Problem Joni

By:  Diane Benjamin

A reader sent one of my Coliseum stories to Alderman Painter and politely asked if she thought it raised issues that needed answers.  (

This was her response:

On Oct 3, 2015, at 7:41 AM, Joni Painter <[email protected]> wrote:


I don’t read Diane’s website any more because I have found it to be riddled with errors. When I first got on City Council I read it because I thought she had already done my homework for me. Before a meeting with CIAM management I downloaded and printed 30 some odd pages of the “CIAM contract.” When I got into the meeting I discovered to my horror that the contract I had in my hands was totally different from the actual contract in force at the time.

I’m not going to open the link you sent. I really don’t care what she says. If you think you’re looking at “factual” information, I don’t think I can convince you otherwise. You’ll just have to learn for yourself the hard way like I did.

As far as the Coliseum goes, there are serious issues that are being addressed. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details because it involves legal matters. You can rest assured that the Council isn’t nearly as stupid as Diane implies.

Joni Painter

The reader asked me what she is talking about.  Since the contract (124 pages) I have posted to numerous stories was received from the City under the Freedom of Information act, I have no idea.  The original contract was for 10 years, the only change made to it was for junior hockey.  Joni, if you were told a different contract is now in force, either you were lied to or the City is acting illegally without Council approval.  I may have posted only the first 30 some pages to a post because the rest don’t apply to current operations, just naming rights, pre-opening info, and miscellaneous.  But those 30 some pages were identical to the first 30 some in the original contract.

I even filed another FOIA request just to make sure nothing had changed.  I received the same information again – 124 page contract with one addendum for the hockey change.

The reader then sent this email to her:

Ms. Painter,

I have reconsidered my initial decision not to respond.  After noting the ironic juxtaposition of your refusal to open the link I asked about, and your assumption that I was too closed-minded for you to convince me of anything, I feared that a response would be pointless.  But I’m seeing too many instances of missed opportunities to communicate, and communications that could be less confrontational—on both sides.
When you were told the CIAM contract from Diane Benjamin’s website was not then in effect, you apparently didn’t communicate that to her.  I was quite concerned by your experience, so I passed your comments on to Diane.  Her initial response was that the contract info she presented was obtained via a FOIA request and she had no idea what had caused your experience.  Being concerned about it herself, she filed another FOIA request for the contract, and said the only difference between the two FOIA responses involved a different hockey class.  Was that really the cause of the discrepancy?  Did Diane get bad info from the FOIAs?  Did you get bad info at a meeting?  Beats me.  Will this remain an impasse exacerbated by bad feelings, or could some communication help?
A bit more detail on my original questions:  In the article I first asked about, Diane presented a CIAM financial statement, obtained from a FOIA request, and questioned some entries.  Amusement tax was taken as a promoter expense, but amusement tax collected was listed as zero.  The management fee was calculated as 4% of total revenue, but Diane says total revenue includes monies not subject to the management fee calculation.  I’m not a CPA.  Diane is.  Is she right?  I don’t know, so I went to my representative to get me an answer.
When I used the terminology “factual information” I probably should have said “matters of fact,” because the intention of my two original questions was to separate matters of fact (whether the financial statement as presented was the relevant information), and matters of opinion (whether the issues raised are justified and significant).  I’m sorry if it came off as, “here are the facts and I challenge you to refute them.”   That was not my intent.
One more thing:  In case you are wondering, Diane had nothing to do with my decisions to write to you.
One more response from Painter:

You are correct. I did not communicate to Diane that the contract she placed on her website was no longer in effect. There have actually been about four iterations of the contract for the Coliseum, and the one I downloaded was probably just old. It was my fault for assuming there was only one contract and not checking further. I don’t think Diane altered it. It just wasn’t the right one.

As far as Diane and her information is concerned, further communication will not help at this point. She is not a citizen of Bloomington, and I have been set up and attacked by her far too often to give her any credence whatsoever.

I will respond to you, however, with this information. As I stated earlier, there is much wrong with the Coliseum contract. We are on top of it. I can’t discuss it because it involves legal issues. I realize there are a few members of the public who want to know every little thing that is going on, which, depending upon their motivation, is either a really good thing or a really bad thing. But what goes on in closed session is always closed to the public because disclosure would either humiliate someone to the point where they could sue the City, or because disclosure would reveal legal strategy that is pivotal to winning a dispute or acquisition of some sort.

I can tell you that the contract is coming up for renewal very soon and changes will be made.

Have a nice day,

Joni Painter
Ward 5 Alderman

Joni,  there has NOT been 4 iterations of the contract.

Is the Council really “on top of it”?

Not if you are being told the contract I posted is not the correct one.

I will make you a deal:  Quit acting like potted plants, and I will quit calling you such.

Did you know the Council was called “the rubber stamp 7” by the public before I ever used potted plants?  Are you being told not to read the Pantagraph too?  That’s where it started – Letter to the Editor.


8 thoughts on “Problem Joni

  1. It’s interesting that Alderman Painter used your research to do her homework in the past. Aldermen are paid to do their own homework! In my opinion, the Council relies too heavily on Mr. Hales, the Staff or the Mayor to provide complete and accurate information. From my experience, complete information has not always been presented. The IMRF information for tonight’s meeting is incomplete, therefore misleading.

    1. As a wise man named KC once said, ” That’s the way THEY like it uh huh uh huh, that’s the way THEY like it uh huh uh huh….’

  2. Let’s not forget that it was Joni Painter who thought that a 1% increase to the sales tax would result in only a $10 increase per $100 purchase. Yes, Bloomington and for that matter Normal, this is your taxing authority.

  3. Ah yes being a Bloomington city council member awards you some arrogance privileges. Give me a break.

    First what turned me off was a direct attack of “Diane”, “she”, etc. Joni like the mayor needs a lesson on how to respond to people before clicking on send or reply.

    All she could have said was acknowledgment that some information exists out on the internet and may not be correct and give the reasons.

    WTH does being a citizen of Bloomington have to do with this? Many people living in the community, area, county, do business with places of businesses and pay the city their dues as taxes. I wish to gawd there was a way they to could vote in the city of Bloomington elections. What we have here is taxation without representation.

    1. The Council is involved with “One Voice” which includes B/N and McLean County. They just voted to adopt the “Advantage” which also is a regional thing. I fear there is a lack of understanding as to who is affected by their decisions.

  4. To meet Joni is well, NOT the highlight of ones day. When she went door to door for her “reelection” she introduced herself with the enthusiasm of a wet dishrag hand shake, and came across as doing ME a favor! as for the White Elephant, they don’t know real from make believe and run it as such! So there you have it, complacency and ignorance (or deception) all in one ball of legal agenda. And Joni is NOT going to believe anything that’s not been programmed into her blonde cranium. And Butler and Co. are gonna take the $$$ and RUN! (like Forrest)

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