Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year to All My Friends, Relatives, Readers and Acquaintances

It's said we need to be more optimistic. I agree as long as we temper our optimism with a backbone made of steel instead of sand and a mind sturdy with realism

I will have some interesting blogs in January.

Stay tuned and safe and I'll blog tomorrow in a bright new year.

Thanks and Best Wishes,

Merle

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Look Back From the 90's Through 2009 - Part Three 12/28/0909

I promised Part Three much earlier. I had a tennis match but it really didn't take this long although I did win all four of my mixed-doubles matches on Pekin Courtside indoor courts. I am a member of the Clubs at River City with 12 indoor and 8 outdoor clay courts. These relatively inexpensive clubs are of the areas finest attractions. Privately funded and tax PAYING facilities have a great appeal for Tri-County residents, visitors and potential businesses.

But back to the famous "Highway to Chicago" push by the Peoria area "movers and shakers", a campaign that started in the 1950's when Bloomington won the battle of I-55. This was a major loss for this area politicians and business leaders have brooded over for decades: "Bloomington didn't deserve I-55, we did", the IHSA basketball teams will never find Peoria; (they did and in record numbers), they won't come to the Civic Center, (then why did the Civic Center recently expand and why has the City of Peoria committed to a major hotel expansion and why four new hotels out at the Shoppes?) and why are the Shoppes apparently thriving with Bergners maintaining two department stores while only one Bergners in Bloomington? And why is the Coliseum in Bloomington losing their shirt, it was projected to be turning a profit by now instead of losing millions of dollars each year. (See my blog of 11/11/09)

So what is my point? Exactly, Bloomington is on a DIRECT Interstate highway from Chicago to St. Louis and a DIRECT interstate from practically coast to coast. In the meantime, Tupelo, Miss. is 5 HOURS by road to the nearest seaport, (Peoria sits on an almost direct route to a seaport) an hours drive to the nearest interstate highway, (Peoria sits on a major Interstate) yet Tupelo attracted 44 new factories, 150 plants expanded, 10,000 new jobs. etc.

In September, 2005, i wrote a LTR printed on the JSEB Opinion page listing 9 reasons a direct route to Chicago was not worth the expense and waste of farmland and money. Shortly thereafter I received a call from the Editor of the Bloomington Pantagraph to reprint my opinion. I agreed and the same article I had written for the JS appeared n the Pantagraph under the heading "Guest Commentary". Thereafter, when the JSEB wanted to say something uncomplimentary about me, they ended each Editorial with "Widmer was also opposed to the Highway to Chicago".

The headline on the front page of the April 7, 1999 Journal Star read "Proposal a 'road to ruin' as 'Taxpayers for Common Sense' labeled the highway to Chicago as unneeded and and dictated by business interests; there is no federal entitlement to a new road wherever one is wanted. There are other ways to get from Peoria to Chicago that are acceptable...it is not worth $1 billion to run a raod to Peoria's front door".

Now State Representative Dale Risinger, at that time he was state District Engineer for this are, said "that decision to to build should be the local people's decision. There is widespread support for the "ring road" (over 5,000 people signed petitions to stop it) and people in this area want economic development." Earlier, my friend Dale was quoted in the August 1995 "Heart of Illinois feasibility study" saying "None of the proposed routes showed any outstanding economic benefits because jobs created along the corridor would be at the expense of existing businesses".

Hm?

Uncountable millions of dollars have been spent on "studying" a new road to Chicago and a ring road. As early as 1992, $3 million was allocated to the HOI for a feasibility study; 1993, another $1 million and so on. Now the Terry Kohlbus and Roberta Parks are still pushing for a "Diagonal interstate quality connection from Peoria to the Chicagoland area at a proposed cost of $700,000,000. Sounds like Rt. 29again except it's cost has now grown to $825 million. Overall $23+ million is being requested (at this time) of the Senate Transportation Committee for studies of just three of the 12 major Regional Projects served by the Tri-County Regional Planning group headed by Mr. Kohlbus, which have an PROJECTED COST of somewhere around $250,000,000,000.00.

Next up, Part 4, I hope, is Rt. 74 and various positions taken over the years by Ray LaHood and others. In the mean time most of my readers will be dead and gone before a quarter trillion dollars are spent on new construction in this area while existing roads and bridges are falling apart.

(All of the figures quoted in this blog are in print and available anyone who wishes to see).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas to All

Most of my friends wish me a Merry Christmas. A few say happy Holidays which is OK with me too because I believe they wish to be "politically correct" and not offend. Whether they are Republicans or Democrats I seldom question:

I pass this on with "tongue in cheek".

To My Democrat Friends and Acquaintances and to my Republican Friends and Acquaintances:

Please accept, with no obligation implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To Most of My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

PRM Facts - Never Spend More Than a Community Can Afford

You will find the facts on our local museum building and the current successes and failures of other museums around the country right here on this blog site.

WMBD TV is interviewing Peoria County Board member Brad Harding today in reference to the article in today's "Word On the Street" written by JS reporter Karen McDonald. Excerpts from this interview should be on the 6 PM news.

Read my recent blog where WMBD TV quoted the "project is 99% funded" questionable information being released by the PRM Committee and perhaps others. 99% of the funds for the museum building have not been raised as promised by the PRM Committee. Some of my facts are as follows, other facts have been posted on my numerous other museum blogs:

As of Oct., 2009, $14 million in cash had been raised but $10 million of the $14 million had been already spent including $3 million from Caterpillar paid and $4 million "held pending the completion of project funding". (Letter from Sid Banwart, Caterpillar, to the County Administrator dated August 21, 2009) Of the $15.2 million pledged by Caterpillar or its Foundation to the "museum project" including the $9,273.000.00 Cat shared underground parking garage. Another $100,000 is going to be spent (paid out of sales tax revenue) for a "peer" review of the underground parking facility. $40,000 is also going to spent for an environmental study. (Also to be paid out of sales taxes collected).

The originally priced $41 Caterpillar Visitors Center is totally funded by Cat. Recently, Caterpillar announced is may scale back it's VC depending on economic conditions.

Pledges in an amount of $11.2 million; pledges that everyone knows, is not "money in the bank" quoting PRM Doug Stewart, but subject to be increased, decreased or cancelled as $556,000 in pledges were cancelled prior to June 30, 2008. No financial statement is available from Lakeview Museum for fiscal year July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. Working financial sheets have been requested by the county including an undated Operating Budget, a budget originally estimated to be between $4.1-4.3 million yearly with these operating costs projected to be $8+ million by year 2032.

The Endowment Fund of $3 million (committed to the county when the project was "sold" to the board) and a total of $5 million "assumed" later. The money was reputedly invested with the Community Foundation. PRM Committeeman Doug Stewart, a banker, said the Foundation would need $14 million.

The October report indicated that the IMAX Theatre is budgeted at $1.6+ million. News from other publications that museum projects similar to this one are being trimmed back, delayed or cancelled has not been mentioned by any of the local media. No media appears to be requesting factual information as to the status of this 8-9 year old project, that was projected to be up and running by now. If you think about, why not, the answer is obvious. Hint, advertising dollars.

