Friday, May 29, 2009

PPD Taxpayer Dollars Requests

The Peoria Public Park District has requested taxpayer help this year through our elected official(s) in D. C.; a total of approximately $5 million. $212,500 has been approved as of May 1 (of a total of $425,000 requested) for Proctor Center Park Redevelopment. Proctor services a small number of residents on the Southwest side of Peoria. Average loss per year; about $300,000.00. This $425,000 will be used for recreation improvements including a splash pool that will close at 5:00 PM.

Glen Oak Park Open Space Acquisition, $1.2 million (remember this one I blogged on a couple months ago: the PPD asking for your money again to buy back the houses from #150, your property tax dollars paid for these houses) on Prospect Rd.

Grandview Drive erosion control (PPD) $1.8 million.

Headquarters Building Construction $1.4 million.

These are the largest requests from DC (Representative Aaron Schock)along with the PPD's usual requests for public funding from various other governmental bodies, all to supplement their $41 million 2009 budget.

Yet the PPD claims to be operating "in the black". today's JS.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dr. John Rosemond - On School Reformers

From the Southern Illinoisan [Carbondale, IL], Sunday, May 24, 2009, p. 6D See

Education problems will be solved with home reform, not school reform

By John Rosemond

This man is one of the best educators of our times. The JS at one time carried his column and it would be a good community service if they brought Dr. Rosemond back

Under today's lack of discipline in public school, smaller classes compared to larger classes in "days gone by" , allow for better discipline and concentrated learning. But I agree, today it doesn't make that much difference if the parent can't interest the kid in school, the school can't reach her attention and the administration and board can't bring it all together. New Schools are not the answer, but the taxes associated with them will cause people to move from #150. Which they are.

Merle Widmer

Rosemond says, "Public school reformers are like a fellow who scoops a bucket of water from one end of a swimming pool, carries it to the other end, dumps it back in, and then repeats the sequence endlessly, convinced he is making the latter end deeper.

In the meantime, his labor causes the cost of the water to skyrocket as it becomes more contaminated. Our reformer is obviously suffering from some learning disability because despite the fact he's been at this for years, he seems incapable of understanding that he is accomplishing nothing and causing problems in the process.

Nonetheless, he can be heard constantly complaining that he needs more money with which to increase the pool's water level and improve the quality of the water.

The bankruptcy of the reformer's argument, as well as his myopia, is easily exposed. One of his objectives is to reduce the student/teacher ratio. He maintains that smaller class size improves learning. Oh, really? In the 1950s, when class size was much larger than it is today, and the student/teacher ratio was larger still, children at all socioeconomic levels achieved at much higher levels than their contemporary counterparts. And many of those kids - including yours truly - came to first grade not even knowing their ABCs!

Since the 1960s, reformers have succeeded at bringing about significant reductions in both class size and the student/teacher ratio. Their efforts have coincided with dramatic declines in student achievement. Yet, oblivious to facts, they continue to carry water from one end of the pool to the other.

The reason 1950s kids could be successfully taught in overcrowded classrooms (I've met women who in that decade taught as many as 95 first graders, by themselves, and with relatively few problems) is because they had been and were being properly disciplined in the home. They were not the center of parental attention in their homes; rather, they were expected to pay attention to their parents. They were not the object of great doing on their parents' parts; rather, they were expected to do, to carry their share of the weight (Does anyone remember when children had chores and were expected to find their own entertainment after school?) They were expected to do at school what they had been trained to do at home - pay attention and do what they were told. (Did I mention that these kids were also expected to do their own homework, without their mothers' help?) This training obviously paid off.

The good news is that this same training will pay the same dividends today. The problem, of course, is that few parents realize the solution to American's education woes lies in their hands. They have been persuaded that the reformers, given enough money, will solve the problems. When his efforts fail, they demand that he carry water faster, to which he responds with demands for even more money. And the beat goes on.

The problems in American education will be solved through home reform, not school reform. When parents wake up to the misleading they have endured for the past forty years and re-embrace a traditional (read: everlasting) point of view and restore traditional practice (the emphasis of which is not on spanking, but on leadership); when they once again back teachers when it comes to discipline; when they once again send children to school who have been properly prepared at home, not through academic exercises beginning at age 3, but through such things as chores beginning at age 3; then and only then will American schools be restored to their former glory.

