Friday, February 28, 2003

Blight Spot Update

The old McDonalds has been leased by someone to open a restaurant. I can't let the cat out of the bag, because I haven't a clue who it is, except someone local. But it could be the first jewel in a row of sparkling restaurants to dot the neckline of Carbondale, known as 'the Strip'.


In fact "Saluki Plaza" area (where the old McDonalds is) is cut off from the rest of Illinois Ave. by the new underpass. Not very hospitable to foot traffic. And the traffic signal system is unfriendly to automobile traffic. Maybe the city needs a monorail. Right here in Humid City. From the Interfaith Center to Longbranch. Like music, man. And harmony. As in harmony city council candidates does it take to un-screw-up a downtown?

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Diving into POOL

The subject of building a public outdoor swimming pool for the city of Carbondale has long been a topic of discussion in this town. Currently the City administration favors a water park where the Superblock is, but many other people favor the location of the old high school football field, according to Carbondale POOL (People Organized against Only Lakes).

At present, Carbondale parents have only three options 1) drive the kids to Cedar Lake a few miles south of town, where the water heats up to volcanic levels by July, 2) drive them another 4 or 5 miles eastward out of town to Little Grassy Lake, or 3) own a swimming pool. For a city that sponsors so many family-oriented activities, and hope to attract businesses and new residents, this is unacceptable.

“Why don’t they build a pool at the site of Bleyer field?” asked one resident at a task force meeting on the topic. “Racism,” was the unspoken reply. “The city doesn’t want to put its white residents swimming at the same pool as the black.” Not so, says William Peterson, chairman of People Organized against Only Lakes (POOL). “The people of Carbondale support a public swimming pool, no matter what their race--butterfly, free style, or breast stroke.”

Supposedly, the School Board plans to sell the old high school property in May. Maybe the Board could DONATE the football field and tennis court to the Park District to build a pool and tennis courts and maybe an ice rink--a park Carbondale can be proud of. This would enhance the value of the other property the School board wishes to sell. It would also enhance the value of the property all around, and attract more people to town, which would mean more high school students in the future.

POOL is hoping the city of Carbondale will pool its resources and build a swimming pool before the second July. Not the second of July... but the second July. That ought to be enough time.

If only the School Board will...and the Park District...and the City of Carbondale...and Southern Illinois University...and POOL can pull it off.

And the winners are

I was wrong by one. Stalls topped Rooney and then some in the run-off to be on the April 1 ballot for Carbondale City Council...

For 4-year term
Michael G Neill 755 14%
Sheila Simon 1154 22%
Dan David 502 9%
Lance D Jack 570 11%
Steven N Haynes 735 14%
M Stalls 373 7%

For 2-year term
Chris Wissmann 579 33%
Joel Fritzler 541 31%

The entire unofficial breakdown can be viewed here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


A primary election is being held today to narrow the field of 21 to six candidates for the 3 four-year terms and two candidates for the 1 two-year term for a total of...8.

Predicted winners for 4-year term: Dan David, Lance Jack, Mike Neill, James Rooney, Sheila Simon, Steve Haynes.

For 2-Year Term: Chris Wissmann and Joel Fritzler.

I've been wrong before. But one thing I write about is this: If you aren't registered to vote in the April 1 election yet, you can still register on Thursday, February 27 through Tuesday, March 4 . Just go to City Hall and see the City Clerk.


Join the International Blue Party of the Planet.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Big Man at Big Muddy

SIU Alumnus, documentary filmmaker, Steve James (left), returns to Carbondale for the screening of his latest documentary, Stevie, showing at the Varsity Theater yesterday. Read the DE article. For a complete schedule of the Big Muddy Festival Films, click here.

Two-tone for sale

Parked across the street from Dave's Auto. Driven by a tall charismatic Sufi sheik to mosque on Fridays. Includes headlights (accidentally cropped) and bumper stickers. Asking price? There's a phone number to call. But take it from ramblin' Dave (no relation to auto Dave above), who owned the identical model "Classic" for years, this '63 Rambler is a creampuff--unlike its owner.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Will Neighborhood Coop fly the coop?

Dispatchionate Dave has heard on the organic grapevine that Francis Murphy, general manager of the Neighborhood Coop, is making plans to relocate one of Carbondale's "anchor businesses" to the Murdale Shopping Center--making it all the more imperative to have a small convenient store located downtown. Since Coop members must vote for the move, Murphy has some convincing to do, but the reasons for the move make sense--more parking, better location, more profitable. On the other hand, some members of the coop (count me in) believe that the Coop ought to stay where it's been for the past 30 years, and maybe expand to Murdale instead. More on this after I've had a chance to speak with Francis.

