Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some Observations

Drive to the junction of the new Charter Oak Drive, Allen Road and Rt. 150. Observe the beautiful landscaped sloping roadsides; observe the dirt washing off these slopes, the pieces of the of sod slopes that slide down these hills, look at the dirt washing down these slopes into ditches that eventually drain into the Illinois River. Ask yourself if the entities that designed these eroded slopes had any experience in landscaping? Did they earn a bonus for finishing this ugly landscape job early? Or is this just typical of the designing of some IDOT engineers? Were these eroding landscapes purposefully designed to create more work later on? Is the idea to put more mud in the Illinois River so we can ship it to Chicago or New Orleans? Do these eroding slopes give visitors a good impression of Peoria? Surely I am not the only one that noticed this sloppy job?

On October 13, 2005 a headline in the JS stated “Ameren’s (Cilco) Future is Cloudy.” “Utility officials raise possibility of corporate bankruptcy.” The article quotes Warner Baxter, Ameren’s executive v-p and chief financial officer as saying “If Ameren’s utilities are not allowed to recover their costs through the rates charged to the consumer, a variety of “adverse consequences” could develop. Those consequences could include “the extreme, which could be a sort of bankruptcy situation, and we certainly have no hope and trying to go down that path because really no one wins.”

Flash back to 2004 where a headline in the JS stated that “Ameren/Cilco provided a “lead gift of $500,000.00” to the children’s playhouse.” This playhouse will occupy the remodeled old pavilion soon to be vacated as the Peoria Park District moves their headquarters “temporarily” into the old IDOT building on Knoxville. It appears that Ameren wants to raise the rates to it’s customers to avoid bankruptcy. It appears that the public may pay higher rates to Ameren so they don’t go “bankrupt” and Ameren takes part of our money and gives it to the Peoria Playhouse in their name and takes credit as being the “generous benefactor”. Hmmmm.

In a presentation to the Peoria Park Board on 10/12/05 by a member of the Junior League, the board was told that the annual operating budget of the Playhouse would be $413,100.00 and the Playhouse would be “self-sustaining. Remember that number because at some point the $100.00 may become significant!! (Have I heard the phrase self-sustaining before?) Sounds familiar; was it the RiverPlex?”

An article in the JS dated 12/12/02 and titled “Park (Peoria) officials set to discuss softball site. Passed over project could be a boon to Peoria in 2006.” Park Superintendent Bonnie Noble said “board members have been working on this for several months and this project could provide Peoria with enough fields to host the National Softball Association 2006 regional girl’s fast-pitch tournament.”

I don’t believe I am the only bearer of the bad news that no matter what miracle Ms. Noble is capable of pulling out of increased property taxes and increased fees, no new tournament approved softball fields will be completed in time for a tournament 8 months from now. But some of those hundreds of kids and their families playing over in East Peoria will spend some of their money on the Peoria side of the river if they have any money left when they leave the Paradise, also in East Peoria. A win-win; right?

Probably not.

Now if my friend Dan Daly, you know Dan from the Civic Center board who somehow underestimated costs of the new expansion by quite a bunch, will look up his notes, I believe he will find that a new softball complex was part of the vision that Tim Cassidy, Peoria Park District President, presented to Dan and to the public, along with a vision of a $32 Million dollar expanded African Zoo, a new skateboard park and a financially solvent park district. All this without raising property taxes or selling more bonds than they pay off yearly. (Now around 23 million owed) The “vision” included a financially solvent RiverPlex (lost $7 million dollars in the first 40 months of operations) and the saving of the Peoria Park District from those who wished to destroy the parks. I quote an article in the JS (3/17/03) in which Mr. Cassidy said “elect me and save the Peoria Park District.” Hmmmmm.

Another observation was that the Peoria Park Board cancelled a number of full board meeting this year. A board member said the reason was that they had NOTHING to talk about. Hmmmm.

Just an observation but it appears some things are going wrong with a lot of the “visions” presented to us by some of our leadership. Just an observation.

Well, enough observations for one evening except I might mention that the Peoria County Board will NOT be raising your property tax rates for next year. In fact the rate is expected to decrease slightly. And yes, I will be running for another term on the Peoria County Board because even at my advanced age, I know something about the “fiscal responsibility" of an elected official to the people who elected him.

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