Friday, March 30, 2007

Use of Public Safety Sales Tax

Use of the Public Safety Sales Tax:

• The Public Safety Sales Tax was passed by the voters in November 1996, collections began 1 year later.
• 1/4% on all sales except titled goods - estimated $4,660,750 in 2007.
• General Assembly gave Counties this permissive authority due to the fact that County Government is responsible for administering the criminal justice and corrections system in Illinois.
• Peoria County passed the tax based on the need to build a new juvenile detention center, to expand the jail, and to build an outdoor warning system similar to the City of Peoria for the areas of the County that did not have a warning system in place.
• Public Safety Sales Tax expenditures have been limited to Crime Prevention Grants, Emergency Management, Sheriff and Probation/Detention services
• 66% of the County General Fund is dedicated to Justice and Public Safety expenditures.
• According to the Illinois State Police UCR Crime Reports for 2005, 4 out 5 crimes occurring in Peoria County occur in the City of Peoria:
Total Crime Index* 2004 % of Total 2005 % of Total
City of Peoria 8,029 79.6% 8,604 78.3%
All Others 2,055 20.4% 2,382 21.7%
Total 10,084 100% 10,986 100.0%
*Crime In Illinois, 2005, Illinois State Police, p. 143-144
• The Supreme Court has consistently reduced the salary reimbursements required by law over the last several years for probation officers and juvenile detention workers. While the caseload has not reduced, the reliance on local funding (public safety tax dollars) for probation and juvenile detention workers has increased.
• The Sheriff's Office has a budget for 2007 of $13,964,589 and revenue of $3,424,024. Other general revenue sources (property, sales, and income taxes) fund the $10,540,565 shortfall between revenues and expenses. Further, the Corrections division of the Sheriff's Office has a budget for 2007 of $5,523,741 and revenue of $1,198,158 for just operations and staffing, leaving a shortfall of $4,325,583 supported by the counties general revenue sources.
• The City and County each operate Emergency Management Agencies. An effort was made to consolidate under Peoria County in 2003, and this was rejected by the City of Peoria. Peoria County's obligation for emergency services is only for the areas outside of the City of Peoria. The City of Peoria retains the obligation and the duty for Emergency Management Services within the City of Peoria.
• Currently Peoria County spends the public safety sales tax receipts as follows:
o Crime Prevention Grants - $30,000 (0.64%)
o Emergency Management Sirens - $142,420 (3.05%)
o Juvenile Detention Operating Subsidy - $621,966 (13.34%)
o Jail/Juvenile Detention Debt Service - $1,812,125 (38.88%)
o Public Safety Operating Subsidy - $2,033,683 (43.63%)
o Total Public Safety Sales Tax Receipts $4,660,750
o The Peoria Fire Department has the best equipped and probably trained Hazardous Materials team for this area, it is my understanding the City asked to be that body. To my knowledge to date the only time they assisted the County was on an incident at Mapleton.

There may be a question as to who all should be involved in paying for the 911 dispatch systems. Someone may wish to post a comment with further information.

Possibly the best way to handle some of the decisions made that affect both the City and the County would be to combine all the functions that are feasible and that financially benefit all the citizens of Peoria County.

In my position as a County Board member, I listen to the concerns of the residents who reside in Peoria County and have also the interests of the entire area in all my decisions. I doubt if any elected official is more transparent in my public dealings.

As a member of the County Liaison Team with the City, I will do my best to try to determine every body’s best interests before going public and have both the City and the County defending their positions on TV or in the media or on the web. The County has a request to the City to meet as soon as possible.

For more information on this subject, you may wish to access

As to the booking financial distribution, I have answered this question on previous blogs and the City is apparently satisfied as agreements as drawn are still being honored by both parties.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

U.S. Lives Lost in Preserving our Freedoms While in Iraq

A usually reliable source tells me that figuring causalities per capita, that we have far more violent deaths in this country than we have in Iraq. He indicates it is far safer in Iraq than in our own country. Today’s JS posts the number of teenagers in our area who have died just this year and it isn’t even “seniors get drunk night” yet. This is not a blanket indictment of all teenagers; I make this statement based on nationwide facts.

Most of the deaths by violence in this country come without a valid cause. Usually someone sets out to kill someone, some are killed by carelessness, some are killed by intoxication and drugs, some by drunken drivers, and some killed are totally innocent, some die by suicide and some deaths are a result of people who think they are “invincible”. Many are killed because they believe they are above the law or they are just doing what everyone else is doing.

4100 pedestrians died in 2005 so just figuring the Iraq war of 4 years, that total would be 16,000 deaths compared to 3200 in the entire Middle East over the same period of time. Highway deaths by vehicular accidents total 164,000; approximately the same number of our troops serving in the Middle East.

These deaths abroad also cause trauma; similar trauma is caused by death and injury in the United States. My sister’s 17 year old daughter was killed by a drunken driver and my sister, now 89, has suffered mental stress even to this day.

For those of you extremely critical of the war in Iraq, I join you and am very critical of the handling of world wide relationships over the past many years, not just the last four. However, I would never do or say anything that gives solace to the terrorists in this county or abroad. Many in trying to vent their anger actually cause more violence and deaths overseas.

All deaths and injuries are sad but I would rather die believing I was dying to preserve our freedom. Most of our people serving in Iraq do believe they are fighting and dying for a cause. Most of our politicians feel the same; otherwise they wouldn’t vote the way they do and did. It is extremely sad to see many of our politicians’s now posturing before the public while they claim to be looking out for the best interests of our citizenry.

If you don’t believe we are the freest country in the world, I suggest you spend an hour counting your freedoms. If then not convinced, I suggest you move to a country; say Iran, Russia, Haiti, Dafur, Somalia, Turkey, and all of the countries whose names end in “stan”, Maybe Madagascar or even Mexico. How about Nigeria, China, India or some countries in South America or even Latin America.

