Thursday, March 29, 2007

Arthurian legend

I got a call from Arthur Agency CEO Jon Greenstreet yesterday, protesting my claim (or rather 'gathering') that his advertising firm had anything to do with Sheila Simon's campaign site. He says his agency has a strict "no political ads" policy. I told him that (I thought I saw) the AA link was at the bottom of the Sheila new website (with new photos) a few weeks ago, but the name is gone now, and I can't confirm that it was ever there.

I did learn from Sheila's campaign manager that the person who does Sheila's website prefers anonymity, but I have been assured that the Arthurs had nothing to do with it. So there ya go. As the hoopsters say when committing an inadvertent foul, "My bad."

I apologize for any confusion this has caused anyone. I have known the Arthur guys since they first came to town about three year ago, and have watched their growth with wonder and admiration ever since. (No advertising agency has ever made it in this town for very long). But with Dennis Poshard (SIU President's son) buying-in to the business, and the hiring of Jon G., the Arthurs have landed quite a few local high-end accounts, such as the new Southern Illinois Miners baseball team.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Style points

Hey there, friends and foes. Sheila Simon has a new supporter in the blogosphere, which means, of course, a new mud-slinger against Brad Cole. The pro-Democrat Philosophe Forum blog tells its readers that Sheila Simon Campaigns for Mayor, and gives a lengthy pro-Sheila spin on the issues and candidates. Needless to say, I disagree with the author's take on Cole.

In effect, she says the election is a choice between two contrasting styles of leadership. The full-time leader who micromanages and gets things done, or the part-time people person who sends every issue and initiative to a committee, which can result in some ungainly results, as noted already by Simon's harshest critic on the web.

The author of the Philosophe Forum blog sees a conflict between micromanaging and democracy, but I would bet that our greatest Presidents and Governors were "hands-on" in many aspects of government just as Cole is. Heck, Jimmy Carter even required that government regulations be written in "plain English."

The thing about Brad Cole that ticks some people off, is his dedication to perfection and accomplishment.

Here's how he explained his modus operandi, in a speech to the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce in November:
Some people say that I am a perfectionist… okay, maybe. I will freely admit that I prefer perfection, or at least the pursuit of it, over settling for mediocrity. I am the kind of person who makes decisions and then moves on with them. If they don't work or if they were the wrong decisions, then let's change them and keep trying to get the work done. Too many times people are afraid to make decisions or they think we need to take a public opinion poll to gauge what to do. I'm not like that and I think people want leaders to lead; they want people who can highlight a path forward so they can follow. That's what I have tried to do . . . .
Being a perfectionist does not make Brad undemocratic. He's just not as folksy as Sheila, but sometimes that can be a good thing.

Colbert endorses Cole?

At the conclusion of last night's "Colbert Report" fake newsman Stephen Colbert extended a photo opportunity to viewers -- a chance to be in a photo with Colbert (Cole-BEAR) as he posed and smiled as you see here.

Since Stephen is a card-carrying right-winger (in the mold of Bill O'Reilly), I thought it might be a good photo-op for Carbondale's "Right Choice" Brad Cole.

Stephen told viewers to send in their creations. This one was done in a hurry late at night without a mouse, but if I have some spare time later today, I'll do a better one. How about it Simonites? Both candidates could have a bit of fun if some friend of Sheila's would photoshop her into the photo, too. (Let me know if you're interested, and I will send you the image without Cole in it, so you can put Sheila there.) We could send them both to Colbert. It might get on the show, which would be very cool, imo.

Let's see who Colbert endorses. (My guess is that he probably will dance around it... Giving all of Carbondale "the Colbert bump"..... He knows where the town is: Colbert once referred to the "Paducah - Carbondale Corridor" while in a conversation with Randy Newman).

Saturday, March 24, 2007

And the winner was . . .

Hey there Bloggees! Did you attend yesterday's old-fashioned neighborhood debate instead of being outdoors? I wonder how many of you "Anonymouses" were in the crowd. I sat next to a Sheila Simon's campaign worker Bill Rose, whom I know from business dealings. He didn't know I wrote this blog. I didn't know he worked for Sheila Simon -- who, by the way, was the first person to shake my hand.

It's hard to say who 'won' the debate. As a teacher, I'd give them both "A's" but I'd like to hear what the rest of the 70-100 people in attendance think. One clear winner was City Clerk Janet Vaught, whom both candidates praised for her efficiency in getting information to the public. (And I can add my praise to theirs. The Carbondale City Clerk has always provided me with needed information quickly and helpfully.)

