Friday, December 31, 2010

Trillions Spent on Incarceration - Millions Spent on Drug Use Education and Prevention and Rehabilitation


US Has the Most Prisoners in the World
by James Vicini

WASHINGTON - Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts.A U.S. Justice Department report released on November 30 showed that a record 7 million people -- or one in every 32 American adults -- were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of last year. Of the total, 2.2 million were in prison or jail.

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College in London, more people are behind bars in the United States than in any other country. China ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 870,000.

The U.S. incarceration rate of 737 per 100,000 people in the highest followed by 611 in Russia and 547 for St. Kitts and Nevis. In contrast, the incarceration rates in many Western industrial nations range around 100 per 100,000 people.

Groups advocating reform of U.S. sentencing laws seized on the latest U.S. prison population figures showing admissions of inmates have been rising even faster than the numbers of prisoners who have been released.

"The United States has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. We rank first in the world in locking up our fellow citizens," said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports alternatives in the war on drugs.

"We now imprison more people for drug law violations than all of western Europe, with a much larger population, incarcerates for all offences."

Ryan King, a policy analyst at The Sentencing Project, a group advocating sentencing reform, said the United States has a more punitive criminal justice system than other countries.


"We send more people to prison, for more different offences, for longer periods of time than anybody else," he said.

Drug offenders account for about 2 million of the 7 million in prison, on probation or parole, King said, adding that other countries often stress treatment instead of incarceration.

Commenting on what the prison figures show about U.S. society, King said various social programs, including those dealing with education, poverty, urban development, health care and child care, have failed.

"There are a number of social programs we have failed to deliver. There are systemic failures going on," he said. "A lot of these people then end up in the criminal justice system."

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in California, said the high prison numbers represented a proper response to the crime problem in the United States. Locking up more criminals has contributed to lower crime rates, he said.

"The hand-wringing over the incarceration rate is missing the mark," he said.

Scheidegger said the high prison population reflected cultural differences, with the United States having far higher crimes rates than European nations or Japan. "We have more crime. More crime gets you more prisoners."

Julie Stewart, president of the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, cited the Justice

Department report and said drug offenders are clogging the U.S. justice system.

"Why are so many people in prison? Blame mandatory sentencing laws and the record number of nonviolent drug offenders subject to them," she said.
Posted by sforrest at 9:29 AM Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz

Reactions: I've blogged or written avout this national disgrace for years. It is past time to have a natiobal debate on the growing use of drugs of all kinds in our country.


Beasley, Ransburg, Rand and IMAX and the PRM

I thought I might call attention to the fact that IMAX stock is up from $11 low to $31 a share today. Had the PRM taken the 2 million dollars they had accumulated in the past 4 years and bought $11 stock in the IMAX they so strongly believed, they would now have $6 million of the needed $16 million needed to HELP fund the museum once it is opened.

Yes, I know they know claim to have $5-6 million in the Endowment fund but most of that came from the taxpayers and perhaps a little creative bookkeeping or fund shifting.

When Endowment money was available, those in charge of the money ought to have put these dollars, approximately $2 million, in related stocks like Caterpillar and IMAX. Just where was the Endowment money donated by the private sector invested by the "movers and shakers" in this community? It is apparent those investors didn't do very well.

Even in year 2010 when almost anyone with money to invest should have done quite well.

Remember, readers, the sales tax referendum was strongly promoted to help fund a museum with a then highly touted IMAX. Since then the three gentlemen mentioned above have played down the IMAX draw and said they were searching for better, cheaper big screens since IMAX was not the only 'fish' in the Illinois River.

My question to these three community leaders and other strong PRM promoters is the stock of the other possibly "better" big screens that few in Peoria area has heard of, done as well or better than IMAX stock? If they are 'hot' like IMAX, has their stock tripled in three years? If I could find them listed on the stock exchanges, I could look them.

Other than the fact that SONY is interested in buying this particular 'fish'; IMAX instead of the 'other similar or better and cheaper big screens', maybe the other reason that IMAX stock is rising so dramatically, is because the gentlemen mentioned above have 'cut' a deal for a second tier IMAX for PRM?

Again, remember that Caterpillar representative and PRM Board member,Doug Beasley told the Peoria County Board, the owners of the property and building, that the PRM was in 'intense' negotiations with IMAX but wouldn't release any details to this County Board member. That was approximately 6 months ago with, to my knowledge, with no progress info released to the public. Also, how is Ransburg doing in raising the $10-20 million from the private sector needed to finish out the roughly $94 million PRM?


Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frauds All After Your Money

Passed on to me by a friend. True or not be on the lookout for ANYTHING AND ANYWAY to scam you.

Merry Christmas


Just a heads up for everyone regarding the latest in Visa fraud. Royal Bank received this communication about the newest scam. This is happening in southern Alberta right now and moving.

This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want..

Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it.

This information is worth reading By understanding how the VISA & MasterCard telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself. One of our employees was called on Wednesday from 'VISA', and I was called on Thursday from 'MasterCard'.

The scam works like this:

Person calling says - 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460, Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona ?' When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?' You say 'yes'.

The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud Investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number.. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?'

Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works - The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the last 3 are the Security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the last 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card Do you have any other questions?'

After you say no, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do', and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back. Within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we were glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card. We made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master Card directly for verification of their conversation..

The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit; however, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a 'Jason Richardson of MasterCard' with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA Scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening. I dealt with a similar situation this morning, with the caller telling me that $3,097 had been charged to my account for plane tickets to Spain , and so on through the above routine.

It appears that this Is a very active scam, and evidently quite successful.

Pass this on to all your family and friends

Monday, December 20, 2010

Widmer - "Search For a Connected Earlier Blog"

You should find this feature on the upper right side of all my 1550 blogs I've written. For example to see what I've previously written about combining election commissions, just type in "combining election commissions" and you will be given a lead to these articles.

Many of the blogs I've written such as blogs about the new BelWood Nursing Home and of the Peoria Riverfront Museum are easily found.

I will be doing less blogging over the holidays so you may wish to look up some of my older facts that inspired me to make me research and write my blogs, interspersed with opinions, published for all to read.

Few bloggers are original. We try to gather the facts that are factual and pass this information along, often with our own comments to the reader. Much of what I blog on will not be found in the local media as they usually put a twist on the local news to fit their beliefs and not offend their advertisers.

I have been retired for 18 years. Most of my older friends are dead or in nursing homes. If what I write offend some people, they should be honest with themselves and look hard in the mirror.

I do not "run" with the elite who often have special interest agendas. I'm not often influenced by special interest groups but have long had a true interest in the direction this community is heading. I feel studied facts show that all the non-tax paying enhancements we have added or in the process of adding to this community will have little value if any at all, in influencing more people to live in Peoria City and County.

Higher taxes will influence people to move out, if they can sell there homes at a decent price, our local public school system has caused hundreds to leave the District, a growing number of unemployed black youth ( an alleged 44% nationally)cause a reasonable amount of concern to home owners combined with what appears to be a rising number of drug related homicides.

Safety doesn't appear to have improved with a council more interested in funding libraries and museums than public safety. In the meantime most school age druggies can tell anyone seeking drugs where to buy them and within minutes.

To attract new business both the city and county continue to lend money to upstart new businesses, businesses often in competition with the same type of already existing businesses who did not seek taxpayer backed loans. No one on the city or county boards are qualified to be loan officers yet they continue to lend taxpayer dollars to businesses approved by local banks with the kicker being that if the business goes bad, the bank gets their investment back as witness the defunct Firefly while the county is third in line gets little or nothing of the taxpayer money they invested with a strong belief that lending money to businesses is "part of their duties".

Next board meeting the county Board will approve an $150,000 loan, 3rd position to a furniture company who will compete against established local furniture dealers, many struggling or already forced out of business.

After recently losing large sums on FireFly, Globe Mfg, In-Play and Riverstation, the City and County is anxious to lend more low interest money replacing venture and private capital.

Being loose with OPM (other peoples money) has put this country in the sorry state it really is in.

Merry Christmas

Peoria City Taxes - Don't Blame The City??

Probably most of you have forgotten that the Peoria City Council approved the building of one new public library and the remodeling of at least 3 more. The amount the city approved to borrow was $27,000,000.00. Plus interest of probably $12,000,000.00. Expect the libraries high possibility of asking the City Council for more money to buy computers, mainly for those people who can afford their own computer but dole off taxpayer dollars. Remember in an earlier blog I wrote that I saw a friend using a library computer on a regular basis and asked him if he didn't have his own. His answer? Yes, but I can use these public library's free. Others do not want the information they are seeking to appear on their own computers, some who come in to surf, play games or just get in out of the cold.