Better yet, run for office with an intelligent platform, form a third party or just attend local meetings were issues of all types are discussed in civil dialogue.

Keep reading and we can learn together how to make this a better world in which to live.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Delivering the News in a Fair and Respectful Manner

“Gutless Rants Hurt Journalism” is the header on a column in the JS today. For years media like the Journal Star have printed biased information on public figures and those attacked had no way to fight back. When I was libeled by the JS a few years ago, I visited an attorney who said, “You can’t fight a newspaper that buys their ink by the barrel”. He also said that no one has won a libel suit against the media in the State of Illinois in over 40 years. He said the only thing to do was to appeal to them to print the truth. In this instance I did request a correction the JS did print a correction but buried it in section B, page 11, in the lower left hand corner where few people saw it.

Then along came the bloggers. At first the media didn’t pay much attention to the bloggers. Then they began to notice people were reading what bloggers had to say. Then the bloggers started to blossom like flowers in a garden. Then the established monopoly media began worrying about the way bloggers were getting out the news in a “fair and balanced’ way, something people like today’s JS article writer never had to worry about. Now he does worry and he complains about the lack of civility and asks for “healthy debates”.

Before the bloggers, there was no way one could have a “healthy debate.” Thank goodness for bloggers!

The writer also says that “someone can drop a bomb on the media” on the web and writers like him can’t retaliate. He says the media doesn’t just sell newspaper, it sells legitimacy. Hmmmmm. What he doesn’t say that the media often takes the liberty of “slanting” a story and printing half-truths to embarrass people the writer or the media doesn’t like. What a hypocrite! This writer loves to drop bombs on public figures he doesn’t like knowing they can only retaliate by sending letters to the Forum. He knows that the JSEB edits all letters to the editors. They decide which letters they wish to print. He knows that the person attacked can now only go on the defense when the damage is already done.

At first I laughed at this ridiculous writer; then I remembered that he teaches; journalism? I understand why most journalists are left wing liberals. They are being brainwashed by such liberals as this “teacher” and column writer. I will not mention this person’s name because I do not want him to get more uncivil comments. He says that he receives many; some from anonymous sources. I suggest he open a blog site and allow all of us that would care to read him see exactly what these “anonymous” comments are that he is receiving. The web must be a fright to this writer especially, and to others in the media who have always been able to attack without worrying about defending themselves from retaliation.

I, for many, say three cheers for the web. But we bloggers should all try to print the truth and report the news in a “fair and respectful” manner. Maybe our respect and fairness will “rub” off on the established media.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is Peoria on the right road? Do the math

I steal this headline from Mike Bailey appearing in his column dated 2/2/02. “In 1950, Peoria consisted of 13 square miles with a population of 112,000. Today it consists of 47 square miles of roads, sidewalks, fire and police protection and a population of – 112,000.

To spur eco development Peoria has seven TIF’s, not one of them paying an extra penny to District #150 PPSchool System since 1978 and not likely to until 2013. Meanwhile, in the last four years Dist. #150 has gushed more than $25 million in red ink. In 1999, the City Council gave $5.5 million in tax breaks to a grocery store on N. Knoxville and three grocers nearby went under. In 1999, the city Council came within an eyelash of granting $35-99 million to a developer to subsidize the Galleria turned Promenade. Shoppes at Grand will open soon without subsidies.

Consider the Civic Center a regional asset; thirty communities, one sugar daddy—Peoria.

About the time Dist. #150 was scrambling for money City Hall was negotiating to rebate an estimated $705,560.00 gift to a privately owned riverfront recreation complex. (Maxim) Meanwhile, a $25 million dollar zoo expansion announced it was halfway to its goal.

While some towns are growing and other are not within the Tri-County, the population is basically flat, at 347,387 people still below its 1980 peak. Our largest employer employed 9,450 hourly workers in 1992. Today, it employees about 4450 hourly workers.

OK, so figures lie and liars figure. You’re free to connect your own dots. But do me a favor. Do the math and then ask yourselves: Is this region really on the right path? If not, is it in all of our self interests to confront some uncomfortable issues? If there is one state none of can afford to be in, it’s the one called denial.”

End of my summation of now Editorial Page Editor Bailey’s commentary in 2002.

Ok, Mike you were right in 2002 and you are right today; except for some major changes which I will list:

The population has still not grown in the past five years and the square miles of development are increasing, costs to maintain and to continue further service are accelerating. Consider that the zoo never got much past half-way in fund raising but despite Bonnie and Tim’s protestations that they would not proceed until 80% of the funds were raised from private donations; the board bridged the gap by borrowing $12.2 million. Construction is underway with a now estimated cost of $32 million dollars. In the meantime the park’s budget grew from $13 million in 1993 to $48,800,000. Expect the budget to be $60 million a year in less than 5 years with rising fees and reduced services and maintenance. ( You can observe the hard working PPD manager catching the 3:45 bus along Prospect on his way home almost every day of the week.)

Things at #150 appear to be making some improvement but where is the money going to come from to fund the salary increases, health benefits and pensions; let alone the estimated $60,000,000.00 for new schools?

In the first four years of its operation; thru 2004, the highly touted Peoria Park District’s Riverplex, lost $7,000,000.00. It was projected to be operating in the black by the end of 2004. This complex in competition with our local health clubs and supported by Peoria taxpayers is 40% used by people who don’t live in Peoria but who are enjoying our largesse at the same membership fees while paying no taxes to support the complex.

Who will fund the operating costs of the new museum if and when it is built (educated guesses are that it will need to have an operating fund of $4,000,000.00 yearly) while attendance at museums nationwide have shown a gradual decline? The new museum at Dubuque saw its attendance fall off by 50,000 visitors in its 2nd year.

