VenuWorks under investigation?

By:  Diane Benjamin I filed this Freedom of Information request with the City of Bloomington: I saw reference to this report in the last batch of emails I FOIA’d. Note:  This request was denied. This is the reason given for the denial: So, one of these is true: The City is so used to denying […]

More on Connect Transit

By:  Diane Benjamin I talked to a friend Sunday who has a son driving for Connect Transit.  The drivers are expecting to receive notices this week of a January shutdown. The minutes to the meeting held September 27, 2016 have been posted:  http://www.connect-transit.com/documents/09-27-2016%20Regular%20Board%20Meeting%20Proceedings.pdf These minutes show what was said during Public Comment.  Eleven people wanted […]

Bloomington: Check your assessment!

By:  Diane Benjamin I helped a friend do research on property values last week.  Many houses in her neighborhood have sold in the last year and the selling prices have dropped dramatically. I don’t know why the values are decreasing, but owners can not be forced to keep paying taxes on a value the house […]

The Search for Charlie

This story was re-printed with permission from The Lexingtonian Newspaper  on Facebook.  I know everybody isn’t on Facebook, but this IS a story for everybody!   This is who Americans are! The Search for Charlie By Cammie Quinn A most incredible thing happened in small-town Lexington, Illinois on an otherwise uneventful Sunday in late October. […]

Weekend Fun (limited politics edition)

Connect Transit TOTALS!

By:  Diane Benjamin See this previous post:  https://blnnews.com/2016/10/28/connect-transit-tears/ I made the list in that story quickly this morning – chances are good I missed some!  The list was to make a point, not get exact numbers.  I saw many other items I could have added, like THOUSANDS spent on HVAC.  Isn’t the facility pretty new? […]

Connect Transit tears

See this story for the totals:  https://blnnews.com/2016/10/28/connect-transit-totals/https://blnnews.com/2016/10/28/connect-transit-totals/ By:  Diane Benjamin I didn’t attend the Connect Transit meeting last night, but I have reports from people who did. Of course people spoke that rely on buses, but people also spoke about BUDGETING a $12,000,000 loss when the country and the State of Illinois both have no […]

COURT Monday 3:15

By:  Diane Benjamin On Monday Judge Foley will hear arguments on Motions to Dismiss filed by both the City of Bloomington and CIAM.  Both are claiming I have the documents I filed the lawsuit for. I am going to prove I don’t. Should be fun!  Come if you can, I love the support from citizens […]

Did you know this about Normal?

By:  Diane Benjamin Prairie City Soccer League is losing it’s soccer complex on the airport property at the end of next year.  They had a lot of time to raise money for their own new complex.  They claimed in a proposal from 2013 to have over 3000 kids participating. Keep in mind the Pony League […]

I can’t stop smiling . . .

By:  Diane Benjamin My smile is not because the Cubs won last night, they still have three more games to win!  Go Cubs Go This is why: I have to show you a very small part of an anonymous letter I received in the mail today.  I have received these kinds of letters before, but […]

If you haven’t seen “Madigan: Power, privilege, politics”

Democrats running for election should have to state why they aren’t a Madigan puppet!  Watch for more info. . Northwest Herald, Joliet Herald-News and DeKalb Daily Chronicle to host online screening of “Madigan: Power, privilege, politics” Full-length documentary will be available to watch online at newspapers’ websites starting at 7 p.m. tonight through 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 . […]

UPDATE: Normal: How your money is spent

The taxpayers of Normal seem to be waking up!  This story has MANY reads because you are sharing it!  Keep it up and I will do more investigating in Normal. I bet one reader was surprised by my reporting on United Way.  It is a total coincidence that your letter arrived today and I wrote […]

Is Connect Transit hiding info?

By:  Diane Benjamin This month’s Connect Transit Board meeting was moved from October 25th to October 17th.  NO financial information is available in the Board Packet.  Normally the packet shows income and expenses for the previous month. Keep in mind, Connect Transit is claiming they will shut down on January 1st because the State hasn’t […]

Boring predictable Council meeting

By:  Diane Benjamin Of course the TIF District passed last night 8-1.  Only Kevin Lower knows government doesn’t create economic development without taking your money to do it.  Free markets are dead in Bloomington.  I hear Giebelhausen is still planning a hotel for the Pantagraph building, not where the City wants one and not in […]

Vote Test:

From:   Kathy Michael McLean County Clerk Phone:  309.888.5183 See the law here: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/001000050K24B-9.htm . . . . .

