Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Knows for news

The blogvine sez that Karen Binder is coming in to fill the Managing Editor position for The Southern Illinoisan (under the Editor) but with Bennett leaving, looks like she'll be on double-duty. Karen used to worked at the SI, as a reporter, and also headed PR for a (now defunct?) Illinois wine growers group. She is the wife of Steve Binder, who is returning to The Southern to reclaim his post at the Southern Business Journal, after about a year and a half in Champaign doing the same type of business journal thing. So The Binders will be running The Illusion soon.

In other News news, John Homan, who was running the SBJ since Binder's departure, has been made the Williamson County Editor. . . . (and I'm the Williamson County Blogitor.)

And Jason Lee is also leaving, a job free-lancing with the Chicago Tribune, is the word in the newsroom . . . and Kristen Cates, the current Murphysboro/Jackson County reporter, is beating a drum to take over the Carbondale beat when Jason departs.

And we still don't know why Bennett bolted without a word to his faithful bloggees.

But the RSS feed for the Marion Daily Republican has been added to the aggregator at Shawnee Net.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gift of Blog

Carbondale can use a few more bloggers, especially since Southern Illinoisan editor James L. Bennett has departed for browner pastures, in Arizona. The blog he started has been changed from "Bennett's Blog" to "The Editor's Blog," but nothing about his departure. No permanent replacement has been named, although Flipside editor Cara Recine (RAY chin-ay) is filling in.

It's odd that he left without saying anything -- like his SI blogging counterpart Jim Muir, who has (apparently) retired from blogging.... forever waiting for "the Greenies". But Paul Klee's Dawg Blog has found a capable replacement in Rob Crow.

Won't any one else "step up"? There are now at least two ways to get the word out, blogging style. In addition to joining this "team blog," you can create a free account on the Shawnee Net portal, where you can post to the Carbondale Bytelife blog, or start your own. If you have questions, please contact me.

Meanwhile, only a few people have entered the Town Square contest to win $100 gift certificate(s). An ad currently running in the Carbondale Times directs readers to the On The Square web site for details. The chances of winning are pretty good, if you enter now.

The chances of improving your life are also good -- if you start blogging regularly in the new year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pro Bono

I watched the Prayer Breakfast speech by the rock musician, humanitarian, Bono as recommended by Peter the Great, so I understand better what makes both men tick: messiah complexes. ;-)

But who wouldn't want to "save the world" or save a university if (s)he could? Even Marketing Dept. Chairman Terry Clark would like to save a piece of it -- its advertising message. . . the Carbondale university's "story."

I've seen the spots created by Terry and his team of students before final edits. I'm sure whatever superior qualities the final product shows is due in large measure to the half-hour we spent together in his office that day. ;-)

Summarizing the message: (1. "take a good class at SIUC" and 2. "conveniently enjoy the natural resources") scored a bullseye with, the bloggers' friend, SIU President Glenn Poshard. The important part is #2. That's what makes SIUC special. And the message makes total sense. Besides good classes, the accessibility of "nature" here in Southern Illinois is unparalleled among other Illinois state universities.

In the same SI article that mentions Clark's Marketing (Clark'eting), Caleb Hale reports on an independent evaluation of the university's goals and realities came down pretty hard on how things were. The report, by the marketing consulting firm of
SimpsonScarborough, gives SIUC a reality check, saying essentially, SIUC can't have it both ways. Research-centered or Student-centered. Choose one and run.

But it sounds like interim Chancellor John Dunn thinks SIUC can have it both ways, by moving the goal posts, in defining what makes a top university.

Let Caleb Hale explain:
The question of the hour, however, is will the university continue seeking a top 75 spot among research institutions?

Interim Chancellor Dunn said it may not be a question of whether it does it but how it does it.

"Do you change the goal or do you change the matrix of how that goal is being assessed?" Dunn said. "If you're in the top 75, what is the marker of knowing when you're in the top 75?

"For instance, right now we have an institute [of] American Philosophy that, on anybody's list, is certainly no worse than in the top five; the school of art and design would be in the top 45 . . . .

"I think what this report is also telling us is we have to speak with much greater pride of the things we are already doing very well and that have clearly already put us in the top 75."