Call it trickle-down edu-nomics."
JOHN ROSEMOND is a psychologist, family therapist and nationally known lecturer on parenting issues.

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, May 25, 2009

Peoria Park District Financial Bind

The clay tennis courts opened Friday last week. By Sunday they were in poor shape, somewhat like playing on modified dirt. The Peoria Tennis Association just contributed $2300.00 to the PPD to keep all seven of these clay courts open for public use. Some will say since they are "public" and free, what is there to complain about?

A little history. Since the park has tennis courts in several locations, the park found it was not possible to come close to breaking even if they charged a usage fee and had a paid fee collector at each location. So they offer use of the courts for free. Just like they do for most of the nine thousand of acres owned by the park including picnic, fishing, ball diamonds, playground and hiking areas.

Over the 20 some years I have been playing tennis, we have gone through years of good courts and good people maintaining the courts, terrible courts and decent courts. Now with the clay courts themselves in poor condition this early in the season, dry weather will turn the meager spread of clay to dust by the time of the first PTA tournaments. Also the courts used and paid for by Woodruff High School are in poor condition. Other hard courts are developing cracks and showing wear. The cracks will only get wider after another hard freezing and thawing period.

As an aside, I note the land swap with Bradley University; Meinen Field (now Shea Stadium) for 40 acres of land out at the corner of Fox Road and Rt. 91, never took place. The land swapped at $13,000 an acre is still farmland owned by Bradley who in turn probably accepts subsidies from the U.S. government (Bradley received subsidies from the government of $183,600 just for properties in Peoria County alone) for this land Bradley got title to Shea Stadium, the park district has title to nothing. I heard they received some cash in the swap but I saw no record of it in their financial statement. And into what fund the money was entered??

Also, in 2008, PPD took bids opened Sept 4 approximately to develop a sports complex with #150 on the far north side of Peoria Stadium. To date, no ground has been broken.

In 2003, Park Board President Tim Cassidy and Administrators Bonnie Noble (salary of approximately $135,000 per year plus benefits including a pension) promised to have a new softball complex to rival Eastside so that the PPD could host national tournaments along with Eastside attracting thousand more spenders and hotel users to the area. National and worldwide girls softball tournaments are a huge draw with strong financial benefits to the community.

It has been a continuation of broken promises.

Also, Dave Bielfeldt, sent out an appeal to the public to make up the deficit of $5 million needed to complete the new zoo entrance and parking facilities. With the zoo opening in less than two weeks, I observe neither.

As I predicted in 2003, the park was over-reaching and proof of this over-reach is apparent as they are unable to complete, build or maintain as promised. Over the years, park officials have stated time and time again that they are in strong financial shape. Even brought an accounting firm down from Chicago to prove it. Facts appear these days to present themselves as otherwise.

One last fact, although there are many more such facts as the historic cannons (cannon?) at Glen Oak Lagoon slipping off their foundations, is that some of the new parks have neither toilet or water such as at Becker Park.

A skateboard park was promised publicly in 2003. Can you find it?

And, oh yes, is it because the the large amounts the PPD pays to the JS in advertising that NONE of these facts have been researched except a large spread by columnist Tery Bibo filled with many half truths and information that never touched on the problem areas? I hope not. JS Sports writer Dave Eminian, thanks Dave, of the JS wrote a three part series titled "Youth Sports- IT BARELY plays in Peoria". Daves series ran for three issues of the JS and elicited many comments critical of the PPD recreation department management that I believe resulted in one manager leaving (wrong one or both) for a new job. Eminian's JS spreads started on July 15,2007, taking the PPD to task for failing to do many of the things I've summarized above and in some of my earlier blogs dated August 21, 2008, titled "Peoria Park Update - Softball", on 7/22/07 and 7/19/07, I blogged "PPD Problems" I blogged "Some Observations PPD" on 10/20/05, on 2/2/06, I blogged "Softball in Peoria" and on 2/1/06, I blogged "Exaggerations, Falsehoods or Visionaries" concerning the PPD.

All interesting reading and all information true. Challenges accepted.