The debate was organized by The Arbor District, with D. Gorton (editor of the newsletter) and Sandy Litecky running the show. They deserve high marks for allowing so many questions and interaction between the candidates. Will the Arbor District be making an endorsement?

So who do you all think came off more Mayory, Bloggee? Did either candidate impress you one way or the other?

To me, Sheila won hands down -- or rather hand outstretched -- since she asked me what was "new and exciting." Yet Cole scored many points in the debate -- including the fact that he's working at the job full-time, and Sheila wants to do it part-time, and hire someone else to do the salesman job that Brad is already doing very well.

I saw another friend there, the one with the Simon sign in her yard. I wonder what she thinks of Cole now. I should stop by her house again to ask her if now she'd be interested in a "Cole - Our Mayor" sign.

How about you, Bloggees? Would any of you like to a "Cole - Our Mayor" sign or "Simon Mayor" sign for your yard after seeing the debate?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Why should I vote for Sheila?

I hope that everyone who reads this blog has not made up their minds. To be honest, I myself have not decided which names I'll finally check on April 17. I am seeking reasons to vote for any candidate who wants my vote.

As to the mayoral campaign. It appears that Sheila wants to put Brad out of a job because she doesn't like the way he does his job as "Carbondale's #1 Salesman." His methods cause her to doubt his integrity. This is what she says - since the day she announced her candidacy (spoken to WJPF's Rick Gregg). But, so far as I know, no specific claim of unethical wrong-doing has been levelled at the mayor. It's all implied. Sheila believes that if a business donates $1000 to the mayor, that he will do (or has done) something unethical as a result. She indicates that she's a lawyer and a politician - two professions with "suspect reputations," she says. She wants to make a show of being open and "above board." This is a good strategy for her to use, although I'd like for her or some supporter of hers to state exactly what evil deed(s) Cole's done. I'm listening.

Currently I'm compiling of a list of good deeds Cole has done during his 4 years as a City Councilman and subsequent term as mayor. (I will compare it to Sheila's record during a comparable term of office, including her votes on controversial matters.)

I'd also like him to indicate the things Cole tried to do, but failed! That too can be the measure of the man.

But Sheila is a far superior grass roots networker than Brad. There can be no doubt of that. If we were looking for someone to run a summer camp or local lawyer think-tank Sheila would get my vote.

But maybe her supporters can tell us why we should vote for a person with one-term of experience on City Council who accomplished nothing tangible.

My own take is, it's personality. She's so darn friendly. And she comes from a well-loved family. She also votes whatever the prevailing opinion is. As her old blog shows, she's a weather-vaner; so many people feel that she represents their wishes (To extend that metaphor, Brad Cole is like the wind itself -- the way he get things done. People don't always like the wind, but it can be harnessed to do good.).

This weekend I will finish up the list of Brad's accomplishments -- and write a letter to my homegirl Sheila, a fellow bicyclist and idealistic citizen.

If you want to join the discussion here, and help this blog make its mark on the local race
then go ahead an post a civil comment.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Old-Fashioned Debate, New Fangled Blog

Yesterday I paid a visit to a former neighbor who has a Simon sign stuck in her yard. I asked her if she'd like a Cole sign too. "No," she said directly. She didn't know that I supported the Mayor's re-election, and doesn't read this blog, but she was looking forward to the OLD FASHIONED TOWN HALL DEBATE between the two candidates at First Christian Church, at 201 Monroe Street.

My friend helped formulate the questions. She said the candidates will receive them in advance, but she didn't know exactly when. After the pre-written questions have been asked, then audience members will have a turn. Perhaps some minds will be persuaded one way or the other by the candidates' responses.

My friend is a homeowner. She said a question would be asked about the city's portion of the property tax, which Sheila has indicated needs "revisiting" (although she hasn't outright said she would, as Scott Thorne points out in a comment).

Another subject we discussed was her claim that Cole "tore down all those buildings." I pointed out to her that the man who authored the ultimatum to "repair or demolish" the old Bank of Carbondale building is Sheila Simon's campaign manager, not Brad Cole.