New of the failings of the Bloomington Coliseum has also been missing from the Journal Star.

It is my belief that the new tax spending bill approved by Congress last week that includes funds for museums, trail, recreation, etc., will complete the funding of this boondoggle. 70%+ funded by the taxpayers and 30% funded by the private "big hitters". Just the opposite as promised by Brad McMillan and the PRM Committee. Count on Congressman Aaron Schock to come through. Count on Peoria to get a share of these "earmarks". After all, if we don't take the money, someone else will.

And why would the CEO Roundtable, who originally planned to raise the $10 million shortage, donate their private dollars when the museum can be largely funded by taxes?

What a way to run a country. Eventually downhill, burdened by what is becoming overwhelming current and future debt, and downhill at a faster rate than it is going now.

If anyone can disprove any of the blogs I've written about this "mess" as called by our employee, Mark Johnson, I would be glad to host a press conference and present the FACTS and sources of the facts.

The term "project" means the entire original $128 million including Caterpillar's early estimate of a $41 million VC and the City of Peoria contribution of $18.5 million plus millions of dollars pledged or already given to the "project" by State, County and Federal governments. The museum itself, now projected to cost $77 million is a part of the sales taxes to be used the help buikd the musuem itself. Build, not endow or support.

This site will continue to give you, to borrow a phrase, "the rest of the story".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Illinois Gubernatorial Candidates Stances on GW

The Journal Star has been holding question and answer debates with the candidates. Some comments are rather interesting as follows:

Kirk Dillard says "I don't accept the premise that man is the cause of global warming, if global warming even exists." Kirk, global warming and cooling has been going on longer than written history. Glaciers extended as far south of Eureka, Il. about 10-12,000 years ago.

Kirk voted for cap and trade, strongly supported by Obama, one of the worst decisions any politician could make.

Jim Ryan accepts that humans contribute to global warming. Then what caused the glaciers to recede from the Eureka area? Cavemen? (I use Eureka because our Congerville principal took us on field trips to see the fossils from an ice era embedded in roadway eroded soil banks).

Bill Brady doesn't buy in to the human theory either and says "anyone who voted for the cap and trade bill" should apologize for their vote. Right on, Bill.

Jim Ryan said he accepts that human conditions contribute to GW but to what extent is a matter of "spirited debate". How about "spirited lies" as exposed by the cover-up emails circulated among the enviro-terrorists?

Dan Proft, who has the best platform of all the candidates, says "Al Gore and all the GW activists are "kind of enviro-terrorists".

Democrats Dan Hynes and Pat Quinn agree their is a link between humans and GW. Hynes said the evidence is "irrefutable". Quinn says these "green" jobs that will be created won't be exported to foreign countries. Sure, Pat, but how about the companies that pay better than living wages and pay taxes to support government spending. They are not only considering leaving, they are leaving. Locally, Caterpillar is a good example.

What "gems" Hynes or Quinn would be as a another Democrat governor of this nearly bankrupt state. But, hey, more jobs for union workers and less profits for companies to stay in business. Put them out of business, some say. Sure, let's all work for the government and the militant unions and get the taxes that pay their salaries, health benefits and pensions from those who dare import into "our" country.

Tons of ink and millions of trees have been used to debate (and help pollute the atmosphere) this radical environmental issue but a recent poll take by the rather liberal Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that only 36% of the respondents feel that human activities are behind a temperature increase. That figure is down from 47% in April.

Somewhere, somehow, some way the "truth will out. In the meantime, my Democrat friends, don't elect another governor who will totally bankrupt this state.

Does what I write here sound like I like pollution, Heck no, and in this country we have made great strides in reducing pollution and recycling. And I want more done and it will get done with the process soon to be speeded up in Peoria County.

Read up.

Tea Party Groups - Add Some of These to your "to-do" List

Sent to me by an email friend. Some good thoughts here.

Merle

WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN GIVE THE FOLLOWING SPEECH?


"My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.

Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.

This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.


Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short . The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.

The other list contains every one not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list.. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.

Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. THEN EVERY YEAR THERE AFTER IT'll GO TO OUR SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM SO IT WONT GO BROKE IN 20 YEARS.

The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hell holes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.

Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France .

In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth..

Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France or maybe China .

I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France , Germany , and Russia .. Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bonne chance, mezamies.

I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York

A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.

Mexico is also on List 2 its president and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra thousand tanks and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put 'em? Yep, border security.

Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now.

We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska- which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there.

It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, 'darn tootin.'

Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget.

To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.

God bless America .. Thank you and good night."

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.

(Please forward this to at least ten friends and see what happens! Let's get this to every USA computer!)















WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN GIVE THE FOLLOWING SPEECH?


"My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.

Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.

This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.


Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short . The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.

The other list contains every one not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list.. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.

Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. THEN EVERY YEAR THERE AFTER IT'll GO TO OUR SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM SO IT WONT GO BROKE IN 20 YEARS.

The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hell holes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.

Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France .

In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth..

Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France or maybe China .

I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France , Germany , and Russia .. Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bonne chance, mezamies.

I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York

A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.

Mexico is also on List 2 its president and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra thousand tanks and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put 'em? Yep, border security.

Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now.

We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska- which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there.

It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, 'darn tootin.'

Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget.

To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.

God bless America .. Thank you and good night."

If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.

(Please forward this to at least ten friends and see what happens! Let's get this to every USA computer!)

Ring Road Beat for More Taxpayer Money Goes on

Date: 12/17/09

To: Tri-County Planning Commissioners,

I wanted to update you on an important project that we would like to bring to the Executive Board and/or the Full Commission for consideration. It involves some additional work IDOT would like to have done using our Travel Demand Model for the Eastern Bypass project.

In September IDOT asked TCRPC to amend their existing Travel Demand Modeling (TDM) contract with Hanson Engineers in the amount of $10,000. The scope of this amendment called for Hanson to work with IDOT’s Eastern Bypass consultant to produce reliable projected traffic numbers for the Eastern Bypass study using the Tri-County TDM. At that time, IDOT did not have funding that would allow them to pay TCRPC for the work. We verbally agreed to enter into this arrangement with IDOT with the understanding that more work would be needed and we could recoup the cost at a later time.

As expected, IDOT District 4 now has need for further analysis using the TDM. Therefore, we are working with IDOT Dist 4 to develop a letter of agreement that would allow TCRPC to recoup the funds spent in September and do the additional TDM work for IDOT Dist. 4. The amount of this agreement is expected to be $70,000; $10,000 for the work that has already been performed and up to $60,000 for the additional Travel Demand Modeling work.

Staff would like to bring both agreements to the Executive Board/ Commission simultaneously; one with IDOT for $70,000 and one with Hanson Engineers in the amount of not to exceed $60,000. This will allow Hanson to perform up to 20 additional model runs in the Eastern Bypass study area. The timing of this work is important in order for IDOT District 4 to meet key deadlines for the overall project.