In the meantime, since I play with the PTA, I'll keep the PTA aware as interested others the conditions of the courts as the year progresses.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pekin High's Vocational Classes - An Example

An article in the JS yesterday reads, "Dan Greving, a 17-year-old senior at Pekin Community High School, started Mr. Bachman's landscaping class thinking it would help him with his future career in architectural design". However, looking at the house his class was finishing building, Dan had some 2nd thoughts. "I'm going into architectural design, I figured this class might help with college...." Pekin high schoolers have built and landscaped over a dozen homes, one a year, which they sell with proceeds going into next years class project.

The new home can be seen at 225 Ironwood in Pekin. Sophmore Mitch Shaughnessy already has his own landscaping company, DreamScapes Landscaping LLC. Call him at 267-0619.

I've blogged on this subject before. What does the "now reaching $13,000 a year to 'educate' one kid" at #150, offer kids training for vocations that just might include manual labor. I'd like to know including how many kids started and finished the class and where the community can go to see the results of their vocational training involving manual labor other that perhaps Caterpillar.

Thanks, I really would like to know as I was not able to get "results" from #150 administration.

Dallas, Texas - Memory Lane

I'm reading a book, "The Big Rich" by Bryan Burroughs about the rise and fall of the greatest Texas oil fortunes whose pages bring back many memories of the two years I lived in Dallas. In early 1961, Remington Rand Systems Division promoted me from District Manager of State Capitol Topeka, Kansas to Assistant Branch Manager of Dallas, Texas covering Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso and Albuquerque, New Mexico. My boss, Branch Manager Frank Heller was Texas born, a member of the exclusive Downtown Dallas Club and one of twenty members of the Citizens Council, a group that basically run Dallas at that time in history. As an invited guest to the Dallas Club, I either met or had pointed out giants such as Clint Murchison, Jr., owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who in turn introduced me to Vince Lombardi, whose Packers were playing the Cowboys that day, Richardson, Bass, Jim Ling (aircraft designer and builder,Ling-Temco-Vought)and I believe Roy Cullen as well as several Texas millionaire oilmen, none of them had I ever really heard of. Now comes a book of 440 pages that tells the history of these men, women and children, that to this day, I never understood the impact they had on Texas and the country and the coming out of the H.W, Bush family.

Many of these men had rough beginnings as ranchers or less, some of whom made there fortunes in a couple years. I lived my first 18 1/2 years on a farm and perhaps that is the reason i was sent to Texas to be Heller's eventual successor. I was married to my lovely wife Dee and had three Children, Mark, (now deceased) and Mary Jo, both born in Heyworth (St, Joseph's Hospital in Bloomington), and Nancy Ann, born at Stormont-Vail Hospital, Topeka, Kansas. The Assistant Manager I succeeded stayed on as a salesman making many overt and veiled actions to try to prevent my success in building a depleted sales force.

By the spring of '62, Heller was forced to resign and the manager of the Cleveland, Ohio, Branch was brought in as Heller's successor where he had been demoted as manager of Houston due to some in-company politicking. Almost daily, Jim Sharkey filled me in on all the politics and intense rivalry between business and political factions in Houston and Dallas. And the politicking within the company of which I was also naive. Eventually, decreasing interest in filing systems led to the selling of the Sperry-Univac Division, Remington Rand Systems to a company later to be called Kardex, a product still sold by Widmer Interiors.

By 1963, the business cycle was running at a low ebb in the Southwest, rumors were floating as to the divisions future, so the company decided to eliminate the position of Assistant Managers at all branches except Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. I was offered several positions, one to head up the Library Division. The one choice my wife and I decided on was to return to Peoria as District Manager and by 1964 I would form a company and be given the Remington Rand Systems Franchise.

That is another story i have told once on this site. Lessons learned in Dallas helped me get the RR franchise and later Herman-Miller, and eventually succeed in business in Peoria, Phoenix and elsewhere.

But not before thoroughly investigating opening my own company in "Big D". I had the product lines picked out, a $10,000 line of credit and was set to resign when Dee and I made a mutual decision to return to the area where our mutual families lived. The company bought our house from us and moved us back to Illinois at company expense. We lived in a home we purchased at 806 Fondulac Drive until our divorce in 1973. Without the assistance of my ex-wife, I probably would never have been a successful business person.

