Sunday, June 24, 2007

Immigration Spin Doctors

My Dad, his Dad and Mother, my Mothers Grandparents, were legal immigrants. They fled religious persecution and poverty to come legally to America thru Ellis Island. They didn’t come with illegal documents nor were they illegally transported by vehicles nor did they sneak thru the desert. Their migrating helped make this country what it was 20 or so years ago. The “immigration spinners” are talking about how great this country was made by immigrants, which I certainly agree, while they try to confuse us by mixing illegal with legal immigration. The politicians are making some efforts to pass some legislation, but with most everyone covering their behinds and maneuvering to get reelected, it may be impossible to make much change.

Why can’t the politicians agree to at least close the border? Politicians who want to stay in office forever fear for their reelection and don’t have the heart to take action that would benefit the majority of people who did not enter this country illegally. They claim toughing up our stance on illegals would upset the economy, the chickens wouldn’t get plucked, the strawberries picked, we would have no janitorial services, dishwashers and the list is endless of what we wouldn’t have. In many cases the politicians are seeking the egalitarian and populist vote. Also, they do not want to lose the big business contributions to their campaigns. They worry about “slowing the growth of our economy”, claiming these illegals have had a major hand in fueling the growth of this country. Probably so, but I see all of these gains as short term gains and predict disaster in the long run. Big employers claim they can’t find enough citizens of this country willing to do the work Mexicans will do and for less money.

Part is true; we have created a culture of people born in this country that have found out they don’t need to work. In fact, they don’t even need to do anything they don’t want to do because someone will listen to their stories of bad luck, they’ll reach out in compassion for these poor souls and open up their pocketbooks and in so doing, open up our pocketbooks. More than 2,000,000,000 incarcerated high testosterone young people are not available for work but many of them could be if they were put to work instead of just imprisoned.

The system in Mexico doesn’t work in the compassionate way our system works. Mexicans must work to exist because the government and the better off people in Mexico are not as liberal as we are. They started immigrating to the U.S. years ago because we were then the land of opportunity, and most people still want in then want out, compared to any other country in the world. But the legal system was too slow, too selective and the borders so porous that they came across illegally by the millions. Today, we have an estimated 12-20 million illegals in the U.S. (no way to really know the actual figures). Most illegals work for cash so the major tax they pay is sales tax. They send billions of dollars back to Mexico where much of our money is used to prop up weak Mexican governments. Illegal mothers give birth to kids who on day one of their lives, gain U.S. citizenship. It is claimed that 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal Mexicans paid for by taxpayer dollars

Many of these illegal did not come to the U.S.just to work. They came because of our weakness for drugs, to become more involved in the drug trade, to join or form gangs and use the opportunities we offer to “exploit” the system. It is estimated that 25% of all inmates in California are illegal Mexicans. It is estimated that 30% are on some type of welfare. The L.A. County Detention Centers are nightmares; it is estimated that 4 million illegal in L.A. can speak only Spanish, so at least 21 radio stations broadcast in Spanish only. The most believable figures out there in cyberspace are ones that show we are losing control of this country to people who do not want to become responsible citizens supporting the Constitution of the United States of America.

What do most of us want? I’ll quote a couple of people who make their living studying the political and economic situations facing this nation. Daniel Henninger writes in the WSJ on 6/17/07, that we want secure borders. We want the laws obeyed, English spoken, taxes paid, costs raised on employers that employ illegal workers, welfare payments suppressed, enclave Spanish neighborhoods broken up and a very, very long path to citizenship.

We want the same universal system used by those who gain citizenship legally.

Being born in the U.S. means you don’t just live here, you get involved. It’s about being willing to put in time to deal with all things local, from zoning issues, school issues to sidewalks. One major problem with illegal (and many legal) is that they exist almost entirely outside the complications of civil life. Small businessmen feel the rank unfairness of the costs they incur for liability and workers comp which they feel the hirers of illegal evade.

Charles Krauthammer writes on 6/17/07 in an article in the Washington Post titled “Protect the Border Now” saying that the Immigration Bill is too complex a compromise with too many moving parts and too many conflicting interests. He suggests starting with the simplest part; do all it takes to close the borders. As I type this document at least 50 more illegal are crossing our borders. He states that border fences and patrols in Israel have reduced suicide bombarding by 90%. (Just build them more sensible than the one I saw played over and over again on Fox showing that our fence actually had rungs on which climbers could crawl right over the wall.) He says we don’t want a fence that announces to the world that we are closed to immigration. We are not. We just want migration done legally. We want those Iraqi people whose lives are threatened by the radical fundamentalists and the terrorist al Qaeda to be admitted to earn citizenship to the U. S. They helped us; now we must help them. We want more skilled workers rather than one with no skills. We want people who come here to respect, love and support this country as did my Swiss Dad and my German grandparents. My first cousin with the German name of Witzig, gave his life at the age of 21 fighting for the country he loved.

Krauthammer concludes that once our borders are secured everything else is doable over a period of time.

Employer of illegal aliens must be legally forced to contribute a monetary dollar decided by arbitration. This excess over the company’s normal wages would be collected by each county and distributed to local health providers, schools and public works and public security on an equitable basis. Employers that don’t comply would pay a stiff fine and forced to terminate the illegals. If that doesn’t; work close these businesses down. Let an overindulged and over weight United States get along with less. The law of supply and demand almost always equals itself out.

Peoria County would have far less illegals than say Cook County so each county would act as their own collector and disburser using the same percentage arbitrary formula as the State of Illinois.

Senator John Kyl of Arizona says give “Z” cards to all (including their immediate families who came with them) that entered this country illegally since 1/1/07 and who are working, contributing and are crime free. Guest workers could come across legally and be given temporary two or three year stints.

