Friday, August 20, 2004

Election Referendum Revisited

When the Referendum to “Eliminate the City Election Commission” was defeated in March, 2004, the winners, Peorians for City Elections, (“Vote NO” supporters) thought that would be the end of this ridiculous tax, prestige & job saving idea. Not quite! I recently received from the State of Illinois a Schedule B expenditure disclosure document headed, Peorians for City Elections, showing that a company called Roger Monroe Marketing located at 2708 W. Overbrook Dr., Peoria, Ill., was the beneficiary of an expenditure of $3472.00. The payer was Peorians for City Elections. (“VOTE NO” supporters) The date of payment is 3/9 -3/11, 2004. The purpose of the payment is listed as “media ads”. So what, you say? Well, a Roger Monroe, who lives at this same address, is a paid writer for a small local paper called the Community Word. In the February issue of this paper, before the March election, Mr. Monroe wrote a lengthy scathing article about the Referendum to Eliminate the City Election Commission, stating that the referendums “objective is not to save taxpayer money but to add more power to the County Clerk’s office held by a Democrat.” (Mr. Monroe served as a Republican on the Peoria County Board for 22 years). He ended his error-filled attack on everyone who could possibly support this “politically inspired taxpayer saving idea”, by advising his readers to “Vote NO on this referendum.” In the April edition of the Community Word, Mr. Monroe continued to berate all who were in favor of this tax saving referendum, stating “This referendum was really an election scam motivated by a desire for power, influence & recognition”. So Mr. Monroe used his paid position to try to influence the voter to support the “Vote NO” people who where paying him!!

The referendum was initiated by a petition circulated by the League of Women Voters which is non-partisan. The League supporters gathered enough signatures to put the question of eliminating the City Election Commission on the ballot. (All 6 Republican members of the Peoria County Board voted to support the position of the League even though the present Peoria County Clerk is a Democrat).

Now for the rest of the story!!
Schedule B of the Disclosure report filed with the State of Illinois shows the following contributions that were made to Peorians for City Elections, (the “Vote NO” people).
Craig Mitzelfelt donated $500.00. He is the husband of the Executive Director of the City Election Commission.
Rebecca A. Kelley donated 300.00. She is Assistant to the Executive Director.
John Kelley donated $200.00. He is husband to Rebecca Kelley.
Robert G. Day donated 250.00. He is the attorney representing the City of Election Commission.
Donna J. Day donated $450.00. She is directly related to Robert G. Day, the above attorney.
Carol L. Lawless donated $500.00. She is directly related to Martin Lawless, a paid commissioner to the City Election Commission.
Nancy Wittry donated $350.00. She is directly related to Gene Wittry, a paid commissioner to the City Election Commission.
All of these people were connected in a SIGNIFICANT way to someone who would have either lost their jobs or some income they were collecting from the taxpayers, jobs that when eliminated or combined, would have made government smaller, reduced duplication & saved taxpayer money. Also contributing $200.00 each were a James G. Green, Jr. & a James Hitz whose address is listed as 628 Shoshone Dr. “Peorians for City Elections” expenses totaled $7243.00 and donations totaled the same to run a campaign to keep an expensive local bureaucracy.

I’ve saved the best for last! A company, Election Systems & Software, 11208 John Galt Ave., Omaha, NE., donated $2500.00. This company sells the City Election Commission all their paper supplies, ballots, etc., & sells their service to keep the cities outdated voting machines running. A question keeps being asked. Is there a family relationship between any of Election Systems & Software employees and anyone directly connected with the Peoria City Election Commission, and if so, what is it? And why would they donate such a large amount?
I see conflicts all over the place and skewed information was given by these people and their supporters to the confused voter. The “Vote YES” people lost the referendum by only approximately 1900 votes.

If the local media will now bring this information to all voters, I believe another attempt will be made to combine Peoria county voting into one authority where state law says this authority is the County of Peoria. Only politics has kept these offices separated in Peoria. Sangamon County was the latest to combine & they report saving $1.5 million since consolidation. (Journal Star, March 9, 2004). Ninety three Counties in Illinois currently have one voting authority and that is in the hands of their county elected officials & under the law of the State of Illinois.

When I sold my business in 1992, (Widmer Office Products) had a 3A1 Dun & Bradstreet ranking, which I was told was the highest ranking a $10,000,000.00 company could receive at that time. I brought my successful business experience to the Peoria County Board, where I now serve. I serve not for any personal financial gain but for the purpose of keeping this community one of the best affordable places to live. My business background qualifies me to recommend to this community to consolidate all bureaucracies that will save taxpayers significant amounts of money & improve governmental services mandated by law.

Check all this information out. Talk to you later!


Jeff Trigg said...

Merle, this is a great analysis of the information. I'd bet ES&S have profitted a lot more than $2,500 from the City Election Commission, and will in the future. The city is going to have to replace or upgrade their equipment and procedures before 2006 because of the Help America Vote Act (I served on the State Planning Committee). The "Vote No" funding is so full of conflicts of interest its almost unbelievable. I'd think this information could be crucial in trying again. I'll be more than happy to help with another referendum.

RJ said...

Wow! I second Jeff's comments.

Instead of waiting for the media to find this, why not just take it to them?

Merle Widmer said...

Thanks Jeff and Trigg,
I believe the JS was aware of the $2500.00 donation made by the voting machine company selling the ballots and maintenance. They evidently did not beleive it was noteworthy or felt it was "just politics" Ben at the Observor, felt it might be worth looking into but that it was "old news".