Saturday, October 23, 2004


Welcome to new readers!! I started “blogging” in August and have recorded approximately 25 articles. To know me better I recommend scrolling back to my first post titled “In the Beginning”… I do not wish to picture myself as a journalist and at times that lack of journalism shows up in my posts. I also do not consider myself as being “politically correct” and I do have opinions (so that makes me “opinionated”), a fact I do accept, formulated over various careers and wide experiences. I am a conservative based in fact that I base a lot my beliefs on the old standards of less government intrusion on the public body, smaller government where possible fiscal responsibility and a low opinion of bureaucracies that start out with a good cause and then become bloated. Yet I am somewhat a liberal, according to the definition found in my Thesaurus (with its 34 line description of a liberal) and my condensing it down to the following interpretation: Open minded, not prejudicial, unbigoted, fair, believing in freedom of all who are not a serious threat to society, generous and a believer in the rights of an individual. At some point I may have believed I was a neo-conservatist but that term has recently been used in a manner that does not properly describe me. I am a pragmatist in part but here again I have a streak of optimism. Some best describe me as an independent. I agree.

Earlier posts I made that might be of interest to you are – The Election Referendum Revisited, Water-Logged, Zoo-Illogical and Zoological II, election comments and my posts in support of the public school system while encouraging private competition.

With a decisive election coming up in a few days, I have made some comments on the candidates and their positions:
Since I serve on the Peoria County Board, I will make no recommendations about those County Board members who are up for re-election except where the Journal Star unfairly attacks a sitting board member and who in my opinion, has served the county in a fiscally responsible manner. My 3 years and 10 months experience on the county board has proven we work quite well together and seldom has party affiliation been a large issue. It reared its ugly head during redistricting but that usually is controlled by the party in power at the time. Republicans the dominating party 10 years ago and Democrats now for the next 10 years. Bad way to do redistricting but that is what the Journal wants; two teams competing against each other with winner take all. I take exception to the Journal comments about incumbent Eldon Polhemus in this week’s Journal Editorial page where they could only find fault with Eldon’s 14 years service on the board. Eldon is like many of us, disappointed in the walls being built up between die-hard Republicans and die-hard Democrats and their obsession to blame everything that goes wrong on the other person or party. When Eldon makes comments about his party affiliations, he suggests people vote for who he is and what he represents rather than what party affiliation he has. Wouldn’t that be better than the mess we have in our governmental bodies now?? Shouldn’t government bodies work as a team? Aren’t we called the United States of America? Wouldn’t this country be better off if Republicans and Democrats worked as one team for their constituents? The Journal condemns Eldon as not representing his team as if government was a game between Republicans and Democrats. When the Journal says Eldon doesn’t know what party he in, may be true but he does know what team he is on. He’s on the Peoria County team!! And that’s the way it should be. Eldon serves his constituency to the best of his ability without letting party affiliations cloud his community benefiting decisions.

The Journals comments about his lack of 100% support of the funding of the EDC is certainly not fair to Eldon. The majority of the County Board recognized the problems existing between the County and the EDC and voted as a team to reduce our funding to the EDC until the EDC gave Peoria County more recognition and support, because WE were the ones who are sitting thru long meetings with EDC representatives with seldom a Journal Star reporter in attendance. With Eldon’s help, working relations with the EDC now under the Heartland Partnership are improving and he recently voted, along with the rest of the board, to approve a $15,000.00 appropriation to EDC to help keep the Air National Guard in Peoria. The City of Peoria voted to only give $10,000.00.

Eldon also had the foresight to call attention to the possibility that the $1,000,000.00 investment made by the county in 1999 in space in One Technology Center might turn out to out as a bad investment. Eldon is quoted by Jennifer Davis (one of the fairest JS reporters) “My fear is that in a few years we’ll be landlords of a million-dollar piece of office space that we won’t know what to do with”. His statement unfortunately has come true and that space sits empty as an ongoing burden on the taxpayers. The Journal Star Editorial Board strongly recommended that Peoria County participate in this venture and would have castigated the County Board publicly if the board had not gone along with this strongly “hyped” project. Diane Cullinan as she was known at that time was the developer. Her representative Sandra Birdsall had strong support from then County Board member, Zan Ransburg. Anyone want to rent or buy a million dollars worth of empty space in the Tech building? Maybe the JS can help us out? They helped the County get in this mess.

Anyone ever remember the Journal Star ever taking blame for anything? Some feel the Journal Star is the most divisive element in the community with their attacks on people they don’t like and unending praise of those they do like. They “waffle” on almost any governmental expenditure of any size. First they questioned the building of the RiverPlex. Then they said it would be a great benefit to the community without being a financial burden on the Peoria Park District.. Then when the RiverPlex was proven to be losing staggering amounts of money they started a cover-up.

The Journals vile discourages any person with a good reputation from running for office. If the Editorial Board likes that person, fine. If they don’t they use the power of the press to try to destroy just like they are again attempting to destroy Eldon. If the person has a lot of money and tough skin they can overcome the bias of the press. But there aren’t many of those around.

