Bloomington: Your Budget Task Force

By:  Diane Benjamin

City Manager David Hales isn’t capable of producing a balanced budget.  (Maybe he needs more than $200,000+ a year)

The Council that you elected isn’t allowed to produce a balanced budget.

Instead, Mayor Transparency hand-picked people he wanted to write a balanced budget:

 Position Name Term Exp
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Alderman Sage, David 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Alderman Black, Scott 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Alderman Buragas, Amelia 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Community Zeunik, John 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Community Mathy, Jamie 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Non-Profit Latson, Dontae 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Non-Profit Frautschi, Deanna 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Chamber Fedor, Dave 9/30/2015
 Mayor Appointed Position  Member – Chamber Dodds, Alan 9/30/2015

Why did Renner pick these people?  Why did he pick Joni Painter, Diana Hauman, and Amelia Buragus for the Council?  Is it safe to assume for the same reasons?

In September, this group is supposed to report to the Council.  The Council will then be told to approve whatever they come up with, including tax increases.

I’ve heard rumors that at least one of these people doesn’t even live in Bloomington.  So, I did a FOIA request.  (Freedom of Information Act)

This is what I requested:

Home address and phone numbers of all members of the budget task force.

The City claims they don’t have that information and aren’t required to create it.  Instead, I got the below.  Surely they can’t be hiding anything!