I received my Schedule K-1 from the Peoria Chiefs today showing I lost another $1,900.00; my 13th consecutive investment losing year in this “beautiful” money losing ball park. Maybe Ryne is riding in to rescue the investors. Peoria better hope so.

In the meantime some people have noticed the terrible condition of many of our city streets and roadways. See Editorial in Today’s Observer. The damage done by the cities snow “wrecking” crews will run into thousands of dollars to replace sod and curbs. Each repair job takes two $200,000.00 trucks, two drivers and at least three employees each time they replace any part of the destroyed grassy roadsides.

Empty buildings abound and abandoned building still harbor druggies and rats and are not “eye candy”. Just ask the neighbors who feel helpless against the “system”. The County and City claim they do not have enough time, personnel and money to act at other than a slow pace. See Councilman Sandberg’s comments in today’s JS.

But wait, a bright spot. The Peoria Public Library Board is going to ask you for $32,000,000.00 so we can “keep up with the Joneses” and jump in with Bonnie, Tim, Ken, Pete, Bud, Dave and Chuck’s bandwagon. Harrison Homes Library that cost over $400,000.00 to renovate four years ago is slated to be closed. It includes a special built elevator for disabled people yet has nothing upstairs but a meeting room and some storage.. Meeting rooms are a dime a dozen all over Peoria; in every school, catering companies and restaurants, the Palace Skating Rink, churches, the PPD, the County and City, hotels, and almost every social organization like the KC’s and ITOO.. This Library that was so badly needed four years ago houses thousands of books few people read (the library opens at 10 and closes at 5, 5 days a week.) Evening and weekends when working people could use this library, it is closed.

Lakeview Library installed self check out machines 3 years ago that are only functional part of the time. Lakeview library has over 1000 linear feet of empty book shelf space yet says it must have room to expand. Libraries across the country have fewer readers. Borders is closing over 40 book stores in their system because of the competition from a minimum of 30 relatively new internet informational systems.

A few years ago a former Library Board talked about closing the Downtown Library, closing McClure Library and begged the City Council to give them money to buy seven acres of land out on Allen road. In a short time with no population growth library proponents claim they need $32 million dollars of property tax payer’s money for renovation and expansion.

Now they don’t know where they are going to put a new branch, just trust them and give them $33 million dollars. Dunlap is doubling their library size and Peoria Heights Library is under utilized. Peoria library cards are accepted anywhere in the Tri-County area.

It is interesting to go back to my first blog where I stated that Peoria appeared to be a city in denial. If Peoria had gotten Rt. 55 instead of Bloomington, if they had gotten the money to build a new highway to Chicago, if they had only gotten a ring road, if they had only gotten the gambling boat, if they had only gotten Eastside, if they only had softball fields to hold National tournaments instead of East Peoria, if Caterpillar still employed 30,000 workers, if the distilleries and beer makers hadn’t closed down, if the constant battling with the unions hadn’t scared most manufacturing out of town, if Cilco hadn’t been sold, if we had bought the water company, if we didn’t have all this crime and poverty, ect. All that stood between the old money and the movers and shakers for Peoria to be a city equal to Cincinnati were all these if’s.

My daddy used to say “if frogs had wings, they wouldn’t be bouncing around on their asses.” He told me to stop saying “if”.

To sum up, Bailey was right 5 years ago and many taxpayers in this community are not going to be happy campers as property taxes continue to escalate at a greatly increased rate. Don’t hold your breath on a lot of new growth in the City of Peoria or the County for that matter .We don’t have the skilled workers to fill the higher paying jobs these companies would bring into the area. District #150 still counsels and teaches like all kids are going to college to be white collar workers. Illegal are coming across our borders to the south just to take any job, period, while our welfare system for able bodied locals keeps many of them out of the educational and workforce fields.

Our roadways are in about as bad a shape as I can ever remember. Look at the condition of Knoxville Ave. to War Memorial; that’s city, then look at Rt. 40 from War Memorial north past Pioneer Parkway; that the state. Pick up our local paper and note our “warm welcome to visitors” headlines; murders, rapes, harassments, school problems, poverty problems, claims of racial discrimination and white collar thefts. Bad perceptions, right or wrong, of a community do count more than enhancements like trails and zoos.

So do too many if’s.

Some time back I wrote “Wake Up, Peoria. Now I fear it may be getting too late to wake up. I’ll keep doing what I can. One of 18 members of the County Board, to protect the citizens from major harm when a recession does hit and it will; history always repeats itself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Firefly Energy

“Anonymous” on my comment sector of my last article indicated that he (or she) was not familiar with Firefly receiving any money from the taxpayers except a contract with the Defense Department and chided me for saying they did and are and probably will continue to do so as they do not expect to have a marketable item for some years to come.

Here is the record of the financing of Firefly gathered from various sources. Firefly was spun off of Caterpillar in 2003 with seed money of $1,020,000..00 from Caterpillar, $500,000.00 from the Peoria County, City and State, a $5,000,000.00 Federal Budget earmark from Ray LaHood plus $2,500,000.00 Federal earmark in the past fiscal year. The Illinois Finance Authority provided seed money in the amount of $300,000.00 in 2003.

ICC granted free space in ICC North, a tax supported school, in a building they bought from the state (Zeller) for I believe $1. The JS reported on 10/17/06 that Firefly will receive $3,250, 000.00 in government funding to support research and development and eventual production of a high tech battery for U.S Army vehicles. The JS reported on 1/25/06 that Firefly had received a $2,500,000.00 military contract to develop an advanced battery design. Ray LaHood is quoted “this military contract represented a congressional earmark-federal funds set aside for a special project that provided benefits both for the private sector and the general public.” I believe further research would show other grants received from other taxpayer supported entities that may or may not be open to public scrutiny.