Along those lines, the American Tap property acquisition will undoubtedly come up. I am already on record as opposing it, because the price was too high, imo, but it wasn't Cole's idea to tear it down, nor did he set the price; he was carrying out the wishes of Carbondale Main Street to do something about downtown Illinois Avenue's "#1 problem" and the entire City Council (except Sheila approved the deal -- even Maggie Flanagan who changed her mind "at this midnight hour" when put to a public vote).

Well the debate should be interesting and informative.

To a Certain Anonymous

As a university instructor, I would encourage students to contribute their ideas and thoughts about a given topic, which I would would chalk up on the board and group according to theme, to help to keep the discussion more focused.

One Simonite believes I won't persuade others to vote Cole our mayor. S/he cites the likability factor (my term). According to this Simonite, we Cole supporters "rage" against Sheila's supporters, which made me laugh -- I think that I've bent over blogward giving Sheila credit where it's due -- and taking Cole to task where warranted. Perhaps my writing should include more happy faces. ;-)

I have nothing against the Simonites or their standard-bearer. I would vote for Sheila in a heartbeat (from the current crop of City Council members) to be mayor -- if the man they love to hate, Brad Cole, had not done such an outstanding job. I believe in rewarding good work performance. Yet the Simonites want Brad Cole out of office. According to this one, Cole has the benefit of incumbency: the credit for the positive changes in Carbondale should be spread around because everyone in the community is on the same page. S/he gives Sheila credit too, although in some cases she voted against the things Cole tried to do. (Having a one-time expansion of the City's Enterprise Zone capability, for example.) According to this Simonite, as effective as he Cole may be, "his negatives are too high" (which is just a fancy way of saying that s/he's a "Cole-hating Simon lover")

No. Far from "raging" against the Simonites or Sheila's sterling qualities (no irony intended) I have included all the pro-Simon comments I've received, and taken some shots at Cole myself. But some commenters do not think as clearly as others, and they can waste everyone's time -- especially mine. The best way to engage me in dialogue is to be real person, not an anonymous opinion slinger. Peter the Great knows what I mean. I also like his idea for the Anonymouses to take a moment to create a name for yourself.

Nevertheless, I wanted to respond to one particular Anonymous, who writes:
There will be an end to the campaign, and someone will win. After the election, though, will you have helped Cole govern if you have caused so many to take offense? And what do you do if Simon wins?
It is absurd to think this blog could will help or hurt Cole govern in any way. To govern he must work with City Council and staff, and understand the city code and how things work. I think I provide him comic relief more than anything else. I'm not sure why a Simonite would be offended by anything I write, unless it is the term Simonite..... I did consider other alternatives to my original phrase "Cole-hating Simon lovers": Simonians, Sheila-lites, but chose Simonites, because it rhymes with "simonize" and their campaign to unseat Cole was waxing at that time.

As to what I'll do if Sheila is elected mayor. . . . Bike 2 Work Day is rolling 'round in May. I hope the Mayor of Carbondale will support it once again. I better get to work on that.

I should ask Sheila if she will hand out the trophies at the annual lunch in the event that Mayor Cole is unable to perform that duty on that day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cole's Record as a City Councilman

A revealing documents available on Brad Cole's web site is his 2003 platform which touches on many of his accomplishments before he was Mayor -- during his four years as a member of City Council. These accomplishments included rehabilitating the old Woodlawn Cemetery; eliminating the city's portion of the property tax; recouping hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to Census error-- and more. I'll try to draw up a comprehensive list, as time permits.

I repeat: he got these things done as a City Councilman! And what has Sheila has done as a first-term member of City Council? What accomplishment is she most proud of during the same period of time? (Perhaps something she voted against? or for? Or something she did outside of City Council chambers, as a member of some other organization? Maybe I should ask her! I wish her well, you know, and hope she gets an important post in President Obama's staff in 2009.)

P.S. Message to Anonymous
Don't give Anonymouses a bad name by being a confusing dufus. Making unfounded accusations against me in anonymous comments does not accomplish your purpose of challenging Brad Cole's supremacy as a candidate for mayor. If there is some clarification that you require just write directly to dave at shawneenet dot net. As far as I can see, all "Anonymous" comments have been posted. If one of yours went missing, you could try resending it.

Words to live by, imo: Expect the best, and you just might get it! Expect the worst, and you're asking for it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What hath Cole wrought?

