Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006

I attended two Memorial Day services, one arranged by the Southwest Kiwanis Club who some years back constructed a memorial with plaques and with a platform that anchors a large flag. This memorial is located about 200 feet inside the main entrance to Glen Oak Park. The other service was at the newly landscaped entrance to Springdale Cemetery. The leadership and volunteers at Springdale have rejuvenated this cemetery to honor our dead that demonstrates our pride in community involvement and cooperation. Some interred here, departed in peace and some in sickness or violence; some early, some late or in the middle of the life we still enjoy. Each is worthy of memory for the person they were and the effect they had in the lives of others.

Both services honored our dead and wounded and those still serving in armed forces. Each service group was small; 30 to 35 people as most people just celebrate this day as a holiday. Also, there were many services in many locations and at different times. Unfortunate perhaps, but we are a free country to spend our time as we see fit and many took this honorary day as just another vacation day. I’ve done the same thing too many times in the past but plan to celebrate this day as it was originally meant to be celebrated for the remainder of my life.

Freedom gained by the sacrifice of all who participated in the freedom process has given us not only Memorial Day but every day allows us to be free to participate in acts that will continue to help this country to remain the most envied democracy in the world. We must make the most of what has been given us by others sometimes with terminal sacrifice and give back in ways that benefit our country, not just ourselves.

Many will remember our dead and wounded every day of their lives. As we get older, we miss the dead more and as we get older, we tend not to be so caught up in ourselves that we do have time to honor the ones who have allowed us to grow old. We also grow older and freer because of the laws that are fair to all who obey these laws that keep us respected as the world’s greatest democracy. Those who served and lost so much can never be forgotten. Those dead may never know how they sacrificed and were sacrificed for the living. Those crippled and maimed in so many ways must be shown the respect and given the assistance they need to lead a live worthy of the living.

For those of us still living in the freedom attained for us by ourselves and others, we must remind ourselves to be ever vigilant of the creeping apathy and crudeness exhibited by many of our youth. We need to give more guidance to especially the ones who with the urging of their false friends and those in college under the influence of ultra liberal and socialist professors attempt to tear down what it took so many so long to build. These youths starting to experience the freedom allowed in the adult world sometimes attempt to bring this country down to their level of half educated ignorance of this world new to them.

Be wary of demagogues seeking reparation for long past injustices and wary of newcomers who violate our laws and refuse to learn to speak the language most widely used in this country since it’s founding. Be wary of those who preach peace regardless of its cost to us in our freedoms. This country and other countries have many false prophets; many of them well meaning but many attempting to mislead such as the Al Qaeda and the Taliban just to name a couple. And some business leaders, some in religious leadership roles, some in the teaching profession, some union bosses and some elected officials or people in other roles of leadership where their main efforts may be to satisfy their personal egos under the guise of “I know what is best for you”.

If you didn’t attend any services honoring our armed services, please say thank you to everyone you know who served regardless of their accomplishments or the capacity in which they served. Or to their families who worry and pray for their safety and safe return. It always has been and always will be a joint effort of so many that have given us the right of free speech, the right to worship as we please, to travel where we want, to do the work we do and an opportunity to enjoy health, happiness and safety.

We can write what we feel (within reason) and put it on the internet where anyone across the world may read it if they wish. And better yet, others can comment and it appears below whatever we write. Isn’t this a great world and time we live in despite the chaotic ways of some countries and people and despite all the failures we make to just get along? We start with our families, friends, neighbors and our fellow men and women and participate in the process no matter how many roadblocks or excuses our minds may make for us. Reach out for others that act like they don’t need help but often are silently or violently
crying out for the need of someone to understand the problems most of us are confronted with every day.

To be free and enjoy freedom is not easy. Freedom comes with work, tolerance and sacrifice. But it also comes with standing up for your rights and with well thought out dialogue and discourse.

