Tuesday, February 27, 2007

1,214 Voters Can't Be Wrong . . . Can They?

I'm only mildly surprised by the results of yesterday's election. Carbondale's coalition of community-minded democrats and greens nearly won the election four years ago, when Cole squeaked through by a narrow margin of 17 votes. And now they're galvanized around a stronger candidate, with a famous name, friends in higher places, and a friendly face.

Now I don't mean to demean her demeanor, since Sheila Simon has always been cordial and helpful to me -- unlike the man she wants to replace as Mayor, Brad Cole, who has been nothing but attentive and cooperative.

You're thinking . . . "cordial and helpful" . . . "Attentive and cooperative" -- What's the diff? It's this: Not being otherwise employed -- and very well-organized -- Brad Cole had time to follow-up on many long-neglected aspects of Carbondale government and community. Conversations in casual meetings became full-fledged projects. He'd take my thoughts of promoting art in the community and -- working with Carbondale Community Arts -- made them a reality. The Bike 2 Work Day event is another example. The City Malpractice Solution.... The list goes on and on.... I should compile the full list of Cole's achievements in four years and things that are "in the works."

When I ran for City Council four years ago, I gave a lot of thought to what I could actually DO while in office, besides vote "yes" or "no" on zoning and financial issues, to make my contribution worthwhile. I wanted to be PROACTIVE, to take steps that would make a definite step in the right direction, "making Carbondale a better place to live and work." I made a list of ten goals: things I would work toward. Some seem rather jejune, based on what I know now, but still . . . .

I don't know why Sheila didn't do anything proactive while she sat at City Council for four years. Perhaps because she felt Brad would not cooperate with her, or maybe, between teaching law, regular council duties, and being an active, bike-riding mother of two, she didn't have time to come up with anything, or if she did, felt Cole would shoot it down.

Sheila and I have had good interactions and she made three suggestions to me since I've known her: 1) that I could fill a vacancy on the Energy Advisory Commission (not realizing I don't do committees, as a rule, with one exception. Nonetheless this was a good, proactive suggestion by Sheila, although directed at the wrong person. 2) she recommended that I speak to a certain woman who worked at a certain church about a certain project and this woman was unsuitable for collaboration, for several reasons, so I wasted time. 3) she made a good suggestion for Bike 2 Work Day (one that I had already done, but still -- I hope if she is elected Mayor that she will still support that project.)

My experience with Cole goes back to 2002, when he was a City Council member whom I selected at random to inquire about the possiblity of a public outdoor swimming pool (because I didn't know any of them, except Maggie Flanagan.) Cole was prompt and professional in his email response, which impressed me.

Brad has continued to impress, and occasionally surprise. But does he have what it takes to take the election? Have Simon supporters given it their best shot? With 1,214 votes, she got 359 more than Cole. On April 17 will our Mayor find an additional 360 voters -- or more -- who think he deserves reelection? (And how about that other date?)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Their Word, My Word

Holy Salukiville! The DE is endorsing Holder and Simon for Mayor! I jokingly made the same wacky endorsement in a comment a few days ago. (This does not Bode well for Cole. I wonder what the DE's track record is for endorsing the actual winner.) Besides his shock of white hair, another reason to vote for Pepper Holder is he needs the job. It would make things VERY interesting with a Mayor Pepper - he could grow into the job, like Obama. But we all know Pepper's not going to win tomorrow: it will be Cole and Simon facing off in April. So why would the DE make such a fatuous endorsement? (Are they sticking it to 'the man'? Remember "You owe us Mayor Cole, now be honest?")

