Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Things Change?

“Why the soldiers, sailors and marines were not given some sort of official goodbye does not matter now. It was probably due, in great measure, to the apathy of our citizens. Nothing, not even a war affects certain of our populate. The recent election, admittedly one of the most important duty of all Americans at any time but more particularly in time of war, only drew a comparatively few to the polls.” Not the best grammar but taken from the Peoria Star, May 2, 1942.

“We have more than five million of our youths and stoutness of middle age, who are now away from the city streets, farms and hamlets where they grew up. Now that the war is over, they can’t all come home. It is easy to understand why mothers and fathers want their sons and husbands back. But it can’t happen that way if we want to win an all out war.” By Grantland Rice, April 13, 1945 published in the Peoria Star. (Rice was one of the great writers of his time).

Too bad that we have become so wrapped up in our own self esteem that we have forgotten how many sacrifices were made by the those who have given us the freedoms we enjoy. Have some black people forgotten or ever knew that over 360,000 Union soldiers died to free their ancestors from slavery? Have they forgotten that slave trade was a fact of life in many countries including Africa and Brazil long before slavery reached our shores? (By 1820, nearly 8.7 million slaves had departed from Africa for the New World, the vast majority to the West Indies and Brazil. Only about 6% were sold to buyers in British North America). Do they know that many people live under human bondage and slavery TODAY in some parts of Asia and even some parts of Africa?? My source? “Inhuman Bondage” by David Brion Davis and my own knowledge.

In WW2, more than 20 million (some 40 MILLION overall) people died from deaths caused from incineration, gas chambers, executions, to death on the battlefield. Many civilians died, starved, bombed, or slain in their own cities. These sacrifices were made to stop efforts by people trying to enslave or “cleanse” free people. Ever since WW2, these freedoms now taken by many to be an “entitlement”. Hundreds of thousands of American died to save the world from the terror of Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy. How dare the “chatterers” and left leaning liberals compare any losses of today with the far greater losses in freedom battles of yester years?

We do not overlook the sacrifices being made in our noble fight against radical Islamic terrorists; or any terrorists, for that matter. These actions today, some actions poorly conceived and executed by our leadership, will and have caused deaths and misery but are far smaller than the known 300,000 plus Iraqi people, mainly Shiites and Kurds, who, in many cases had “small disagreements” with the Sunni regime and were killed. These dead were often buried in mass graves or gassed and many were just taken away in broad daylight or the dead of the night and slain by order of the dictator, Saddam Hussein and his ilk. Many Iraqi’s disappeared and have never been heard of or found by their families and friends. And some wonder why it is going to be a long and hard task to ever have a relatively free Iraq?

I believe we all hate any war. The great majority of us deeply respect those who continue to sacrifice to keep us free. Freedom has never come without human sacrifice and misery. Read your history going back to the start of time.

“Character building is not made with losing ball clubs. It is only made with boys who won’t be licked.” (Coach and later a columnist, I believe, Ed McKeever, April 1942 published in the Peoria Star)

On the lighter side in 1942, comic strips back in those days that were published locally were Nancy, Mandrake, Jane Eider, Cranberry Boggs, The Nebbs, Mutt and Jeff, Abbie and Slats, Joe Palooka and Li’l Abner. They were and are still; great reads. Unfortunately some of these old comic strips would not be politically correct today. I believe most of these old comic strips touched on social issues of the day, but today some of our comics are blatantly political and most all are “politically correct”. Some are not really comic strips that you can read and laugh at the characters and their actions while at the same time laughing at yourself.

A few of you read me and laugh at me and attack me. Don’t think you are original. I have always been able to criticize myself and laugh at myself too. And, of course, likewise.

So read and reflect. But before you speak to try and convince someone else, be sure you know about all sides of the issue on which you express your opinion. Otherwise, it is just that, your opinion, and not a justifiable conviction.

Thanks to all of you who write or tell me you appreciate my efforts. I still mostly enjoy doing what I do so it’s gratifying to hear some compliments. (Even from the JSEB, even though rather like a grudgingly admission that maybe they were wrong in 2000).

