Monday, April 30, 2007

Walking with Sam Goldman

My wife and I were walking across campus to make the last Southern Illinois Symphony concert and ran into Sam Goldman (when I went to search for a link to Sam, I found this as number 6 in the list. Good stuff from a year ago in this blog, 5 problems SIU has to fix). I have written nice things about Sam before, but I had never talked to him. He is even nicer in person then I had heard, a really impressive man.

Why can't all SIU BOT members be the quality of Sam Goldman? We must be able to do better then big campaign givers, can't we?

Your comments are always welcome.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

SI covers Sheila exit from the city council

I'm sure that most of us know that Sheila has or will soon move out of Carbondale for her Father's old house beyond the city limits, but Caleb Hale's piece in today's SI has a couple of passages that deserve a comment.

Sheila claims she got into the race because Brad kicked $50 into a gift pool for George Ryan. I have been giving $50 or $100 or more for this sort of thing for many years. I can't decide if Sheila has just never had a real job or if she has never had a job where she had to excel. Maybe when you are a lawyer you are allowed to make up historic facts on the fly? This is standard office politics and it is hard to believe an adult has gotten this far without seeing it. From the bosses kid's Girl Scout cookies to Dance-a-thon money, to baby showers, we are all asked to give, to keep the political peace and butter people up.

The second item of interest was the part about running the TV ads. I don't watch TV, so I didn't see them, but when push came to shove she threw her grass roots approach right out the window? She says, "she's a little embarrassed of?" Yes, that is ironic.

Bet she is happy to have lost, there is lots of hard work for the mayor to do. What did she think Brad did over the last 4 years, make the easy calls? Maybe Sheila could take my place in a couple of months and get heavy into writing her blog? After 11 months of campaigning, she likely needs a rest.

A good postmortem on the mayor's race.

SIU marketing - who should pay?

I wrote about who should own the costs of trash cleanup and suggested it was the people who create the trash, who should bear the costs of cleanup. When you think about the world this way, why would the state give SIU more money? After all, haven't the universities decided that the students are the customers?

If the students are the customer, the state is pushing the costs to exactly the right people. If society is the customer (I think this is true) of the universities, then the tax payers should pay more and the students less. Maybe it is time for SIU to start serving the citizens of Illinois again? Clearly, having the students as customers isn't working very well.

Marketing messages are important, I think that SIU has messed this message up. How about you?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trash cleanup in Carbondale - who should pay?

In the mayor's race, Sheila decided to attack Brad on his summer cleanup program. She had something to the argument, but it didn't ring true to most voters. Clearly, being against the summer cleanup program wasn't a winning strategy. I started to think about this, and I was talking to one of the Arbor District leaders (thanks Sandy) today at the Farmer's Market and thought I could do something interesting about trash cleanup now.

I have been reading Steven Landsburg's book "More Sex is Safer Sex" of late and it suggests an interesting way to look at this problem. The person who pays for the cleanup, should be the person who makes the mess. For example, imagine you have a piece of land and someone dumps a load of garbage on it. Who should pay to clean it up, the land owner or the person who dumped the garbage? I think we can all agree it is the dumper, instead of the dumpee, right?

I need to pickup the trash in the business buildings that I own every second or third day. After years of this pickup, the break down of the trash is bags or cups from fast food places (stuffed full of crap) (50% of the total), liquor bottles and cans (30%), pop and water bottles and cans (15%), and everything else (5%). I generate none of this garbage personally, I have a trash bag in my car, but I bear the cost of the cleanup.

Taking my non-scientific, but vetted over time, sample, it seems like the people who should pay to cleanup Carbondale are the users of takeout fast food and consumers of bottles and cans doesn't it? When did it become the land owners fault that other people tossed trash onto their property? That isn't right.

I ran into Bob Pauls today and asked him about this. Bob says that some other communities are charging $.10 per bag of takeout fast food to pay for the cleanup. I know that in some economically enlighten places, they have a bottle and can deposit, which shifts the cleanup costs to the people who litter. It isn't very hard to see how to do it.

I am now going to suggest that Carbondale get in front of this problem by keeping the large scale cleanup program, but paying for it through a usage tax on the people who are generating the litter, the consumers of fast food takeout and bottle and cans. The cleanup program should run throughout the year, if there are funds and then the youth employment can continue for the good of all involved. Of course, landowners who generate trash in their own yards will still have to pay for the cleanup, but those rules are in place now.

What do you think, should we shift the cost of cleaning up the mess in Carbondale to the people who generate the mess? I think this is why Sheila missed the mark in her complaints about this program, she was complaining about the victims receiving benefits and that is a hard sell.

Your comments are welcome.

Six years of frustration are at an end - I'm moving

It wasn't a secret, but I'm finding out that grapevine isn't keeping everyone informed well enough. My family (including me) is moving to Corvallis, OR in July or August.

Why move from the center of the universe? There are two reasons, my wife loves the west and Carbondale is a dead end for my kind of business. When you stack those issues on top of my Father's retirement and my Grandmother's death, the things that kept us here aren't in place anymore.

I have written about this before, but to summarize the problems we have doing business development in Carbondale is fairly easy - there are no people with experience to hire or start companies (the total absence of 30 to 50 year olds is the key). Our employment base of new college grads doesn't work well for factory work, that isn't the kid's path, so that is a problem too.

For six years I worked hard to do business development in Southern Illinois. I have tried a variety of things, each of which was a failure. It is time to do something else.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Goodbye John Dunn

The DE reports that he has a new job at WMU as the head dude. Good for you Dr. Dunn.

As the turnover of upper management continues. Hopefully, Poshard can build a team that will move things forward. I have a little list of some other people that might go too, but I'm sure you know my list and more names already.

Your comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dave has gone "round the bend" on the Varsity

Dave has a piece over in his blog about the Varsity Theater today.

The problem is that time has passed the Varsity by. There is no parking, the new style of movie theater seating gives better views. The Varsity wasn't made for small, multiple shows (imagine filling a theater every weekend for just one movie!). The students don't walk anymore, so no business from that. The business model that allowed the Varsity to be built and thrive, doesn't exist anymore. Even if you spend the $1M to fix it up, you still are left with an old cinder block building with no parking.

The owners of that building have the absolute right to do nothing with the building, if they want to. They are paying taxes and no one is at risk. If you want to buy it, feel free to make a written offer. My guess is that $250k in cash will take it, but you will only know by making a written offer.

Why would you want to have the city harass honest citizens? You don't like they way a property owner is using something they own? To bad! That is the way that property rights work here in the USA and our strong property rights are a cornerstone of our country's success. We have proof that laws work that way in our own "American Tap" building.

I know it is well meaning, but who cares? You can't have it both ways, respect people's property rights. Use strong zoning laws and code enforcement, but mostly let people enjoy the use of their own property as much as possible.

As to Dave's call to "beautify or demolish", I wonder if we will have a vote to see if after his mural is painted, if it is beautiful enough. If not, get the D9 out there and take the building down? A slippery slope if I ever heard of one.

We know already that Brad and the city aren't going to mount an assault on the ownership of the Varsity. Do you want to spend thousands of dollars of the city's money to prove what we already know? You can't take someone's building, just because you want to.

Of course, your comments are welcome. Go give Dave some heck over on his blog too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Key "Stage Company" question, how much have the members pledged?

I was reading Caleb Hale's nice piece about the Varsity Theater building in the SI yesterday and was amused by the constant rattling of the pauper's cup by the Stage Company.

Let's recount a little history. They had a free building for many years. Put on shows, had a nice time, did good things. But they didn't do any maintenance on the building and like most buildings in Southern Illinois, if you do no maintenance the building falls apart. Sad end, the building was torn down. Now they are searching for a home and would like someone else to pay for it. I guess I understand that feeling, I like it when someone else pays too.

Today, there are many stages for rent in Southern Illinois for a fairly low rent. SIU alone has 4 or 5 stages to choose from. Throw in CCHS and a few other places and you realize we have a huge number of unused stages for rent in a town of 24,000 people. But, renting a stage isn't optimum, it would be so much nicer if someone would build the Stage Company a new building to their specifications and maintain it forever, for free.

I have been approached a few times to see if I wanted to write "the check" to make the "Stage Company's" dream a reality. Any good fund raiser will tell you to ask a key question, has everyone in your group pledged or given money already? The "Stage Company's" answer is something like we are too poor to give money. Oops.

