Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hurricane Incompetence

An article in Sundays edition of the JS titled “Re-evaluation the role of Government by Steven Hill, author of “Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take all Politics,” reads “If the federal government and it’s various agencies had been better prepared for this entirely predictable natural catastrophe; there is little doubt that the damage and death toll would have been much reduced.” He attacks the “feeble response” by the federal government. He makes such inane statements “Political leaders should look for ways to make government credible and desirable in the minds of American people,” and says the federal government should mount a campaign to counter the anti-government propaganda blitz. He closes by saying “Yes, government can be good for you.”

Wow! What an enlightenment! No where in this article does he mention our laws protect states rights and states resent “big brother” from telling them what to do. Where were the elected and appointed leaders of Louisiana all these years when they knew all these problems were brewing? Why did they build below sea level? Why did they use up the barriers between dry land and the gulf? Why didn’t they have an evacuation plan for people without vehicles? Why didn’t they move the buses to higher ground? Why, after the buses were shown with water up to the windows, did all but 30 buses of the entire fleet now disappear? Why did 250 police people desert their posts? Why didn’t state and local leadership make a better case for stronger levees? Why didn’t they ask for help from other governmental agencies sooner? Why didn’t the Corps of Engineers make a stronger case to prevent the disaster they knew would someday happen? Perhaps pushing their case all the way to past and present Presidents?

Sure, the federal government comes in for its share of the blame. What do we expect? Both Republicans and Democrats often tines put up nominees for public office because they “feel these nominees can be elected”, not because they believe there nominees are best qualified for the job. Then we are blinded by “party loyalty” because most Democrats act like Democrats when elected and so do most Republicans. If one party is for it, the other party is against it. Yet when it comes to handing out the “pork” both parties realize what special interest groups headed by professional lobbyists, must be taken care of to keep the campaign dollars coming in, so the “pork” is fairly evenly divided with the major “pork” going to the state represented by the Committee Chairman. The best example to date is Chairman Don Young from Alaska and his greedy $243 million bridge to nowhere.

Then these “leaders” go about setting up or allowing so many bureaucracies that almost all the acronyms have been used up. The layers of government make it impossible for their employees to move rapidly. If states and local governments do not want the federal intervention, then state governments had better act responsibly as it appears they may have in Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. Louisiana officials on most major levels appear not to have acted intelligently. It may be because they were in over their ability, or as the saying goes “in over their heads”. Or were too proud or jealous of their positions to ask for help; when they did it appears it was too late in the developing catastrophe.

Mr. Hill and other liberal writers wish to place all the blame on the feds (which is a transparent attack on the Bush Administration). These writers know about “states right” but it’s easier to blame the current administration. They know that states must first ASK for federal intervention in times of major catastrophes. Had the federal government been called in early, we probably would have less of a mess; on the other hand, DHS, when called upon was too unwieldy to act rapidly and FEMA, well FEMA is another cumbersome bureaucracy. Nothing will change until voters realize that many state and local elected and appointed people often times do not have the ability to act responsible in times of minor disasters, let alone, major disasters.

By contrast the private sector is constantly replacing or firing poorly performing managers and even poorly performing workers. The strong companies stay in business; the others often fail. In the public sector, entrenched elected officials are difficult to vote out and the unions protect too many poorly performing workers. The private sector almost always outperforms the public sector. Smaller companies usually outperform larger companies because they can act faster. We need effective government and government usually is good to you, but smaller government with less red tape and smaller bureaucracies can act faster and more efficiently IF they have the right leadership.

Each disaster presents opportunities to correct past failures. For the dead, the wounded, the physically and mentally handicapped, the disposed, the bankrupt and the homeless and helplessly poor, the opportunities have come to late

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Chamber of Commerce Political Donations

A recent release touting the benefits of being a member of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce shows that the political action arm of the Chamber called the PAC gave candidates a total of $40,000.00 for the years 2004 and 2005. The election records show that almost $20,000.00 was given to David Ransburg, Marcella Teplitz and Gale Thetford. All three lost by substantial margins. In other recent elections only two PAC financially supported candidates, Tim Riggenbach and Dale Risinger were elected, and the other four lost. Two out of nine is not a good record. As I’ve said in previous blogs that the Chamber works out of what we called when I was in business, “ivory towers” and does not have the pulse or represent the grassroots of this community. Nor do I believe they represent a majority of the more than 1200 members of the C. of C. In one blatant error the PAC endorsed Phil Morgan over Mike Mason. Problem was Mason wasn’t running. The person running, Pat Hidden won over Morgan in a landslide. The Chamber resembles more of an entrenched government bureaucracy. They went against the public referendum that opposed the buying the water company and threw their support to the PAAG group that wanted the City Council to buy. Chalk up another loss and failure to accept the opinions of the overwhelming majority.