All must be in the process of becoming citizens. Ship those illegals now incarcerated or with a criminal record back across the border. Let donor supported social agencies and compassionate private hospitals provide health care for those with the need but no money. Let the taxpayer be the last resort of those in dire health or dire financial need.

All, including those illegals who are gainfully employed and paying payroll taxes must return in a reasonable time frame and re-enter legally and apply for citizenship. Studies show that most illegals return to their place of origin at some time in their lives. For their kids who are now citizens, some relative will temporarily take them in. If not set up orphanages just like the successful one we had in the community of Normal, Il.; Victory Hall back in the 1940’s.They must reclaim their kids and pay a maintenance fee when and if they return.

Who would enforce these actions? It should be mandatory by statute that the employers who are violating the law by hiring illegal aliens, would police themselves and enforce the law. Taxpayer money spent would be returned by fines, fees and payroll penalties.

The illegals wanted in. I don’t fault them for that. Our greed and our broken systems failed to keep them out while failing to admit more skilled people in legally and swiftly as in the case of the Iraqis fleeing their country to escape being beheaded by terrorists because they assisted us. I’d rather have them than the “citizens” we have here now that don’t want to be pegged as “snitches”.

Jim Mangan of Pekin writes “It has taken more than two centuries of honest legal immigration to build America. Stop tearing it down and one way is to enforce the Constitution that clearly states that the federal government has the responsibility to protect our borders and our citizens from invasion.” Jim also says that tax free entities giving aid and protection to illegal aliens should have their tax free exemption revoked.

Illegal entry into our country must stop and we must stop coddling them. All must come into this country legally or by visa or passport using a similar system used by almost all other countries of the world.

I visited the renowned environmentalist Bill Rutherford shortly before his death and Bill was greatly concerned about the future of our country. He gave me a book titled “America Extinguished” subtitled Mass Immigration and the Disintegration of American Culture written by Samuel T. Francis. This book is an absolute must read by those of you who are concerned about our immigration policies even if you don’t agree with all the statistics and statements made in the book.

Politicians; agree on closing the borders. THEN work out the details of what to do with those already illegally here. Do it over a short period of time. We must not reelect the politicians that put a reelection bid or partisan twist to our universal MAJOR problems. Otherwise; it may take grass roots drive to get things that most people believe we should get done, like closing the borders. But then, we may have become too soft to mount a sustained drive and continue to rob Peter to pay Paul.

If the Republicans and Democrats can’t work this out, then it IS TIME FOR A THIRD PARTY but this party would have to have leader similar to Teddy Roosevelt. (Don’t tell me his faults as he had them but not as many as Perot had or possibly Bloomberg.)

I haven’t yet seen any third party candidate on the horizon I could support but then I don’t believe I have seen any presidential candidate I could wholeheartedly stand behind. John McCain has impressed me the most. I heard him speak when I was in D.C. this year and my respect for him increased but he probably can’t get the nomination. Too many people mistakenly believe we should leave the mess created by politicians of both parties behind and let the MidEast boil into a third World War.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"You Can do What You Want to do"

If ever a statement to youths or by youths was wrong, it’s “you can do what you want to do”, a statement made by a 21 year old black and quoted by Leonard Pitts, a syndicated columnist who appears frequently in the JS. Pitts wrote a column on 6/17/07 in the St. Louis Dispatch titled “Listening to Young Black People – For a Change”. Pitts asked a group of young black people attending a program called YouthBuild U.SA. (Pitts is writing a series of columns about solutions to the problems that plague black kids.) “Why are black kids failing in disproportionate numbers?” and here is what they said: “Some parents can’t even provide a stable home for their kids. They stress themselves. They’ll resort to drugs or violence to fill the void. Some people just don’t have no hope” said 20 year old Shardell Martin.

“It’s a lot of teenagers having babies so you have immature people that haven’t grown up themselves, so when you raise a child, you give your child the same attitude. It’s just a domino effect—the parents don’t have enough structure to teach their kids structure. Then their grandparents are, like, 27” said 20 year old Sylvester Waller.

“For some, having a baby matures you faster and you want to become more responsible, said Ms. Martin, but my cousin, who is 25 and has a baby, didn’t stop her from still running the streets. She’s going to do what she wanna do. She got to hit rock bottom.”

“Its generational curses we’re trying to break here,” said 21 year old Domonique Williams. “If you look at everyone in the room, we’re all fruits of that. The crack epidemic, we’re the next generation after that, and it’s hard to grow up in that kind of environment and do the right thing when everything around you isn’t right.”

Pitts then asked if black kids have not come to define academic success as something white. “That goes back to slavery,” said Martin, “from when they was tellin’ the black people, Y’all are niggers, y’all ain’t gon” be nothing,’ and they wasn’t even entitled to an education.”

“Most of the people we see who are successful play sports or are in the music business,” said Williams. “That’s why we, as people of color, want to strive to be athletes, want to strive to be in the music business. That’s where we see the most success.”

Said Paul, “If we as blacks don’t stop wanting to hurt each other, we’re not going to have that many successful black people out there. It seems like…another black person don’t ever want to see their own color doing good. But if you go to them white people, they congratulate their own color. I don’t understand that. I really never got that.”

“Like me, Paul said, “I want to own my own business because I’ll be darned if I’m going to sit there and work for a white man all my life, and I refuse to struggle all my life. I refuse.”

Said Lisa Rollin, 21, “We need to stop blaming other people for our faults. Step up and take the lead for our own problems. Nowadays, you can see a lot of people saying I can’t be this, I can’t do this….’If you step back and take a look at yourself, you can do whatever you want to do.”