Let's assume that you can rent any stage in Carbondale for $200 per night. Let's further assume they need the stage for 30 straight days, 4 times a year. That is $24,000 per year. I bet that is less then the electric bill on a new building they propose. You had to know that the $600k was just the beginning of the money they wanted right? Starts to make a new pool look reasonable.

What do you think? Are you ready to have the tax payers pony up the money to make the "Stage Company's" dream a reality? I'm not feeling the love myself.

Patents at SIU - still screwed up?

I was researching the last entry and once you start talking to research professors about the brochure, they immediately say something like, "those SOB's have had my patent over there for a year and have done nothing." How hard it is? When someone puts a patent into the system at SIU, they drop it to the bottom of the ocean. Cut it out. Get back to people. Do the work. Maybe a little internet database where people can check the status? I guess that would make you admit that nothing had been done and nothing would ever be done?

I think that SIU is processing more patents these days. My fancy brochure doesn't give any historical numbers, but I remember the numbers like 1 or 2 per year historically and they are claiming 13 patents filed and 2 issued. Maybe the 13 is a good sign or maybe it isn't? If it is 13 patents entering the system, that is only a $1k kind of thing or free if you have one reasonable staff person doing it. It is expensive to do more.

I have written about this before, back before anyone read my blog.

Your comments are welcome.

Why do SIU administrators campaign like politicians?

I received a big envelop from SIU the other day and it contained a 4 page, both sides, fold out, super thick and glossy brochure entitled, "Research Profiles 2007." Postage was over $1 and the brochure must have cost at least $1 each and maybe as much $4 each. Then there was a little specially printed cardboard hanger on the brochure with SIU's logo and these words, "Compliments of John A. Koropchak Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Dean."

I know why SIU sends these sorts of things out, and maybe they data mine and only send these super expensive things to big givers? But, how exactly did I get this tax payer funded document that is "Compliments" of some administrator? Did he pay for it? Why am I getting expensive campaign literature, that claims to be compliments of some pseudo-Vice President type? Is he running for office?

If we ask about this, I bet they will tell us that "we didn't spend tax payer money." But that means they are spending donor money. I think that means they are wasting the money that I send in, by sending me fancy brochures, doesn't it? Why would I give them more?

One of the problems that SIU hasn't begun to address is how to walk the fine line between communicating and wasting money. Brochures like this one feel like waste. A quarterly email list, with fancy HTML email, would feel like communication to me. I guess the 70 year old fat cats, might like paper though. It isn't a clear and easy problem, but SIU should start to think about how they are going to handle this.

The appearance of wasting our money, to make yourself look better, is a place that SIU needs to avoid.

Your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Had to take a little break. A good book.

I was kind of burned out after the election and had to take a little break from the blog for a couple of days. Just came back from a few days in the Northwest. Went to my favorite NW non-profit's annual charity auction. You wouldn't believe the amount of skyscraper construction in Bellevue, WA.

I bought a book that seems interesting, "More Sex is Safer Sex," by Landsberg. Kind of like Freakonomics, only different. I'm not quite done, but the first chapter alone makes the book worth buying.

Anyone else have a book to share with the crowd?

Why Joel is the most disappointing city council member

After Chris Wissmann wrote up his pre-election comments in the "Nightlife", he came under some direct attack here on this blog and I'm sure in other places. Some people even went so far as to claim that he wasn't a good city council member and I certainly don't agree with that. But is did start me thinking, who is the worst city council member?

Here is my stack ranking of city council members, best on top -

Our solid A student.
Cole - understand the issues the best, hardest worker, most ideas.

The A- Students (it is hard to get an "A" if you are only part time).
McDaniel - prepared and fair.
Wissmann - prepared and votes what he things is right. Sometimes I am amazed he votes against somethings, but overall a better representative of the college students and community.

The B, C or D Students, depending on issues.
Jack - needs to work harder preparing, but comes down on the right side of the vote often. I like how he responded to the pressure of the election. Hopefully, this is the start of a new trend, instead of performance of a baseball player in his contract year. Lance has a lot to offer Carbondale, I hope he finds the work ethic to push forward.
Haynes - I'm putting Haynes here, mostly because I can't tell what he is doing. I like his voting record, maybe the best of any council member. I can't tell is he is just a little shy, doesn't prepare enough or just is willing to go along if the vote is going his way. I was impressed by his performance in the debates over the last month or so. I hope he speaks up more, he clearly has a knowledge base of what is going on, that could help.

Our F Student.
Fritzler - I like Joel. I hoped that he would do a good job on City Council, but he hasn't so far. He seems to have two large faults.

First, he doesn't understand how our society works. He has been employed in the public sector forever and either never knew or has forgotten how everything outside of being a low level civil servant works. I ran into him and we ate lunch together a couple of months ago, I was amazed by what he said. He complained about giving businesses tax incentives for anything. He complained about fixing drainage culverts for new buildings. He just didn't get why the tax payers are willing to give the city money and what services we expect.

Joel has had zero results as a city council member thus far. He has proposed nothing that has seen a vote. He seems to have only one agenda item.

Which leads us to Joel's second large fault, his one agenda item is to get Brad Cole and stop him. This just isn't what the citizens of Carbondale need him to do. What we need Joel to do is prepare for the meetings and vote for the things that will move the city forward and help the people who live in it. We don't need him grinding an ax and complaining about every program that Brad puts forward, good or bad.

I don't know why Joel doesn't like Brad, but Joel get over it. You are our worst city council member because of it. Find common ground, make up, compromise, kiss a** if you need to, but do a better job. Most of Brad's programs are good for the city and the right thing to do. Get on the board with his program of moving the city forward, work hard enough to propose programs yourself to move the city forward, or get off the city council and let someone who can act like an adult be elected in your place.

At first, I wanted to give Joel an incomplete. Once I looked into it, I have to give him an F. Joel, you have your midterm grade, you need to pick up your performance by the final. You can't be against everything in the city's/Brad's agenda, it makes you look like a fool.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Carbondale Main Street online auction open for bids!

One of the best non-profits in town (Carbondale Main Street), is having their annual fund raiser on eBay right now. They have included a page of instructions on how to do eBay if you have never done it before, but if you need help, check with the nearest 13 year old, they are experts. I'm playing with the idea of going hard after this item or maybe this item for the scientific professor in your life that is hard to buy for, I'm going to make fun of this guy soon, so get your bids in now, or you can do this one (I would wait until after the no smoking law kicks in). There is also a bike and set of fishing boots.

Main Street has been the best economic development group in Carbondale for the last 5 years. They have a limited focus of helping our downtown area, no messing around with anything else.

A good cause and good people. Help keep our downtown business core strong and bid on something you need. Now is the time to get that Holiday Shopping down early.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Going to Quatro's for lunch today - Anon come pay your respects

Some Anonymous sent in a comment in the last couple of days ,that they would come by and talk to me at lunch today. I guess they were going to gloat about Sheila's big win? I'll be there, come by and say hello. We can talk about quality over hype for a while, if you like.

Flash for the past - Nicole Sack back for a visit

Former Southern Illinoisan reporter Nicole Sack (you have to scroll down a little to get to Dave's work on her going away party) was back in town for a visit with the folks and like a good political junkie was at the Cole Vistory party last night. It sounds like Nicole is happy in SoCal and enjoying the work, but missed Carbondale (at least a little). She told me a funny story about parking meter enforcement that you might want to ask her about sometime. :)

It was funny, there were two pictures taken. Nicole told us that the first one wasn't right and switched sides for the second one. She looks great in both, but the second one was better. I don't think I have a good side, so either way is fine with me. The whole thing made me have a really stupid grin in this picture, but you likely hadn't noticed I was in it yet. How do women know these things?

She told me she was a fan of my blog, so here is a shout out from a blogging hack to a good reporter.

Will Sheila's Volunteers do anything in the city before the next election?

I have watched the army of volunteers that Sheila has had marching around Carbondale, hosting teas and the like. But, most of these people will do nothing for the city beyond volunteering in this election. Wouldn't it be more productive to ignore the election and work to make the city better the rest of the time? It isn't hard to be a big wheel in Carbondale, you could be in charge of something today, if you want to be.

I have been hearing about how much the Sheila volunteers love Carbondale, but it sure looks like the business community (ie the Brad supporters) is the group that drives improvement in Carbondale on a day to day basis.

I have spent most of my time over the last 5+ years doing my best to help Carbondale, in the best way that I knew how. My program has been largely unsuccessful, but hopeful and consistent. Maybe it is time to figure out what great ideas you would have to improve the city and start to drive them? Maybe you will be like me and fail, but maybe you will succeed and make the world better?

