Monday, April 28, 2008

Middle Class Income Stagnation

The Democrats complain that the Bush Administration is responsible for the above. An obvious reason for stagnation is that it's hard for the average standard of living to rise when the country keeps doubling and redoubling its population of the poor.

Between 700,000 to 900,000 yearly new immigrants are granted some type of legal status when 60% do not even have a high school education. Most of these immigrants are from Mexico or Central America. 40% or more remain poor after settling in the U.S. Immigration policies favor keeping the family together so more uneducated join the uneducated already here. Hispanic youths are 3 times as likely to drop out of school and twice as likely as blacks.

SAT scores tell a sad story. Among the students who took the verbal test in 2006 95,000 seniors scored 700 or above. Only 1117 were black. In SAT math 69,000 scored 700 or more and only 976 were black. Part of the problem is the black disconnect from white activities seen all the time in Peoria. A presentation open to the public "Green Plays in Peoria" touting sustainable development, only two blacks were among the over 100 participants. I've called this to attention before of the lack of participation by blacks in community improvement or development projects.

The major part of the problem is affirmative action. Why study or participate when businesses feels obligated to hire a certain number of minorities, regardless or their ability compared to "other" applicants?

As David Frum says in his book "Comeback", nobody foresaw back in 1970 that the population of of the most disadvantaged students was about to explode. Between 1970 and 2005, some 40 million people would legally and illegally (about half) migrate to to the U.S. Less than one third lacked even a high school degree and even then a degree meant little if they did not apply themselves in the classroom and were moved along to make room for others.

He says, most Mexicans migrants feel deep reluctance to assimilate to the English language and United States ways. 41% of all post-1980 immigrants have remained poor a decade after they entered our country. Back in 1960, immigrants were much less likely to remain poor than the native-born; today immigrants are much more likely to remain poor than natives.

The Democrat presidental candidates are appealling to these uneducated, the pacifist liberals, the half educated liberal indoctrinated college students, those who don't read but are swayed with words (charisma) , rich people who have already made their fortunes, minorities who have failed to take advantage of opportunities, fought for and sacrificed by blacks like Martin Luther King and George Washington Carver, and others unlike King and Carver, who would prefer the U.S. to further move toward socialism and populism.

They will blame the problem of failing to move up the ladders of economic success on others therefore further setting back those who feel they are victims of the system. Obama strongly believes this but he is smart enough to articulate it in phrases that mislead those who are looking for a "change" but aren't very sure of what they are looking for. When they say "bring our troops home", they have no idea of how to do that without increasing the threat of their eventual security.

They have no idea what it takes or do they want to do the work that it takes to be promoted into higher paying jobs so that they can enter the "middle class".

"Don't let the facts get in your way" is a statement that can be applied to many. To be accepted, truth must fit the frame of a person's mindset. If the facts don't fit, the frame stays and the facts bounce off until truth is discarded and politicians, manly Democrats, turn to exaggeration, distortion and demagoguery. That is what you are seeing as the Democrats appeal to those who feel disfranchised, victimized, the "squeezed" middle class and those who are looking for "Big Brother" to solve all their problems. They are failing to take advantage of all the opportunities offered by this great nation and seek the easiest target to place all the blame; the Republicans and George Bush. Since they do limited reading, the voices of false prophets is what they want to hear. Obama and Clinton have long ago figured this out. All Obama and Clinton had to do was read history.

Is the middle class in earning stagnation? Not if you work for the government and not if do the little "extras" that most employers seek and compensate. Almost all have the freedom to move to a better position. I was fired from my first teaching and coaching job only to be hired at a better and larger school with more pay and responsibility.

I note that almost all of the people working for Peoria County (most are Democrats) are hard workers which is reflective of good leadership. Most of the these people I suspect would call themselves middle class; and of course, they go thru "rough" spots in their economic endeavors but none have come to me to say that it is their employers fault. Most would like to make more money and have a secure future. But most realize the present and the future is what they make it.

Almost nothing anyone writes today is original. We "writers" shape our thoughts and expressions from hundred of different sources. My aim to to present the truth and if what I present does not fit your view or frame, sobeit. This was never intended to be a politically correct site.

Thanks for taking time to read me and read some of the books I recommend. Facts should never deter any thinking person regardless of race, gender, religion or political party from trying to sort out the truths from all the different sources available to us.

And there are many if we take time to find them.

In the meantime, our failed immigration policies restrict the educated from entering this countries; restricted by ridiculous quotas.

The hope is that there is a new generation of thinkers, albeit too few, that hungers for answers and solutions. Too often they hear smashmouth talking heads(from both parties), view "Lord knows what" and listen to liberalist opionions presented to them by many of their teachers whether in the classroom, home, in church or on the street.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Property Taxes Rising - Are Values Real?