“The man (person) who never makes a mistake always takes orders from one who does. No man or woman who tries to pursue an ideal in his or her own way is without enemies.” (Daisy Bates)??

Friday, March 24, 2006


“Manliness” is the title of a new book by author Harvey C. Mansfield and is reviewed in the WSJ by Janet Daley, a journalist and broadcaster in London. Her digest of the book reads in “Needed: A Menaissance. Enough with the feminized, metrosexual, sensitive male. It’s time for guys to rediscover their instinct for assertive individuality. We’d all benefit.”

I’ll quote a couple of paragraphs from Ms. Daley’s review believing it makes more than just interesting reading. “Mr. Mansfield accuses modern feminism of having, in effect, betrayed legitimate complaint with ideological ambition. Tracing the error back to Simone Beauvior’s “The Second Sex” (1949), he claims that the feminist project was hijacked by form of nihilism. The will to construct one’s own identity was revered as the only worthwhile goal of existence, obliterating all others. To established the freedom for such boundless self-invention, it was necessary to deconstruct whatever previous limit there were. To make it possible to be anything, it was necessary, at first, to be nothing. This nihilism refused to define womanliness and manliness because to define anything is, literally, to set limits. But to be without limits is to be without meaning and to invite despair.”

Ms. Daley sums up “Did the modern feminist movement arise as a consequence of female dissatisfaction with an excess of masculine power-manliness run amok-as it is generally claimed? Or was its appearance preceded by a collapse of manliness? Perhaps a half century of world wars produced a generation of men who were unmanned-who did not behave courageously enough and protectively, as Mr. Mansfield defines manliness-and has created a vacuum into which female will (and bitterness) had to assert itself."

I wouldn’t write this blog if I didn’t believe that there is considerable confusion between and AMONG the sexes portraying itself in all manners of expression from real life, Hollywood, MTV, sitcoms, stage shows, fiction authors, and many columnists. Or have we reached the point of (decay?) that many people (including some of our confused youth) believe that real life is fiction itself?

Read the book, read the book summary by Ms. Daley or just give me your comments.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

You Get What You Want - You Pay For It

The JSEB said Monday that “We get the government – liberal or conservative, honest or not – that we deserve.” Today it was reported that the city of Peoria voter turnout was about 18%. In Peoria County it was even worse at about 15%. Bad weather? Sure, bad weather evidently was a factor in the county. City roads cleared early. The biggest factor effecting poor turnout was and is apathy.

I firmly believe that it is much easier to complain than to educate oneself to make an informed decision. I also know that there are more people who would like to serve and help guide the community but don’t want to go thru the “getting elected” process. This gives voters limited choices and so they prefer to not vote at all.

Too bad.

These same people want the people who are elected to bring not only the essential and mandated money back to the community they represent; they also want pork projects and entitlements that are helping bankrupt our state and federal government. Everyone has their hand out and politicians do not know when to say no for fear of losing a block of votes.

On 3/21/06 the JS reported on Tuesday’s Peoria School District #150 board meeting as follows: “A $40,000.00 contract with a Chicago-based consultant was approved. This consultant will offer staff training on how to engage parents from poor, urban areas in the academic success of their children. Four days total days of training will be provided. The district is using Title I funds it receives from the federal government to pay the consultant.” So in effect it is not costing us anything because the federal government is paying for it. And where does that money come from? Does it fall down from a money tree?

I can’t criticize Peoria School District #150 more than I can criticize the county, the city, the park district, and other entities, for having their hand out for money from the state and federal governments, but it seems to me that #150 staff ought to know by now how to engage poor parents in the learning process, especially since much of our administration and staff is homegrown. But most all elected officials go on reinventing the wheel with taxpayer’s dollars, whether local, state or federal.

We have two more new faces on the #150 school board. Both appear to be very qualified. The taxpayer can only hope they come to board meeting knowledgeable, free from special interests and carry hatchets to cut out some of the top heavy bureaucracy in this under performing and debt laden system. I congratulate Stephen Morris for his short service on the board and hope he continues to show an interest in serving the community in an elected position. Unfortunately, Morris and Stowell ran from the same districts. I also appreciate the 10 year efforts of Garrie Allen.

