Monday, April 30, 2007

Barack Obama - Populist de jure

Barrack Obama is going to run his campaign as the “voice of the people”. Some one reminded me that “the voice of the people is not the voice of God, for it was the voice of the people that sent Jesus to the cross.” I believe that is what the Bible tells us.

If he is elected, I suggest this country will continue its long slide to socialism as I predicted in a letter to the editors of the Community Word and the JS in October 2004. I believe I have read and heard him correctly; had he said he would listen to the people and make his decisions based on their information and information the general public doesn’t have (unless they listen to CNN and Lou Dobbs---)and his decisions benefit the overall welfare of our nation, I couldn’t agree more.

But I don’t believe that is what I am hearing Mr. Obama say.

Peoria County Civic Leadership Classes

Peoria County offers Civic Leadership classes. To sign up, call Jennifer Zinkel at 672-6918 or visit Those that have taken the course have expressed their satisfaction with the classes.

"Playing at Professions"

Many times I have written and said that we need to reach the modern kids thru every type of learning possibility that arouses their interest. This article printed in last week’s WSJ, describes a system that appears practical and is being practiced in many communities other than in Japan. Learning experiences similar to this are practiced in our country but none seem to be gaining in widespread appeal.

The Article says “Job theme Park for children is huge success in Japan. A theme park that focuses on some 70 careers may not sound like fun and games, but the park that can accommodate 3000 kids a day, has been a huge success since it has opened in October. Advance tickets for weekends have already been sold out thru April. Franchise parks named “Kidzania” are being sold around the world but there are no immediate plans for a park in the U.S.”

“Behind the park’s popularity is the nagging worry in Japan that many young people lack the diligent work ethic of which Japan has been so proud.” Let me interject that this is more than a nagging worry in the U.S. but we seem mainly to complain about it. “More young Japanese are dropping out of jobs, and some can’t be bothered to look for even their first job. About 640,000 single Japanese are neither at work nor in school, compared with 400,000 in 2001.”

“Kidzania doesn’t allow any parents inside. They can watch thru windows of wait in the adult’s only lounge. On a recent day, 89 sixth graders visited the park from 63 miles away as part of their career-education program. The students did research before hand, analyzing their personalities to try to figure out what jobs might suit them best. The teachers stressed the importance of preparation. Children would, otherwise tend to chose the easy jobs or jobs in which they can eat, she explained.”

Kidzania concept is universal and could be developed anywhere says Ricardo Millan of Mexico where his founding company Kidzania de Mexico, SA is located.

There are great ideas all over the world as most countries are experiencing the same problems we have her; lack of interest, lack of responsibility and lack of a work ethic. Why, because we have too many systems and leaders out of touch with reality. We have cumbersome bureaucracies making work (everybody you ask says they are very busy and I sometimes ask, doing what?) and are using outdated methods of reaching many young people, especially those who come from uneducated, undisciplined and victimization obsessed families. Not to mention some drugged out and some absolutely undependable or to be blunt, too lazy. Others are so confused they can only look at their own problems and not their young kids.

After all, didn’t just 22.4% of registered adult voters, vote in the last election? Count the thousands who never took time to get registered or those who don’t keep their registration card current as they mobile around the community or country. Yes, I said lazy, I see them everyday.

With members of the black community complaining as there is not enough for kids to do, (recent articles in the JS) they might start out by teaching them a work ethic, responsibility, listen to their good teachers and counsel them hard about not getting into drugs and theft. That’s a start. There is plenty to do in this community but our schools, churches and social services must stop being mainly welfare centers.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I found this article quite interesting. I quote a Mr. Dennis Griebenow of Minneapolis, “Everyone is saddened by the violence that is taking place in our schools. Humanists abhor such violence. Religious people are not any kinder toward each other, as we can witness in numerous stories from all over the world. Humanists are as moral as believers.” The writer then quotes from a statement of humanist principles, “We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest. We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence. We respect the right to privacy. We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, responsibility, honesty and truthfulness. Humanistic ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.”

He closes by saying “These are the principles that build up society, not tear it down.”

The Roman and the Greeks were on to something back in the 14th century. Seems like many of us got lost along the way.

Schools an all day affair?

“Schools may be an all day affair” is the header of an article appearing on 2/25/07 in the JS. The article points out that U.S. students average less time on instructional school hours during a year than most other industrialized countries. On the average, U.S. students go to school 6.5 hours per day, 180 days a year, fewer than in many other industrialized countries. Some Massachusetts private schools are experimenting with classes starting at 7:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. The extended day costs an average of $1200 extra per student. One model is “Knowledge is Power” program used in public charter schools.

To prevent boredom, the students’ do such things as stage musicals, design book covers, learn to cook, forensics and plan new school cheers. I’ve said over and over that schools are not all about academics and teaching to pass tests. Schools are to develop a well rounded product; some of these products who may have skills and interests far beyond what can be developed by an over-emphasis on memory and testing.

For students involved in other school extra-curricular activities; which should always be encouraged, excuses could be granted or schedules rearranged.

Even Ted Kennedy, usually in the Teachers Union back pocket, is considering allowing schools that fail to meet annual progress goals to extend their day as a possible solution. As one might expect, the National Education Association has no official opinion on extending the school day. Considering and no opinion. What would you expect of a system that promotes tenure over ability, poor teachers making the same as good teachers, and bad teachers who can do bad teaching for their entire career?