Memorial Day should be a time to look back and reflect and move forward tomorrow in a more positive way. That is the wish left for you by those already departed from this earth. We are the living so it is our job to make changes for what we perceive to the betterment of society. But remember that perception is often times not reality but at least it’s a start of the process of learning and reviewing and double checking to gain the best outcomes for yourself and those around you.

I believe this is what Memorial Day is all about even if you did catch the biggest fish of your life or made a hole in one.

Thanks for reading this.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Prairie State Games Troubles

On 4/30/06 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports “When the Prarie State Games left Fairview Heights two years ago for suburban Chicago, the organizers thought that they had ensured the games longtime health. But that deal with the new host city, Bensenville, Il., ended in acrimony and a lawsuit just one year into a three year contract.” Maureen Moore, CEO of the games, said that Bensenville had provided spotty logistical support during the last years games and that it refused to pay the $70,000 annual hosting fee. Bensenville officials claimed that the games had failed to deliver $18,000 as a part of the profit-sharing agreement and was withholding sponsorship money from the city. Moore said she “briefly considered moving the games to Bloomington but that would pose too many logistical problems”.

Does any of this sound familiar to Peoria when it hosted the games for one year back in 1994? On 11/16/94 Dave Eminian, JS sportswriter wrote “troubled games to leave Peoria for the third host city in three years. The games have a poor administration record under the Moore’s.” (Maureen’s husband also draws a nice salary and expenses as president of the foundation). The games have an operating budget of $565,000 coming from a combination of state grants, sponsorships, registration fees and funding from host cities. With the games due to start on June 22, Moore is quoted as saying “It has been a challenge to put the games together without a paying host for the first time since 1994.” So far, only Edwardsville had committed $5,000 to supporting the games. The article further states that the games still had $77,000 in outstanding debts since September, 2005.

In June 1999, a Journal Star sportswriter wrote, “Same story, different town. The Prairie States Games are in hot water again.” After the games left Peoria with a stormy relationship and owing $40,000, they landed in Belleville. The local paper confirmed that Moore had not filed a financial statement since 1996 while operating under the name of Illinois Health and Physical Fitness Foundation. The JS writer continues “Frankly her act stinks. It’s high time the state holds Moore’s feet to the fire. If she has nothing to hide, and the books are in order, then the state should at least force her to keep up with the paperwork and meet her legal deadlines. The businesses and individuals from whom she solicits money-they run the risk of trouble with the IRS if their supposedly tax-exempt donations go to an unregistered outfit---are owed that. Otherwise, it’s time to close down this rinky-dink operation.”

Why am I writing about this? I was the person solicited as a volunteer to coordinate the Peoria games. Problem was I couldn’t get Mrs. Moore to tell me what I was supposed to coordinate. I was told I needed anywhere from 1000 volunteers to as few as 250. I had over 200 volunteers by May 1 but venues and sites were not selected and Mrs. Moore appeared to be spending her time in Peoria dining or raising money. I realized the games were a good idea but poorly organized. I felt I was going to be the scapegoat so I called a meeting with Greg Edwards, then in charge of the Peoria Convention Bureau, Jerry Crabtree, Kirk Wessler of the JS and members of the Tri-County Sports Board and said I had to resign if I couldn’t get cooperation. A week later nothing changed. I resigned only to get a blistering reprimand from Barbara Mantz Drake of the JS who, by her own admission, didn’t have the foggiest idea of what was going on. On July 3, 1994, Eminian again wrote that “Prairie Games were not up to speed”. Phil Salzer, now on the Peoria County Board, is quoted as saying “running behind schedule in the PSG’s is normal. It’s always been kind of haphazard.”

I have never worked in, run a business or be involved very long when things are run in a “haphazard way”, especially when I can’t do anything about it. Whenever I asked Mrs. Moore when we could get together to do some planning, she would just say “loosen up”. I did, I stepped aside and Jim Polk stepped in. Bill Spears said “I decided to throw my hat in the ring and try to help. Merle had most of this done anyway, and the people slotted.” On July 3rd, Spears said “We are a little upset that we were just getting information this week from the Prairie State Games Moore’s. They seem upbeat. But you wonder if they ever get it together. I would say that their meetings don’t run like clockwork for people who have been running this thing for 10 years.” The games left Peoria after the 1994 games..