There are some good people on the Chamber Board and Committees. Unfortunately the chamber appears to be in the “this is the way we have always done business mode.”

I’ve called for changes in some of the leadership of this community and some have happened. The Chamber needs some changes in leadership. That can only happen if outsider Chamber members decide to become more involved. In Peoria, well known for its “good old boys and girls clubs” that is probably not going to happen. The voter made it happen in recent elections and will probably vote for more changes as property taxes and other taxes continue to rise in this community. Unfortunately Chamber members are not elected by the community.

The Peoria County Board voted to drop their membership in the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce despite the fact that 12 of the voting members of the County Board represent districts within the Peoria City limits. There has been no interest in rejoining. The Peoria County Board did vote to contribute $50,000.00 to the Economic Development Council which is under the Heartland Partnership as is the Chamber.

For more information on the Chamber, refer to my previous blogs.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Tribute to the Oder Brothers

“World titles commonplace for horse trainer Pres Oder” was the title on a lengthy article by John O’Connell appearing in the Journal Star on October, 2, 1986. The two inch column appearing in the obituaries on 9/19/05 noted that Preston “Pres” Oder of Macomb passed away on 9/18/05. I write this letter because the Oder Brothers were once well renowned in the show horse set in Peoria from the early 1960’s thru the 1980’s. Brother Gene at one time owned Riverview Stables, later known as Baty’s Barn, maybe once named the Red Barn and now known, I believe, as the Heart of Illinois Arena. The stables are located at 9201 N. Galena Road and if a building could talk, many an interesting story could be told. Horses attracted many women, so we always had a number of good looking owner’s daughters hanging around the horse barn or setting in the tents when we traveled to different fairgrounds. On at least one occasion, mother and daughter had a spat about the same Oder. Problem for me was I had very little money; what I had I needed for college, and my hours were unpredictable; sometimes cooling down horses till 3 A.M while my testosterones were still “heated up”. However; Pres and Gene could leave shortly after the last show and I never recall seeing them leaving alone.

Show horse owners who had their horses trained and stabled at Riverview were families such as the Dr. Trewyn family, the Rozells, Saul Schmidt, the Finches (Gloria was an excellent horse woman) and the Baty’s; all from Peoria. Horses came to be trained from as far away as California, Kentucky and North Carolina. Beth Wherry from Farmington, the Bradley’s from Bushnell, (Pres later married Shirley Bradley and she is listed as his widow,) Laura Warnsing from Petersburg, the John Murphy’s from Mason City, Sam Davis from Jacksonville and a Vice-President from State Farm who treated me to my first shrimp dinner. I was so embarrassed around his good looking daughters that I stared to eat my shrimp with the shell on. I was pretty embarrassed and the family, the Taylor’s, I believe was their name, got a good laugh! I was pretty country in the farm days of my youth. I got my first taste of raw oysters, (dad occasionally was treated to fried oysters by his son-in-laws but he never ate them raw) at the elite Dallas Club in Dallas, Texas, where I was introduced to many of the oil and steel barons of that area and era, names like Murchison, Vought and Ling, and including the famous football coach, Vince Lombardi 1961.) I still love raw oysters but really good ones are hard to find and getting harder.

I had the good fortune to work for Gene and Pres from 1948-52 while I was attending college. Five summers I spent grooming horses and transporting them around Illinois showing and competing with other stables and horses. Gene was the owner and a widely renowned trainer and judge. Gene passed away in Naperville a few years ago. Pres started his own stable in Macomb in 1982, while holding an interest in a stable Northeast of Morton, owned, I believe, by the talented horsewoman, Libby Mathers and called Mathers Top Line Farms.

Pres trained or was involved in the training of a number of world champions including trotter Iggy Magoo and Ruthless Reuben, a standard bred gelding that won the roadster to wagon class at the Kentucky State Fair and then defeated nine challengers for the world cup title in 1982. He trained and rode or drove 14 world Champions by 1982. I know he won many championships including 14 Blue ribbons at the Illinois Sate Fair in one year.

The Oders wanted me to stay with them in the horse showing business, even giving my new wife and I, 2 registered yearlings. While I later stabled horses for my kid’s enjoyment, I went into teaching and coaching and over the years, my interest waned but I’ll never forget the impact of Gene and Pres Oder on my life. I never lost my love for horses and believe all kids should have the advantage of grooming, feeding and caring for a large animal, especially a horse.

Fame and popularity is fleeting but had the brothers continued their operations in the Peoria area, I believe they would have been worthy of more than a couple of inches in the JS obit section. I believe many a small story that could have been told in an obit will never appear in print because of the new “you pay for it” unfortunate policy adapted by the JS.