Remember that I saw 3-4 young guys standing around a computer looking at naked women performing. Where? At the now newly remodeled Downtown Library, the library the Library Board was considering closing because of falling usage until Caterpillar interceded back in 1999. And probably the protest of a few folks now residing in condos downtown.

Couldn't they have used the very costly expanded Lincoln Library soon again to revert to its previous category. Underutilized. Somebody should use Lincoln besides the employees and Common Place who has its own library.

Remember, Lincoln Library had never been visited by City Councilman Eric Turner BEFORE he put his name on a publicly circulated document complaining about how the bad condition of Lincoln Library. When I called him on it, he said he would visit the library with me because "there sure was a lot he didn't know about libraries".

He was being modest in his statement. Also, he never did visit the library with me.

I still believe it was my efforts to take a couple of city council people to visit the library system and see how little they were used except for computers, that the council decided not to spend an extra $5 million to remodel Lakeview BEFORE they saw the effects of the new Library North.

That was my point and it is proved daily if you are honest about the "crowded" Lakeview library. Neither is the relatively new Heights Library, about a mile and a half away. Nor the new Dunlap Library where you often see more workers than patrons.

As a frequent visitor to Lakeview, I have yet to see more than a 2 minute waiting line, maybe at the start of school openings and the start of summer. Not even when the downtown library was closed this fall.

City taxes are certain to escalate. Expect more money to be requested by the Library Board as soon as the next budget year. Remember the outlandish city pensions growing every year? Drive certain areas of the city and view the crumbling infrastructure. Unless residential new building picks up and more tax paying private businesses start moving in, unless the sewers aren't renovated, if Eagle Point and the Warehouse Districts are more of dream than a reality, city tax collections, one means or another on the existing population of property tax payers, have no where to go but up.

Peoria Public School District #150 bonds payments will start soon and continue for 20-30 years while the district plans new buildings, find the need for increased maintenance on the new buildings, lots of glass, plus updating the dozen or so schools in need of updating, as school pensions escalate and unions and management demand increasing rising salaries, buses need replacing, etc...........

Anyway you can blame a City who has not a great deal of regard for the property taxpayer, an ability to favor the elite who can afford higher taxes or they themselves live in property tax depreciated areas.

Remember, it was a city council with then Mayor, Dave Ransburg, that voted unanimously to NOT combine the election commissions, that an honest study of the records would show a saving of up to $300,000 despite the protests of present City Election Administrator, Democrat Tom Bride, who says there would be a saving but not that much. Overlooked is the vacating of the City Election building and leasing it or selling to a private tax PAYING entity. Like a law firm, etc..

Overlooked also, is employing fewer people resulting in taxpayer supported future benefits; healthcare, pensions, elimination of at least one high paying job, etc...

No attention was paid by the City Council and Mayor that the JS had printed an article titled, "Merger has worked in Springfield" (JS, 3/9/04) with a savings of over $1.5 million in six years.

Maybe the council is getting a little more cost conscious since they even gave the Humane Shelter with it's accompanying $500,000 a year loss to Peoria County, who currently has a balanced budget.

Now if they could just pass the big-time money losing Springdale Cemetery to the County......

Merry Christmas

Omnibus Bill 2011 Pinata

Tucked away in this $623 million per page x 1,924 pages = $1,300,000,000,000.00 (trillion in case big figures numb your mind like they do mine) is $8,000,000,000.00 earmarks masquerading like monasteries instead of like the "cathouses" they will really fund.

People say "well, 8 billion isn't very much out of a $13.4 trillion dollar national deficit. True, but it 'ain't" peanuts, either. What is really means is that if you support my $5-10 million for the underfunded Peoria Riverfront Museum, I'll support your $5 million to study whether having sexual intercourse "naked", (you know what I mean) versus using a condom results in making more or less usually unwanted babies. Unwanted at least by the guy that's naked. Or more bicycle trails or walking trails. Reduces pollution, you know. Or taxpayer money for studying the effect of mutant arthropods on the Nevada desert.

You will be surprised how lot's of small charges on your credit card add up or how much a 1/4% tax hike adds up in Peoria City or County, like $3-4 million per year.

You want more beefsteak for your constituents, then "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" is a practice older than the birth of Muhammad, the 1st. Did I just insult some people? Too bad.

I applaud the efforts of Tea Party types in getting "new" blood elected to Congress but I won't start cheering loudly until I see how these newbies react to special interests pressures, big money supporters and pressure to bring home the beefsteak to the communities they come from. Very few can resist the temptation no matter what they promised on the campaign trail.

You can bet Kirk and others have already received lists of "absolute" priorities such as a $5 million new parking lot and entrance to the Glen Oak Zoo, money that a generous public failed to contribute before the zoo opened 18 months ago.

By way, I thought I would just mention that Build America Bonds were ORIGINALLY intended to be used to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, sewers, storm water retention, etc but somewhere the got sidetracked to musuems and union employed county owned nursing homes and possibly parking lots for zoos.

There is so much governmental debt in this country that being on the taxpayer dole is like belonging to an exclusive club. Elected officials are going around saying "you tell us what you owe, or are going to owe (hint, the bonds for the $80,000,000.00 School District #150 bonds, payments starting to come due in 2013-14 from property tax payers; taxed yearly for at least 20 years, BelWood nursing home bonds (and interest) that will be repaid by property taxpayers for 30 years $3,200,000.00 last year and I'll brag about how much or little we owe.


Kind of like a dating couple comparing credit card balances vs. what they estimate to inherit BEFORE they make a trip to the altar, planned or unplanned.

Merry Christmas

Peoria County - Committee Appointments Fair?

Newcomer Republican Stephen Morris apparently believes they are. Quoted in the JS today, Morris, an attorney, said he thinks the committee appointments "are reasonable". Let's take a deeper look. The powerful Executive Committee of 9 consists of only 1 APPOINTED Republican member. The 2nd Republican on this committee is not appointed but is automatically on this committee because this person was elected V-Chair.

Their are 10 Democrats on the County Board. There are 8 Republicans.

2 out of 9 on the Executive Commitee is fair and reasonable? Morris got his appointment by playing footsie with the Democrats when he changed his vote from being against the museum to being "strongly" for the museum. Which earned him an executive apointment to one of the three museum committees. He also makes his living by being an attorney. needing all the clients he can get.

Not mentioned in the JS today is the actual breakout of committees. Why not? I had plenty of room to list the breakouts in my Spotlight column on the Editorial page of the JS Saturday.

Fair? And "moving ahead" as quoted by Democrat Chairman O'Neill by "growing" the local county government when at least 12,000 people who could work can't find a job that pays a living wage?

Out of the nine committees Democrats control all nine. The committee Morris chairs has 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Tie votes block anything that a chair proposes.

Fair, JS reporter? Bullcrap. But then this dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrat reporter never did understand figures making misstatements all the while she covered County Meetings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peoria County and Build America Bonds

A lot of us were foolish enough to believe that by building the new county nursing home and the museum with these bonds would save taxpayers money.

Not true nor never was. These bonds are financed by your appearing to be going bankrupt federal government. And do you think the investors who are buying these bonds are NOT going to make a "bunch of money" while knowing they can't lose unless the U.S. goes broke?

I have a question. Is anyone who is on any board of directors (PRM) involved in the arranging the borrowing of this money for both the museum and nursing home who could benefit financially?

Just a rumor I heard but I doubt that anyone will check it out. Too much fear of the elite in this community.

PRM - Peoria Museum Board of Directors

A revised list of appointees to the PRM Board, I note that Jane Converse, owner of Converse Marketing, no longer appears as a Director.

Millions of dollars will be spent on promoting this museum over the decades.


Democrats Use County Governmenrt Position to Try to Force Asphalt Pavers to Unionize

Back last winter, the Democrat controlled County Board made a disguised effort to force Peoria County pavers to be unionized. Democrats Tom O'Neill, Board Chairman, Allan Mayer and Mike Phelan led the drive. Republican Brian Elsasser led the opposition in preventing this attack on the non-union pavers.

In April, Tom O'Neill had Elsasser replaced by a Democrat on the Tri-County Planning Commission allegedly at the recommendation of Mike Phelan, new Chairman of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. The new appointee lives in the Heights as does PHelan.

This commission is made up of 7 Democrats.

When the appointments to the counties Standing Committees were made public, Elsasser was appointed to only one committee, (later he was put on the Health Committee) Judicial and taken off the Land Use committee. Elsasser is a prominent farmer in the the Princeville area. Elsasser also began to ask questions about the escalating cost of a property tax supported ($3,200,000.00 in 2009) new Bel-Wood which was unanimously supported by the Democrats.

Interesting is that Republican Stephan Morris, an attorney, who originally was opposed to the museum but changed his mind and was later appointed as Chairman of the Museum Standing Committee, was appointed to chair the Land Use committee.

