Old Memories. Many memories we would all like to forget.
Some one posted a comment on one of my blogs on impending financial problems incurred by 4, "we know more than you dummies", Bloomington City Council members and one really smart Mayor who cast the 5th and deciding vote to build a Coliseum the public really did not want. I'm going to quote you some headlines and timelines from the Bloomington Pantagraph that a few of you may want to pass on to the ruling class of Peoria:
December, 9, 2001 - "Bloomington Approves Downtown Arena, Mayor Markowitz casts the deciding vote". Mayor Markovitz: "I am proud to vote yes. I don't think there is any good reason why we should not build this. We looked it over and over." Said Alderman Rich Veitengruber, "I spend a lot of time with my kids going to Peoria. I'd rather spend the time in Bloomington.
August 10, 2004 - "Bloomington OK's price for new arena. The city council approved a locked-in price of $30.2 million which does not include parking. The price is up $1.8million projected by city officials a year ago."
February 2, 2005 _ "The City Council learned Monday that $528,650 is all that is left of a $1 million state grant to help pay for for infrastructure in down-town Bloomington related to the arena.
March 26, 2006 - "Building a Coliseum". "People said , we don't need it. We don't want it and people won't come or the citizens of Bloomington. Once they get in the Coliseum, I think the attitudes will change. It is a beautiful facility," said Mayor Judy Markovitz. "It's more than people expected. We're living up to the commitment we made about a variety of entertainment", said City Manager Tom Hamilton. (Is he still City Manager?)
"The coliseum is being paid for by city-issued bonds, not by raising taxes", said Mayor Markovitz. (Is she still Mayor? No, she is gone.)
April 2, 2006 - "Coliseum debut a dream come true". "It was incredible to see all the people", facility security guard Tom Selberg said. "The Coliseum is a good shot in the arm. We definitely need it." The contractor said he was thrilled, "I can't tell you how thrilled". (If he has been paid, I'll bet he's thrilled?)
April 13, 2007 - "Coliseum lost $1.8 million its first year."
May 7, 2007 - "Bloomington Looks to Cover Arena (Coliseum) Losses." (Markovitz is gone) "Mayor Steve Stockson and the council agreed that a tax increase would be a last resort", the Coliseum had a loss of $2.5 million last year and predicts a $1.6 million deficit this year." Stockton said initial estimates projected the museum would generate a $765,000 profit this year.
July 8, 2007 - Pantagraph com/articles: "Nobody listened." "Blame the past administration". "Tear it down and build a racetrack." Let those who profit from the Coliseum, pay for it: those who use it pay for it." Raise the ticket prices." 'It's never going to work, so how much longer is this going to go on before it's admitted." "I'm glad I live in Normal and won't be bailing out this "white elephant." "What would it cost to lock the doors." This two I like. "By the way... how is the culture center doing?" "What part of blatant lies to the entire city do you not understand?"
And out of the 50 or so comments to the Pantagraph web site, this is best: "I don't care how much the arena has lost. I want entertained."
On August 8, 2004, the Pantagraph Editorial Board Wrote. " No one held accountable for added costs of arena. We are now told that the price will be $37 million. The additional cost was sprung on the City Council during a Monday night work session." Other comments in the editorial like "poor planning, underestimated costs, holes in the project, once financing costs are added the actual cost will be around $74 million."
Now we have learned that the arena lost money 35 months out of the 36 months it has been open. We learn the taxpayers are on the hook and the City manager doesn't have much of a clue as to what to do. The cities bond rating is being affected negatively because the arena deficits are being paid out of the General Fund.
Former Caterpillar Manager Mark Johnson, now an employee of Peoria County and liaison between all the groups, city, county, the original museum committee and Caterpillar, said in a talk to the Noon Optimist Club that the $78 million plus many millions in interest on the bonds, Peoria museum project was a "mess". A very reliable source told me that one of the major museum pushers "never attended a committee meeting."
I know that the museum pushers are going to say "but we are different than what is happening in Bloomington". Somewhat true, the arena debt is financed by bonds and the PRM building will be financed by a 20 year sales tax. However, bonds will need to be sold to build the structure. The sales tax will cover principal and interest on the bonds. From that point on, it is my studied opinion, there is little difference. Peoria County so far has had to make up deficits from the General Fund. Peoria City is far deeper in debt than Peoria County and has a less bright future especially if the tax payer supported bonded, General Obligation, ($39+ million) hotel deal goes through and doesn't perform as PROJECTED.
I have said wake up Peoria, so many times that it bores me. Maybe reading this will bore you too.
I hope not. I part with a well known quote. "The first thing you do when you find yourself in a deep hole is to stop digging. You also need to stop denying just how deep the hole is."
Peoria leadership has yet to acknowledge any mistakes they made. Past leaders like Ex-Mayor Grieves, Riverplex pusher, museum pusher, ball park pusher, Gateway building pusher, One Technology Center, and maybe Cubs Food pusher. Bud's restaurant attempt in Banner failed as per the JS today.
We would hear of a lot more failures if it weren't for government subsidies and entitlements with taxpayer dollars. All this government giving must be paid back someday by guess who, the taxpayers, many of them willing to pay. Most are not.