Successful examples of citizen's changing Carbondale government are the Arbor District PAC and the Anti-Smoking campaign. You don't need a study circle or someone's daughter to change the world for you, you just have to start working on what you want.

I couldn't understand the Simonite's call for opening the government of Carbondale, it is wide open now. Start a blog, a group, attend some meetings or write a letter to the mayor. You can change things if you want to. Even a lame computer guy like me gets to have a voice, it just takes a little time and energy.

What say you? Is there anything you want to accomplish in Carbondale? Why not try?

Your comments are welcome.

Some thoughts about the election

For most of the mayor's race, I thought the race was about people supporting Paul Simon's daughter. But, Sheila surrounded herself with people that had no interest in winning the mayor' race. Instead their goal was to gain sweet revenge for the close loss of Maggie Flanagan 4 years ago and they hoped kill the future political career of Brad Cole forever as part of the bargin.

Blogger's note - killing someone's future in the USA is a tough thing to do. For example, how many minutes until Don Imus is rehired? Anyone seen a Kobe Bryant commercial lately? That isn't the way this country functions. Everyone gets a second chance.

Instead of trying win a close victory, Sheila camp seemed to set their goals on 66% of the vote or bust. In order to score a knock out punch, they threw everything and the kitchen sink at Brad and only hit themselves. If you are in Sheila's inner circle, you should be kicking yourselves for being so stupid.

One of the things that I like about Brad (and I think is true of Joe Moore too), is that he likes politics and the laws of government. I feel that Brad sees "Politics" as his career and hobby, the same way that my Father does Math and I do Technology Business. You see all these organizations of politicians and political causes that Brad joins and then becomes leader soon after? It isn't luck. He likes it, he eat and breaths it. He seems to have an unending supply of ideas of how to improve things, and is limited by budget and reality, but never ideas. I agree that this makes Brad a professional politician, but it also means he is on top of the issues. I really get the idea the understanding the city budget and its subtle meanings are fun for him.

If you look at the 45% or so that voted for Sheila, many of them are so closed minded that they will cheerfully vote for an inferior candidate. I still don't get the Sheila supporters idea for a better community, what were they talking about? If you can't put it into one sentence, doesn't that mean you can't explain it? As I have said here of late, "the Emperor has no clothes."

After watching Sheila and the gang's running an 11 month campaign of deception and smearing, it will be nice to start trying to move the city foreword. Politics of us vs. them don't help in a small town.

Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is, what kind of city do we want Carbondale to be in the future and start working toward that.

I'm sick of writing about this election, but a couple more before moving on.

Lunch at the Long Branch Backroom - I liked it

When I first moved back to Carbondale, I went into the Long Branch with my wife because she wanted a latte. The place was thick with smoke, I decided that I didn't need it and never went back. Last Sunday, I met some people for a business lunch at the Long Branch Backroom. Turns out you can go into a door from the parking lot and miss the smoke. The back room is no smoking.

The lunch I had was good. Huevos rancheros and a salad, I was hungry. The HR were good, but came to me kind of lukewarm. The salad was great, walnuts and sunflower seeds, sprinkled over mixed greens. The whole menu appears to be vegetarian, so you are warned. The quality of ingrediants seemed excellent, so my only real complaint is they could invest in a stronger heat lamp to keep the first orders warm, while they cook the later ones.

If you eat out a lot in Carbondale, you quickly find there aren't enough places to eat on a regular basis. I don't know if the Long Branch back room fits the bill as a place that I will eat regularly, but it has possibilities for further exploration of the menu. That is a cause for hope.

How about you? Do you like this place?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Christmas in April" first cut at the Carbondale Election Results

Looks like Brad won in a walk 56% of the vote. Picture is of your blog host, Brad and Dave More at the Cole Victory party. I almost went and visited Sheila's party, but I wasn't sure I could deal with that many sad State employees in one place.

City council looks like what I predicted before the primary and very acceptable. Haynes, Polhmann and Jack for city council, I sure hope that Lewin doesn't sneak in, but would be fine with Moore (he sure ran a fine campaign). I guess that the voters decided that the city is doing well and added a person who spent lots of time driving a very popular no smoking law. Congratuations to everyone who ran, this race was good for the city.

I listened to Haynes in the debate a little last night and liked what he had to say. I'm going to get off his back for a while, but I still think he needs to go to lunch with Mary Polhmann and talk to her. If they need a referee, give me a call. :)

Major and Rendleman win in District 95 and Elbert Simon off. As Simon loses this time, after winning a number of times before, you have to wonder how many people are reading this blog anyway? :) Did a paper endorse other people, how did we figure out that Simon should go all together and at the same time? I'm sure it wasn't this blog, anyone know what happened?

I found this entry by mistake, but it is interesting now. Found this too, guess he agreed?

I ended up voting for Navreet Kang because I like him and he is my insurance agent, but was fine with the park district results. I have more respect for what is happening over there then I did before the election.

I'll write some more tomorrow, but writing this made me realize how many words I have written about this election. It is kind of amazing.

Any of my Pro-Sheila Anonymous commenter's want to explain how they managed to screw this up so bad or did the voters of Carbondale figure out that they are better off with quality over "my bad"? If you don't have anything to say about this, don't worry, I do.

See you in the morning.

Sheila's conspiracy theories continue -watching for cheating

I was down voting this morning and saw that we had poll watchers in my polling place. I realized that both were people I liked and were Sheila supporters. I asked one of them if he planned to be there all day and he said he was, except his wife was going to spell him for lunch.

Turns out that Sheila and her people have decided that Brad has hired college students to go vote illegally. You know, like we are in Chicago! Apparently, she has talked volunteers into keeping track of each voter and making sure there is no funny business going on. What a waste of time.

These people have lost their minds! Wow, I knew they had gone crazy since the primary, but this is really over the top.

Did you see some crazy liberal state employee keeping track of who you were this morning?

DE Our Word on Athletics? Failure of logic.

The DE editorial staff is so clueless this year. Today they write about how Athletics doesn't drive enrollment at SIU. It starts -
There's been a lot of talk lately about how the prestige of a successful athletic department paves the way for a boost in enrollment.

At SIUC, it's only a theory.
Let me give the DE a theory back, that is as valid as what they write. If Athletics wasn't doing so well, enrollment would be down much more.

I guess someone who studies logic would see there are three options, Athletics makes enrollment go up, stay the same or go down. Since the DE didn't do their research, they don't know which is the general case or if that general case applies to SIU. All we know is that Athletics is doing well and that enrollment is down. We don't know know anything else.

This isn't as bad as their support of Pepper Holder in the primary or their toying with support for Sheila Simon, both of those things were really dumb, but this editorial doesn't shed any light on this issue. Come on DE, you can do better then this.

The DE closes with this "Either way, success on the court or field has nothing to do with success in enrollment." My word is, either way, the DE didn't do their research on this topic before they wrote their article.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

Monday, April 16, 2007


The 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier of Major League Baseball is today. I wasn't born, but maybe this changed the world as much as the invention of the car?

City Council Candidates - hard choices from imperfect candidates

Haynes and Jack - One doesn't vote on anything hard (anti-smoking stuff), but when he does vote, seems to choose correctly. The other doesn't seem to have a job, doesn't seem that prepared, but does seem to vote intelligently. Wouldn't it be interesting if Lance isn't reelected after being on the council for the best run in Carbondale government in years?

Moore - seems to be best prepared of all the candidates. Kind of like a younger Brad Cole. I said he had no chance before the primary, but he is looking good now.

Pohlman - is a one issue candidate, but that issue is now passed into law and the state will make it permanent soon. She continues to say the city is $6M in the red in the budget and that is just crazy. There are unwritten rules that you should never let a doctor be CEO, I wonder how you can think the Carbondale budget is in the red if you are listening. Looked stronger when I knew less about her.

Brown - Invisible to me. What do we know about her? I can't even tell you what she looks like or what she does for a living. But, that could be my fault.

Lewin - Lier and unacceptable to me. You ever notice where she is a Dr. and has 3 degrees from SIU? She didn't get her doctorate at SIU did she? Interesting deception there. My sources say, Sarasota University is the source of her PhD, mail order PhD is it? I guess that is OK isn't it? Where you get your PhD doesn't really matter. I got mine out of a cracker jack box.

If you could tell me who would really read the documents and prepare before the meeting, I could tell you who I would support. I had it as Pohlmann, Haynes and Jack before the primary. But Pohlmann doesn't understand the budget, Haynes has decided to call people racist over nothing, Jack has picked up the pace here at election time by suggesting winning compromises on anti-smoking and car dealer incentives. Moore is the biggest winner in my mind between the primary and today.