If anyone reading this has any memories of Pres and Gene and the Riverview Barn, later named Baty’s Barn, please call me. I’m in the phone book. Unfortunately another era in Peoria’s rich history has passed with little or no recognition of these champion show horses and their records; their owners as well as the most important trainers and riders like the Oder Brothers, the Parkinsons also from Peoria, and the Leonards of Lincoln.

Thanks for reading my tribute to the Oders and others while I took a trip down memory lane.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Profiting, Profiteering and "What If"

Sometime back in the 80’s, this area had severe flooding on the Illinois River. Was it 1983? A federal agency representative came to Peoria looking for office supplies. My company was called One-Stop Office Mart and listed in the Yellow Pages; this “One Stop” label caused them to visit my store. They were looking for office supplies and equipment to set up a Peoria field office and also looking for one source to supply household flood disaster kits. To shorten the story, we were selected as the source of finding, buying, assembling, storing and delivering these flood disaster kits. Along with a few basic office supplies, each kit included sheets, blankets, pillows, house wares of all kinds including , mops, brooms, pails, sponges, toilet paper, paper towels, detergents, dish rags and towels, bath accessories, silverware and dishes, pots and pans, ect. Our job was to put a team together and go out and buy the products at the best price we could bargain. My recollection is we hired Community Workshop or an agency similar to help assemble and box up these kits which we stored in our warehouse, dispersing as the government directed.

We were able to complete the job on the schedule required and it worked out well for both parties. We had never done anything similar so we took the project on a time and material basis. The government agent had been looking for a sole source and I and my company supplied it even though I had never attempted to do such a large job on such short notice. We supplied the product and the service needed at my company’s average gross margin of profit. We could have probably named our price because we were apparently the only company that had the resources and ability to service their needs.

It bothers me greatly to see how some companies are “profiteering” in times of disaster. Did you read where this company in Texas is supplying a quantity of mainly abandoned ambulances and drivers to the government at a profit of $800.00 a day per ambulance? The $800.00 doesn’t even include gas, maintenance or insurance.

Dozens of “profiteering” lawsuits will be filed in the next several months and those will just be suits filed against the most easily identified acts of dishonesty.

I am a strong believer in free market capitalism but this market cannot exist without limited government oversight. The private sector is entitled to a reasonable profit; not unreasonable profiteering. But “reasonable” is defined one way by basically honest people and another way by those who are known as “profiteers”. Therein lays the problem. Determining the difference between profits and profiteering is the job of honest private and public officials, prosecutors and judges. We hope when all the unreasonable profiteering in the last few years is sorted out, a lot more crooks will join in federal prisons those already sentenced or awaiting further prosecution for ripping off their companies, stockholders and the taxpayer. Unfortunately too few will ever get sentenced and even then we taxpayers still foot the bills. Fortunately, most people are honest in their conducting of business, especially in times of disaster. May that continue to be the case in this sometimes mad and distressed society.

While the great majority of us are trying to make a decent wage or return on our investments, a lot of people are plotting how to take advantage of other peoples unfortunate circumstances. Having “faith” that all people are looking after your best interests makes us, at times, look like fools.

The saying trust, but verify, has never been more important. Do most of you believe we had the right people in leadership positions such as at FEMA and in Louisiana? Did we have all the right people in this administration and past administrations; the right people in all the other bureaucracies including Congress? If so, why do we appear to be so unprepared when predicted disasters strike?


I received an email from a friend referring to an article in Scientific American dated October 1, 2001. This article was reprinted on 9/20/05 in SA’s online issue so you can pull it up and read it. It is too lengthy for me to forward (I will pass it on to you if you request a copy) but it outlines all the major possible problems and the most likely solutions that might have averted most of this disaster in the delta. It details what agencies were involved and why all the combined leadership did not take the proper steps or spend the money. Which congressman would want to deprive a parking deck or ball park of government funds so that $20 billion dollars could have been used to greatly reduce the suffering now ongoing on a magnitude never seen to date in this country? Or a 242 million dollar bridge that Chairman Stevens gifted to himself and his Alaskan constituents? Maybe everyone is waiting for Stevens to go first.

We probably agree that no one agencies actions could have saved a city built so far below sea level; a city that was sinking lower daily and with a shrinking delta; a delta that previously provided a natural high wind and water barrier. Decisions made years ago doomed the city. Common sense actions didn’t happen because of the lack of agreement and failure to recognize infrastructure priorities.

