The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

Posts Tagged ‘Carbondale

I Wonder What Happened to the Carbondale Observer

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I wonder what happened to that blog I used to read, the Carbondale Observer. I guess the author must have moved away, or maybe lost interest in Carbondale politics, right?

Wrong. I turned my primary attention to some other priorities during the last year and a half, but I’m still here and I’m still paying attention to Carbondale politics. I also spent some time serving on the Sustainability Commission, and I’m still serving on the Planning Commission.

I’ve also decided to run for City Council in 2015. If you liked my blog, you’d love having me on the Council. I think this election is winnable (otherwise I wouldn’t be running), but winning won’t be easy. If you want to help, I’d appreciate any assistance you can give.

All campaigns need at least four things: votes, volunteers, publicity, and money. If you live in Carbondale and you read and enjoyed the blog when it was active, I am asking for your vote. If you support my campaign and you want to volunteer to canvass precincts or help in any other way, that would mean a lot to me.

You can help with publicity by telling your friends and neighbors about the campaign, and by placing a yard sign in your lawn. You can also help by liking or following the campaign Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages, and sharing or retweeting updates. If you are a member of a group that has meetings, you can invite me to speak beginning in January.

What if you want to help, but you either: (1) can’t vote for me because you live outside Carbondale, (2) don’t have the time to volunteer, or (3) can’t help with publicity? Well, you can still help by donating. If you want to help finance the campaign, visit my campaign website and click the red “Make a Donation” link on the upper right part of the page.

Thank you for reading this blog over the years. I hope to earn your vote for City Council in 2015.


Written by The Carbondale Observer

November 18, 2014 at 7:00 am

Northwest Neighborhood Meeting Tonight

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You might remember that residents of Carbondale’s northwest neighborhood held a meeting about the planned sale of the Armory back in January. That meeting led to the organization of a permanent neighborhood association for the northwest neighborhood. Residents of the neighborhood – homeowners, renters, and businesses – are meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Elk’s Lodge at 220 W. Jackson St. to formally organize the association.

Check their Facebook page or Google Group for more information.

Comments are welcome.

Written by The Carbondale Observer

April 23, 2012 at 7:45 am

City Council Meeting 04/17/2012

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The Carbondale city council met at 7:00 p.m. at the city hall/civic center on April 17, 2012. As usual, I was planning to watch from home on Mediacom channel 16.

I forgot, however, that neuroscientist, Guggenheim Fellow, and author David Eagleman was scheduled to give Charles D. Tenney distinguished lecture at 7:30 p.m. I decided to go to the lecture. Fortunately, my wife was at home and graciously agreed to make a note of the votes at council. So I don’t have commentary or a detailed summary, but I do have the votes.

Council member Chris Wissmann pulled item 4.7, which I’ve (perhaps unfairly) been calling the Occupy Ordinance, which amends city code to prohibit camping on city owned or controlled property, from the consent agenda. The rest of the consent agenda passed unanimously.

The camping ordinance was again sent back to staff, this time so specifics on the “permitting” of camping can be added to the ordinance. This seems like the right course because, as I noted yesterday, the ordinance appeared to have changed very little since its last appearance before council.

Item 5.1, approving a special use permit allowing contract construction services in a General Agriculture (AG) district at 1900 W. Sycamore St., passed unanimously. This is for a landscaping business that will operate in the area behind Denny’s.

Item 5.2, approving a special use permit allowing residences as permitted in an R-3 (high density) district in a Secondary Business (SB) district at 2220 N. Illinois Ave., passed unanimously. This will allow construction of one new building containing four one-bedroom apartments at an existing apartment complex.

Item 5.3 involved three separate votes: (1) an ordinance approving the FY 2013 City of Carbondale budget, (2) a resolution approving the five year Community Investment Program, and (3) an ordinance approving the Carbondale Public Library budget. All three items passed unanimously.

Item 5.4, an ordinance adopting the pay plan for non-bargaining unit employees for FY 2013, passed unanimously. This ordinance gave a 2% across the board pay increase to all non-bargaining unit city staff.

No action was taken on Item 5.5, a resolution authorizing the city manager to execute contracts with community organization. This item is expected to return for the May 1 city council meeting. I do not have details on the discussion of this item and the reasons for pulling it. If you were watching (or participating) and know what happened, please share the information in the comments.

Comments are welcome.

Written by The Carbondale Observer

April 18, 2012 at 7:45 am

Murphysboro Boundary (dis)Agreement

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The Southern Illinoisan and the Daily Egyptian reported this week on the ongoing boundary negotiations between Carbondale and Murphysboro. It seems that Murphysboro is not happy with the tentative agreement. From the Southern Illinoisan’s Tuesday article :

Saying it could see no benefit to signing a proposed 20-year agreement and with a disagreement between the cities on how the boundary would be drawn just south of Illinois 13, the council decided to take no action on the proposal.

In Carbondale’s proposal, the boundary line would be centered on Country Club Road to the highway before jutting east down the highway and before following Airport Road to the north. Murphysboro’s proposal has the boundary turning east at D. Blaney Miller Road, on which Murphysboro already offers city services, to Airport Road.

The last boundary agreement between Carbondale and Murphysboro, which was in place formally from 1982 to 2002 and informally since then, followed Country Club Road to the south of Route 13, and followed an imaginary line extending north from Country Club Road to the north of Route 13. Carbondale’s proposal would move the boundary line on the north side of Route 13 nearly a mile east, where it would follow Airport Road. Here is a map of the boundary Carbondale proposed (click image for larger version):

Source: City of Carbondale.