So, I guess I'm going for Moore, Jack and Haynes. But would be OK with Pohlmann or Brown. The blogging would be better if we elected Lewin, a little public exposure of her thinking and I could just write up the quotes without doing any work at all.

How about you? Who you got?

District 95 - Elbert Simon should go and other picks

When I look at District 95's board election, there are two things that jump out at me. First, we should elect John Major and Andrea Rendleman to the school board. Second, we should vote against Elbert Simon and get him off the board.

John Major is a Carbondale native and taught and then was dean of students in the junior high for 37 years (I had him for 7th grade math and he was a good teacher). Mr. Major knows what is going on inside the school district and would give the board perspective from the inside. John is very interested in improving the school district and the energy to push for that improvement. Both in knowledge and passion, John Major is the man to put on that board.

Andrea Rendleman is my choice to serve from the parent end of things. She is a whole bunch of kids in the system and has had for a long time. She has been involved with volunteer, PTA, PTO and Parent Advisory Board. She is very optimistic and passionate about the schools. A good buddy of Sheila's, but she is a good person to represent the parent interests on the board.

In most school districts Elbert Simon could not serve on the school board, because his wife is Dean of Students at the Junior High. Mr. Simon and his wife team up to control many aspects of disciplinary actions at the Junior High. No school board member should be allowed to have such a huge ethical problem. The District 95 school board should change their rules to not allow relationships with huge conflict of interests to exist with board members. With all the problems we have in Southern Illinois with unethical family relationships, this is one that most school districts have already solved by a simple ethically based rule change.

The general slide of District 95 from one of excellence, to a school district that better parents are removing their children from, has to end. It really hurts the town. With new people on the school board, maybe things will start to change for the better. In a town where the main employee bases are Professors and Doctors, the school system shouldn't be sliding toward Cairo.

Can Sheila win?

Daughter of our most famous local politician, much loved parents, member of the SIU community, liberal, good person, good wife and mother, supporter of good causes, but maybe the worst campaigner in history?

Sheila could have just shut her mouth and "rode her bike to victory" (this is quoted from an anonymous source), but instead she had to surround herself with a pack of idiots and decided to gun big, bad Brad Cole down in the middle of Illinois Ave.

I got how clueless Sheila was after spending a couple of hours with her, but so many people in Carbondale wanted to believe!!!!! It was like Bush's address to the nation after 9/11, we wanted to believe, so we did (at least for a while). Now after 11 months of campaigning, silly whisper campaigns, countless "Tea with Sheila" meetings, hundreds of sign, thousands of letters, we are left with the impression that Sheila isn't very smart/nice/ethical.

Why didn't Sheila read the budget herself if she wanted to make an issue of it? Who would dare raise an issue that they supported themselves and not just once of twice, but dozens of times, over years of votes.

I think one of the big problems that Sheila has found is that Brad Cole, really isn't that big and is pretty darn good at being mayor. When attacked directly, Brad has control of the facts and mostly he hasn't done anything wrong. One of the great things about Americans is that we like being fair and Sheila attacks have crossed way over the line, so we all know they are unfair. Some of her supporters feel that the ends justify the means, listening to them has cost Sheila an easy win in this election.

If we judge from the campaign and the last 4 years on what each mayor candidate will do, we can guess what Brad will do. We can hope that he is receiving the complaints about his first term clearly, he needs to be more sympathetic, put out a positive vibe, even when he is talking to people who don't get it. We all want Brad to keep working hard for the city and accomplishing more good deeds on our behalf, we just want him to take off a little of his hard edge. I suspect this will happen with time, so no worries there. It is hard being a young man, I used to be abrasive myself. :)

I used to think I knew what Sheila would do if she was elected, which is not much. She would be a modern version of Neil Dillard. If things were really bad, should would announce "my bad!" and then do nothing much. But, I have become more aware that Sheila may be a much worse mayor then that and I'm concerned. This being nice, while stabbing in the back and getting caught by everyone, is a bad trend. Her run since the primary is historically bad and that is scary.

All the newspapers are supporting Brad, at first her supporters said, "it is just the Southern." Then, Chris Wissmann shouldn't be speaking out. Now it is a clean sweep. It might start to indicate a trend?

Still Sheila has a whole lot of yard signs out there and her supporter are still sending irrational letters into the papers (I loved the one by my old 6th grade math teacher in the SI yesterday, talk about reaching for points that aren't there). There are still supporters out there for her, even if her campaign strategy has hit a brick wall at 60 mph. You wonder how many people have a sign in the yard, but will vote Cole in the booth don't you?

So, can Sheila still win? I know I hope she doesn't, but can she? Will you still vote for her, even though it is clear that a ration person might see her campaign points making her seem unethical? Even though Brad weathered 10 months of her running unopposed and looks to be untouched by all of the probing for wrong doing? Does anyone believe that she will be a better mayor then Brad anymore? Did anyone ever think she would be a better mayor?

What say you Anonymous and other commenters? You going to the polls tomorrow with the feeling that Sheila can win?

DE endorses Cole, well really they call Simon unacceptable - but they are still confused

The DE's endorsement is here.

The DE's rejection of Sheila because of her "campaign of disinformation and baseless attacks," seems on target. I don't know how so many state employed, well educated, liberals thought it was OK to go on a whisper campaign of lies for the last 11 months (could they not have known it was lies?). In only 1 month of real campaigning, the whole thing fell apart. If you thought that Karl Rove was just lucky before, think again. It is hard to keep all those lies up in the air for months at a time.

I'm pretty confused about the DE's idea that Brad is killing "The Strip?" The strip is little changed in the last 30 years, beyond the difference that the students don't walk anywhere. The students have chosen to shop at Walmart and the Mall. The only thing left on the strip is services businesses, but all the higher volume stuff is concentrated where there is better parking. The strip will magically re-emerge when gas prices are $4 or $5 per gallon and not every student thinks it is their given right to drive everywhere.

In a city council election where you are choosing one limitation or another, Joe Moore seems like a logical choice for them to make.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tax breaks for business? First example of why you must use them

It is interesting to watch as the USA becomes an economy based on consumer spending, the cities that have the regional shopping Mall's and big box concentration's, harvest the largest amount of sales tax dollars.

I have written before that with little doubt, the best thing that Neil Dillard did as mayor was grant "The Gap" a tax break to come to the Carbondale Mall. In the 5 short years since then, the Carbondale Mall has filled up with good stores and the Marion Mall is in serious trouble.

Things are so bad in Marion that they sent my little internet company a letter and glossy brochure to relocate there. Reports are that Marion had no traffic over Christmas outside of their 3 big boxes (Target, Dillard's and Sears). How dead is the traffic? The Friday before Christmas, there were only 5 walkers counted inside the Mall. The stores inside the Mall are just dead and the marginal stores outside of the mall are seeing hard times and some are shutting down.

Would the situation be reversed if "The Gap" and more importantly in Southern Illinois, "Old Navy" had gone to Marion instead? I think it likely would be completely different.

How much money would it cost Carbondale to stop being the shopping center of Southern Illinois? Do you want to drive to Marion to shop? I don't.

Some people say that giving corporate welfare is always bad. In many cases, if you become the regional hub, you harvest the follow on business as well. This is exactly what happened in Carbondale's Mall, thanks to a small tax break.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

Carbondale budget - two facts that don't go together

What I don't understand is how Sheila can admit that she doesn't know what the total budget of the City of Carbondale is and in the same conversation claim that Carbondale can't afford more police officers. If you don't know how big the budget is and can't really get your mind around it because "there are so many numbers floating around" or something, how can you know anything about what you can afford?

Back when I had a budget, I had both my take home income memorized and my piece of paper with expenses listed. If I added my expenses without understanding my take home pay, how could I budget?

I'm very sure that Sheila doesn't understand the Carbondale budget, aren't you?

Your comments are welcome.

Play about SIU professors and academic mobbing?

SIU professor David Rush's play "One Fine Day" just closed a run in Chicago.
the conflict at play is the power struggle between students and their teachers. When a professor of philosophy and political propaganda goes too far one day in class--dressing up as Hitler and passing out anti-Semitic literature--he ignites the fury of a Jewish student who calls for his dismissal.
Sounds like a combination of Jon Bean and his extra credit reading list and the Architecture professor (he runs that great summer camp for kids, but I can't remember his name right now) who dresses up in costumes (including a Nazi armband), doesn't it? I wonder if the play had its own set of unproductive professors acting as a mob, like SIU does?