Those of us served by the Illinois River need to take some responsibility. Most systems used on the Illinois River tend to slow the speed of the water allowing sediment usually carried south to drop in areas like Lake Peoria. The delta area claims to receive only half the sedimentation of past years; the sedimentation needed to build the natural barriers to hurricanes. Environmentalists’ requests to fully study the beneficial effects of occasionally “flushing the river” fall on deaf ears because of immediate adverse economic effects and disbelief that it could be done. Perhaps one day we will be moving silt from North to South by barge instead of by a flowing river. If we can ship river silt upstream to Chicago we can easily ship downstream and sell it to Mississippi and Louisiana.

No one will ever know the total cost of Katrina but some estimate $300 billion or more in just infrastructure damage alone. The whole country is paying and will be paying for a long time for these mostly preventable disasters. No dollar amounts can be put on death, injury, mental stress, displacement, personal loss and disorientation.

As a long time believer in infrastructure before enhancements, maybe disasters such as Katrina and now Iris will prompt some of our leadership to stop playing the “politically correct” game of doling out dollars to those who elect you and want you to bring the money back into the communities you represent. I have no problem with that but when you have an infrastructure problem like New Orleans that affects everyone serviced by this port city, it should have a higher priority than a study to determine the sexual habits of geese or the creation of an alligator farm. (I just made those up to make the point of priorities). I’m hopeful but past experience tells me that probably some of our national and community infrastructure priorities will be elevated but “some” will not be nearly enough for predictable problems of the future.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I thought I would give a rest to problems exposed by the natural and human disaster, unfortunately named for a woman. Then I read an article in USA Today written by left leaning Diane McWhorter. McWhorter writes and believes that all black people who live on or below the poverty level are victims of white people.

Before I address Ms. McWhorter column, I want to tell you a few stories of the days I owned Widmer Office Product/Widmer Interiors. We hired a young man to work at the job level for which he was qualified and part of his duties was to pick up the mail at the post office. After several months of employment, it came to our attention that not only was this young man picking up the mail, he was opening some and removing documents and resealing the envelopes. When confronted, he said he didn’t want the company to know that attempts were being made to garnishee his wages. A couple of years later I ran into him and we talked about the usual, how’s your family, where are you working, ect. He said he was now working for a large automobile manufacturer east of Peoria. I was pleased that he appeared to be putting his life together with a job, wife and family. Recently, I saw he and his wife listed in the JS as declaring bankruptcy.

Another nice young man that I hired moved up the ladder and became manager of a department of my company. This manager was so conscientious that he never took lunch, always insisting he be the one to manage the retail floor so others could take a noon break. We would probably never have known he was selling our product and pocketing the money but as usually happens with thieves, he got greedy and started stealing items with serial numbers an after an interview with a Peoria Police Detective, admitted he was stealing for “beer money”. Years later I stopped by a place where he happened to be working and he said “you ruined my life”.

I had a manager who was caught by my secretary hauling a Banker Box of corporate records out to his car. I flew home from Arizona where I had a business and fired him when he admitted he was planning to set up his own company with my files. Last I heard of him, he was President of a state social organization someplace up north.

Another person who I trusted with the company finances wrote $28,000.00 worth of checks paying his own bills and when he was caught, blandly said “tell me how much I owe you and I’ll write you a check.”

Another friend and employee who handled payroll and was caught in an accounting audit with larger paychecks than his contract stated. I let him stay employed until he found another job and we continued a somewhat strained friendship for many years.

One night at closing, I accidentally observed one of my employees loading her bag with school supplies as she closed up for the day. I said nothing to her, but she didn’t show up for work the next day.

I believe the people who committed these acts which appear to defy common sense, all felt that they were “victims of the system” and they could justify to themselves the reasoning behind their actions. I believe anyone in the correctional and law enforcement field will tell you that everyone ever arrested will try to justify their actions that led to their arrest. They all claim to be “victims.”

Anyone owning a small business before the advent of higher technology could probably tell you some of the same stories. All of these people claim to be “victims of the system.” They are spurred on in justifying their acts of thievery and violence by hard left leaning liberals like Ms. McWhorter who writes about the hurricane and flood victims “it is the rich who are now receiving handouts”, while nearly 30% of the residents of New Orleans live below the poverty line and beneath dignity. “God gave Noah the rainbow sign,” goes the old Negro spiritual. “No more water, the fire next time.” If that statement was made by a white person, that person would come under attack by all the liberal media, as a threat being made.

Looters anywhere can justify their actions by feeling “if we don’t take it, someone else will;” actions that are somewhat similar to the actions of some of our best leadership.

