Sunday, June 21, 2015

Andrew Rand - Peoria County Board Chairman Facing Troubling Times

Chairman Rand reported in the May issue of IB, in an interview labeled, "A Conversation Overdue" that "it was not long ago that Peoria County faced some very difficult issues because of undisciplined policies and spending. But in 2001. the Peoria County Board said 'enough' and adopted smart, conservative policies that maintain our fund balances, support our bond ratings and guide our spending habits. for more than a decade, the County has authorized balanced budgets and funded important priorities, despite the 2008 recession and the lagging recovery, which has been the slowest in 50 years."

What Democrat Chairman Rand said is true (Rand was elected by the Democrat controlled board after some rumored back room negotiations with Democrat Board Member, Mike Phelan), I believe that spending started again slowly going downhill in 2008 through today when the County Board overwhelmingly supported the failing Museum (the County Board borrowed the money to own this Peoria Riverfront Museum building, borrowed the money to fund a new $50 million plus county owned nursing home, Heddington Oaks, took over the Hanna City State owned Correctional Center, now in a severe state of dilapidation, paid over a million dollars to demolish a 47 year old Bel-Wood, was basically forced by a cash strapped City of Peoria to take over the Humane Society operations, despite that the major animal control problems are in the City, not the County, rising pension costs, salaries, etc.

It was interesting that the Journal Star, managing Editor of the Editorial Page, Barbara Manz Drake, took issue with me why I would run for a County Board seat in 2000, against an incumbent who Mrs. Drake said was doing such an outstanding job. The Editorial Board took great pains to stop my election by a seething Editorial supporting the incumbent, that they ran this Editorial 2 times to make sure they didn't leave out any readers. Despite their efforts, I won by 27% points and helped guide the County back to fiscal sanity.

However, despite the fact that Chairman Rand supported all of the above expenditures (you don't get elected by going against the majority as Rand Paul knows) I believe he is a shrewd businessman and will make every effort to bring back fiscal stability to the County. But if the nation goes into a financial spin downward as many predict, his job will become very difficult. That is why in his May article he calls on all the public bodies in Peoria County to "come together to discuss and define the magnitude of the problem."

Best wishes, Andrew. I believe, however, that the job is like being "a dollar short and a day late" The willingness of other public officials to do much in the way of combining and giving up control because of pressure from their constituents, many of whom are small special interest groups who feel they should not give up anything but other should instead.

Kind of sounds like the situation in Greece on a much smaller scale.

And, unfortunately, all public bodies in Peoria County are in a financial bind. I believe the taxpayer is going to be loser as I predicted many years ago on this site.

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