In 2/07, the Peoria City Council voted 9-2 to grant Firefly inclusion in a new Enterprise zone. In addition to a sales tax exemption worth an estimated $160,000.00, Firefly will get a 5 year property taxes abatement, worth about $455,000.00 total. Enterprise zones are to be created in “blighted” areas; I doubt that a building near where Studio 29 is located could be called a “blighted” zone. Sandburg and Gulley agreed.

Firefly CEO Ed Williams is quoted as saying it plans to add 39 new jobs by year 2010 and the company is on pace to see initial manufacturing of its batteries by late in 2007.

Just the facts, all a matter of public record to you, “Anonymous”, and any one else interested to see how many business that pay high salaries, a quarter million each in 2003, plus benefits, to some of the officers and consultants with stock options to a whole bunch of others involved totaling 7,502,490 option shares. This company was partially started with taxpayer dollars and later partially supported with more taxpayer dollars. Firefly is not alone. East Peoria supposedly subsided the new hotel on the riverfront to the tune of $20,000,000.00 Another point - Ethanol is subsidized by our government by $0.51 per gallon driving the cost of consumer items made from corn and corn by products up considerably. More on that subject later.

Do I hope that Firefly succeeds? Absolutely. But if you read carefully or seek information that is available to the general public you will become more of a respected source of information. I am not your regular type blogger on daily events but I keep extensive files that may reveal things in there true state; not as they appear to be. Anything stated in this article is a matter of public record.

Incidentally, the JS reported in small print that Caterpillar, a company whose stock I own, received $26 million in earmarks last year and is scheduled to receive $72.2 million this year unless the Senate makes changes to the Highway “LuLu” bill.

Your corrections and comments are always accepted. Currently I am not able to answer comments on this site because somehow I am blocked out. Probably because I recently went to high speed cable but have not figured out a way to close out my old slower system that my wife and I both use and on which our email information and addresses are stored which I am told we will lose if we try to combine in the faster system.

Expect more and more “subsidies” to be granted by all bodies of government as worldwide competition increases. Most all of these subsidies will come from tax dollars. Expect government to become larger until we admit we have moved from a capitalistic entrepreneur type of government to a socialist and populist type of government and 50 years from now or sooner, be looked at as much of Old Europe is actually today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ms.Hirsi Ali --- Extremist or Just Not Politically Correct?

On March 10, 2007, the WSJ ran a lengthy article about this Muslim lady from the Netherlands now seeking asylum in the U.S. She is the politically incorrect person who triggered a hate wave from extreme Muslims that has shaken up Old Europe and her actions may have led to the assassination of the well known Dutch artist, Van Gough.

I requote some parts of her interview as I feel she is a very courageous lady who is trying to tell the world, that we ought to be looking at what is going on in the between the religious groups now in disarray in Iraq and elsewhere and spreading their Muslim society beliefs in all parts of the world. She is quoted as saying, “People who live in democratic societies are not supposed to settle their differences by killing one another. And yet contemporary democracies accommodate the incitement of such behavior: The multiculturalism theology , like all theologies, is cruel, is wrongheaded , and is arguable because it is utter dogmatic…Minorities are exempted from the obligations of the rest of society, so they don’t improve….with this theory you limit them and keep them in their place. (Iraq has slipped back in time and wish to drag down the enlightened world they see as oppressors).

The most grievous failing of the West is self-congratulatory passivity: We face an external enemy that to a degree has become an internal enemy that has infiltrated the system and wants to destroy it. It’s easy to weigh liberties against the damage that can be done to society and decide to deny liberties. As it should be. A free society should be prepared to recognize the patterns in front of it, and do something about them.

The West must begin to think long term about its relationship with Islam—because the Islamists are. Birth rates are rapidly outstripping those elsewhere (especially in Western Europe) and this is a conscious attempt to extend the faith. Muslims treat women as baby and son factories. We need to compete with this. It is a totalitarian method similar to what the Nazis did using women as incubators, literally to give birth to soldiers. Islam is doing it now. It is a very effective and very frightening way of dealing with human beings.”

Mr. Rago, WSJ Editorial Page writer says “all of this is profoundly politically incorrect. She forces us back to principles, and she punctures complacencies. These ought to be seen as virtues, even as some ideas are disturbing or objectionable. Society, after all, sometimes needs to be aroused from its slumbers by agitators who go too far so that other will go far enough.”

Ms.Ali is forced into hiding and in danger of being assassinated. I hope that when she does come to our country to wake all of us up; those who have become complacent and think of our enemies as being in some far off places where they can not do us harm. Think again. Honor all who serve to protect our way of life from those who are trying with considerable success to eventually destroy us or enslave us to their fundamentalist and terrorist ways of life. Lay aside our personal hatreds of many of those who lead us and continue to agitate for our leaders to keep those who would enslave us from the opportunity to do just that.

We must do a better job of electing more knowledgeable strong leaders so we can win back the faith of the voters and the respect of the civilized world. This is an absolute priority.

This blog site is a Peoria Watch but we must look beyond the Peoria area and realize that as we drift into apathy (9% of registered voters voted in our last election) those who feel oppressed are plotting to overthrow the structural forces that oppressed them. It makes sense to minorities to make social justice a priority over their individual pursuit of education and wealth Social justice of the oppressed includes beheading, dismembering, and enslaving the innocent as well, as all who do not believe as they do, are considered oppressors.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sheridan Village and Beyond

I predicted in January that Bergner’s at Sheridan Village would close this year. Today I learned that an offer had been made to buy the entire Sheridan Shopping Center for $17 million dollars. My sources have been reliable in the past. I suspect to replicate the Sheridan Village at today’s prices would cost about $70,000,000.00. Is somebody getting a great deal or are shopping centers like the village, dead?