Again, too bad and so sad that many of us are not participating in what is happening in our world; yet we do our uneducated and uniformed complaining. No, watching and listening to sitcoms, sports events, CNN and left leaning individuals and medias do not make us informed enough to separate the truth from half-truths and lies about local and world wide events and some of the people in the news.

I close this blog with a statement attributed to Cecil B. DeMille about editing what he would put in print: “What I have crossed out I didn’t like. What I haven’t crossed out I’m dissatisfied with.” And with a statement attributed to a JS Forum contributor that “he didn’t mind if others stayed at home because it would give his vote that much more power over the course of government whose decisions directly affect his life.”

Litter Control

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis has appointed Stephen J. Perez, a Caterpillar Strategic Consultant to head up a group to address the litter problems in the community. First meeting is tomorrow at 1:15-2:15 P. M. at the city office of Steve Fairbanks. The stated purpose is to “create a team that will be able to initiate and oversee the process development, to clean up Peoria’s litter problem”.

As you might imagine this move to get serious about the litter problem is good news for most of us who live in Peoria. Good luck and may all good citizens pitch in.

Unfortunately, litter is just one of the many disturbing symptoms facing this community as evidenced by the voter turnout of only 22% of all registered voters yesterday.

We need more good news for this community and the turn around of the Bradley basketball team is good news for all of Peoria.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Just the Facts

Evidently Scott Siegrist showed the JSEB payment stubs of the weekly East Peoria newspaper he claims he delivered to me from Feb thru Dec.of 1974. The pay-as-you-deliver stubs totaled somewhere around $30.00 – approximately 48 weeks at from 60 to 70 cents a week. He shows he was paid all but $6.60 which he says I still owe him. For the record, support payments to my then wife started on July 17 with the divorce finalized on November 15, 1974. I did not live at the location where Scott delivered and collected. My ex did. When he couldn’t get her to pay, he tried to collect from me.

The bus incident? This was not “just a litter” problem. I was “passing” at 65 miles per hour, not “following” the bus when the missile flew out the window, narrowly missing my windshield.

As to the year 2000 incident brought up by the JS numerous times, twice reported that I approached the plaintiff when the police report filed by the plaintiff reported the opposite. Small “errors”, of which there were many, changed the facts.

My record on the police blotter is clean and will remain so. The Woodford County Sheriffs Department asked me if I wanted to file charges. As I told them and told MHS officials, I am not. Competent Morton school officials have handled the problems. Rules are that the drivers do not open the door unless an emergency. They are to hand signal you to come to the driver’s side and talk thru the window. The policy of no food and drinks on school buses will be enforced. I apologize for becoming upset.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Landfill Siting Testimony

Visit www.peoriacounty.org and find on the sidebar to the left your options and read the six days of testimony, evidence and opinions regarding the siting application by Peoria Disposal to expand Landfill #1 Hazardous Waste site. You need to be as well informed as the county board even IF you have already made a decision on granting or denying the application. I believe it is the duty of every citizen in Peoria County to at least read the testimony if they didn’t attend the hearings.

The decision of the county board will be made public on a meeting open to the public on May 3. I can perhaps help guide you to certain testimony that you may wish to examine but I will not make any comments on testimony presented.

You can also visit the Peoria County Clerks office and view all the hardcopy testimony.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Another Plan to End Chronic Homelessness??

The “Heart of Illinois Homelessness Continuum of Care, composed of 30 agencies serving four counties has a main goal of prevention thru education and resource sharing”, Amy Cahill, chair of the organization, is quoted in the JS on 3/6/06 “Peoria and the surrounding area is rich in services but we don’t always do a good job of working together. Another key goal for us is to develop 250 new affordable, safe and decent housing units by 2016.” Ms. Cahill says about one third each of the homeless, are mentally ill, alcoholics and drug abusers and people who have maybe made a bad choice. The average age of the 556 homeless interviewed locally was 10 years.”