Wonder if the touring company is going to play SIU? Maybe a opening speech by SIU's own expert on academic mobbing would be nice as her SIU swan song?

Often blogging is a good way to discuss problems. But plays that get it right, can often expose the hypocrisy of a place in a way that nothing else can. Wish I had seen this play, it sounds like fun.

Has SIU's search firm gone bad?

Earlier there was a thread about something and we had a commenter say that SIU should not use a search firm or it was too expensive to use a search firm. That is wrong, it is better to use a good search firm. But, I recently received information that SIU's search firm does a poor job and maybe is prepping the candidates to succeed, by lying to the SIU search process.

I don't know if this is true, but here is the rumor -

The search firm used for the new position of Vice Chancellor for Research, brought in 4 finalists. Two where unemployable and two were prepped by the search firm to lie about important facts. There was no hire.

The same firm was responsible for Wendler being identified. My rumor monger says that Texas A&M had put him on the bench, with no work and no reports when SIU hired him. They go further to say that SIU didn't check him out, because a few phone calls verified these facts.

Now the have used the same search firm again for the new Chancellor search. Apparently, simple checking at Reno, shows that candidate is known to be extremely autocratic and would be unwelcome at SIU. I sure hope that the search committee and Poshard, are really checking these people out, before they are hired.

I now wonder if the commenter who didn't like search firms, was trying to say that they didn't like this search firm? If your search firm isn't productive, or is helping the candidates cover problems that would end their candidacy, that is a real problem.

Your comments are welcome.

Why would I post anonymous attacks?

I'm getting complaints from both Brad and Sheila supporters that I will not post their anonymous attacks here. Why should I post them? No names, no supporting documentation, there is the whole line of Sheila's attacks on Brad based on things that she voted for, secret envelops passed between big shot Dem's and Sheila? It is all crap. Either, I have to believe it is true or you have to have some kind of reasonable documentation.

Look at the difference between Chris Wissmann's article and your rejected comments. He simply compared campaign literature and city council meeting minutes. This is the path to follow if you want to comment here.

Now if you want to have your opinion included here, that is great. Peter you are wrong, because... always works. There isn't any place for the whisper campaign that Sheila supporters are trying to carry out. Faceless and baseless accusations from shadows are cowardly, and have been proven to be untrue thus far.

Hasn't Sheila's campaign been damaged enough by all of the lying? Why don't you guys switch to the truth or at least drum up some documentation?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Murphy Walmart moves forward

When I was looking at the Cole endorsement on the Murphysboro American's webpage, I noticed this story about the new Walmart moving forward. Some of the neighbors had hoped they were going to go away, but I guess not.

Spring Fair - Dayemi Parent/Child Collective - Tomorrow

If they are rained out, they are trying again Sunday. If you want to see a bigger version of the poster, click here.

Murphysboro American endorses Cole

I found this over in Dave's blog, but I'll steal the link anyway. I like Dave's comment about the DE -
I guess the DE is sticking with Sheila, since Pepper Holder is out of the running.
Guess we will see who the DE endorses on Monday? Hopefully, they will do better this time.

Interesting how the Pro-Sheila people suddenly aren't commenting

Normally, I have 10 or more comments by now. After this Wissmann article post, there is nothing. Started wondering, if you have been fooled by Sheila's act?

Waiting for someone to step up and tell us that Chris is wrong or something. What we have so far is a Sheila supporter calling him "not a democrat."

We are all agreed that Sheila is unethical and lying in this campaign then? Her whole act is a sham to pander to voters?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chris Wissmann Unleashed in this week's Nightlife

Chris weights into the mayor's race in today's editorial in the Nightlife and wow, is it a stunner. Inconvenient Truths: Sheila Simon’s Disappointing Mayoral Campaign is the title and it is a tour de force of information.

He opens with -
Sheila Simon’s mayoral bid has fallen short of exhibiting her campaign's self-proclaimed integrity and responsibility. Instead, her campaign has distributed hypocrisy and inaccuracies along the campaign trail.
He goes on to list a large number of lies, untruths, and smears that Sheila is using in her campaign and campaign literature.

Sometimes, you just have to stand up and tell the truth. Looks like Wissmann decided the time was now. If you don't have a religiously closed mind (thanks to Milton for the first comment), this might open you eyes.

On page 6 of the "Nightlife" there is a nice Mayoral survey, that is good reading and on page 7 there is a sample ballot if you hadn't seen one before. I also liked the little box titled "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Fora," also on page 6. It points out there are two park district debates in the next 3 days.

Nice work Chris. If you only write facts like Chris did, are you still banished to the Simonite dog house?

Anyone want to comment about Chris's column? Be happy to hear, if you do.

Southern Illinoisan says, "Cole has earned the right to a second term"

Check out today's editorial.

They say -
We are hard-pressed to find any reason to change who sits in Carbondale's mayoral seat, and it is with a unanimous voice that this editorial board endorses Brad Cole for a second term.
In a nutshell, Mayor Cole in his first term has charted new courses for progress not only for the city but also for the region. His effort to bring area mayors together to work toward common regional goals has been invaluable.
We have seen his energy, his drive and his goal-oriented operating style at work and they have brought strong, positive results to Carbondale and to the region. We see no reason to change now.
Just when you thought that Cole couldn't have a better day in the press...

DE reporters aren't the editorial board

I wrote yesterday or the day before, that the DE had interviewed both mayor candidates, it turns out that is true. But, that doesn't mean the editorial board that writes the "Our Word" and picks the candidates has interviewed anyone. The news staff isn't involved with the editorial board.

I was educated on this and promised to pass it along. Don't blame the news staff for the editorials and don't blame the editorial staff for the news articles. The are separate groups inside the DE.

SIUC Webpage is much improved!

Check it out, it has the commercial on it and everything.

Tip of the hat to all involved. It is really a step forward.

Special kudos to Terry Clark and Glenn Poshard. Good work gentlemen.

Is a vote for Simon worse then a vote for Keyes?

I wrote about people who vote for the wrong candidate, because they always vote that way yesterday. My question for today, is a vote for Simon even more silly then voting for Alan Keyes?

Now I agree that Sheila has many qualities, she is a Dem., she is Paul Simon's daughter, she served on city council and has a job at SIU. She has also run a campaign that is about as untruthful as they come. She seems to have framed her campaign, as a vote against what Brad Cole stands for, instead of what she has done, stands for or will do. It is hard for me to buy this technique and smart people are beginning to speak out against it.

Sheila's supporters talk about "wanting to make the community better." I guess what this means is having more citizen committees to guide the city? What do they mean by this anyway?

When I talk to Sheila supporters, they can't really tell me why they are voting for her. The talk like born again Christians debating Creationism. It isn't hard to calmly win a debate on any Simonized talking point, they aren't very good. The Earth was created 5000 years ago by God, but glue was invented 6000 years ago. Brad isn't careful with the budget, but Sheila clearly doesn't understand the budget and the city manager says it is good. Brad paid too much for the American Tap building, but it was the right thing to do. Brad messed up with the Summer cleanup program, but every city council candidate supports it in a revised form. I like to ask back, "what has Sheila accomplished in the last 4 years?" "What has Brad accomplished in the last 4 years?" Everyone knows, Sheila list is largely a blank and Brad's is large.

Like the gardener who works my neighborhood and had a Keyes' sign on his truck, the Simon supporters seem to be people who don't really care about the issues or merit. They just want to vote for Paul Simon's daughter or someone who works at SIU or a bicyclist. Maybe they want to vote for the person most like they are and forget about merit?

So which is worse, voting for Keyes or Simon? I don't see any difference.

Your comments are welcome.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Teaching music students to be entrepreneurs

Article from Business Week. I like this quote -
it took some effort to convince some old-guard faculty—firm believers in "art for art's sake"—that the school wasn't selling out by offering courses that emphasized practical skills
Sounds just like a local university I know.

Nationwide trend? University spending in the dumper.

Check out this op-ed piece on OSU from today's paper. Seems like exactly the problem that SIU has doesn't it?

DE Our Word - Moving the right direction, but still off base

I don't know if you read the DE's Our Word yesterday about the mayor's race, but it looks like the DE is starting to understand. Before the primary the DE endorsed Pepper Holder and Sheila for mayor. That was truly stupid and showed a complete ignorance for reality, but maybe they will pay attention to the details before the real election?