The day my best friend died, an "Anonymous" commenter took exception to a claim made in an earlier post of mine: "Cole-alition hopes to Spring forward" that Mayor Brad Cole "gets results."
What are these 'results'? Please be specific. I've asked Peter Gregory about this repeatedly and he either cannot, or will not, respond with specific acts on Brad Cole's part that have led to tangible positive results for Carbondale. I know what Brad Cole says he has accomplished - I want to know what you (or anyone) can cite as direct actions of Cole's that he has accomplished.
So I created a list drawn from Cole's most recent "State of the City" speech: Some things Mayor Brad Cole has accomplished so far and posted it, adding the comment "No one can say that Brad is not a hard worker. There's also a summary of his first 100 days in office on his web site."

So Anonymous replies:
It's his only job. Of course he should get more done when he has no other job. But the question is 'what is he getting done' and 'for whom?'
I asked for your opinion of direct contributions he has made, and you cite keeping City Hall open for an extra hour. That is the best you can come up with?

I've read his site, and so many of the things he claims credit for, are the continued natural functions of city government that occur regardless of who is mayor - resurfacing roads, maintaining sewer lines, etc.
The extended city hall hours was cited merely as one of the first things Cole did -- make City Hall work a little bit more efficiently.

And who is Anonymous? And why the animosity?
Why so stingy with credit for Brad? In addition to the so-called "natural functions," Cole has done much more.
One of the more important ones, imo, isn't even listed -- as reported in the Daily Illini -- making possession of small quantities of marijuana punishable by the equivalent of a traffic fine. I think it's saved the county courts some time, and put a few dollars in the city coffers. And what also isn't listed are the number of things he tried to do but failed, like bringing a hotel to help preserve the downtown Varsity Theater facade (forget about a theater ever being there again. We'll all be lucky if the marquee can stay in tact).

Now I agree those who think that Brad could have made some different choices. For instance, after the big City Council meeting when so many people spoke up on the subject of medical insurance, including soon-to-be Green Party candidate for Governor of this state, Rich Whitney, and other knowledgable people. I myself disagreed with the arbitrary cap placed by Cole on the formula for people who are not employed outside the home, such as housewives. I suggested to him that he appoint a "Blue Ribbon" panel of some of the people at the CC meeting (as he did with the Eurma Hayes Child Care Center deal), but perhaps because he knew his Home Rule "Cole Remedy" would not fly. But many other communities followed suit, and who knows? Perhaps it had something to do with the eventual solution.

Anonymous continues
'welcomed' new businesses along Reed Station Road. What does that mean? So many of his 'accomplishments' are vacuous and empty 'political speak' that it is not useful to go from his list.
(The words "Vacuous" and "empty" are synonymous, Anonymous. Can you find nothing at all "useful" in the list? Is every single one of his accomplishments to be dismissed? I don't think so.)

Because my information
was culled from a speech Cole delivered to the Chamber, it is not surprising that the list does not include the things he tried to do, but failed. Nor does it take into to account what went on behind the scenes before Cole "welcomed" the new hotel to Reed Station Road, and all the other things that seem to Anonymous to be "natural functions." There wouldn't be enough time in the speech. (Anonymous seems to think Cole just sat back and everything got done).

Three things that I can personally testify to, where Cole took the initiative: One is Bike 2 Work Day. Another is the statuary at Friendship Plaza. A third is the medical malpractice ordinance. In all three, I personally saw how Brad Cole operates. And they probably would never have been done, if they were left to a committee. Oh maybe eventually, after a year or two or three (look at the history of "Stars on Main"). But as I said, Cole gets things done.

But wait, there's more from Anonymous. You see, I deleted his comment, so my answer wouldn't be buried beneath several others, and I could give it more attention -- after attending a funeral for my best friend -- and dealing with the grief. Then I get another one:
So you posted my comment regarding what you think Cole has accomplished and then you delete it?

Now, why would you do such a thing, unless of course it pointed out the weaknesses in your posts.

If you are going to host a blog, maybe you should think about having the intellectual honesty to post the comments that take you to task.
Anonymous can be such a twit! He just found out another possible the reason why! But he takes a negative opinion of my intentions, just as he does for Cole. (For the record, I am not "hosting" a blog, but occasionally post messages to this one and some other blogs. And I could turn the comments off, and it wouldn't matter to me. It would be less work. I allow them, though, because sometimes the comments add information to the discussion.)

Now here's a challenge to the Simonites, or hostile commenters like "Anonymous."

If you aren't satisfied with all the things Brad Cole has done so far, what should have he done instead? Let's hear some practical suggestions.