As a black leader, I have always felt that Pitts left a lot to be desired. He makes no efforts to comment, just listen and report to the reader what he hears. He should be saying “no, you can’t always do and be what you want to be but you can work hard and try. If you don’t succeed at first, the work ethic you developed will lead to successes you might least expect..” That is a major problem not only among black people but many white people as well. The advice black and white leaders should be giving is “develop a work ethic, set your sights on some reachable goal, accept that you may not be a sports or music star, be flexible and respect authority, learn to communicate, learn to read and interpret correctly as best you can what you read and hear, be patient and not believe all hyped things like money, jewelry, cars and sex should be yours NOW.

We do a terrible injustice to kids to tell them they can do whatever they want and be whatever they want to be. While all kids are all born with some unique talent, few will ever make their living in sports and music Leading kids to believe they will all be successful because they have some talent is the hypocrisy preached by too much of the leadership in this country. Nor saying a black won’t work for “the man”, won’t do much to help anyone’s career either.

Sean Slaughter a black of “Holy Hip Hop fame says, “I now realize the one thing the majority of parents with troubled kids have in common is communication. Parents are simply out of touch with today’s young generation and young people feel parents just don’t understand.”


Local Patti Polk says “The problem in this troubled community violence is alcohol and drugs. It’s a lack of jobs, people being able to provide a decent living for themselves. I think all these things go hand in hand and people get desperate. Sometimes they go to illegal means to do that.”


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Death Penalty

I recently stated my position on the death penalty to the local League of Women Voter (I am a member). They voted to abolish the death penalty. I’ll state my position again, as I did to them, in an article I wrote, “Letter to the Editors” of the JSEB back in the early nineties. I wrote “Remember the Victims” which read as follows: “Now that you have published the “pleadings” of some of our condemned murders, please print some of the pleadings of the victims.

Please don’t kill me!
Please don’t rape my wife and my daughter!
Please don’t shoot or stab us!
Please don’t cut off my genitals!

These pleadings are made with great grief (I would today add, with great fear and terror) All thinking humans favor the death penalty for the majority of heinous crimes.

Eventually, law and order will be restored in the world by people over the efforts of liberals (today, I would say pacifist bleeding heart liberals), in their failing rehabilitation programs.”

When the execution of “animal” Robert Alton Harris was publicized; he is the animal who told one of the two teen-aged boys he murdered in cold blood, to “Stop crying and die like a man”, "bleeding heart liberals" in the U.S and newspapers in Spain, England, Holland and France condemned Harris’s execution as a sinister spectacle and sadism. Most of us called it justice and the speedier the better.

Why don’t those convicted of premeditated terror murdering say, “Let us die like the animals we are?” No, the overwhelming majority of these murderers are looking for the “bleeding liberals” to save them and the “bleeding heart liberals” are succeeding.

For those very few convicted murderers that were poorly represented by counsel, spend your excess energy to change the system starting with paying the public defenders more money and fire them when they don’t do the job they are paid to do; they offer their knowledge and services to every alleged murderer to ensure they receive a fair trial.

I also would today add that a child being raped and murdered would not know what to say because their terror would be unimaginable. May also these “animals” burn in hell and all you who would merely incarcerate and rehabilitate them, providing for them for the rest of their lives and at the taxpayers expense these benefits; protection, housing, no taxes to pay, no work to do, free sex, drugs, gang membership fellowship, food, TV’s, recreation and medical care, move to France, Spain, England or Holland. The rest of us will get along much better without you.

For those of you who honestly believe that no matter how horrible the crime and solid the proof and still believe just incareration and in rehabilitation; I forgive you.

For you far left liberals who read and attack me personally and negatively on my blogs, my message to you is that you are the ones leading this country into the mess most of us with foresight see on the horizon. You are the ones saying “please bring our boys back from the Middle East” when we have the most violent record of accidental deaths per capita than any country in the world; over 43,000 deaths per year; 200 thousand since the invasion of Iraq, plus millions of injuries, just in vehicular accidents.

I want all people serving in one way or another in dangerous places in the world to return safely too, but not before they have helped bring the "outsider generated" violence to some form of stabilization.

Why are those who attack me "anonymously" so quiet on internal degeneration and so vocal about what you really know little about? I believe it is because you spend your time on mindless sitcoms,mindless political comedy shows, long texting messages and endless cell phones calls and watching CNN? How do I know you know so little about the Middle East? When I am at the library, which I am an average of twice a week, I check the date stamps on Middle East non-fiction books and see how FEW people EVER check-out these books.

Yes, I know you go to the Barnes and Noble, Borders, ect. and buy these books on the history of the ME so explain, in detail, why we need $35,000,000.00 in new taxes for EXPANDED public libraries?

All public libraries in Peoria still use the old fashioned “date stamp”. Lakeview has the self-check-out machines but few people use them for three reasons, most of the older people don’t like ‘machines”, (that’s why Lakeview doesn’t use the top and bottom shelf because it is “too hard for old people to reach or stoop) they don’t work a great deal of the time and it’s easier to just dump the books on a clerk and let the clerk do it.

If there was any doubt where I stand on restoring order and respect in this country, this should leave no doubt. And, no, I’m not posturing for any election; I never did and still got elected 7 out of 9 times.