Back in November of 1993, I was part of a newly organized group called the “Homeless Youth Coalition” or (HOIUW) an offshoot of the Tri County Community Partnership. Headquarters were in the Peoria Area Community Foundation offices. This group was organized shortly after an article appeared in the JS on November 15, 1993, titled “Sheltering city’s poor remains an uphill battle. The homeless are going from shelter to shelter each night” said Pam Schubach, YWCA Executive Director. “Many of the homeless people come from public housing and refuse to go back. They know the horror of living there” said Vicky Berchtold from the Southside Mission. This article was sparked by a paid assessment made by the Enterprise Foundation of Maryland in 1991 and the assumed failure of the community to act on recommendations made.

Members of HOIUW were names like Parks, Krupa, Lenart, Haerr, Oakford, Davis, Frank, Day, Simpkins, Vonachen, Leitch, Gorenz, Wogsland, Kennedy, Nelson, Nolde, Bennett, Stroud and Williamson. I was named Chairman of Public Relations.John Lenart was named Chairman of the coalition.

Funds were raised, visits and phone calls to other communities were made, many meetings were held and YWCA plans were listened to. Eventually, the YWCA got a mid 6 figure grant to convert part of the YW into more transitional housing units.

A deal was struck with the Fire Chief and the City Council that since the firehouses were open 24 hours a day, these firehouses would be a safe haven for the homeless to go to in times of emergency. Fliers were posted, articles appeared in the newspapers and after a year had passed, the program was discontinued Only one fire station reported anyone stopping in for help.

On April 12, 2000 a letter to “Dear Valued Homeless Youth Coalition Member” read in summation: “The community has devolved over time to now include a Homeless Commission (city) and the Peoria Area Homeless Consortium (Peoria, Woodford, Fulton and Tazewell), both with youth representation. (As a member of the Peoria County Board since 2000, I know we have helped implement low cost housing programs but I am not aware of a homeless consortium or the need for one in the county not including the City of Peoria) The Coalition’s initial focus was on program implementation, over time the focus was achieved and the group’s focus seemed unclear which led to poor attendance and a decrease in ownership. There were several attempts to address various issues or to take on a new role but this was unsuccessful. There are other entities in our community that can do and do address homeless issues on a broader base with youth representation. There have been well over 600 youths that have received help since the inception of the program.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your time, efforts, commitment and most importantly your desire to help meet the needs of the youth of this community.” Signed Jeff A Gress, Director of Youth Service; Children’s Home.

That was the closing statement of HOIUW.

There are several billions of words written on the subject, hundreds of millions spent on “experts” opinions, hundred of thousands or groups and committees formed and dissolved and the problem is still out there. Maybe an article written by Ms. Heather MacDonald appearing on 11/17/1997 sums it up best. Her lengthy article describing the futility of trying to help people who don’t want to help themselves she says, is best narrated in a document “To Reach the Homeless” written by Columbia journalism professor Bruce Porter described as a jaw-dropping account of the homelessness outreach profession. On the other side of the issue ,Ms. MacDonald also quotes Rev.James A. Forbes, Jr., pastor of the Manhattan’s Riverside Church “We should value the one gift the homeless bring is the ability to say “No”, saying that is a strength , and why the homeless are so beset by illness and fear.”

Ms. MacDonald closing paragraph reads “The advocates may see the homeless as martyrs to American injustice, or as free spirits marching to a different drummer but by now most of the rest of us see them as confused marching to disaster – thanks to the policies designed by homeless advocates.”

As to the mentally impaired, the question is by whose judgment and to what extent impaired? Do you hold them against their will? How do you do that? Bring back Zeller? More care for the mental I support but not locking them up unless they are a threat to others. Even then, you could not hold someone who wanted leave the building. How can the homeless take care of a nice house? Many never learned how, certainly not those now on the streets who might have spent some time in Peoria School District #150. How do you treat those who barricade themselves and are prepared to resist service providers at all costs? You want to put them in homes around law abiding people just like we leave disruptive kids in some schools and classroms to disrupt others?