As Congress considers updating the somewhat effective NCLB law, they might observe what is really happening in other countries public school systems and why other countries are catching up with us. Also include some of the most successful programs bein run right now in this country. Some countries are surpassing us now and in the next decade, so will many more. I guarantee one area that we will surpass all other countries, if we do not change our ways, is the number per capita incarcerated in our prisons and jails. We lead now and unless we change the direction we are heading, we will not be caught.

The system, as I’ve written over and over needs an overhaul from top to bottom. Expand on the good, improve what needs improving and weed out the rest.

Along the way, forget the ideal that all kids are going to college and all have clean nails, desk jobs and soft hands. Otherwise, illegal immigration will fill the needs of businesses..

And yes, teachers who read me, I know many of you are doing your best under trying circumstances in many cases. And yes, board members and administrators, I know that many of you are doing the same.

But any of you who do not support performance pay and competition, I thank you for what you do but you are out of step with most private sectors.

A story I read recently, decried the conditions of many of the schools and the plight of many good teachers; 18,000 teachers in Los Angeles left the system recently feeling that the school systems had deteriorated so badly that they no longer wanted to teach.

I’ve heard the same thing here in Peoria and I know that in talking with High School Principals recently, our systems here in Peoria are extremely challenged and progress is slow.

Until kids who aren’t interested now, get interested in what schools have to offer, we will continue to see them dropping out at an alarming rate. To get them interested, the Peoria Public School System needs more counselors at all grade levels and all interested and involved need to do a better SELLING job to get kids to enroll and apply themselves to what is already being offered.

And by the way, new schools are absolutely not proven to increase the value of the product that new schools turn out. On the other hand, this community does not want kids in schools that hinder or impair their ability to succeed. If I recall, Abe Lincoln learned by candlelight and fireplace and my family grew up and succeeded without air-conditioning, school buses, cell phones and text messaging.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Library Referendum - More Facts and Thoughts

The JS said today that “most of the candidates to be voted on Tuesday support the referendum”. I don’t think anyone was opposed to the printing of an advisory referendum on Tuesday’s ballot. But many of the newly seated and current councilpeople are going to have to think twice, whether the referendum passes or not, before they lay out $35,000,000.00 for non priorities when our streets, curbs, sidewalks are falling apart, our school system needs some overhauling, the claim there is still need of a fire station and more security for citizens to feel safer. At Peoria’s incarceration rate there may soon be a request for a jail expansion if you want to keep the bad guys off the street and out of your homes. Which of these are more important? More computers and meeting spaces?

The day before the primary election in March, I noticed that two candidates had jumped the gun and placed their yard signs at Lakeview Library. Not only is illegal to put signs on Park District Property; the PPD owns all the Lakeview land, but is not the type of action that you would expect from a city councilperson. The signs bore the names of Thetford and Montelongo. Montelongo is the only person who to date has told me to stop sending him emails because he didn’t agree with what I was saying. At that time, he was President of the Chamber of Commerce. I note they did not endorse him. If you’re wondering, they did endorse me; I just didn’t accept any money from them for my campaign. I’m sure he’ll work well with the County if he gets elected.

In looking through the Library’s Proposed Strategic Plan, page 4 shows a picture of the beautiful Seattle Public Library. Comparing Seattle’s library is like when the PPD replicated Cincinnati’s recreational center, located on the Ohio River, right here in Peoria. Seattle and Peoria comparison? Peoria and Cincinnati? Peoria and Memphis? Give me a break. Okay, no problem, just show me the money, yours, not mine.

A letter to the editor today said that “When you look at places like Rockford, Elmhurst, Arlington Heights, Springfield Missouri, Muncie and Indianapolis you see modern libraries, not one left over from 40 to 50 years.” My goodness, the Jones got ahead of us again so let’s catch up whether we can afford it or not. My home, built in 1976 will soon need to be relegated to the junk pile. Why have my taxes on my “old” house risen every year but one since 1989? I don’t believe we’ve seen anything yet. Figure in what many feel are already too high property taxes, the $32,000,000.00 zoo and the still unpaid for RiverPlex; never able to meet the principle and interest on it’s bond. According to the promises made us, it was supposed to be profiting over $600,000.00 a year by now. Consider the Peoria Museum, not yet off the drawing boards, the big question mark about the expanded Civic Center, the Park Board moves to first Knoxville Ave. and then to the vacant Lakeview Museum after the new downtown Museum is built, the $35,000,000.00 Library Plan, the $500,000.00 a year money losing Gateway Center, a Renaissance Center that is still in a development stage, the Transport still in early development , the Springdale Cemetery question and the possible development of more of Southdown TIF’s.

Did I leave out the $60,000,000.00 plus Peoria Public School District #150 PARTIAL overhaul? Yes, the $60,000,000.00 Downtown Museum. Inflation will carry it to closer to $70 million when completed.

Did I also leave out public pensions that are increasing rapidly every year, especially the cities pensions, along with health costs and “A Mild Job Market Projected for Peoria”; April 2007, InterBusiness Issues. Did I leave out that we are a one major company city with a population that has shrunk from 120,000 in 1980 to 113,000 today? Did I leave out that most all the hospitals do not pay property taxes, including St.Francis?

Some will say I’m negative; no, I’m just a realist speaking as and individual property owner in the City of Peoria. I note the home I was born in and built in 1925 still looks the same from the outside and is occupied by a hard working family who has no intention of replacing it even though it is now 82 years old.


Since there was no organized public dissent about the Library Proposed Tax Increase, I expect the referendum will pass. I know some of the Council read me and know I am speaking as an individual. Those who don’t read me will get a copy of all I’ve blogged on my site after the new council is seated.

If you believe in what you’ve read written by me, pass it on.


