The Library Board, the Journal Star Editorial Board, a gullible public and a gullible group of politicians plus an $130,000.00 privately paid for referendum, not really, because of those who contributed the money like attorneys' can add 15 minutes here or there at from $300 and up per hour on some unsuspecting clients bill, accountants can do the same, the insurance companies can raise your premiums, the Caterpillar Foundation promotes Caterpillar and Caterpillar wants and gets everything they want with the veiled threat of relocating if they don't and the hospitals can raise the rates they charge. Plus those with excess money are always looking for noble causes in which to initiate. Which usually causes the common sense crowd to empty their pockets in support of something they didn't necessarily want.
Then there were the people who pay little or no property taxes, such as the "Letter to the Editor" guy who attacked the mayor while offering the mayor the use of his garage; he lives in a 2nd rate apartment complex. And three letters printed from people who do NOT live in the City. Or City Councilman Sandberg who this year paid a grand total of $16.50 of his $410 property taxes to support the library and a host of other people who don't use the library but think that is the place kids go these days to get an education. Or Councilman Eric Turner who said in an email to me the following,"I definitely accept. (I invited anyone to visit any and all of Peoria Public Libraries and show me where they see the needs) I will be out of town until Thursday of next week and will be willing to go Thursday or Friday. Cell phone #------.Thanks Merle, I truly appreciate it." When he didn't call me i called him only to find both his phone and email was blocked to me.
Did we ever take a tour? You guessed right, Even on Flag Day at Constitution Gardens, he came up to me and said he will DEFINITELY call me Monday to set a date. Do you think he called? Even promised to take me lunch. Oh, that's right, I forgot, he works for Caterpillar and Ex-Cat man and recent DUI offender Henry Hollings is now City of Peoria Interim City Manager.
Then there were those who equate the flag, mom and apple pie to the nostalgia of the library. They will go visit the new library to oh and ah but the same people who use libraries now will be the ones who keep coming back.
The same may happen at Dunlap's new library. But Dunlap is only spending about $3 million and they are close to town and to some schools and Dunlap is probably short of meeting rooms. My wife and I will continue to use Peoria Heights underused library as it is closer, has a great selection and never crowded.
Old Ed's library in Indianapolis went only $45,000,000.00 in cost overruns. That $45 mil.and some interesting conversations he had with the State of Indiana Attorney General Office led to his firing and finding a gullible board. Where better to find one? Peoria, of course. Does this sound like a Peoria Public School District #150 recent superintendent?
We have in place libraries to accommodate everyone in the City with approximately 1,000,000 books, tapes, discs, magazines, etc. The Southside Library, the one the JSEB said was overcrowded with eager young faces and desperately needed more space in 2001; it will be closed along with the little used library at RiverWest.
Here's exactly what the JSEB said September 26, 2001, "People who live on Peoria's southside are among the city's poorest. Yet adults (open 10-5, 5 days a week. Don't adults usually work from 10 to 5)? use this library and kids flock there. Peoria can wring their hands over gang influences and children who don't learn and parents who don't care, they can take notice of the obvious. Finish the library. Good Grief!"
So the council gave the library board about half a million, even giving $80,000.00 for an elevator to the second floor; basically empty now.On 11/06, the Strategic Plan says, "Southside Library offers inadequate service due to a lack of "space" and staff. It will be closed and combined into Lincoln along with RiverWest.
Did it help slow down the gangs? Ask the Police Department. The gangs are growing and moving further north. Do they use the libraries? Yes, free computers (that's mainly what this library furor was all about) to help patrons learn how to create social security cards they sell to illegals. And play computer games, surf for something with sexual context along with a number of serious users who have computers at home but save by using the libraries free computers.
When my friend Ed Murphy ran for mayor a number of years ago he indicated he would not spend much money to increase the size of existing libraries. He also said he never knew of a library that brought a new business into any city. He was right but some people get a perception and are led like sheep to a fleecing.
And tucked away in my files is this quote dated 5/25/08 from the JS, "The library wants no operating cost increase for five years with no net jump in full time staff." Note "full" time staff.
We will see.
Location, location; pedestrian friendly, kids on bikes, isn't that what everybody says? And on really great on land that only cost $170,000 and acre. Tucked away but visible from the highway. Oh, joy. Now when visitors come into town you can take them to Walmart, a destination, and Menards and then show them the new library on cultivated land but not similar to the grass and weeds I saw on a recent visit to Lincoln Library. or when people are taking visitors to the Shoppes they can point out the library while driving by at 80 miles per hour.
In the meantime more land will no longer valuable for dearly needed crops, land now asphalted and concretized, washing more soil towards the waterways causing the rivers to fill up and higher prices at the grocery store and filling stations.
Oh well, the voters spoke and majorities are ALWAYS right.
Maybe we can move the Illinois River out to the northside so they don't have so far to drive to their marina's, relocate the Civic Center, the ballpark, where it has a chance to make a profit for their stockholders, the Courthouse and City Hall. And why not have the park build them a NorthPlex? The park has a $48,000,000.00 budget and should be able to work in another fitness center.
Oh, I forgot, the park is still are looking for the money to build the sports complex out on Rt.91 and Fox road. Or has that site been replaced by a 2006 promise to upgrade Peoria Stadium? Superintendent Hinton says the park is read to build at the Stadium this fall.
How will property tax payers pay for all the money losing projects now completed or underway; don't forget a hundred million for sewer revamping and maybe $120,000,000.00 for new schools? We heard a lot of grumbling and some anger expressed in the community for 2007 property taxes but wait till three or four years from now. I know how I'm paying for my $1300 property tax increase. A lot of requests for contributions, average 3 a day, go directly into the round floor file.
Will I vote yes, or support any additional taxes on property owners?
Probably not in the 2 1/2 years left on my term.