We are waiting for the agreement to come from IDOT and once we receive it, we will work with Chairman Klopfenstein to schedule a meeting.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments.


Terry Kohlbuss
Executive
Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
211 Fulton Street, Suite 207
Peoria IL 61602
309-673-9330
cel 309-251-7883

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Look Back From the 90's Through 2009 - Part Two 12/18/09

First, I should remind my readers that USDOT had a change of mission from "Mobility and Efficiency" to "Highways Must Contribute to the Feel and Function of a Community". This "mission change" resulted studying the up to 7 mile back-ups on Federal Highways once "speed and efficiency" got them close to their destinations, with motorists traveling 70+ miles an hour, were slowed to 10 miles and hour or less by endless traffic jams as they neared their destinations. Our movers and shakers, hereafter called MS"s, failed to grasp the change and besides, Peoria was Capital to the "Earthmover of the World", a fact not lost by politicians running for election and reelections.

Then, after suggesting a four lane highway as early as 1995, up to Rt. 80 running on the West side of the Illinois River, LaHood and a few other MS's came up with the only way to get Peoria area folks to Chicago faster was to widen Rt. 29 to a four-lane expressway joining Rt. 80 east of Princeton. (A headline in the JS on September 15, 2000) and the bombshell in March 2001, that LaHood now favored Rt. 29 reconstruction over LaRose and McNabb. Prior to LaHood's decision to spend $300 million on Rt. 29, Paul Vallas, then Gubernatorial Candidate, who has been in Peoria headlines recently, was quoted (JSEB, 1/20/02, "Keeping Chicago Highway Study looks fishy",) as saying IDOT should release the results of their $5 million study. Other MS's were besides themselves and the JSEB in June 2002 wrote "No retrieving chance to build Chicago highway". LaHood agreed some people were disappointed..it was a hard decision but when you make big decisions, they are hard."

Like the decision LaHood made when he became Secretary of Transportation under Obama. His experience in "waffling" on highway roadbeds that were never built and will never be built, evidently not an issue.

You might think that the MS's would have by now given up on Rt. 29. No, they haven't. The Representative LaHood secured a couple million in the 2007 Highway Transportation Bill and on Nov. 6, 2009, the GP Chamber of Commerce listed a request for further studies of Rt. 29 totalling a combination of $1.6 from the Feds and $400,000 from a near bankrupt State of Illinois with engineering to begin in Winter 2009. Projected overall cost now risen from $300 million to an estimated $825 million. (Think $1 billion, give or take a million here or there, as this cost is probably "soft costs" with "hard costs", includes the whole project, I think??).

Mommy's, don't let your kids to grow to be cowboys or cowgirls, but consultants and engineers. Endless opportunities to cash in on governmental largess.

Now on to Part 3; back to the direct route from Peoria to Chicago is back in the undercover news. But not until tomorrow. I've got tennis tonight. The tale of governmental waste grows sadder.

A Look Back From the 90's Through 2009 - Part One 12/18/09

No specific order. Just a look back with not a lot of optimism for a better 2010. If there was ever an era of unforeseen consequences by people who have sold themselves into believing they have done or are doing the right thing, it was the early nineties through 2009:

Pick up with the Capital Works Bill and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act now promising work for 439,000 Illinois Workers and an expenditure of $31 billion over 6 years, plus acess to another $3.7 billion. Some partial plans follow; more in Part 2:

$14.3 billion for roads and bridges. $500 million for local projects.
Completion of the Eastern Bypass including new bridge over the Illinois River. Estimated cost $625 million. Translation: $2.4 million for engineering and land acquisition costs. This allocation requires a $600,000 state match. A corridor study using this $3 million to be completed by 2010. A complete Phase 1 Engineering study with corridor protection estimated at $12 million. But this bypass will never be built. Just millions on studies and good media fodder.

Translation: This is the 3rd effort at an Eastern Bypass with the engineers, consultants, and government employees the recipients of the money. And we have no idea what it will ACTUALLY cost. Why the widespread support among the movers and shakers? It's called the "herd instinct". Flashback: The "original" plan protested by more than 5000 landowners and taxpayers in Tazewell and Woodford County back in 1997 was estimated to cost $397 million. $2 million of taxpayer dollars, $1 mil. each from the state and feds, went into the "preliminary" study. This ring road was to hook up with the $800 million Peoria/Chicago Highway which of course was never built and never will be. Ray LaHood was working on another $5 million from the feds to be matched by $5 million from the state.. Ray was never bashful about trying to bring taxpayer money back to Peoria. On the other hand, he and Leitch should not have let so many tax dollars go from the the Peoria area to Springfield and Washington. DC.

On April, 13, 1997, the JS reported "Residents say they lack reason to support ring road". Yet LaHood was quoted "Once we're on the track to building a (Peoria/Chicago Highway), we can look at solutions to other problems. When that's been identified as the #1 transportation priority from just about every person in a position of authority in this area, that has to be my priority. That's part of my responsibility to the people who elected me." The paper also quoted LaHood, Mike McCord and other movers and shaker, "No one intends a ring road without a Peoria/Chicago Highway", the men said.

Don't log off. It gets better. Today's JS quoted the AP as listing Illinois 5th up from the bottom, 45th, as being the "happiest" state in the union. Even North Dakota had a much higher rating of 25th. It gets better: Moodys downgraded Illinois general obligations bonds debt ratings from a A1; not tops, to A2. Build Illinois sales tax revenue bonds were also cut to A2 from A1. (Reuters" Tuesday, December 8, 09, by Karen Pierog). Moody's put the state outlook as growing negative. Read the whole disturbing report.

Back to the ring road. On June 21, 2007, John Sharp of the JS, reported "Eastern Bypass contract awarded" for $3 million to a firm called H.W. Lochner, an engineering firm from Chicago. The area EDC gave John wrong info when they said this "project started in 1999. 1997, John, I have the documents to back up everything I've written including blogs about this and other area highway boondoggles from the nineties too date.

It gets better. Kevin Sampier of the JS wrote "IDOT plans for the Eastern bypass delayed by budget concern. The funds for the study for the projected (now $800 million) bypass is short $7 million of the #10 million to study the right a way, environmental, public meetings, etc.

Somewhere along the plans for a Chicago/Peoria Highway up around LaRose and and other rural villages, LaHood had a change of heart. The change - Rt. 29 to Rt. 80 became the way to get to Chicago for only $300 plus million.

See Part 2 of "Looking Back".

Friday, December 18, 2009

WMBD TV Facts Not Correct

Last evening WMBD TV featured Peoria County Administrator, Patrick Urich, on the status of the PRM. The information presented was the same information presented to the Facilities Committee Tuesday. As a member of this committee I questioned some of the content of the 6 page document presented to us and found much in the report wanting for factual information.