I blogged on an article I read titled “Requiem for a Murderer”, before I started naming and dating my blogs. I believe it was late in 2004. I then stated “George Ryan, an alleged (now proven) liar and a crook, brought up the death penalty debate to try to cover up his disastrous term as Governor of Illinois. We conservatives must have our voices heard more frequently and demand that anyone of any age convicted of a heinous crime would be permanently removed from society within a reasonable amount of time." The “animal” Harris was on death row for 13 years. Our enemies have discovered how weak we are and we are paying for it all over the world, even in this country, and even before Bill Clinton’s terms in office.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

al Qaeda Cell Still in Peoria?

The WSJ had two stories today about our former Bradley student accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent. “He is a member of al Qaeda who trained at Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. In the summer of 2001, he met with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, then traveled to the U.S. just prior to those attacks to serve as an al Qaeda sleeper agent. The government believes he was intended to be part of a second wave of attacks on our country and was seeking ways to disrupt the U.S. financial system. After he was arrested, the government searched his computer and found materials related to chemical weapons, jihad, and al Qaeda, as well as 1,000 credit card numbers.

Now the Fourth Circuit panel held that, despite the determination of former Bradley student Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, is an enemy combatant waging war against the U.S., he is instead a ‘civilian”, who can only be treated as an ordinary criminal.” The JS headline in yesterday's JS says “Al Marri scores “landmark victory”. Noting that the article was written by JS reporter Andy Kravetz, I can see how this could be interpreted by a far left wing local reporter as a victory for a potential killer caught before he could kill any and all U.S. citizens. Kravetz is the same reporter who seven years ago wanted to make a black aggressor into a victim of a “rich” white man by deliberately changing the wording of a police report which he then had printed in the JS. It took a libel threat to Editor Jack Brimeyer before the JS issued a correction. Then they buried the correction where few would see it in Section B, p. 11, lower left hand corner.

Actually, this is a huge setback to our war on terrorists in the U.S. The WSJ calls the U.S. a “Terrorist Safe Haven” and an editorial by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board is titled, “Al Qaeda’s American Harbor”. The editors note that both judges who made the ruling are Bill Clinton nominees. The editorial also point out that there are few defined battlefields in the war on terror. So for new home grown terrorist recruits, the Fourth Circuit decision is great news: If you join the al Qaeda today, and get your training outside a wartime-environment, any violent acts you commit against the U. S. cannot qualify you as an enemy combatant or subject you to the system of military interrogation. You will instead be prosecuted in the U.S. criminal justice system, more costly and far more lenient than the military.

Expect this decision to be overturned by appeal and if it is not, expect the al Qaeda sleeper cell that still remains in the Peoria area to become more emboldened especially if a populist like Obama or a tort attorney like Edwards would by apathy and pacifism become President of this country.

In an earlier blog, I told you I saw a young adult using a Computer at Lakeview Library to learn how to create a Social Security card. He was linked to what appeared to be a recording device.

We mistakenly believe that if we are a compassionate faith based nation that bad things like 9/11, bad people like suicide bombers, the situation in Iran, the Hamas, the Fatah, the Hezbollah and Osama would have never happened and we can go on leading a life of contentment. You bad people stay away from us and we will let you alone.

Another article in today’s WSJ titled “Refugee Scandal” details the problems of legal entry of those Iraqi’s who risked their lives to protect our people in Iraq. These Iraqi citizens are being killed daily in Iraq by terrorists who kill all their own who are helping us in liberating their own country. Under constant threat of death, they are being denied legal entry into this “compassionate” United States while our government spends their time determing how to legalize those who committed criminal acts by illegally entering our country.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Flags and Allegations

The flags at the Courthouse have been taken down because of severe winds. I post this in case P.L.of the JS thinks it’s a story.

I can’t post this short of a blog so I’ll add a comment about what I read by Claire Jellick in today’s JS. “Teachers at Roosevelt Magnet School have taken a no confidence vote----------ect.” So how many teachers are there at Roosevelt and what was the vote count and what are the allegations that would require a teachers vote? What was the ITF’s role in the plot? Were all the teachers union members? Is the principal supporter, Chatea Green, a member of the union?

Why question whether the union was involved? It takes a battery of lawyers to fire a union teacher but the administration can remove a principal.

This appears to be old news as Ken Hinton was notified by letter on May 23. There are many good teachers in #150 but there are also a sizeable number that many of us would enter a “no confidence” vote is we thought anyone would listen.

“The principal did not return phone messages and emails.” Surprise and really, why should she be tried and convicted by a newspaper reporter?

Boys and Girls Club Revisited

I made several phone calls and trips to the Boys and Girls Club before I learned it was closed. I was surprised to find it had been closed at least for some time as there was no sign on the door. In talking to a prominent board member, this member said the gangs had taken over the club and there was not enough money to hire a security guard.

This member also expressed displeasure with the City Council in not helping fund the club. Certain areas of this community have been in a long time process of being taken over by the gangs. In 1994, Tim Cassidy asked me to conduct a study of what the Park District could do to build more usage at Proctor Center. When I visited Peoria High to talk to students and ask them if they visited Proctor one kid in a group of a half dozen said no. I asked why not and he put his finger to his head similating a pistol and said "bang, bang".

Since I once served on the B & G Club Board, I am somewhat qualified to state my opinion. We had 19 board members and 4 attended my last meeting. The president was 20 minutes late and did not know the agenda. On August 2, 1993, I wrote to McFarland Bragg, President of the Board of Directors a letter as follows:

“Please accept this letter as my resignation from the Board of Directors to be effective upon receipt. In my short tenure on the board I discerned the direction of the club was not the direction it needed to go in order to provide the proper needs of the area it serves, and still survive financially. The current board of directors is relatively inactive, thereby failing to make the positive changes and give the director of this club the proper guidance so badly needed.

Thank you for the opportunity, ect.”

