Jesse (not so) Smart

By:  Diane Benjamin

Yesterday former Mayor Jesse Smart spent 2 hours on WJBC – mostly talking about local government.  I can only think of three things he said that I agree with:

1)  Government needs to spend tax dollars locally.  His example was printing brochures for the BCPA.  He said they are printed in Champaign.  Evidently Jesse doesn’t know about all the other money shipped out of Bloomington.  A few examples:  Contract lawyers – millions sent to Springfield, Chicago, Peoria – any place but Bloomington.  How about the $60,000 a year sent to the National Development Council in DC?  How about the $116,000 just passed by the Council to Chicago consultants?  How about all the other consultants hired by the City – none of which are local?  Wake up Jesse, brochures are a tiny part of what is shipped out of Bloomington every month.

2)  Jesse wants Bang for the Buck.  Very subjective, but see above.

3)  The Council lacks direction.  You are right Jesse – they have no direction, just Master Plans for everything from downtown, the zoo, to bikes – and no money to pay for them.

Jesse and the host lamented that Bloomington used to be the jewel of Illinois.  We were admired around the state and were pretty much recession proof.  Jesse didn’t know what happened.


When did Bloomington’s decline start?  How about when government turned on the citizens!  Citizens said “No Coliseum” – it was built anyway.  Sales Taxes were raised while City government claimed it won’t cost the citizens a cent.  The Council members who voted for it were replaced – but too late.  The Coliseum is sucking the life out of Bloomington while profits go to 2 inept managers with no accountability.  Oh, Jesse thinks they are too scared to adequately manage the place because the City looks over their shoulder too much.  Being informed isn’t one of Jesse’s strong points!  Type Coliseum in the Search Box on this site.  The City has FAILED to oversee management.  How did the City handle the $585,866 difference last year between what management reported and what the auditors reported?  Did they accused CIAM of fraud?  Of course not, friends of government never get that treatment.

Jesse is a big believer in Quality of Life.  Cost to you be damned, the City has to have them to attract businesses and new people.  He actually stated that somebody visiting the BCPA might think Bloomington is wonderful and move here to start a business.  Gee, Jesse.  Is subsidizing the BCPA for $500,000 a year worth the off-chance somebody might move here to start a business?  This is reason number 2 Bloomington is a shadow of its former self.  When government takes money from citizens for a service they didn’t ask for, it’s theft and merely redistribution of your wealth.

Mr. Not-So-Smart didn’t understand why the City didn’t jump at the Bill Brady-Central Catholic-Park addition money.  Other than it was a set-up and a waste of money, what part didn’t you get Jess?  Let’s have lunch – I’ll explain it to you.

Jesse was a cheerleader for Bloomington when he was mayor.  He said nobody is cheer-leading now.

He failed to state the obvious.  He blamed the City Council for not having a clear purpose.  He blamed the City for not having a cheerleader-in-chief.

Next time name names Jesse.  The citizens deserve to know who is throwing Bloomington into the great abyss.   Actually, citizens do know, do you?


8 thoughts on “Jesse (not so) Smart

  1. Quality of Life seemed to be a big issue with former Mayor Smart. After listening closely “Quality of Life” appears to be code for “Subsidized Entertainment.” Jesse Smart seemed out of touch with the citizens on this issue. He proudly boasted how at the BCPA couples would fly in from Out of State to attend a show enjoy dinner and possibly a hotel and than fly back home the next day. Unfortunately there are many families living paycheck to paycheck that can’t even enjoy a movie at the local theater who are subsidizing entertainment for the wealthy who busy are living the good life. Providing entertainment is clearly not a legitimate function of government.
    In addition, Jesse Smart makes his case based on what we can currently see with our own eyes which is the BCPA. It is much harder for responsible elected officials and citizens to make the case for what CAN NOT be seen currently with our own eyes. What I am saying is if the BCPA wasn’t tax payer funded what would exist in its place? If there is truly a demand for the entertainment surely a private business seeking profit would form a venue for the entertainment, But we may never know because the subsidized BCPA’s very existence keeps us from seeing with our own eyes what may be seen in it’s place from the private sector.
    True quality of life issues for the citizens would be lower taxes, improved infrastructure, and economic development or JOBS! Jobs so “Joe Citizen” can choose for himself and family their own desired entertainment.


  2. Former Mayor Smart also described the proper roles of the City Manager, City Council and the Mayor. Jesse Smart correctly stated it is the City Council’s role to make policy and the City Manager’s job to carry the policy out. However, Mr. Smart seems to be stunningly blind to the fact that the roles are currently reversed and upside down. Currently. we have a City Manager and staff making policy and carrying out policy with a typical 7-2 rubber stamp vote by the council,
    Mr. Smart was also disappointing with his repeated insistence that council should always be united and agree on virtually every issue. I would call it dysfunctional and dangerous for our representative form of government and the protection of citizen’s rights when you have a council that regularly participates in “Group Think.” General MacArthur once said ” if everyone is thinking alike than someone is not thinking.”
    Directly from Wikipedia: “Group Think is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in dysfunctional or irrational decision making outcome. (coliseum, downtown hotel?) Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, by isolating them from outside in influences. (the citizens?) Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is a loss of individual creativity , uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the group produces an “illusion of invulnerability.” Thus the “ingroup” significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents. Furthermore group think can produce dehumanizing actions against the “outgroup.” (Bullying Alderwoman Stearns?)
    It is clear that former Mayor Smart is unknowingly advocating for a dysfunctional and possible harmful form of city government. Unfortunately, this is the form of government Bloomington already has under the direction of Mayor Renner and City Manager Hales. In the late 1990s when Mayor Renner ran for the county board he said it was because the board needed a “Different Voice.” Times change and it now appears different voices will not be tolerated by Mayor Renner or the unelected City Managers and certain media outlets partnered with the city to make sure “the right message” gets out. We are in desperate need of more people on the council who are not easily ensnared or bullied into “Group Think.”