What is the best thing Sheila Simon did while a member of City Council. What is anything she did?

Let's hear it!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

In Memoriam

This is my saddest blog post ever, because yesterday a friend and mentor passed away: Jim Jung, (pron: Young) -- the man behind the Waterman and Hill-Traveler's Companion, and one of the smartest and most generous people I have ever known.

It surprises me that more people don't know Jim, but he followed Thoreau's principle of having 'one chair for solitude and two for company', when he wasn't out-and-about, tromping in the woods, or selling ads for the almanac, or watching CSPAN or quirky tv show like Firefly (on DVD).

Jim always had time for kids and friends in need. He helped me out many times, with a loaned tool, or pick-up truck and other occasional necessities of life. Many evenings he would entertain me, or other friends, in one of the free chairs in his living room. (If there was a crowd of three a footstool could be cleared off).

To other family friends, he was "Uncle" Jim, who enjoyed taking young folk on nature hikes, in search of sirens or morrels and other woodsy wonders. In his younger days he used to cave, keep bees, make beer and wine and meed. He was widely read, and always had some scientific monograph or book of natural history book in progress.

The sad thing is that Jim's career as a natural historian was just starting to take off. His book Weird Egypt was just published, and his almanac was gaining more readers and advertisers yearly, and he had started writing a monthly column for the Carbondale Times. and there was a very nice profile of him in The Southern Illinoisan about a year ago. [link]

Visitation for Jim will be tomorrow at Huffman-Harker Funeral Home at 210 W. Oak St. between 5-8 p.m. The funeral service will be held at the same location on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

His wife Ruby gives more details on the Waterman and Hill-Travelers web site.

And there will also be a memorial service for another Carbondale fixture who recently passed away: Lynn Raben, who ran the Tropicana Vintage Clothing Store. Another case of fond memories for me, of hanging out with her on the porch in summertime, brainstorming for ideas about all kinds of things. Lynn was a seeker, who had 'a thing' for Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American philospher (her license plate was EMRSN).

There will be a memorial service for Lynn in the Backroom of The Branch, where Tropicana was located originally, befor it moved into the building back behind the Longbranch Coffehouse.

I only broke down crying once while writing this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Is his face(book) read?

When I last spoke with Brad Cole, a few weeks ago, he showed me the Facebook page a student supporter set up for his campaign. And now its in the news, as Eden Schulz reported Monday:
"A website that appeals to college kids is encouraging SIU students to vote for Brad Cole in the Carbondale mayor's race.

His opponent Sheila Simon says the site is misleading. The site, on, claims Simon plans to raise the age for a person to enter a bar in Carbondale from 19 to 21, if she's elected. Simon says she's never talked about changing the age policy in bars, and just wants voters to be accurately informed."

There are more than 500 members on the site, including Brad Cole.

"I don't mind someone voting against me because they think they should be able to smoke at bars and restaurants in Carbondale. That's a fair decision. But I'm just not planning on raising the bar entry age," said Simon.

Mayor Cole did not want to comment on camera, but tells News 3 he only joined the website to police it.
Brad told me the same thing in February, too, but it sounds like he didn't police it well enough (due to a very busy schedule, I imagine). Unfortunately, in order to view the page you have to be a member, but the crowd's too young for me. (If any reader has actually seen the site, a screenshot would be nice to add to this post.

"Gadfly" believes this story could hurt Cole's chances with his old-guard supporters, but I doubt it. Rather, I think they will demand to know why Sheila Simon opposes raising the legal age of bar entry to 21, as God intended. (That's a joke, gadflies).

Cole-alition hopes to 'spring forward'

In a previous post, I had some critical things to say about Mayor Brad Cole, and offered supporters of his opponent the opportunity to do the same for their own candidate. After a few days, it appears that either Sheila Simon can do no wrong, or Simonites don't read this blog, or they need more time to think about it. (They'll be given another chance at the end of this post).

I'm calling supporters of Senator Paul Simon's talented daughter "Simonites" and supporters of banker Neil Cole's accomplished son the "Cole-alition."