I also quote from a document prepared by the United Way Observations panel of the B & G Club: “Failure to take advantage of training offered to leadership. Some staff do not even have a high school degree. Low numbers were being served. Building closed or limited programs offered during school vacations, holidays and Saturdays. Lack of a program plan with appropriate goals to support the mission, ect.,” These were just part of 20 problems the HOIUW found with the board and management.

I have never understood why bodies like the B & G Club serving youth were closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Does someone know how much the director makes and has her salary been cut since what was originally the “Home Office” is closed? The Southside library was partially doomed to failure when it closed every week day at 5 PM and was never open during the weekends when working adults could visit.

Too much weak leadership over the years has caused the B & G Club to get in the situation it is in. Poor leadership is a trademark of much of the Southside of Peoria and that is why it is in sorry shape. Ssome community leaders tell me they do not believe in the “broken window” theory and that we should make exceptions for the poor and the dysfunctional families. These are usually “families” with an incompetent mother and without a caring father; they are fathered, all right, that is a major part of the problem. Why don’t people see that young people especially, take advantage of everything that is overlooked by those in the community who say “oh, they are just kids”? Surely people know that too many of these kids grow up to put this community in the mess it is in. I don’t paint all Peoria with the same brush but look at crime statistics, unwed mothers, dropouts, gang members, lack of participation, people with no work ethic and welfare people for more accurate demographics.

We have a spreading blight on this city that no TIF Zone (legal and illegal immigrants will need to be available to do much of the work) will overcome this epidemic. Those in denial by calling attention to all the good things we had expected of them or are wringing their hands or throwing money at the problem are not helping the situation. As pointed out by a fellow blogger, boards and administrations are doing a lot of things right but we should EXPECT THAT given the money and time spent on trying to get it right.

When people brag to you about how many boards they serve on, you might ask if they attend all the meetings and what they have accomplished. (If you wonder about my attendance records on the County Board, I missed 11 out of 171 regular committee or board meeting from 1/1/04-6/30/06 and that included being absent during recovery from a triple by-pass.) Its been said by even the JS that the County Board runs a lot more smoothly than it did before I came on the board in 2000.) Not bragging, one of you “Anonymous’s”; just the facts.

I recently dropped out of the Southwest Kiwanis Club because I could not serve the club the way I expected myself to serve. Many citizens taking up name space on rosters and plaques, would do well to get out of the way and just let those really capable and interested, (and take the credit, if they so desire) do the things necessary to make organizations like the Boys and Girls Club succeed.

I know there are dedicated Boys an Girls Club members and that the problems of the B & G Club is not unique to parts of our community. These board members, City Council people and our public safety people can not correct these problems without more funding and help from the entire community. Some in the community could help by not buying drugs from these gang members, cutting off a major source of their income and making the area less attractive to gang bangers from other areas like Chicago.

When I opened this blog site, I described it as a “politically incorrect” blog site. It is and will remain so. I write as a concerned citizen living in the City of Peoria. Also, I’m not required reading but what I do write will remain on the record long after I am gone.

Thanks for reading me, agree or not.

Since I sometimes send this document as an email; find me at

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Peoria Public Library - A Look Back to 2001

Back in September, 2001, the recently departed Journal Star Editorial Board writer Shelley Epstein wrote a poignant series of articles about the sorry state of affairs of the Peoria Public Library System. I quote, “People who live in the Harrison Homes area are among the cities poorest. Yet the adults use this library, and the kids FLOCK there. Peorians can wring their hands over gang influences and children who don’t learn and parents who don’t care and how education should be reformed, or they can take notice and do the obvious: Finish the library. Good grief!”

Then more blah, blah, blah and Shelley finishes by “railing” at the City Council to give the Library Board at least $100,000.00 to refurbish and expand Harrison Library better known as the South Side Library.

So the Council did. Not only did they give them some money but they gave them $485,000.00. The Library Board also spent $80,000.00 on an elevator to the 2nd floor.

Fast forward to today. After the Library Board spent $100,000.00 of donated money to bring consultants in to study the Peoria Public Library Systems and run a successful referendum, I quote the Library Board: “Library facilities are inadequate on the south side of the city. It is a fact that library USAGE on the south side is POOR. However we believe this is largely due to the fact that inadequate resources are being spread among multiple SUBSTANDARD buildings. If the City of Peoria is going to provide all of its citizens with an EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to succeed, the south side will need an exceptional library. A state of the art facility of 30,000 square feet or more is recommended.”

Then, what would one expect consultants to say?

The Library Board goes on to say that the Harrison Library aka Southside Library will be CLOSED as well as Riverwest and an expanded 30,000 square foot plus “state of the art” facility will be located at Lincoln Library.

It was just 5 years ago that the city and library wasted $500,000.00 on a building sitting like a lone sentinel on the Southside with no future use anticipated. Good grief!

A new library Director being paid $100,000.00 plus and plus, comes into town a year ago and recommends hiring a consulting firm to sell the community and the City Council on taxing an already overtaxed city another $35,000,000.00. The “politician leaders” of this community quickly jumped on the band wagon – note they were all Republicans; LaHood, Leitch, and Risinger, the Caterpillar Foundation threw in $20,000.00, OSF $5000, ect – how could these “leaders” say no; since libraries are the fountain of knowledge being heavily used by the citizenry; why, it would make them look like they support ignorance.

Now the City Council may make a decision that will AGAIN make the public look ignorant if they buy into this artificially created hype.

I suggest the City Council take a hard look before they dump another unneeded burden on the City of Peoria Taxpayers. The Library Board and their consultants are trying to sell you another “bill of goods” for both the south side and the north side.