Library Referendum - Facts

“Bursting at the seams” is widely used as tactics to get voter to pass an Advisory Referendum to the City Council; to grant a substantial year after year raise to your property taxes. Saturday was a rather wet gloomy day so at 11:00 A.M. I took a trip to my favorite Library, Lakeview to check out a book written by Dr. Peter Senge. They didn’t have the book but the downtown location did. Of the 300 or so times I have visited this library in recent years, I never had to wait more than a few minutes for service or ever seen anyone waiting half as long to buy a movie ticket. Today, I said, on this gloomy day, I’ll find that line. Nope, no one waiting in line. I browsed, observed and talked to a City Councilperson who does use the public library and showed him the 900 plus feet of unused bookshelves. No one used the self-check out machines in 40 minutes but me. (Lakeview is the only Peoria Public Library to have them and they are great tools. when they work) I observed about 15 people come and go in the 40 minutes I was in the library and observed only 6 kids using the children’s section.

Drive to the Downtown Library, I’ll drive for several miles if I want something, and check out Dr. Senge’s books and see how big the crowd is there. Nope, no crowd, 6 men sleeping or slumped in chairs with nothing in front of them. Most of the computers were being used, but as usual, I only saw two people taking notes. I did see Rob Parks dart in and pick up a book. The rest of the computer users appeared to be “surfing”. I was directed to the second floor where I found Dr. Senge among what appeared to be a million seldom or never used books.

What prompted my search for Dr. Senge was an email stating that Dr. Peter Senge, author of the widely acclaimed “The Fifth Discipline” and one of the “worlds top management gurus” would be in town to be the keynote speaker for “Building a Healthy, Sustainable Community: Planet, Places, People”. It’s also listed in the events section of the JS today. His book was published in 1990 and first checked out of the downtown library in 1996. Since Nov. 2001, it had been checked out a total of 4 times until July, 2005. I was the first to check it out in almost two years. Dr. Senge’s 2nd book called “The Dance of Change” was first checked out in 1999 and only 5 times since then with the latest checkout April 24, 2004.


The out of town consultants brought in by the Library Board and it’s Director say in their “Proposed Strategic Plan” that “just over 40% of Peoria’s population is registered for a library card compared to 53% in Grand Rapids and 80% in Palatine. To offset this, the Peoria Public Library is going to have to reinvent what it is and what it does. New and updated facilities must be designed to ensure equitable access to library service throughout the entire city.”

We now have what appears to be a couple million books in the Peoria Public Library System plus a million or more available from other libraries thru the Library Alliance. (Not counting the 150,000 thousand books in our school systems and social agencies.) How will new buildings, a new design and a new floor plan, get people to read Dr. Senge, the Classics and books about the history of the Middle East (and don’t forget China) as Dist. 150 will soon start teaching Chinese to kids who haven’t yet mastered the English language?

Library Referendum - Facts, Distortions and Lies

Today’s header in the JS “More Than Books” written by Pam Adams was a distortion of the truths. Ms.Adams’ article says “The South Side Library on West Krause in Peoria could close its doors if plans for its RENOVATION ($485,000.00 plus was recently spent to totally renovate this Library) are turned down on the referendum vote.” This statement is a total falsehood; all library spokespersons have said that the South Side Library is “underutilized” and has poor attendance and have said that if the referendum PASSES, the South Side Library will be closed. In the Peoria Public Library Strategic Plan, it reads “It is a fact that library usage on the south side is poor. A state of the art 30,000 square foot building should be explored.” They say two south side libraries, River West and Southside, could be combined into one 30,000 sq, ft. at the Lincoln Library site.

Ms. Adams has made a false statement probably to encourage voters to vote yes because who would want to take library service away from the readers on the south side?

Because Ms. Adams has made a false statement, I called Anthony Smith at the JS and asked him to make a correction in tomorrow’s newspaper. I have met Anthony on several occasions and believe him to be a fair reporter. If the referendum PASSES, it is stated in publicized plans, the South Side Library will be closed. I believe this is another attempt to make black people feel like they are victims. We don’t need more lies in this community, many of us have heard enough.

Just as a reminder, two library spokespeople appeared before the City Council in 2002 and pleaded for money to put in an elevator to the 2nd floor of the newly remodeled South Side Library and the City gave them an additional $200,000.00 to do so. Reason for the request; the library was “bursting at the seams”, they said. Four years after this additional two hundred thousand dollars was spent, the Library Board want to close it because it is “underutilized”.

Think carefully about where Peoria’s priorities lies before you encourage the City Council to give $35,000,000.00 to the “new in town” Head Librarian to spend to spend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Library Referendum - Fact and Fiction - Part 6

If you have received a copy of the “Peoria Public Library Strategic Plan – The Facts”, you will note that the “facts” do not include the outrageous cost to the Property Tax Payers of Peoria; $35,000,000.00. That’s thirty five million dollars. Why wouldn’t that figure be on a facts sheet?

You will note that this fact sheet says that “Three small branches on the South Side are offering “inadequate” service due to lack of space and staff.” This statement is contradicted by the new Library Director, who lives in an apartment in the Twin Towers and pays no property taxes, who is quoted in the Journal Star saying that Harrison Library was being closed because of “underutilization”.

This fact sheet says that Lakeview is operating “way beyond capacity”. But I’m told that the library could use more help. More space can be created by removing unused books, unused shelves; over 900 linear feet of empty shelf space and taking down the now empty bookshelves to create much more space. As a person who has visited that library hundreds of times; probably 10 times more than LaHood, Risinger and Leitch combined, I refute that statement. Also, space could be created by removing the pornographic books. Patrons can find a whole section of Erotica at Barnes and Noble and sit all day in easy comfortable living room chairs and never spend a dime.