For Simonites, besides the family loyalty, it's all about how Sheila voted on hot-button issues that came before the Council -- such as the Smoke-Free Carbondale initiative and the American Tap property purchase, and other controversial subjects, such as the mayoral credenza. (mp3 audio)

Perhaps it is unnecessary to assess Sheila's shortcomings as a candidate, since Peter the Great has done yeoman's work on this topic in a series of well-commented posts:

For me, Sheila has two main strikes against her candidacy: 1) Brad Cole has done an excellent job, and many improvements for the City have resulted through his creativity and effort. 2) As competent as she may be, Sheila already has a full-time job, and a family, and pet projects, so she can't possibly spend as much time on the job that Brad can as "Carbondale's #1 Salesman." And she admits as much by arguing that the Mayor's job should only be part-time, so she'd create a new staff position to do what Cole has been doing (apparently). Maybe "take another look" at reinstituting the City's share of Property Tax (that Cole had abated while he was still a City Councilman) to pay for Cole's replacement. Now that would be irony for ya.

Like him or not, Brad Cole has redefined the way the job of mayor is done in Carbondale: he's worked hard, accomplished much, and deserves re-election. At around $10,000 per year, he's a bargain.

(Wait, I've got an idea! If Sheila is elected, the City Council could hire Cole to be the City's super salesman, if I am not available.)

But back to Sheila. Like most of us, she enjoys the university town way of life -- with a prestigious academic job, an important civic position, a professor husband, and two school age daughters to be proud of. She rides her bike to work, plays banjo in a band, and probably brings her lunch. She walks the talk when it comes to low-tech energy solution. Whereas Cole sponsors "Bike 2 Work Day," Sheila actually does ride a bicycling to work. Plus, she's the daughter of Paul and Jeanne Simon, two savvy politicians in their own right. And that's a huge plus in this Southern Illinois community. Former Senator Paul Simon has been elevated to saint-like status, even having a federal "cathedral" named after him three years ago.

So she's a shoo-in right?

Not according to the "Cole-alition" that supports the Mayor's re-election. Unofficial Cole-alition spokesman Peter Gregory thinks Brad Cole is the best mayor Carbondale has had for decades -- in part because he's worked so hard, as a hands-on player from the get-go, announcing he was withdrawing support for the CDBC and Carbondale Main Street. And the TIF District, etc. He ran on a promise to be the #1 salesman for Carbondale, and he has been. Traveling the globe, selling "the Capital of Southern Illinois." (his phrase), while tending to the matters of the City that matter most. To quote "Great Marmaduke's Ghost"
"It is the job of city government to foster economic development, provide for the public safety, build and maintain infrastructure and to pick up garbage. Every thing else is secondary -- and Cole tops Simon on all of these basics."
Let's face it, folkies, Councilwoman Simon wouldn't have a moonbeam's chance in daylight of taking Mayor Cole's job from him -- or getting State Democratic Party support -- if she weren't a Senator's daughter. She knows that. Everyone knows that.

Because of Brad's support for business, environment and the arts, the pro-business, pro-environment, and pro-art supporters of Brad Cole urge voters to not to turn back the clock, and return to the days of the part-time Mayor . . . but to Spring forward with a full-time Mayor whose #1 job is making Carbondale a better place to live and work.

Now, here are some questions for each group:
  • What is the best thing your candidate did? -- Peter G suggests answer.
  • What is the best thing your candidate's opponent did? -- (I'm thinking. I'm thinking. Someone tell me.)
  • What is the worst thing your candidate did? -- I've made some suggestions a few days ago.
  • What is the worst thing your candidate's opponent did? -- voted against the Mayoral credenza.

Monday, March 12, 2007

'Shout outs' and prayers for friends

Say 'hi' to Scott, everyone, a recent transplant to Southern Illinois, who has been trying unsuccessfully to reach out to folks around here. He came to my attention through comments to this blog, which spilled over to his own blog post about 'bias'. Another local blogger. Cool. He's a good writer and thinker.

And speaking of good writers and thinkers, some not-so-cool news about Jim Jung, the man behind the Waterman & Hill Travelers Companion (a Southern Illinois Almanac). Jim is not only a good friend, he also knows more about local flora and fauna than anyone in the world. But since the new year, he's gotten very sick, very fast. So if you know Jim in person (or though his Almanac or Carbondale Times column), and if you're the card-sending, or prayer-saying type, you know what to do.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Meeting the Grand Illusioner

I met Southern Illinoisan publisher Dennis DeRossett yesterday. He's looking forward to new editor Gary Metro taking over the editorial reins. He said the job for the new Carbondale beat reporter is open again, since Kristen Cates has moved on. He spoke of Karen and Steve Binder returning to fold (which I knew already) , and the fact that The Southern is getting an expensive expansion, and he has a couple of hard hats to wear at work now. He said Gary Metro will be blogging as his predecessor, the suddenly vanished Bennett Surfless, had done. He said there'll be a "meet the new editor" shindig when Gary arrives, and I'm invited. I suggested he invite all the local bloggers as he was going out the door. I think I heard him say he would.