Do all you can as an individual or as a group to help those in need. I applaud you all. Be careful what you are asking the responsible tax paying voting citizenry to do in the way of more funding. As I’ve implored before, I do not want to die in a socialist country filled with pacifist do gooders unless they do the funding themselves. Most of us learned responsibility. I expect others I must live with and around to be responsible also.

More preventative programs I support. More free everything with no responsibility, I don't.

Everyone needs help now and then. That help should be transitory; not permanent unless disabled and no family support. Even then, help must come with some responsibility.

Examine the past on this subject as older than the pyramids. Do not try to reinvent the wheel. Find the programs that have had some successes and good luck!!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

What's Ahead for Your County?

In the 2/27/06 issue of County News, 16 county administrators across the country talked about their plans and projects under way for 2006. Six counties said they are either building new jails or expanding them. One is so crowded they are shifting inmates to other counties to temporarily hold them. One is building a new juvenile detention facility. It appears more counties are building their law and justice centers, juvenile detention facilities, county jails and administrative centers in the same area for the convenience of all involved..

Our capable county administrator, Patrick Urich was quoted about plans for Peoria County. He talked about our new county building code which will go into effect April 1. He talked about our new voting machines (the city is using the same system) which all people I have talked to seem to like very much. These machines are ready for early voting for county voters. He talked about our efforts to expand our speaker’s bureau; anyone looking for a speaker to talk about what is going on in Peoria County, call 672-6056 or visit our website at www.peoriacounty.org. He is quoted about our hazardous waste landfill siting hearings which are open again to the public on April 3 at the ITOO Hall. Information is being added with frequency as to what is going on in our county on this website.

Recently, our capable County Board Chairman, David Williams was featured in a national edition of this same County News. Dave, who is running against Dave Koehler in the Democrat Primary for a spot on the November ballot and a possible seat in the Illinois Senate, has done an excellent job in keeping the county board running like a unit and the results are very evident. That’s one reason why our fund balances went from a 1 ½ million dollar deficit in 2000 to what will be a $21 1/2 million dollar gain by the end of 2006. By working together, the board, the board chairman, administration, staff, employees and elected officials make a better place to live for the citizenry of the all the county. To do this it takes competent leadership and a strong board. Peoria County has these attributes.

Another county talked of how they consolidated the two law enforcement agencies and having one center where emergency calls are dispatched. Can that ever happen here? I believe many of the voters in Peoria County would support consolidation.

You should read with more than a “passing interest” the “letter to editors” in today’s JS written by Paul Wilkinson, President of the Altamont Park Neighborhood Association. Also an article appearing in the JS on 11/22/03 titled “Discipline Problems Getting Worse in City Schools” by Chris Jewell. Also find a copy of the fine and disturbing two part series dated Oct. 27 and Nov. 2, 2005, titled “Unlicensed to Drive” showing that our courts are a revolving door and with the final conclusion that “The Verdict: the system is broken”. This series was written by one of the most capable writers in Peoria, DeWayne Bartels of the Observer.

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Thanks to Mike Bailey and the Journal Star for their fairly accurate appraisal of me and picture in the Journal Star today. I just finished reading a book “Will we win the Clash of Civilizations” by Tony Blankley. Tony says that “decent, honorable people have a duty to oppose conduct they judge harmful to their civilization.” We are becoming a nation of disrespect for authority that is mainly the reason why Judge Shadid said yesterday that he’s tired of the growing number of teenagers he sees waiting in front of him awaiting sentences for serious crimes. I perhaps have visited too many classrooms and witnessed first hand kids out of control and excuses made that “well, kids will be kids” and if we send them to the principals office we are judged as being a teacher unable to handle our assignment or receive a call from the kid’s home the next day. Maybe my observing a plastic container being pitched out of a car on Knoxville fifteen minutes before a crushed pop can was hurled at me while I was traveling 65 miles an hour on Rt. 74 or maybe my reaction was triggered by some emotion inherited by ancestors a twenty-five generations removed. I received no pleasure or feeling of authority from my actions but attention has to be called in one way or another to what is happening in this country. Most of my friends in the school systems and law enforcement agencies, call it the “broken window theory”. I also believe that the time to correct the error is when it is discovered. Call the police? (I don’t endanger the public by using a cell phone while I’m driving. I don’t use a cell phone.) I didn’t endanger anyone by asking the bus driver to pull over both by hand signal and after approximately one quarter of mile slowly pulling over in the aright lane and again by turn signal and hand signal indicated there was a problem either with or on his bus. Those who say I had no right. What if I had observed a fire under the bus, a tire going flat or some mechanical failure? Then I would be asked why I didn’t stop the bus and report it. Should I have waited for a school board meeting or drove a couple of miles where I could have found a phone and called the police? I suspect that many hours after the incident, a story would have been made up and a denial so then it again would be my word only and the incident would have been closed. I appreciate the coach for at least finding out who the culprit was right then.

