Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ray LaHood - JS Quotes in Editorial on 11/13/15

"Remains Fond of Obama". Interesting. I guess because Ray pushed for $800 million for a new highway to Chicago and then settled on $400 million for making Rt.29 a four laner', neither one that could be justified by real cost conscious  leaders like Dale Risinger. Ray also tried to push light rail from Tampa to Orlando where the national government would fund all the preliminary expenses, around $2.4 billion, and stick the State of Florida with the building and all other costs. Florida's Governor knew that Florida didn't have the money and rejected the broke federal government largess. Ray's income, including his pension, increased dramatically under Obama. Maybe that makes him "fond of Obama'". Was Ray good for Peoria? Hard to tell. Take a good look at Peoria and you be the judge whether the City, County, etc indicate a bright future in the upcoming years.

None of Ray's big spending deals went through, thank goodness. Wonder why arrogant, not politically correct presidential candidates, like Trump and Sanders have such a large following?
The majority of the leaders now sitting in seats of power have failed us. Both Republicans and Democrats. Another reason I and many of my friends and acquaintances are Independents. Trump would do no worse looking at all aspects of the position. Sanders? Well.......

Maybe being in a warm climate has further addled this old brain. Hmmm

Friday, November 13, 2015

Go "Links"

Problem corrected. Facebook was slow to respond to problem. Computer Medics and TeamViewer did a super job.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Links" Please, Friends, Stop Sending Me Links for a Couple Days

The links you are sending me are coming thru on my Cell Phone. I don't want them on my CP. When Computer Media and TeamViewer eliminated my WOT virus, something went wrong with them or Facebook. Computer Media has done all they can. If your links are still coming through tomorrow on my CP, I will go crazy.

As Queen Bonnie Exits With Accolades.....

there are some facts that should be know. When I was head of the SouthSide Recreation Committee, she did not want to put up tennis courts at John Gwynn Park unless they could also be used as basketball courts. Joe Stowell, then Bradley Basketball coach told her that was illogical. So two separate tennis courts were built and I used those courts for my At Risk tennis programs that were highly successful. A hitting wall was installed on the wrong fence where every ball hit over the wall, landed in private property. I told her the wall needed to be moved so the balls landed on park property. To no avail. I eventually had to turn my program over to the park and it went downhill the first year and then kaput.

I waged a constant battle for tennis courts and maintenance. When the hard courts at Glen Oak and Bradley became badly cracked, contractors tried to scrape the top of the courts off and replacing the cracked tops with new tops. I told her that unless they went to the bottom where the cracks started, the top surface would crack again and very soon. They did and a total of 10 courts had to be redone. In redoing, one net post was set higher than it's mate so that the tennis net tilted downhill. As far as i know this situation prevails today.

Next step was that she wanted to close all but 2 of the seven clay courts, claiming the space for parking for the African Exhibit. A group of us banded together and saved the 7 clay courts. She tried to convince the board that Clay courts were more costly to maintain. Her staff took a study that proved the opposite. However, neglect of the clay courts of not enough water or too much water or not enough maintenance remains a problem yet today.This year, the clay courts were blessed with a lot of rain or their would usually be a cloud of dust. That we have 44 free public courts is an asset to tennis players as I have pointed out in previous blogs

When I unsuccessfully ran against Tim Cassidy for Park Board President, Bonnie warned all employees that if they wanted to hold their jobs they would not vote for me nor show any of my signs. In fact, a leading caterer to the park put up two of my signs on Pioneer Parkway. In two days they were down. I asked the owner why and he said he was told by........that if he wanted to do more business with the park he must take down my signs. I asked the owner where the signs were and he showed me but the signs had disappeared.

Bonnie brags of Golden Balls the parks won including the RiverPlex. Not mentioning that the RiverPlex came no where near to meeting their projections and it took them at least 16 years instead of 10 years as projected to pay off the bonds. Which may not even now be paid off.

In order to meet rising maintenance costs of the new 33,000 sq, ft. headquarters, the maintenance of the Knoxville facility, originally planned as the new park headquarter, the maintenance ot the Pavilion, rising pension costs lower than expected attendance at the expanded zoo, erosion control, less grant money, etc. expect that as most public bodies in Peoria, that fees and taxes must raised. In fact fees have been increasing slowly for a long time.

Why are tennis courts free? The park tried to charge but the employee cost offset the revenue. One of the reasons tennis is basically dead at Manual and Peoria High is that the park under Bonnie's direction, had and has little interest in tennis. The Tri-County TennisTournament that for years got free use of the courts now must pay for their use. 6 years ago it was $1800. I do not know what the PTA pays now.

Bonnie and others try to make Peoria into an Indianapolis or a Cincinnati. She would have been a roaring success in a city two to three times larger than Peoria, a city with low growth and a high poverty level..

If Bonnie was being paid $130,000 a year or more, I wonder what the new director will be paid??