Ladies and gentlemen, it could be the dawn of a new age for local media. First, Great Marmaduke's Ghost appears on the blog portal -- and she never heard of a blog before; then Peter the Great writes about me in a recent Gregorian Rant (topic for a future post); and later the same day I meet the Southern's top guy and we snap a photo. I'm in blog heaven.

He came into my favorite local art gallery to speak with the owner about something for a wall in one of the rooms in his house. Because I was there, we talked.

Dennis thinks the new editor with the colorful name can get the job done. But can he get it done before the April 17 general election? Look more deeply into the campaigns and candidates as local bloggers Peter , Bob and I have done?

I didn't ask Dennis for a job.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Biased my *sterisk

Last week there were some comments like hey, dave, you're on the mayor's payroll, now be honest, you are biased, which is unfair. I've been upfront about maintaining the Mayor's site - at least as far back as May 2006, but I added a statement of that fact to my profile for this blog, so that should cover it -- along with the following explanation: I've been uploading Carbondale Communique mayoral messages, and photos to Cole's website since 2003. So what am I supposed to do? Quit? Not comment on the race? Or simply continue blogging, and anyone who doesn't like it -- the mayor or anyone else -- can kiss my *sterisk, or post a comment. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Like the "Marry the Mayor" site . . . . Some think that it was sort of plan. No way! That gem was conceived by me and developed with three other Town Square Marketing Association businesses. Cole was told about it after the idea was developed. We asked if he would play along, and to his credit (imo) he agreed. (I like that Brad's decisive, and get things done. Sheila would have put the decision up to a committee and it never would have happened.) You may not like tongue-in-cheek contests with a post-modern view on love and business, but CNN and other news media did (and still may depending on what happens after Brad's first date). As things stand, the mayor is scheduled for a date with a young lady from Nashville, Tennessee, whose video essay deserves YouTube posting [link], as mentioned in the Feb. 14 press release. And in a new twist, the Marry the Mayor Committee is discussing with the other eligible bachelor City Council member Lance Jack, off the record, if he wants to double-date with Brad in April or May with one of the other women, before the new council members are sworn in. Brad has promised to have his date, win or lose the election.

Now Sheila, who is married, with a professor husband and two teen-ettes at home, and a full time job also promises to get things done, and she's practically neighbor, and I really should sit down and speak to her (again) as a courtesy to her. (You know, we're all busy, Bloggy.) But until I do, I promise to present a fair and balanced, if somewhat askew view of both candidates.

To prove it, here's some things I think Cole got wrong. I agree with SS that BC (and the rest of City Council at the time) should not have supported the American Tap property purchase from Henry Fisher. The reason I did not support the American Tap purchase at the time -- was not because he was a felonious sex offender and a property scofflaw, but that the price was too high -- but Cole and the majority of City Council were trying to improve the face of downtown Carbondale, per input to Mayor Cole from representatives of Carbondale Main Street that the eyesore building was "the strip's" biggest problem. So Cole swung into action, and the Council followed -- for reasons
explained in this weeks Carbondale Times.

(The discussion of this purchase at the time prompted my first appearance before City Council, to inquire "what was the assessed value of the property" -- and no one knew! -- it's still fun to see City Manager Doherty shuffle through his papers in search of that information. However, as someone I trust pointed out to me afterwards that I should have asked the appraised value. See the thing is, First Southern Bank paid only $450,000 for the property the bank is on and all the land surrounding, including where the Auto Parts place is. And that little patch of land on Illinois Ave. cost the city $150,000. I once worked out the difference in price per square foot, but I'm too busy now to look for it or do it over.... be patient and I will, unless you beat me to it in a comment.)

Another thing the Simonites oppose in retrospect is Cole's Cleanup program, which Peter the Great has puzzled over. I have to disagree with Peter and Cole on this one. I think $250,000 might have been better spent on technical training, rather than picking up trash, but I am biased toward the digital and technical, and people say the program did some good. But $250,000 worth of good? Cole says 'yes'. In fact, he reaffirmed his pride in the program in interview with Tom "Cap" Miller this morning on WJPF, and I was able to record the part where Cole explains the difference between him and Sheila (7 mg mp3).