Keep talking and preaching how all poor black people are victims of white and rich people. Keep your underprivileged people in bondage for another half a century; keep them in drug selling gangs and on the street or clogging our prison systems. McWhorter, Jesse, Charles, and a goodly part of the black ministry, stand at the podium, write scathing articles to the media, get yourself on TV, and then ask for help and protection from the very people, black, white, Hispanic, Asian or Indian who have accepted responsibility and want to contribute to society while you claim to despise those who try to help poor people make it in this world of opportunity in the country know as the United States of America. Make excuses to the poor for all of that PEOPLE WHO ARE MAKING IT or have MADE IT and who ARE NOT WHITE.

Leaders should teach as much as they can about past history of all ethnic peoples but be sure the history you are teaching is correct. Teach about the past and present history of your ancestors, Irish, German, and Chinese and teach or preach that people enslaved TODAY are not in this country but many are still in slavery in several countries including Africa. The ONLY legal slavery in the USA today is the slavery of the doctrine of “victimization”.

You probably thought the people that stole from me were black people. No, my black employees were the honest to my knowledge; all but one. They accepted that not everyone would embrace them just like I have always accepted that not all people would embrace me. Few of my many employees came from families of affluence but almost all were responsible and often dedicated co-workers. I was well past middle age before I realized that people who had setbacks or didn’t succeed often times felt that they were “victims of society.” Now I hear it so much I want to say to these “preachers”, “shut up and get a life.”

It is people who preach “victimization” that worry me far more than the arrogant wealthy elite. The latter believe in their cause and have a reason to. The old saying says “They that have the gold; rules.” I don’t worry about the latter as a threat to my physical well-being. We should all worry about those who believe they are “victims of the system” who “reside” in this country or abroad.

And no, it is NOT all the fault of President Bush. Open up your minds and you will see that the MAJOR problem was the inability of Louisiana and New Orleans leadership to perform. They were elected or promoted to positions beyond their abilities; a folly called the “Peter Principle.” If you are too young to remember the books on the subject, these books are still available at the public library. The popular theory in my day should still be popular today, but no, we must be “politically correct,” and continue our slow slide to socialism


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Highway Bill Pork - Re-Distribute?

How about this public spirit? The City Council in Bozeman, Montana, has been petitioned by both sides of the political aisle, to give the feds back a $4 million dollar earmark for a parking garage in the recently passed “lu-lu” of a $286 billion dollar highway bill. Citizen Jane Shaw said “We figure New Orleans needs the money right now a lot more than we need extra down-town parking.”

Why not cancel all the special-project pork in the highway bill and dedicate this $25 billion in savings to emergency relief on the Gulf Coast. Would it be asking too much for Richmond, Indiana, to give up $3 million for its hiking trail, or Newark, N.J., to put on hold its $2 million bike path? Or Peoria, Illinois to give up its $800,000 Sears block parking deck that may not be needed for many years? Or we could give up our 1.6 million dollar Rt. 29 from Rt. 6 to Rt. 1-180 study and land acquisition project? (This project was never supported by much of the areas leadership. The estimated cost has risen from $300 million to over $600 million in less than 2 ½ years.) It is our responsibility to ask our Congressman why we are spending more money on “studies and land acquisition” because of the questionable need and escalating costs, it is most likely this highway WILL NEVER BE BUILT!! Who can say these things are priorities over rebuilding the areas affected by the lack of proper leadership and the forces of nature?

House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young of Alaska is going to rip the taxpayer off for $454 million in the special-project pork bill already passed. He intends to use this obscene amount of taxpayer dollars to connect a town of 8000 residents to a village of 50 people by bridges. Most taxpayers would believe that this project could be at least put off and the money used for higher priorities, and sane people would say “kill the whole bridge idea.” By sending this money where it’s needed most, like maybe new stronger levees or land reclamation in the delta, a bronze plaque could be presented stamped: “Proudly Brought to You by the Citizens of Alaska.” A spokesman for Mr. Young said his office told the Anchorage Daily News that the pork-for-relief swap was “moronic.”

Most of the statements above come from the WSJ and the JS. My own input is to say what I usually say: Greed and special interests determine our priorities. Why would common sense now enter into the equation? Wait till the Small Business Administration gets their hands on some of these billions. Lot of the Katrina Relief Funds could end up right here in Peoria small businesses just like 9/11 money did. Probably used for totally unrelated projects. I suspect that greedy people including “tort” attorneys have paperwork in motion right now to get their hands on their “fair share” of more governmental largesse and mismanagement that WILL occur as a result of Katrina.