In the meantime, the gangs have been successful in closing the Boys and Girls Club on Grinnell and the Community Centers; think $150,000.00 plus, are an abject failure.

Since I will be emailing this blog you can find me at

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Recommend This Book To the Serious Reader

I read anywhere from one to four books a week. Here is a book I highly recommend for anyone who wants to enjoy interesting fiction mixed with past and current history of the relationship between Israel, Palestine and Iran. This book is about a relationship between a Jewish man and a Palestinian woman and the problems this relationship presents. The book broadly encompasses the problems existing in the Middle East and how these ethnic and religious problems affect people often trapped in conditions seemingly out of their control. The book moves you thru a series of harrowing encounters where appearances are not always as they seem.

Read “Exile” by Richard North Patterson and enjoy while you learn more about history, past and present.

Almost all Kids Have a Desire to Learn

If you have been reading my blogs, you'll note I've been saying this for years. Traditional teaching that believes everyone should learn like everyone else has been wrong for many years.

Approximately one half the kids who start school in a Peoria Public School will not graduate from any public high school.

The system is severely flawed for most kids born in perpetuated poverty and dysfunctional families. Teaching for the tests will not keep them interested in getting any kind of an education.

From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record], March 20, 2007, Volume 26, Issue 28, pages 29,32. See

The New Anti-Intellectualism in America

When Curricular Rigor and 'Pedagogical Fraud' Go Hand in Hand

By Nel Noddings

It seems odd to accuse the schools of anti-intellectualism when they are engaged in a relentless drive for higher test scores, and students are required to take more difficult academic courses. Passing rates on some state and local tests show small increases, but there has been little if any improvement on well-established national tests. The small gains we've seen may be the result of concentrated instruction on narrowly defined objectives. But we are not promoting intellectual habits of mind. Indeed, we may be reducing intellectual life to mental labor. What are the signs that this is happening?

First, there is a proliferation of fake academic courses. These courses are instigated by the demand that almost all children now take academic courses such as algebra and geometry. The decision for this requirement has not been supported by strong, well-informed debate. Is it true, for example, that all students need more mathematics today than people did in previous generations? If the answer is yes (but there are powerful arguments in favor of a negative reply), then it is reasonable to ask, What sort of mathematics? Must it be traditional algebra and geometry? Why?

Instead of debating these questions, policy makers have mandated-in the name of equality-that all children, regardless of their talents and interests, should have the "opportunity" once reserved for relatively few. Hardworking teachers then must try to get unwilling, unprepared students through material they have no interest in learning. Many youngsters have alternative, genuine talents, but these are disregarded. To give such students a chance to pass the required courses, teachers concentrate on a few discrete skills that can be gained through a steady routine of drill.
SIDEBAR: Providing a complete structure of what is to be learned and a detailed list of outcomes expected of all students facilitates quick, shallow learning and swift forgetting.
I've observed such classes. In some, no word problems or applications are even attempted. In a bow to analytic geometry, the distance formula is memorized, but with no mention of the Pythagorean theorem. In many geometry classes, no proofs at all are done. (Reducing the emphasis on proof is justified, but eliminating it entirely casts doubt on whether the course should be called geometry.) The end result is that many students have "algebra" and "geometry" on their transcripts, but they can't pass state tests in math, and they need remedial courses in college. They have had pseudo-algebra and pseudo-geometry. This is pedagogical fraud, and such students are doubly cheated. They do poorly in the required courses, and they are deprived of courses in which they might have done well.

I am not arguing that the traditional academic courses are properly "intellectual" and other courses are not. On the contrary, I believe that intellectually exciting topics and challenging problems can and should arise in all well-taught classes-in cooking, chemistry, photography, mechanics, and everything else the schools offer. My objection is to the virtual elimination of intellectual content in many of today's academic courses.

A second signal is that the overuse of specific learning objectives in all subjects works against the development of intellectual habits of mind. Superficially, it seems fair to tell students exactly what they must learn and be able to do as a result of instruction. This is instructionally sound when we are teaching a narrowly defined skill, but it is a poor way to encourage problem-solving, critical thinking, and the habits of mind that support further, deeper learning. Too often the result of such instruction is students who can add when told to add, or solve quadratic equations when told to "solve the following quadratic equations," but cannot decide when to use these techniques in solving problems. In the interest of intellectual habits of mind, students must be asked to identify for themselves the important points in every unit of study, construct their own summaries, attempt problems that have no obvious solution, engage in interpretation, and evaluate conflicting explanations and points of view.

Providing a complete structure of what is to be learned and a detailed list of outcomes expected of all students facilitates quick, shallow learning and swift forgetting. The little actually remembered is very like a collection of meaningless bits for Trivial Pursuit. Students come to expect that they should have answers at their fingertips instead of developing an attitude of inquiry-one of willingness to figure things out.

The insistence on precisely stated learning objectives, moreover, also drastically reduces the number of classroom sessions designed to expose students to new, interesting ideas that may or may not result in specific learning. It is right to pay continuous, careful attention to whether students are learning certain specific material. But there should also be sessions devoted to intellectual "inputs"-topics teachers choose to present or offer-leaving open what students might do as a result.
SIDEBAR: To support intellectual life and the joy of learning, we should expand the possibilities, not narrow them.
Many intellectually exciting and socially significant lessons conducted by creative teachers are designed to induce awareness, not specific learning. It is a shame to sacrifice such sessions in our zeal to achieve a pre-specified learning objective for every lesson, every day. In addition to asking the question, Has Johnny learned X? we should also ask, What has Johnny learned? In a class of 25 students, we might get 25 different answers to this-some disheartening (from which we should learn), and some quite thrilling.