What I did not realize how tight and parochial the Peoria Banks were. Even with a franchise, I could only get a $5,000 line of credit because none of the old fart bankers "knew my daddy". When I told them I was the last born of nine with a "dirt" farmer dad, they didn't believe I could succeed against the entrenched Kellstedt's, Jacquin's; (I later bought Jacquin's), the Defenbaugh's, Landgraph's, etc. While I struggled with inadequate finances all 28 years in business, I sold my company debt free with a 3A1 D and B rating. Widmer Interiors is the only company in Peoria in the Office Product business that still bears the founder's name.

In reading this book "The Big Rich" I only now understand how naive we were in believing that Texas would not be a lot different from the world my wife and I grew up. After all these years, I still marvel at our ignorance of Texans, their ignorance of places like Illinois and Peoria. Where is that? And, of course, our ignorance of them and their distinctive lifestyles.

Anyway, an interesting book for those who like to read about Texas and Texans in the big oil days.

Note: 4 months after I left Dallas, John Kennedy was slain by a gunman sniping from the Dallas Book Depository, I place I had visited early as we attempted to sell them a Kardex inventory system for all their school books. No sale, they had no money. Sound familiar?

The company moved us back to Illinois where I purchased a home on Fondulac Drive in East Peoria and on February 1, 1964, I opened as Widmer Office Products at 313. S. Jefferson St.; that whole block was later cleared out for the Civic Center and my business relocated to the corner of Lake and Sheridan. Later, we moved to University Plaza and in 1992 I sold the company which was renamed Widmer Interiors and is located on Allen Road across from Pioneer Park.

Did I ever regret leaving Dallas? Probably not although I have been back to visit a couple of times.

Harlem Children's Zone - Peoria and Barack Obama

Back in 2005, I was intrigued by what a person name Geoffrey Canada was doing to keep poverty kids, 98% black, in school with a high success rate. I blogged on "The Harlem's Children's Zone, founded by Mr. Canada, back in 11/05/05, from an article I read in the 10/31/05 issue of U.S. News and World Report. I recommended all concerned about education in #150 read my blog and the article on which I based my blog.

I have my doubts that any did, ever heard of the successes of Geoffrey Canada. Now Author Paul Tough has published a book called "Whatever it Takes", in his 2008 book now available at Lakeview Library. Judging by the stiffness of the pages, I may be the first to have checked it out. Those of you who read me and know Laura Pettele better than I do, might suggest she read it to better prepare her for what whe is going to face over the next 5 years on the school board. I can become her best supporter or her worst critic. When I say that, I remind all that I am coming off the county board at the end of 2010 and will have much less stress, more time to recount 10 years of political experience, be more financially secure and be even less politically incorrect than I am now.

Author Tough writes on p. 265, that then President elect Obama gave a speech in Washington, D.C. on urban poverty and held up Harlem Children's Zone a a model for the strategy he would follow. Obama said, "The philosophy behind the project is simple, if poverty is the disease that infects and entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can't just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal the entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works."

Obama went on to say, "If elected president, the first part of my plan to combat urban poverty will be to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone in 20 cities across the country, we'll train staff, we'll have them draw up detailed plans with attainable goals, and the federal government will provide half the funding for each city, with the rest coming from philanthropists and businesses. We will find the money to do this. We cannot afford not to."

Canada, however, did not endorse OBama (McCain was promising similar programs) but he thought Obama got it "exactly right".

Now Obama is stuck "between a rock and a hard spot" because of all the promises he has made to the militant teachers unions, how militant they become depends on the weakness of the agrarian style school boards; our system MUST be changed, and as illustrated in Jay. P. Greene's article, "The Union War on Charter Schools" found in the WSJ on 4/16/09. Dr. Greene is a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.Greene proves that not all college professor's live in "ivory towers".

Also mentioned in the book is the success of KIPP schools; I also learned of the success of this approach when I read an editorial in the WSJ on 3/26/00 titled "Kudos for KIPP". Like Harlem Children's Zone, KIPP schools are freed from the bureaucracy's grip of public education and employ longer school days and longer school years. And the are free from the unions who have equally contributed to the failure of so much of our urban school systems as the structure of the the failed bureaucracies that runs too much of our nation's public schools.