My property taxes rose from $5752 in 2006 to $7113 for 2007. Peoria County taxes increased by 3.07%, Peoria City by 23.58%, Peoria Public Library by 23.30%, Peoria Park District 23.51%, Peoria Public Schools, 24.42% for a total increase to my wife and I of 23.66% over 2006.

If my appeal to the state does not give me the relief I'm entitled to, at the end of my term I will be leaving Peoria County as I see taxes escalating rapidly over the next decade. While we brag about $3 billion in new projects, and rightfully so to keep our work force employed, many of these projects do not or will not pay property taxes.

My house is for sale to those who determined my "fair value" if they will pay me $267,000 of course I've deducted the realtor fee of $17,000 from the "fair value". Of course they can't come in my house, why should they, they determined my "fair value" without entering my premises so they KNOW what my home is worth.

The people involved in the assessment reevaluation were Bonnie Gavin, Township Assessor, Dave Ryan, appointed County Assessor, Gary Shadid, Nancy Horton, wife of Brad Horton, County Recorder up for a 12.96% salary increase effective 12/1/08 and 4%each year thereafter paying $96,020 by 2011 plus all benefits; this position is by election by the public, and Mike Fortune, all appointed by the County Board Chairman.

I received this information from the County which I will quote, "During 2007 for the taxes to be paid in 2008, The Township Assessors and the County's Supervisor of Assessments revalued in excess of 84,000 properties. Complaints were filed on 3,060 parcels (3.6%) 1675 had no change in value after their hearing and 51 had their property taxes raised after appealing. Of the complaints received 2351 parcels were located in the City of Peoria Township.

I and the board were told that some people did not appeal because of fear of retaliation, by far the large majority must believe their taxes are fair, some thought the paperwork was overwhelming and others did not notice the increase until they received their new bill and some haven't as yet received their bills.

Of all the property taxes collected in my area, more that 53% will go to School District #150. Am I happy that $3856 of my dollars will fund a school system that produces questionable results? Read my old blogs. ($10,000 plus per student per year and rapidly rising)

The biggest complaint I hear as an elected official is rising property taxes. People do not mind paying taxes if they feel they are getting results. In a very recent National Citizen Survey completed by 905 people the level of overall quality of life in Peoria County, which of course includes the cities and villages, was judged to be 6% excellent, 55% good and 34% fair, not too good in my opinion.

Monday, April 21, 2008

District #150-Continued Embarrassment to the City of Peoria

"Building Foundations" - Gaining more than trade skills, Pekin students learn to work together while constructing upscale homes. This article was in Sunday's edition of the JS on the "At Home page". While Pekin has more than 200 kids involved in this project, #150 has s number of fancy sounding vocational programs listed in classes offered but did not respond when I asked easy to answer questions like: 1. How many kids started and how many ended each program offered? 2. How many females and males? No answer from Dr. Fischer who I was referred to. My request was for 2006-2007. Since we are almost through 2007-2008 wouldn't you think she would have enough time to delegate to their huge administrative staff? Sure Caterpillar has some programs helping out in the system but they are making sure they get some kids who are hireable and can learn and hold a job.

While Peoria is building new schools, thinking new schools are the answer to their problems, searching lockers for guns with ammunition, baby sitting 3000 or more kids who are bored out their gourds because no one in the system (and their "parents"?) can sell them on the idea that dropouts aren't making it in this world and it is going to get worse in the near future. All the while people moving into are community are moving in out north or across the river. While more an more people move out of Peoria to better school systems, Pekin is moving 1100 or more students thru all types of Vocational Training.

I'm probably going to be leaving too when my County Board term is up, especially if my property tax reduction appeal to the state (along with approximately 3000 other homeowners appealing) is turned down. My wife and I will be paying over $3700 to a failing school system. Administration, the board and the destructive school unions point to all the successes they have every year failing to mention they SHOULD have a lot of successes out of 14,000 students, half of which drop out before their senior year, and $160,000,000.00 budget. Shouldn't taxpayers expect much more? And who is going to pay for the new schools? Peoria homeowners how are already paying $10,000 plus for every student ever year, the highest cost per student of any downstate school according to published reports in the JS.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Merle Widmer's Hiatus

Sorry I've been gone from my site. Encountered a bad cold and bronchitis. Evidently I'm still fighting it as the doctor wants another X-ray Monday. Haven't had the energy to handle the stress of blogging but I'll be back soon.

In the meantime, I suggest four books to read: "A Bound Man" by black author Shelby Steele, who like Obama was born of a white mother, "Day of Reckoning" by Patrick Buchanan, "Comeback" by David Frum or "Piece like a River" by Leif Enger.