On 4/07/04, the JS sports desk again wrote “A note of advice to burgs around the state that might be listening to “Queen Maureen Moore’s sales pitch: Talk to anyone in Peoria-and I mean anyone—who dealt with these people in 1994 before you bid, or you will live to regret it.”

On 1/4/03, Richard J. Hobin, whose name didn’t appear on my PSG volunteer list, in a “letter to the JS editors”, tried to blame the failure of the games on me. Mr. Hobin just “happened to be a brother-in-law” of an elected official I was running against. Jerry Crabtree, a Bradley coach who was paid to do work for the Prairie State Games, also attacked me in a personal letter. Eat a little crow Jerry, and I hope you got paid. A letter dated 11/1/1994 that I sent to JS Editor Jack Brimeyer asking why the JSEB was attacking me still awaits an answer. At least I have a comment box on this blog site. By calling press attention to the shoddy performance and questionable finances of the PSG, I am proof of the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished”.

For those of you, who have had good experiences with the games, I hope you continue to participate. The games are not the problem; it is and has been problems with the management. Time for some major changes.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Author Ron Suskind on Ex-U.S. Treasurer Paul O'Neill

After reading “The Price of Loyalty” by Ron Suskind describing the “Education of Paul O’Neill” while he was Secretary of the Treasury of the United States of America under President George W. Bush, I feel some kinmanship with Mr. O’Neill. I quote from a statement he made at President Clinton’s 1996 education summit “We can know by age nine if a youngster has the ability to become a self-learner. Then don’t let that kid turn 10 without remediation if it’s needed.”

In 2001, in discussing with President Bush the NCLB program, he said, “I like that. But the idea that moves us forward-a real action plan-is ‘One Child at a Time’, an individualized mandate, where children would be constantly assessed in order to create a little strategic plan for each student, a personalized learning strategy to fill gaps and develop latent talent. There is nothing more important than nurturing our human potential as a nation—our future depends on it.” In his book “In Defense of Elitism” William Henry wrote “The big lie about childrearing in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegeon, is that everyone can be above average.” Inevitably, many students of limited talent spend huge amounts of time and money pursuing some brass ring occupation, only to see their dreams denied. Assess early, guide and offer challenges. Those six words should be at the fore front of every parent-teacher discussion by the kid’s age of 9 or 10. Standardized testing for many kids after that age is a waste of everything. Open the system to “One Child at a Time.” This country offers more opportunity to more good “Indians” than to too many good “Chiefs.” Unfortunately O’Neill hasn’t gotten much further than I have on this subject dear to my heart for many years. Too many kids still drop out of school without a clue, go to college without much of a clue and wonder why they are still seeking a career in which there are too few openings and for which they are not prepared when they are 30 years old.

Suskind quotes from “Beyond Human Scale”, a book by Eli Ginsberg, how we often fail to provide leaders with the honest brokers and the sober analysis these leaders need to make sound decisions. O’Neill feels that all “leaders are best served by honest brokers and presidents (Bush) should not rely on ideologists when they cede significant authority to others. The nature of ideology is to not think things through. Thinking it through is the last thing an ideologue wants to do.” O’Neill continues “I think ideology comes out of feelings and it tends to be non-thinking. Ideology is a lot easier than structured “what do I think and why do I think it”... because you don’t have to know anything or search for anything. You already know the answer to everything. It’s not penetrable by facts. It’s absolutism.”

It was obvious early on that O‘Neill was not going to fit in the Bush administration. He didn’t plan to give in to what he considered the “tyranny of perceptions”; of appearance versus reality. O’Neill says that Richard Nixon, in comparison to Bush, was afraid of hearing an oral presentation because he felt he could be swayed by it, that a strong presentation on only one side of an issue by an expert could cause otherwise sensible people to make bad decisions.