Also, Bob Baeitto who in April announced he was interested in running for the County board chair and who stood with the pavers, was replaced as Chairman of Judicial by Democrat Andrew Rand. The Democrats have complete control of the county and in the last two years have increasingly thrown their weight around.

Some are up for election in 2012.

Peoria County Health Department Email

"At the present time, we do not require PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP PRIOR TO OBTAINING SERVICES."

Greg Chance

With an estimated 11,000,000 ILLEGAL "immigrants" in this country, if it only added up to $100 each per year, that's $1.1 billion a year. I suspect my figure is low.

That is just the health department visits.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peoria County Board - Political Payback

Please read my "Letter to the Editors" of the Journal Star that will appear in the Spotlight Section on the Editorial Page this weekend.

My comments come from the inside as a 10 veteran of a tax and fee supported political body. If some are offended by the truth, I too have been offended too often by this board when I was asking questions trying to receive truthful answers.

As an example, I was the only one showing concern as to why we accepted the 43 acre rundown former Hanna City Correctional Center from the State of Illinois without a plan to use it and the money to support the plan.

I was the only one to really questioned why Peoria County was going to build a new nursing home whose price tag started at $29 million and now appears to be close to $50 million. A two story building with only 175 beds compared to the 300 beds now. Those strongly promoting a new home are calling it a "safety net" for the poor while at the same time approving a highly upscale home that they said had to "compete" with the private sector???

Few counties in the State of Illinois have County owned nursing homes yet I was unsuccessful in getting support until lately after it appears to be too late as the land appears to have been purchased. I expect the full board will approve all recommended plans.

Yet the question of selling the facility and writing a detailed contract to include letting all current residents leave only by attrition if they so desired, was ever discussed and the pros and cons of selling were never presented to the board by administration.

I am strongly opposed to the expansion of government bureaucracy. Some of the Republicans on the board approved government expansion as did all the Democrats.

Some will not be happy with my comments. They are still on the board and can ensure that Peoria County Government never goes back to the condition it was in 2000, without asking the taxpayers for more money, the year I was first elected. We were in serious financial condition, so serious we had to borrow to meet payrolls and expenses. The county approved a balanced 2011 budget early this year yet faces a questionable 2012 and 2013 if the economy in the county and the state do not make substantial financial improvement.

The county has also accepted the problems of ownership of a museum building whose contents are controlled a separate museum board.

The county is also planning to get in the training of minorities who want to start their own businesses. To do so will require the ownership of a building, hiring talented people and creating more pension and health care expenses. The city also appears to want to get in this minority training business with the county.

This plan I oppose for reasons to numerous to post here yet it appears the past board (and administration) was highly in favor of this new expensive, taxpayer supported endeavor.

As to government bodies making loans to entities like FireFly, we neither have the knowledge nor the financial position, a position almost always 3rd if the loans are not repaid but we keep on lending because that is what all competing governmental bodies are doing to lure new business. These taxpayer supported new businesses often competing against established businesses who made it without governmental largess.

Anyway, read my LTE. You may find it interesting.

Eleven years ago, a local columnist wrote that people like me are a "dying" breed. Some people hope so. Time will tell.

The Rape of the Uninformed

By uninformed, I refer to those blocked from the inside circles of government or those who really don't give a damn.


I'll give you one example. Back on March 4, 2009, the Peoria County Finance Committee headed by now City Councilman, Tim Riggenbach and County Administration informed County Board members that BioFuels Maufactures of Illinois, former Caterpillar President Glen Barton was or is an investor, had requested a credit enhancement of $20 million from the State of Illinois to build a $40 million biofuels facility to produce ethanol from soy and pennycress. They were also seeking $10 million from the State to be given to Peoria County who in turn would lend it to BMI and start a trend of lending to other green projects in Peoria County. BMI would of course pay the loan back to the county just like Keystone, an ESTABLISHED firm employing about 1000 locals.

On 10/6/09, U. S. Rep. and Republican Aaron Schock announced $500,000 in funding to help BMI develop a new source for biofuels. "This funding puts BMI of Illinois and pennycress on the national map but BMI still needs loan guarantees from the state." BMI CEO Sudhir Seth is optimistic that these loan guarantees, (the taxpayer is guaranteeing the loan through people like Schock, Koehler and Leitch, just like they did The defunct, no-miss FireFly) that this group of investors would add to their millions they have already made through, the ARRA, stimulus funds, grants and taxpayer backed loans, etc.

You MAY have noted that Schock has been rather quiet about abolishing the earmark system. Don't worry, smart bureaucrats always figure a way to get around legislation they don't support. There will be earmarks. The only difference is they won't be called earmarks. And a lot of them will still go to priorities like museums and park districts.

Unless the state and feds go broke. Not yet for the feds. The Chinese haven't pulled their money back to the mainland. Probably not as long as the U.S. consumer keeps buying their products and the Chinese keep stealing our secrets.

Millionaires become multi, multi millionaires by using taxpayer funds instead of private venture capital funds today; they have figured out the system and all the angles to get government, your money, to make their millions.

So if no plant was built, the state would have given them the money if they had it, so would have Peoria County, what happened to the $500,000.00?

A simple answer. It most likely was spent on salaries and lobbyists. Why do you think there is a growing preponderance of wealth at the top of the pyramid?

It appears the Tea Party people are finally banding together to stop this rape of the uninformed. We will see what condition this country is in by June of 2013. In the meantime a whole new class of multi millionaires are rising from the "greening" of America. Millionaire Hollywood types are buying Prius type vehicles as fast as they are manufactured. Already much "green" has been put in the banks by those who know how to work or game, the system.

Again, I encourage you to read the book "Fortunes of Change", the rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America, by David Callahan.

I regret becoming more of an independent but neither party is one that offers a lot of hope for the well-being of this country and its true citizens..

Merry Christmas.

The GOP in January

As we read the "GOP Charges up Captitol Hill", the title of an column by Fred Barnes in today's WSJ, we are reminded by Mr. Barnes that voters favor spending cuts when it doesn't affect them.

Remember that GOP Aaron Schock gets the majority of votes cast from the Corn Belt. He is not only supporting more corn used for foodstocks to be burned up in vehicles while supporting the 40% tariff on Brazilian sugar cane ethanol; in fact Schock wants to see corn ethanol mixed in gasoline raised not just from 10% to 15% but an amazing 25%. Reports are that farmers had a very profitable year in 2010.

Dave Leitch, Dave Ransburg and other local politicians are still trying to get the already 72% taxpayer funded Peoria Riverfront Museum more government funding (why do you think the big hitters are holding off digging into their own pockets)?

The PPD zoo has set aside $500,000 or $750,000, the PPD is good at "creative bookkeeping", to offset zoo losses next year and efforts are being made to get more grants to finish this zoo, still lacking at least $5 million in funding for the parking lot and new entrance.

You can bet the PPD is trying to get government funds to cover the costs of remodeling Lakeview Museum into the new 33,000 sq. ft. Peoria Park District headquarters.

Don't get your hopes up too high, Tea Party People, unless you did the funding, politicians always favor the Special Interest big money "donations".

Every "donation" over $1000 that elect politicians to office should be printed in local media. I'll try to be optimistic but I spent 10 years of my recent life as an elected official and I have seen first hand the effects on politicians of special interest groups.

Personally, I've never been very popular with people who think the government should support everything they think is best for the "people".

By the way, how much per acre is the government paying farmers to experiment with pennycress. And if a new biodeisel plant is built in Peoria County, how much will the government be expected to fund? Start with $20 million and think upward.

Anonymous Comments on My Site

Soon as I see them, I hit delete. If you can't identify yourselves, you will not see what you wrote and your name in print.

Merry Christmas

Tea Party Targets for 2012

Jon Testor of Montana
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Kent Conrad of N. Dakota
Joe Machin of W. Virginia

All left wing liberals up for election in 2012.
Find candidates to send all four of these Democrats back home where they belong.

Look up their voting records.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"A Pompous Pile of Dung"

This comment was in an email sent to me about how badly members of the AFSCME were treated by the County of Peoria. This, as usual, anonymous union member, complained that they work on Holidays. Well, if a handful do, they get paid substantial overtime wages. Thought you all were complaining about the pay. Oh, he/she says they are complaining about not getting paid if they took up to 15 days of furlough or other unpaid days when they wish to not work. Or there is not enough work to keep all employees in the AFSCME employed preventing full time layoffs.

He/She says they are "persicuted" for using any sick time. Gosh, file a grievance, then. He/She then says "earning from the County allow us to live on cat food..." Gosh, I'd look for a better paying job. The Peoria County non-unionized private sector has them by the dozens, unfortunately, jobs only for those who are qualified.