It was clear from the outset, who the DE favors in the race (even though Cole received the student newspaper's endorsement in 2003, and has fulfilled all of his promises and much more.) I think the upstate Democrat politics may have come into play in student reporter Andrea Zimmerman's time for questioning:
Mayor Brad Cole looks to continue his leadership in the city. Carbondale has done fairly well under his reign and he can only look to better his game against worthy contenders. Like any leader, Cole has made his enemies. Will they surface to unseat the 35-year-old mayor?
Carbondale councilwoman and SIU School of Law professor Shelia Simon brings a wealth of political passion to the table. The daughter of the late and legendary Sen. Paul Simon is no stranger to elections, but does she have what it takes to run what many consider the "capital of southern Illinois"? (Boldface for added emphasis)
Despite mis-spelling Sheila's name, these paragraphs show a clear bias against Cole and a disingenuous view of Simon's capabilities. "Does she have what it takes," indeed.

Bob Pauls gives readers some facts and figures about the candidates in his Carbondale Mayoral Primary Primer, concluding:
"The election is shaping up to be the all too familiar downstate spitting contest between the ‘Fat Cat’, conservative, right wing, Chamber of Commerce, landlord/developer against the left/moderate-wing Democrat, academic, neighborhood oriented, home owning soccer moms and dads. – only without the spit – unless you count the drool from one local blogger. At least so far. Let us hope it stays that way."
Indeed, some of the spit is far flung.

My too choices for Mayor: Cole and Simon. . . . Pepper may be the salt of the earth, but no condiments for Mayor, please, just meat and vegetables.

And for Council members, in tomorrow's primary, I will vote for a man who wants to continue to move Carbondale forward Lance Jack, because I know him, he's a good guy, pro-business, and up-front honest. (He may not be the most articulate member of council, but he's experienced, and the fact that he likes to party is a bonus). Mary Pohlmann, I don't know, but I see her signs at friends' houses, and Peter the Great gives her the nod.

I have to disagree with PG's dismissal of the sole student candidate Joe Moore as a "lightweight." Joe shows mighty good use of media of any of City Council candidate, imo. He may be only 20 years old, but he is doing what it takes to win. A cursory read of his blog shows he gets it. He also has a great campaign slogan! Exactly like mine in 2005, except for the extra "O" and no clear explanation of "more what."

Looking forward to tomorrow's vote.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Boutique beats bus

The guy who operates the local Greyhound Bus office has offered me the opportunity to take over the station, since I used to work there when it was located next to the Bike Surgeon. It's tempting, but the situation now requires customers to purchase tickets on North Washington St. where the Big Muddy Independent Media Center is located. But the BMIC will be moving out, which means the rent will go up -- and the bus still stops in front of Amtrak!

I wanted to rent this long-vacant building on the corner of Elm and Illinois Ave. to be the new location for the ticket office, but a high fashion dress venture, called 2 Two Boutique, beat me to it. It's not open yet, but will be soon.

I still think the Greyhound ticket office would be good there, since it's across from the Amtrak station. The space might be available in a year or two (the way new business goes in this town), although I hear that the owner of "2" is the son of one of the local Sufis -- which means that he and his partner will have a steady stream of business from that growing community of American Muslims, most of whom are women and good dressers. ;-) Not to mention all the people who go to Booby's, The Bike Surgeon and Amtrak.

A better location for the Greyhound ticket office is still needed. But where?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who is Steve Beck and why is he saying those things for $20,000?

First heard of Steve Beck in Peter the Great's glowing preview of this motivational speaker from the Capitol City Speakers Bureau. Yesterday's DE has an account of Steve Beck's Motivational Speeches on campus:
Network security officer Curt Wilson said the information wasn't exactly new to him, but was a good refresher. He said he thinks being present in all interactions - one of the things Beck emphasized - brings a quality of life that can't be found elsewhere.
As a matter of fact, I encountered Curt at Schnuck's last night, and seemed to be very "present" in our interaction. In the same article (not at Schnucks), Ha-Yee Teska, a Procedures and Systems Analyst, said "More people should come." Office Systems Specialist Marcia Gerstenschlager agreed. "They should be turning people away."

Which suggests there's room for curious alumni.

