Monday, September 13, 2004

Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

Some conceptions and misconceptions about the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce:

It is not a free standing operation. It operates under the umbrella of The Heartland Partnership.

It by no means represents the opinions of many businesses who are members.

It often represents “special interests groups.” These groups make certain that they have the right people on the Board of Directors.

Even though they are under The Heartland Partnership, the Chamber has their own Progressive Political Action Committee. This group not only recommends candidates but often times support them with money. For example during my campaign for Peoria Park District President, this group gave $2,000.00 to my opponent. After all, all I had done for area was to establish a business in Peoria, pay large amounts of sales taxes and meet a payroll up to ninety employees while occupying 73,000 sq. ft of space in Peoria alone. My opponent was partner in a small law firm and President of a tax collecting body, who collected over $11,000,000.00 of your tax dollars last year.

Three months after my opponent was reelected to office, Roberta Parks, Vice President of the Chamber stated that the Chamber had run out of money to continue supporting an advertising campaign called “It’s All Right Here”, which was to promote growth in this area. (JS 7/8/03)

Interesting!! Guess they didn’t like my position on spending $800 Million dollars on the Highway to Chicago. More details on the money apparently wasted on studying this dubious but highly Chamber touted project later. (Close to $10,000,000.00 just for studying.) Remember the favorite whine of the JS and the Chamber as they attempted to discredit me was, “and he didn’t support the highway to Chicago.”

While I was brought dollars into the community (I sold my business in 1992), my Chamber supported opponent was seeking an assessed property valuation reduction for a prominent west side client of his, a reduction of $2,790,714.00 and he was asking that a decision be made without holding a hearing. Then he later filed without allowing the Board of Review to testify and cross examine himself at a hearing and asked the decision be made by the PTAB without holding a hearing. Election records show that my opponent received a sizeable contribution to his campaign from this client. What I am saying is all a matter of public record, the Editorial Board of the Journal star knew about it but didn’t think it was of any interest to the voter. I believe, based on the Journals past history, had it been me, they would have made it a story.

Anyway, for various good reasons, Peoria County was not a member of the Chamber when I was elected is and not likely to be during the remainder of my term on the County Board. By the way, The Peoria Chamber of Commerce committees are a matter of public record and there are many good community people serving the Chamber. Then again, remember what I said about “special interests” and those in power.

Now you know a little more about what the Chamber does and how they operate, which might explain the whys about some of my previous posts. Remember the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished”


Anonymous said...

As I've always maintained, if Peoria's access to Chicago is so bad, then why does the Peoria area have far more trucking companies based in the area than areas with direct interstate access to Chicago, such as Bloomington-Normal or Champaign-Urbana? Trucking companies by the nature of their business obviously wouldn't locate in the area if the road network is as bad as groups like the Chamber claim.

Look around the highways the next time you're in the Chicago area. The number of G&D, Air-Land, Cox Transfer, and Star Transport trucks you see on the expressways and tollways is remarkable. I've also noticed a lot of Star Transport trucks all over the Midwest.

Merle Widmer said...

To anonymous:

Thanks for the comment. You are right. My son drives for Star.

As to Friday , you'll have to clue me in.


MEQ said...

Hey Merle:

Outside of caring a great deal about Peoria, I'm thinking I don't agree with many of your points of view!

On the Chamber of Commerce, I've never known so many good people working to better the community they live in.

The Chamber PAC supports people who are pro business and who believe in the vision and mission of the Chamber. There's nothing wrong with that.

On the issue of the road to Chicago, I would have preferred a a north bridge and diagonal road to I 39. Probably some kind of four lane improvement to route 116 would be good. No reason in my mind to diagonal all the way to I55 and tear up so much farm land.

That said, I think for Peoria to have the kind of total growth we would all like to see, we need four lane highways in all directions. The new route 336 will probably be finished first, and if a new four lane route 29 is built, it will not only serve north Peoria, where all the growth is, but it will make a more direct route to Chicago from Kansas City. That will be good for Peoria, and all the cities north. At some point route 24 need to be four lane to I 39. The north bridge and the diagonal will probably be last. All eventualy need to be done.

Just my thoughts.

Good to see you this afternoon.


Merle Widmer said...

Hey Mike Q.
Better go back and reread my blog. I state "there are many good people serving the Chamber." However, if the Chamber leadership is doing such a great job why are we making little progress to get improved roadways after trying for 30 years or more?

Several years ago USDOT is quoted as saying "the trend is no longer to build highways for only mobility and efficiency. They must contribute to the feel and function of a community". Also, you must have missed my article in the JS headlined "Route 29 is a "win-win" for community". Also, my vote on the County Board to continue to support better transportation and my support of Route 336.

As to pro growth, I think my business and now my politics have been pro-growth. I'll stand on my records. I did meet a payroll for 28 years!!



Merle Widmer said...

Hey Mike Q.,

Thanks for at least a partial agreement. Go back and reread my blog. I state "there are many good people serving the Chamber". Also my county vote yes in support of Ray Lahood and Rt. 29. Also, my article in the JS "Route 29 is a win-win for the community." Also my support of Rt. 336 and widening an existing roadbed to Rt. 39.

As to pro-business, I'll stand on my 28 years of "meeting a payroll" and my record on the County Board.

Best Regard,


Merle Widmer said...

Old blogs being moved forward by someone. No problem so far. Although we have lost Star over in Morton. Did they go bankrupt, just close down or move elsewhere.