  3. You know I was just thinking about that so called quality of life thing the other day. Geesh what a scam! Other people as government no less, telling me what I should enjoy, where I should spend my hard earned (after tax) dollars, where I should live etc. And then as they’ve made several choices that I don’t find as a quality to my life of which I therefore do not spend my net income on, they try to put a guilt trip on me. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    Then there is that millennial thing. Ha! As we are all children and most can’t wait to get out of the house to experience some independence once we grow up these fools think that all of a sudden the millennials want their life mapped out again. Hey live downtown so you can get a job as a clerk and hang out in downtown Bloomington. You won’t need anything else! We’ve got it all! Whatever we got is all you need and you won’t want anything else.


    1. Sadly, I believe that what you said, (“Hey live downtown so you can get a job as a clerk and hang out in downtown Bloomington. You won’t need anything else! We’ve got it all! Whatever we got is all you need and you won’t want anything else.”) would make them quite happy and exactly what they want – little worker bees with no life outside of Bloomington, with occassinal outings to Normal to enjoy a minor league Baseballl game or use the “Uptown Station” and ride the train to Chicago just so they happily pay their taxes and go along with every little bauble the “rulers” decree as a need, and they won’t mind the potholes so much because they will use public transport or now and then their bikes on the pristine bike lanes/paths. I know I know sounds a little bleak doesn’t it? I sometimes think this is JUST what they want though.


  4. IMHO, it looks like Jesse hit the nail on the head with 2 key items – no focus and no cheerleaders. The “no focus” is THE all-too-predictable result that comes from bouncing around and always “talking” and “discussing” and “planning” and “strategizing” and never getting around to DOING THE RIGHT THING! Those last 3 words were especially for Alderman Black – Sir, please don’t purposefully misunderstand what I have said. In spite of my frustration with the “flopping fish syndrome” that defines the current City Council modus operandi. When I said, “DO something!”, I did not mean (and I’m sure you know this), “DO *ANYTHING*!”. An effective strategy is NOT something that is defined and used for rationalizing and/or excusing meaningless “kid in a candy store” behavior. An effective strategy is S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, REALISTIC, and Timely. Just as Ms Benjamin offered to Mr Smart, I offer you my time and lunch (Shucks, I’ll even pay…. ) to discuss and, hopefully, clarify what I’m talking about. As a matter of fact, that offer is open to any Bloomington City Council member and the Mayor, as well. However, please understand that offer is for a one-to-one discussion/lunch; I won’t pay for the “privilege” of an Alinsky-style “attack of the gnats”…
    Moving on to Mr Smart’s second point, you may note that I put an “S” on “cheerleaderS”. That was purely intentional, I assure you. Ms Stearns and Mr Lower have been the only folks in City Council that regularly speak on the beauty and benefits of our fair city. I often speak about why I love Bloomington – the People! In my view, the ENTIRE Council should be a cheerleading squad for Bloomington. The head cheerleader (the Mayor) has been remiss in his duty to LEAD the squad, being too busy and too concerned with just being “center-stage” and cheering, apparently, to be noticed and “admired”. And, please don’t misunderstand, the cheering the Mayor has been doing is good but, I have to wonder, how many folks are thinking to themselves, “Where’s the rest of the squad?”. I know the Council members and the Mayor aren’t “in it for the money”. But, how many cheerleaders are? It’s not an obligation. It is, or at least it ought to be, a “labor of Love”. As the old saying goes, “If your heart ain’t in it, get your butt out of it!”.
    I’m running for Alderman of Ward 8 because I have Passion and Purpose; my heart is most definitely in it! My Passion is to serve my fellow citizens, my Purpose is to do so in a way that moves us intentionally, with focus and clarity, towards fiscal solvency and stability. We need a TEAM that will work FOR the citizens, not an ego- and status-driven clique. Bloomington citizens deserve far better than they’ve been given to this point!

    *** Please, on April 7th, VOTE to Build a Better Bloomington – elect Alton Franklin, Lupe Diaz, and Jeremy Kelley to Bloomington City Council!!! ***


  5. “Jesse didn’t know what happened.”

    I’ll tell you what happened. A great loss of jobs and two city governments as well as school districts that didn’t see this and continued spending like drunken sailors and sticking the taxpayers with the bill.

    BCPA, what does he think the New York Symphony orchestra plays there? I cannot for the life of me think of anyone who has told me they have been there for anything. Hardly not worth dumping 1/2 million dollars into. If it isn’t self supporting too bad!


  6. The potted plants have allowed themselves to become afflicted with the herd mentality syndrome. Otherwise possibly caring and somewhat intelligent they now seem incapable of critical thinking. The political science professor who once made the comment, “I don’t see why anyone would trust an elected official.” has led his flock into an economic abyss of which he has no expertise to gather any understanding. To save for a rainy day has escaped his childhood memories as the politics of wealth confiscation/redistribution has claimed his vision as those new red glasses don’t see.


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