The Monday afternoon session was only one of 10 sessions Beck offered this week. The final speeches will be given today and Wednesday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium.

See you there?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Civil Civics

Bob Pauls is wondering about the ethics ... of Peter Gregory's rants against the second-best candidate for mayor in all of Carbondale. Hey, if he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to read it, right? So cross him off the list of Peter's readers, he says, after delivering an old-fashioned anti-rant, complete with photograph of old-time typewriter.

Before I weigh-in with a way-out comment on what is shaping up to be a battle of two ethical giants, let me to remind you that being civic-minded takes time. It takes time read a candidate's platform and comment intelligently on the points it makes.

I hope the same kind of analysis can be done with Cole's platform, as well, perhaps by one of his opponents' supporters - using Google Docs - continuing this experiment in citizenship.

Don't have a Gmail account yet? What're ya waiting for, Bloggee? If you'd like to contribute to the analysis of either candidates plans, have your people contact our people.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

With aplomb

Although videotaping was not permitted, last night's forum of mayoral candidates was memorable for the civility of the participants and the audience, which refrained from applauding (except for sporadic smatterings) until the end.

The candidates were articulate and informed to varying degrees about the topics posed by moderator Darcy Prosser of the League of Women Voters. There were about eight questions, and candidates took turns at having first crack at one. (Where the questions came from wasn't stated. I didn't write down the questions, either, but I'll try to get and post them to the Bytelife blog, along with audio clips of the answers.)

Pictured left to right, Mayor Brad Cole, City Councilwoman Sheila Simon, local social activist Pepper Holder and servant to the community, Jessica Davis, whom I met for the first time after the debate. The other candidates I've known for years, and each held "true to form" in their answers to the questions posed, meaning: Cole = All Business, Simon = Folksy Concern, Holder = Hoary-headed. The new kid on the block, Ms. Davis, is smart and service-oriented. If I were to describe her in one word, it would be . . . "Ringer" because she takes votes from Simon's Law School and the female constituency, and also from Pepper's African-American constituency. She stands for the same issues as they do, and she articulates them more effectively (which is saying something, because Sheila is no slouch in the speech department).

The two leading candidates, Cole and Simon each took a jab at the other: Simon said something about not spending $150,000 "on every building you want" (referring to her disapproval of a controversial purchase by The City), while in another context Cole said something about needing to pay a D.C. lobbyist to help the City acquire federal funds for a new police station, because he didn't "grow up in the halls of Congress." But then Sheila rejoined that now that Democrats are running things in the U.S. Congress, the need for Republican lobbyist has passed.

Overall, I'd give the evening to Brad, but everyone acquitted themselves with aplomb (unlike the old Jimmy Durante joke reprised by local artist Vic DeGraff (7 second .avi).)

The forum will be rebroadcast on WSIU-TV. Not sure when. It's not mentioned on either League of Women Voters or WSIU-TV websites. (links)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Date Candidates Update & Candidates Debate Date

Things have heated up on both the love and the campaign fronts since my last post. According to the official press release I wrote, a woman from Nashville, Tennessee, was given the nod by the Marry the Mayor Committee, although Mayor Cole is being coy about his own choice until after next week's primary election. He says “I don’t want my personal life to become a distraction. I'd prefer to let my record as Mayor be the issue for the next 9 weeks, not my record on the dating scene.”

On the campaign scene things are heating up, as well, thanks to Peter Gregory's blog. His analysis of married mayoral candidate Sheila Simon's platform issues has been devasting, if you accept Peter's capitalistic 'take' on her ideas. Not much coming from Simon's supporters. The best they can do is (anonymously) demean Cole by calling him "marry-the-mayor Brad" or "mayor hot pants." Or downplay the progress the city has made in the past four years.

Wanting more systematic analysis of Simon's plans, I invited some other bloggers to contribute their own thoughts on her issues, which I'm publishing a preview of today, before this evening's candidate debate. It's far from complete, so if you want to contribute to the document yourself, let me know.