Drive the city of Peoria and look at all the empty, for sale and for lease properties and the many vacant recently built buildings. Observe the really bad condition of the streets you are driving on like Knoxville north of Forrest Hill, look at all the tax supported money losing completed projects like the RiverPlex and the ball park, observe those soon to be big money losing projects like the zoo now underway, look at the chances of success of those projects on the drawing boards, see the referendum on the April ballots for an additional $32 million for the library board; everybody likes libraries no matter that we have books and computers financed or purchased by taxpayer dollars all over Peoria and most all in head on competition with Barnes and Noble and Borders. (If we can build ball parks we can surely build libraries.) Right??

Even the highly touted “private” Firefly has already spent millions of taxpayer dollars and they won’t stay in Peoria without more contributions by the taxpayers. If you are a property owner watch your property tax bills rise with your blood pressure at an accelerated rate. To some of us retired, we do not see a pretty picture. To those of you that have the money inherited or earned and holding guaranteed 6 figure jobs, no problem. For many of us our finances are just another worry so no big deal. Right??

So far, Peoria Public School District #150 and their strategic growth plan has succeeded in buying $800,000.00 of buildings they can’t use; oh yes, three houses will be homes for Chinese people who are coming over here from China so they can teach our kids Chinese; kids who struggle mightily with the English language who will soon leave this community to go somewhere where people speak Chinese. I have lived in this community for 44 years and have yet to meet anyone of Chinese birth unless they were a college student or owned or worked in a restaurant and they spoke English. We would have been better off going to Iraq and bringing back the persecuted Iraqi teachers as there is a greater need for Iraqi interpreters.

The next few years are going to tell whether our leader’s grand visions turn into realties or nightmares.

Back to Knoxville and Rt. 40 going north, major gateways into the city and they ride like lumber roads. One of the first things I notice when visiting a city is the condition of their roadways; I call this similar to eating in a restaurant with dirty restrooms. I don’t.

Wish us all luck. I believe we are going to need it; we common people and the visionaries.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

PDC Landfill Status Report

On 2/23/07, Peoria County received a copy of a letter from Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste and the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club stating in part “we have come to understand that even if PDC’s appeal and other attempts to prolong the operation of the landfill all failed---even if PDC’s hazardous waste landfill were to close its doors tomorrow—the landfill as it currently exists still presents a significant threat to the long-term health and safety of Peoria and it’s surrounding communities.” Attached to this letter was a document dated February 2007 proposing extending the operating life of the landfill in return for much of the “special criteria” offered by PDC in the aftermath of the first application hearings conducted at the ITOO Hall in the spring of last year. You may visit to view the complete February 2007 proposal from the opposition to the application parties. An article titled “Landfill Compromise Offered” appeared in the JS on February 24, 07.

A document was mailed to all Peoria County Board members from our Administrator in February 2007, reading in full “Enclosed, please find a copy of the Peoria Families against Toxic Waste and the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club proposal regarding the PDC Hazardous Landfill. The Special Interest Groups held a press conference today and released this proposal to the public.

We have been and will continue to meet with PDC and are prepared to give you an update at the County Board meeting on March 8. While we have not reviewed the proposal (from PFATW and the Sierra Club) in great detail, there are elements that staff agrees with that staff have concerns with.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.”

Signed Patrick Urich, Peoria County Administrator.

On March 08, 07 a report from our administration was delivered to the Peoria County full board in executive session for their review. It is now evident that at least one board member didn’t see the article in the JS or read the material submitted to all board members on February 23. 2007. I expect that our County Board Chairman will call a special “open to the public” meeting later this month perhaps offering a more detailed counter proposal.

In summation, community activists and perhaps some board members are realizing that the 28 year old PDC Hazardous Landfill is not going to go away and that the best solution might be to set up a perpetual maintenance fund, funded by PDC into perpetuity reaching billions of dollars. The proposal received from the PFATW and ISC, also asked for more local control and monitoring by the public. There are many reasons that I have stated before, that the Illinois Pollution Board might rule in favor of PDC and the perpetual maintenance fund and all the 30 special criteria added by the County and approved by PDC could go “out the window”. The opposition is now recognizing not only that but that litigation could go on for years costing the taxpayer, millions of dollars.

For those who didn’t read the testimony given by Dr.Gary Zwicky printed on Sunday March 04,07 titled “County left with the legacy of a landfill” in which he recognizes that that existing landfill is not going to go away, I have reprinted Dr. Zwicky’s testimony of 4/13/06. Be advised that Dr. Zwicky never visited the PDC Landfill even to this date. If you carefully read his opinions, you will note that he knows what toxic materials are; most lay people understand that also, but he doesn’t qualify himself to be making citizen scaring statements about future (and present) harm to the health of those in this and surrounding communities.

For those of you who may still want to review the approximately 10 articles I wrote pertaining to the “PDC Application for Expansion” starting on approximately 4/09/06, just dial down my archives sidebar to those dates.

For those of you I might send an email, you can find me on

Stay tuned.

Dr. Zwicky's Direct Testimony Under Oath to the Peoria County board Siting Committee on 2/006 at the Public Hearing at the ITOO Hall

Dr. Zwicky's Direct Testimony Under Oath to the Peoria County board Siting Committee on 2/006 at the Public Hearing at the ITOO Hall

At this time, Mr. Wentworth, does the group
that you represent have any other witnesses to present?

MR. WENTWORTH: Yes, Mr. Brown. Thank you. We have two more, the first being Dr. Gary Zwicky.


After being first duly sworn, upon his oath, testified as
follows in response to --


Q. Doctor, we have passed around your CV or your resume.
Could you briefly describe your education and training, what your current position is?

MR. BROWN: Excuse me. Before he does that, could you please state your name and spell
your last name?

