I’ve been asked several times to give my view on the proposed City of Peoria buyout of the privately held water company. Click up all my archives and you will find two blogs about my views on the folly of this endeavor. In the first place entrepreneurship is the spirit of America. These entrepreneurs take some risks to maintain a business and make it grow. Government can contribute by staying out of the way. Elected officials should reduce the unnecessary intrusiveness of government in the choices people make, improve the effectiveness and reduce the costs of needed government services.
There is a strong move toward younger mayors with fewer ties to special interests who will guide the cities back to their core business. Public ownership of water companies is not listed as a core business. If you recall it was only a few years ago that current leadership thought it would be a good idea to buy Cilco. Fortunately the cost was too great and the idea died. Complaints against Cilco are mostly unheard since they have come under new ownership. (Ameren/Cilco)
Given an opportunity and correct information, citizens will almost always make the right decisions. It is my belief that most voters want THE CITY TO DO A BETTER JOB on the CORE BUSINESS of cities and not get involved in buying up private companies.
The PAAG, a group of local business people who made a million dollar loan at 9% interest to the City of Peoria to study the feasibility of the buyout of the water company by the city, will want their money back with interest if the purchase by the city does not go thru. The legal wording will probably cause dispute and therefore legal expense to the taxpayers, over whether the PAAG will lose their investment. Most of these investors are supporters of Dave Ransburg as is Jeff Giebelhausen, President of Cullinan Properties, who made an impassioned statement in the JS on 3/20/05, saying how good a deal the purchase of the water company would be for the Peoria taxpayer.
Mayor Ransburg, if reelected will be beholden to the special interest groups who support him. If the referendum fails, and Ransburg is reelected, extreme pressure will be put on the mayor by this group and the Peoria Chamber of Commerce. Sandra Birdsall, who represents the Chamber of Commerce and The PAAG, and who is quoted in the JS that “cost should be only one consideration”, along with Rita Kress who represents the PAAG, Dave Ransburg , John Morris who has said no then yes, will probably vote with the mayor to advise the council to proceed with the purchase. Gary Sandburg of the City Council will show his usual common sense and vote no.
So no matter what the referendum says and no matter what the cost, expect Ransburg, Birdsall, Kress and probably John Morris (who told the AMBUCS Peoria Chapter, that he leans heavily against the water company buyout) will probably vote for it, so the advisory committee will go with either three or four votes for to one against asking the city council to approve the purchase.
If Van Auken and Manning are elected, I believe they will both vote no as will Spears and Nichting. If elected mayor, Jim Ardis will vote no. Chuck Grayeb, an adult public school teacher, will vote yes. Grayeb was quoted in the PJS on 2/9/97 as follows “The United Sates has never been an imperialist country. We have never sought colonies or conquest for this country. Never”. So much for the condition of some parts of our public school teaching!!
Years ago I warned of a power structure that was going to run this city the way they wanted with or without taxpayer approval. Their plea is to stay the course. I suggest we look behind us to see which way the course is moving. And don’t tell me all this leadership has provided us. Almost any of us could have accomplished more considering the hundreds of millions of dollars spent over the past decade or so. As an example, I haven’t seen any national accolades on our riverfront development, except the award given the RiverPlex. But then the awarders didn’t know the taxpayer funded RiverPlex was losing $6,000.00 a day.
We will see what happens, but you the voter, have a choice to make the changes on the city council, with the reward being, hopefully, fiscal sanity with controlled growth.