Meanwhile, his Kroger counterpart, City Council candidate, Steve Haynes, brought "additional value" to the Interfaith Center Friday night, along with Chris Wissmann (pictured below), who brought the food, and James Rooney, who brought the schmooze.

Interfaith Center Hosts Eco-Art and Council Candidates

Nicole Klinge's eco art was on display at the Interfaith Center (as well as Nicole herself) making a nice backdrop for the third (and final) "Meet the Candidates" event co-hosted by City Council candidate, Lance Jack and University Christian Ministries (at the Interfaith Center).

A nice vegetable plate was served, and desserts, and a smorgasbord of candidates showed up, as well as representatives of the Carbondale Times (Tom Reichman, interviewing James Rooney above) and Southern Illinoisan (Linda Rush).

Chris Wissmann deserves thanks for the appetizing table spread. And speaking of appetizing tables...

Row Row Row Restaurant Gently Down the Street

The latest on the "Restaurant Row" idea: Please wait to be seated.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Urban Trendz moves to trendier urb

Not that it was an "anchor" business or anything, but the hip-hop boutique has abandoned its digs in downtown Carbondale to move to Murphysboro. McNeill's Jewelry under the green awning, has also closed shop. The economic fallout from the city of Carbondale's redevelopment plans in the 1980's continues.

What next? Will Gusto's (next door McNeill's) move to Desoto? Kaleidoscope to Colp? Not if Notworthy Communications recently approved plan to downtown redevelopment is followed through by everyone concerned (are you listening, City Manager Jeff Doherty? I know we haven't met, but people say that you are the man to talk to.) When I say "approved" I mean by a handful of business people downtown, not by anyone official or anything.

Recently, Notworthy held high-level meetings with High Hill Business Development in North Park, Illinois about inviting a number of Chicago-area businesses to visit Carbondale with an eye on developing it into a "taste of Chicago" strip, featuring international restaurants and one or two non-mall anchor stores.

Although wise business heads advise that downtown is inexorably moribund, unless the city comes up with a better plan (none--correct me if i'm wrong) than it currently has to attract new and permanent businesses, I remain optimistic for an economic turnaround, the like of which has not been seen in a university town like Carbondale before (because no other university town has been so decimated by its government before. The devastation has been unprecedented.)

Can't you see a Thai Restaurant there, where McNeill's used to be? How about a postal annex? What ideas do you have for empty storefronts on the strip? Winning entries will receive a complimentary dinner to Thai One On, The Prawn Shop, or Hummus Where the Heart Is restaurants, if any of them ever come into existence.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Snow what?

Like much of America, it's whiter outside on this President's Day: Besides all the snow, two great white men (Washington and Lincoln) are anonymously honored in one convenient, code-orange Monday. The snow is inconvenient, though, but it'll melt tomorrow or the next day to show.

stars below our feet and toes.

If you haven't had enough of it, you can read about the snow in the Daily Egyptian.

Read more about Stars on Main Street at the Carbondale Main Street website.

"Scoop" Major dishes news in letter

Will Major has the scoop each Thursday, a veritable sundae of events going on at the InterFaith Center and around town, served up in the newsletter he edits for University Christian Ministries, posted on the Shawnee Network website, with a cherry zone on top.

Slugs egg-laying may be slowed

Slugs begin egg laying today, according the Jim Jung's nature almanac--unless the snow slows them down. Read more about the wonders of Southern Illinois in The Waterman and Hill-Traveller's Companion online.

Restaurant Row

Notworthy Communications recently announced plans to turn Illinois Avenue into a veritable "Restaurant Row," of fine international-flavored restaurants, featuring the Thai, Cajun, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican all downtown. Further discussions have been held with everyone but the people who will ultimately decide the outcome of Notworthy's plan to tear down, or move the Amtrak Station (which, is actually ON WHEELS the basement, because it was never intended to stay at its present location), and make room for two or three of the finest restaurants in the state of Illinois.

"Dispatchin' It" Dave will be serving up more side-dishes about this plan in coming months.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Exuberant march in February

About 300 people showed up at the Newman Center on Saturday to support the world-wide peace effort taking place that day.

KFVS, Channel 12 aired its coverage at 6, 10, and 7 the next morning. They showed both sides, but also covered the march and a bit of Simon's speech at the rally. WSIL Channel 3 showed nothing of the march or rally. They covered the vigil, but gave more seconds of air-time to the half-dozen pro-war demonstrators across the street than to 300 ant-war protesters.