To support intellectual life and the joy of learning, we should expand the possibilities, not narrow them. Part of our job as educators is to offer opportunities, to open the door to a world of intellectual possibilities. Another part is to encourage our students to think and to take responsibility for their own expanded learning. It is important, therefore, to consider intellectual inputs as well as pre-specified student outcomes.

Students do not come to us as standard raw material, and we should not expect to produce standard academic products. Intellectual life is challenging, enormously diverse, and rewarding. It requires initiative and independent thinking, not the tedious following of orders. It should not be reduced to mental drudgery.
Nel Noddings is the Lee L. Jacks professor of education, emerita, at Stanford University. Her latest book is Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Should Teach (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

Monday, June 04, 2007

Boys and Girls Club and Community Centers


The Boys and Girls Club at Grinnell St. is closed. (There is no sign on the door but it is closed.) Board members say older youth gangs took it over so the board decided to close it. The location on Kansas St. is inadequate in most ways and the building needs a new roof. And the club needs a new bus. A board member tells me they do not have enough money.

Activities at the Grinnell location have been shifted to Trewyn and perhaps some activities at Manual High.


The hyped Community Centers Program is directed by the faith based Community Builders. Joyce Banks is Executive Director of the program. Mrs. Banks says the centers are working. I guess it depends on a definition of “working”. Spend some time at Trewyn and Manual after school closes. Visit unannounced and see for yourself as it’s been said thousands of times that “Figures lie and---------.” What I see is an expensive child care center for a limited number of kids. As to adults “bonding” with their kids after school hours? The centers are open until 8 PM or later so there may be a few adult programs during the 35-40 hours of the buildings being open. But in four visits, I didn’t see any nor was I told about any adult programs. I did see maybe a couple of volunteers observing. I did not see any flyers or signage promoting adult programs.

When I visit, I talk to whoever is connected in one way or another to the subject of my visit. These facts are not gathered from someone living in Weaver Ridge or from an “Ivory Tower” executive. This information I always gather is from people who are actually INVOLVED in the community, not the people who just FUND the systems.

The Community Builders grant was for $150,000.00 and was for one year and I am told they are out of funds. How much of the 150 thousand was paid in salaries and benefits?
I stopped by Community Builders office to see Mrs. Banks. She chastised me for not making an appointment. She says “60 kids from the Boys and Girls Club use Trewyn for after school activities.” On four visits to Trewyn after hours, I counted an average of 20 kids in TOTAL with what I would call limited organization and programs. Adult programs, if any, were not visible or posted anywhere in the building. Vandalism? I was told of an incident and actions taken. More could happen as the buildings are open without sign-ins and security is limited.

On visits to Manual, the only thing I see that may be working as an “after hours community center” is the Workforce Network Computer Center which is open from 3 till 8 Mon. – Fri. and 10 -2 on Sat. A computer class for Manuel students starts at 2 PM. I was told by a Dist 150 Board member that she was told that computer users were “turned away” twice last week. That is difficult to believe figuring that the center is open approximately 30 hours per week. On four personal visits I saw as many users at one time as none to 8. I was told by an employee that they did not record the number of users but that they did teach classes at least twice a day. There are 20 computers.

As I’ve said before, the centers of learning, the libraries are all closed for after school activities. $100,000.00 has just been spent to convince the City Council to tax property owners $35,000,000.00 for public library expansions. Most of us, who live in the city, should be convincing councilpeople that more property taxes are not in the best interest of growth in the City of Peoria.

As Peoria is in denial about so many things, I believe that many influential Peorians want to believe that so many of these money sucking programs that teach our kids the things they will need to succeed in life, are working.

A few are but when you consider that there are over 14,000 kids in the public education system, and the school’s budget is close to $140,000,000.00, $10,000.00 per kid, highest in the entire area, one would hope so. The programs that are not working are the ones that worry many of us.

Our Police Chief says he could use 25 more officers on the street. The way I see things deteriorating in many areas of this community, the day is not far off when the Chief will need a lot more than 25 more officers. The Sheriff will be asking for more funds for jail expansion to “temporarily” incarcerate the ones similar to those who have forced the closing of the South Side Boys and Girls Club and for those who are considering “school learning” as a liability. Also, those who use schools (and centers such as the B & G Club) as gang recruitment centers.

The money to fund all the city pensions, health care, and other benefits, will come from the City of Peoria tax payer. Most of the money to fund the welfare programs, public building like public schools, the public library system, the RiverPlex and the zoo, will come from the City of Peoria taxpayer. The deteriorating infra structure like the sewer system, public works, public safety, public transportation and government funded businesses will be supported by the City of Peoria taxpayer.

New schools and expanded libraries are not the answer but those in denial will continue to believe and convince you that “new and expanded” is the way out of the unstable conditions of the City of Peoria.

The way out is a crackdown of discipline all over the community and a cut back on welfare to those who could work but won’t. Increased public safety, (A businessman acquaintance could not understand why a poor person was fined for parking in a disabled slot without a necessary permit?) as the no population growth city expands in square miles needed to be protected. We need public schools not beholden to the teachers union and less outside government interference. We need smaller combined bureaucracies, more pride in community; without this pride comes more enforcement, stronger highly paid (Pay incentives should attract a better choice of candidates to elect), smaller elected boards that control large amounts of taxpayer’s money, combined entities and services and less political correctness.

All accomplished with a demand of hard love, of mutual respect, community cohesiveness,the ability to take criticism and a consistent system of law enforcement.