He/She says the county does not "bargan" in good faith" and "iis" .....(four misspelled words from he/she so far), and that the board gave themselves 100% raises. Wow, I should keep working since I figured wrong, I guess. I thought I was making around $8000 a year or an average of about $10-12 an hour.

He/She also said the county bought a lot of furniture from Widmers. What a shame I sold out in 1992, 8 years before I was elected to the County Board. I missed out on all that capitalistic profit that supports public sector workers. Maybe county purchasing bought from my old company because it had a superior product and service. Anyway, I wasn't in purchasing at the county.

He/She said the county doesn't pay for their pensions. Anyway you cut it, the taxpayers pays part of it. He/She doesn't mention that the county pays $2 out of every $3 dollars of health insurance, allows up to 6 weeks paid vacations, has generous sick leave policies, paid personal days, free gym, oh, what the heck, now that I'm retired I'm going to the county in the morning and apply for a job.

Workers in the public sector protected by belligerent unions like the AFSCME seldom had it so good while employed in the worst economy in 70 years. I suggest he/she apply for a job in the private sector where maybe only 12-15 qualified people are seeking the same job probably so many because they won't have to pay union dues to support only Democrat politicians.

Good luck, he/she. Don't forget to apply for a JS Christmas basket, no cat food there.

And Merry Christmas.

AFSCME, Peoria County Union Contract Negotiations - Part 2

In case you didn't read the comment on my first AFSCME blog, in answer to a union members comment, I'm printing it here. You might also read my 10/28/10 blog, "Campaign's Big Spender". Who was the biggest union financial contributor to the Democrats, AFSCME, a shocking total of $87.5 million, all forcibly taken from 100% of the membership union dues.

It is also notable that big union represent less than 85% of all organized labor, but total union memberships account for just 4%+ of the entire nations workforce. Expect this number to grow as Obama "spreads the wealth" and makes illegal immigrants citizens, an action he will probably succeed in accomplishing before the elections of 2012.

And the big unions pour more money into union Democrats campaign funds. And redistricting continues to favor the party in power, which is still the Democrat party.

Here is my answer to the union member's comment:

"allows (the employee) the ability to take up to 15 unpaid furlough days per month and the ability to reduce their working hours per week."

This is part of the contract offered the AFSCME according to the JS and the JS "is never wrong". Hm.

Nowhere do I read that an employee MUST take a furlough or reduce their unpaid hours. It appears that any reduction of time and pay is up to the employee. This union member still gets paid vacations; up to 6 weeks, at least two paid personal days, 11 paid holiday days, sick leave, 2/3 rd of their health premiums paid by the taxpayers, etc...

Pretty simple, if you don't want to work, you don't get paid. But it appears some of our leaders are changing all that and people will get paid for not working. Wow.

As to working on holidays. Someone has to do it and is paid extra for doing it. Some are complaining about not making enough money. Personally, if I needed the money, I'd jump at this overtime extra pay.

Also, when I wasn't satisfied with my job I changed careers.

What am I missing here? How much do you calculate your pension to be when you retire at 55, young enough to get another job? 50% of people doing the same job you are in the private sector do not have pensions such as do all public employees?????

I don't blame unions for asking "for all they can get". It is up to those who hire and fire to use common sense in negotiations. Let's see if the Democrat controlled Peoria County Board can do that.

They have done a pretty good job in the past.

Posted by Merle Widmer to Merle Widmer's PEORIA WATCH at December 14, 2010 9:44 AM

Top Secrets Security

Forwarded to me by a friend. Good advise.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Caterpillar Looks Outside

'Lightning Bolt' Led Caterpillar to Look Outside, reads an article in today's WSJ. Quoting Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman on the recruiting of 6 top officers from outside the company since 2008, "Though sales soared, operating profit declined, partly because (JIT evidently didn't work too well, my comment) parts suppliers couldn't keep up and Caterpillar had to pay premiums to just get enough materials to our plants."

Fortunately, auto makers, etc. were losing top executives, some of which made more talent available to Cat to bring new innovation into the company. These moves have paid off big time, so far, as Caterpillar stock has risen to new highs, closing today at $91+ per share.

A little late for me, as I lost a bundle as CAT stock dropped from the 80's to 20 dollars per share. I suspect that Caterpillar has made a lot of changes that have resulted in a lot of people making a lot of money. Caterpillar managers were making a lot of money from the years 2006-8 while outsiders couldn't understand why their stock was going through the floor. It became obvious there was a lot of deadwood at CAT in management that needed re-kindled. Top management was slow in recognizing the problems.

Completing funding of the museum should now be no problem as large employers and their employees like CAT, OSF, ADM, RLI and Bradley University should be able to come up with the missing funds.

GOP and White House Renew Corn Ethanol Subsidies

Just another cost to the taxpayers of $4.9 billion a year, the full amount from last year. Actually, taxpayers are paying more because of the pollution caused by hundreds of thousands of big trucks, that also tear up our roadbeds, because ethanol must be transported by truck rather than pipes like oil and gas. And by the polluting factories involved. I'm afraid that with all the Tea Party group effort, I don't expect that any representative to any government body is going to stop "bringing home the bacon" to support those "big money" special interests who elected and will keep them in office. Not only did both parties, led by Iowas Senators Grassley and Harkin, abandon their pledges to reduce handouts, they also voted to maintain the $.54 per gallon tariff on ethanol imports.

And our own Senator Schock wants us to use 25% ethanol in our gasoline. The farm vote and Caterpillar and ADM keep Aaron in office.

Keep stifling free trade and "protecting our people" and our future as the leader of the "free" world is defunct. If you read closely and follow Obama's actions, we are now the "shining city on the hill, the great protector of democracy".

Sure, Brazil runs most of their vehicles with ethanol blends but their ethanol is made from sugar cane while our is made from a major food source.

The recently passed tax bill revives a $1 a gallon biodiesel tax credit at a cost of an additional $2 billion. The bill also contains $202 million for "incentives for alternate fuel," $331 million for maintaining railroad tracks; this is exactly the the business behavior the Republicans told the TP people they wouldn't engage in.

Don't bet the farm that Obama won't be reelected in 2012. This country is to greedy to stop accepting handouts and that includes the wealthy.

So sad. A large majority in this country should be ashamed. Including most union bosses.

But at least I have learned enough to stop putting my money in political parties and candidates without platforms or platforms that are falsely redundant. Really honest people I will still support. Karrie Alms, a losing independent candidate for the Peoria County Board, was one of those few, but the makeup of her district (read into that what you wish) prevented her election.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

George Soros - Evil Puppetmaster

Most evil? He is just one of many evil people directing governments like North Korea and Iran.

Forwarded to me by people who are very concerned about the leadership and direction of our country.


This needs to be read by everyone in this country, especially members of Congress

The Most Evil Man In The World:

CBS writer, Steve Kroft:

Some time ago I wrote an article questioning who might be the power behind Barack Hussein Obama. It has to be someone because of his meteoric rise to power, with experience at virtually nothing, with questionable wisdom, and with a mysterious past that has been carefully erased and hidden where no one can check it. The puppet master apparently paid for Obama's education and his travels to Pakistan for some mysterious purpose, and promoted him into Illinois , then national politics.

I once suggested it might be billionaire George Soros. I now believe that to be the case more than ever. George Soros might be the most evil man in the world, with intent to destroy America and every value we have held dear. Obama seems to be in lockstep with Soros' philosophies and simply a tool in Soros' world-changing strategies.

The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the "United States" ~~ George Soros

What we have in Soros, is a multi-billionaire atheist, with skewed moral values, and a sociopath's lack of conscience. He considers himself to be an elitist world class philosopher, despises the American Way and just loves to do social engineering (change cultures).

Gyargy Schwartz, better known to the world as George Soros, was born August 12, 1930 in Hungary. Soros' father, Tivadar, was a fervent practitioner of Esperanto a language invented in 1887, and designed to be the first global language, free of any national identity. The Schwartz's, who were non-practicing Jews, changed the family name to Soros, in order to facilitate assimilation into the gentile population, as the Nazis spread into Hungary during the 1930s. When Hitler's henchman Adolf Eichmann arrived in Hungary, to oversee the murder of that country's Jews, George Soros ended up with a man whose job was confiscating property from the Jewish population. Soros went with him on his rounds. Soros has repeatedly called 1944 "the best year of his life." "70% of Mr. Soros's fellow Jews in Hungary, nearly a half-million human beings, were annihilated in that year yet he gives no sign that this put any damper on his elation, either at the time or indeed in retrospect."

During an interview with "Sixty Minute's" Steve Kroft, Soros was asked about his "best year:"

KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

SOROS: Yes. Yes.

KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from your fellow Jews, friends and neighbors.

SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.

KROFT: I mean, that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

SOROS: Not, not at all. Not at all, I rather enjoyed it..

KROFT: No feeling of guilt?

SOROS: No, only feelings of absolute power.

After WWII, Soros attended the London School of Economics, where he fell under the thrall of fellow atheist and Hungarian, Karl Popper, one of his professors. Popper was a mentor to Soros until Popper's death in 1994. Two of Popper's most influential teachings concerned "the open society," and Fallibilism. Fallibilism is the philosophical doctrine that all claims of knowledge could, in principle, be mistaken. Then again, I could be wrong about that. The "open society" basically refers to a "test and evaluate" approach to social engineering. Regarding "open society" Roy Childs writes, Since the Second World War, most of the Western democracies have followed Popper's advice about piecemeal social engineering and democratic social reform, and it has gotten them into a grand mess.

In 1956 Soros moved to New York City , where he worked on Wall Street, and started amassing his fortune. He specialized in hedge funds and currency speculation. Soros is absolutely ruthless, amoral, and clever in his business dealings, and quickly made his fortune. By the 1980s he was well on his way to becoming the global powerhouse that he is today.

In an article Kyle-Anne Shiver wrote for "The American Thinker" she says, "Soros made his first billion in 1992 by shorting the British pound with leveraged billions in financial bets, and became known as the man who broke the Bank of England . He broke it on the backs of hard- working British citizens who immediately saw their homes severely devalued and their life savings cut drastically, almost overnight."

In 1994 Soros crowed in "The New Republic" that "the former Soviet Empire is now called the Soros Empire." The Russia-gate scandal in 1999, which almost collapsed the Russian economy, was labeled by Rep. Jim Leach, then head of the House Banking Committee, to be "one of the greatest social robberies in human history." The "Soros Empire" indeed.

In 1997 Soros almost destroyed the economies of Thailand and Malaysia . At the time, Malaysia 's Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, called Soros "a villain, and a moron." Thai activist Weng Tojirakarn said, "We regard George Soros as a kind of Dracula. He sucks the blood from the


The website Greek national Pride reports, "[Soros] was part of the full court press that dismantled Yugoslavia and caused trouble in Georgia , Ukraine and Myanmar [ Burma ]. Calling himself a philanthropist, Soros' role is to tighten the ideological stranglehold of globalization and

the New World Order while promoting his own financial gain. He is without conscience; a capitalist who functions with absolute amorality."

France has upheld an earlier conviction against Soros, for felony insider trading. Soros was fined 2.9 million dollars.

Recently, his native Hungary fined Soros 2.2 million dollars for "illegal market manipulation." Elizabeth Crum writes that "The Hungarian economy has been in a state of transition as the country seeks to become more financially stable and westernized. [Soros'] deliberately driving down the share price of its largest bank put Hungary's economy into a wicked tailspin, one from which it is still trying to recover.

My point here is that Soros is a planetary parasite. His grasp, greed, and gluttony have a global reach.

But what about America ? Soros told Australia 's national newspaper "The Australian"

"America , as the centre of the globalised financial markets, was sucking up the savings of the world. This is now over. The game is out," he said, adding that the time has come for "a very

serious adjustment" in American's consumption habits. He implied that he was the one with the power to bring this about..

Soros: "World financial crisis was" stimulating" and "in a way, the culmination of my life's work."

Obama has recently promised 10 billion of our tax dollars to Brazil, in order to give them a leg-up in expanding their offshore oil fields. Obama's largesse towards Brazil, came shortly after his financial backer George Soros invested heavily in Brazilian oil (Petrobras).

Tait Trussel writes, "The Petrobras loan may be a windfall for Soros and Brazil , but it is a bad deal for the U.S. The American Petroleum Institute estimates that oil exploration in the U.S. could create 160,000 new, well-paying jobs, as well as $1.7 trillion in revenues to federal, state, and local governments, all while fostering greater energy security and independance."

A blog you might want to keep an eye on is This blog is dedicated to all who have suffered due to the ruthless financial pursuits of George Soros. Your stories are many and varied, but the theme is the same: the destructive power of greed without conscience. We pledge to tirelessly watch Soros wherever he goes and to print the truth in the hope that he will one day be made to stop preying upon the world's poor; that justice will be served.

In 1997 Rachel Ehrrenfeld wrote, "Soros uses his philanthropy to change or more accurately deconstruct the moral values and attitudes of the Western world, and particularly of the American people. His "open society" is not about freedom; it is about license. His vision rejects the notion of ordered liberty, in favor of an PROGRESSIVE ideology of rights and entitlements."

Perhaps the most important of these "whistle blowers" are David Horowitz and Richard Poe. Their book "The Shadow Party" outlines in detail how Soros hijacked the Democratic Party, and now owns it lock, stock, and barrel. The Shadow Party became the Shadow Government, which

became the Obama Administration. (another good source) writes, "By his ['Soros'] own admission, he helped engineer coups in Slovakia, Croatia, Georgia, and Yugoslavia . When Soros targets a country for "regime change," he begins by creating a shadow government-in-exile, ready to assume power when the opportunity arises. The Shadow Party he has built in America greatly resembles those he has created in other countries prior to instigating a coup."

November 2008 edition of the German magazine "Der Spiegel," in which Soros gives his opinion on what the next POTUS (President of the U.S. ) should do after taking office. "I think we need a large stimulus package..." Soros thought that around 600 billion would be about right.

Soros also said that "I think Obama presents us a great opportunity to finally deal with global warming and energy dependence. The U.S. needs a cap and trade system with auctioning of licenses for emissions rights."

Although Soros doesn't (yet) own the Republican Party, like he does the Democrats, make no mistake, his tentacles are spread throughout the Republican Party as well.

Soros is a partner in the Carlyle Group where he has invested more than 100 million dollars. According to an article by 'The Baltimore Chronicle's' Alice Cherbonnier, the Carlye Group is run by "a veritable who's who of former Republican leaders," from CIA man Frank Carlucci, to CIA head [and ex-President] George Bush, Sr. In late 2006, Soros bought about 2 million shares of Halliburton, Dick Cheney's old stomping grounds.

And I must not forget to mention Soros' involvement with the MSM (Main Stream Media), the entertainment industry (e.g. he owns 2.6 million shares of Time Warner), and the various political advertising organizations he funnels millions to. In short, George Soros controls or influences most of the MSM.

As Matthew Vadum writes, "The liberal billionaire-turned-philanthropist has been buying up media properties for years in order to drive home his message to the American public that they are too materialistic, too wasteful, too selfish, and too stupid to decide for themselves how to run their own lives." Richard Poe writes, "Soros' private philanthropy, totaling nearly $5 billion, continues undermining America 's traditional Western values. His giving has provided funding

of abortion rights, atheism, drug legalization, sex education, euthanasia, gun control, globalization, mass immigration, gay marriage and other radical experiments in social engineering."

Some of the many NGOs (None Government Organizations) that Soros funds with his billions are:, the Apollo Alliance , Media Matters for America , the Tides Foundation, the ACLU, ACORN, PDIA (Project on Death In America ), La Raza, and many more. For a more complete list, with brief descriptions of the NGOs, go to DiscoverTheNetworks .org.

Poe continues, "Through his global web of Open Society Institutes and Open Society Foundations, Soros has spent 25 years recruiting, training, indoctrinating and installing a network of loyal operatives in 50 countries, placing them in positions of influence and power in media, government, finance and academia." America stands at the brink of an abyss, and that fact is directly attributable to Soros. Soros has vigorously, cleverly, and insidiously planned the ruination of America and his puppet, Barak Obama is leading the way.

Soros was the original funding behind the Global Warming Hoax. For every 10 million Gore makes, Soros makes a billion.

This may explain what has been happening in our country as well as around the world. George Soros may well be The Most Evil Man In The World.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Peoria "Vision" Nears Completion

Back in year 2002, the "movers and shakers" in Peoria told me they had a vision that would heal all of Peoria's ills and make the City a prosperous regional draw. Part of the plan had been completed with the balance under construction or planned; the Gateway Center, the new restaurants on the river front, warehouses converted into condos, In-Play for kids entertainment, the new ball park, expansion of the Civic Center, an expanded Pere Marqette Hotel linked to the expanded Civic Center, the new RiverPlex, the expanded zoo, the new Riverfront Museum, the Caterpillar Visitors Center, the PPD Headquarters move to occupy the 33,000 sq. ft. former Lakeview Museum, the new Children's Playhouse to occupy the remodeled vacated PPD Pavilion, new parking lot at Glen Oak Park, a new Glen Oak School built partially on PPD Glen Oak Park, a new entrance to Glen Oak Park, new Harrison School and new and expanded public libraries.