First WMBD said the sewer cost was $1 million when we it is actually estimated at 50%higher cost. It was proposed to the committee that bids be sought and the "proposed funding for this work would be half by the Museum Group and half by the County. Museum Group funding must be received by the County prior to accepting alternate?? bid." In an email received by the Peoria City Manager, Peoria City's contribution to the overall project is approximately $18.5 million. Mr. Urich also indicated that any fund raising shortages such as the endowment shortage would be covered by the utility tax, a reversal from the Museum Groups long time position that the endowment would be "privately funded". The endowment would also be considerably less that projected by the County Financial Officer and PRM committee one time spokesperson, banker Doug Stewart.

It is not hard to figure, this museum is going to be built, funded actually or not, ($11+ million is counted on in the form of pledges) and pledges are just that, pledges, easily broken as so many have already been broken on this possible "white elephant" on the riverfront.

The PRM Committee has already made so many mis-statements and so many inconclusive documents, (I have a complete file) that it is difficult to know the true facts. One is obvious. This project has gone from 66% private funding to 66% taxpayer funded.

Scheduled opening date of the museum is September 2012. No word on the Caterpillar Visitors Center. Mark your calendars but don't hold your breath until you get the bills.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More PRM Facts 12/16/09

As stated on this site on the past, it was confirmed yesterday in the counties Facility Committee meeting that the taxpayer will fund more than 67% of the cost of the museum building and the improved site and that the private sector will pay less than 33% including the $15.2 mil. donated to the museum by Caterpillar and it's foundation. (Look for The Observer to carry an article in future publications as DeWayne covered the meeting)

I erred twice yesterday. I was told the relocated and expanded sewer cost was $1 mil. It is actually $1 and a half mil. Then I sent an email to the mayor in error. The County will pay $750,000 and the PRM Committee, not the City will pay the balance of $750,000. I also learned that the PRM Committee raised $14 mil. in cash and has spent $10 mil. on expenses to date. Leaving $4 mil. in cash on hand along with $11 mil. in pledges; pledges that are just that, pledges.

Caterpillar and it's foundation have pledged $15+, unfortunately a lot of that money is in the $10 mil. spent so far. Caterpillar stopped making cash payments to the PRM earlier this year and is only contributing matching dollars. Cat has also indicated by a letter to the county that they may downsize the Visitors Center, originally planned to cost $41 mil.

A million plus was supposed to be held for endowments. No figure was given yesterday except to say the endowment had not yet been funded.

Flash back to an article in the JS, written by Jennifer Davis, Reporter on 12/04/05. Here are excerpts quoting Doug Stewart, banker and member of the Lakeview Museum Board: "when you have $20 mil. in the bank, that a good place to start. Part of the $65 mil. is a $14 mil. endowment."

What happened to the $14 mil. endowment and why only $4 mil "in the bank" four years later, Mr Stewart?

Peoria County Administrator, Patrick Urich, has "hinted" that the $34.7 mil. being raised by the new sales tax kicking in Jan. 1, to be used to finance the museum building and the cap could be raised to $40 mil. and include the endowment.

What say?

At least some County Board Members are starting to ask questions. Many more questions and accurate answers need to be forthcoming from all involved.

Stay tuned as this is part of the "mess" described by Mark Johnson, paid coordinator representing Peoria County.

Congressional Perks and Hypocricy

Read the front page of the WSJ today to learn of more "perk".

FINALLY....THE $64,000 QUESTION WAS ASKED...

YESTERDAY ON "ABC-TV" (BETTER KNOWN AS THE ALL BARRACK CHANNEL)
DURING THE "NETWORK SPECIAL ON HEALTH CARE".... OBAMA WAS ASKED:



"MR. PRESIDENT WILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY GIVE UP YOUR CURRENT HEALTH CARE PROGRAM AND JOIN THE NEW 'UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAM' THAT THE REST OF US WILL BE ON ????"..... (BET YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER)...
THERE WAS A STONEY SILENCE AS OBAMA IGNORED THE QUESTION AND CHOSE NOT TO ANSWER IT!!!...
IN ADDITION, A NUMBER OF SENATORS WERE ASKED THE SAME QUESTION AND THERE RESPONSE WAS..."WE WILL THINK ABOUT IT."
AND THEY DID. IT WAS ANNOUNCED TODAY ON THE NEWS THAT THE "KENNEDY HEALTH CARE BILL" WAS WRITTEN INTO THE NEW HEALTH CARE REFORM INITIATIVE ENSURING THAT CONGRESS WILL BE 100% EXEMPT!
SO, THIS GREAT NEW HEALTH CARE PLAN THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU AND I... IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR OBAMA, HIS FAMILY OR CONGRESS...??

WE (THE AMERICAN PUBLIC) NEED TO STOP THIS PROPOSED DEBACLE ASAP !!!!... THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG !!!!!
PERSONALLY, I CAN ONLY ACCEPT A UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL THAT EXTENDS TO EVERYONE... NOT JUST US LOWLY CITIZENS... WHILE THE WASHINGTON "ELITE" KEEP RIGHT ON WITH THEIR GOLD-PLATED HEALTH CARE COVERAGES.
If you don't pass this around, may you enjoy his Plan!






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bing brings you maps, menus, and reviews

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PRM - New Possible Expenditure Revealed

Taxpayers may soon be paying $1,000,000.00+ for sewer relocation pertaining to the projected museum. I suspect the money will come as part of the 1.2 trillion dollar spending bill approved Sunday.

Young people will be saying "thanks, Dad".

More info after I attend today's facilities meeting.

WatchDog.org

Want to know where your money goes? Click on the above.

Note a nice trip to Guam for $8,000+. Note the millions spent for service contracts on IT service. I was at one time in the business of selling service contracts. Largest profit center in the company. The service providers tell you in 10 different ways why you must buy their service contracts.

The governments buy in. The larger private sectors figure it out. Ask Caterpillar.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unions - LIFO

Last in, first out. What do those with seniority care if the city says lay-off or we will terminate policepeople? Layoffs do not affect the ones who really run the unions, those who were hired first and with seniority. It's the last in, who have little power and are usually hired at a lower salary rate, saving the employer less pension contributions, who are first to be laid off.

The major difference between the private sector who creates the jobs for people to pay taxes to support the public sector is that the private sector usually promotes on competence. The public sector, largely unionized, (almost all large companies; WalMart is an exception) promote on tenure.

Always, its the union leaders who have accumulated the most financial security and seniority who push the newer employees to join in the strike. That plus intimidation or often, vice-versa.

I believe that #150 has 1100 teachers. Absent in the JS today was the number who are pushing for the strike. I will be surprised when and if a vote is taken, if more than half of this 1100 vote period.

Close to 100% of people laid off or fired due to the recession come from the private sector. Many governmental bodies similar to Peoria County offered interesting early retirement benefits to employees, I believe all union, and 71 (at last count) accepted. To my knowledge, none were laid-off or fired. Board members talk about the counties loyalty to the employee. What about loyalty to those who pay the majority of the taxes and fees that support government? Have you ever know of any governmental body that returned tax dollars on an EQUAL basis or of any governmental body with excess dollars who could have returned these dollars to taxpayers but quickly, found other places to spend those "excesses"?