Yesterday, the DE started to move toward reality a little. The have begun to figure out what the rest of us have been learning. Sheila is a slick campaigner, but doesn't have a clue about the Carbondale budget, running a meeting, managing an organization or how a city does business development. Her pattern of disinformation and lack of knowledge about all issues surrounding running this city's government is what has bother me from the start.

Then they go on and write, "Cole hasn't run around spreading inaccuracies like Simon, but has defaulted to ignorance on more than one occasion." OK, so we knew who the ethical candidate was already, but it is nice that the DE is getting it.

What exactly is wrong with claiming "ignorance" and once you are informed there is a problem, fixing it? This is the way the real world works people, you do things, you figure out what you did right and wrong, you fix it and move on. Has the DE decided that not knowing about stray weblinks or Facebook groups, someone else made, is a big deal? In particular, I would think that Facebook stuff, that someone owns, that is wrong, is completely understood on campus in this day and age. Once Brad was told about the problem, he moved rapidly to fix it. That is about as well as you can do in the real world.

Once you are out of college, this is what we call highly ethical behavior. In the real world, we don't turn in assignments and forget about them. Sometimes they come back and bite you. You will see, no good deed goes unpunished.

A far bigger problem is Sheila's running without a plan to improve the city and with no idea how the budget works. Sometimes, even in American politics, you can make a clear choice based on quality. This isn't has hard as the Green Party had it choosing between W and Gore, this one is easy. Your choice is between a slick lawyer, with no clue and the best mayor Carbondale has had in 30 years.

Nice to see the DE is starting to get it.

Would you vote for Alan Keys?

Just a couple of years back, the Illinois Republicans were in bad shape, the had no one running against Obama for the US Senate seat. So they imported Alan Keys' from Maryland to run. I then stopped and waited for something exciting to happen. What we learned was, who ever put an Alan Keys' sign in their yard, voted Republican regardless of the quality of the candidate or merit. In Carbondale, we sure didn't see very many, but I talked to a couple of people who had the signs and they confirmed it.

I'm sure that many Green Party members voted for "W", oh sorry, Nader, instead of Gore in the 2000 Presidential election, because there was "no difference" between W and Gore. Let me suggest again, there is a difference.

In the last Illinois Governor's race, we actually reelected our current Governor, even though he sure looks to be corrupt and headed to prison soon! Granted running against Judy Barr..., who is equally bad, helped. But, if you didn't have party affiliation's to follow, why would you vote for either one? How did we manage to deserve both major party candidates being so poor and how could 90% of the voters justify voting for one of those bums?

Once you get past the automatic party vote, the vote you make because your neighbor is voting that way, or the vote you make because that candidate asked you first, why would you use your vote for anyone who isn't going to do the best if elected? How did our election process go so wrong, that people put out Alan Keys signs in their yards? What happened to quality? What happened to merit? What happened for rewards, based on results?

So, would you vote for a Dem, Pub, Green, Black, White, Gay, Woman, Catholic, etc. if they were the best candidate? Or are you voting for Alan Keys?

Your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I liked Marvin Kleinau's letter in the SI today

It is the 3rd one down. I like these quotes -
Do you vote for a name or do you vote for a record?

But for the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would deny Cole another term in office. He has demonstrated beyond question the virtue of a full-time mayor and his dedication to the city of Carbondale. To vote him out of office would be a little like voting Churchill out of office right after World War II.

Why would anyone vote to "throw out the rascal" when he hasn't been a rascal?
I don't know if you have every heard Marvin act as MC of an event, but he is the best I have ever seen. I'm glad to see that not everyone has been drinking the Simon kool-aid.

His points are direct and nicely stated. I write for pages and never get anything that good, is so few lines. Worth a read.

Dave's Colbert watch continues and Brad's city council accomplishments

Dave has been busy trying to get a picture of Brad (Sheila declined) on Comedy Central, but deep in that entry there is a little list he made about what Brad did before he was mayor. Interesting stuff in there,

I wonder when we will see Sheila list of accomplishments? Does communicating with business owners count?

One man's failed boycott of Walmart or people sure love those big box stores

When I first moved back to town, I decided that I wouldn't shop at Walmart and I was going to support True Value instead of Lowe's (if you knew my hardware budget, you would know this is a big deal). In general, I was determined to support the locally owned stores, instead of the big boxes.

There is no problem shopping for groceries other places beside Walmart. It costs a little more and the produce is better. I have religiously shopped at the farmer's market on Saturday for years (my Father and I go together, early. If you want to check the floor show).

I ran into a problem with Murdale True Value almost immediately. First of all, they pay lousy and hire poorly. Sure Morris and 2 or 3 others are good, but everyone else in there knows nothing (or at least, less then me) about hardware. Then you need help finding something and the employee takes you to where it should be and the shelf was bare (seems like they had a fight with the supplier or something). Finally, there was something I really needed and True Value didn't have it, so I went to Lowe's. The first thing you notice about Lowe's is the size and amount of stock, then you notice that the employers know something. Go to plumbing and find a retired plumber to help you. Tools had a fellow who used to be a coal miner, who now does woodworking as a hobby. The prices were about 50% to 75%, compared to True Value on a few items I checked, that I had bought recently.

Over the course of 6 months, I started going to Lowe's more and more and True Value less and less. Lowes has better help. They give stock options to the employees and pay better. The people who work at Lowe's care more about helping you then at True Value. Lowe's earned my business and I like going there.

My boycott of Walmart continued for years, but then it started to show some cracks. The union electrician that I normally use suggested I go buy an electric gadget at Walmart. I asked him about shopping there and he told me, they have the best prices. I asked the anti-union questions and he didn't know anything about it. Shortly after I was talking to a Schnuck's employee about something and he told me he didn't shop at Walmart for groceries, but did shop there for everything else. Wow! Talked to union members at SIU, they shop at Walmart. I took a step back and had to ask myself, if all the union people are shopping at Walmart, who am I helping and hurting by not shopping there? Seems like the union people don't care, so I was just hurting myself.

The first thing you notice shopping at Walmart is the amount of inventory. The employees are nice, but not knowledgeable (so Lowe's is better), but they are no worse then most. Walgreen's people are much better, I shop there when I can. A little thing of yogurt is $.89 at Schnuck's and $.53 at Walmart. A case of soda for the guys at the office is $2 less. I don't shop there often, because I'm price insensitive, but I can sure see why people do. They have everything you need and it is cheap.

In the end, the people of Southern Illinois have decided to shop at the big boxes. I don't understand what the difference between Wendy's, Walmart, Best Buy, Walgreen's, Lowe's and most stores in the Mall. All of them ship the profits to owners out of town, it would be better to shop at locally owned stores, but few do all the time.

Does anyone shop at The Co-op and Arnold's exclusively? Is there a locally owned drug store to choose from? Who eats at locally owned restaurants and avoids the national chains? The answer is almost no one in Carbondale is really walking the walk, we have sold our soul to the national chains. The reason of course, is that the national chains are better then a badly managed, locally owned businesses.

I got this great Sheila pamphlet where she says that she, "Communicates with locally owned business," and Brad "Claims credit for recruiting big box chain stores." Sure is a stunning accomplishment when you "communicate" with someone. Next thing you know, she might start trying to help them.

You have to wonder, what should the city do about that empty Kmart building? Let it sit empty? I have a whole thing planned for the Dick's Sports issue, so stay tuned.

In the end, the big boxes are what Carbondale wants and what America wants. It is politically pandering to say anything else.

How about you? Do you shop at any national chains or do you just buy from locally owned businesses?

Your comments should be interesting.

Monday, April 09, 2007

How long will the city council meetings last if Sheila wins?

From the Channel 6 story -
Simon says, if elected, she would like the city council to approve every item, in a multi-million dollar budget.
I realize that Sheila is just going around without thinking or understanding what she is saying these days, but this quote strikes me as particularly silly. Since Sheila has proven she doesn't have time now to understand the budget overview, how could the city council possibly have time to "approve every item?"

Would the meetings last until 3:00 AM and be held every week? Stick of chewing gum, all in favor? Will the city council be paid by the hour? No one can budget like that, it just doesn't work. It is a proposal of micromanagement at its worst.

Sheila has fallen into a trap of saying things to attack Brad, to try to win points (or pander) with the voters, instead of just saying why she could run the city better. It make her look silly.

Good story from News 6 - Mud slinging in Mayor's race

Check it out. My Mac will not play the video, so let me know if it is juicy.

Simon said the city "paid for the travel up there," the hotel room and even, "renting a car in Chicago."

When asked about the expenditures, Cole replies that he didn't rent a car on the trip.

"I think she's getting that information like she gets the other stuff," Cole said, "they just make it up."