Dear Jim Fruin,

(Jim announced last night he is not running for reelection.  Petitions are due 11/21 – info here:  http://www.becvote.org/wordpress/) Dear Jim, Here’s the problem:  The citizens feel like their government is stalking them like a famished predator. They have good reasons:  Amusement Tax, Utilities tax, Gas Tax, Sales Tax, Garbage fee increases, Liquor fee increases More […]

Bikers have rights (and a death wish)

By:  Diane Benjamin On January 1st bicycles in Illinois will be considered vehicles under a new law:  http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2016/08/19/new-bike-law-gives-cyclists-right-way-illinois House Bill 5912 amends the state’s vehicle code to assign the same right-of-way privileges to cyclists that car drivers have. In essence, it clarifies that bicycles are vehicles. Saturday I saw three bikers on Route 9 about eight […]

Bloomington’s Taxing & Spending History:

By:  Diane Benjamin Budget numbers for 2016 and 2017 are from the City website:  http://www.cityblm.org/index.aspx?page=21&parent=37 All other numbers are from the Illinois Comptroller’s office at the link below. If your assessed value just increased significantly – look at the EAV (Equalized Assessed Valuation) The housing market crashed in 2008, in Bloomington it crashed in 2013.  […]

About that last Downtown TIF

By:  Diane Benjamin The lovers of all things downtown like to claim the last TIF was a huge success. How about some facts? 212 N Center – the address of the Ensenberger condos – shows 31 units on the County website.  Only 8 of the 31 are now owned by someone other than the Huffs.  […]

Can downtown mental illness be treated?

By:  Diane Benjamin The downtown Bloomington TIF is back on the agenda for Monday night.  See the project in the packet here:  http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=11529 The TIF discussion begins on PDF page 181. A list of included parcels is on pages 265-266.  The picture below is on page 267: Property “5” is owned by the City of […]

Renner belongs in Cuba

By:  Diane Benjamin Sometimes my stories just write themselves.  This is one of them. See today’s article in the Pantagraph about Tari Renner’s trip to Cuba:  http://www.pantagraph.com/business/renner-reconnecting-bloomington-to-cuban-sister-city/article_5b63446a-77b9-588c-861a-05765c99bde1.html The article ends with this quote from Tari: Free Enterprise?  Here? Let’s look at what the Bloomington City Council will be considering Monday night:  http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=11529 See PDF page […]

Weekend Fun – sort of

Fly on the Wall: Mitsubishi plant buzz

Buzzing around I’ve heard some interesting stories.  The owners of the former Mitsubishi plant are negotiating a deal with Tesla and parts builder American General.  Both had to put down a substantial amount of money to prevent the sale at auction. Tesla wants to start mass producing vehicles and doesn’t have the space in California.  […]

Poll Watching Mike Madigan’s Precinct

Originally posted on BLNNews:
by Diane Benjamin We are finally able to release this report.  Acorn like groups are suing people trying to insure election integrity, so we had to make sure it wasn’t going to happen to us.  Even though the story doesn’t mention it, all the volunteers were members of the TEA Party. …

Watch out after dark downtown!

By:  Diane Benjamin The email below was written by the now fired VenuWorks Executive Director.  It was received under the Freedom of Information Act. The City of Bloomington heavily redacted tons of other emails, so this is all the information available. If walking at night from the Coliseum is dangerous for female employees, how safe […]

Food, Travel, Misc PCard

By: Diane Benjamin PCard spending for Bloomington:  http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=11518 Starts on Page 103.   I wonder if the “role of government” was covered: City Council Exp National League Of $ 150.00 9/2/2016 NLC Budgeting Basics Session D Haumann Feeding themselves: City Coun Exp Biaggi’s $ 38.75 9/1/2016 Business lunch meeting T Renner & Normal Mayor Chris […]

East Side Bypass-Highway-Freeway

By:  Diane Benjamin I attended part of the Public Hearing last night at Central Catholic High school. Side note:  I wonder how much they spend per student in their lovely facility?  I bet it isn’t close to what Unit 5/District 87 spend.  Somebody should really study that angle. I did a quick Internet search yesterday […]