Whew. Now if they can only get the money to finish this vision without driving more property taxpayers out of the County of Peoria. Those who move out know they can always come back to visit without paying for what I've long forecasted; rapidly escalating taxes, rising fees and new fees, shrinking services including security, Peoria's largest public school system that has long been under scrutiny by locals, parents and state officials, deteriorating and poverty stricken neighborhoods, some dominated by drug dealers, Big Al's, etc.

Peoria offers lot's of privately owned or privately supported tax paying positives from some of the best places to shop, good restaurants, entertainment of all kinds including an IMAX Theater, indoor tennis courts and ice rinks. Plus much more.

The vision will be completed by 2012, except for possibly the hotel. I hope the planners will pull it all together and make Peoria a true destination where people will come to spend and live.

In the meantime, the shares in the ball park that I paid $50,000 for in 1994 are still for sale. $29,000 these days will let you be more involved in the vision. These shares would make a nice Christmas gift and it would help make my Christmas a prosperous one. You could boast that you own part of a Minor League Ball Club. I stopped boasting when I was told we were moving from Meinen Field to the Industrial and Warehouse District. Beautiful field, though, but apparently lacking in enough paying attendance to make any return to date on my investment.

Yes, well paying attendance to all of Peoria's taxpayer supported enhancements would really make the "vision" come true. Plus a little bit more loosening of the wealthy private sectors purse strings to make their vision come true. Hint; the PRM.

Meanwhile, two interesting books to read over the holidays; David Callahan's, "Fortunes of Change", the rise of the Liberal Rich, and Michael Savage's, "Trickle up Poverty".

Heart of Illinois Sustainability Consortium Grant

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission announced on 10/14/10 that they had received an $1.2 million grant to be used to plan for economic, housing, food, social and cultural sustainability. The Tri-County folks say this money will be used to expand the scope of sustainability planning in this region and to begin implementing recommendations from The Big Plan completed about a month ago. (I doubt that then news medias have fully explained to the taxpayer exactly what The Big Plan is??)

Commission Chairman Mike Phelan say "Many of the things we can do to strengthen and enhance our communities, our neighborhoods and our economy require region approaches. For example, poorly planned development in rural and suburban areas not only stresses government budgets in providing service to those developments, it saps vitality out of our older neighborhoods. (I ask if this might not be a slap to the City of Peoria for pushing development in the growth cells which require expanded service from the already short funded security forces, the highway department, the planning department and health dept., etc.?) The fact that we are closing schools just a short distance from where we now need to build new schools (I ask is this a slap at the confused folks at #150, is this confusion that prompted Parker and Stowell to seek positions on the County Board and City Council?) is a strong indication that there are things we can do to make better use of our financial resources if we are willing to do the hard work involved with long range planning. We can do better than we have in the past...........etc."

All I can say is follow the money and see what gets implemented. From past history, few people do "follow the money".


We've Been Warned Where This Great Country is Heading

Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.

A t 5, began studying under his cousins tutor.

A t 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.

A t 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.

A t 16, entered the College of William and Mary.

A t 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.

A t 23, started his own law practice.

A t 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.

A t 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America " and retired from his law practice.

A t 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

A t 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence .

A t 33, took three years to revise Virginia ’s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.

A t 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.

A t 40, served in Congress for two years.

A t 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John A dams.

A t 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.

A t 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.

A t 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of Republican Party.

A t 57, was elected the third president of the United States .

A t 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation’s size.

A t 61, was elected to a second term as President.

A t 65, retired to Monticello .

A t 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.

A t 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.

A t 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence along with John A dams

Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe .
Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Thomas Jefferson

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
Thomas Jefferson

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
Thomas Jefferson

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

Forwarded to me by a friend. I don't have to be a highly religous person to see where this counry is headed. Obama is aided and abetted by millions, many of them employees of the burgeoning public sector, the poplist unions, hundreds of thousands of attorneys needed to intepret the hundreds of thousands of laws, those who already have made their billions and those who receive handouts from the private sector taxpayers.

And those who do not read history or have enough education or care to understand the past.


Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

I wish we could get this out to everyone!!!

I'm doing my part. Please do yours......


Ethanol Comment - Posted on Blog "AFSCME" IN Error

Sorry, I posted on wrong blog. Please scroll down. I do know something about wearing out the land with fertilizers in less than 250 years. The first 19 years of my life were spent on a farm. My dad would not use fertilizer. Thousands of acres have been laid idle due to the sloppy rape by farmers who can only see one or two generations ahead.

My dad was interested in making a living, not a fortune. He knew how valuable the land would be to dozens of forthcoming generations.

And his family never took a dime welfare nor to my knowledge did any of his descendants. Subsidies, never, not to my knowledge.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Peoria County and the AFSCME Contract Negotiations

With the Peoria County Board made up of a majority of union members, it always gets a little dicey when it comes to contract talks. The AFSCME, known nationally as one of the most belligerent unions, always demands more and then more. The counties proposal allegedly offers each union member up to 15 days unpaid furlough each month, the county already pays 2/3 of all health insurance, allows up to 11 paid holidays, has a enviable pension plan, extremely generous sick leave, paid personal days and few if any time clocks to punch. If they show proof of working out at an approved health center, like the RiverPlex nearby, they can have their entire monthly bill paid by the taxpayer.

No private company could survive with the generous benefits paid by the county. Yes, I am somewhat resentful as the private sector nationwide receives maybe 40% below someone working in the public taxpayer supported sector.

The union which builds their reputation on protecting their older employees, competent or not, says they "will give them (County) the fight of their lives".

It's not too late to sell Bel-Wood.

You really didn't think that Peoria County would sell Bel-Wood, did you? With around 160 union employees employed there?

I'm ready and able to go back to work if the county needs me. Maybe I could build up my only monthly pension of $116 a month.

My advice to the County Board is too stay with the generous plan proposed. The unemployed in this county would love to have these jobs.

I Lost my Links. Please Help me Rebuild Them

When Blogroller ceased operations, I lost my list of links. Bill Dennis has helped me restore most of them. If you were accidentally deleted please contact myself of Bill; that is if you want to be on my sidebar. I would like to be linked to more bloggers and in return be listed on your sidebar links.

Sorry and thanks.

Things your Burglar Won't Tell You

Passed on to me by friends. The best are near the end.


Common sense applied in a vigorous way.



1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste... and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it..

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house.. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door - understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)
10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at http://www.faketv/.com/)


1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.

4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.

7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.

8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina , Oregon , California , and Kentucky ; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.

Protection for you and your home:
If you don't have a gun, here's a more humane way to wreck someone's evil plans for you.


A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection.. Thought this was interesting and might be of use.

On the heels of a break-in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self-defense experts have a tip that could save your life.

Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School . For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed.
Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them."
Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says, "spray the culprit in the eyes". It's a tip he's given to students for decades. It's also one he wants everyone to hear. If you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray.

"That's going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out." Maybe even save a life.

Put your car keys beside your bed at night.
Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr.'s office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies. This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

I am sending this to everyone I know because I think it is fantastic. Would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem.

Please pass this on even IF you've read it before. It's a reminder.



Peoria/City County 2011 Wish List

I promised my readers this priority wish list report a week or so ago. Here it is.

One item originally presented by myself in 2004 to the Peoria County Board who approved and then to our legislative bodies, was a law that would require homeowners with private sewage disposal systems, to be have these sewer systems inspected on a regular basis. My suggestion that the older ones be inspected every 3 years and the newer ones meeting code, once every 5 years. It is probably unknown to most homeowners with old sewage systems that improperly cleansed sewage systems contaminate the groundwater. Private sewage system disposal systems are considered by the EPA as a major factor in groundwater pollution. My belief that the bill is hung up in the legislature because it would mostly affect the farmers and townships. There are an estimated 30,000+ private systems in the entire spread of Peoria County. Those up for election don't go out of there way to lose voters.

Where are our vocal environmentalists? Radicals always attack the big (See the JS todeay) because that's how they get their publicity and funds from the elite wealthy do-gooders.

I note that the radical environmentalists so active in Peoria County have paid no attention to this private sewage pollution same as they have paid no attention to what appears to be 7 acres of "no trespassing" land that was once an ammunition dump last owned, to my knowledge, by a Canadian Company. This land is to the South of and adjacent to the PDC Hazardous Waste landfill at Pottstown, a waste facility so violently under attack by local environmental groups who continue to use the word "toxic" in every description of this 30+ year old carefully tended landfill.

The no trespassing signs posted everywhere near this 60 year abandoned dump indicate danger and most likely to the waterway that flows through it into the Kickapoo and then into the Illinois River. I understand 3 concrete buildings on the site have no windows and steel doors heavily protected from any entry.