On 2/22/02, Alan Greenspan addressed a collection of the top financial officers in the United States at the Treasury presided over by O’Neill, over the crisis of the bankruptcy of Global Crossing and impending crises at AOL, Tyco and Quest. Greenspan said in a raised voice “There’s been too much gaming of the system until it is broke. Capitalism is not working! There has been a corrupting of the system of capitalism.” Harvey Pitt said “The CEO has an obligation to its investors (stakeholders) to inform them of material information that the CEO knows “investors” would like to know. There can not be conscious avoidance.” Unfortunately some of this gaming goes on and the system of capitalism is still being corrupted by many. Some of the corrupting is and will always be, legal.

When O’Neill got his notice to resign or be fired he said “Even friends in the media were more interested in small conflicts than in what was right or wrong, more interested in the push and shove of personalities rather than the real conflict that was going on within the administration. Politics as it is now played is not about being right. It’s about doing what is necessary to win.” O’Neill with his ability to speak his mind and not be politically correct was probably doomed from day one. Our countries loss but he is now involved in things he wants to do and can get done.

O’Neill felt that Bush demands a standard of loyalty-loyalty to an individual, no matter what. He says “That’s a false kind of loyalty, loyalty to a person and whatever they say or do, that’s the opposite of real loyalty, which is based on inquiry, and telling someone what you really think and feel---your best estimation of the truth instead of what they want to hear.”

Amen to each paragraph and I wish this country had more Paul O’Neill’s and less sometimes clueless leaders. Read the book; it’s an education and Suskind is a great writer.

Heart of Peoria Kickoff

Learn and participate in the H.O.P. Kickoff Presentation starting Friday May 19 at 6:30 at the Civic Center. Form based codes will be the center of discussion with the idea to move the urban center of the city back into the vital place it once was with some continuity of purpose. Thousands of articles have been written on the subject with the latest one I’ve seen in today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal. This article titled “The Ersatz Urban Renaissance” is written by Joel Kotkin author of the “The City: A Global History”. He says “Given the growing challenge posed by the emerging boomtowns as well as the suburbs and exurbs, wannabe “hip cool” cities need to realize that they can’t thrive merely as amusement parks for the rich, the nomadic young and tourists.” He reiterates improvements and attractions such as jobs, schools, safety, and ease of mobility, parking, proper housing; design and layout in the center(s) of cities have a major impact on rebirth. Lack of parts of these advancements has contributed to the outward movement to the suburbs. Yet the heart should be the most vibrant. We should all be interested in the best ways to continue to revive the downtown.

Heart of Peoria is on the right track. Get on board to help us all along..

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Time To Move On

The votes are in – 6 yes and 12 no. Next step by PDC is probably to appeal maybe all the way to the SC. Time will tell. I’ll move on to other subjects and watch developments locally and be available to testify. I’ve said it all on my blogs. Suggest you reread them if you’re still interested because there may be a sequel. If you like what I write pass my site on to others. Thanks in advance. By the way, less than half the elected board uses a computer. Most don’t do email at home and have all their messages sent in care of the county board. One prominent board member said tonight he doesn’t read any emails he receives, he just throws them away. Hmmmm.

It may interest some with a legal mind that a siting committee was selected (7 board members) and we listened, well most of us did thru six days of testimony. The document we were working from said we were to meet with staff at the close of the hearings and then report our findings to the full board. Never happened. Why not; county officials are not sure. Maybe PDC is. Maybe someone of a higher authority than mine, I basically have no authority now, just my blog site, will post a comment and tell the siting committee members who showed some concern, namely Pat Hidden, Bob Baietto, Tim Riggenbach, Bill Prather, Sharon Kennedy (Sorry, Sharon, I left you out on my first post) and myself what happened?