Ouch and a little more -

Mayor Cole responds, "we have a 42-million dollar budget and if she wants to approve washers and nuts and bolts and asphalt by the gallon then we can do that."

When asked what the city budget is, Simon responded, "I couldn't even tell you, there are so many figures that swim around the numbers I'm focusing on are not huge numbers."

I guess she wasn't lying about the budget before, she is just ignorant.

Your comments are welcome.

Why has Simon only recently developed skepticism with regard to City money?

From my entry below, there is an interesting comment by Concerned.
Concerned said…

I should preface my comment by stating that I am undecided as far as how I will vote this Election Day. However, it seems to me that, in the case of Sheila Simon, the matter of hypocrisy cannot go unattended.

First, why has Simon only recently developed skepticism with regard to City money? What does it say about her ethos, as a potential holder of Public Office, that she took it on "faith" to trust "the system set up by City Hall" then questioned it as soon as it did not serve her interests? Is she not part of that same system she now criticizes?

Furthermore, as our representatives, do we not vote for city council men and women to carryout the task of assessing "facts," and not acting on "faith" alone, when it comes to voting on all kinds of issues? I work too hard for my small wages to be spent “on faith.” I would want my council person to know what it is he or she is voting for when issuing a vote.

Moreover, there is a problem when criticizing spending turns into economic protectionism disguised as a concern for local business. In some ways it feels like a thin veil for conservatism. Finally, unless my logic is incredibly eschewed, and please correct me if I’m wrong, how is it that a public university's travel budget is different than the "public's dime?"

It never bodes well when double-standards govern a politican's rhetoric.


I don't know if you have caught Sheila campaign strategy, but she needs a villain. There have a been a series of attempts to discredit Brad, as a matter of fact, there is nothing to Sheila's campaign that isn't a direct attack. The problem she has, is that she has been on the city council and voted for most of the things she is complaining about. The few things that she didn't vote for have mostly turned out well.

She hasn't done anything for the last 4 years, now all of a sudden she needs some heat. As it becomes closer to the election, her talking points are being debated and found wanting. If the city wasn't going the right way, this would be easier to play this blame game. The problem for Sheila is that we have had a great run for the last 4 years and there isn't much to complain about.

The city of Carbondale has taken in and spent some $200M in the last 4 years, and all the waste she can find are the things she voted to approve? The waste is $500? $2000? $5000? Seems like desperation doesn't it?

I have this great Sheila Simon pamphlet they have been leaving on people's doors of late, it is the standard pandering and no accomplishment drivel. I'll work that over in the next few days.

I agree, she seemed like a better candidate before she decided to get desperate and nasty. I thought she wouldn't be effective, but I never thought she was going to turn to dirty tricks and a media smears to win. Good for Brad for just calmly responding to each point.

For me, I'll take 4 more years of what we have please.

How could Sheila vote against Brad's new house program?

What are the numbers? 200 new houses, more then the previous 15 years of building inside the city. We are seeing a lot of building out in the faculty ghetto of the Southwest for the first time in many years. Cost per house is $1500?

How can Sheila justify not voting for this program? It looked like and was a slam dunk.

Fine Art from the Forge - good art reception on Saturday

We are blessed by maybe the finest concentration of blacksmiths anywhere in the USA. This show should be a good one.

Fine Art from the Forge:
Work of Southern Illinois Blacksmiths
Reception on Saturday, April 14th, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
John Medwedeff, exhibition curator
Exhibition at the Gallery Space at 1008 Walnut Street, Murphysboro
March 19 through June 2, 2007

This is an exhibition that celebrates both the work of artist-blacksmiths living in Southern Illinois and the important history of the local blacksmithing community. The work in the exhibition explores diverse uses of iron and mixed media for decorative and sculptural possibilities.
In the mid 20th century, a combination of World War II, new technology, changing economies and the emerging movement of Modernism in art, design, and architecture interrupted the rich history of creative work by blacksmiths. In the post-war years, blacksmiths and their skills all but passed into history.

The 1960's saw the beginning of a renewed interest in the craft as reaction to an increasingly modernized world, and in concert with counter-culture idealism of the times. By then, the traditional system of handing down skills from master to apprentice had ended. The Fox Fire book series shed some light on the old methods, a handful of "old timers" were still around to teach a new generation, and there were people trying to figure it out their own. Historically, blacksmithing had been one of the building trades. Then in 1969, Brent Kington, Professor of Metalsmithing at SIUC, brought blacksmithing into the academic art world for the first time in the United States.

By the mid 1970's the Metals Department at SIUC had become very well known as the one and only graduate program for Artist-Blacksmiths. During this time the nation was swept up in Bicentennial celebrations. To mark the occasion, Evert Johnson, Curator of Art at the SIUC University Museum from 1966 to 1989, curated the 1976 exhibition "Iron - Solid Wrought USA" featuring historic and contemporary ironwork. This further cemented Southern Illinois' place in the growing international blacksmithing community. Jim Wallace, one of Evert Johnson's museum assistants and Brent Kington's graduate students from that time, went on to become Director of the Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. Several artists represented in this current exhibition have worked and trained at the Metal Museum as well as at SIUC.
In the last 30 years, decorative ironwork has found its way back into architecture and forged iron has become a respected medium for fine art. Graduates of SIUC have started shops and built academic programs across the country. A global community of blacksmiths has come together to fully reinvigorate the profession. The SIUC Metals Department, now under the leadership of Rick Smith, still the epicenter of blacksmithing in the U.S., has continued to foster the work of emerging artists.

Several of us who moved here for the educational opportunities decided to settle in the area. The result of all this is that Southern Illinois is home to a thriving and constantly evolving blacksmithing community that occupies a unique place in world of contemporary ironwork.

John Medwedeff

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Evert Johnson, 1929 - 2006.

Megan Robin Abbot
Roberta Elliot
Margaret Goodman
Molly Alter Groom
William Groves
Matt Haugh
Adam Hawk
Dean Huxman
Brent Kington
Chris Lehr
Andrew Macdonald
John Medwedeff
Daryl Meier
Jaime Pelissier
Bill Price
Andrew Rieckenberg
Rick Smith
Aaron Vigardt
Jeff Wallin
Andy White

If you are on the city council, there is a test every other Tuesday. I'm for whoever will do the work

When you sign up to take a class at a university, you know the drill. The semester is 16 weeks long, there will be tests and a final exam. You have classes to attend, homework problems and books to read. If you don't keep up, there is a really good chance that you are going to bomb the tests.

When you are elected to the Carbondale city council, you know the drill. Every second Tuesday there is a meeting. There are a whole bunch of full time employees working during those two weeks and they (hopefully) get things done. This is the test.

We can think of the city staff as the professors, they show up everyday and do stuff. The city council/mayor are the students. If they show up at city hall everyday, then they have time to figure out what they are doing and take notes.

On the Friday before the test, there is a review packet of information handed out by the city manager to the city council. It is big and harry and nasty collection of legal documents and status reports. Let's look at this as the text book for the class.

The city manager holds study sessions before each meeting, for most of Monday and all of Tuesday, he is known to be available to help city council members understand what is in the meeting packet. Call this the study session.

How do we know the information is available before the meeting? How does the newspaper know to print important information before the meeting in preview form? There is a published list of what is going to happen before the meeting. Items don't appear on the agenda on Tuesday that weren't there the previous Friday.

So, the test rolls around on every other Tuesday. The lights and cameras are on, the city manager, the press and public are there. Everyone has had a chance and there is a meeting.

The problem is, that not everyone has studied. I received an email from someone "in the know," who attends most every city council meetings. Their estimate is, 85% of the time, the city council members have not read the documents before the vote. A helpful thought about good government isn't it?

Clearly, if you haven't had time to read the packet, you also didn't have time to do the meetings to generated the work items in the packet. The best you can do is vote blind or ask for the test to be pushed back. If you look at the discussion at the city council meetings, only Brad and the city managers are on top of most issues. No one else has done the work.

Someone wrote in recently and asked me which city council candidates I support. I support whichever candidate will read the packet and come prepared. All the candidates except Liz Lewin would be fine with me, if they do the work. What we do know is that Sheila, Steven and Lance have a track record on this issue and we suspect what the results will be from that.

Sheila is even running for mayor, even though she doesn't have the time to read the darn packet before meetings and really understand the issues well enough to vote on them without asking for an incomplete first. That means if she is mayor, only the city manager will understand most issues. No one will have the time to drive anything, because right now, only Brad is driving issues. Even if you are going to vote for Sheila because you are a Democrat, Paul Simon supporter or liberal, this should be your biggest concern. If Sheila will not allocate time to do the work, Carbondale will be screwed if she becomes mayor.