Tonight's debate at the Civic Center should be interesting. It's on Cable-16, but I don't have MediaCom, so I'll attend in person -- and try to videotape some highlights.

UPDATE: -- No video recording was permitted at the debate.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy V Day

One of my favorite poems is "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell, the concluding lines of which state:

The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Guess Marvell was wrong.

In Italy, archaeologists vow to keep these two lovers intertwined when they are moved from the dig "in a Valentine's Day gift to the country."

And today, in Carbondale, Illinois, the Marry the Mayor Committee will give the results of its first attempt to find a suitable love interest for hizzoner Brad Cole, with candidates from several States who expressed interest. An "official" press release was prepared by the Committee. Let's see if it makes 'the press'.

And coming up in March the other V-Day (against violence and sexual exploitation of women) there will be local performances of The Vagina Monologues on March 2-4.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On the box and off the record

Things have changed greatly for former Chancellor Walter V. Wendler since our last meeting a few months ago in his Anthony Hall office. His new standard-issue desk is located in an obscure corner of Quigley Hall, in a small office, where SIU's newest professor of architecture sports a new look. Wearing a maroon turtleneck shirt and a clean-shaven face(!), the former most powerful man on campus offered me an unpacked box to sit on, as he shared some thoughts about the sudden changes in his life.

He is philosophical about his fate, seeing recent events as a spiritual challenge -- and opportunity. He's thrown his hat into the ring for a few jobs, but he's looking forward to teaching architecture again, his first love, although his new appointment does not require teaching until next Fall.

So what's he doing in the meantime? Will he have lunch with his nemesis, Peter the Great? I didn't have time to ask before my ride arrived.

My old friend Vic DeGraff, the sand painter was meeting me on campus, at the University Museum, where our friend Larry Bernstein's work is on display as part of the 'Cranbrook 5' exhibit.

I love the SIU campus. I should visit it more often. It feels good to be around all those young people -- not the students, the faculty! ;-)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Obamarama in pajamas

It's great that Barack Obama is running for President. And I am extremely pleased I didn't drive to Springfield this morning to hear his announcement at the historic capitol building -- where the temperature is only 8 degrees!

I stayed home because last night I learned the speech would be delivered earlier than I thought. If I had left this morning at 6:30, I'd still be on the road, instead of writing this post, listening to CSPAN African-American Conference broadcast live, where the relevancy of Obama's candidacy to "black America" was considered the panel. My conclusion: Al Sharpton is a demagogue. And switching to MSNBC, where Pat Buchanan, Chris Matthews are punditing about the challenges Obama faces, following today's announcement.

Sure, it would have been great to be there in person. ABC News reports:
the Springfield airport Friday afternoon was packed with reporters and Democratic activists. A documentary film crew, shooting Obama since May, arrived. Friday night in downtown Springfield, rumors abounded that Hollywood stars George Clooney and Matt Damon, both of whom have endorsed Obama, had come to the state capital.
And Abraham Lincoln will be there:
Standing . . . just steps away from where Abraham Lincoln used to practice law, another lanky Illinoisan will stand and declare his candidacy for president of the United States this morning.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., 45, spent eight years here, representing the fabled South Side of Chicago. In addition to the invocations of Lincoln's legacy of trying to unite a bifurcated nation, Obama's allies are reminding voters that Lincoln's eight years in the state legislature and one term in the U.S. House of Representative compare rather precisely with Obama's legislative experience. (boldface added)

Barack Hussein Obama's Lincolnesque "Give Hope a Chance" speech will be viewable to all who stayed warm this morning via live webcast at BarackObama.com beginning at 10:50 EST. . . . 20 minutes from now.

Time to brew another espresso, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. My 'esprilla' drink could become the official beverage of the Obama campaign. There are a lot of coffee drinkers and ice cream eaters who would be swayed by that. (He already has the trying to quit smoking vote. )