I did apologize to Morton High School’s Roger Kilpatrick by phone for lecturing the kids about good behavior. Mr. Kilpatrick assured that appropriate action was taken. I do not apologize for asking the but to stop, which by the way he did not have to stop, he could have switched lanes an kept moving. I’m not about to challenge being rear-ended by a bus. Maybe Phil will check my accident history.

Each of us in our own way makes decisions every day, some of which get questioned daily by ourselves and in the media. As George B, Shaw said “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

By the way I have had far more emails and phone calls in support of my actions than those who sent “anonymous” hate messages on this site. Except the lady who identified herself and wrote she wouldn’t have stopped because she had been raped once. I have always had the courage to use my name on any position I took. Have I always made the absolutely correct decisions? No. But then have all of you who? You even might be interested to look further into critic Phil Luciano’s background to see if he has been a paragon of modesty and virtue.

As to my new neighbors of the past three years, Steven and Michele Aaron Hope, we enjoy each others company and they throw one of the best Mardi Gras parties in Peoria as my wife and I have been their guests for the past three years.
What happened to the former black and white unmarried couple neighbor? I was told by a man who worked with him that they left the community by request of his company after he had filed two lawsuits against them and he had intended to hit me with a civil suit as he heard I had a lot of money. Two Peoria Police Officers, one a Lieutenant, told me to make no contact with this couple because they were considered dangerous.

Why did the JS reporter, Andy Kravetz take a shot at me in year 2000? Because my now long removed neighbor was a PHA Section 8 investor and Andy covered PHA proceedings and was a friend of my neighbor. He mis-read the police report but the JS City Desk actually corrected the error in a a remote spot of the newspaper after I threatened them with libel. As to Terry Bibo, she was upset when I asked her to look into local fund-raising drives in which the fund raiser was keeping 90% of the funds raised. She never wrote on the subject and after a year, I went over her head again with no results except a phone call from her that wasn’t very flattering. That fueled her vicious column calling my attacking and long departed 27 year younger neighbor a “mild mannered Arthur Ashe”. (To my knowledge the fund raiser is now only keeping 85% of the funds raised by certain social clubs.)

Anyway, I’ll try to be a better citizen. I have nothing on my record except some speeding tickets or parking tickets. The day the Journal Star’s writer Luciano’s vicious attack appeared in print, I had my usual breakfast meeting with friends, played and won 2 and one half tennis matches at the Clubs at Rivercity; a privately owned fitness club (not taxpayer funded), had lunch with my Southwest Kiwanis Club friends, had two county board meetings where I was asked to make a presentation before an upcoming community wide business event, and attended a dinner (at the request of the county); a meeting of the Council of River Governments of which I am the only elected representative for Peoria County. The meeting was at the Ashford Convention Center in Morton; my mother and father and two sisters lived in Morton, considered by them and most others to be a fine community. I will keep on working for the Peoria County taxpayer to help keep the county fiscally responsible. And I’ll keep doing what I perceive to do as my civic duty.

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.” Things haven’t changed much in 140 years or so.

As to my “anonymous” attackers, why not come out from behind your secrecy and talk to me personally. We might get to know each other better. You can tell me what you are doing to make this a better place to live. And yes, back in year 2000, I did say I would need an “equalizer”. What would you say if your neighbors said they were going to send someone up from the south side of Peoria to take my M-F head off in at least three rather unpleasant ways?

After all, can’t we all just get along?