A viewer of WSIL's "equal-time" coverage would come away thinking there was more pro-war than pro-peace activity today at Main and Illinois. Lee Hartman urges all Peace Coalition members to ask Channel 3 to give a more truthful account of peace activity in the future.

More photos of the rally and march can be seen at the Shawnee Network website.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Breakfast with Maggie

Breakfast with Maggie
I met with one of Carbondale's most influential political forces for breakfast last week. We chatted about downtown redevelopment, her opponent, a new international "restaurant row," and her reasons for wanting to be mayor (she feels it's her turn, having toiled as a council person for a decade, she feels her "Renaissance vision" for Carbondale is superior to her opponent's.)

We discussed her opponent Brad Cole's stolen campaign signs, the charges that he "misappropriated funds" as a member of student organization in the early-90s (see below), and her alleged refusal to sign the Fair Campaign Practices Code (not true, she did sign it--belatedly, due to an oversight).

More on these and related issues as the campaign for Mayor heats up. Go Maggie. Go Brad. Make this the best campaign for mayor we ever had.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Candidates at Eurma Hayes Center

A good crowd of onlookers and candidates showed up last night to answer questions from local NAACP leadership and audience members. Mediator Carolyn Harvey asked questions and kept an eye on the clock....Rich Whitney, Neil Dillard, Maggie Flanagan, and Poola Bradshaw were among those in attendance. According to a reliable source, the most impressive four-year candidate was young former White House Marine Corps aide, James Rooney, whose trademark energy and vision for the future of Carbondale came across strongly to many people in attendance. Just ask him! :-)

Supermarket manager seeks Council seat

Steve Haynes manager of Kroger West, offers customers and voters additional value


Additional Value for the City of Carbondale.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Words against war

Marisa Winegar, one of nearly two dozen poets reading anti-war poetry before a standing-room-only crowd at Longbranch Coffee House last night.

Today, a "teach-in" at 5 pm at the Town Square Pavilion, as reported in the Daily Egyptian.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

War? What War?

Tonight, Poets Against War reading at Longbranch Coffee House, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Was Brad Bad?

Some disturbing words were overheard at the WDBX Masquerade Ball last night concerning Carbondale's "fair-haired boy," mayoral candidate Brad Cole, who (it was alleged by someone in the hors d'oeurves line) "misappropriated funds" during his tenure in office as SIU Student Body President. Since I think so highly of Cole's prospects as a future mayor, I was troubled by the allegation, and decided to ask him about it immediately. His phone number is in the book, so I called him Sunday afternoon.

Brad was mildly shocked that someone would be bringing up what was essentially a non-event ten years ago, and easily explained what transpired, including his complete and total exoneration from wrongdoing by the university. (Does this surprise anyone who knows him?). He even offered to provide full disclosure of all documents concerning the matter on his website later this week.

If you were around Carbondale in 1993, you might have read about it in the Daily Egyptian. If not, you'll have to wait a day or two, until Brad makes the pertinent material available for public view.

Until then, have a gander at the Masquerade Ball pix below.

WDBX has a Ball

In the top picture, that's Barry and Karen Cupp (the Midwest Cashers) on the right of the line, along with other friends of WDBX queued up for Rachel Cristaudo's primo cajun cooking; In the photo next to them, WDBX Station Manager, Brian Powell, announcing winning drawings; Below, Green Party partiers Rich Whitney and Poola Bradshaw; and Corrina "Tomato Fertility Goddess" Lang, among the dancers to Dennis Strohmatt and Creole Stomp.

Carbondale's community radio station raised more money toward its new transmitter, with the help of contributions from folks at the Ball. plus $15,000 from businessman Barrett Rochman, announced last night by station manager Brian Powell.

More photos and text on this story will be posted later, including some appetizing gossip about a certain Mayoral candidate, picked up in the hors d'oeurves line, like a prawn.

The Prawn Shop*

Speaking of prawns, I overheard in the same hors d'oeurves line that Barry and Karen Cupp love Cajun food so much they are thinking of opening a new restaurant called The Prawn Shop on Illinois Ave. (right next door to the new Thai restaurant Thai One On) if the City of Carbondale will shell out some tax incentives, and return some of the land that is currently being used for profitless parking meters back to local business.

*More humor (the Cupps own the Midwest Cash pawn shop, but they enjoy crustaceans)

Like many dancers inside the Carbondale Civic Center last night, I danced for joy that I didn't have to put money into one of the parking meters on the streets outside. In the past, those no-armed bandits were in effect until 10 p.m., but the time has been cut back to 6 p.m. since stores closed by then anyway.