Dunn said SIUC will always be a research university, but it will be a "student-centered, responsive research university." (boldface added)

So getting back to marketing. . . . Why not have a student-centered marketing campaign? Use student talent to help create the product, as Professor Clark has done. Have them all produce spots with the same message: SIU at Carbondale combines excellent academics (and athletics) with accessible outdoor recreation, at an affordable price -- with the same tag line, or catchy phrase, that "says it all." An Admissions web log might be a good idea, as well..... Something on MySpace, maybe. A hip-hop version of the school song? Fresh as all outdoors.

As a media maven, I'd be happy to produce a 30-second video promotion for SIUC pro magnum bonum, free of charge.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Where were you the night the Dawgs fell to Indiana?

Did you get caught up with Saluki fever yesterday, Bloggee? I know that you did. Too bad about the loss to Indiana, but the team looked pretty good on national television -- with Jamaal Tatum showing that he wants to play after graduation.

I saw the game at Buffalo Wings, which my daughter described as "Mugsy's magnified" but more like The Cellar magnified. The Cellar is one of Carbondale's best tv bars. A great place to watch a game with friends and fellow fans. Play a game of shuffleboard while you're there. Mugsy's has a shuffleboard table, too, but didn't notice one at Buffa'Wings.

One guy who really got into the game is "greydawg" over at Saluki Hoops, though he doesn't say where he viewed it.

Of course, many of you didn't see the game at all -- especially if you don't have cable and don't like smoky places -- or couldn't care less about sports. It doesn't matter. It was just a game. There'll be another one on Wednesday night, vs. Central Michigan, which the Salukis will win.

And speaking of games. . . .

Over at "On The Square Online" there's a contest to say what year ABC Liquors was established at its current location on Washington St.

$100 in gift certificates from Town Square businesses are offered to someone who guesses correctly. More details are in that blog.

Fine Print Hint: Ike was on top (but not yet selling cars). Winning entries must be emailed, or received by 12/28.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Seen On The Square

The Carbondale Town Square promotional spot I did with sculpture/film maker Dan Johnson is currently "on the air" on MediaCom in Carbondale, Benton, Duquoin. I'm not entirely happy with the visuals, but the music makes it -- about a minute of Grant Morgan's "Seezin' the Moment" from Guitars Between the Rivers, 1.

A print ad will be in the Dec. 20 issue of Carbondale Times, too, with the same message as the video. Be There ... On The Square.

To get people to watch the video (and be persuaded by the message) there's a contest to win $100 in gift certificates from local restaurants and businesses in the Town Square district.

Winner will be selected from correct answers to the question:

"What year was ABC Liquors established in its current building on Washington St."

The answer to the question appears in the scrolling text on "Be ... On The Square" cable spot. The On The Square blog has more details. . . . And even if you don't have MediaCom cable, you can view the entire commercial online. (35 meg .avi file) . . . and if you don't have 45 minutes or whatever to download the file, there's a shorter clip (only 2.3 meg).

Of course, anyone can learn the answer some other way. . . . By asking someone at City Hall, or ABC Liquor Mart. I am simply trying to drive traffic to the "Be There ... On The Square" video spot. . . to "get the message out" -- because there are more good restaurants and cool gift shops in that district than any comparably-sized area in Southern Illinois, with Kaleidoscope, Art Lovers Trading Company, Carbondale Trophy, and even Dillinger's Feed. (A Christmas trophy? Why not? I plan to give trophies to everyone on my list this year. And perhaps some quality dog food from Dillinger's for that special bitch.)

Another look at Town Square
Despite the many improvements made by Carbondale Main Street, the town center area still lacks a compelling visual symbol. It's nice to see those dancing, turning statues (pictured above) in front of the Town Square Pavilion, lit up at night.

But the dancing due will be taken down in January, and we'll be back to a Picnic Shelter for a centerpiece. Some better visual attraction is necessary on that Pavilion property. A train station perhaps? First, let's get rid of those power lines underground.

How about a geodesic dome picnic shelter? An open one, like they have on campus lake. Then a new Town Square promotion could be developed on the theme: Be There. On the Tetrahedron.

Whatever shape it is, I'd like to do another promotion for Town Square, including businesses that weren't in the first spot, such as.

Arthur Agency, Don Camilla Mexican Grocery, Big Boys Q, the Design Consultants, Fredericks Hair Styling, Carbondale Trophy Company, the geographical research firm, Big Muddy Independent Media Center, WDBX, D's Quick Stop place, Tropicana, King Beef, Barrett, Morris, Broom attorneys, Mary Lou's, the Sachi Japanese restaurant, the Tattoo shop....