The State of Illinois, basically bankrupt, tried to lay off 2600 union members and failed as the unions were powerful enough to tie-up the layoff attempt in court.

One of many Case Histories? Read my previous blog.

Let the #150 Teachers Strike

*************************
Most are overpaid, not qualified to handle today's disruptive students, many dress worse than the students, many do not know how to communicate with parents, most do not live in the neighborhood where they teach, and most certainly don't know how to communicate with the taxpayers.

I see where some schools are putting special ed kids in regular classrooms (after all these years) I've always agreed, as long as they didn't disrupt or slow down the learning of the kids who are trying to learn. Non-special ed kids are learning to be compassionate? They can learn compassion by volunteering to help special ed kids after school or in the 70 some social agencies we have in Peoria.

Merle Widmer, a former teacher, school classroom visitor and a former employer.

From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record], Tuesday, December 1, 2009, Volume 29, Issue 13, pp. 26-27. See http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/12/02/13roza.h29.html . Also appears at http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/view/news/90 and http://education.washington.edu/ .
*************************
COMMENTARY

The 'Master's Pay Bump'

Why Ending It Shouldn't Frighten Ed. Schools


By Patricia Wasley & Marguerite Roza

To assert that it is misguided to pay teachers more for earning a master's degree (the "master's bump") can cause quite a dust-up. Deans of graduate programs in education become very upset-and they make their feelings known.


We have heard it all since our university published a study [PDF download at http://www.crpe.org/cs/crpe/download/csr_files/rr_crpe_masters_jul09.pdf ] saying just that. If the master's pay bump were eliminated, wouldn't fewer teachers (customers!) enroll in our programs? And, by the way, why would your institution be promoting such a thesis-one contrary to its own best interests?

These are fair concerns that merit further discussion.


This all began with the publication in July of "Separation of Degrees: State-by-State Analysis of Teacher Compensation for Master's Degrees," which one of us, Marguerite Roza, co-authored. ("Halt Urged to Paying Teachers For Earning Master's Degrees," Aug. 12, 2009 [http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/07/21/37masters.h28.html]) The report argued that the near-universal practice of compensating teachers for earning a master's degree should be phased out. It cited research demonstrating that "on average, master's degrees in education bear no relation to student achievement."




The report suggested that teacher compensation should instead be structured "in ways that offer greater benefit to students." Current pay-bump policies invite a cynical, wasteful, and expensive logic: Since the compensation incentive is automatic, why not simply obtain the cheapest, most expedient degree? After all, if there is no link between the subject matter of the degree and what the teacher does, nor an imperative to improve teacher performance in return for higher pay, the current compensation system rewards the path of least resistance.

The same perverse incentive applies to degree-granting institutions. Graduate programs need only provide their students with a master's degree to make them eligible for increased pay; they don't need to concern themselves with evidence of improved instruction.

No wonder studies consistently find that there is no connection between student performance and teachers who hold master's degrees. There are likely to be graduate programs that are exceptions, of course. But which ones? Clearly, there is no substitute for good data to distinguish among them, and yet the vast majority of graduate programs have no data on how well their graduates do in the classroom.
------------------------
SIDEBAR: The vast majority of graduate programs have no data on how well their graduates do in the classroom.
------------------------
At our university, the University of Washington, in Seattle, we don't hide from these simple facts. Rather, to the surprise of some of our higher education colleagues, we've embraced them.

Here's our thinking: If teacher-salary scales were to be redesigned so that compensation was structured around increased student outcomes (instead of awarding sums after the attainment of any master's degree of any quality), we'd certainly expect that teachers (our clients) would change their degree-seeking behaviors. Many universities rightly worry that teachers would be less likely to pursue a master's degree at all. However, and this is an important point, those who did pursue master's degrees would become more demanding customers: They would seek out master's programs oriented toward genuinely improving classroom effectiveness.

So yes, perhaps in the short term, fewer teachers would seek graduate programs. But restructuring compensation should, at the same time, tip the scales to those programs that have redefined their offerings with a focus on achieving better results in the classroom.

We are redesigning our programs to ensure that they will fit that bill. To train teachers for effective classroom performance, we are aggressively refocusing programs so that teachers will learn to use data to improve their practice, both during graduate work and throughout their careers. Moreover, we have used generous grants from funders to build data systems that provide an immediate feedback loop on the effectiveness of our programs in improving results for children.

The real argument in the "Separation of Degrees" report is not to shift altogether from graduate work for teachers. Rather, it is that, by aligning compensation incentives with outcomes for students, the shift would be toward a subset of graduate programs: those with the most promise for improving teaching practice.


This explains why we are not afraid of this kind of research, which may indeed pose a threat to the larger field of graduate study. Findings such as those in the report-confirmation of a missing link between graduate study and improved student outcomes-are precisely what challenges us to re-evaluate our purposes and the focus of our programs.

Not all master's degree programs are alike, and credibility in the field depends on the awareness of the differences. One of those differences must certainly be the benefit each program reaps for the children in public schools.

It is for these reasons that we also believe it is OK to question the current teacher-compensation structure-one that fuels the market for all master's programs, including those that hold little or no promise for improving instruction.

Redesigning teacher compensation around improved outcomes for students can be a win-win proposition for those colleges of education concentrating their programs on the improvement of instruction for their teacher-students, and, in turn, for the children in their classrooms. Programs committed to doing this need not be afraid.
-------------------------------
Patricia Wasely is the dean of the University of Washington's college of education, in Seattle. Marguerite Roza is a research associate professor at the college, and a co-author, with Raegen T. Miller, of "Separation of Degrees: State-by-State Analysis of Teacher Compensation for Master's Degrees."
*************************************
--

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
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu

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LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalinkPublished: December 11, 2009
(Page 2 of 2)



Maxwell Anderson, the director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which finished a major expansion in 2006 and is now completing a 100-acre park, said that “in part, all of us have been watching how these projects are perceived.”

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Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects
A digital rendering of the canceled Berkeley museum’s exterior and pedestrian walkway.

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Architecture: A Berkeley Museum Wrapped in Honeycomb (November 25, 2008)

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William Zbaren

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William Zbaren
Top and above, the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, which owes $43.6 million of the $51.6 million borrowed for its new building.
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“There is a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses quality to museum building,” he continued.

The Dia Art Foundation, which once had big plans for a 34,000-square-foot, column-free space at the entrance to the High Line in New York — before losing a board chairman who was also its main benefactor in 2006 — announced last month that it would instead build a 25,000-square-foot space on the site of a former garage it already owns on West 22nd Street in Chelsea.

Philippe Vergne, who became Dia’s director last year, defended the original plans: “It was what the world was — more was more.” But the recession “forced us to slow down” and really consider institutional needs, he said. What the foundation wants now is a simple, utilitarian space that makes art the main event.

