I have listened to my opponent on three occasions. She has made these statements:
She would have voted “no” on the PDC Application. When the JSEB asked her why she would have voted “no”; I was there as we were interviewed jointly; she said “because that’s what the voter wanted”. She was asked if she attended any of the 42 hours of testimony and cross-examination, read any of the application, viewed the almost 500 letters in support of the application, attended any County Board meetings or visited PDC to see how they converted toxic waste into hazardous waste meeting all criteria of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Her answer was “no” to all of the above. How would you like to be on trial and everybody said you were guilty and my opponent, a jurist would then find you were guilty (even though evidence showed you were innocent) by letters to the editors, phone calls and emails?
My opponent has spoken at forums saying “the county can not be run like a business”. In 6 years on the county board, I have proved that “government can be run like a successful business”. Peoria County is trying to do just that with increased efficiency, encouraging elected officials to do the same, leadership training, improving employee morale, constantly reminding the unions they can’t retire with large pensions, have their medical benefits paid by the taxpayers get potentially 33 paid days off, and still get large salary increases each year. We have curtailed expenses in many instances, hired good administrators and encouraged the departure of employees who were not deemed to be doing their jobs. Exactly like a successful business operates.
My opponent has never met a payroll. She has been a bargaining agent for the Illinois Teachers Union and here is what Mike Bailey wrote on 6/18/05 ; “How District #150 Went Broke” “Peoria’s School Board gave away the farm with the five year teachers contract wreaking a hurricane that created a deficit of $54.3 million spending over the past five years. That contract was a convergence of factors, a militant new union leadership, ect.” On 4/17/05 the JS reported that my opponent on November 7, was a chief negotiator working with the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Now this teacher’s union contract is up again and negotiations have been going on since March.
On 12/05/05, an article appeared in the JS titled “Study: Tenure Means Job Security”. The article reads “It is next to impossible for schoolteachers in Illinois to lose their jobs. Strong teachers unions and high costs related to legal appeals often scare many school districts from getting rid of even the worst tenured teachers. Of the more than 95,000 tenured teachers in employed in Illinois, an average of only 2 a year are fired for poor job performance. Another 5 a year are dismissed for misconduct. Many of the larger school districts have not fired a tenured teacher over an 18 year span. Among those districts listed was Peoria School District #150, who had attempted only 5 formal remediations since 2001. The Geneseo school district has spent more than $400,000.00 in attorney’s fees over 5 years fighting appeals stemming from the firing of just one tenured teacher.
The Illinois Teachers Federation has for years fought any competition such as Edison Schools, Charter Schools and private schools. The Peoria County Board is represented by nine unions. Union board members on our board have worked to be fair in union dealings. To elect a militant member of the negotiating team of the ITF to the Peoria County Board would be a step in the wrong direction of keeping reasonable harmony between the county and the unions representing them.
While I was owner of Widmer Office Products/ Interiors we were ably represented by the Teamsters Union. No grievances where filed in 21 years before my sale of the company in 1992. My old company is still represented by the Teamsters as the only office equipment company in this area represented by a union to the best of my knowledge. Unions have lost ground in the private sector but gained ground in the public sector where public boards are usually weaker.
The Peoria County Board with the help of my experience and knowledge has worked with unions without giving away, as Mike Bailey said in June of 2005, “the livestock and the children”. All that could change in the next couple of years if you do not pay attention to who you elect to serve on the Peoria County Board.