You may want to visit my older blogs on my opposition and my research on the Peoria Public Library request for $35 million that will be presented to the City Council soon. These bricks and mortar buildings will house unsupervised computers that some on our Peoria City Council can't wait to approve. Councilman Montelongo even had his campaign signs illegally on Peoria Park District and Lakeview Library grounds to show his support, in the last election.

The council might note an article this week in the JS that reads "A man who caught the eye of a suspicious librarian in Collinsville has pleaded guilty by posses ion of unauthorized devices, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Federal officials in East St. Louis say 28 year old Jason David Lingo of Granite City admitted Friday he purchased 131 credit card numbers last year and used a Collinsville Public Libraries computer to purchase merchandise with 30 stolen cards.

After receiving the merchandise, Lingo would sell or pawn the items".

Happening here in our public libraries? You bet. No supervision, false identity to use the libraries to create Social Security cards, look at porn, order merchandise, play computer games. Visit any library and look at what you see displayed on the user's screen. On my last three visits to Lakeview, not a single computer user was using any reference material from the library.(Dozens of shelves of space is still taken for reference material at every branch library even though it is all on library computers and can be accessed at the library or from a patrons home.) Yet the library board wants to add 100's more of unsupervised computers and needs the space to place them.

I asked a friend if he didn't have a computer at home. He said, "sure but why use and when I can use the library's computers free"?

The automatic checkout machines at Lakeview haven't worked for 6 months. Why not? No one has an answer that makes sense. You don't need a new building to buy self-checkout machines that work.

And whats wrong with using the relatively new Peoria Heights and Dunlap's newly expanded libraries? Both are greatly underused. More meeting room? Look at all the empty space in our school systems, churches and social organizations to name a few.

I don't blame people for asking. That's why we are supposed to elect people with common sense to not overload the community they represent with more property taxes to "Keep up with the Joneses".

$100,000 was spent on a successful referendum to mislead a gullible public and their leaders. Now, one of the supporters, Sen.David Koehler is quoted in the Peoria Observor on 2/19/08, "Senator David Koehler said he did not care about poll results done by those pushing this legislation. They are obviously trying to promote their issue, Koehler said. I really don't care what the polls say." (It was a piece of legislation in Springfield he opposed) Polls don't count. How interesting?

Few politicans who supported this refernedum never visited a Peoria Public library unannounced in their adult life. (A study conducted by an Associated Press-Ipsos, found that "only one out four adults do read books" and that women and older people were more avid readers and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

On 3/21/08, Borders Booksellers said it might put put itself on the sales block because of dropping book sales. Both Borders and Barnes and Noble have seen drastic drops in their stock prices.

Just a reminder. It was only 7 years ago that you gave the library board approximately $500,000 to add a second floor at Southside Library with an elevator ($200,000), the second floor is basically empty, go see for yourselves, and now our new head librarian says the building does not have enough space and staff and will be closed. (This library never had a chance to succeed for adults that work. It opens at 10:00 Monday and closes at 5:00 Friday. Brilliant planning? I think not.

Council, remember when you gave the Library Board money to keep the downtown library open on Sunday. Never did open on Sundays. What happened to the money?

Soft easy chairs, coffee and snacks--competing with tax-paying Borders and Barnes and Noble? Shades of the still money losing RiverPlex.

Please refer to my "library" blogs dated 4/1/07, 4/23/07, 2/20/08 and 2/28/08 to name a few for more of my research on the libraries actions in the past and their current needs claims.

I also blogged "A Look back to 2001", I failed to date it. I would say it was in 2005-6 when the JS was complaining about lack of space (Lakeview still has a thousand or more lineal feet of empty shelves).

On 1/8/03, a library spokesperson stated that Lakeview Library is so crowded that librarians do not have time to help patrons because they are so busy checking out books. Sorry, as a two or three times a week visitor to Lakeview, I find that statement is a false statement, more so even 5 years later. If librarians don't have time to help patrons check out books, why don't they install self-check-out-machines that every library in the country the size of Peoria has been using for years? A new building is not needed for self-check-out machines.

Over the years, records will show the City Council has a difficult time saying "no". bowing to pressure groups. Many people are telling me they have moved across the river as they see a never ending demand for more property tax dollars in Peoria City and County. They can live close by and still use all Peoria taxpayer paid for amentities.

When my County Board term is up, I may be next to move especially since my fair value on my home was raised by over $40,000 despite the fact that I have made no improvements since the 1990's. I'm appealing to the State Board of Appeals where I understand the state is trying to handle over 3000 appeal complaints from Peoria County alone. I'm told by some that since i am on the board, I'm respnsible. Sorry it doesn't work that way. Come to a full board meeting and ask some questions. I for one, will tell you why I have no real influence on property taxes and the picking of who sits on the Board of Appeals.

I am told there were only 100 appeal complaints last year.