Monday, April 25, 2011

Ransburg's Museum Committee Still Holds Secret Meetings

I promised you an update on the unfunded Peoria Riverfront Museum now under construction. If you recall, about 10 months ago, Ransburg practically guaranteed he would raise the missing $10 of so million that might complete the funding. A usually reliable source says that two $500,000 anonymous pledges have been made since that statement was made and that another 3-4 million has either been received or pledged.

If you recall, the Journal Star Editorial Board, who had some doubts about this project in the beginning, wrote on 11/1/2009, the following: one of the few bright spots of the Illinois Legislature veto session was "that it guaranteed 5$ million in funds for the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Having 5$ million of capital construction money returned here to support a local project is not a tough call and we commend local legislators to be commended".

Now the truth. No $5 million has ever been received and it is now 18 months after this false "guarantee" and only $1.5 million has been vouchered but there are no funds to pass on to the PRM. And the other $3.5 million hasn't, and probably won't be, despite the best efforts of our free spending folks in Springfield, ever funded.

In the meantime, the facts are ($13,318,000.00) had been spent by 12/31/09, 16 months ago, without a shovel of dirt turned.

Did you catch the blatant misstatement by the museum people in the Peoria County News Bulletin? Here it is: "While the construction of the $52 million dollar Caterpillar Visitors Center will be funded by Caterpillar, the MAJORITY of the funds needed to construct the museum will be DONATED. Peoria Riverfront Museum administrators have raised $52.065,660 in PUBLIC funds for the construction of the museum. They have also COLLECTED $30,398,067 in PRIVATE donations."

Majority donated? I think not. Reporter Wes Schmidgall fits in the mold of low cost neophyte reporters who fail to note glaring errors in what they print. Or even some experienced reporters locally and nationally.

Don't count the $41-51 million from the Caterpillar Foundation as a "donation to the museum". Caterpillar is building that to publicize Caterpillar and in the hope that their action might help the museum draw.

Then Richerson is quoted as saying, "We received a number of significant pledges. They would ALL like to remain anonymous". What say? The latest info released by the museum people on donations of $50,000 or more listed two anonymous individuals, 3 anonymous companies and one anonymous couple and 24 individuals and companies by name including the Caterpillar Foundation which pledged $13.5 million (Source - Letter to Patrick Urich dated August 21. 2009). In addition Caterpillar donated $400,000 for site preparation and $1.2 million for the garage.

Summation: The museum committee of 25 or so meets in secret meetings because the money has yet to be collected. A pledge is a pledge and close to, or maybe more by now, $2 million pledges have been cancelled. (Source - Museum Financial statements through year end June 30, 2010.

I suggest when an announcement is made about museum funding they will add $5 million or so from the Public Facility Tax Referendum, taxpayer dollars, to help fund the endowment. I stand by my figures. The original $34.9 million, "The plan is for $34.9 million in committment from the County of Peoria." (Administraor Urich, Peoria County Board Agenda, 3/11/2010)

In little over one year that amount has risen to almost $42 million, not $34.9, all in taxpayer money to be taken from the "facility referendum" fund.

And no IMAX. Read Phil Luciano, JS reporter, the only JS reporter to tell "the rest of the story" in his 4/19/11 column, 'Leaders sell sizzle, deliver no steak'. Sizzle? I call them MIS-TRUTHS and expect them to continue.

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