All in 60 seconds.

Can it be done? With the right music, absolutely!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

No smoking law - the easy compromise.

Turns out you can pass a no smoking law today in Carbondale. All you need to do is not enforce it on the bars. Yes, I know that then the law wouldn't be perfect. It will fix the problem for 80 or 95% of the people.

After the restaurant thing goes down, you can come back in a year or two and pick up the bars. They wouldn't stand a chance.

Worth thinking about. I sure wouldn't miss the smokers when I'm eating out.

Sheila came by and told me my blog entry was wrong yesterday.

I was reading the paper and riding the StarTrak bike at the REC Center yesterday (as I do most weekdays) and Sheila came by and told me I was wrong about my last entry about liquor laws in Carbondale. She pointed out that the law matching the state law was never brought before the City Council. I assured her I hated being wrong and would look into it. She didn't say anything about attacking Brad at every meeting, so I assume she agreed with that part? ;)

So in a hair splitting that only a lawyer would attempt, Sheila is right the council didn't formally vote on changing the liquor laws to matching everyone else in the state. The city council did discuss this idea and in discussion decided to change the law to its current form. There was a vote for that. The current law that Sheila helped pass creates the conflict for the mayor having dual roles. Brad followed the law that Sheila voted for and Sheila attacked him for doing what the law says the mayor should do.

I'm not sure why anyone would complain about my little blog when I was 99% right and only messed up a procedural issue? The entry was right. Sheila is attacking Brad at council meetings because he is following laws that she helped pass.

Maybe this is the difference between lawyers and engineer's views of the world?

Pre-recorded message

Only seven candidates have submitted petitions to run for Mayor or City Council. Although she hasn't filed yet, non-candidate Jessica Davis phoned my house the other night to ask for my vote. According to City Clerk Vaught (quoted somewhere) until you file, you're not a candidate. Did I mention it was a recorded message? . . . A lengthy one about Smoke-Free Carbondale, and how Carbondale City Council voted it down, and how she supports it, so vote for her.

Is Davis serious or just blowing smoke? Does she think she will be elected based on her opinions? Is this what "official" candidate Councilwoman Sheila Simon thinks, as well? According to Peter the Great, Sheila's platform is based on Integrity, Responsibility and Opportunity. He wonders if she(la) alone can claim those attributes.

I was wondering the same thing. For instance, Mayor Brad Cole has the integrity to accept responsibility for the opportunities he has helped to create for residents of the City of Carbondale, for housing and business development, the arts, bicyclists, teenagers, and more.

Take the "Smoke-Free Carbondale" initiative that is so important to pre-recorded non-candidate, Davis. As Mayor, Brad Cole proposed a financial incentive for public dining establishments with liquor licenses to voluntarily become smoke free -- by waiving the liquor license fee. He says 14 businesses have taken the City up on the offer. So non-candidate Davis can hardly accuse Cole of being against Smoke-Free environment. . . .

And candidate Sheila Simon voted in favor of the Smoke-Free initiative.

So Davis' statements were not only unwanted, they were misleading.

She might want to try podcasting. Or blogging. People read or listen to those media voluntarily.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dave's new Shawnee Portal is pretty cool

I just clicked through and looked at it. It is a dash board of Southern Illinois news and blogging. I think it shows great promise.

Personally, I think there is a business out there for local coverage via the internet. Selling local ads and doing a great job doing what no Lee Enterprise paper will do. Need to add obituaries and court reports to really make it go, but that isn't very hard.

Might work better in a different town, Lee hasn't had enough time to really destroy the Southern Illinoisan yet. If you look at other towns that have had Lee ownership for a long time, their paper's really suck. I suspect that is what Southern Illinois has to look forward to as the pull all the workers out of the paper and profits back to corporate.

I have been wondering if a City Council meeting will break out at the cat fight?

I have been watching the reports of the Carbondale City Council meetings of late and I'm kind of confused. It looks like Sheila Simon's campaign strategy is to attack Brad Cole on every issue regardless if there is anything to attack him about. I wonder if she thinks that the people of Carbondale want someone who attacks like that, if she thinks it is the only way to win an election with a successful mayor or if she hates Brad so much she just has no self control?

