Wednesday, February 16, 2005

City Elections

With election time only days away I will make these following comments to the voter:

Beware of mayoral candidates that say “I have a vision”. It’s likely they do and it’s likely to cost the taxpayer a lot of money. I will give you a good example; in the recent park board race for president, the incumbent was supported by those who felt he really did have a “vision”. Problem was that his vision is costing the taxpayer a lot of money now and more in the future. Let’s examine his visions:

The RiverPlex - losing over $6000.00 a day with no relief in site.
The new zoo – with the current zoo losing $400,000.00 a year, count on an expansion of 30 million to lose over $1,000,000.00 a year.
The new softball complex – promised as part of the “vision” but going nowhere and by the time it is built, if ever, neighboring communities will have captured most of the tournament revenue, so expect this complex to be a large money loser.
The “vision” of a new skateboard park – built as a Mickey Mouse facility and hidden at the back of Becker Park. See if you can find it and post on this site your opinion of the facility itself and its location. (Visit a real skateboard recreational site in the center of Mineral Springs Park in Pekin and compare).
A new Park Board Administration headquarters will need to be found as soon as the Children Playhouse is placed in the current administration office.

All these “visions” by the reelected PPD incumbent, have already caused the following to happen: $13,000,000.00 in new borrowed money over the past four that will need to be paid off by future genera rations
Park services cut and the cost of programs increased.
No park service is free to the local taxpayer these days. We pay for it in increasing property taxes and increasing fees.

Property taxes will be raised by the Park District to pay for all these “visions” and expect it to happen before the end of 2005. According to Park Board members, it is inevitable.

So beware of keeping an incumbent in office just because they say they “have a vision”. The challengers have visions too, only their visions appear to be more realistic and affordable to this community.

Also beware of incumbents who say “I don’t need input from the voter because they elected me and they expect me to make all decisions for them”. (Think Water Company buyout referendum and efforts made by the incumbents to keep this referendum off the ballot).

If you recall, I preferred neither candidate in the recent campaigns for the presidency of the United States. I voted for George W. and believe I made the right choice. I feel somewhat the same way about who would do the best job as Mayor of Peoria. I would have preferred a stronger more proven realistic leader to have stepped forward. But these rare people see what the local media does to them and do not wish to tarnish their established reputations by being attacked with little means to attack back. Also, the incumbent will probably spend in excess of $100,000.00 on his campaign. No one wants to compete on this scale.

In summation, the mayoral incumbent wants to be reelected to pursue his “vision”. The big money is following the incumbent because they believe in his “vision” and are financially well off to not suffer if some of the “visions” don’t pan out. In fact, many will benefit financially, but many will find the cost of living inflated to pay for these “visions”.

Those that stand to benefit from any type of speculative spending of the taxpayer’s dollars will follow “the money and the visions”. As I was told by one developer and one union leader, “we don’t care what you build or where you build it; just build it, because it means money and jobs for us”.

I don’t have a “fire in the belly” for any candidate but his is how I see it: The incumbent wishes to be reelected to continue the “community vision”. A lot of the “visions” have not panned out and they are numerous.(Think RiverPlex, Ballpark, Gateway Center, One Technology Plaza (now renamed, I believe), Cubs Food, Damons, and RiverStation to name a few. The County has vacated the space they were conned into buying at One Tech Plaza and is trying to sell or lease this vacated space.

Eric Turner proudly touts his efforts to successfully bring the RiverPlex and the Chiefs ball club to the riverfront. (Both are big money losers)

Bruce Brown is a nice guy and a good restaurateur. I believe he lost me when he said the voter should support a buyout of the water company. I believe the referendum will try to tell the city to stick to their core businesses and let the “for profit” entrepreneurs run the utilities. But remember, the referendum is NOT binding. (Don’t be fooled by foreign owned as being a problem because at the first sign of war with France, the government would nationalize the utility). Also, is Caterpillar to only manufacture and sell domestically?

Jim Ardis has a lot of merit and is a nice guy. Many people are worried about his close ties to the unions which is apparent, but then they need to examine the close ties of the incumbent to big money and power which is more than apparent.

All things considered, my wife and I will vote for Ardis who has shown no indication of trying to stop planned and productive growth in Peoria. Remember Tim Cassidy saying “elect me and save our parks”? Well, he is saving them all right by borrowing more money, cutting services, raising fees and raising property taxes!! The mayoral incumbent is saying the same thing, “elect me or the City is doomed”. Remember, you can have it all, but someone will pay for it!! I believe Jim will build the infrastructure to attract people to come and stay in Peoria without taxing us out of the City.

As to the City Council election, those of you who complained loudly about the way the Council reflected on the community, now is your chance to make some changes. I believe there are a number of new candidates running that could do a better job for the community than most of the incumbents and I pick Bob Manning as my favorite. The balance of the challengers are largely unknown to me but I hear good things about Van Auken and Lewis.

Because of the slow recovery (to me) from my surgery, I have not had the energy to do much participating in the upcoming elections. I salute all for running and we will know in the future whether or not we made good choices. Good luck to all.

As a postscript I should add that all three incumbents for the Park District Board are running unopposed, only mentioned once by any newspaper and that was after the nominating petitions were closed. After all they “only” have a $44,800,000.00 budget and a superintendent who makes 40% more than the Peoria County Administrator who manages a $97,000,000.00 budget!! Who cares??

Anyway, get out and support your choice and lets have at least as good a voter turnout as they had in Iraq!!

5 comments:

Stormin' Norman said...

No opinion on the elections (high taxes prevent me from living in Peoria). Nice to see you back though...

Karrie E. Alms said...

Merle --- We need a change --- we know what we have and in Districts 1, 2, and 3, many citizens feel that their situation is akin to the early American colonists --- taxation without representation. We have had several years of that in District 1 where I reside. If your District Councilman does not agree with you, then he should let his constituents know that. When your Councilman tells you that he is solid and with the neighborhood and will vote with them and states this privately and publically on many occassions -- council floor, Around the Horseshoe, PJ Star, etc. --- than have the testosterone to stand your position. The example of the YWCA comes to mind. Councilman voted against my neighborhood and then told us that he knew best. Shameful!!!!!! There are five choices this time in the District 1 Primary --- my vote goes to Frank Lewis --- he has become a leader who will listen to his constituents, he will vote for what they tell him would help to add value to their neighborhoods. Please remember to vote Feb. 22 ---every vote counts and that means you! See you at the polls

Anonymous said...

bizarro land in here

Anonymous said...

MERLE:GOOD TO SEE YOU BACK IN THE FOLD-TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND DO WHAT THE DOCTORS TELL YOU TO. YOU HAVE MORE FRIENDS WHO CARE ABOUT YOU THAN YOU KNOW. i BELIEVE YOU ARE RIGHT ON THE STICK WITH YOUR PREFERENCES FOR JIM ARDIS AND BOB MANNING-THEY BOTH HVE VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE BUT FORTITUDE TOSTAND UP FOR WHAT THEY THINK IS RIGHT AND REPRESENTAATIVE OF THEIR CONSTITUENTS.

Anonymous said...

When Bob Manning pointed out at the Von Steuben school forum that Gayle Thetford had not attended a Neighborhood Association Committee in two years, he got my vote. What a breath of fresh air from an intelligent, feet on the ground young man!!