Back to the the wish-list. You can find it in today's JS. High on the list is streamlining the election commissions that is a no-brainer. That is if properly sold to the public and a stubborn City Council who has opposed each referendum to combine. Perhaps "streamlining" means to combine, as appeared on the 2004 referendum. Anyone who can understand figures would immediately see a savings to property tax owners of more than $300,000.00 each year. I srongly supported the 2004 referendum which failed by a vote of 8000 to 6000.

If it is really on the cities wish list, just get it done. Or perhaps it's easier for the council to raise taxes and fees.

Another wish is to "pursue appropriate Medicaid reimbursements for Bel-Wood Nursing Home". Typical thinking of politicians. Why not pursue proper reimbursement to the private owned nursing homes against which Bel-Wood competes? Someone clue me if the private sector isn't in the same boat.

Another wish is to legalize concealed carry, legislation I have strongly supported.

Another wish is "to continue with public safety pension reforms". Why not only public safety? Did you note what 6 figure pensions local educators receive? Ken Hinton, former Peoria School District #150 Superintendent,who was a perfect example of the Peter Principle, receives among other benefits, an astounding $166,237.00 pension handout a year. (JS November 10, 2010). John Garrett and Ed Griffin, also are examples of the PP, draw $150,000.00 a year pensions for life.

Now the wish list from the bankrupt state gets more interesting. "Funding assistance with the following city road projects, $60 million for road projects including kick starting the long envisioned extension of Pioneer Parkway to RT. 6.

I see nothing about the once projected $100-300 million sewer renovation. Peoria City/County both continue to pollute the Illinois River while we build and desire more $17 million islands in the Illinois River for out sportpeople and habitat. These sportpeople are probably people who won't be attending the taxpayer largely funded zoo expansion and the new museum.

In the meantime the Fed's money printing presses are running 24/7, the state can't pay its bills and the Chinese keep selling us cheap merchandise, stealing our (and Russia's) military private design secrets while lending us more money on which we can't afford to pay the interest.

Then we need money for Southtown Development, the Warehouse District, the YWCA needs at least $3 million, the new museum remains underfunded, how much, who knows, creative bookkeeping? Financial figures from the PRM Committees are closely held; the jail is overcrowded and our infrastructure is going downhill, the poor get poorer and more dollars are needed for charity and welfare. I'll list more "needs" later that are probably properly labeled as wishes.

Anyway, folks, try not to be negative. The stores need your dollars, our workforce need jobs and the credit card companies are making a "bundle".

Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to all.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Can't be Done in the Public School Sector

A good speech but it could never be made in a public school. Too many lawsuits and not enough guts by the School Board. Or the apathetic communities. Or the ACLU. Or the left-leaning bleeding liberals, or the ...................


A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give

By Dennis Prager

If every school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America , one of its three central values -- e pluribus unum, "from many, one." And this school will be guided by America 's values.

This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America 's citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English -- but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using the f-word, you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as "Nigger," even when used by one black student to address another black, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Peoria County Receives Museum Garage Money

In 2007, then Congressman Ray LaHood promised to put $3.6 million in the Federal National Highway Bill; this money to be used to help construct the underground parking garage for the CAT Visitors Center and the PRM. It was confirmed today by Peoria County Administrator that almost all of the money has been received with the final payment to be received on completion of the garage.

The recent passing of the Facility Tax Referendum assures the completion of the museum building itself. It is unknown to the public how much other cash is on hand to complete the counties portion of the estimated $94 million, possibly less, museum project.

It is believed that the $5 million promised by Governor Quinn will be received in partial payments but none of this $5 million of taxpayers dollars has been received to date.

My question has always been "show me the money" as it is a known fact that this museum project will be eventually funded with as much as 70% coming from the taxpayer.

That was not the promise made by the PRM Committee to the County Board. The promise was that "it is not unusual for the taxpayer to support 33% of museum costs". Plus frequent statements that "nearly all the money has been raised". Since former Mayor Dave Ransburg has made a statement to the County Administrator that he will not only raise $10 million but $20 million, (surely he means NEW private dollars) it appears that after deducting the $14 million the PRM Committee has already spent minus the missing Endowment Funds, that many pledge dollars have not been collected.

It is a known fact that more than a million dollars of pledges were deemed non collectible according to financial statements released to the County Board for the fiscal years 2008-2009. It was unknown to me as a County Board member what pledge dollars were deemed noncollectable for fiscal year 2010 ending June, 30, 2010.

The PRM Committee Chair, Tom Bardwell, promised the board that an audit of pledges GUARANTEED would be taken. Those guaranteed figures were never shown to the full board.

Since it is estimated that approximately 80% of the visitors to the complex would be from the counties surrounding Peoria County, the museum will need MUCH more than the ISHA and African-American Hall of Fame and a wide digital screen, to keep these people coming back with regularity.

Once the museum and VC are built, this complex will add but a handful or less or high-paying jobs to the community. Also, discretionary spending to pay the extra sales tax and dollars spent at/for the museum, an estimated total of $7,000,000.00 a year, will not be available for spending at other local enhancements (zoo, ball park, Civic Center, etc,) spending.

If a large Endowment is not raised and the estimated yearly $4.3 operating costs, these costs rising each year, are not covered by revenues and if yearly attendance settles below the 240,000 visitors to the museum, additional funds will need to be raised, especially to cover the costs of the promised frequently changing of exhibits. The last operating statement I have seen from the PRM does show $500,000.00 will be raised yearly in fund drives.

It doesn't take an "expert' on museums to put all these happenings together to see that this museum project has fallen well below "expectations", these expectations supported by a $600,000.00 advertising campaign made by museum supporters before the referendum slid through by a mere 400 out of 30,000 cast votes.

My blogs and my votes are based on facts and it would please me if the museum's strong supporters overcome the negatives of these facts and make this project a success that will help "grow" the tax collecting base of the County of Peoria. No doubt it is creating needed new jobs for the present and near future.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Ethanol on the Run

"Finally, a left-right coalition is emerging to end ethanol subsidies", so writes the WSJ Editorial Board on 12/6. 17 Senators signed a letter calling ethanol "fiscally indefensible" and "environmentally unwise". Most of us have known this for years (I have a quarter inch folder on the pros and cons; if you are a corn farmer, you are pro) yet the Obama administration is attempting to raise the percentage of ethanol mixed in gasoline from the current 10% to 15%. The WSJ Editors quote the senators, "Historically our government has helped a product to compete in one of three ways; subsidize it, protect it from competition, or require its use. We understand that ethanol may be the only product receiving all three forms of support from the U.S. government at this time."

Since ethanol supporters always point out the subsidies received by big oil, you might want to read "Facts About Subsidies for Oil", also on the editorial page of today's WSJ. It takes 4 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol but Cornell ecology professor David Pimentel says when you count all the water including growing the corn, trucking the ethanol, (most people don't know that corn ethanol must be transported by truck as it won't flow through pioes like oil) etc., a staggering 1700gallons of water are actually needed to produce one gallon of the $.51 a gallon tax subsidized ethanol.

Alan Guebert, a reputable columnist wrote in the JS on 11/14/06, "Revealing truths about the ethanol 'solution'", that Purdue University calculated that if oil was a $70 a barrel and corn $3.15 a bushel puts a sweet $1.40 a bushel of pure profit into the pockets of the ethanol blenders. On November 28, 2006, Guebert wrote "Ethanol's hopes rest on unanswered questions" and an ethanol over-production bust is on the horizon."

That horizon arrived and many farmers, and other speculators, went bust.

But not because of efforts by farmer backed Aaron Schock who worked to win support for his 15%, eventually 20% blended ethanol compulsory legislation (JS 1/08) eventually passes. Chuck Grassley from Iowa is desperate to keep the $.54 gallon U.S. tariff on sugar-based ethanol from Brazil causing the rest of us to pay more when we fill up our tanks with corn ethanol-blended gasoline.

Jim McConoughey, although he faired poorly in his run against Schock, got it right when he supported efforts for more research for alternate energy but would not support the ethanol mandated subsidies forever.

Did I ever tell you that politics is almost all about special interests and it's a dirty game? No wonder so few people even register to vote or even then cast a ballot in any election.

As for all farm belt politicians up for re-election year after year, they have to count the votes from the corn farmers, almost all who vote in elections. Every stance they take has to be weighed by how the voters will react.

I did not vote to get re-elected. I researched and voted for what I considered in the best interest of my community. Special interest groups did not offer to help fund my elections nor did I ask them for money.

Claims that increased use of corn for fuel increases food prices, that fertilizer runoff has created a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico are true but those who get paid these hefty subsidies are not about to agree.

