I’ve always been optimistic of what I could do as an individual. Probably the worst decision I ever made was to retire and put my faith in the optimism of others. Right now I’m pretty pessimistic about a lot of happenings that have a direct effect on my friends, retirees, the unemployed who are able and capable, the overtaxed and soon to be further overtaxed citizens, my family and myself.
This blog is prompted by “Another Opinion” by former Mayor Bud Grieves in today’s JS. Bud, who is a friendly fellow, writes about the failure of the Bush administration and an economy built on consumption and credit with zero savings. Bud also worries that our entitlements are about to bankrupt the country. These comments cause me to chuckle in dismay as I review all the slowly deteriorating projects Bud supported while mayor. Just a few include the RiverPlex where the city invested approximately 5 million in infrastructure; the last financial report available to the public, showed a loss of approximately $6,000 a day, a ball club in which I am a reluctant part owner (I bought in when a group of us headed by Pete Vonachen bought the club from the smarter than us guy from Chicago back in 1994), the city invested approximately $4 to $5 million in infrastructure depending on what figures you use and has yet to turn a profit to any stockholder that I know of, One Tech Center, in which the county made an unwise investment, (before my election to the County Board), the riverfront where the former Damons sits empty for going on three years and many others are keeping a brave face. Remember when River Station once thrived? Sooner of later, the city is going to be asked for financial support for a “zoo that might inspire some young person from Peoria Heights to start the next Microsoft in Peoria” (Peoria Times-observer 11/15/2000). I’m sure the community wanted the Gateway Center that looses approximately $500,000 a year and I’m not sure the community supports the closure of the railroad track for a yet to be funded trail. Where is the promised development of Southdown around the ballpark? Who was mayor and on the council when loan of $5,500,000.00 grant for Cubs that put two neighborhood groceries out of business and is now rumored to be downsizing. Looming on the horizon is a new TIF for SouthTown business development, concern over the new museum that if not built, Caterpillar says they will NOT build their Visitors Center-----I’ll stop here, I’m out of breath.
You know, I try to be optimist but just when I was feeling better, the stock market dropped 1200 points with no end in sight, attendance at the ball park appears to be going further “south” and the Peoria Park District Board floated another $10 million dollar loan for the zoo expansion. Glen Barton, whose wife Polly is heading up the fund drive for the new zoo expansion, says PPD needs another $6 million in contributions. The PPD still has 15 years to pay off the $10 million they borrowed to build the RiverPlex and $15 million of yet to be paid off bonds from other projects and expenses. In the meantime, the city hasn’t yet been asked for the public infrastructure everybody knows will be needed for the zoo expansion. Now the city and/or the county are being asked for more money for the museum, more money for school consolidation, more money for the Civic Center, more money for the neighborhoods, more money for street building and maintenance, increasing safety dollars for a sprawling relatively growth less population, ect.
With higher interest rates on the horizon, inflation camped on our doorsteps, gas prices remaining high while oil stock are plummeting, a global recession apparently underway and no end in sight in spending money off shores while off shore investors area pulling their money out of the U.S. economy, well folks, some of us no longer have a job and no pension, well, some of us are losing a lot of our optimism.
As one of the fiscal conservatives on the County Board and a minority in partisanship, my one vote is only one out of 18. But that one voice represents those of you who understand the meaning of fiscal conservancy. I want to retain that one vote to represent those of you who believe in the fiscal common sense you have and want your elected officials to have. (Please vote for me in November and if not in my district ask your friends to support this fiscal conservative).
While I want to share some of this community’s leadership optimism, in order to do so, I need to see more business plans based on history and facts. I need to see some of the current debts paid OFF and new projects that at least come close to breaking even and bring to the community more than just more restaurants and shops. Maybe I’m becoming like some of the “please vote no” people, I want some type of a guarantee that all these projects aren’t going to cost those not making $100,000 a year plus and those with large publicly funded pensions; an arm and a leg. Other than some proof, I’m going to turn pessimistic like my old acquaintance and optimist, Bud Grieves. I’ve tried my best to get more people to see what I see, but even I have trouble believing what I can see for myself.