Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kyle Raccio and Anonymous have been called as liars

One of the problems with having a blog or commenting under your real name is that when you are wrong or lying, people can call you on it. In the last couple of days, I received some comments that are worth pulling out and shining a light on.

From my pointer to Dave's Date the Mayor work, I received this comment from the Democratic religious zealot, Kyle Raccio,
You have to admit buying beers for underage women isn't very mayorly. Nor is it legal.
Last night another comment came in from a different anonymous source
1) I've occasionally heard the comment "anonymous" describes. Wanting to secure facts, I often ask, "Have you seen it? Have you actually witnessed it?" The usual reply goes something like this, "well, no...but a friend said that..."


2) In what way is it wrong for a 35 year old, single guy to go to a bar on his time-off? You know, I've actually witnessed other members of his own species practicing the same behavior. Some of them have even been older than 35! Can you believe that?! How dare they? It turns out it's a common thing among them.
This rings true to me. I have gone and looked for the source of this rumor myself and I can't find anyone who is even one generation removed from it (a person who has talked to a person who actually saw it). I have concluded that Brad's buying drinks for underaged women is an urban legend and nothing more.

Since Kyle does know or should know that this underaged drinking thing, is just a campaign to slander a public figure, I'm going to go on record and call Kyle a liar. I have already called him a fool several times, so make it a liar and a fool.

It is time for Kyle and Anonymous to go back to their caves and reemerge with a positive mindset. The mayor's race is over, and the voters have clearly spoken. Even a year of campaigning, a famous man's political heir, hundreds of lies, pounding on ever door in town multiple times, thousands of street signs, dirty tricks and back bitting, doesn't change the fundamental truths of Carbondale's performance in the last 4 years. There is nothing new here, just another of Sheila's supporters pedaling lies and rumors, instead of trying to improve the city.

Good bye Kyle, I hope you grow up someday.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NCAA hates bloggers

The NCAA has a new rule, no blogging from the stands. Guess they are worried about their TV money. Should be interesting to see how it plays out.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Nightlife - Wissmann's open letter to SIU's new Chancellor

Go pick up this week's Nightlife and read Chris Wissmann's open letter to SIU's Fernando Trevino. I thought his analysis of the "storm of Argersinger's firing" was interesting. I have wondered, is it the damage done by the firing or is it the management culture that allowed her firing to take place, that is worse?

What I suggest to our new Chancellor is that he take this opportunity to realize that he needs to replace most of the management at SIUC. You can't do it on day 1, but realize that a majority of department chairmen need to be replaced. Several of the Chancellor's direct reports need to go sooner. A new management culture needs to be put in place. Please go read "Good to Great" and "Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great," then start to follow what Collins suggests. A new management culture needs to be put in place at SIU and only by changing out the management will this be achieved.

I think Chris is correct, that Trevino is lucky that there is a light on the horizon with Poshard running SIU. If he makes just a few correct moves, he will get SIU back on the way up and become a local hero. Great success can be achieved. Of course, he could follow the Wendler path, and alienate the staff and fail too.

Good work Chris. As long as you are picking up the "Nightlife," read the ads and support their advertisers.

--- Thanks to our anonymous commenter, I added the link to the article above ----

Dave breaks out - finally shows the video from Marry the Mayor contest

The video had me cracking up and Dave revealed that Brad has finally ended his affair with a married woman.

Great work Dave.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Beer Philosopher goes ecommerce

Our buddy Shawn the Beer Philosopher has opened an ecommerce site based on his "lovin the beer" blog. I don't drink, but I hear that the Beer Philosopher is in the forefront of beer based volunteerism and quality control, from people in the know.

Check out his items and see if there is something you really need for a loved one or yourself. Here is an example of a must have item, for those of you who can identify the head on the shirt. I thought it was Paul Allen at first, but realized it was someone else.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

NYC, Corvallis, Panera - what do they have that Carbondale doesn't?

The Mrs. and I were on the West Coast a couple of weeks ago and were in Corvallis, OR on a Friday night. Corvallis still has an old fashioned downtown, having kept the big boxes and malls out of town mostly (no sale tax in Oregon, so no tax loss for the city. The new Home Depot is packed though.), that is away from the university and off the state highway. The downtown was packed with people. They were riding bikes, walking, eating on tables outside the restaurants, having a beer. The mix of people seemed to be about 70% adults and 30% college students. It was a pleasant scene.

I was asking myself, why Carbondale isn't like this? A friend of mine has been telling me for years, that what Carbondale needs is tables on the sidewalks, to generate a reason to walk around. Give the downtown a feeling, like you should be there and not at the mall.

I was at Panera the other day and realized that they have the right idea. They have enough parking nearby, tables to sit outside if the weather is nice, no smoking inside, and a menu that isn't just the same boring stuff I can cook at home. Going to Panera is like walking down 2nd Street in Corvallis, except Corvallis has 20 places like Panera, all in a few blocks.