Really confused about the NOE liquor thing. Months ago Brad proposed that the Carbondale switch the liquor laws to match the state's laws. It was voted down, OK fine. Last meeting Sheila attacked him for following the rules that she voted not to change. Does she not want him to follow the law? I guess she just wants to pick a fight.

Are they voting on CVS rezoning tomorrow? The dominoes look like if CVS moves, we get a Super Kroger's on the west side in that space. The city gets to clean up a bunch of subpar properties and about 6 houses get a neighbor they don't want. But, when you live on Oakland and 13, you have at least 2 strikes against you. I'm wondering what Sheila will do at this meeting to attack Brad?

Was this part of her ethic's platform? I thought maybe Dave would cover her deal this morning and tell us what was up, but guess we will have to wait until tomorrow instead.

Under Construction

SIUC News Service reports that Morris Library renovation project is on schedule. "As areas are completed during the coming year, [Library Dean David] Carlson said library staff will re-occupy them and open those to the pubic," writes Tim Crosby.

(Heh, heh . . . Tim wrote "pubic." Perhaps a "Clarence Thomas Reading Room" is planned for the 6th or 7th floors?)

Also under contruction, Shawnee Net - News & Views. . . .Where all the local news that's fit to "aggregate" is compiled via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and made available to you, the reading pubic. This technology soon will revolutionize the newspaper industry, according to the Blog Maverick.

Also, under contruction, a 60 second promotional spot for Town Square, with music, images and visual text, a list of businesses and the message: Be There, On the Square.

Also under contruction, this blog. . . . So far, only three or four of the bloggers listed at top have posted anything. Who will be next?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Conflict of Interest...

Okay, here’s the sequence of events:

At the 21 November Carbondale City Council meeting, Mike Heck (President of the Carbondale Park District Board but speaking for himself) encouraged Councilmen (councilpeople? Ugh.) Wissmann and Haynes to abstain from the Carbondale Clean Indoor Air Act (otherwise known as the smoking ban) because of a supposed conflict of interest. Mr. Wissmann declined to abstain, but Mr. Haynes was convinced to.

At the 5 December Carbondale City Council meeting, no one mentioned conflict of interest between Wissmann’s job as part-owner and editor of the Nightlife and Carbondale’s Halloween policy.

In the 7 December Daily Egyptian, the editorial staff wrote what I consider an asinine and insinuating editorial questioning Wissmann for not abstaining from the smoking ban vote and for pushing a Halloween policy that might secondarily or tertiarily (is that a word?) benefit his newspaper.

In the 8 December Daily Egyptian, there appeared a letter I wrote in response to the aforementioned foolish editorial. It’s purty decent, if you ask me (if you don’t follow any of the other links, follow this one; it’s kinda the whole point here. I’d repost it in full, but Dave wants these things kept short).

On...hey, it’s still December 8th, isn’t it? Things move fast. Well, today, after the letter was published, I got a couple of emails from Councilmen Fritzler and Wissmann correcting me about a couple of things in my letter, and in the sprit of full disclosure and honesty, I’ll list the corrections here, so the world can see.

First, Joel (Fritzler) rightly pointed out that no one “requires” council members to actually hold real jobs. I knew this, of course; it was a poor choice of wording. Second, Joel informed me that Haynes no longer managed Kroger West; he’s at a different Kroger’s now. I didn’t know that. Third, Chris (Wissmann) told me that he doesn’t own part of Thomas Publishing, as I thought and implied he did. He only owns part of the Nightlife. Last—no one pointed this out to me, but I caught it myself; I implied that the DE used the word “recused” in their editorial, but I was inexcusably sloppy on this one; they did no such thing.

One more thing: Joel pointed out to me that my arbitrary example about Kroger West and rezoning actually had a fortuitous ring of truth, having to do with Kroger, CVS, and the proposed Murphysboro Wal*Mart. Does anyone have any more info on this?

Thinking outside The Square

Working on the television commercial for Town Square to be broadcast on MediaCom in several cities has made me more aware of how strong a retail area the district is, and how much stronger it can be.

The big square area, where the pavilion is, needs work. Some visual center. The Pavilion should have a name or signage of some kind. As is, it's just a pleasant open space with a shelter and plenty of parking, and the train tracks cutting the square in half.

Why doesn't the City move the Amtrak station THERE? It would free up the space on Illinois Ave. for commercial development. Remember: the Amtrak Station where it is currently located (across the street from the vacant Varsity Theater) was only intended to be there temporarily.

