Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No poor old seniors at Sheridan and War Memorial - The City Gets its TIF

C. J. Summers of the Chronicle did a live blog from home of the council meeting tonight, so rather than repeat his excellent reporting, I'll just give you the highlights of what I heard.

You got to hand it to Barbara Van Auken. When the lady wants to give a speech, she can really give a speech. Doesn't even have to be based in facts. She knows how to form sentences and syllables so well, that you end up agreeing with her even when you know she is flat wrong. Her impassioned speech was about the Senior Housing project that would have been constructed at the corner of Sheridan and War Memorial. Her reasons were that 1) the neighbors didn't want it, 2) the zoning was wrong, 3) the cut through traffic would increase, and 4) the fire trucks and ambulances couldn't get through if the traffic was increased on Sheridan due to that Senior Housing. Zoning can, of course, be changed. The location would be across the street from the current Buehler Home, a residence for seniors, which doesn't seem to be prohibitive in traffic situations. Cut through Traffic? To where? The streets in that area are dead ends and cul de sacs, with not a lot of ways to cut through to anywhere except the residences of the white families in the area. And of course, no one wants to see the property values of those $100,000+ homes go to pot. I also noticed that the gallery of observers and citizens who were there to observe and potentially speak out against the issue (albeit they never got the opportunity) were white. And like the good citizens they are, they promptly left after they were assured that there would not be a senior residence at the location. Guess if you live in an area with $100,000 homes that are primarily populated by white people, "the neighbors don't want it" is sufficient reason to kill the project. Still not quite sure where Barbara is getting the Diverse part of her description of the neighborhood, but it sure did sound good.

Now one item caught my eye on the consent agenda, the one about $17,000+ for Police Duty Ammunition, with an additional $3,000+ for .45 caliber ammunition. I have no problem with the $13,000+ for Police Range ammo. Hey, I think all officers should practice Gun Control (hitting what you aim at). But $17,000+ for Duty Ammo? Exactly how many major gun battles have taken place in Peoria this last year? Folks, it's not like these things have expiration dates. When I was in the Navy, I could draw several hundred rounds each year for practice, and most of the boxes they handed us were from WWII manufacture. And they worked just fine. Not quite sure why they need to replace working ammo unless it is being expended.

I, of course, had to make a trip to my chiropractor after watching Dave Kinney do a 180 degree turn on the TIF. If you will recall, when the January 22nd council meeting took place, Dave and the Superintendent of Schools stood at the podium and begged the Council not to do the TIF because the frozen funds would hurt the already bleeding District 150 school budget. Ah, but the later agenda of the Council made clear the reason for the reversal. 10% of the TIF money will be set aside for Vocational Training to be done at the old Woodruff High School facility, which will now also house the kids on suspension from their home schools (read discipline problems). Gee, the price of cooperation is getting pretty cheap these days. 10% of an expected $95 million dollars over the next 23 years. About $434,000 a year. Now I am not quite sure what kind of vocational training they had in mind, but since the example made by one speaker, Wozniak, was a young person becoming a CNA (sheet changer, bedpan cleaner, etc.), this is certainly an OSF inspired idea to get 150 off their back and create a permanent underclass of "grunts" to do their (if you'll excuse the pun) shit work. No mention of automotive training or basic shop skills was made, and at that price, how could you? Tools, equipment, teachers who could actually teach auto mechanics are expensive, and these days require college level skills and classes. Same thing with shop classes. CNC systems are expensive, folks, ask the people at Caterpillar, who also now have a substantial presence at ICC. Oops, there we go again with the college level skills. So what kinds of vocations will they teach?

Riggenbach also made numerous mention of the meetings that had been held regarding the EVGC TIF. Let's see, there were two meetings that were entitled "TIF 101's" that were not meetings at all, but lessons on how the residential TIFs in two other Illinois cities worked (both of which are in financial straits, by the way). Then there was the last meeting, a "planning session" hosted by Ross Black where a white board was laid out with various options (one from column A, one from column B) to attempt to formulate a plan. But a plan was never agreed upon, even though the council voted today to create a plan. And while the other meetings were actual meetings to discuss why we should have a TIF at all, there were never any more than 40 or 50 people at these meetings. And most of those people were against the idea of the TIF.  But then again, we are talking about an area where the homes are assessed at between $35 to 60K, and the population is very diverse (Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics all live in the East Bluff). So I guess "the neighbors don't want it" doesn't apply if you come from an area where the average mean income is $36,009.50.

Notable attendees were George Azouri (who left with the crowd after the council killed the Senior Residence) and Chuck Weaver, who arrived a bit late but stayed for the end of the meeting. Obviously C. J. was listening as well. Also notable was the only Nay vote for the items regarding the TIF, Gary Sandberg.

Hope everyone is paying attention when April 5th rolls around.


  1. Why thank you, Ma'am. Coming from a blogger like yourself, I count that as high praise.