On 3/04/06, the JSEB reported that the PPL had brought wireless connections to two of its busiest branches. I am told by the City of Peoria and the Chamber of Commerce that a wireless “cloud” will soon be put over the entire city making the wireless connections available without entering any library. Check it out with your City Councilperson.

Before supporting this huge $35 million dollar more efforts should be made to combine libraries into our public school system and have these libraries manned by competent librarians of which this community has a surplus. All schools have their own libraries now. The problem is they are not open after school hours and are not manned by competent skilled librarians such as the public librarians who are. I’m gathering more info on the strengths and weaknesses of the school libraries.

This community has millions of books, thousands unread. Libraries have Encyclopedias of several kinds. All this information is now available thru the computers at the libraries but I doubt that many people use the computers for that service. I know they do not use the Encyclopedias because none of the many volumes show little, if any, wear, especially those at “the three small libraries that are planned to be combined into one”.

I learned that another way pornography enters our property tax supported libraries is thru discs that can be inserted in all the machines. That explained the “crowd of four” watching porn on the computer monitor. When I asked how that can happened when the library has a policy “not posted” that I could see of no porn in the library and no one could answer my question other than saying “they are not supposed to use our computers like that.”

I’d appreciate anyone’s experience with the public school libraries. Thanks..

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Library Referendum - Fact and Fiction - Part 5

On 12/22/04, Kitty Pope, Executive Director of the Alliance Library System (based along Rt. 74 in East Peoria) wrote in a “Letter to the Editors to and published by the JSEB stating, “Research confirms that the most dependable predictor of high student achievement scores is a school library supported by a trained librarian. Colorado researcher Keith Curry Lance recently completed the Illinois Study which confirms a direct correlation between a school library program and high test scores.”

The most effective step that a school can take is to assure that all students have access to a school library rich in resources ands supported with a knowledgeable school librarian. This will guarantee better test scores for our children.

On 2/04/06 the JSEB wrote that Peoria Public School District #150 Superintendent Ken Hinton said he would like to incorporate city libraries in the two schools being planned at Harrison Homes and on the East Bluff. The JSEB says “Which government – the library or District 150 – will pay to build the libraries? Which will staff them and supply them with books? How will security be managed to keep the kids safe during the school day, while providing access to library patrons? Will the library be a free-standing building or under the same roof as the new schools?” Hinton said “We don’t know how it can be done but it is worth trying.”

I know that all Peoria Public Schools have libraries. It is my belief that the district cut back on competent school librarians ( not true I found out. All are certified but they receive no funding for assistants and all are friendly, helpful people) and I believe that most school libraries close at approximately 2:30 P.M. When I was a mentor at Blaine-Sumner, I tried to take my kids to the library only to find it locked. Only place open to mentor that had any interest to the kids was the gym.

A year later, Hinton is saying the same thing. The JSEB says this is the kind of intergovernmental cooperation that can be a win-win for all involved, and central Illinoisans should demand more of it. I agree.

Note that Hinton said “city” libraries. Speaking as a tax-paying citizen of the City of Peoria, I highly suggest that the City of Peoria consider taking over the Peoria Public Library system rather than just funding it. My six year intense observation of the Peoria Public Library system indicates that a drastic change is needed before the Council decides to tell the property taxpayers to come up with the $35,000,000.00 requested of the already overburdened taxpayer.

I suspect that enough hype and half-truths have been expended for the voter to pass this advisory referendum. It is my hope that the Council does its thorough homework before making a $35 million decision.

I note the Library spokespeople have said that can spend this money without increasing overhead and costs to operate and maintain. Do you believe that and have you heard that before? Hmmmm.

Look for at least one more post before the election as I have some more research to do starting this afternoon before the County Board meeting which usually starts at 6:00 P.M. I will be there early to congratulate the new graduates of the County's Leadership Program. See you there, fourth floor at 5 and fifth floor at 6.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Library Referendum - Fact and Fiction - Part 4

In 1999, when the PPD was selling the concept of the RiverPlex, ranking park officials said that the RiverPlex was located in the “center of the city”. They also said that anyone could reach any part of the City of Peoria within 15 minutes. Now we are told by ranking library officials that Lakeview Library is in the center of the city (it is more than five miles northwest of the RiverPlex) and it is now too far for people living within 3 ½ miles of the Lakeview Library to drive. How is 3 ½ miles relevant to the hard sell to get the voters to yes to an advisory referendum, that if approved by a majority of voters could become a permanent property tax and $35,000,000.00? Because it is 7 miles from Lakeview Library to the new expanded Dunlap Library. So anyone with a Peoria library card, would drive no more than 3 ½ miles to the Dunlap or 3 ½ miles to the Lakeview Library. Those living northeast from say, Wilhelm road would only need to drive to Chillicothe and their $4 million dollar new library or drive to Peoria Heights and visit their relatively new library.

Let’s talk more about mobility. People all over the area drive to downtown Peoria because, whether the center of the city or not, the downtown is anchored by Caterpillar, the rapidly growing major medical centers, City and County Government, the Civic Center and the Riverfront. Bradley University is close at hand and Illinois Central College is just on the other side of the river as is the fast growing community of East Peoria. Peoria has shrunk in population by about 8,000 people since 1980 yet its land space has quadrupled in approximately 50 years. It is inconceivable that services can be provided to everyone without dramatically raising property taxes. That is what is happening and this is just the beginning.

