I listened today to the tape of last week's Peoria County Board Executive Committee meeting and heard Mike Phelan, Democrat County Board member, a former businesss owner and from a lifetime family of strong union supporters, telling the OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Executive Committee to disregard Merle Widmer and get on with building this museum. He said the public voted on it and the public wants this museum. (He could have added "the unions want these jobs".) He also said board members comments should be limited tommorrow afternoon and Board Chairman, Tom O'Neill said something about "putting a sleeping pill in his water". Sorry, Mike, but facts do not change and the "facts" presented by the PRM to the public before this referendum have been proven proven not "factual" including statements made that "$20 million is in the bank", an out right mis-statement, made by the Doug Stewart, a banker, and chairman of the committee who also said $14 million would be needed as an endowment, a very true statement, yet the PRM people have less than $2 million and are asking taxpayers to make up at least 70% of deficits.
The conditions presented by the PRM Committee have not been met plus pledges are still just "pledges".
The board will be asked to increase the amount voted to give the museum committee to $40 million instead of the $34.7 million the board voted on to help make up the shortage in the endowment.
My dealings over the years with bankers who ask you how much you have in the "bank" means CASH, not promises. As of 12/31/09, the PRM gave the county figures showing that they had on $1.8 million in "cash" partly because $11,516,757.00 had alread been spent. Not including what is in current accounts payable.
And now the PRM people are asking the taxpayers to make up the large shortages!! And a County Board majority willing to go along.
And 3 long years after this statement was made, the money "in the bank" should have INCREASED, not DECREASED especially after the JS reported the Museum Administrator said that "now that the referendum has passed, those who were waiting to contribute would step forward".
It is common knowledge that local unions need jobs; as one union boss told me, "we don't give a damn what is built, just build it". A poor excuse to support a badly flawed project.
MORE JOBS ARE NEEDED IN THE PRIVATE NON-UNION SECTOR AND THIS ALL UNION PROJECT WILL ONLY PRODUCE A HANDFUL LOW WAGE JOBS OF ANY TYPE AFTER THIS PROJECT IS COMPLETE.
Sobeit but my blogs tell the only truth and no one yet has refuted any of my facts and figures. Why not? They are all in print, some many times.
I suspect that the open meeting of the "Committee as a Whole" this Thursday at 3 PM will be packed with museum supporters. However Phelan also said, and O'Neill agreed that there would be no comments or questions from the audience.
To accept ownership of the building, the County Board will be asked to approve a minimum of three contracts totaling 120 pages drawn up by 5 groups of attorneys, all but one, at taxpayer cost, and containing such language "that a board member can be removed without cause", an advisory committee (all agreeing to the museum mission) of not more than 60, several layers of boards with the county owning the building forever.
Next week the county will risk more tax dollars than the previous 9 years I've been on the board. Caterpillar will build a $41 million, opps, now $37 million Visitors Center that will cost an estimated $2 million a year in operations, etc. This very valuable piece of land where the museum and underground parking lot will sit will be a tax-collecting body instead of businesses who would PAY taxes.
Plus Caterpillar could use these millions plus the millions they are donating to increase stockholder value.
With a $100 million new BelWood just over the horizon, $100 or more million because the County has only $4 million on hand so the balance will need to be borrowed and paid back with anticipated rising property taxes, I am very glad this is my last year on a board controlled by card carrying union members.