Miscellaneous stuff:

By:  Diane Benjamin 1) East Side Highway meeting tonight:  6:00-9:00 Central Catholic High School 2) If you aren’t protesting your property assessed value – you are a sheep being led to slaughter.  I’m sure it says how and where to protest on the letter you received. 3) I finally listened to the video from Monday’s […]

Bloomington Library FACTS

By:  Diane Benjamin Information is harder to compare now that the Hales’ City Manager Reports are history.  Instead of transparency, he posts bits and piece of data and I have to put it together.  I imagine soon the bits and pieces will disappear because tax increases are much easier when government claims they need more […]

UPDATE: Normal and Scott Preston

I received the following email from Jason Chambers: Ms. Benjamin, I was contacted by someone asking about the prosecutor in the Preston matter and the possible cost. They indicated they had heard there was an expense in that regard from you.  Just for information purposes, I wanted to let you know that there is no […]

Way too busy again

By:  Diane Benjamin I won’t have time for a while to work for free, so here’s some stories you might not have seen: 1) FBI agents say the bureau is alarmed over Director James Comey’s decision to not suggest that the Justice Department prosecute Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information. According to an interview […]

Bloomington needs to know what transparency is

By:  Diane Benjamin The City of Bloomington included a newsletter with October Water/Sewer/Garbage bills.  You can see it here:  HERE There are a number of problems with the newsletter.  I wonder whose job it is to put it together and include it with the bills.  The Communications Director? First, the newsletter sent in October is […]

More Coliseum Fraud

By:  Diane Benjamin It’s old news now that VenuWorks fired the Coliseum Manager.  VenuWorks found the fraud, the City of Bloomington never would have.  They completely ignored the old management and never blinked when the audited financial statements showed MUCH bigger loses than CIAM ever did. Of course, the City never checked to see if […]

Attn: Farmers – EPA is after you

By:  Diane Benjamin The EPA is now out to regulate how farmers treat their land.  Did you know plowing creates mini-mountain ranges?  Did you know those mini ranges create disturbed wetlands? The whole report is 38 pages, see it at this link: http://www.beefusa.org/CMDocs/BeefUSA/Media/Beltway%20Beef/WOTUS%20Committee%20Report%20Final.pdf This excerpt is from page two.  While we all thought we lived […]

Weekend Fun – Sort of

You thought the East Side Highway was dead?

By:  Diane Benjamin It’s not unless the County Board KILLS it.  There is a public hearing Wednesday October 19, 2016  at 6:00pm – Central Catholic High School.  I don’t know why, but it is scheduled until 9:00pm.  The last plan I remember is a 4 lane divided highway with divided bike paths.  If you ever […]

UPDATE: Jamie Snow – Exoneration Project

By:  Diane Benjamin Jamie Snow has been in prison 17 years for a Bloomignton murder he claims he didn’t commit. William Little was shot in 1991 during a robbery at a gas station where he worked.  Snow wasn’t convicted until 2001. This week Snow made national news when the story aired on a show called […]

Malak: Union Bosses Trying To BUY The 110th ?

By:  Diane Benjamin Nearly 96% of all donations to Dennis Malak for his bid on the 110th Illinois State Representative seat came from outside the 110th District and from Unions, some from Indiana and Maryland.  Is this what the voters of the 110th need in Springfield?  More union representation means more taxes and more pension […]

Know anybody is SE Illinois? (110th House District)

By:  Diane Benjamin The 110th House District includes Mattoon and Charleston.  See a complete map here:  https://elections.il.gov/Downloads/VotingInformation/PDF/2011Districts/2011RepDist110.pdf There is a guy running for the Illinois House in this district who looks to be misrepresenting himself: Dennis Malak, Candidate for the 110th District in Illinois claims “the system failed him” – and that is one of […]

Bloomington’s Award Good?

By: Diane Benjamin Bloomington recently announced they won an award for excellence in comprehensive planning:  http://www.cityblm.org/index.aspx?page=18&recordid=3855&returnURL=%2findex.aspx The award was for Bring It On Bloomington It doesn’t matter that Bring It On Bloomignton was a flop!  https://blnnews.com/2014/09/19/bring-it-on-bloomington-flops/ The McLean County Regional Planning Commission wanted 7,660 people to complete the survey.  They got 1,160.  It was declared […]

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