Probably won’t happen until pigs can fly. Then again, that depends on what the definition of a “pig” is.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Better than I could ever express what happened to Michigan, especially Detroit

From the Metro Times [Detroit], Wednesday, May 16, 2007. See Our thanks to Michael Goldenberg for bringing this OP-Ed to our attention.

Fund education - or die

By Jack Lessenberry

Our only hope is to attract new high-tech, new economy jobs to Michigan.

Michigan is in trouble, for reasons that have little to do with the current state budget crisis, though things are worse than at any time since the 1950s.

We're mainly in trouble because the mainstay of our economy for a century - the domestic auto industry - is not what it used to be, and never will be again. Worse, we have a poorly educated work force, and nitwit or cowardly politicians who don't realize our only hope is to pour more money into education, now.

We now have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We are below the national average in both education and income, and the percentage of people with college degrees is one of the nation's lowest.

Naturally, that's partly because so many people with degrees are leaving the state.

How did we get in this mess?

We stuck with the past too long. For nearly a century Detroit was the engine and the factory of the world's automotive industry. What that meant is that any kid (boys, anyway) could get a job on the line that paid as well or better than the average job some chump got after four years in college.

Eventually, the college-educated guy might make more, and have more job satisfaction, but, by and large, higher education was seen as unnecessary by the working class. Most of them could afford a nice ranch house in someplace like St. Clair Shores, a car, a truck, a boat and maybe a cabin up North.

Beginning in the 1950s, the auto companies provided excellent health benefits. If you were injured, you could take time off, or maybe retire, on disability. Once I went to Pontiac to interview a man who was up on his house working on the roof. When he came down, I asked if he had the day off.

"No, I am retired on full disability," from some auto company, he said. With benefits like that, no wonder Michigan has traditionally lagged behind most other states in higher education. Not in the quality of our schools; there was money available for them. But we trailed badly in the proportion of residents who went to colleges and universities. The latest figures show about two-thirds of other states have a higher percentage of adults with degrees.

That didn't matter so much when a vigorous, muscle-based economy was enough to keep us rolling in dough. But them days is gone for good, Stash.

The domestic auto industry - that is, the Detroit-based auto industry - has shriveled to a shadow of its former self, and it is never, ever coming back.

Automotive employment has been falling for years, and the experts agree that it will fall even further, especially in Michigan.

Two weeks from now, Ford will close its Wixom plant. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler are in the process of working through other plant closings and buyouts. The United Auto Workers union has about one-third the membership it had in 1970. Expect it to fall further still.

In the first three months of this year, for the first time in history, Toyota sold more vehicles worldwide than General Motors. Not by much - the margin was a mere 90,000 cars. But what was really significant was the bottom line each company reported. General Motors actually made money in those three months - $67 million. But Toyota made $3.6 billion.

That means for every dollar General Motors made, Toyota made $54. As for Ford - well, Ford isn't really even on the playing field anymore. Dearborn's finest lost $288 million, and is losing market share even faster.

General Motors still significantly outsells Toyota in the United States, but here, too, every year the Ren Cen slips and Tokyo gains. Meanwhile, Toyota sales in the United States have drawn virtually even with Ford.

Back in the muscle-car-racin' 1960s, General Motors accounted for more than half of all the vehicles sold in the country. That figure is now 20 percent, to 17 percent for Ford and 16 percent for Toyota. And Detroit is now bracing for the coming Chinese cars, which are said to be good, reliable and cheap.

What can we do?

Our only hope, really, is to attract new high-tech, new-economy jobs. The odds are heavy that we will never again be able to depend on a single product or industry, which could be a damn good thing if we ever get our economy together.

But how do we do that? We have a few things going for us. One is a large pool of manufacturing and engineering talent. Another is a university system far better than most states have. The University of Michigan is a world-class institution, and Michigan State and Wayne State are great schools that see helping people improve their lives as a major part of their mission.

What we need to do - even in a slumping economy - is to make sure those schools have the resources they need to get us a future. We need to do everything we can to get more of our students in colleges and universities and high-tech vocational programs, or they will have no future.

Three years ago, the governor appointed a commission led by Lt. Gov. John Cherry to look into what we ought to be doing about higher education. It concluded we should double the number of people getting bachelor's degrees within 10 years. But since then, little has happened.

Yet as important as higher education is, it means nothing if we don't have decent lower education for everyone - kindergarten through high school.

We don't. Far too many school systems are not getting it done, in large part because they don't have enough money. Now, they may be about to have a lot less. The governor's office has announced that every school district in this state will lose $122 a pupil unless the budget mess is resolved by June 1.

What that will do is force some schools to close, right then. Others will end their year with a technically illegal deficit, and have to lay off teachers right away. That means they will have to cope with the new, much more demanding high school standards next year with fewer people and fewer resources.

That threatens to finish off our future. The schools, by the way, were doomed by Proposal A, which helped poorer districts for a while, but took away local control without guaranteeing the schools adequate state support.

We are doing ourselves in. The greatest and most harmful myth the right wing has brainwashed so many of us into believing is that lower taxes are always better than high ones, that tax cuts are the answer to everything.

Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society. If we don't have schools middle-class people can feel good about putting their kids in, forget it.

Nobody's coming here, no matter what the tax rate. Last year, Western Michigan University paid for a massive survey of the nation's high-tech and new-economy businesses to see what states they would most like to be in.

The winners were two states with some of the nation's highest taxes, California and Massachusetts. Yes, the business owners said, low taxes were nice, but a society that worked was worth the price.

Our future depends on our politicians figuring this out, now. If you agree with me, it would help a lot if you let them know.
Jack Lessenberry, who teaches journalism at Wayne State University, opines weekly in Metro Times. Contact him at

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244