Curious about the parking situation in downtown Carbondale? If so, let's take a ride to...

Friday, February 07, 2003

Carbondale Park District

According to information on the Carbondale Main Street organization's website:

"Currently there are 256 on-street metered parking spaces. In addition, the City of Carbondale maintains 14 Downtown metered parking lots, accounting for almost 1300 parking stalls."

I'll bet a Booby's kosher hot dog that C'dale has more parking meters per capita than New York City. You do the math, I'll by the dog for the first reader to prove otherwise. Certainly, Carbondale can be called "The Parking Meter Capitol of Southern Illinois."

The Main Street report continues...

The success of Downtown Carbondale depends heavily on the physical environment created through convenient parking and attractive streetscape improvements."

Doesn't it depend more heavily on having places for students to go? A postal annex? A small grocery store, etc. etc. Does CMS really believe that out-of-town visitors care about new parking meter poles (and clip-art banners)?

To the contrary, the success of downtown Carbondale will come from having more businesses. The ones already here are appreciated, but more are needed. The destruction of up to a dozen viable businesses in the 80's under the banner of urban redevelopment has left parts of Illinois Ave. an architectural eyesore, and an economic disaster.

Don't get me wrong--they're nice looking poles.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Council Candidates meet voters, each other

Not as many showed up to to meet the candidates tonight at the American Legion, but quite a few did. About as many candidates as voters. The photo below was snapped after most of the curious voters had left.

That's Chris Wissmann at left, Dan David, unknown guy (possibly a shy candidate), Priscilla Bluehair, Sigrid Putnam, M. Stalls, Lance Jack. Also in attendance were Bob Gallegly, James Rooney, Pat Kelly, and Joel Fritzler. Rooney is talking to Patty D, author of the best-selling webpage, The Cherry Zone in the other photo.

The idea of a weekly get together was discussed with event host Lance Jack, who is currently looking to schedule a non-alcoholic venue for the next meeting.

Chris Wissmann in the House Tonight

I was looking for a photo of "Carbondale's Practical Progressive" on the web, when I discovered this great web page:

News compiled by Chris from around town. It contains a wealth of information about the strike negotiations, City Council elections, Black History month, and more, written by Chris and other talented Carbondale writers. Check it out. Bookmark it. Read it. (AFTER you read the Carbondaley Dispatch, of course. :) )

I think Chris is in a class with Brad Cole--young men with talent and discipline, who get the job done intelligently, creatively and practically. He'll make an excellent addition to City Council. But don't take my word for it...

Meet Chris tonight at the American Legion...

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Meet the Candidates Again

Sunday night's successful gathering at Hangar 9 caused candidate Lance Jack to wonder if voters would like the chance to MEET THE CANDIDATES again at another place and another time. He'll find out Thursday night (February 6) from 5 to 7 pm at the American Legion in Carbondale.

If you didn't make it Sunday, and want to be an informed voter, then stop by, have some appetizers, and say "hi!"

And again and again*

If Thursday night's event is as successful as the first, plans are being made by Notworthy Communications (not to be confused with Noteworthy) for an 8 week tour. Modeled after television's American Idol, candidates will bring musical instruments and jam at venues throughout the city.

*supposed to be funny

There's no dry wit in the next piece, though, it's juicy...

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Cherry Zone: the web page

Thanks to Patty Pieczka, a well-reasoned argument against abrogating the property rights of landlords on Cherry Street, with photos.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Paradise Paved

Alright, downtown Carbondale isn't paradise, but a couple of decades ago, it had shops and other community service facilities located conveniently downtown: a post office, a supermarket, an auto supply store, both men and women's clothing stores, an outdoor supply place, two jeweler's, two record stores, a Ben Franklin '5 & 10', an old fashioned luncheonette, two fast food places, the list goes on. You could put a penny into the parking meter for 12 minutes. Of course there weren't nearly so many meters and parking places back then. Is it ironic, or is it me? So many parking spots, so few places to go.

What happened? What can be done?

The answer to "what happened" definitely deserves a book (or Ph.D. dissertation) and "what can be done" is up in the air.

A Banner year for Carbondale

Some businesses in Carbondale had a banner year in 2002, such as Noteworthy Communications, which got a "sweetheart" contract ($150,000) with the city to come up with ways to make Carbondale a more attractive place to live (I think that's the idea, I'll try to obtain the exact wording), and among the recommendations was to put up banners like the one you see above. Some television spots as well. I'll try to obtain a copy of the report. And who would deliver the goods? Correct me if I'm wrong, Noteworthy Communications.