When one hires an expensive consultant, the consultant is wise enough to know what answers those doing the hiring wish to see and hear. We have a new library Director from the “big cities” staying at the Twin Towers. Do you believe he would want these consultants to say “all you need is to perhaps expand Lakeview, put self check out machines (that work) in all libraries, add a couple more employees at Lakeview, retire thousands of books, many of them hard and soft porn, many books not ever read or not read for years, take down a couple of bays of book shelving at Lakeview and add another battery of computers? Not for $65,000.00 no matter who pays for it.

Don’t be misled by thinking that all the people you see using computers are studying or taking self improvement courses. Don’t believe the Library Directors when they say all porn has been blocked out. The four guys looking at naked women on a computer screen, women in “not for public poses” and these guys didn’t appear to be medical students. Hey, watch porn all you like, but not on my tax dollar.

As to the systems used to compute the number of visitors to the libraries each year? Figures lie, liars figure and counting machines malfunction, just like the self-check out machines at Lakeview.. There is no way to accurately count the number of visitors to any library and the fact that people check out books, tapes, ect., is no proof they used them. Approximately 50% of all the books I check out I find not worth my time to read. The cover and the story looks interesting so I check the book out but the author often cannot hold my interest so I return it unread.

This community has a past history of promising more than it can produce. After seeing the results of the RiverPlex that to this day has not been able even to meet the principle and interest on it’s bond, a ball park that after 13 years has yet to turn a profit, a current zoo that loses between $300,000.00 and $400,000.00 a year, a zoo expansion that so far, has had to borrow $12,000,000.00 to start construction on a projected $32 million dollar expansion. Add in an “iffy” roughly $60,000,000.00 Civic Center expansion, a library trustee who says “if we can maintain yearly 4% property tax rise in evaluations, we should be okay”, approximately $100,000,000.00 of museum building in the possible offing, $60,000,000.00 plus of new schools listed as priorities, a sagging infrastructure of streets, sidewalks and curbs, people demanding more guaranteed safe neigh hoods, a new fire station being requested, pensions payments that in the next seven years could reach epic proportions in the public sector and all the library wants is just another measly $35,000,000.00 up 500% from the last time they appeared before the city council asking to build a new $6.9 million dollar library out north and $450,000.00 plus to renovate a library on the south end; a library now scheduled to be torn down to make way for the new Harrison Schools. In four years this library went from “bursting at the seams” to “underutilized”. Oh yes, it’s now Lakeview that’s “bursting at the seams”. Wow.

A library worker I will not name told me that they didn’t need expanded libraries; they just could use some more help. I’ll support that.

I’ve said before, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it. As for local ranking politicians lending their support? When was the last time you met a politician who did not approve what the “movers and shakers” want? To be reelected every two years or so, politicians know you must promise something for everyone. And after all, who can say no to a library? Didn’t we use them when we were kids? But when was the last time you saw a ranking politician in a local library unless is was for a news release or a photo-op?

Consider also that if we hadn’t spent approximately $150,000,000.00 to date on a suspect riverfront, the taxpayer might not feel so bad about another $35 million.

But at some point, maybe not with this new non-priority, the taxpayer already moving by their feet will finally find it is time to “draw a line in the sand”.

Library Referendum - Fact and Fiction - Part 3

Bradley University, with a very large collection of all types of media and reference material, is open to any person with a Library card. Not only is the entire library open to card holders but there are four computers for public use. Bradley has the most extensive hours of any library in the area. Hours are 7:45 A.M. thru 12:00 A.M. Monday thru Thursday. Friday until 8:00 P.M. Sunday from 12:00 noon until 2:00 A.M. That’s right P.M. till A.M. and open to the public.

Barnes and Noble and Borders are open earlier than any public library and open more hours for all except Bradley. You can visit either bookstore and browse from opening to closing and never spend a dime. When you want to leave, just leave your materials on the floor, or wherever you wish. No one will ever ask you to leave.

I note that the Peoria Public Library wants to put in coffee houses to compete with the public sector; this sector supporting competition with their own tax dollars. Not only do the public libraries get most of their money from property taxes, they apply for and receive large dollar amounts from grants which are almost all taxpayer funded.

The library wants to put in more deep comfortable seats in the Downtowns Library. Think about that for minute especially since the library is open to anyone and there are supposedly a lot of homeless people living downtown.

It appears to me that prominent people have been pressured into supporting this tax guzzling $35,000,000.00 on the basis of who could say no to libraries. I asked quite a sizeable number of friends and acquaintances whether they supported libraries and they said yes but had not visited on for several years. None of then had collected information over the years like I do and were astounded at the $35,000,000.00 capital funds being sought. These are not operating expenses, money for those expenses are collected every year. Look on your real estate tax bill to see what you pay for library taxes. My library taxes were $236.00 in 2005 and if the library gets the council to approve this funding; my library taxes will go to over $300.00 and increase every year.

Consider that #150 will borrow $60,000,000.00 to build new schools; the one proposed at Glen Oak Park would cost over $22,000,000.00 alone. Every taxing body in the area from I.CC., Townships, Airport Authority, our local bus and transit system (whose cost have risen dramatically in recent years), the Park District, the County and the City and probably one new taxing body I omitted, will raise your taxes each year. Couple with rising electricity rates and gasoline prices not to mention the rising costs of grocery products produced from corn; corn now in great demand to use as a highly subsidized fuel, subsidized again with your tax dollars and figure what our taxes will be in this community in the next decade. I guarantee that unless we build our tax base with new profitable businesses, Peoria may be a good place to visit but not live.