“I want the ambition to be for the program, not the building — not, ‘Let’s go big because we’re addicted to big,’ ” Mr. Vergne said.

The economic downturn has had this effect on a lot of arts organizations, said Adrian Ellis, the executive director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the founder of AEA Consulting, a leading arts consultant.

“Cultural buildings became the way in which cities articulate their identity and vitality — they were driven not by the artistic community but by a civic agenda,” he said. Now the economy is pushing organizations into “deep reflection about what their purpose is and how best to realize it,” he said — reflection that can lead back to an arts-focused agenda, and to a renewed concern about “protecting their capacity to take artistic risks.”

“When you overexpand, you limit your ability to take those risks,” Mr. Ellis said. “Although expansion is usually seen as a sign of health, it is not always a sign of vitality.”

Mr. Joynes, of the University of Chicago, said that his study of cultural building projects aimed to explore this issue. “Do you do many more ‘Swan Lakes’ and take fewer chances artistically because you have big bills to pay?” he asked.

Cultural agencies and foundations are also reflecting on the institutions they help finance, albeit in more practical terms.

“We have become increasingly concerned about the sustainability of organizations as a result of these building projects,” said Alice L. Carle, program director of the Kresge Foundation, which supports nonprofit organizations nationwide. Ms. Carle said her foundation had decided to prioritize “renovation and repair projects over new construction and large expansions.”

“We’re more interested in helping shore up what organizations have already built,” she said.

Many institutions, of course, managed to complete their big projects before the downturn, though some may be experiencing builders’ remorse. For example, the $461 million Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, designed by C├ęsar Pelli — whose vision statement promised it would transform the city into “the cultural capital of the Americas”— ended its first year, in October 2007, with a $2.5 million operating deficit, thanks to low ticket sales and high operating costs. (It has been kept afloat with the help of a $30 million gift from a philanthropist, Adrienne Arsht, for whom the center has been renamed.)

In Chicago, the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies owes $43.6 million of the $51.6 million it borrowed for its new building on South Michigan Avenue, completed two years ago. The institute’s galleries are now open only on alternate Sundays and the second Thursday of every month, its Wolfgang Puck kosher cafe is closed, and 26 percent of the staff has been cut.

The institute had expected income from event rentals and catering to help with revenue, and still hopes to find organizations that want to share the space. “We counted on a whole lot of weddings, bar mitzvahs, private parties,” said Hal M. Lewis, who became president and chief executive of Spertus in July. “These have materialized with less intensity than anticipated.”

Mr. Lewis, who was not around when the decision to build was made, says it was well intentioned, but describes the result as “an operating model and a debt service that requires us to live beyond our means.” Much of his energy these days is spent on efforts to change that result, though he tries not to dwell on what might not have been.

“I wish my hair would grow back too, but I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it,” Mr. Lewis said. “Now I’ve got to go on.”

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Sign in to RecommendMore Articles in Arts » A version of this article appeared in print on December 12, 2009, on page A1 of the New York edition.

Dan Profit - Gubernatorial Candidate Tuesday Schedule in Peoria

Tuesday, December 15th



7:30-8:30 AM: ATTEND: Prairieland Toastmasters Club

211 Fulton Street, Suite 300, Peoria, IL, 61601

Almost every employer is looking for employees with great communication and leadership skills. But where can a person go to learn communication and leadership skills if he or she doesn't have them already? Toastmasters International may be most widely recognized as a leading public speaking organization, but it is also home to one of the most effective leadership-building programs available today.

Phone: 309-243-8960 Jeff Smith



9:00-9:45 AM: MEETING: Paul Sebesta, Center Director, Agricultural Research Service

1815 North University Street, Peoria

O: (309) 681-6541

C: (309) 229-0075



10:00-10:30 AM: MEDIA: PJS Karen McDonald

1 News Plaza, Peoria

(309) 686-3285 - Office phone

(309) 696-6453 – Cell



11:00-11:30 AM: MEETING: Dr. John Erwin IL Central College

Illinois Central College :: 1 College Drive, East Peoria, IL 61635-0001

309-694-5520

We are located in the Library/Administration Building, Room L419. You can park in the Visitor’s Lot (Lot V), which is across from Woodview Commons (student housing). The library/admin building is the tallest building and has a large ceramic mural on the side near the entrance. Enter the doors to the left under the overhead walkway and take an immediate left to the elevator/stairs to the 4th floor.



12:00-1:00 PM: Meeting Mike Fravala and other supporters

309-282-9170

Apple’s Bakery

8142 N. Knoxville

Peoria, IL



2:30-3:00 PM: FORUM: Business and Industry Federation of Economic Concern

835 South Second St, Springfield

Each candidate will be allowed 10 minutes for remarks and 5 minutes for questions and answers.

4:00-4:30 PM: MEETING: Jean Johnson School Superintendent Diocese of Springfield

615 W Washington St, Springfield

217-622-4981-Jean’s cell; 217-698-8500 x160-office

6:30-8:30 PM: TEN ATTEND: Robert Enriquez for Secretary of State Fundraiser

Omega Restaurant 4 S. 040 Rt. 59 Warrenville, IL

RSVP: (312) 675-2010

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Former Jumer Hotel Closing This Month

This info comes courtesy of Steve Tarter relayed by Bill Dennis on his "Peoria Pundit Blog".

Another sad day for Peoria.

Democrat Committee Votes For Federal Funding of ACORN

Birds of a feather flock together...
Dems Vote to Allow Federal Funding for Corrupt ACORN
by Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)

Last night, defying the will of a bipartisan majority of the House and Senate, Democrats voted to allow the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to receive federal taxpayer dollars.

In September, large Congressional majorities in both houses voted to sever all ties between the federal government and ACORN. The Senate vote was 85-11; the House vote was 345-75. You'd think that those votes, which USA Today described as prohibiting "any federal funding for the community organizing group," would have settled the matter. You'd be wrong.



Months later, with the country's focus on jobs, healthcare, and the Global War on Terror, Democrats are moving to restore funding to ACORN. Last night, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) offered an amendment during deliberations on the Democrats' massive year-end appropriations bill to clarify the prohibition on federal funds going to ACORN or its subsidiaries. That amendment was shot down on a 5-9 party line vote as Republicans sided with taxpayers while Democrats stood with ACORN.


Rep. Latham's amendment is necessary to prevent taxpayer money from going to ACORN because the Obama Administration's Department of Justice has taken advantage of a legal loophole to allow ACORN to continue to receive federal funds - despite the passage of the House GOP's Defund ACORN Act in the fall.

The American people and the Congress have spoken loud and clear: ACORN should be denied any taxpayer funds. Period.

ACORN has already received far too much money from the American people. An analysis of federal data by the Office of the Republican Leader staff determined that ACORN has received more than $53 million in direct funding from the federal government since 1994, and has likely received substantially more indirectly through states and localities that receive federal block grants.

Enough is enough. The American people are tired of seeing their tax dollars wasted on an organization accused of serious crimes - and that's why House Republicans are stepping up efforts to defund ACORN once and for all.