How do assign grades for our current city council members? Do they really have input that isn't completely superficial in the meetings? How often have they had to beg off votes, because they haven't done the work? How often have they voted without understanding the issues? If you don't do this week's work, does it help you to push it off for a couple of weeks or does that make you more behind?

Your comments are welcome.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Chancellor's search - interesting development

I have been waiting for the papers to publish something on the Chancellor's search, so I can have a little fun with it. I hope they pick someone good.

My comment about this is remember back just over a year ago when they were filling the President's job? They didn't tell us who was interviewed because it was top secret? The search committee went into a smoke filled room and emerged with Glenn Poshard's name? Isn't it interesting to see how differently this search is going down?

They are telling us the finalists, it looks like the finalists will actually be shown the campus and everything in this search.

I think Poshard was a great choice, but clearly the process of how he was chosen looks really dirty. Maybe in Illinois we just accept this kind of jury rigging and move on? Poshard's selection seemed fishy 14 months ago and it seems worse now that they are doing this search right.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

They even went on the same trip? Give me a break.

I was amused by the article in the Southern Illinoisan yesterday about Brad and Sheila's trip to Cuba. They both went on the same junket to Cuba. They both expensed the whole trip, Brad to the city and Sheila to SIU. Sheila voted to approve Brad's expenses, she claims without understanding it (I guess?). But now it is a campaign issues a couple of years later? I'm having a whole lot of trouble understanding what Sheila is complaining about.

I love the quotes at the end -
"But, to be honest about it, my husband and I are both employed, and I hope we can pick up the bill for it on our own dime, not the public's," she added.

Cole said there are already mechanisms in place to serve as checks and balances, but he wouldn't be opposed to adding more if the public saw fit.

"We can add a dozen more steps, but I'm curious how (Simon) is going to do that working part time," Cole said.
First of all, Sheila did the trip on public money, so I guess she is going to change now? In order to do over site on a budget, you have to actually spend the time and read the line items. As Brad is quoted here, she doesn't work hard enough, on city matters, to do it.

Reminds me of that old expression, what is bad for the goose, is good for the gander.

Your comments are welcome.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Brad annexed SIU and Sheila voted against it

I can't figure out how Sheila managed to vote against annexing SIU into Carbondale. It was great that Brad went over to campus and got Wendler and the gang to agree to do it. SIU and Carbondale are intertwined with police and fire protection already. It extends Carbondale's reach in zoning and future growth to the other side of SIU's lands. Gains the SIU sales tax revenue for Carbondale.

Does anyone know why Sheila voted against this? How could you justify her vote? Any thought that Sheila will be better then Brad at dealing with SIU has to be thrown out as part of the bargain, doesn't it?

This seems like another clear accomplishment for Brad and a strike against Sheila.

Isn't it great having Kyle and Jon Bean commenting using their real names? Of course, your comments are welcome.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Does anyone really think that Mary Pohlmann is a racist?

Link to story in the DE.

Steven Haynes is walking an interesting path on this letter from the anti smoking crowd. First, he is a long time city council person, who's main issue is the protection of the Erma Hayes Center. I'm not sure we can give him credit for anything else in 8 years on the council, beyond being a calm, pro-business, pro-people candidate (at least, I think he gets his votes right very often). The Erma Hayes Center is a black entitlement hot spot, that provides daycare and other programs in and for the North East part of Carbondale.

The letter is a pretty standard, over the top, letter to influence a uncooperative politician. If this was a class or cover letter for getting a job, the anti smoking folks would be given extra credit for personalizing their message for each person. I don't know if they sent this to our other black city council member, she was probably already on board.

Can I understand why Steven was a little upset? Sure. Do I understand why he went into a funk about it? I think I would have called Mary personally and fired her up (or more likely these days, written her up in my blog :)). But, I'm kind of direct.

The worst part about being black in todays society is surely the uncertainty about where you stand with people. Do they like me? Do they hate me? That is what everyone feels. If you are black, it's do they hate me because of my skin color. That is a big burden to carry around.

But, I don't understand how you can function as a city council person if you aren't willing to deal with this confusion directly and honestly. I realize that it is a lot to ask.

In the end, do I think that Mary Pohlmann is a racist? Absolutely not. Did she go close to the line in this letter and maybe all over the line? Yes, she did. Did Steven Haynes handle this well, I don't think he did. Mary's intended to do the right thing, Steven should have given her the benefit of the doubt. She is a near retirement age, wife of professor, super liberal after all.

I like the quote in the Clarence Page article I blogged about,
As one immigrant Jamaican friend once told me, "I'm too busy working two jobs to worry about the white man's racism."
One of the pleasures of being a white man, is you don't wonder if you are being discriminated against. When things go your way, you just work harder. I hope in my lifetime that everyone in the USA feels that way. But for now, I think we can agree that this has been blow out of proportion and is headed toward a yellow journalism treatment by the DE (which is my domain in this town).

Your comments are welcome.

Arbor District email - analysis of the budget and other information

I think Jane Adams is a Sheila supporter, but here it is another of Sheila's big issues, the Carbondale Budget problems, shown to be bogus.

There are several developments that we are noting:

1) Councilman Steven Haynes has released the letter from Smoke Free Carbondale that called upon him as an African American to vote for their anti-smoking proposal. The letter was the reason that Haynes abstained in the first vote. He has said publicly that he was offended at the use of the "race card" in the debate. The offending letter was sent by Dr. Mary Pohlmann who is a candidate for City Council.

2) The Southern Illinoisan has a piece today about the rise of partisanship in the Carbondale Mayoral election.

Our neighbor Linz Brown sent out a note on the budget recently. Here is another view by Jane Adams:


As I read Linz's note, the city appears to be in very good shape, with quite a surplus over the required minimum fund balance, and several years before any anticipated problems. I really don't understand why the budget has become framed as critical this year. It seems to me a far more productive debate would be over city priorities -- which is what the budget process is all about. (There's something ironic about the liberal Democrat framing herself as a fiscal conservative and suggesting that her conservative Republican opponent is a spendthrift! If you live long enough, politics have a way of shifting under one's feet.)

Note that Linz's figures are for the General Fund only. As Doherty's reply to Chris Wissmann's inquiry showed, some of the city's major expenditures are in other funds. For example, road improvements are paid for from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund, and other expenditures are in the Community Investment Fund. I don't know where potential federal and state grants are obtained for specific projects would be indicated in the budget.

In fact, I am not sure how Linz's figures relate to the purported $6 million dollar shortfall which I believe is his point. I hope that he will extend the analysis to all of the budget aside from the General Fund.

It seems that the major areas of debate deal with 1) new police and code inspectors; 2) summer work for high school kids (and whether the clean up program should be summer only).

Other concerns I've heard raised deal with the road surfacing program (paid from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund).

Some time back we (Arbor District) were asked to send our suggestions to the City for consideration in the budget. We provided a list of alternative infrastructure investments, including installing storm drains and sidewalks in parts of the core city that do not have these amenities, restoring the old brick streets that have been paved over, installing attractive street lights in the older parts of the city, and acquiring properties for parks in the core areas of the city. To my knowledge, none of the candidates has addressed these citizen concerns, except perhaps the issue of parks. I have not heard if any of our requests are included in the budget.

I expect Sheila's proposals for retrofitting various city properties with green technologies and Brad's proposal to redevelop Piles Fork Creek would need new monies, though I haven't heard how either would pay for these programs.

No one on this exchange has addressed where the new city inspector or the 8 new police officers will be/are in the budget. I understood that they have been included in this year's budget and out year projections. Is this correct?

I understand that the funds for several additional code inspectors that Brad Cole proposed will come from an inspection fee on rental properties -- something that the Arbor District has advocated for some time.

Because we're entering the budget debate a bit late, and with insufficient knowledge of how the budget works, I think it might be useful for us to sponsor a training session on the budget for any interested members of the Arbor District. Next year we would then have a far better handle on these things.

Doherty seems to be very competent in keeping the city in the black; I have never heard anything to the contrary, so I think we can trust his statements regarding the budget being in good shape, with some concerns down the road.

Jane Adams
It confuses me how Sheila and the gang can know so little about the budget. There isn't even a buzz on the street that the budget is a problem, except when Sheila makes it a campaign issue. Is it that if you understand business and budgets, that you are by default a Cole supporter? How did Sheila and Company get this so wrong?