And while I'm on Cole's case, I think he and the rest of City Council (including Sheila Simon) dropped the ball on the Varsity Theater. I don't know what anyone could do. It was going to cost of lot money to renovate since Kerasotes Theaters, bless their greedy little hearts, prevented the building from being used to show movies. I wonder what the City of Carbondale business development team has done about that building since!
In 2003, a group of citizens headed by Bob Streit ("the Laurence Olivier of Southern Illinois") tried to make something happen, but too much money was required. Yet, the longer it sits, the worse it will get.

Speaking of actors, the Jackson County Stage Company will be holding a Silent Auction and Dinner Theater THIS WEEKEND, featuring a play Harlequinade -- and get this! The silent auction will include many items including a sand painting of the now-demolished old bank building that housed the Stage Company for 25 years, created from (pulverized) brick from the actual building. Replicas will probably be sold online. [link]

Next I'm going to write about the way the race is shaking out, from what my friends and contacts say: many are undecided. They hadn't seen the ad that ran in the Carbondale Times, listing the things Brad Cole has accomplished in four years.

Now I'd like to hear The Simonites (supporters of former Sen. Simon's daughter) say something bad about their standard-bearer. (Perhaps fault her for being stingey about the Mayor's credenza?)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Holy Saluki Roll!

Following yesterday's thrilling Saluki victory over the Bradley Braves, I joined a small group of friends for dinner at the new Japanese restaurant on Main Street: Sachi (where Bistro 51 used to be) -- and it was even more delicious than Matt Shaw's last-seconds put-back to advance SIUC to today's MVC championship game in St. Louis.

I had flounder, rice and mixed vegetables for 7.95, but 12.95 got a young alumnus a "Saluki Roll": Fried lobster, w/avacado and cucumber. Not sure what's "Saluki" about the ingredients, but it tasted great. I liked the food so much, I scanned the menu and posted it for future reference.

Perhaps I'll order something after the Salukis roll over the Creighton Bluejays this afternoon. Sachi will be open at 5 p.m. today (Sunday). The Saluki game will be televised on CBS beginning at 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cole's Rope-a-dope

Following his second-place showing in the recent primary election, is Mayor Brad Cole in a stronger position than his (855 votes) 38% of the vote might suggest?

Did he use political rope-a-dope to absorb the 1,214 blows from the motivated opposition (the "Cole-hating Simon-lovers") out in force at the polls on Tuesday? More than 1000 registered voters did not vote in the primary, so the Mayor should have a legitimate shot at their votes -- if the voters consider the records of the two candidates. (Next week, I add a link for Cole and one for Simon, if someone can direct me to the list of her accomplishments while in City Council.)

In the meantime, I'm still waiting for a Simon supporter to answer Peter Gregory's questions about her plan "beyond a Dilbert award" for small business. Surprisingly, no one has pointed out the obvious: SHOP AT THOSE PLACES! I wonder if if either candidate would show their checkbook or credit card receipts for purchases made at local businesses over the past year. Since Sheila shops at yard sales (57 second .mp3), and rides a bicycle, she may not have many receipts. But Cole is single (but for how long?) and dines modestly, whereas Simon belongs to a two-income household, with two children to feed and clothe. But as thrifty as she claims to be, she may not be supporting local business much. It would be interesting to see which candidate gives more support to local business with their pocketbooks.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

St. David's Day

St. David, the patron saint of Wales, died in 589, a century after St. Patrick. Traditionally, Welsh folk wear leeks or daffodils on their hats or lapels on St. David's Day (March 1), but in the 1990's people started drinking red or amber colored beer in hoppy homage to "St. Dave" two weeks before the big green-fest for that other Celtic saint -- the one with Budweiser and Miller endorsement deals.

I plan to drink a pint of amber ale tonight at Pinch Penny Pub with another blogger, in honor of St. David -- trying to bring more color to the monochromatic beer drinking holiday scene.

How's this for a slogan:

Why wait until March 17 to drink green beer for a Celtic saint, when you can drink amber ale on March 1!

Or this:

I didn't know whether to wear a leek -- or take a leak -- on St. Dave's Day.

Leek soup is actually pretty good, and I may try to order a bowl of it at Harbaugh's today for lunch. Surely some restaurant will be serving leek soup for take-out.

Honk if you're Welsh!