I have already written about the unfortunate placement of Carbondale's main business districts on the state highways, often mixed with small lots, railroad tracks and student housing. It turns out that the state laws governing what you can do on the sidewalks near a state highway, doesn't allow most Carbondale businesses to take over the sidewalks. For that matter, who wants to eat a nice dinner, 10 feet from large numbers of trucks going by at 40 MPH?

Glenn Poshard's master plan for SIU had an idea for taking over Popular St. in years past, between 13 and SIU for a new shopping district. This seems like a really nice idea, get a place to do business that isn't on the main drag and build a street scene for walkers and pleasant commerce.

I see an opportunity to do a nice mixed use shopping and living area, on the old high school sport fields that has been in the news lately. The owners of that property, have intelligently bought a couple of abandoned buildings on Hwy 13, and now have access to 8 acres of R-8 zoned land from the main drag. My suggestion is that they build a nice strip mall on that land in front, with outdoor seating, a latte shop, an ice cream (gelato would be better) shop, a place that sells a Cuban sandwich and other fancy fare, a nice bar and a few other places with class. Build a second floor (or even third) on that building for condos or rentals, then build the back with a neighborhood of closely packed houses. Just imagine, that could be nice. To do it right, there would need to be a zoning change, capturing some of the residential land and converting it into business, but it would be nice for everyone if it was done well.

My suggestion is that the citizens of Carbondale start to decide how they want the city to look and working changing their city for the better. I know the zoning rules just took the world as it was in 1974 and don't allow anything to change, but maybe it is time to reexamine zoning in Carbondale in the modern world? Everyone else is doing it, why not Carbondale too? This is too important to trust to random luck.

If this hits the fan, I'll be down eating a slice and having a gelato on 2nd Street in Corvallis. Maybe after a few years, I might even know someone while I do it?

Of course, your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Have Carbondale and SIU hit bottom? SIU vs. Ford

A friend of mine, recently told me that he feels that both Carbondale and SIU have hit bottom. In other words, they will only go up from here.

When thinking about Carbondale, clearly things are better then they were 4 years ago. Not perfect, but better. Hopefully, Carbondale will look back and see the absolute bottom of the long and slow slide to meritocracy, as the day before Brad Cole took office. I don't know if the city will continue to improve, but clearly Brad has added some much needed discipline to the city government. The results show everyday.

I was reading about Ford's new CEO yesterday in Business Week and was thinking how much his task resembles Poshard's task at SIU. In the article they are going over the new CEO's review of the Ford Focus,
When Mulally was reviewing the company's 2008 product line last September, for example, he was told that Ford loses close to $3,000 every time a customer buys a Focus compact, according to one executive. "Why haven't you figured out a way to make a profit?" he asked. Executives explained that Ford needed the high sales volume to maintain the company's CAFE, or corporate average fuel economy, rating and that the plant that makes the car is a high-cost UAW factory in Michigan. "That's not what I asked," he shot back. "I want to know why no one figured out a way to build this car at a profit, whether it has to be built in Michigan or China or India, if that's what it takes." Nobody had a good answer.
This sounds just like the way the bureaucracy at SIU tries to defend their problems. Is CAFE at Ford, equal to minority recruitment at SIU? Sometimes, just because you have always done things a certain way, isn't good enough.

Another selection from the BW article,
Just eight months into the job, Mulally is working hard to change institutional work habits that took years to develop. He wants managers to think more about customers than their own careers. He has made it a top priority to encourage his team to admit mistakes, to share more information, and to cooperate across divisions. He's holding everybody's feet to the fire with tough operational oversight and harsh warnings about Ford's predicament. "We have been going out of business for 40 years," Mulally told a group of 100 information technology staffers at a "town meeting" in February. He has repeated the message to every employee group that he has addressed.
I really think that SIU needs to look at the phase from this section carefully, "We have been going out of business for 40 years." Have all the mechanisms of SIU's bureaucracy been built on layers of a downward spiral like at Ford? Has SIU been going out of business since the end of the Morris Golden Age?

I don't know if SIU has turned around, but I can see Glenn Poshard, trying to make the right moves, to get it going the right direction. I can also see he is fighting the layers of incompetence and sloth that make up SIU's management layers and workers.

The good news for Ford is that it will go out of business very soon, if they don't fix things. The good news for SIU is that it will die a slow and painful death if they don't fix things. As we see SIU's enrollment and revenues go down, when will the people working at SIU realize they are facing a crisis? At Ford,
After losing $12.7 billion last year, it had to endure the indignity of pledging its factories, headquarters, and the rights to the iconic blue oval logo to the banks and bondholders just to get enough money to finance its turnaround plan. Those were all tough steps. But these are tough times for the U.S. auto industry.
You wonder, when it will hit SIU, it is fighting for its continued existence? Will it be the first layoff of tenured faculty? Clearly, the layoffs of massive numbers of instructors this Summer hasn't even make the local papers, so it can't be very important. Kind of reminds me of the old poem,
First they came for the Socialists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left
to speak up for me.
Where I think that SIU has the best President they could have right now, I don't think this has to be the bottom, things can get much worse. Hopefully, this is the bottom and things will get better from here, but turning around Carbondale is a much smaller task. When you are saying your prayers at night, you might include a word for Glenn Poshard on his quest, your job might be riding on it.