The fact is, downtown Carbondale business has paid a heavy price through the City of Carbondale's "Redevelopment" in the 70s and 80s, by the attrition in the number of commercial spaces for lease and the overpass on Mill-inois; not to mention all the parking meters,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

How many cars does it take to fill the parking spots on Town Square?

282, Bloggee, . . . . which breaks down to 243 spots in the four public parking lots near the Pavilion area, and 39 on-street spaces. I'm learning many things writing a television commercial for the Town Square. . . . Too much to put into a one-minute spot. But the text will be posted to the On The Square blog, when it's complete. The commercial will run 105 times on MediaCom cable from December 13-24.

Now I must find a word to rhyme with 282.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I was shopping at Shawnee Trails today and heard something interesting

Every year I find a few good Christmas presents at Shawnee Trails and I was doing the tour today. I was looking at their nice selection of messenger bags today and was looking at some of those nice North Face windstopper gloves for the Mrs.

I was kind of pleased to hear about the new Dick's coming to town, but after talking to Rick the owner of Shawnee Trails, now I'm not so sure. I really sounds like Dicks is a great big box store, lots of inventory, sale prices, nationwide buying power, you know the drill. Rick points out that Dick's is going to directly complete against 7 existing businesses and many of them are locally owned.

Let's do a list -
Shawnee Trails
All 3 bike shops (though the bikes on the website really stink, more like Walmart)
Outdoor Store
Hibert's in the Mall
Forgot the last one.

I guess the barn door is open and the horses gone on the big box store issue, but it is always sad when yet another set of local businesses have big box land in their turf.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Kat in the House; Glenn at The Glove

The first Friday in December was very eventful, Bloggee -- even without the excited anticipation of Saturday's Saluki athletics contests.

First, Kathleen Shaffner had her art show at Art Lover's Trading Company gallery, and many people came, including Sheila Simon's campaign manager, Tom Redmond, who said his candidate would not be blogging, or authorizing a blog, during her campaign.

As a blogger, this is hard to understand, since she(ila) never expressed an opinion in her old blog that could get her into trouble. Mostly "this is happening, what do you think?" which is fine, but not so controversial as to be off-limits in a mayoral campaign, where issues should be discussed, and voters informed.

At the end of the evening, Kathleen gave a command performance of a couple of tunes she sang while a member of the 'locally legendary' acoustic trio For Healing Purposes Only. I captured a minute or two of video (view .mpeg file).

Afterwards, I traveled a short distance down Washington Street to the second semi-annual "Art Over Easy" Art Auction at the Glove Factory-Surplus Gallery. It was fantastic! So much diverse art, good food, and SPACE!

This is the second year the auction was done -- or rather Dunn, as in Linda Dunn, wife of the interim Chancellor (a regular guy, who goes to the Farmer's Market in shorts. Why don't they just give him the job, instead of wasting $100,000 to "search" for a replacement for Walter Wendler. That's alot of money. Can't the search committee just go to Monster.Com? Or find someone within the university? or within the ranks of the local blogging community, someone like, say, oh, I don't know . . . Peter the Great?).

I should have asked my new adminstrator friend, SIU President Glenn Poshard and his wife, Jo, who were given a special award in recognition of their "art advocacy." (That's Glenn in the tie with a guy whose name I didn't ask.)

Now that's a way to insure a big crowd. Great art. Great food. Great people. Great cause. Great idea!

As it turned out President Poshard may also deserve a special award for "blogging advocacy." He told me he believes that blogging is the next level of journalism. He's right, but so few people realize this. A visionary, he must be.

U2 YouTube

Leading local Libertarian and National Guardsman, Jim Syler is "incensed." in his latest post to his 21 Days blog, because Green Day and U2 got it terribly wrong in their new video, The Saints are Coming. Jim explains why, with links to his own Katrina cleanup photos.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Center leaves Center

A recent email query from an SIU Engineering student and a fellow blogger:
"I'm a reader of your blogs. Could you please write about the closing down of Sylvan Learning Center and Prometric Testing Center from Carbondale?"
This is what I found out: The Sylvan center moved to Carterville. Many stores in that University Place Center (next to the University 8 Theaters) are moving, because the owner reneged on his original promise and allowed Barnes & Noble to open in front blocking the front view from the road, according to a Great Clips employee. Great Clips has also moved from there to inside Kroger East.

The local Sylvan website does not show the new location.