This concludes Part 3 but expect at least one more as I continue to gather information and receive input. I support libraries but cannot support this $35,000,000.00 oversold and under planned plan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Library Referendum - Fact and Fiction - Part Two

On 4/1/07, I received a letter apparently written by the Library Directors Staff and signed by Rep. Leitch and Senator Risinger asking support for the $35,000,000.00 Library Referendum that will be on your ballot on April 17, stating that “three sub-par south side libraries would be consolidated into one expanded Lincoln Library.” I previously received a recorded phone call from U.S. Rep. LaHood saying that the libraries needed more computer space because libraries were the only place where kids could go and use computers free. All three of our leading Republican politicians support the expenditure of $35 million dollars of property tax payer’s money. But then the Republicans are earning the reputation of the other “tax and spend” party. I can’t confirm but I believe Aaron is in support also.

On 3/04/06, Peoria Public School Superintendent Ken Hinton said he would like to incorporate city libraries in the two new schools planned at Harrison Homes. Hmmm.

The JS recently announced that 43 libraries in the Peoria area received funding for the new rage for teenagers called “Playaways”.and the Peoria Public Library was not one of the 43. How did Peoria miss this government handout?

On 9/26/2001, the JSEB wrote “Peorians can wring their hands over gang influences; they should finish the Harrison South Side Library. The JSEB thought they could finish the job for $100,000.00 Now six years and $450,000.00 plus of taxpayers money, our new Library Director says this Library is “underutilized” and will be consolidated with Lincoln Library, a good one and a half mile away. The JS also wrote on 9/10/01, “Still, it seems the (existing) Peoria Public Library gives readers access to books they need and want.”

On 9/10/01 the JSEB wrote “The library does some things poorly. The downtown library is not open on Saturdays and Sundays and the Lakeview Library is not open on Sunday.” (The downtown library is now open on Saturdays and the Lakeview Library is open on Sundays. The Lincoln Library is not open on Sundays and the Harrison Library is not open on either Saturday or Sunday.)

At one time, Peoria City offered the library good used computers but the library said they did not fit the library system. A Councilman told me the FBI did accept the computers, refurbished them and used them. I believe any computer that works would be better than the three computers down for months at Harrison and the one computer down today at Lincoln.

On 2/2002, the JS reported that the Peoria Public Library had hired a consultant to make an independent study of the libraries needs. He evidently recommended the North Allen Road site for $6.9 million including land, building and furnishing.

On 11/15/05, the JS reported that $69,925.00 would be paid for a NEW study of library needs but no public funds would be used in that study. The JS did note that “$65,000.00 would buy a lot of books.”

On 3/22/07 an article in the WSJ read “Of all the places you’ll go, is the library still one of them?” The article continues “Kids turn to Google if they want to research something. The library is more removed from their lives, says a retired librarian in Albuquerque. It’s a last ditch place to go if they need s to find something out. Many people could answer a lot of questions they ask librarians in person now, but could do it themselves online in seconds.” Another librarian says she “spends most of her time telling patrons to pull up their pants, stop cracking their gum and signing them up for computers in which they idle away their time on Yahoo and occasionally some porn site.”
(Saw it myself today right here in Peoria where everything "plays" even in our libraries on the taxpayers dole.)

On 3/22/07, the WSJ reported that Borders is reducing its numbers of CD's as more people are using the web. It also plans to sell or close almost half of its Waldenbooks stores (Peoria has one at Northwoods Mall) and closing forty Border stores in Europe. Barnes and Noble is attempting to woo teenagers to an Allen, Texas downtown library by devoting one room strictly to teenagers. The article points out that libraries are going from work and learning centers to leisure and entertainment centers. Another article states that Borders could be a takeover target by Baarnes and Noble.

The National Endowment for Arts reported a few years ago that “For the first time in modern history, less than half the adult population now read literature. The decline will not be reversed until there is a culture restoration and than will not be easy to do.

On 3/27/07, a Peoria Public Library Trustee said “As long as equalized assessed valuation continues to grow at 4% a year in Peoria, things would be fine.” Don't bet on it. Many of my friends and constituents have told me that if property taxes continue to rise rapidly in Peoria, they will seek a different place to live.

An article by John Miller of the Olin Foundation, says that if public libraries continue to compete with the web, he envisions these libraries to be: “welfare programs for the middles class people who would rather borrow Nelson DeMille’s newest potboiler that spend a few dollars for it at Walmart.”

It is pointed out that at the Fairfax, Va. County Public Library, classic books like “For Whom the Bells Toll” and “Doctor Faustus” have not been checked out in two years. Some Classic books at Peoria Libraries have never been checked out, including “War and Peace” yet these classics look impressive and take much shelf space.

The Library Alliance with offices in Tazewell County along Hwy. 74, coordinates book distribution between many libraries in a wide area. That means any library card is good at any participating library, and to my knowledge, they all participate including Peoria Heights and Dunlap. Incidentally, Peoria Heights Library, Peoria Downtown Library and Dunlap use all of the seven high shelves in a stack. Lakeview only uses five which is one of the reasons they have 900 linear feet of unused bookshelves. These other libraries, some in the same system, use “Kik steps” to sit on or stand on. Lakeview says these “Kik steps” are too dangerous and they don’t use them.

“Bursting at the seams, underutilized, more computers, more meeting rooms, redesign, new buildings, ect.” is the classic language of people in charge who want something new and that costs a lot of property tax payer dollars. We’ve heard that same story in Peoria before and everyone of these low priority projects has fallen short of their hype, some as I print this and some, in the not too distant future. I am willing to visit any library for first hand observation with any of you who honestly believes we need to raise another "just" $35 million because our libraries are not properly serving our stagnant growth populace.