Anyway, it’s their problem down south, we say. Why should we give up our goodies for their needs? They saw it coming didn’t they? They could have used taxpayer dollars to build better levees than to use those dollars to build the Superdome. Then they wouldn’t have needed the Superdome to house victims of nature’s wrath. They could have elected stronger leadership, they should have asked for federal intervention sooner, what was FEMA really doing, was the Corp of Engineers doing all they could to let the politicians know what could lie ahead, couldn’t have President Bush violated state laws and sent in the feds right away? We have all kinds of reasons as to what went wrong. In my opinion, we are all guilty, including those who don’t vote and don’t pay taxes. We have developed into a soft nation with lots of compassion but our own material needs have replaced the needs of even our safety and our own humanity. We have created monstrous bureaucracies, totally forgot the “Peter Principle”, created a “me first, must have” society and play the “who can we blame and get away with it” game. We have created more and more “good old boys and girls clubs” who promote only their own and who would rather go down with another “Titanic” than listen to anyone outside the “club” or publicly admit they are or were wrong.

But, bear up. Some of the best is yet to come and more of the worst is guaranteed. The next few years will determine our destiny. Once set, it will be extremely difficult to alter. Instead of my usual “Wake Up, Peoria, I’ll include, “Wake Up, America.” Our own and our nations compassion in times of need is beyond comparison. Almost everyone, including some prisoners and looters, want to help out in time of need. Unfortunately, without proper responsible leadership and our own acceptance of responsibility for the stewardship of this country, sincere compassion mixed with welfare, will not be enough as an increasing number of needs are bound to keep appearing.

After 9/11, we, at least for awhile, started sorting out our priorities. Then slowly greed, envy, and money replaced a lot of our common sense. Now out of this tragic event caused by man and nature, we have more opportunities to rearrange our want lists as to what is really needed and best for this situation and time. Will we do it? History, that seems to repeat itself, tells us that for awhile, at least while compassion for others runs high, while gas prices are high and unemployment low, we will make an attempt to re-align our priorities, but soon we will go back to “keeping up or ahead of the Joneses” and what about these unglamorous priorities we rearranged? Those will slip back into largely cash donations for more glamorous projects, more welfare for those who failed to take advantage of opportunities when presented and more demand for larger salaries and benefits by the working populace including management, oftentimes in return for less work and less responsibility. And more lip service for the REAL problems of society.

I love my country and our form of government has so far proven to be the best. I have the right to vote and help nominate and elect the type of leadership this increasingly complex society needs. I have joined with other bloggers to share some of the power of the established press. Most of us have rights given to us by the laws of this land. We have the right to ask that our “letters to the editors” get printed. Some of us are abusing this privilege; others are not using it. When we write or talk, we must be sure we have gone to great lengths to understand the situation. We all have the right and the obligation to seek and try to bring forward substantiated truths. Expect that you and I will not always have the right information or the best solutions to local or worldwide problems. Fortunately, and some times, unfortunately, the laws of this country allow us to express ourselves; right or wrong.

Bad things will happen that could have been prevented or contained with proper prioritization. Good times could be better times with better efforts and planning. We continually get “second chances.” What will we do with this one??

I close with this thought: “The unexpected happens. You (we) had better prepare for it.” (Margaret Thatcher)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Due Diligence

Private companies tend to have the smartest attorneys. An easy answer to why that is; private companies are able to pay attorneys a lot more money than is usually paid in the public sector for more and smarter legal advice. The private attorneys who drew up the contract for PAAG knew exactly what they were doing when they put the phrase “due diligence” in the contract (I haven’t seen the contract but I’ll bet the farm “due diligence” is in the contract.) PAAG attorneys then have the ability to widely interpret the meaning of this phrase and will hang us taxpayers with the $1,000,000.00 plus 9% and 6% interest on this so called “loan” on the vague legal point that the city failed to perform to the terms of the contract.

Gary Sandburg is very much aware of how the wording of the rejection letter to IA will affect the payback to PAAG. Randy Ray, City Attorney, is correct in stating the letter should just say “thanks, we spent a great deal of time and money studying if we wished to make the buyout offer, we also asked for advise from the voters who soundly rejected the idea by referendum, the City council voted 6-5 not to buy your company and therefore, this City Council is advising you (IA) by document, that we are not going to further pursue the buyout at this time”. Attorney Ray wisely wants to leave the term “DUE DILIGENCE” out of the wording. He is smart. Now if he can only hold his ground.

Most people who are following this parody, know why Gary has taken the position he has. If you haven’t figured it out yet keep listening if you have two or three hours every Tuesday evening. People know Grayeb, a former administrator at Dist 150 and who gets a lot of press on and off the council floor, has a lot of suspicions about “furriners” owning our water. Of course, these “furriners” would have to defeat our country in war first, since the U.S. Government owns our water, so his suspicions are moot. Grayeb, by the way, was quoted by the JS on 1/9/97 while a teacher at District 150 saying that “The United Sates has never been an imperialistic country. We have never sought colonies or conquest for this country. Never.” Still wonder why our kids are so bad in past history?? Then there is Clyde just being Clyde.