A. Gary Zwicky, Z-W-I-C-K-Y. I am a physician in Peoria, a life-long resident in Peoria County,
second generation resident. did my medical or my undergraduate training at Tulane University in New Orleans. I did my medical school at the University of Illinois in Chicago. I did a radiology residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago. And I have been in practice as a diagnostic radiologist at St. Francis for the last 17 years. I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak today. I speak as a practicing physician in this area and President of the medical staff of OSF St. Francis. I represent over 750 doctors in and around the Peoria area. And these are the very same doctors who may be called upon to diagnose and treat sequela in the event of any loss of containment of known carcinogens and neurotoxic heavy metal compounds, including lead, mercury and chromium, that are deposited at the PDC facility. I would like to read my letter that I submitted to the Board. This was titled Peoria Physicians Speak. There are few opportunities for physicians in this community to speak with one voice on an issue which potentially affects the health of our entire community. In the eyes of physicians in and around Peoria, the proposed expansion of the hazardous waste facility owned and operated by PDC represents a significant threat to all of us who live and work in Peoria County. Over the course of the last week -- and this was three weeks ago -- the Medical Executive Committees of all three Peoria hospitals representing over 750 doctors have voted to speak with the united voice to oppose the proposed expansion of this toxic waste disposal facility. Physicians in this community are alarmed about the potential short and long-term health consequences that this facility poses to the population of Peoria County. Our concerns specifically relate to the proximity of the dump to a major metropolitan area as well as its siting over the Sankoty aquifer from which we draw much of our drinking water. Specifically we fear leakage of heavy metal compounds such as lead and mercury, which are known to be neurotoxins. The physicians of Peoria County urge the Peoria County Board to deny the permit for expansion of the PDC facility. This letter was signed by myself as President of the Medical Staff at St. Francis, Dr. Parker McCrea, President of the Medical Staff at Proctor Hospital, and Dr. Steven Smith, President of the Medical Staff at Methodist Medical Center. Thank you.

Q. Doctor, are you expressing any opinion on any potential exposure pathways that are currently or in the future may emanate from the site?
A. We are most specifically concerned about heavy metal leakage from the containment.
Q. But you don't know how things are getting off the site or if they ever will get off the site, correct?
A. I don't know that.
Q. You are not a geologist or a hydrologist, an engineer, a landfill design developer, is that correct?
A. That's safe to say.
Q. Have you ever been there before to the site?
A. I have driven by it. I have not been through it.
Q. Have you read any substantial part of the Application?
A. No.

MR. WENTWORTH: Thank you.

MR. BROWN: Is there any cross-examination of this witness?

MR. MEGINNES: Yes. But first I would like to object. I don't think he's been qualified as an expert to give any expert testimony. Through the line of questions he just said he hadn't read the Application, he didn't know any pathways of exposure. I mean, he's not qualified as an expert, and I would submit his testimony should simply be included in the public comment portion of this hearing.

MR. BROWN: Unless I missed something, I am not sure that he gave an opinion. I think he just said that there were some concerns, and I guess that was his statement. So to the extent your objection is that he drew any conclusions or opinions, I am not sure that that -- there is any need to rule on that objection.

MR. MEGINNES: Okay. I would like to ask a few questions.