Ex-Caterpillar Chief Glen Barton is heading a group to select a successor to Superintendent Hinton. Those of you who know Barton should advise him that hiring another "educator superintendent" is not going to stop the failure of our inner city schools. Even Mr. Canada could not have succeeded without the financial and business knowledge provided him by the private sector. Mr. Canada's job is to educate kids by keeping them in school under an environment that best suits the kids and communities needs. That Superintendent Hinton would not have been a success was the fact that he was ill-prepared, ill-advised by many community leaders and overwhelmed with problems way beyond his expertise; his expertise lay in educating children and keeping them in school.

Barton and his group should hire a superintendent who can delegate the education of our children to people like Ken Hinton while the new superintendent could deal with working with the unions, hiring and firing of staff, downsizing the bureaucracy, fair but affordable pay structures and benefits, new buildings, renovations and be a better connector to the community including the financial community and philanthropists.

And cut the school board to three members, three year terms rotating one member each year, paid with three small offices and one secretary to be shared. If the law prevents this absolute change, get the laws changed. Our politicians seem to be able to do that on less "vital to our survival" issues.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Peoria Chamber of Commerce PAC

After reading and hearing all the comments being made by the Democrats, led by Allen Mayer, a County Board Member, you would believe the Progressive Peoria Political Action Committee is to take turns endorsing Republicans and then Democrats, or vice versa. Gee, I thought the PAC was formed to endorse and financially support the people they believe to be best qualified to serve the public in elected offices.

Don't the unions do that? Well, maybe not the best person but the ones that will favor the growth of unions whose next step after passing the EFCA will be to start attacking the "right to work" states where companies like Caterpillar are moving parts of their manufacturing while states like Illinois, California, New York, to name a few, are losing population and taxpayers.

Perhaps a few Democrats forgot that I, as a Republican, was not endorsed by the PAC the first time I ran. They endorsed Democrat Jim Graves? That was after the liberal JS and the JSEB, led by Drake, Epstein and Bailey tried to ruin me with false and half-truths. also, that tyhe C of C endorsed Democrats Linda Butler, Rachael Parker and Tim Cassidy.

I, too, have not always agreed with the endorsements of the Chamber but I did not make a political issue of it as some Democrats are now doing. I like a lot of people who are Democrats same as I like a lot of Republicans. When I think either are "off track", I, being "not politically correct", will express my facts and opinions.

Let's face it,the Democrats are in power in this city. In turn, their power is causing many registered Republicans to act like Democrats. It is hard to distinguish the parties philosophies at some government levels here in Peoria.

I'm reading comments made and actions taken intended to lead to more minority involvement in county business as partly being a Democrat thing and more votes for Democrat candidates and more Democrat union members. The minorities they are talking about whether they say it or not, are black minorities. And black minorities in this community are almost to a person, Democrats. There are plenty of places that will help a business get started and the county should support them with their concern to make it easier to do business with Peoria County. Many are non-profits such as Scope and ICC. It is not the counties job to train people how to go into business with taxpayer dollars that then permits these newly trained people to be awarded jobs (and accompanying grants, also taxpayer dollars), in competition with those who learned how to start a business and win bids with their own dollars.

In the 8 plus years I've been on the county board, we have made bidding open to all. I will take a "dim" view if we start awarding bids to minorities as politically driven. All bids are currently revieved and awarded on the basis of the best "qualified" low bid. Last year we denied a bid that would have saved the county $50,000 on the pretext that the contractor had not properly met a minor requirement and had made a minor mistake (corrected) on a previous county job. That the contractor was non-union I'm sure had nothing to do with the non-award.


Business, labor, minorities and political and apolitical people should work together and most of you who know me know that I have always asked for and tried to attain a level playing field. Unfortunately, I sometimes made my real feelings known in opposition and then voted with the overwhelming majority rather than the vote being 17 ayes and my one nay. My weakness shows at times. At other times what I say in County Board meetings seldom makes news unless my comments can be used in a less positive way.

For the interest of the reader, all bidders for county jobs must union or, if not, pay the "prevailing wage" scale which in some cases, means certain actions that add to the bidders cost.