Eldon was also responsible for greater recognition of the nearly 4,000 people buried in a plot of land out near the Peoria County Highway headquarters. These people and their families were considered so poor, the county assumed responsibility for their burial, one grave site on top of another to save land. My experience working with Eldon is that he is a caring person. But despite his public service of 14 years, the Journal Star could not find one good thing to honor his service. That’s how the Journal has rightfully earned the often used nickname “the Urinal Star”

Eldon, like all board members, works well with our capable administrator and heads the Facilities committee, where he recently approved a decision to put county landscaping out to bid. This move is saving the taxpayer more than $30.000.00 a year. Eldon is one of three members of the County Strategic Growth Plan Committee, whose platform was unanimously adopted by the full County Board this year. He sits on the Executive committee of the Board and the City-County Landfill Committee among other committees.

The Journal Star has shown its bias toward Eldon for a long time. Yet Eldon is part of a team that has balanced the budget again this year with as the Journal Star Editorial Board member said with “a minimal amount of controversy.” (11/03 in the JS) At this time it “appears” we will balance the 2005 budget without any cuts in personnel and no base tax rate hike other than was approved by referendum.

The personal animosity of the JS toward Eldon accelerated when Eldon endorsed me for the County Board in the race in which I unseated the nine year incumbent Zan Ransburg a strong friend of Editorial Page Manager Barbara Mantz Drake. The Journal has a growing dislike for me ever since I called attention to School Dist. #150 Sexual Training Handbook that taught such things as mutual masturbation and 16 methods of contraception to mixed classrooms in Grade 10. The Journal Editorial Board agreed that kids had to be taught those things early in a public school with no parent present and in a classroom with both boys and girls together, some as young as thirteen years old. There dislike of me grew when I pointed out the folly of building a new diagonal highway to Chicago across some of the best farmland in America. Evidently USDOT agreed with me!! (My article opposing this $800,000,000.00 pork barrel appeared in the conservative Bloomington Pantagraph on 10/7/1995) as a Guest Commentary but appeared in the ultra liberal JS only as an edited “Letter to the Editor.) The Journal never missed an opportunity to condemn me as being opposed to the “highway to Chicago”. I did not believe USDOT, after these many long years, was going to build a highway dead ending in Peoria. $10,000,000.00 of wasted survey reports are now shelved with very little chance USDOT will ever change their position. (I’ll write more about improved transportation for this area later.) They take all this out on Eldon.

It was for the reason of exposing bias in some of the local media especially the Journal Star, that this site was created. The Journal Editorial Board can hardly wait until I’m up for reelection in 2006. They will build more animosity toward me when I tell the true story (starting sometime in January 2005) of their longtime cover-up of the financial status of the RiverPlex and the Peoria Park District. (The PPD planned budget this year is $44,000,000.00 up from $33,000,000.00 last year!!). That includes a 13% boost up to $4,003,000.00 in the RiverPlex budget not including $782,000.00 for interest and principal on the RiverPlex bonds!!

Hope you enjoy visiting this site and pass the word on to your friends. I encourage you to post a comment. Just remember it will appear on the same site as my “blog.”

Thanks and I close with this thought “Today, as in the past, we need a brave “civic virtue”, not a timid civility, to keep our republic. Active citizens are often subjected to truly vile attacks. By trying to be non- judgmental and tolerant, we censor ourselves. (Clarence Thomas)


Anonymous said...

What about Don Forrest? Hasn't he proved his worth? Don't you have a nice word for him? Don has done nearly as much in the private sector for west/south Peoria County as Eldon, without the board position to use. Didn't you sound the clarion call for fresh ideas when you ran against the entrenched interests on the county board and park board? Sounds to me like you are guilty of the same kind of support your friends mentality you lodge against the JS. Perhaps with a few new "fresh idea" people, the county board might improve even more, or is your motto, "my friend is good enough for you"..... Even though independent, you run as a Republican and ask for their support, how about supporting one who is more than qualified?

Aleksu said...

I am glad to see that you are living up to your promise of publishing "shorter" posts.


Regarding the thing about being opinionated, heck, I went farther, I plain out say it on the title of my blog, when it comes to some issues I am not only opinionated, I am right out biased.

But I think that having an opinion and being willing to express it is what makes blogging so important, so, lets keep going.

Merle Widmer said...


I got carried away and I will post shorter blogs. I promises, I promise I......

To anonymous or Roger M,

I don't believe I said anything about supporting Eldon who, by the way you once supported rather strongly, merely stated that the JS pointed out there support of Don and why they supported him and spewed out pure hate for Eldon Polheumus. I'm sure Don would or will be a good board member. You missed the point again!!

Good luck to both of them. They both have the courage to run.

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Merle Widmer said...

They are back with the "85% own their own water companies". What bullshit. Of course they do. What corporation would want to buy the water systems ofCongerville. Goodfield, Elmwood, Williamsville, Carlock, Downs, Heyworth, McClean, Waynseville, Stanford, Minier, Ben Funk and on for a thousand more small towns people like Tomas Fliege try to mislead the public. Fliege never met a payroll in his careers.