Q. First of all, did you spend some time and actually read this Application?
A. I did not.
Q. Have you attended the hearings since last Tuesday to try to gather some information about the
A. I have read what has been going on in the newspaper and I was here for an hour before this started.
Q. So you read the couple of articles that have been in the Journal Star?
A. Well, I think it's more than a couple over the last few months, but yes.
Q. Have you done any type of a study of the regional geology of the area?
A. I think I have answered that question. No.
Q. Have you studied the hydrogeology of this area?
A. No.
Q. Have you looked at any boring logs that were submitted as part of the record?
A. No.
Q. Have you looked at any of the test status, slug tests, or any of the other information included in the appendix to the Application?
A. I have looked at a list of some -- many of the compounds on the site.
Q. What were they?
A. You expect me to name all of the compounds on your site?
Q. Name what you can remember.
A. Lead, mercury, chromium, volatile compounds.
Q. I am kind of curious, where did you think that you read that there was mercury taken at the facility?
A. I believe it's in the EPA report.
Q. Actually, if you would have attended the hearing, it's been testified to there has been -- no mercury has been accepted at the facility. Would that change the letter you read if you would have known that?
A. No.
Q. Now --
A. That's one neurotoxin.
Q. I am kind of curious, did you ask -- first of all, did you take a tour of the site?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you ask Peoria Disposal Company for the opportunity to go out and visit the site?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you ask any representatives of PDC to come and speak to the OSF medical committee before you had your vote?
A. No, I did not. And I didn't ask anyone to speak in opposition to it either. People came to me. And your company could have come to us and asked for that same opportunity.
Q. Who came to you?
A. Dr. John McLean told me about this problem. And we had some discussions in the Community Wide Medical Leaders conference that occurs quarterly. And then Dr. McLean presented in front of our Executive Committee and in front of our whole medical staff.
Q. Was there anyone else other than Dr. McLean that brought this matter to your attention?
A. No.
Q. After he -- what did he do, call you up on the phone, or see you at the hospital?
A. I saw him in the hallway at the hospital.
Q. What did he say?
A. He told me he was concerned about this issue. And I told him I had an Executive Committee
meeting going on that night and he could feel free to present if he so chose. And he did.
Q. So who attended that meeting that evening?
A. The Executive Committee meeting is attended by department chairs in all of the departments at St. Francis. So there is approximately 20 of those, and then plus administrators.
Q. So how many people attended the meeting that night?
A. Probably 25 to 28.
Q. Was a general notice given to the other physicians in the hospital that are part of the medical staff that you were going to actually talk about the PDC landfill Application that night at the meeting?
A. It had already been presented to the whole medical staff at our lunch meeting, our quarterly
lunch meeting.
Q. Let's back up. I thought you told me you ran into Dr. McLean in the hallway at the hospital and he brought it to your attention and you told him he could come that night to the Executive Committee and make a presentation?
A. I met him in the hallway before the lunch meeting, not the executive meeting.
Q. You met him in the hallway before the lunch meeting. Did he come to the lunch meeting then?
A. Yes.
Q. So he made a presentation -- what was the lunch meeting of?
A. The general medical staff of St. Francis.
Q. And at that meeting then was there any type of a vote taken?
A. There was no vote taken.
Q. And then when was it taken before the Executive Committee?
A. It was taken before the Executive Committee the first week in February.
Q. So when was -- when did you have the lunch meeting when Dr. John McLean made the presentation?
A. I would have to look at my notes to see that date.
Q. Why don't you do that?
A. The date of the lunch meeting of the entire medical staff was 1/11/06.
Q. So how long was the presentation that Dr. McLean made at the luncheon meeting?
A. Very short.
Q. How long?
A. Probably a five minute presentation, with time for some questions.
Q. Can you recall what he said during his five minutes of testimony?
A. He talked about the existence of a hazardous waste disposal facility in Peoria, that they were applying for expansion and to raise the height of the existing facility. And many of the people were shocked to hear of the existence of such an entity.
Q. Did he have a handout or hand out any material to the physicians of that meeting?
A. I don't recall if he did at that meeting or not. You could ask him.
Q. Did he share with the doctors at that luncheon that his daughter was leading the opposition to the expansion of the landfill?
A. Not that I am aware of.
Q. So after the meeting -- now, when did it come up in front of the Executive Committee?
A. 2/7/06.
Q. So after the initial presentation by Dr. McLean on January 11, did you try to gather some additional information about the Application to kind of better educate yourself about the siting Application?
A. I had been following the reports in the paper.
Q. Did you do anything else other than follow the reports in the paper?
A. Personally, no.
Q. Did anybody else that you are aware of at OSF?
A. I couldn't answer that question.
Q. So you didn't do anything from January 11 until February 7 to better prepare for your presentation to the Executive Committee?
A. I didn't present to the Executive Committee.
Q. So how was this matter handled before the Executive Committee?
A. Dr. McLean presented.
Q. He came again to the Executive Committee and made a similar presentation?
A. Yes.
Q. About how long did that presentation last?
A. I wasn't at the meeting. I was out of town.
Q. Did you talk to anybody that actually was present at the meeting?
A. Yes.
Q. Did they tell you how long the presentation lasted?
A. No, they didn't.
Q. Do you know what the vote was at the meeting?
A. I don't know what the vote was.
Q. Do you know if it was even voted on?
A. It may have been a consensus.
Q. So there may not have even have been a vote taken?
A. That's possible.
Q. Did you get any handout, or was there any handout materials circulated at that meeting that you are aware of?
A. Not that I am aware of.
Q. How many physicians normally attend the Executive Committee meetings?
A. Probably around 20.
Q. 20. You know, I know a little bit about Medical Executive Committees, having worked in the healthcare area, and it seems rather unusual for a Medical Executive Committee to delve into matters not having to do with the hospital. Don't you find this a little unusual?
A. Not at all. It's a matter to do with health.
Q. Have you taken other public issues with respect to health to the Executive Committee?
A. Yes. TB testing for the community, vaccines for flu for children.
Q. Have you taken a position on the bird flu epidemic in the world?
A. We have not taken a position, but we have participated -- the hospital has participated in disaster drills for such.
Q. I am just surprised that at any of your discussions with the physicians, you are talking with people in the hall, no one asked to hear the other side of the story.
A. No one asked me.
Q. Do you remember talking -- did you talk to anybody else about this other than Dr. McLean?
A. I probably did, but I can't give you names.
Q. Well, do you think it was more than two?
A. Sure.
Q. More than five?
A. Dr. Vidas is here. I spoke with him.
Q. More than five?
A. Yes.
Q. Now, I believe that you were asked by your attorney about what pathways of exposure you were particularly concerned about. Do you recall that question?
A. Yes.
Q. And what pathways are you concerned about?
A. Groundwater contamination through leachate.
Q. Is there any other pathways you are concerned about?
A. Well, that's the one we are mainly concerned about.
Q. Your concern is based upon your brief conversations with Dr. McLean and what you read in
the Peoria Journal Star?
A. My concerns are based on my training also of neurotoxicity of heavy metal compounds.
Q. But you really haven't taken the time to study the Application or come to this hearing to really find out much about the facility, have you?
A. To the depth you have, no.
Q. Would it change your opinion if you had heard an expert hydrogeologist state that after 500 years, the groundwater at the compliance boundary of the facility, the only contamination would be that the water would be slightly salty?
A. I guess I would have trouble understanding how a hydrologist could predict 500 years in the
Q. But assuming he had that expert within --
A. I am not willing to assume that.
Q. You are not willing to assume that, even though if you had been here you would have heard
somebody testify to that effect?
A. I may have heard it, yes.
Q. And what do you have to rely on to question that expert's opinion other than what you read in
the Peoria Journal Star and your brief conversation with Dr. McLean?
A. Do you want to restate that question?
Q. I said, what are you relying upon to question that expert's opinion other than your brief conversations with Dr. McLean and the reading of the articles in the Peoria Journal Star?
A. I am not questioning any expert's opinion. I wasn't here to hear the testimony.
Q. Okay. Looking quickly at your resume, now, are you a radiologist?
A. Correct.
Q. I gather that you read -- what do you do as a radiologist at the hospital?
A. I read body and musculoskeletal magnetic resonance imaging and computer tomography.
Q. You use those readings to make diagnoses of patients?
A. To diagnose cancer, musculoskeletal ailments, neural diseases, those things.
Q. When you diagnose a patient, I gather you try to gather as much information as you can about
the patient before you make a diagnosis?
A. I do.
Q. That includes, what, reading the x-rays, for example, or the readouts of the MRIs?
A. Well, it includes reading the patient's history, knowing why the exam was ordered.
Q. What else do you rely upon?
A. My medical knowledge and training and experience.
Q. Well, I guess to kind of put this in laymen's terms, it seems to me you made a diagnosis on the PDC landfill expansion without even making an attempt to gather any information whatsoever about the facility. I am kind of surprised that you would do that as a physician.
A. I'll tell you, I am a little surprised too that somebody can propose that a plastic liner lasts for a thousand years.
Q. Well, how would you know about that? You don't know anything about it.
A. Well, I'll tell you what, everyday experience of everybody in this room with conventional plastics says otherwise; that they become brittle and they break over time.
Q. So just your everyday experience makes you an expert on HDPE landfill liners, is that correct?
A. No. But we are experts in scientific methodology, in studying problems. And hypotheses are put forward and then you prove or disprove the hypothesis. In the case of the plastic liner, your
hypothesis is that this is going to last for a thousand years. How can you prove it?
Q. We heard probably the United States' best expert on this testify, and he actually gave a very
detail explanation on that was his personal opinion. I don't think we have any more questions for
this person.