Do I think the community should support some extra money for Peoria Public Libraries? Not without more justification than given for this large an expenditure and not without a better plan than this $35,000,000.00 “slush fund”.

I certainly do not oppose the referendum. I want the voter who seldom goes to libraries to vote on facts, not on hype and sentiment.

This concludes Part 2 with one or two more parts to follow tomorrow. This is not a new project for me. I have been following the libraries sytems performance for quite a number of years.

Library Referendum - Fact and Fiction - Part One

I visited three libraries today. My first visit was Lakeview where I again confirmed approximately 900 linear feet of empty shelf space. The self check out machine, as often happens, did not work and I had to have a worker check me out manually using an obsolete inked date pad. Today, I mustered up nerve to look over a computer user’s shoulder who was scrolling through pictures of scantily dressed females. Two other computer users were assembling a jigsaw puzzle and another was researching how to get a Social Security Card. I checked books on the shelf and in just one instance, found 8 books all the same title and author, “Kite Runner”. The first check out date was May 2005 with 34 total manual checkouts or 2 checkouts per book per year. Why the need of 8 identical books?

My next visit at 4:00 P.M. to Lincoln Library I found one person using the computers and this person was looking at scantily dressed females.

Lincoln does not have self check out machines; the stamped dates shows the check out due date on the back cover of the book. I found what I have found each time I visit Lincoln, hundreds of books have never been checked out and very few bore a 2007 stamped date.

My next visit was the downtown library where I observed 4 young males scanning pictures of partially dressed and some totally nude women in embarrassing positions, One monitor picture that brought a laugh from one of the observers was of a nude woman lying on her back with her legs spread wide and her vagina spread open. Why are we taxpayers funding porn spewing computers?

The Downtown Library does not have self check out so the check out due date is stamped on manually. Many books had not been checked out in the past year. I did observe quite a few people sitting who were doing nothing or visiting and had the appearance of people described as homeless people.

Last week, I visited Harrison Library which is scheduled to be abandoned if the City Council approves the new Library Directors request for $35,000,000.00. Ed Szynaka, lives in an apartment in the Twin Towers so he is not a property tax payer. He arrived in Peoria about a year ago after stops in Pasadena, Ca. and Indianapolis, Ind. After the previous director claimed in 2001 before the City Council that the “Harrison Library was bursting at the seams”, the Council appropriated approximately $450,000.00 to remodel and furnish first one floor and then a second floor with an elevator. Now, new Director Mr. Szynaka says this library is “underutilized” and will be closed.

At Harrison, the 2nd floor has no books and four computers, three that haven’t worked for month and some chairs and tables. The library has hundreds of books that have never been checked out and almost no adult usage as it is open only 5 days a week, 10:00 P.M. till 5:00 P.M.

In 2000 and 2001, the previous library board considered closing both the downtown library and the McClure Branch. Now the new director wants $35 million of property tax payers money to close Harrison, add on to Lincoln which is also underutilized, and add on to Lakeview; the need at Lakeview being very questionable because several bays of underused or duplicated books could be removed to make more space for computers. In the 15 years of visiting Lakeview on a regular basis, I have never awaited in line a half of the time I have waited in a grocery store line where I PAY for my needs. If the self check out machines at Lakeview worked with consistency, few people would have to wait in line.

On August 17, 2001, the then Library Board President and Library Director stood before the City Council and asked for $6.9 million to purchase 7 acres of land and build a new Library out on North Allen Road. Now the new Director and Board is asking for $35 million to include a possible 30,000 square foot Library in an exsisting building on Pioneer Parkway.

To sum it up, the new Director with the backing of his board, claims that the Harrison newly remodeled library is underutilized, the lightly use Lincoln Library needs expanding, The Downtown needs a totao overall which includes the exsterior of the building, MClure needs more space, the Lakeview Library needs expanding and there needs to be 30,000 square feet of new books, computers and meeting rooms. All for JUST $35,000,000.00

Most residents north of Pioneer Parkway have one or two computers at home. Manual High School working with Workforce Network just installed 20 new computers open to the public 3-8 P.M. Common Place, Carver Center, Proctor Center, Workforce Network Downtown, Bradley University, social agencies, existing libraries and other locations have free computer usage and many companies are looking to give computers away.

The Director claims the need for more meeting space. Why should we taxpayers pay for space used by say, the Chess Club and the ACLU? There is underutilized free meeting space starting at Harrison Library and even the Peoria Court House. Schools rooms all over the city are usually vacant from approximately 2:30 P.M. – 7:30 A.M.Many churches have meeting rooms. The Park District plans on adding more meeting rooms when they move into the vgacataed Lakeview Museum after the $60 million plus, and growing, Peoria River museum is built.

As a frequent library user and ex-teacher, I know the value of libraries. But I also know that $35,000,000.00 expenditure is not in the best interest of property tax payers who live in the Peoria Library Distinct. Peoria Public School District #150 has plans for at least $60,000,000.00 in new schools in the near future. Each school will have its own underutilized library as most all school libraries are underutilized now.

While the referendum is supposed to be non binding, I fear that too many of us are buying into the “everybody likes libraries” stampede. Shame on you if you don't support libraries.

Keep raising property taxes and many of our library users will be moving out of town and come back and use the services we are paying for.

This part one of the existing state of our Public Libraries and why the Library Board and its new Director have gone from a request for $6.9 million in 2001 to $35 million while our city is shrinking but costs to service this community are rapidly expanding.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Peoria, Illinois: Great Publicity - Read and Pass on

Check out the article about Peoria on this site http://money.cnnmagazines/fsb archives/2007/04/01/8403862/index.htm?postversion=2007040906. Forwarded by our Mayor and soon to be reelected Councilman George Jacob.