Phil Luciano - Bar Fight - 1:15 A.M. Saturday

1:15 A.M. on a Saturday night? Hitting people in the head and tearing shirts? I'd like to believe it isn't so but its reported in the JS so it has to be true. Struck a guy in the head, was escorted from the bar and comes back an strike a woman? Good grief, Phil, you blustering bag of beans. If you don't recall Phil wrote 750 words belittling me for lawfully causing a school bus to stop after I was nearly struck by a flying object ejected from an open window while I was traveling at 65 miles per hour while legally passing this school bus. This bus, driven by an inexperienced driver, carrying a wrestling squad with a belligerent coach who in addition to being belligerent, also was in violation of school policy by allowing food and drink on a public school bus, plus allowing windows to be open and kids tossing out missiles. A felony, by the way, under a law "endangering someones life while traveling on a public freeway".

On 8/15/07, Luciano wrote in his column, "What sets bricks and fireworks apart"? He wrote "one act intended to do no harm and one that is intended to do physical harm"?

Interesting that he should have asked that question back then and now "allegedly" striking someone in the head. On 4/3/07, Luciano wrote a column, "Sometimes its easier to forget" saying "Look, I readily admit I that I don't recall much of college academics: I focused on my energies in activities outside the classroom".

Looks like Phil is still leading a "college kid" life of socializing in bars and throwing "chairs off balconies" and of seeing his college buddies and remembering all of the "impossible irresponsibility under which you once reveled" as he wrote in his column "Rethinking the college culture" on 8/15/07. I agree wholeheartedly with the title and some of its content of the article.

Maybe the JS should review what paid people write in their columns but maybe Phil is just following some sort of tradition with role models of dubious character. While people may read what some write, I doubt if it helps advertising revenues or even circulation for that matter when you have irresponsible column writers.

Maybe Diana Schroer summed it up best in her "Letter to the Editor" dated 4/07/07, titled "Column (Luciano) serves no redeeming purpose".


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peoria County Board - District 11

As announced in 2008, I will not be running for a fourth term in 2010. Republican Mary Ardapple, owner of Apple's Bakery, has expressed interest in running to represent District 11.

She will have my support.

I am announcing what I believe is Mary's intention as I believe "Word on the Street" will comment on this information in tomorrows JS.

Empathy and Greed

One of the better explanations as to why we are in this mess. I thought it worth passing on.


-----Original Message-----
From: Lambert, Roger F, CTR, AUTEC
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 1:36 PM
Subject: FW: [Fwd: FW: An Easily Understandable Explanation of Derivative Markets:]

Thought this was a good explanation

Subject: An Easily Understandable Explanation of Derivative Markets:

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit.

By providing her customers' freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and
increases Heidi's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics
as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets. Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics.
Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi.

Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since, Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and the eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.
Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from the Government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers.

Now, do you understand?

“The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples’ money.”
Margaret Thatcher

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Unions vs. Taxpayers

"Across the private sector, workers are swallowing hard as their employers freeze salaries, cancel bonuses and institute longer work days. (or shorter or no pay, no work days) while those in the public sector, the mood is entirely different. Call it a tale of two economies. Private sector workers---unionized and non union alike---can largely see that without compromises they may be forced to join the unemployment lines. Not so in the public sector.

Government unions used their increasing influence to ensure that a healthy chunk of the federal stimulus package was sent to states and cities (and counties) to preserve public jobs. Now they are fighting largely successful local battles to safeguard salaries and benefits. Their gains can only come at the expense of the tax-payers", so writes Steve Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Studies show that the average public-sector worker earned almost 50% more in salary and benefits than comparable private-sector workers. State and local benefits rose 3.1% in the last year compared to 1.9% in the private sector according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The real power of the public sector is showing through this economic crisis. Some 5 million private-sector workers have lost their jobs in the past year alone, (I believe that figure is way too low)and their unemployment rate is 9% according to the BLS. By contrast, the number of public employees, has grown in virtually every month of this recession and the jobless rate in the public sector is a mere 2.9%. For people to believe that this is good news must forget that the funding of the public sector comes from revenues that most of the public sector doesn't have (Think Peoria Public School District #150 and the City of Peoria) and can only get by raising the cost of living in this country, affecting mainly the retired, the unemployed, the non-union lower paid employees, the retirees, small business owners; many of them working with little or no salaries just to stay afloat, and, of course, union workers also.