And who is handling candidate Flanagan's mayoral campaign communications? Note well: Noteworthy Communications.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud Kevin Graham and company's success at Noteworthy, and Maggie is one of my dearest friends in Carbondale (and she asked me to be nice to her in print) but isn't there some conflict of interest here?

Maybe not...maybe it's simply a case of Maggie choosing the best local communications outfit she could find to handle her web and graphics communications. And maybe the best idea Noteworthy could come up with was putting up banners around town proclaiming Carbondale's "shopping" and "dining" opportunities. Whoopdeedoo. It looks like "sky litter." :)

About a dozen are festooned on the street in front of City Hall and across the street, and on North Illinois Ave. (I wonder if one is visible from Maggie's seat in Council Chambers....a symbol of her "Renaissance vision", so to speak.)

For the record, Brad Cole voted against this cosmetic boondoggle when it came up before the Council. Maggie voted for it, possibly because she is on the Board of Carbondale Main Street, whose name is emblazoned on the banners. Or maybe she really believes that banners and new parking meter poles will help downtown redevelopment.

One more Maggie story, and then I'll stop "picking on" her. (I pick because I love).

Dawg Day for Maggie

Remember those Saluki dog statues reported last week? The press conference announcing their purchase? I wondered why Maggie Flanagan alone was invited to speak to the media. I didn't realize that the statues had been purchased by her husband, Ray Lenzi, executive director of The Office of Economic and Regional Development (in the Dunn-Richmond business incubator on Pleasant Hill Rd.) with university money, and then "loan-leased" to Carbondale Main Street.

No problem with that, except that--at the press conference held last month--his wife was given free media exposure, essentially at taxpayer's expense. All the while failing to mention that one of the dogs was actually sculpted by her opponent, Brad Cole! Brad's like "what's up with that?"

(Editor's note for the fact-minded reader: The statue pictured above is owned by 710 Bookstore, and was not one of the ones purchased by OERD. Nor was it sculpted by Brad Cole, whose true medium is the campaign sign. See below.)

Meanwhile, last Sunday night...

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Event gets Council Candidate Jack off to good start

17 candidates for City Council joined host Lance D. Jack (co-owner of Harbaugh's Cafe) at Hanger 9 tonight for a "Meet the Candidates" bash tonight.

Mayoral hopefuls Brad Cole and Maggie Flanagan showed, along with Sheila Simon, Joel Fritzler, John Taylor, Bob Gallegly, Pat Kelly, Priscilla Pimentel, Dan David, James Rooney and the others. The candidates who were NOT present on Sunday were Steven Haynes, M. Stalls, David McAuley, Andy White and Chris Wissman, Carbondale Nightlife who was noticably absent, but only because he was attending the wedding of a good friend.

. Other candidates schmoozed and snacked on appetizers, enjoying the conversation and great music by Ratliff Dean Thibeau, Jackhead and Tawl Pawl and his All-Star Band featuring Bruce Camden and Bill Carter bluesin' out on lead guitars.

And speaking of blues...

Blue who

When pointed out that Carbondale had never had two redheads on City Council before (candidate Flanagan is a lifelong redhead), Priscilla Pimentel agreed to change her hair color for the election. If she doesn't win because of her hair color, said Pimentel (who now sports a color the shade of Marge Simpson) she'd hate to think that was why she blew it.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Signs of the times

Sheila Simon, daughter of the retired Senator, and candidate for a 4-year City Council term, places one of her homemade (by her daughter) signs with Mark "Busdog" Robinson at the Carbondale Greyhound office this morning.

Busdog, a former Mayoral candidate himself, thinks Sheila is a shoo-in to win, which leaves...

Brad Cole's Big A** Signs Yanked

About a dozen of Brad Cole's campaign signs were unceremoniously removed in dead of night from various locations around town. Who could have taken down Brad's signs? Someone who is in need of a huge 'COLE FOR MAYOR" sign? That doesn't make sense. On the other hand, Brad doesn't have an enemy in the world, as far as I know...Unless... Nah, that's too high schoolish, isn't it? Isn't it? Yo.

Speaking of property rights...

Remember the Cherry Zone

Strike out

Needing time to review the Administration's contract offer, the Faculty Association will NOT strike on Monday, though not ruling out a future strike if the contract offer is rejected. Ben Botkin has the story.

The chances are that the union will accept the administrations offer and stay on the job if the Faculty Association is given an increased role in future governance of the university, thereby, it is hoped, future contract negotiations will go more smoothly.