Keep the faith; hold property taxes steady, offer well paying jobs, offer a skilled and ready workforce and maintain and improve the infrastructure of Peoria and the region served by Peoria. Build on these criteria and seekers will find us.

Build tax collecting and spending enhancements and amenities as we can afford to pay for them. Enhancements and amenities help, but are not the major factors that attract new businesses to Peoria.

Kudos to the Heartland Partnership and it’s entities and to all others who lead as responsible citizens, and certainly, the entire private and the other public sectors leaders who work toward attainable visions.

To make projects as described in this FSB article come true, correct planning and implementation decisions, a lot of hard work and strong leadership working together will determine what will be the history of this community in the next decade.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Electricity Bills: Promises and Visions

Best articles I’ve read to date about the sharp rise in electricity bills are found in the Peoria Times-Observer on March 28 and a more condensed article in the WSJ on 2/22/07. Good going, DeWayne.

This situation is of the making of the lobbyists, the bureaucrats, the politicians and a gullible public. Messes like this are not likely to get better when you consider that the person that gets elected to the Presidency of the United States will spend approximately $400,000,000,000.00 dollars of OPM, roughly 80% coming from special interests. Don’t tell me that giving money doesn’t have some influence on the way legislation is passed.

All my last 5 successful efforts to be elected to the Peoria County Board, three Primaries and three General Elections, were funded by myself. Only except in the last election, a retired friend with no interests except good government donated my printing. My daughter, who lives in Edwardsville, donated $200 and a Democrat friend gave me $100. Total cost of my last successful campaign? – Approximately $1000. Beholden to any “special interests”? I think not. Concerned about the community I live in, absolutely, or I wouldn’t work this hard in my “retirement”; 15 years and counting.

Special interests groups and bureaucracies run too much of this country. If you read and follow carefully the events of the last few decades, the two major parties look a great deal alike in their spending. Their vote often depends on which special interest group to which they are listening; they should of course do that; just listen carefully and make the decision that best serves the “general good” of the people and the nation..

An article in the WSJ dated 11/5/1992 by the President of the Heritage Foundation, admittedly a liberal group back then and probably today, says “there were 125,000 regulatory bureaucrats and 67,000 pages of fine print in the Federal Register.” That’s 15 years ago!! A recent article in the Ft. Myers News Press says “government is vulnerable to flaws common to bureaucracies. Chief among them is a penchant for staff to avoid-risk taking and individual accountability. Take no risks-solve few problems and no one is accountable because it’s mostly been discussed and decided being closed doors.”

Politicians are expected to be transparent; bureaucrats and lobbyists work behind the scenes and are unusually most noted when some wrong doing is exposed.

In our current electricity crisis, everyone is passing the blame when all of us are to blame. We are easily led by promises and greed, instead of studying and being influenced by past history and paying closer attention to what is going around us on a daily basis. (It was said, that when President Bush went on vacation, he planned to read about past United States leaders like President George Washington.) He should have taken books that detailed the history of the Middle East for the past 500-600 years.

We are becoming a nation of non-readers (worry not, help is on the way when the new teachers come in from China to teach our kids the Chinese language.) Don’t our school leaders know that many of our kids can’t even read English?

Hispanics may soon be a majority in this country. When the day comes and it will; when English is no longer the official language, at least a few of our kids can speak Chinese when they move out of this community to “exotic” places like San Francisco. Our youths and adults are heavily influenced by TV and the Internet where many radicals hold sway; especially those with little common sense including an over abundance of Hollywood types whose lifestyles and opinions dominate the air ways.

Don’t miss the JSEB Editorial today. Promises, like made on our riverfront, are a penny a dozen. I have lived long enough to know and see that most are just “promises” by some special interest trying to win you to a cause on which they have sold themselves. They sell you into their causes, which they have bought into. These are often a causes in which they personally have spent little time determining whether it is best for the community or nation, right or wrong, just believe them. Or a cause they have seen that may or may not be working out as planned or causes that might work in Cincinnati but not in Peoria.

The JSEB hits the nail dead center. Caterpillar doesn’t object to it? Why would they object, based on their history? I know of no major project including the RiverPlex that they have objected to except they won’t build their museum unless the donors and taxpayers build the Peoria Area Museum first. Interesting when you consider John Deere, a much smaller company, built the John Deere Commons years ago and there is no museum close by the Commons. Have you visited it yet? It’s worth the 80 mile trip and easy to find off Rt. 74.

On August 6, 2004, I wrote a blog titled “Conceptions, Misconnection, Perceptions, Truths, Subtle Falsehoods and Outright Lies.” The truths and the outright lies should be the easiest to understand. Unfortunately, they are not. Reread this blog; it pretty well sums up today’s electricity dilemma and other dilemmas that have been “sold” or being sold to this community now and in recent years.

You might think I strayed from my subject, but everything said on this blog ties in to why we are now in an “electricity” crisis.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fair and Balanced Reporting Part 2

I quote from a recent newspaper article about a man who was falsely accused but was cleared of any connection to the accusations. “He says he feels like the woman in the local paper who, whatever she does, will always be remembered for one thing: “Mrs. Jones, who was falsely accused of the ax murder of her husband in 1994, recently had a garden party for 10 of her friends.”

The JSEB for a while used to put a tag line on anything they said about me. “He was also opposed to the Highway to Chicago.” Wasn’t it the JS blow hard, “heavy” school partying male reporter and school teacher who said he only did “fair and balanced reporting” when he brings up the past linking people never charged in incidents in which there was no case?