City/County Landfill Contract

After lengthy discussion and environmentalists concerned input, the City Of Peoria Council voted 10 to 1 last night to accept the contract presented by the Landfill Committee and Staff. Members on the landfill committee are myself, Brad Harding and Bob Akers for the county and Ryan Spain, Tim Riggenbach and Steve Van Winkle representing the city and Les Bergsten as Committee Chairman.

Foth Engineering represents the Landfill partnership and Peoria County furnishes the lead legal attorneys. The county employs an outside engineering firm to consult on the process.

The full County board votes on the issue tomorrow evening at the County Courthouse.
The contract is between the City/County and Peoria Disposal Company, a waste controller replacing Waste Management. The City and the County jointly own the landfill and PDC will operate the landfill which includes the opening Landfill #3 in 2018.

Because of the long process required to open any landfill, time is off the essence.
The next joint meeting of the Landfill Committee is on January 20th. Meetings at the Dries Lane City of Peoria Facility are always open to the public.

More information can be found on Peoria Counties Website.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Books All Readers Should Benefit by Reading

Here are two informative books worth reading that haven't yet been discarded by the Administrator of the Peoria Public Library System. (See The Peoria Chronicle blog)

"The Great Depression" - America in the 1930's, by T.H. Watkins and "Green Metropolis" - Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability, by David Owen.

Both books may add more insight to your reasoning or "blow up" some of your favorite conceptions. The later is a book all the "movers and shakers", (includes politicians who take the time to read a book) should read.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Erik Bush, Chief Financial Officer, Peoria County

Mr. Bush has written an informative article in the IB (InterBusiness Issue. December 2009, title "Business and Government - What can we learn from on another?" (Page 66-68)
Erik was the first to fill this newly created (and badly needed) position created by the Peoria County Board. He has done an excellent job as the article so attests. Since I come from the taxpaying private sector, Erik and I have some interesting debates.

Erik is a competitive runner who enjoys the sport and has had considerable successes which hopefully, he will pass some history to me which I will post on a future blog.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

More Info on Santa Train

Press Release
For Immediate Release
PEORIA, IL October 29, 2009: Pioneer Railcorp announced today the date for the annual Santa Train to run on its subsidiary, Keokuk Junction Railway Company, starting in Mapleton, Illinois and continuing to Cuba, Illinois.

'Tis the season to take a fun-filled trip with Santa Claus as he rides aboard Keokuk Junction Railway between Mapleton and Cuba, Illinois. On Saturday, December 5, Keokuk Junction Railway Company is operating their annual Santa Train as an effort to provide a fun, interactive, outside the classroom educational opportunity for railroad safety that involves not only children, but also adults. Santa Claus will join Keokuk Junction Railway Co. employees and those of other Pioneer Lines, and will make six stops along its railroad line to visit children, provide railroad safety demonstrations and to confirm their Christmas lists. Santa Claus is announcing the following stops:

Mapleton at Mapleton Road 8:30am

Glasford at Oak Street (near City Park) 9:35am

Breeds at Co. Road 23 - 11:20am

Canton at 20th Street (west of Bradley Road) 1:30pm

Canton at 2nd Avenue (near Railroad Depot) 3:00pm

Cuba at 3rd Street 5:10

Santa Claus is looking forward to seeing all his young friends on Saturday, December 5, 2009.

Pioneer Railcorp is a shortline railroad holding company with 19 railroad operations in 13 states with over 535 miles of track. For more information, please visit the Companys website at www.pioneer-railcorp.com.
Times are subject to change. In case of inclement weather the alternative Santa Train date is Saturday, December 12, 2009.


Funding for this project provided by Illinois Commerce Commission and the Federal Railroad Administration (U.S. DOT).









PEORIA, IL – October 29, 2009: Pioneer Railcorp announced today the
date for the annual Santa Train to run on its subsidiary, Keokuk
Junction Railway Company, starting in Mapleton, Illinois and
continuing to Cuba, Illinois.


Times are subject to change. In case of inclement weather the
alternative Santa Train date is Saturday, December 12, 2009.

Funding for this project provided by Illinois Commerce Commission and
the Federal Railroad Administration (U.S. DOT).



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dan Proft, Best of the Seven Republican Candidates for Governor

Dan was recently interviewed by the publisher and editor of the Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. (October 13, 2009) As a strong supporter of school choice, I emailed Dan some questions and critiqued his comments about one good way to improve the quality of our lower and secondary school systems. Here is my letter and Dan's answer. Dan returned my email the same day he received. Dan is a man of and for the people.

Thanks, Dan

Merle,

I am happy to discuss this with you or anyone else at length (just as I have supts, school board members and administrators around the state) but the critiques of my plan do not hold water.

What is "idealistic" and impractical is believing that we can continue pouring more money into our K-12 systems as currently constituted and expect they will produce better results. The system is structurally unsound.

Re: the checks, the opportunity scholarship would be just that, an educational scholarship that could be used for educational expenses only, nothing else. Just like GI Bill monies or Pell Grants at the collegiate level.

I don't expect teachers unions to go along with me nor do I expect local school districts beholden to their administrators and/or teachers unions to go along with me.

It's going to be a fight--and it's one we need to take up if we want to start producing succeeding generations of educated citizens, something that is generally not occurring in this state presently.

Further, my plan is not limited to charter schools. Parents could take the educational dollars and send their child to any participating school of their choosing: public, private, parochial, charter, whatever.

In terms of what does or doesn't exist now, you understand that you can not statically assess a system when you introduce new variables and change the incentives presented, which is precisely what I am proposing to do.

Investing in families rather than bureaucracies and effectively introducing competition system wide would fundamentally change the system. As you know, with competition, a thousand Flowers are allowed to bloom.

Again, we see this at the collegiate level where we have great public universities like IL, ISU, SIU and great private universities like Northwestern.

When the money follows the child and schools compete for students or to put it another way, when you break up a monopoly you get new entrants into the marketplace.

Good public schools getting the job done will survive and flourish just as they do now. The bad ones won't and they shouldn't.

Why does competition work everywhere in our society, including higher ed, but for some reason we are told K-12 should be exempt? What's the basis for the exemption? It certainly isn't performance-based.

There are 14 states that now operate 24 school choice programs beginning with Wisconsin (Milwaukee) 20 years ago. The results are pouring in: choice avails more children of better quality education; and actually serves to improve the performance of public schools in the process.

We cannot manage our way out of our failing K-12 schools; we need system change.

Regards,

Dan Proft


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Merle Widmer
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2009 20:36:22 -0600
To: dan proft
Subject: Fw: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft



----- Original Message -----
From: Merle Widmer
To:
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 7:03 PM
Subject: Re: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft



----- Original Message -----
From: Merle Widmer
To: Ashley Kain
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 4:43 PM
Subject: Re: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft


Ashley,

Question asked me. Dan's position on School Choice. If you send a check to 920,000 kids, say 300,000 families, how do we know if these families didn't just put the money in their pockets and still send the kids to the same public schools and the same free lunches? Also why would the State Education board and local public school boards go along with the diversion of funds? The state only allows a small number of private charter schools annually in Chicago and less in downstate. And where would the private religious schools, always short on space, put these kids? And the better public schools don't have the building capacity.