4 thoughts on “Bloomington: Your Budget Task Force

  1. Courtesy of Alderman Lower’s FB page:
    In Terms You Can Understand
    Every once in awhile an event, circumstances or consequences occur where their self-proclaiming evidence is so obvious it is simply blatant and obscene. Here, in Bloomington, local government exercises its obscenity on a regular basis. Most recently, the aggressive-hand and agenda of the City Manager, with Bloomington’s Mayor tagging along, empanelled a group of local Bloomington personalities that have been tasked with the responsibility to “assess the city’s budget situation, examine pros and cons of various options and present a report with recommendations”.
    Keep in mind the majority of these chosen and perceived demi-gods are unelected, have no accountability to anyone, are influenced, stakeholders and known supporters of a spending agenda facilitated by a fabricated budget, and hand-picked by the Mayor and City Manager.
    It’s necessary to be clear that we understand the meaning of “hand-picked”:
    “to select carefully with a specific purpose in mind”
    “to select personally and/or for personal ends”
    I believe those definitions speak volumes with regards to the objective of the obscenity.
    This obscenity could play out one of two ways:
    Option 1 might suggest that the decisions have already been made and the task force need not do anything except laugh at the citizens for being so naive.
    Option 2 could include a simple consensus decision from 2 predetermined plans of action that would each produce the exact outcome that has already been determined.
    Either way, it’s safe to say, it’s a done deal.
    Why, then, the need for a task force at all? Window dressing for a perceived simple-minded public and for appearance sake in an effort to try and legitimize an otherwise abuse of power.
    Having made that claim, an examination of each “hand-picked” individual is necessary to fully establish and understand how the specific purpose and the personal end of the Mayor and City Manager materialize within the creation and exercise of a budget task force.
    1.Alderman David Sage – Ward 2 Alderman Sage is the No. 1 supporter and cheerleader for City Manager, David Hales. Sage is Hales’ clean-up man, Sage “brings up the rear”, sets up the play, and is the johnny-come-lately Hales go-to-guy for his agenda brought to Bloomington. His presence is not only obvious, but necessary; He will serve as Hales’ proxy on the panel.
    2.Alderman Scott Black – Ward 7 Alderman Black, much like Sage for the Hale’s team, will be the proxy and represent Mayor Renner on the task force. Case-in-point: When Mayor Renner is out of town or unable to host his own Mayor’s Forum, instead of Mayor Pro Tem, Karen Schmidt properly assuming that role, Alderman Black“ is called upon to lead the discussion. Black is the Mayor’s “second” and the reason for his presence on the task force. Renner is Black, Black is Renner.
    3.Alderwoman Amelia Buragas – Brand-spankin’ new Ward 4 Alderman Buragas is a surprising pick considering she has been a member of the Council for only two sessions, her lack of intimate knowledge of her constituents needs, etc., her lack of knowledge and experience in and with local public policy issues and financing, and thus, her ability to distinguish what is what regarding budgetary complexities. However, that her husband, Michael Buragas, is a member of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission creates and interesting connection for 2 reasons; 1st – Mayor Renner was a long-time member of the MCRPC and is well-aware of that quasi-federal agency’s agenda and its goals to implement a similar agenda to Hales’ and may have lead to the determination Buragas was a strategic, hand-picked choice; and 2nd – Buragas’ husband is certainly able to provide input as well as both husband and wife having ample opportunity to strategize and plan together and with the balance of the panel on how comparable agenda items can be implemented with as much continuity and as little resistance as possible. Interestingly, the MCRPC recommends and supports the hotel/convention center project in its Bring It On Bloomington study.
    4.John Zeunik – Zeunik is the former McLean County Board Administrator. While this may seem a competent selection given Mr. Z’s background, the historically established connection between the Mayor and Mr. Z leaves no room for plausible deniability when it comes to suspecting predetermined outcomes are a possibility. It’s not likely a reasonable explanation exists, either, that it’s a mere coincidence that Bloomington Mayor, Tari Renner, is a former member of the McLean County Board and served on multiple County Board committees with Zeunik. Obviously, that long-term relationship provided and now opened a doorway into further collaborations, results, etc. Whom is beholden to whom?
    5.Jamie Mathy – Mathy is a unique choice. His wife is the owner-proprietor of Kelly’s Bakery, only across the street from the proposed site for purchase and redevelopment by the City of Bloomington for a price tag of only 8.2 million dollars. It won’t take a rocket scientist, or even a political scientist, to connect the dots to complete this picture. It’s also not a complex science and most could conclude that any business owner who thought the value of their business would appreciate in value in light of this potential development would do whatever necessary to ensure that occurred, especially if the business was struggling financially, including casingt a vote in favor for whatever the Mayor and City Manager preferred. It would be remiss not to mention Mathey was also an unsuccessful candidate for Ward 1 Alderman in 2013. It is reasonable to speculate here, aside from the obvious allegiance to the powers-that-be, that the Mayor/City Manager might expect Mathy’s appointment to this budget panel to cause a surge in his popularity that might facilitate a second attempt at the Ward 1 seat in 2017. A successful bid there would certainly install a totally subservient Council for the powers-that-be, eliminate any dissent, discussion and reason for opposition and provide a rubber-stamp for every agenda item for years to come. Say goodbye to the democratic process and any remote chance of citizen representation. Mathy’s presence and service on this budget panel could be the start of that process.
    6.Dante Latson – Latson is the current and recently appointed Director of the YWCA. Latsons background and experience lies in the social services and behavioral sciences field. That said, it’s difficult to imagine how that equates into acceptable qualification for placement on a budget task force. Latson’s arrival in Bloomington was less than 2 years ago, and any research fails to find him involved in municipal government, public policy or budgetary issues, yet we find him an appointee on a task force that will determine critical issues regarding complex and serious financial matters relating to public policy funding, taxes, etc. Considering his lack of immediate and direct knowledge of the subject matter for the task force and his brand new arrival as a Bloomington citizen, begs the obvious questions. Could it simply be another coincidence that Latson hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, just minutes from the same small town, Kannapolis, in which City Manager, David Hales arrived from? Maybe. But we’ve noticed a repeating pattern with regard to North Carolina immigration to the Jewel of the Midwest. We would note that McLean County Board member and IWU employee, Carlo Robustelli, also immigrated from North Carolina and spent some time in government services in the Town of Chapel Hill’s Mayor’s office. Recent library-board appointee, Emily Kelleher, also a former graduate and current employee of IWU, immigrated from North Carolina, as well, from Chapel Hill. It’s difficult not to speculate, given the lack of legitimate reasons why Latson’s placement on the task force makes sense, that it could simply be the result a quid pro quo act if the City Manager had some influence in Latson’s newly acquired position.
    7.Deanna Frautschi – At first blush, Frautschi seems to be the odd duck out of water here (no pun intended). A former VP of Human Resources at Country Financial, she currently hails herself as an I Master Naturalist who concentrates on photography, wildlife, nature and birds. Frautschi also provides Nature Lady training. Certainly no activity that would arouse no suspicion to local influence from local political connections. But, here’s the rub – Frautschi served, albeit temporarily, as the Interim CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council (EDC). It’s no secret that the agenda for the EDC mirrors that of the MCRPC and the City of Bloomington, and each is supportive of each other. As well, it would be lacking if I didn’t include the Chamber of Commerce, who will also appoint two members to the task force. The point being, that each of these organizations all have duplicitous, incestuous membership. As one, or one member supports each other, one who represents one, essentially represents all. It’s not a stretch to assume that Frautschi’s appointment, just as Sage and Black acting as proxies for Hales and Renner, in reality is a proxy representation for the EDC, etc.
    After even a cursory look at the “hand-picked” Rennerite personalities packing the budget task force, should it leave any unanswered questions about what the outcome might be?
    It can be safely assumed the best interest of the majority of Bloomington citizen taxpayers are not at the forefront of the task force’s intent, discussion or consideration , nor are the fundamental basic needs and services the citizen’s city demands and requires.
    It can also be safely assumed that the outcome will be whatever is necessary to support a spending agenda that facilitates the projects and programs being “hawked” that might include an $8 million dollar real estate speculation venture taxpayers will cover; Hotels and convention centers whose cost to citizens will dwarf the losses of the Coliseum; and last but certainly not least in a long line of tax-necessary projects – Bike trails to nowhere!
    As you can plainly determine, this task force panel is far from what the Mayor characterized as” a way to get “a broader, community wide perspective.”, and as others want you to believe, like Black and Schmidt, that this is input from business leaders and a segment of the community that is representative of your needs and best interests. Clearly, it’s not.
    If you’re comfortable with this and the way your elected government functions – do nothing.
    If you’re not, make a stand!!!

      1. I would also question Deanna Frautschi. While her address is Bloomington, I’m not sure she’s inside the Bloomington city limits.

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