Demosthenes warned approximately 2500 hundred years ago that "Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man (or woman) wishes; that he (they) also believes to be true."
Our movers and shakers have been telling us that if we complete everything on the drawing table, we will be a "world class" city. Perhaps people who call Peoria a "world class" city like former interim City Manager, Henry Hollings, is correct. It sure doesn't look or act like one now but time will tell a more complete story. Maybe Bass Pro, the Marriott and the museum will complete the success circle.
Without putting a great burden on the sales and property tax payers.
But maybe not. Most of you are probably so used to riding over Peoria's streets badly in need of repair or noticing deteriorating curbs and sidewalks, watching events occurring at both Peoria Public School System and other public bodies, that you do not notice that "world class" is used in describing this city. And why have things been so quiet on the $300 million dollar sewer renovation that Mr. Browning told me last year, had to be started in 2010? And where is the missing $14 million promised BEFORE breaking ground on the new underground $8+ million parking garage ? The Museum Endowment needs (must) around $11-14 million, yet only $2 million has been saved to date. I say "saved" because records show that some of the money raised for this fund was lost on investments. Remember that $11+ million of cash raised for the the museum has ALREADY been spent.
Also has anyone heard how much is in the zoo endowment? Not much I hear. While it is a nice zoo with amenities, it still has a huge financial nut to track and busloads of school kids will do little to help meet much higher operating costs . The zoo lost approximately $1. 2 million for years 2006, 2007 and 2008.
On May 17, the JSEB, "wrote that Peoria City is eyeballing a $10 million dollar deficit after having to plug a $14.5 deficit in 2009. There just seems to be no end to the city's fiscal misery."
Yet a possible taxpayer, Bass Pro landed in EAST Peoria, not Peoria. I don't know how much Gander Mountain on Peoria's west side was given in subsidies nor Pressley's in Bartonville. Both may see their business decline. On the other hand, once we fully understand what E. Peoria had to give away, Peoria may be glad E. Peoria got Bass Pro (See the JSEB Editorial and the accompanying intelligent LTE by Tim Church of East Peoria on May 19).
At least Peoria will keep Big Al's. At an additional cost to taxpayers in the city.
And world class? If the public believes that the new design of the proposed Marriott is an improvement over the old design they better look at the "mausoleum" architects designed for the now nearly empty former Bank Plus building at the corner of Knoxville and Pioneer Parkway. Or Furniture Row at the Shoppes. To name a couple.
Phil Luciano's Column on May 19 sums up the architecture of the Marriott quite well. Sizzle to fizzle somewhat similar to the scaled down proposed museum, from 110,000 sq. ft. to 81,000 sq. ft. Why scaled down? Because the movers and shakers failed to come up with the promised money.
Anyway, with the economy still in a form of perhaps major collapse, I have yet to be convinced to drink the "Kool Aid".
And Demosthenes was correct. Maybe he also said, dream big but have enough money to completely cover your butt without asking the majority of tax payers to cover a major part of it for you.