There appears to be a union leadership conception that all union workers follow their union bosses like sheep and that all workers demand to be unionized. Also, that all Democrats want the public sector to outgrow the Private sector. For example the union-friendly legislation making its fourth attempt at passage and strongly supported by Obama, the card check bill (EFCA) that will make union organizing much easier (by eliminating a secret ballot and cutting to 180 days the time for management and the unions to work out an agreement before binding arbitration; arbitration by 2 Democrats and 1 Republican) two of the many changes greatly benefiting the organizing of workers by intimidation and by process) is opposed by many Democrats and by almost all businesses which the Chamber of Commerce is supposed to represent.

The private sector in business to make a profit so businesses can pay their employees a fair wage while businesses pay ever higher taxes on their profits to foot the the bill for the upward arc of government spending. While the public sector adds more union members which means more voters to contribute more money for political campaigns to sympathetic public sector growth politicians; especially under the current administration, creates an indefinite future for this country unless taxpayers find a way to roll back the enormous power public workers have acquired.

That power was and is being shown by a Democrat controlled Peoria County Board, 13 Democrats to 4 Republicans?? and out of 11 chairmanships, only 2 are occupied by Republicans, the lowest in recant history. The Democrat attack on the Heartland Partnership, the umbrella over the EDC and the Chamber of Commerce, seems to have a somewhat warped vision of business and unions working together. The Democrat controlled unions with their elected officials appear to believe that what is good for the unions, is good for the country rather than unions working with those who produce a product that can be taxed to support a competitive workforce.

The more government and public bureaucracies increase their hold on the American people, the faster the slide into Socialism that I have been warning about for the past 15 years or more. Surveys show that approximately 30% of the people in this country now favor Socialism over Capitalism and another 30% of Democrats would have voted for Blago again rather than to vote for ANY Republican.

The power of the party in control of most government is immense as we are finding out.

At least, over the next 4 years and possibly much longer IF the Republican party does not do more to distinguish itself from the party in power. It is becoming harder for moderate conservatives to remain in the party without having a greater voice in the LEADERSHIP of the party.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Peoria County Board of Review

To All County Board Members:

As large property owners in Peoria County, we join with other local property
owners in objecting to the very substantial increases the current review
board has placed on area properties. Having been in the Peoria real estate
market for over 40 years, we see no sound justification for the huge
percentage of increases. As evidence of the size of increased valuations,
we have enclosed a schedule that reflects the percentage of increases placed
on several of our properties.

Who to hire and fire is your job, but far too many good citizens and
business owners who invest in this community are at odds with the valuation
placed upon their properties, and "some action" on your part is required to
rectify the current situation we are experiencing. Therefore, we ask that
you take this matter very seriously before we see further deterioration in
the local economy due to unjustified taxation of real estate.


David S. Joseph

This is typical of the dozens of phone calls, letters, emails, etc., not to mention the dozens of people who have appeared before the full board or the Tax/Economic Development Committee over the past year or more.

Last night the full board voted almost unanimously to retain Nancy Horton and Gary Shadid for another 3 years on the tax Board of Review. Committee Chairman Mayer lent his support for their retention, $40,000 a year, part time, as did County Board Chairman O'Neill and a statement from Bill Atkins of the States Attorney's Office, "if it is the arbitrary assignment of values, then we have had an arbitrary Board of Review for about 30 years as these attacks are nothing new".

In my studied opinion, this is hardly a correct statement as complaints show a compelling amount of discrepancies in purchase, sales and believed proven (by the protesters) actual values over the past two years.

The County Administrator was quoted in the JS on May 14, in an article mis- labeled "Board of Review releases proposed changes", corrected the next day in the JS, as the proposed changes came from our administrator working with the B of R., stating in the 5 page document sent to all county board member, that "only township assessors can apply values to individual properties, that each case is decided on its merit regarding equity and fair market value and that a township assessor may be able to correct an assessed value".

One county board member had their personal residence property tax halved by asking for a visit from their township assessor. The same township assessor's assistant told me that the township assessor couldn't help me and that I had to take up what I thought was an unfair assessment, directly to the B. of R.