"Waiting For Superman" - Union Need For Reform

I haven't at yet seen this highly recommended documentary but this article below pretty much sums up what I have been saying for almost 2 decades. Through school board meeting, letters to the editors (my last one in the November Issue of Community Word), and my blogs. If you are concerned about the quality of education many of our kids are receiving, I ask that you read this article, view the documentary, read today's WSJ, "American Teens Trailing In Math", by Laurin Etter, "California's Parent Revolution", a WSJ Editorial, and "New Player in D.C. Schools", by Stephanie Banchero and Neil King Jr., plus "Rhee Starts School-Advocacy Group", again by Ms. Banchero, all in today's WSJ.

It's not just the teachers, but administrators hired by the number of degrees they hold, the teaching colleges, unpaid and unqualified board members and communities in different states of apathy.


From the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, November 7, 2010. See,0,1523485.story
Influence of teachers unions in question

The groups have been slow to come to terms with the push for reform. Some see them as obstacles to change, and even union sympathizers agree that their voice in the education debate has been muted.

By Mitchell Landsberg

Teachers unions have a well-deserved reputation for exercising political clout. With a nearly unparalleled ability to raise cash and organize their ranks, they have elected school boards, influenced legislation and helped set the public school agenda in major American cities for decades.

Now, that clout is in question.

A nationwide school reform movement with bipartisan support has collided head-on with unions over three ideas that labor has long resisted: expansion of charter schools, the introduction of merit pay for teachers and the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

Even the long-held protections and prerogatives conferred by seniority and tenure no longer seem sacrosanct.

"To say that we're under attack is an understatement," Los Angeles teachers union vice president Julie Washington told an angry audience of her members recently. "This is a wakeup call for all of us."

It's not that unions have been slumbering, but they have been slow to come to terms with the surging momentum for reform. Critics see them as obstacles to change; even union sympathizers agree that their voice in the education debate has been muted.

"The big ideas that are being debated are not the ideas that they put there," said Charles Kerchner, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University, who has written several books about teachers unions. "They're not forming the agenda."

Or as Jay Greene, a New York-based education researcher and union critic, recently blogged: "We won! At least we've won the war of ideas."

Unions' headaches begin at the top, with President Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, Democrats who have pursued an agenda that builds substantially on the policies of Republican President George W. Bush.

Teachers unions donate almost exclusively to Democratic politicians and have usually been able to count on their support. Obama has disappointed them - and the feeling appears to be mutual.

Asked recently whether teachers unions were getting in the way of progress, the president said: "I'm a strong supporter of the notion that a union can protect its members and help be part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem. What is also true is that sometimes means they are resistant to change when things are not working."

Locally, opposition from a strong union, United Teachers Los Angeles, hasn't been enough to stop the creation of more charter schools than in any other city in the country. These schools - independently operated and publicly financed - are sometimes unionized, but most are not.

Across the country, dozens of states and school districts have proposed or instituted changes in the way they evaluate teachers to take into account how much their students improve on standardized tests. In Los Angeles, some district officials are pushing to rate individual teachers in this way - over strenuous union objections.

The pressure has grown since August, when The Times published a database [] that rated about 6,000 elementary school teachers using the "value-added" method. A series of articles underscored significant differences in teachers' influence on test scores, even within the same schools []. Union leaders unsuccessfully urged the newspaper to take down the database, saying it was unfair and based on flawed results. The union has called for a boycott of the newspaper and alleged, among other things, that a teacher killed himself in response to a "less effective" rating in the database.

In October, UTLA expressed outrage at the district over a proposed legal settlement with civil rights attorneys that could threaten a longstanding "last hired, first fired" principle. The union had been part of the negotiations but ended up on the sidelines.

In New York City, the United Federation of Teachers was left fuming too, as school officials there announced plans to release teacher evaluation data to the public despite an earlier promise that they would try to keep the information private.

These developments hardly mean the unions have become impotent.

"They're still plenty powerful," Greene said. "They still have millions of dollars and millions and millions of members."

Union supporters say organized labor has not been given enough credit for its own efforts to reform education - for instance, efforts by UTLA to establish charter-like "pilot schools." And, they insist, there is scant evidence that the education reforms championed by Obama, Duncan and others will do anything to improve schools.

"I think a lot of the politicians Š are looking for a quick fix, and they're looking for a scapegoat, and the scapegoat in this case is the teachers," said Kirti Baranwal, a teacher and union representative at Gompers Middle School in South Los Angeles.

Not so many years ago, teachers unions were popular and powerful advocates for education reform in major U.S. cities, pushing through winning changes in Los Angeles, New York and other districts that gave teachers significant power over what and how they taught and gave schools leeway to manage themselves.

In many ways, their sway is still felt: They continue to spend vast sums to support candidates and issues at the federal, state and local levels.

In 2008, the single largest contributor to state and federal campaigns was the National Education Assn., which spent $56 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The California Teachers Assn. has spent $211 million in the last decade trying to influence state campaigns, roughly double the amount of the next largest group, according to a report by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

In local school board campaigns, not only are unions usually the largest spender by far, they typically supply the largest volunteer force of campaign workers.

"They have activists ringing doorbells and making phone calls," said Terry Moe, a professor at Stanford University whose work focuses on teachers unions. "They are awesome. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the teachers unions if you're a politician."

And yet, as the national focus has shifted toward holding teachers and schools accountable for students' academic achievement, even long-time supporters have been willing to buck the unions and risk the consequences.

State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) enjoyed strong union support - until she became an outspoken advocate for charter schools, value-added assessments and other changes. When she ran for the nomination for state superintendent of public instruction this year, the CTA shunned her and heavily supported one of her opponents, Tom Torlakson, who won the post last week. Although Romero may have been the best-known figure heading into the June primary, she finished third.

She isn't alone among labor-friendly politicians in breaking ranks - at least once in a while.

On the day Steve Zimmer was sworn in as a member of the L.A. Board of Education, the leadership of UTLA had reason to be satisfied, if not smug.

As a teacher at Marshall High School, Zimmer had been an active member of the union, which represents 40,000 teachers. The union shelled out more than $350,000 for his campaign. In his first speech on the board, Zimmer spoke movingly of a commitment to trade unionism rooted in his great-grandparents' battles to organize Brooklyn garment workers.

Within minutes of that speech July 1, 2009, the board took up a proposal that would turn over some campuses to outside entities, including charter operators - anathema to the union.

Zimmer sided with the majority in favor of the plan and against the leadership of the union.

"That vote," Zimmer said recently, "cost me lifelong friendships."

Zimmer has rarely differed with the union since then. Still, he represents in some ways the new complexity facing teachers unions. He is an alumnus of Teach For America, which places college graduates in low-performing schools. They are mostly a smart, liberal group, many of whom have been critical of teachers unions. (Indeed, perhaps their most famous alumna, Michelle Rhee, became the bete noire for unions nationally before she resigned last month as chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C.)

The problems of unions extend into the culture at large. Consider Davis Guggenheim, the director of "Waiting for 'Superman,' " a documentary that paints unions as enemies of reform. He said that, as a Democrat, he believes in "the essence" of unions but that they can be on the right side - or the wrong side - of change. Even Oprah Winfrey has joined the fray, demanding to know, "Why can't you just fire bad teachers?"

A. J. Duffy, president of UTLA, said he believes that the challenges unions are facing are cyclical, not permanent, and that they are motivated by a pernicious corporate influence in education. "I think there's a fear that public education will be dismantled, rather than fixed."

Duffy said he sees his union as a driver of reform, but is skeptical - some would say recalcitrant - about the sort of measures favored by Duncan and others.

On teacher evaluations, he said, "if this breaks down to 'We're going to change the evaluation system just so we can have a tool to get rid of what we consider to be bad teachers,' then we will continue to fight. But if the district and the community wants to have a dialogue about what a meaningful evaluation system is, along with all the components that go into it, then we're there. We want it."

More perhaps than other union leaders, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has taken the stance that it's better to help shape changes than to be left out of the discussion. She has touted her support of contracts that embody some new reform elements, including value-added assessments.

"No teacher - myself included - wants a bad teacher in any classroom," Weingarten said in a speech to union delegates in July. She said teachers need to "lead and propose, not wait and oppose."

Adam Urbanski, a prominent advocate for union-backed change as president of the Rochester, N.Y., teachers union and director of the Teachers Union Reform Network, said he thinks all sides in the debate over public education need to be more flexible if schools are to get better.

"I think it'll be tough enough if we all pull together," he said, referring to unions, districts and everyone else. "We're dead in the water if we don't."
PHOTO SIDEBAR: Teacher Protest. Teachers and their supporters direct their slogans toward Los Angeles Times staffers on a balcony overlooking First Street as they protest Times articles on teachers' influence on test scores. (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times / November 7, 2010)

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]