's "you want it, you got it" hammer of a plan. You can read both overviews in the DE article. Brad's plan penalizes the jerks for making the inspector come back. Sheila wants to charge the honest people the same as the slum lords. Kind of typical, Brad's plan is likely better, but go read up and decide for yourself.

My feeling is that both plans would be helpful for a little while, but would soon turn into inspectors running a speed trap if we aren't careful.

I had one of my building's inspected recently and they came back once to see if I completed the work on items they didn't like (battery backed up lights for a staircase mainly). So I would have been out $100 on Brad's plan and $5 per year on Sheila's, I think. I was fine with what they found and how they handled it. Completely professional and understandable, so a good experience. Funny isn't it, I'm happy to have my own place inspected and fix the problems, but I'm against more inspectors. Need to think about that one.

The part that really amused me was Sheila's quote in the article,
"I'm glad that Mayor Cole liked my idea," Simon said.
Your idea Sheila? I asked the Arbor District folks who thought of this idea. Turns out the Arbor District's PAC thought of the idea and has been driving it for years. For example, the email they sent out today, talks about how they were asking for more code inspectors since the 2003 election.

Nothing better then usurping a hardworking group's ideas, right before the election and then lying when you call it your own. Where was she on this issue for the last 4 years? Why bother doing any work for the city, except in an election cycle? I guess being the daughter of politicians does teach you some tricks.

Sheila has never been behind this inspector idea before this election cycle. This is just pandering to voters, by working on issues you were willing to support just days before the election. Sad, just sad.

Of course, your comments are welcome.


Peter in Carbondale said...

D Gorton was kind enough to give me permission to quote him from his email -

I asked him -
I notice that Sheila labels this as "her idea" in the DE today. Did she really come up with it first or did she just support the Arbor District before Brad? I don't think this is her idea, do you?

Mr. Gorton replied -
No, the idea actually was mine. I proposed it over and over and it grew. Brad was the first to agree to the increase in inspectors and the fee - that was several years ago - then he went quiet for some reason. Joel is in favor of it as is (I believe) Corene. I believe that Chris is also on board. The surprise that Sheila is so tentative on the issue now - rather than bold like Brad's proposal.
--- end of quote ---

Interesting how these things play out isn't it? I would have no problem having Sheila call this idea her own, if she had done any work on it for the last 4 years. The problem is her choosing this as one of her main campaign elements, but not supporting it before the election.

I do think the implementation of the plan is Sheila's and it is sub par compared to Brad's take on it.

Anonymous said...

I am Anonymous from the Arbor District-
This is a story I have followed since I am a relatively new homeowner in the Arbor District.

From the beginning of the campaign I have heard Sheila Simon talk about responding to the Arbor District's request for more inspectors. If I remember correctly, she was criticized for the plan to have a $5 fee to finance the new inspector and penalize landlords who are violating code since naturally these landlords would pass on this new cost to the tenants in rent.

That is why I was so surprised when at the debate on Sunday Brad Cole came out with a new plan to finance more inspectors including higher fees. It might not have been Simon's idea, but she has been responding to the Arbor District (and the students who rent and could use some code enforcement in their residences) from the beginning of her campaign.

I am glad that Cole is finally adding this at the last minute to his. Although for the people who rent, the cost will be higher following the logic of those who criticized the $5 per inspection plan.

neutral participant said...


It is a bad idea to charge renters for the malfeasance of their landlords and it continues to be, regardless of who is proposing it.

Anonymous said...

It is not likely to be money that will be passed on to students because there are more and more housing options available to students.

The University is building new apartments at Wall and Grand and there are new apartments going up farther down on Grand. There are other developers with intentions of building multi-unit buildings south of town as well.

It is precisely the threat posed by these new buildings that led Brad Cole to come out with his 'plan,' at the debate on Sunday, to put a moratorium on building any more multi-unit housing in town. This is solely to protect his benefactors, the slumlords.

If the slumlords of this town have any chance of competing with brand new apartments, with new carpet, appliances that work, windows that aren't broken, etc. and so on, they will have to keep their rents lower than the competition.

In order to rent those dilapidated houses, it is the profit margins of the slumlords that will likely take the greatest hit.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I used to think this way too, but once I started talking to the people who own rental property in this town, I realized I didn't understand the market.

Of course, the new apartments will kill the market for the worst houses, but the bad house market exists for a reason. The students want to rent those houses and party down.

There really is a market for housing to college students that do not want to live in an apartment, with a manager and neighbors (actually, this is why I own a house instead of rent too). Fire up the stereo, get a keg and howl at the moon. Pay the damage deposit with Mom and Dad's money and live large. Be a player.

This market isn't going away and of course the costs will be passed on to the renters where ever possible. Some houses will be condemned, some will be fixed up, some will stay about the same. But that need for those houses isn't going away.

Good comment and I used to agree with you, before I did some research.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I forgot about the commenter who claims to be a new Arbor District person (comment 2). Did Brad even campaign before the primary? Not really. Did he have a position before the primary on the inspectors? Beat me, I never heard one.

Sheila has been running for mayor of our little city for 6 months. That she took a position before the primary makes sense. Brad did nothing before the primary, but work as mayor.

If you read the comment above where I quoted D Gorton, you can see that this has a long and storied history. Sheila got on board for this election and it sure looks like once he started campaigning that Brad got on board too. According to Mr. Gorton, Sheila has never been on board before.

I'm don't remember Brad being against it before the primary, I was, but Brad didn't have a position did he?

Applying some logic to this, makes Sheila's position seem pretty crummy. I do like the effort of claiming an issue that she haven't supported for 4 years and not giving credit where it was due.

Once I thought that Sheila had an advantage on this issue, but now I think that Brad does. His plan is better then Sheila's. He was interested in it years before. Now he is on board. Sheila had no position for 4 years and is now on board. Sheila's only advantage was she was campaigning 6 months ago, so she said something about it first.

Anonymous said...

Brad openly opposed the idea of more inspectors at a previous debate. He did say it, and now he is flip-flopping. Just because you didn't hear it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there will always be a market for houses. However, the growing number of better living options for students will drive the worst landlords and the most dilapidated houses out of the market. Coupled with more rigorous code enforcement, the overall quality of the housing in Carbondale will be improved.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Maybe you haven't noticed, but there is a building boom of new apartments in Carbondale. The numbers of recently built or planned to be built is legand. Bigger then the current mega project on Grand and Lewis has been planned for South 51, should house over 1000 more students. If everything I have heard as planned to be built, is built, we will crash the apartment market. I figure this is the like the end of the dot com era in 2000 or 2001, when the idiots continue to fund after the market has turned.

Combined with the falling enrollment at SIU, there is huge pressure on the rental house market in Carbondale. Many houses have sat empty through the entire year. This is the first time since 1972 that I have seen this.

Now if you wanted to do something good for residential housing, you might try to get the city to rezone any house that has sat empty for 6 months back to residential. That is the way the rules work.

The rental housing market is working, the city isn't that important in that market. It is the beauty of capitalism.