There is a clear choice for candidates running for both mayor and alderman in Bloomington. Most of the current council wants to redevelop downtown Bloomington. Some candidates have stated in interviews that downtown is the future of Bloomington. If the wrong people are elected, downtown Bloomington could become “Uptown”.
2 of the mayor candidates have served on the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, an un-elected body funded in large part by the Illinois Department of Transportation. This commission has extensive “advisory ” plans for all areas of local government, meaning local control is a fallacy. The local City Council didn’t come up with the Gateway idea, it was brought to them along with grant money. Other recent projects involve bike paths. If you believe decisions should be made by the elected alderman, these 2 candidates are not likely to share your view: Tari Renner and John Hanson.
City employees and retirees should be very worried about pension funding. John Hanson has publicly stated that Springfield needs to do pension reform before he is interested in funding the pensions. According to Fitch ratings:
WEAK PENSION FUNDING
The city participates in three pension plans, all of which are poorly funded. The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) is 30.3% funded using Fitch’s 7% return assumption, up from 16% two years earlier but still inadequate. The city’s police and firemen’s pensions are a weak 55.2% and 48.7% funded, respectively. The city has increased funding to the police and fire plans in recent years and is anticipating larger payments to improve funding for IMRF. Fitch views these pension plans as a credit concern for the city and any material deterioration in funding levels could apply negative pressure to the rating.
The city funds its other post-employment benefits (OPEB) on a pay-go basis. Total carrying costs for debt, pension and OPEB are a moderate 22.8% of fiscal 2012 governmental expenses. The anticipated decline in debt service costs after fiscal 2014 should help the city offset expected increases in pension payments.
I’m not sure what anticipated decline in debt they are referring to. The financial statements show large payments on bond debt starting in 2018: http://blnnews.com/2013/02/01/bloomington-finances-2/
Other Fitch concerns:
MODERATE DEBT BURDEN
Overall debt is somewhat elevated at 4.9% of market value and $3,456 per capita. The majority of the city’s overall debt is overlapping debt from local school districts – direct debt is more manageable, and the city has no large debt issues planned. Amortization is moderate with 62% of GO debt retired within 10 years. Barring the issuance of any unplanned debt, direct debt costs will decline noticeably in the next few years.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
PENSION CONCERNS: Pension funding levels are very low, with increased funding needs likely creating financial pressures in the future.
STATE FARM CONCENTRATION: State Farm Insurance is a major employer and taxpayer in Bloomington, which could present budgetary pressure should there be any future instability at the company.
With all these concerns, who serves as alderman is vital to the citizens finances. Keeping the current council intact will continue to produce spending and decisions unpopular with citizens. Many have expressed disagreement to bar a jazz club downtown. Meanwhile, the roads continue to deteriorate with not nearly enough money allocated to fixing them.
Electing John Hanson would be a disaster. The GOP is backing him only because he calls himself GOP. He calls himself a conservative. As previously reported, John has voted in the past for tax increases, Bloomington Downtown Development spending, and giving money to the Economic Development Council. http://blnnews.com/2013/02/26/vetting-john-hanson-the-record/. In addition, he was a member of the Steering Committee for the Downtown Bloomington Association: http://blnnews.com/2013/01/28/vetting-john-hanson/ He has also said he will not lead as mayor. That means David Hales will be running Bloomington by attempting to build consensus with the sitting alderman. Another note: if you saw him in one of the debates, he would be the last guy you would vote for. As he said, he would not lead. that’s not his style. If you are GOP and voting for Hanson just because he is GOP, you are part of the problem. Republicans used to stand for limited government and fiscal responsibility. With candidates like Hanson, they no longer do.
Electing Tari Renner is problematic on many levels. Renner is considered a conservative because of his time on the County Board. However, he has heavy union support and long ties to Barack Obama. http://blnnews.com/2012/07/30/vetting-tari-renner-continues/
http://blnnews.com/2013/02/25/vetting-tari-renner-obama/ Dick Durbin endorsed Tari in his last run for mayor. http://blnnews.com/2012/06/15/vetting-tari-renner-part-3-2/
It very difficult to paint Renner with a conservative brush when he has ties to many people who aren’t. Add one more item:
Why is somebody in DC interested in what is being reported about Renner? “Rcn” is the Internet provider, the IP address would have to be tracked to know who it belongs to.
That brings me to Lex Green. He is the only candidate with no ties to the local public unions, developers, or elitists. Green wants the roads fixed and the pensions funded. Electing Green would send shock waves through the city because it would end the influence of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, the funding of outside studies for things the city can do itself. Virtually every citizen is against crony capitalism. Green would end special privileges unavailable to all citizens. If you truly want government to stay out of your way and keep taxes low, Green is the only choice.
For the City to truly represent the citizens, the alderman can’t be Yes people. Except for Judy Stearns, the other members might voice opposition to an issue, but then they vote YES anyway. Thoughtful conservatives need to be elected so your rights and your pocketbook are protected:
Ward 1 – Kevin Lower
Ward 3 – Lane Hanson
Ward 5 – Matthew Koetters
Ward 7 – Ryan Fiala
You can find out more on these candidates:
One thought on “Election: Bloomington”
Thanks for digging up all this information. I confirm most of what you report, and it is all true. With your help, and some of my own research, I believe you are right about Lex Green. Bloomignton really needs something different…and the only one who does not support government planned communities if Green.