Anyway, we will find out the wording of the letter that eventually will be sent to IA. Hope the City Legal counsel gets his way.

I know I’m never to say “I told you so” because it makes me look like a smart aleck. Well, heck, I’ve been called a lot worse so here goes “I told you so!!”

Keep tuned.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I Told You So!!

City Council meeting would last about half as long as if their wasn’t Gary and Chuck (with Clyde trying to catch up), repeating themselves over and over again as if the rest of the council, the audience and the viewers were stupid. In fact, I believe Gary called some of the councilpeople stupid tonight. Wow! Gary is absolutely brilliant and most of us who don’t always agree with Gary are not. Check the record; I’m sure I heard him call some of the council people stupid! But I do wear a hearing aid so I’ll give him some benefit of doubt.

Go back to one of my “Water-Logged” (about 4 weeks ago) blogs and you can see Gary’s comments he made to me in the “Comment” space I have on every blog I post and also find Gary’s comments in the City Council minutes of I believe four weeks ago, where Gary wrote and stated that “PAAG has not ever asked for any interest and in fact would NOT even ask for their million dollars back.” That fact was later confirmed to me personally by a city legal authority that Sandburg’s statements were true. Hmmmmm.

Then tonight, a mirage appeared in the form of attorney Steve Wakeman, who said he was hired by those generous people from PAAG, and then said that if the council didn’t take further action tonight, I believe his words were that he authority from PAAG to “enforce the contract” for the city to repay PAAG one million dollars.

Some “deep water tales” are being told on the council floor but we have fortunately SIX SOLID HEADS representing the majority of the people of the city of Peoria in our best interests. I don’t need to tell you who the truth stretchers are, but one is the one who is always saying we don’t want “them foreigners” owning our water; I believe he retired from Dist. 150 so consider the source, and one who is always talking when I turn on Channel 22.

So the vote was same as last time; now it boils down to; do those generous PAAG people who lent the million dollars authorize Wakeman to sue the city and us taxpayers?

I told you so. You don’t get rich lending a million dollars and not trying to get it back. Want to bet that the contract will need to be deciphered in court on our dime?

I’ll probably be blogging on this some time to come and when and IF the lawsuit is filed I will again give you the names of the PAAG people, where they live, the businesses they are in and how they would possibly financially benefit by getting control of the Water Resources Committee, this committee, once appointed would manage the management firm who would mine and process the U.S. Government owned water, who in return would report to the council who in return would make all this money and return it to the taxpayer. Would have that been by check or cash, do you suppose?

Note that Gary talked about these new “possible buyers” being elected officials. Sorry Gary, the PBC and the Sanitary District people are appointed not elected. That leaves Dist. 150, the County or the Park District. Do I think the PPD would be interested? If Rita Kress is correct; she says we may someday have a $100 million dollar zoo (her quotes in the JS),then maybe why not?? Peoria County? Elected Count BoardChairman Williams says “thanks, but no thanks” or a solid NO. So who was Gary talking about? Maybe Gary will tell me himself. Otherwise, we may never know. Gee..

Steve Wakeman? Ah yes, I remember him quite well from another time and place.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina and Culture

A chorus of “racial discrimination” charges flows from the mouths of black racists such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson regarding the situation created by hurricane Katrina. Don’t believe you’ll hear complaints from black leaders like Bill Cosby or Ward Connerly. Bill and Ward and thousands of other black leaders understand the differences in cultures among all peoples of any race. I’ve blogged on the definition of culture before and what happened in New Orleans has little to do with race but a whole lot to do with culture. I’ll define “culture” from my Thesaurus. It reads “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively (a city lacking in culture), the customs, civilization, and achievements of a particular time or people.”

Oversensitive people think that when the term culture is mentioned people are talking of race. Totally wrong! Yesterday, a tennis player by the name of James Blake upset the #2 seed at the U.S.Open. Blake, a well-mannered person of skin darker than mine, was cheered on by most of the crowd of 20,000 people, and by applause it sounded and looked like most enjoyed the highly comptetive match on television and were happy to see Blake win. I enjoyed the competition and was proud to see an American play so well and win. James Blake is a gentleman, he is an American and he has learned how to win and lose not only in sports, but in life. His mother is quoted “This time last year he was half –paralyzed and watching this on TV wondering if he would ever play tennis again.” Only 16 months ago, he fractured his neck vertebrae when he crashed into a net post during practice in Rome. Blake considered this accident a positive in life because it allowed him to spend more time with his father who was dying of cancer. Later, Blake contracted shingles, which temporarily paralyzed his face causing vision and hearing problems.

Blake is an American who has overcome many obstacles, worked and studied hard, made it into Harvard and found a positive use for his talents and should be a role model for all Americans. Unfortunately, many young black and white youths pick their role models from Hollywood or MTV.

