Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reflections on the Race Case that wasn't...and the aftermath...

At times I have been corrected on my occasional rantings by other bloggers, so it comes as no surprise to anyone that I have decided to publish my own comments on the events as I see them, or rather, as I have seen and thought about them.

Last week, Paul Wilkinson, in my opinion, seriously damaged his credibility by filing what can only be deemed a false report of black youths "terrorizing" the neighborhood at West Thrush and Sheridan. From all reports, his claim was so exaggerated that it bears little resemblance to the facts reported by the other neighbors. The sad fact of the matter is that C. J. Summers, usually a very careful journalist, was sucked into his fantasy (nightmare?) and repeated the story, which was then rocketed across the nation in the infamous Drudge Report. While the reporting was untrue and unsubstantiated, it did accomplish several things.

First, it brought a plethora of attention to an otherwise local blog that now stands to make substantial funds from advertising dollars, should C. J. choose to pursue it (and in this economy, who wouldn't?). Second, it took everyone's attention off of several national issues, such as Medicare, the Economy, and some of President Obama's more lucid statements (as well as a few not so lucid statements). Last, it set race relations back a few months...or years.

Opinion writing is just that. Opinions. When I write this blog about council meetings or other events, I try to be accurate about what has gone on before I start spouting my personal opinion. I believe that to be responsible. If I misquote or miss a fact, I say so and apologize, so as not to unfairly criticize or be just downright rude.

But I have never crossed the "Sky is falling" line. Chicken Little will never be my sole source for any information I present here.

Too bad others don't feel the same way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm back...and so is the council.....

First the good news....Tonight the city council of Peoria honored a group of students who will represent our fair city in Germany later this year. The group, a percussion group called Pulses of Hope, a branch of the ELITE Program, is one more offshoot of the well known youth advocate, Carl Cannon. Carl's many contributions to our community could only be described as impressive, and it is with great respect and pride that I can say I know the man, and admire his enthusiasm and passion for the children of our community. We are a better place for his efforts, and we are truly blessed to have him. Well done to the young men and women of Pulses of Hope, and well done, Mr. Cannon.

And now, the bad news. Once again bureaucracy wins out over common sense and fiscal responsibility.

In the form of Item G on the consent agenda, the awarding of the Exclusive Contract to Barracks and Chefs Catering for catering services to the great Peoria Money pit known as the Gateway Building. Surprisingly, it was Councilperson Van Auken who moved to remove this from the consent agenda and objected to the awarding of only two services, saying the original plan was to have four services instead. Guess one of her campaign contributors didn't get the bid. Anyway, the ensuing discussion brought out some interesting points, with Sandberg interjecting that the Gateway building was, indeed, a money pit that has failed to show a profit. He insisted that this latest move was simply doing the same thing and expecting different results (the definition of insanity). Gary favors an open bid process, which was also supported by Gulley, and Beth Akeson suggested that the building simply be rented to groups who would then provide or arrange for their own catering. There were several other suggestions, but when it came down to it, the measure passed with only one nay vote, Sandberg. Even the fiscal conservative Akeson went along with the ludicrous proposal, although the word Exclusive was removed from the proposal, leaving the door open for other caterers to get the contract as well. Frankly, Beth, I would have had more respect for you if you had stuck to your suggestion and voted no with Sandberg.

The remainder of the items went fairly smooth until item 8 came up, the improvement of West Ridge Road with ornamental street lamps. Four of the residents were granted time on the microphone (Tom Stafford, Cathy Kiley, Kevin Sibley, and a fourth speaker, I did not catch their name), and all four were opposed to the idea on the grounds of financial hardship (the city will assess the property owners for a portion of the improvements). A petition was cited which was circulated 4 years ago for the approval of this project, and it was pointed out that many of those residents no longer live in that area or on that street. Apparently 64 signatures were on that petition, and there has been a 60% turnover in the residents of the area since that time. There has to be some sort of obligation being met somewhere, since Councilman Riggenbach, in his fair and unbiased manner, pointed out that he had received 17 calls in favor of the motion and only 3 opposed. Interesting that, when the floor was given to the public, none of those in favor were there to speak. Long story short, the motion passed, with only Gulley objecting. You heard me, Gulley, not Sandberg. Had to be some heavy politicking somewhere.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Barbara Van Auken wins the "WTF" award tonight for her support of the ludicrous idea to make the section of Loucks Avenue that runs from Sheridan to McClure a two way street to "enhance business accessibility". Really? Barbara, there aren't any businesses between Sheridan and McClure on Loucks. The neighborhood on those blocks are all residential. Furthermore, if you did turn the street two way, when you reached the end of Loucks, you would have to turn right. There are no provisions for creating a left turn lane onto McClure, so you would be turning back into the same area you were attempting to leave. I have absolutely no idea why anyone in their right mind would even think of such an idea. I travel that route daily, since I live off McClure on the East Bluff, and can tell you for a fact that this would do nothing to improve traffic, enhance business, or do anything else that might look like an improvement. One more way to waste taxpayer dollars, I guess.

Noticed also that Councilman Weaver ended up abstaining on several issues due to owning property in the affected areas. Chuck, is there any area of town where you don't own property?

Had to leave at 8 pm, so I didn't catch the rest of the show. I'll check C.J.'s remarks to see what I missed.