As an example, there are no charter schools of any kind in Peoria, one public-private one is pending, just several religious private schools.
Also, there is the large problem of transportation.

We have a privately funded program called Peoria Promise helping to send kids to attend Illinois Central College in East Peoria. According to statistics, 75% must take remedial reading at this public college. Many of these kids from poor families are NOT interested in better teachers. Many of the blacks still believe they can make it on the street, free food, clothes, welfare checks and subsidized housing. Most of the poor family kids that do not do well are part of a third or fourth generation of failure. More than half are single parent and a large quantity of these parents are on drugs or cannot find or hold a job. Some of the one time better schools in the poorer sections of Peoria have gone downhill because of parental failure and the failure to learn discipline in their homes. I know, I have visited dozens of classrooms since 1994 and am an ex-teacher.

Sorry, but Dan's plan is idealistic, it will not float as an "elect Dan" issue in this area, especially in the higher income counties or the schools in north Peoria County like Dunlap, etc. It may have some credence in the poorer areas where few people vote and almost always Democrat.

In the opinion of mine and many, what is needed are better prepared teachers, enforceable discipline in the school, Well paid, full time elected small school boards, the Superintendent hired have a strong business and financial background. And these "leaders" have the ability and guts to stand up to the teachers unions who make sure teachers are not promoted to principal ship by color and tenure, but by the ability to be principals.
----- Original Message -----
From: Ashley Kain
To: Ashley Kain
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 3:17 PM
Subject: Peoria Visit-Dan Proft


Friends and Supporters in Peoria!



I wanted to give you all a heads up that Dan will be in Peoria on December 15th throughout the day. We are going to try to meet with some media, major employers, and local business owners.



But as always, I would like to see if any of you had time or was willing to put together a meet and greet with a group of friends, colleagues, or new people that you think would like to meet Dan.



Or any suggestions of people I can contact, or if you would like to take the reigns and try and set up a meeting for Dan that would be great!



Please do let me know what works for your schedules!



Ashley Kain

Assistant Director of Policy

Proft for Governor

P.O. Box 617934

Chicago, IL 60661

c: 847.347.6082

proft2010.com

ashley.kain@proft2010.com

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Patrick Urich, Peoria County Administrator

Our county administrator, Patrick Urich, was very recently honored by being elected as President of the National Association of County Administrators. He will serve as president for 2 years, presiding over 539 counties across the United States.

Peoria County is fortunate to have Mr. Urich as our County Administrator. He and his wife Brooke, have three children and both Patrick and Brooke are very active in community betterment affairs. His children attend Whittier Public School, one of the best run schools in District #150.

My best wishes for a enjoyable and successful term as president of NACA.

Obama's Afghanistan Strategy

I'm glad he is taking a stand. I think. He has taken stands before and broken them. Maxine Waters, head of the Black Caucus said she cannot support more troops, spoken like a true far left pacifist socialist. John McCain said "never give the enemy a withdrawal schedule." Waters is a disgrace to the country. McCain, while not much of political campaigner, is a true patriot.

Waters fear mongers with "five thousand of our young dead." She has put aside the 3000 killed on our soil on 9/11/2001 and the 101,000+ killed on foreign soil in the past century fighting for the freedom of Waters and her ilk to spread their propaganda to the radical terrorists.

One more person the country could do without. The black caucus? Mostly all left wing Democrats.

It's time for a "change" alright. How to make up the billions in freedom costs? Clean up $40 billion a year in just Medicare fraud as a starter. Cut out half of the government funded subsidies and entitlements. And don't call Medicare and and Social Security unneeded entitlement. I still have these deductions taken from my paycheck.

Santa Train

The KJRY Santa Train starts this week, December 5 at Mapleton. Contact Meghan Peterson at meghanpeterson@mac.com for details.

Breaking News - City Passes Some of Their Expenses to the County

By a vote of 8-3, the City of Peoria Council passed the Humane Shelter back to the County. Lot's of mean things were said by Van Auken and Sandberg about the County.

Thanks a lot.

What Happened to Gas Mart??

This filling station at the corner of Glen and Sheridan Rd. is closed and stripped of all merchandise. When the new owners took over approximately a couple years ago, this statipn undercut most prices of the majors. Then they fluctuated higher, lower of same as. Suddenly they are gone.

What happened? Anyone know. Also, what happened to the party goods store in University Square, its gone whose owner proudly claimed he could help revive the economy when he went into business less than 18 month ago. New location or what?

Someone posted a comment on my site about how wrong I was about few, if any, new businesses moving in. The first one I called with a Parish St. address said they had been there for many years. I would like to know who has moved into Peoria County in the past 2 years, how many they employ, etc., so I may credit them on this site.

Have to stop now and listen to President Obama whose charisma is wearing thin on many, many people.

New Interim Superintendent at PPS District #150

Norm Durflinger of Morton, Il. has been promoted from deputy administrator to interim Administrator for the next 180 days. Mr. Durflinger, once Superintendent of Morton Public Schools and, I believe, still the Mayor of Morton, was originally brought in to Peoria's system as interim treasurer.

With the areas largest school system in turmoil, the City of Peoria trying to cover a $14 1/2 million budget deficit, my stock value in the ball park eroding yearly, the PPD zoo financially unable to complete the expansion, the PPD financially unable to complete the long promised ball fields, the museum funding being borne largely by the taxpayer, a reverse of the promise of the museum promoters "movers and shakers", museum private funding very questionable, more businesses moving out of Peoria than moving in, the status of Globe Energy questionable, and not much news out of the largely taxpayer supported battery maker, FireFly, a $48 million new county nursing home, $44 million to be borrowed, few well paying jobs included in all the new construction, Caterpillar moving more people out of Peoria, a nearly bankrupt State of Illinois, a Federal Government racking up debts beyond the comprehension of our most talented leaders, a greater demand for more charitable dollars when unemployment is at least 10% and probably actually closer to 15%, homicides in Peoria on the rise, empty building dot the landscape, the poor getting poorer....

But, hey, the stock market is up, that is if you have money to invest and invest in the right stocks or if you are employed by a public entity or enjoying a large pension or pensions and are a stock market winner, I wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

For the lucky ones who do not care about having a lot of wealth, who are good workers and family builders, who attain successes not measured by dollars, I wish you a most merry Christmas and a most successful New Year.

And thank you for being you.

Clemmons Clemency - Mike Huckabee's Role

Before you jump to conclusions to try to tear down Ex-Governor Huckabee you had best read the full story on Newsmax, Nov. 30, 2009, issue. Jump on the weak judges, parole boards and prosecutors, especially those in the State of Washington.

Read the WHOLE article.