My advice to any racists, black, white, yellow, green, pink or blue; start developing “culture” in those young (and older) people you feel are disadvantaged. Then they will not be subjected to what my Thesaurus describes as “Culture Shock-the feeling of disorientation experienced by a person suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture or way of life.” Color is NOT the problem. Lack of culture is the problem. What you saw and are seeing in New Orleans are a few people lacking a culture acceptable to most descendents of the human species.

Some may say that Blake was privileged; there is no doubt that many are born into more desirable circumstances than other. But circumstances are a poor excuse for failure. Life is not fair as Bill Gates said; “get used to it.”

All citizens of Peoria are privileged to play tennis; there are over 44 FREE tennis courts, (property owners support them with their tax dollars), with four free practice hitting walls. The PPD gives some FREE lessons in the summer thru a program I started in 1994. All FREE to the user!! I seldom see a young person “of color” using these free courts. I don’t even see very many of them on the high school tennis teams, where participants are seldom “cut” as they are in basketball. I see many people of color and culture using these courts such as Bobby Humbles; Bobby who worked with me 10 years before starting his own business (He is a State Farm Insurance Agent), David Graham, David Watkins, Charles Ellis. Joe Montgomery, Larry Verner, Dr. Jim Stafford, the Dismuke Brother, David Graham and numerous others but these are all older players with the youngest being probably 40. Where are the young black kids?

Used tennis racquets abound, try Carver Center, The Children’s Home on Knoxville, Common Place or contact me. Friends have donated more than a hundred tennis racquets to me and I in turn have donated them to the above mentioned places including the Peoria Park District. Used balls are available at the Racquet club and if a tennis player has the DRIVE, ENERGY and talent, someone will help them develop a game.

It is way past time to accept the failure of many of our black (and many white) youth thru a litany of excuses. Too many so called “leaders” have pushed themselves or took advantage of vacuums and assumed leadership by default; these leaders tell young people (and some now grown older) that they are not responsible for their actions and keep telling them how they are “put upon” by others more fortunate. Some schools and school systems fail by not counseling kids to be community minded, fail to offer curriculum aimed to help non-college material kids to get a job of any kind, and to promote participation in extra-curricular activities and teach them that there are many activities other than basketball. I asked kids I mentored what they wanted to be when they grew up. Almost all boys say they want to play basketball and play in the NBA. When I asked who from Peoria ever played in the NBA, they couldn’t name one player. (Actually, there are several NBA players who played for Peoria High Schools out of dozens of thousands who never even made the squad. Kids frequently mention Hersey Hawkins as a local high school player; they are surprised to learn he didn’t grow up in Peoria.)

At one time, I was not a great believer in the theory “it takes a community to raise a child.” I now realize that a family, church, schools and social agencies are not enough. Many families are not capable of raising kids. They find it easy to produce them. After that, reality sets in. So it takes all of us watching and helping all kids make it thru the obstacles we adults have created. It is our responsibility to keep them in school and our responsibility to insist on curriculums geared to all of their interests and abilities.

We fail to offer and counsel kids how to use their mind and hands such as offering training for vocations that do not require a college degree. Immigrants, many illegal, are eager to take jobs that could be filled by black youths and black adults. These immigrants usually come with a work ethic not being learned in too much of the black community. Many black and white able bodied, mentally capable people live off the handouts of those who feel responsible for their well being. Why work when we can live as we please and free load live wherever someone will take us in? I once was in the apartment business. A lady signed a contract that she was the only one who would live in this apartment. When she was eventually evicted, seven people where living in this apartment and the place was in a shambles.

I believe in almost all entities that relieve human suffering. I don’t care much for those who take advantage of the system and for those who propagate lifetime dependence on the system. The fish story from the Bible is not a “fish” story.

Back to Katrina and culture. What you are seeing in some parts of the gulf tragedy, is largely the result of a too permissive society, a lack of personal responsibility and respect of others, a lack of respect for their own property and the property of others, a lack of respect for authority and an attitude of “I want everything everyone else has.”

A certain amount of bad luck and bad timing does sometimes enter into any equation. However; these are not valid excuses for irresponsible behavior. We are seeing a lack of strong and persuasive leadership in the black, as well as white communities.

As the Katrina disaster facts continue to unfold, I’ll voice my opinion on why more preventative actions were not taken, why requests for federal aid did not come sooner from officials responsible for the areas devastated and why there appeared to have been no centralized authority to delegate and enforce and why local and statewide communications seem to have failed.

This catastrophe is another opening for racists to vent their ineptitude and ignorance on the now getting old and overused “racist theory” of blaming everybody but themselves.