I thought I knew some of the people on the board better but don’t know what drives them to do what they do. I do know this is an election year; I’ll turn my attention and my blog to my reelection if and when the opposition puts some one up to run against me. No way did any worry about getting reelected have anything to do with my action to save this safe and needed disposer of hazardous waste. Whether it affected others who are up for election, we will never know. Both Carol Trumpe and Tom O’neill have opponents and Tom changed his vote from an original yes to a no.

Not to be overlooked is a new County Board Chairman and a new Vice-Chairman to be elected by the Democrat controlled board. (I did not intend to run again and I won’t.)So next year the board will have both a new Chair and Vice-Chair. The Chairman has all the power and since our current one never misses a meeting, the VC is mainly honorary. So let someone else have it.

Next step is up to PDC and for local creators of waste to start planning to haul the waste they used to haul to PDC into SEBY (somebody else’s back yard).This highly Christian community denies they are of the NIMBY crowd. Good Christians are compassionate and willingly accept other people’s problems, they say. We’ll see. The businesses leaders of this community see why the closure of this disposal site could prevent waste creating companies from coming here, like, say medical laboratories, ect. (Think Renaissance Center)

Time to call it a day but my mind is still figuring out the politics of this vote and it was political. Facts and common sense appeared to have got lost in the shuffle.

Thanks to those of you who sent me supportive emails’ like Kenny Carrigan, Karrie Alms, Wil and Lu Barr, John Doering, ,Jim Clemons, ,Dale Bennington, Rose Bantz, Janice Husemann, Robert Hultgren, Eric Smith, Michael Creekmore Paul Dimlar, and some who called or wrote and I have lost in all my paperwork so I hope they will call again, email me or post on my blog site. And I thank my wife Claire because I totally dominated our office the past three weeks.

There were over 1000 letters of support that were in a binder in the County Clerks Office and the Board members I asked tonight if they knew they were there, did not. I know it was the County Clerks job to accumulate them; I’m not sure whose job it was to tell County Board members they were there. I learned they were eventually put on but since most board members don’t use computers, these letters were never viewed by the majority of the board. So I’m told.

This is a blog site so any thing I write here is subject to reasonable discourse. Maybe we will hear from some county officials soon.
DeWayne Bartels has said I seldom write about the County. Times and situations change, DeWayne, stay posted.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Lanfill Application: Summations before the vote tommorow.

Landfill Summations before the vote:

I can only speak for myself but the radical element of the environmentalist movement attempted in every way to “badger” or “bully” me to vote no. I received every type of threat except physical so far. A few people said they would not vote for me again or ever vote for me if I voted yes. A few accused me of “being paid off”, so stupid and hateful a question that I couldn't answer civily. Most people woud not give me their name address of phone number. I reached the point where I would not return emails with no names attached. Almost all who contacted me were women with no addresses so it was hard to look them up to see if they even lived around here. My anti-virus system was three times as active as it had been in the past in attempts by some radicals to shut up my blog site. More lies and half-truths have been told by a small but vocal handful of concerned but desperate citizens in their efforts to stop expansion of a locally owned company that has not been sited with any environmental problem for more than 12 years. Opposition leader Tom Edwards is quoted as saying to the Peoria County Full Board on April 13 “I think it was a historic decision(the no vote) and it is going to be nationally important.” This statement caught the attention of the business community. Why would a company come to Peoria that created waste but couldn’t dispose of this waste because of a radical element of environmentalists? I believe all board members are environmentalists but I do note that four of the no voters voted to put yard waste in the City/County Landfill back in 2002, which does emit harmful gases. I’ll attempt to sum up why I made the decision to vote yes and why I will vote yes again. My decision was made after listening to and reading all the testimony and adding more than a modicum of common sense.