The administrators letter also said that "questions may be directed to "Democrat" Dave Ryan, the Supervisor of Assessments for the county".

Whatever the problems are, the county must have a system that is fair to all property tax payers knowing that not all people will be satisfied with their assessment.

Note I said a fairer, more easily understood process and perhaps a change in the the way the state regulates the tax assessment of all properties.

I do not believe the nagging questions hovering over property values and property taxes, will go away without some considerable changes wherever the changes need to be made.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act

For my opinion of Allen Mayers comments as printed in the JS about the county board withdrawing support of the EDC if the Chamber and the EDC didn't back off their public support of the EFCA, by reporter Karen McDonald on 5/8/09, read my comments on the Peoria Chronicle and my blog of 10/30/08.

The Democrat controlled Peoria County Board can do as they wish. However, I believe Board Chairman Tom O'Neill has much more common sense than Mayer who struggles to show that he a Democrat "union" man through and through. His ambition goes far beyond being a county official. As to weaknesses in the Heartland Partnership and some entities under it's umbrella, it was clearly on display last week.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Open Meetings Act

Last week, County Board and Administration received an another interpretation of the Open Meetings Act. On Tuesday of this week, our Administration had to cancel a full board meeting with our "out of town" strategic planner. Why? Administration had failed to post a notice of the meeting 48 hours in advance of the meeting. A new date has not been set which takes coordinating all 18 board members with the planner and Administration, no simple task.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Peoria School District #150 - Vocational Schools

I first started attending meetings, helping school board member get elected, visiting schools, writing LTR's etc., in 1993, when I ran for the board of District #150; six candidates for one position, with the JSEB favorite being elected. I finished third behind Bob Baietto, former Richwoods principal. I realized then what so many before me realized, that not everybody was going to wear a white or pink collar and hold an office job. My drive for vocational education has been never ending.

I refer new school board member, "EyeBrows McGhee", to my blog of 8/5/05, "Disaster Day at District #150", writing about how in 1993, Superintendent John Strand closed all #150 vocational classes and instituted the Four Academy system. The system never was a big success as it only reached a small part of those who should have had this training. The Four Acadamies closed in 2006.

Also, my blogs of 9/24/07, "Over Educated and Unemployed" and "District #150 - Continued Embarrassment to the City of Peoria", dated 4/21/08.

All of my "not politically correct" efforts have made me a lot of "friends?" at many levels of the system. Along with a large number of true friends.

The best local vocational school is at Pekin; it was when I visited five years ago. Other local schools such as Limestone and IVC have good programs or at least I hear they do. And, on 3/18/02, the JS reported "Some East Peoria School board members would prefer vocational courses over the Senior English Project". These board members realized that further formal education was not relevant to many of these kids futures.

How true. The situation at #150 is similar to an article in the 2/03/07 of the Economist that reads, "The run of the mill education suffer from problems that go back to a long time ago, namely poor basic skills' that includes many teachers, a tendency for kids to leave the minute they finish compulsory schooling (or sooner at approximately 50% of the kids that start school in Peoria Public Schools drop out by their senior year), and the lack of a coherent and valued system system of vocational training."

District #150 has made some positive steps in the direction of guiding non- college bound students (and those who are college bound but shouldn't be) but we aren't much ahead of what the JSEB said on 6/17/02, "Area failing to recruit, cultivate and train workers", continuing, "Topping the list is a K-12 public education system that leaves a lot to be desired."

That was 7 years ago. Will the JSEB still be writing the same editorial 7 years from now or will this community take the actions as recommended by myself and hundreds of others over the years?

We should expect some progress from an $160 million spent each year and growing, but as the Mayor of Peoria said, 2/3 rds of the "Peoria Promise" kids have to take remedial reading at ICC. Maybe they shouldn't be going to college but doing as many believe "the prerequisites for outstanding job performance are best learned while employed. On-the-job training coupled with concurrent education tailored to the specif fields are far more advantageous to success."

When the economy recovers, as the headline in the 8/16/08 WSJ says, "Where have all the welders gone"? will be most appropriate. One thing is sure, they won't be coming from District #150 at the rate we are going.

Good luck, "Eyebrows".