Murphysboro clearly benefits from this new boundary, as it gains developed property north of Route 13 – property that would have belonged to Carbondale under the old agreement. In fact, Carbondale already has an annexation agreement for property west of the proposed new boundary. This agreement would be terminated if the new boundary agreement was approved by both cities. But Murphysboro isn’t satisfied. Murphysboro wants more.

Here’s a map derived from the one above roughly showing the area Murphysboro wants outlined in black:

Derived from a map created by the City of Carbondale.

I  can understand why Murphysboro would want this additional land – they want the sales tax from any future retail development opposite the Wal-Mart – but I don’t understand how they can justify demanding it. The Daily Egyptian, citing Carbondale City Manager Alan Gill offers one explanation:

City Manager Allen Gill said the proposed agreement between Carbondale and Murphysboro would establish a dividing line between two growing communities. Within the proposed agreement, both parties have agreed not to annex properties across the designated line and not to exercise extra-territorial zoning powers across the line, he said.

[Emphasis Added.]

Read more:

The problem with that explanation is that it isn’t factually correct. There aren’t two growing cities, there is one slowly growing city and one rapidly shrinking city. Using the corrected data (pdf), Murphysboro’s population in 2000 was 8,694. According to preliminary census data, Murphysboro’s 2010 population is 7,970 – an 8% decline during the last ten years. Carbondale’s corrected 2000 population was 25,597, while our 2010 population was 25,902 – a 1% increase.

Despite losing 8% of its population since the 2000 census, the Murphysboro city council seems to think it is entitled to extend its boundaries toward Carbondale. That doesn’t make much sense, and I don’t think it is going to work. From the Southern Illinoisan’s Wednesday article:

Saying he could not see a light at the end of the tunnel, Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole said his city will start enforcing its jurisdictional zoning and planning rights to protect Carbondale residents along the disputed border.

“It would be in our best interest to do that, post-haste,” Cole said.

People who live up to 1 1/2 miles west of zoned Carbondale property could be affected by stricter enforcement, but Cole said he’s not looking to start a border war.

Since Carbondale had zoning jurisdiction in the area earlier than Murphysboro, Carbondale’s jurisdiction would preempt Murphysboro, even in some areas west of the old boundary at Country Club Road.

I think Carbondale should play tough with Murphysboro on the boundary issue. In my view, we offered them too generous a deal by considering the option of moving the boundary to Airport Road. Now that Murphysboro has rejected that offer, we should withdraw it. Carbondale should exercise it’s full zoning and planning rights, even west of Country Club Road, and we shouldn’t approve any permits unless the applicant signs an annexation agreement.

If Murphysboro doesn’t like that, then Murphysboro should accept a new boundary agreement following the old line – both north and south of Route 13. We have had boundary problems in the past when our neighbor to the east annexed desirable land that clearly should have belonged to Carbondale. We should avoid similar problems on our western border, especially considering that Murphysboro’s population is declining. I hope that our next mayor and city council will take a hard line on this issue.

Comments are welcome.

Written by The Carbondale Observer

March 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

What if Fritzler Wins?

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In a comment on yesterday’s post a reader noted that if Joel Fritzler wins the mayoral election it will be necessary to appoint someone to fill his old council seat. It seems to me that the natural person to appoint would be the candidate who finishes in fourth place in the April 5 election.

When Lance Jack resigned last year it had been nearly two years since the last election, but that wouldn’t be the case this time. Since council members are usually elected, and since the appointment would happen so near the election, I think the fourth place finisher would have a strong democratic claim on Fritzler’s old council seat.

That claim would be even stronger if the race for third place is very close. In this week’s primary, one vote separated third place (Tom Grant) and fourth place (Lance Jack). If Fritzler is elected mayor and I was the candidate who finished a close fourth in the April 5 election, I would expect to be appointed to Fritzler’s old seat.

I’m guessing most people would agree with this, at least in the abstract.  Since the new mayor and council would choose the replacement, I’d be interested to know if Fritzler and the city council candidates agree. I’d also be interested to know if sitting council members Chris Wissmann and Corene McDaniel agree.

If Fritzler is elected, and if the same process is used to replace him as was used to replace Jack, Fritzler (in his new role as mayor) would recommend several candidates and the council would choose one in closed session. Presumably a majority of the council could appoint whoever they want, whether that person was on the mayor’s recommendation list or not.

It will be interesting to see what happens if Fritzler is elected and Lance Jack finishes a close fourth in the primary. As everyone knows, Jack had to resign from city council last year as part of a deal to get a liquor license for his restaurant. Fritzler took the position that Jack was ineligible to hold a liquor license as long as he served on city council.

Obviously, Jack has been the subject of some controversy, and the electorate in April will be different – and larger –  than the electorate that voted in the primary. I’m not sure how likely it is that both Jack finishes fourth and Fritzler is elected mayor. In other words, Fritzler winning wouldn’t necessarily reignite the Lance Jack liquor license/council seat controversy.

Still, if Fritzler is elected mayor, I would like to see the council appoint the fourth place finisher in the council race no matter who that candidate is.

Comments are welcome.

Written by The Carbondale Observer

February 25, 2011 at 7:45 am

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