There was no expert testimony submitted that the landfill will ever leak.
There was no expert testimony submitted that the landfill where the expansion is sited has ever leaked and no evidence was submitted that any pollution is occurring now directly traceable to PDC.. There is “speculation” that some leakage is coming from the older closed landfills.
There was no expert testimony that the landfill emits more gas that exceeds IEPA limits now or will emit more in the future.
There was no expert testimony presented that any sizeable amounts of moisture would ever seep down from the sealed bottoms of the landfill.
Expert testimony did say that if and when any liquids do escape, this liquid would be similar to sea water and would be in such small quantities as to not affect the huge Sankoty Aquiver.
There was no expert proof submitted that the landfill sits over the Sankoty as the opposition originally claimed.
There was no opposition from the Pleasant Valley Water System adjacent to the PDC Landfill. Ditto, the Illinois Water Company.
The landfill has been in existance for 27 years at the same location.
All of the expansion (except for 8 acres already owned by PDC) will take place over older landfills with IEPA approved liners, only now the liners will be greater in number, thicker and better in quality.
There is no opposition from the Greater Peoria Sanitary District who handles the leachate from the entire landfill now and will handle additional leachate if created in the future. In fact, the GPSD Executive testified that sewage prices would go up 5% if PDC leaves the area.
The most prominent business leadership of the community, The Civic Federation. The Heartland Partnership, The Economic Development Council, and The Greater Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, all supported expansion with the special conditions recommended by staff and approved by the PDC. The Peoria County Board Staff and their hired experts unanimously agreed to recommend that the Full County Board accept the Siting Application with more than 30 “Special Criteria” added to the Application which PDC has accepted.

In a letter to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, opposition leader Tom Edwards wrote about his concerns on the PDC Application. The IEPA answered Mr. Edwards on 9/23/04 reminding him they had addressed his concerns on a letter he sent in April, 2004. They were patient in advising him again that no toxic wastes were being buried at PDC, that PDC ran a clean disposal facility, was in accordance with all state regulations, that gas emissions were so low that PDC did not need testing and no evidence of any health risk at the facility. They further stated that no contamination has been detected or any off-site violations have occurred. Mr. Edwards then asked that the faculty be shut down and was told that “Neither the State of Illinois, nor the United States Government has the authority to commandeer private property with out cause and there is no cause. Mr. Edwards than asked if he could stop other states from shipping waste into Illinois and was told “Neither the permit nor the regulations restrict the receiving territory of a permitted hazardous waste landfill. Such a restriction would be in violation of the Interstate Commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
On 2/15/06, the Peoria Times-Observer asks “Is the information Tom Edwards disseminates factual?” When the reporter DeWayne Bartels asked Mr. Edwards about some of the things the IEPA said in this letter, Mr. Edwards replied “the letter is full of lies. They are the ones lying, not me.” But Edwards could not explain just how they were lying. The IPEA disputed Edwards claim of toxic material being buried by stating “when treated by LDR’s (land disposal requirements), the waste are safe for disposal in a landfill that is designed in accordance with the federal design standards. Therefore it is simply not true that the wastes disposed in PDC hazardous waste landfill are the most toxic wastes known to mankind.”
I’ll stop blogging now until after the vote. I’ve done my best to get the facts out because I have an obligation as an elected official to get as much of the truth out as I possibly could. I have a moral obligation to tell the truth and I sincerely believe there were large amounts of misinformation disseminated to a populace fed up with litter and waste and unsure of why they are getting certain diseases, looked for a scapegoat in PDC made easy by the likes of radical environmentalists. This hateful and suspicious attitude expressed by a small group created conceptions, mis-conceptions, perceptions, subtle falsehoods and out right lies. I know many were sincere in their beliefs but couldn’t figure out which of the above fit the situation.

Too bad. I expect if the expansion is turned down, that PDC will win on appeal. Then the county will really be a big loser. If PDC wins on appeal or loses and leaves the area, companies will think twice about located here for fear of being attacked by the RE’s.

I close with these words by Mr. Shelley Steele, author of “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era” He states “You go at a problem until you meet stigmatization, then you retreat into minimalism.” Not me.