I'm almost done here in Carbondale, but I thought I would leave you with this happy thought. If you work at SIU, it can get worse. It might be time to start to care and take part in the solution.

Of course, your comments are welcome.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

GOP support for Cole draws criticism? Those staffers were smart

I got a kick out of Caleb Hale's piece on the front page of today's SI. He listed the people that staffed Brad's office as Jayme Siemer from the Illinois State GOP and Paul Sorenson, who took leave from Dennis Hastert's office to come work for Brad. I don't know if you had a chance to talk with them, but the two GOP staffers were really smart. It was impressive, how good they seemed.

The article goes on and says that Brad got support and no one else did in the local races in April. Two ideas to consider, if the Dem's had succeeded in running a sub-par candidate and supporting them with their statewide officials (as they tried to do for Sheila), wouldn't that become their strategy in key local races? Seems like a good thing for the Pubs to stop early, if they could. Second, is this a statement about how much work Brad does outside of Carbondale for the GOP, more then any other factor? If you do a lot of work for an organization, shouldn't you expect the support of that organization, when you need it?

I really liked the headline too, "fellow Republican" who works for a "think tank" that criticizes Republicans for a living? Important to know what side that Bunny Bread is buttered on, before you decide what an article means.

Isn't it great that Carbondale is important enough to attract statewide interests in our elections? Maybe not?

Friday, June 01, 2007

How NASA screwed up and then applying it to SIU

There is a great little article in Wired Magazine this month about "How NASA Screwed Up (And Four Ways To Fix It)" by Gregg Easterbrook. What I really like about the article is the little lists of what NASA's objectives should be and what they really are. The article says -
Here is a set of rational priorities for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in descending order of importance: (1) Conduct research, particularly environmental research, on Earth, the sun, and Venus, the most Earth-like planet. (2) Locate asteroids and comets that might strike Earth, and devise a practical means of deflecting them. (3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe. (4) Figure out a way to replace today's chemical rockets with a much cheaper way to reach Earth orbit.
Then -
Here are NASA's apparent current priorities: (1) Maintain a pointless space station. (2) Build a pointless Motel 6 on the moon. (3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe. (4) Keep money flowing to favored aerospace contractors and congressional districts.
I think this is an interesting way to look at SIUC too.

A set of rational priorities for SIUC might be 1) Graduate excellent students that will contribute to society in a positive way. 2) Generate original research at the quality and quantity of a world class research university. 3) Recruit more and excellent students through the use of direct recruitment and PR. 4) Preserve the quality of facilities on campus, for future generations.

What SIUC's real priorities seem to be 1) Use upper management positions to create and maintain powerful empires. 2) Build expensive buildings that don't have much to do with the mission of the university. 3) Pander to students by pressuring teachers to give away unearned grades. 4) Preserve management stability, even it is bad for the university in the short, medium and long term.

This is just off the top of my head. Anyone have a better list of the objectives SIU should pursue or the real objectives of the last 10 years?

Aren't the professors who speak up more valuable?

Every once in a while, someone comments here or writes a letter to the editor of the paper, that states that professors should shut up and do as they are told. Personally, I wish that more professors would stop hiding in their offices and care enough to speak up.

The question for the day, are professors who speak up about the problems more valuable? Should they shut up and hide in their offices? Which has worked better so far?

"Good to Great" and the social sector

I have written about "Good To Great" in this blog many times and have been surprised that no one has complained about applying business concepts to SIU (much) or the rest of the "public/social sector." Turns out that Collins has written a best selling extension to "Good to Great," called "Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great."

I know that this is far beyond most professor's learning "interests" and that SIU administrators are so busy exercising their "power" to learn anything new, but maybe learning something over the summer about how to keep your employer from crash and burning would be a good idea?

Don't you guys learn anything? It is about management!

Twice I have systematically thrown the professors of SIUC under the bus, for university wide management decisions, that they have very little control over. The first time I did it was to prove the point that management was really important, and killing SIUC. Then you could talk about stupid management decisions and everyone is on the same page.

I was just busy slamming the faculty and staff again and no one pointed out all the problems were management decisions, that the employees were just carrying out what their management was asking them to do. What is wrong with you people? Don't you learn?

This is about management boys and girls. When management gives raises based on giving better grades and sends out memos on retention, GPA goes up. When there is no reward for working harder, work ethic goes down. Etc.

Management doesn't have complete control, but they can take a good situation and turn it into a bad one fairly easily. If you learn nothing else this year, learn respect for the power of management.