Q. Dr. Zwicky, we heard earlier today, and I think you might have been in the hall when one of the witnesses said that heavy metals at any kind of concentration pose a health threat. Would you agree with that statement?
A. I couldn't give you a specific concentration.
Q. Would you agree with that statement at any concentration?
A. I don't have an opinion on that.
MR. BROWN: Any questions from the Subcommittee?

Q. Dr. Zwicky, is there any studies being done, been done to your knowledge, of this area in relationship to what you are testifying against?
A. The only study I am aware of is from the American Cancer Society with data through 2004 that
states that Peoria County has a significantly higher than average risk of cancer compared to other counties in the state.
Q. But is that specific to what is going on at PDC landfill? Is there any knowledge there that they are causing the problem?
A. No. There is no way that you could connect those directly.

MR. BAIETTO: Thank you.
MR. BROWN: Mr. Wentworth, do you have any redirect?
MR. WENTWORTH: Nothing further.
MR. BROWN: Okay. Dr. Zwicky, thank you. You are dismissed.

posted by Merle Widmer @ 3:49 PM 8 comments

Reprint of a "Letter to the "Editors of the Peoria Journal Star" 4/5/06

“Emotions Clouds Landfill Decision” by Dr. Stephen J. Smart is reprinted here with the permission of Dr. Smart. The letter reads as follows “When we initially became aware of the Peoria Disposal Company Landfill expansion, we were concerned but knew few of the facts. However, after my wife and I spent two hours at the landfill meeting with PDC and touring the facility, we are very comfortable with their proposal.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Comments and Background

Books I believe everyone in the United States should read. “The Battle for Peace”; a frontline vision of America’s power and purpose, by General Tony Zinni and “White Guilt”; How Blacks and Whites together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, by Shelby Steel. Steele is black in agreement with Bill Cosby and beyond and General Zinni spent three years as head of U.S. CENTCOM. If you have read them or do read them, I would like your comments.

I don’t have as much time to blog as I’d like because I read profusely to learn all I can to write informational blogs and to stay current with what is going on in my community and the world in general. My average reading is about 3 books a week including some fiction to relieve the stress of living in this chaotic world. I also read the WSJ thoroughly, Forbes, The Economist, Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic and all the other magazines from various sources such as the County News. I read all the local newspapers and news letters. An avid clipper on a large number of subjects and I have about 10 hours of filing sorted alpha and ready to file. Too often, I stop and reread most articles, which slows down the process, before I put them in labeled folders. I put all my blogs in with the clippings filed alphabetically as hard copy which allows me to keep track of the sources of my thoughts, expressions and blogs.

I try to read as many local bloggers as I can find time. In addition, I serve on five Peoria County Committees; Facilities, Tax and Legislation, Transportation and the Executive Committee, I also represent the County on the City/County Landfill Committee along with County Board member Eldon Polhemus, currently recovering from a health setback. I will be appointed along with County Board member “Bud Sous” by our Chairman to work with City Councilman George Jacob, Bill Spears and the City Manager to see how we can jointly save taxpayer’s dollars and render more efficient government. This appointment should be approved by the full board Thursday. Later this month, I’ve been informed I will be appointed to another community liaison committee. For those of you who don’t read me regularly, I was also reelected by my peers to serve another term as Vice-Chairman of the Peoria County Board.

Tomorrow, I leave for Washington, D.C with our administrator and Tax and Legislative Committee Chairman Tim Riggenbach. Tim helped bury his mother today and just suffered the passing of his father. We will be attending a National County Association Legislative Conference and will meet with Ray LaHood, Barrack Obama and Richard Durbin. I understand we will meet with Obama’s Legislative Aide but personally with LaHood and Durbin.

These are probably the best excuses I can come up with to apologize for my sporadic blogging. Neglected too much is my wife and my most ardent supporter. I love my three grown children and grand children and great grandchildren (they live about 160 miles away); I don’t see them often enough. I also have three sisters and one remaining brother-in-law, all living in this area. Also, I stay in touch with my brother’s widow who lives about 100 miles away. I also try to keep in touch with old classmates from Congerville and Normal and occasionally friends from Western University from which I graduated with a Bachelor of Education.

Maybe someday, I’ll get caught up and become more consistent in my writing which I usually enjoy. Did I say I get lazy and need to motivate myself? Sometimes that is hard to do. I left out my tennis which I try to play 3 days a week. Plus I handle my own investments; investments that took a small beating over the last few days. I try to stay in touch what is happening in the community by attending such things as the Judicial Forum, the Civic Center Expansion Opening and the Manual High School reception by the Workforce Network, ICC and School district #150. Plus I occasionally read to classes at Northmoor.

I had no idea when I sold my business in 1992 that I’d be doing what I am today. Am I enjoying my retirement? I guess I do or I wouldn’t be this active.