Peoria Heights Plumbiing Ability??

First, they are not in Peoria Heights and appear to be working out of a home. They said they were familiar with Kohler stools. They replaced two stool  interiors for an unitemized cost of $1242.00. One stool works fine after they came back and adjusted it. The 2nd stool usually flushes properly when you hold the flush handle down. Even then you need to wait to make sure the plunger settles. Otherwise, the water will continue to flush down to the sewer. Four times they have come back to get the 2nd stool to operate properly; a stool which is exactly like the other stool. Same age, same parts. They no ;longer return my phone calls.


Jerry Becker Research

Jerry Becker 7:51 PM (13 hours ago) to JERRY-P-BECKER. *************************************** From American Educational Research Association, November 11, 2015. See http://www.aera.net/Publications/Journals/EducationalResearcher/EducationalResearcher441/EducationalResearcher442/tabid/15857/Default.aspx for detailed statement ' See, also, http://dianeravitch.net/2015/11/11/aera-issues-warning-against-use-of-vam/ ************************************** WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11-In a statement released today, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) advises those using or considering use of value-added models (VAM) about the scientific and technical limitations of these measures for evaluating educators and programs that prepare teachers. The statement, approved by AERA Council, cautions against the use of VAM for high-stakes decisions regarding educators. In recent years, many states and districts have attempted to use VAM to determine the contributions of educators, or the programs in which they were trained, to student learning outcomes, as captured by standardized student tests. The AERA statement speaks to the formidable statistical and methodological issues involved in isolating either the effects of educators or teacher preparation programs from a complex set of factors that shape student performance. "This statement draws on the leading testing, statistical, and methodological expertise in the field of education research and related sciences, and on the highest standards that guide education research and its applications in policy and practice," said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. The statement addresses the challenges facing the validity of inferences from VAM, as well as specifies eight technical requirements that must be met for the use of VAM to be accurate, reliable, and valid. It cautions that these requirements cannot be met in most evaluative contexts. The statement notes that, while VAM may be superior to some other models of measuring teacher impacts on student learning outcomes, "it does not mean that they are ready for use in educator or program evaluation. There are potentially serious negative consequences in the context of evaluation that can result from the use of VAM based on incomplete or flawed data, as well as from the misinterpretation or misuse of the VAM results." The statement also notes that there are promising alternatives to VAM currently in use in the United States that merit attention, including the use of teacher observation data and peer assistance and review models that provide formative and summative assessments of teaching and honor teachers' due process rights. The statement concludes: "The value of high-quality, research-based evidence cannot be over-emphasized. Ultimately, only rigorously supported inferences about the quality and effectiveness of teachers, educational leaders, and preparation programs can contribute to improved student learning." Thus, the statement also calls for substantial investment in research on VAM and on alternative methods and models of educator and educator preparation program evaluation. ------------------------------------ Related Resources: Special Issue of Educational Researcher (March 2015)- Value Added Meets the Schools: The Effects of Using Test-Based Teacher Evaluation on the Work of Teachers and Leaders - SEE http://www.aera.net/Publications/Journals/EducationalResearcher/EducationalResearcher441/EducationalResearcher442/tabid/15857/Default.aspx

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Heddington Oaks, Oh, Heddintgon Oaks, You Should Never Have Been Built

A $3 million dollar a year deficit collar around the Peoria County Boards neck. This yearly $3 million loss despite approximately another $3 million in tax revenue. I fought hard to stop this massive boondoggle but failed badly. At one point, I was the only Board member opposed to this $51 million or so, "safety net" mainly built for Medicaid and Alzheimer clients. Plus a few full pay private occupants. I am not sure what the census is but it was built to house 214 clients, including some from other counties. Board Chairman Andrew Rand denies that the County Nursing Home is up for sale. Possibly not right now but expect more concern by elected County officials as was expressed recently by Republican Peoria County Treasurer, Trip O'Conner and some board members. The County will eventually sell the facility to the private sector, a sale that SHOULD have been made when it was still named Bel-Wood. Who were the major cheerleaders entranced by the persistent efforts of our highly paid consultants? Former County Board Superintendent, Patrick Urich and now Peoria City Manager, and Board Member Phil Salzer. Sorry again for no paragraphs. I suggest those interested refer to my old blogs on the subject. Just enter Bel-Wood in the search bar on the upper left hand side of any of my blogs. You may also want to refer to an article, "Panel wants Bel-Wood Replaced", written by Karen McDonald then as a reporter for the JS and more recently known as an Aaron Schock staff member, dated 6/27/09. Ms. McDonald reported that Merle Widmer was the only Board member opposed to this ALWAYS apparent boondoggle. She also wrote that the expected cost of the new Nursing Home would cost roughly $26-29 million. Oh boy, how did it fly to a $51 million? Low paid, often unqualified public board members who never met a payroll or ran a size-able business, are a major reason why Peoria is running growing deficits on all of it's publicly funded entities. The same is true in most of the states in the Union.Never in my era has the old adage of never spend more than you can prove you will take in unless it is a project for all public use on which you do not exspect to break even, And can AFFORD it. Again, I apologize for no paragraphs.

A Noble Exit

Peoria Park Board Superintendent Bonnie Noble has announced that she will be vacating her position sometime in 2016.To add to my enemies list I will point out that her leaving may be influenced by these following facts: The park will be losing somewhere around a quarter million dollars this year, depending on which set of books are made public. At a recent board meeting, those in attendance heard that the expected golf deficit next year will show an approximate $800,000.00 deficit. This, despite the closing of the popular Donovan course and converting it into some type of wildlife sanctuary. While the park brags of owning 9500 acres of land, there appears to be no money for erosion control. An example is my efforts to get the park to build a berm to stop the erosion around the south side of the hard surface tennis courts at Glen Oak. A feeble effort was made to do so, but the erosion is worse than before. A second example is the growing delta in the Illinois River as topsoil from park owned land as being the major source of erosion. Mrs. Noble point out that one or her major accomplishments is the RiverPlex originally named the WreckPlex by many. The 10 year loan to pay off the loan to build the RiverPlex adjacent to the troublesome Taft Homes and in the Illinois River flood zone and in competition to the private sector, was extended to 16 years as reported by the JS and to my knowledge, the note may still have a balance due. The park budget is somewhere between $41-45 million, the largest of the next five downstate park budgets combined.Mrs. Noble points out the many awards the park has won over the years, including the RiverPlex, but never once mentions that the facility has been a money losing pit having a major impact on other park resources. Under Mrs. Noble's direction, $27 million was spent to build a new African Zoo with a large sign off Prospect so designating the site. This well publicized sign was never built and the promised alteration to the entry off Prospect never happened. When funds were lacking for new offices, souvenir center and ticket sales, the Glen Barton family stepped in to pay for this structure. Plans for another $100 million plus expansion in the area never happened. Park headquarters, formerly housed in the old Pavilion, is home to the Peoria Playhouse group but the park still owns the Pavilion and is responsible for it's maintenance. While Park headquarters are now in the 33,000 sq. ft. former Lakeview Museum, the park still owns and maintains the old District Highway Headquarters on Knoxville purchased from the State of Illinois for one dollar. This site was publicized as being the next park headquarter but the space and design of the building caused Mrs. Noble to bypass it in favor of the abandoned Lakeview Museum building. With the new trail and the bridge over Knonxille, the halt in the flow of grant money from a near bankrupt State of Illinois, plus the decline of grant money from the national government, Caterpillar's slide in sales and postponement of the new downtown headquarters, it will be interesting to see what fee increases and taxes are required to support all of Mrs. Noble's mostly completed projects. I also point out that to my knowledge, prior Superintendents were unpaid volunteers. Approximately 5 years ago, the JS reported that Superintendent Noble's salary was around $125,000 a year plus perks and a pension. I applaud Mrs. Nobles accomplishments; she was often called Queen Bonnie even by the JS as she dominated the Board and Board president. But for many of us, we believe it is time for her to retire. A competent new Superintendent can accomplish a lot with $40 plus million available Again, I apologize for no paragraphs but my software evidently won't permit them.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Republicans Moving in Right Direction on National Level

Ryan may be just the right person to pull the party back together. The debate last night was so far superior to the Democrat debate held recently. On the local level, the retirement of Leitch is a step in breaking the hold the establishment has on the on the Independents and once Republicans who want to vote for Republicans who think similar to new Speaker Ryan. Depending on who the party puts up to replace Leitch. (See my blogs on David Leitch) Should the Republicans win the presidency and have substantial majorities in the House and Senate, to overcome the chaos created by Obama and some by Bush, Jr., the scenario laying ahead will still looks like a "mission impossible". As to the debate, the largely Democrat panel was shown up by some of the Republican candidates what I and millions of other have been saying. If you watched the debate, I need to say nothing further.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Creve Couer Hill Heading South

More proof that Illinois has the worst highway departments in the whole U.S.A. If they are trying to cut down accidents the design is a total failure. Wait and see.

Chicago Cubs - Give Them the Credit They Have Due

Sure die hard Cub fans were disappointed. Life is full of disappointments. But wait till next year, die hard fans.

Carson a Seventh Day Adventist - And Maybe Next President?

O my god is all I can say. One more year of the most destructive president in history and then maybe Carson??? May a righteous god save this country? Probably not. I quote myself as a believer in religious freedom. However, those who support him better read the Adventist Bible. Too late did we we understand Al Queda, Taliban and ISIS religious beliefs. There are nothing worse than religious nuts. Trump comparatively would be like a "breath of fresh air". Good grief.