Mathy or Feldkamp for Ward 1?

By:  Diane Benjamin

Flashback to February 2013.  Consolidated elections were coming up in April.  Kevin Lower was the only candidate on the ballot for Ward 1 because Alderman Bernie Anderson had resigned and decided not to run for reelection.

Steve Stockton was mayor.  At the February 11th regular City Council meeting, Stockton wanted to appoint Jamie Mathy to complete Anderson’s term (a couple of months!) instead of appointing Lower – the only guy on the ballot!  He could have appointed Allen Gibson who wasn’t running, but he picked Mathy who was running as a write-in candidate.  See the discussion here, stating on page 26.

Page back to the beginning for a summary of public comment against the Mathy appointment.  (The clerk no longer summarizes what speakers say, but back then the clerk did)

Stockton said he chose Mathy because he had participated with the DBA – the Downtown Bloomington Association.  Mathy owns at least one business downtown and Stockton appointed him because of his focus on downtown.  So, if Ward 1 elects Mathy where will his allegiance lie?

Aldermen Judy Stearns and Steve Purcell voted against the Mathy appointment.  Kevin Lower went on to win the election, so Mathy was short-lived on the Council.  A few months on the Council did provide time to see how Mathy would vote though.  Thanks Stockton!

For the 6 meetings Mathy was alderman  I looked for votes Stearns was a “Nay” while Mathy voted “Aye”.  Judy was frequently the only vote in opposition to senseless spending.

The first one can be seen here (Feb 25, 2013) – page 33:

Judy thought leasing was a way for the City to get Cadillac equipment at taxpayer expense.

mathy1Next, a vote on a towing company.  Stearns objected to unfair fees charged to citizens – March 25th, page 33:

This one is the vote to approve the FY 2014 budget.  April 8, 2013 – Page 26:

Stearns and Purcell voted No, while Mathy didn’t.

Mathy did finally vote with Stearns, Purcell, and Sage against spending $600,000 on a park for Eagle View.  He cited infrastructure and pensions as the reason.  This vote was April 8, 2013 – Page 33:

Later at the same meeting – page 78 – Mathy voted for a HUGE increase David Hales salary:
Again at the same meeting – Page 94 – hard to say what this vote was on, but it has to do with solid waste and managed competition.  Extensive discussion is included at the link above.

The bottom line is Jamie Mathy was the alderman for Ward 1 for 6 meetings. He only agreed with Alderman Stearns once. Since Stearns and Kevin Lower voted mostly (if not 100%) the same, Mathy will not be the voice of the people who supported either Stearns or Lower.
Sue Feldkamp doesn’t have a voting history to compare. She was briefly appointed to the Liquor Commission and then thrown off by Renner when he decided he could do the job all by himself.

Since Feldkamp was a frequent speaker against City policies during public comment, it’s safe to say she won’t be an automatic “Aye”.   Sue has attended almost every Council meeting for the last three years and almost every mayoral open house.  She served on the Citizens Advisory Board (the only citizen), and she took a Roberts Rules of Order class.  She also spoke at the meeting held to make the intersection on Lincoln a four way stop after a fatality occurred.  Mathy has attended almost no meetings in person.

Ward 1 needs to decide if they want a representative similar to Kevin Lower or just another close to automatic YES vote for whatever the City dreams up, especially if the spending is on downtown.

The differences between the two candidates is easy to see.

Both Jamie and Sue are really nice people, but you are voting for representation.  History matters.

18 thoughts on “Mathy or Feldkamp for Ward 1?

  1. Feldkamp is running a non-campaign. Has she had an event? Placed a yard sign? Just an awful candidate. Makes me wonder if she’s serious about it. It’s like she doesn’t really want it.

  2. Mathy was a very visible and vocal supporter of the proposed, tax-subsidized Front & Center Hotel/Conference project. His wife’s eatery is directly across the street from the building. As president of the DBA, he was happy to receive the annual $90,000.00 tax subsidy given to the DBA by the Council. There is no doubt that Mathy’s focus will be downtown, not Ward 1.

  3. Jamie and his wife own two downtown businesses — Kelly’s Bakery and Red Racoon Games. He will definitely have influence over decisions that will either help or hurt those businesses. Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. The same kind of conflict that people are so upset about Trump having.

  4. Let’s not forget that Mathy was on the sham Budget Task Force that was appointed by who?! That’s right Professor T!

  5. I think Mathy is a good choice. He seems reasonable. I’ve also seen him at a lot of council meetings and events.

  6. HI Diane,
    I just wanted to clarify a few things for you and your readers.

    RE Ricoh printers contract: As you know, equipment leases are common in the IT world, especially around printers and copiers. A normal printer lease bundles in all maintenance and consumables except the paper, and is preferable to a massive up-front investment that is hard to budget for. In this particular circumstance, all of the printers being taken out of service the city had used for 5-7 years, when most printers are replaced after 5 years. The pricing was in line with pricing I saw in the private sector for the machines, and the per page cost was significantly down from what my clients negotiated. Overall, the lease was a good deal for the city. Judy simply did not understand all of the costs that go with printer maintenance and department downtime.

    RE Joe’s Towing: We were asked to vote on the renewal of the contract, and that the entire contract was going to be put out for bid again the following year. I’m curious why Judy didn’t have concerns with the fees when she voted to approve the same contract in 2011 and 2012?

    RE Budget approval- yes I absolutely did approve the budget that year. The positions added were needed, the capital spending was lower than I would have likes to fix things, and the pension payments were made. Judy & Steve wanted more money to go towards pensions, and I agreed and would have liked more also. However, we were waiting for finance to come forward with a plan as to how we could get ahead of the looming pension crisis. That plan came forward over the summer, and council adopted the plan to aggressively pay down the pension debt.

    RE Hales: Yes, I voted for him to get a raise. Tom Hamilton left the city in a giant mess, of which his and Todd Greenburg’s legacy of chaos & destruction still lives on to this day. At one point the city did not think they were going to be able to cover payroll. David came in, laid off 130 employees, and turned the city around. At the time of the vote, he had not had any sort of raise or increase in pay in 5 years, and he was being paid significantly less than city managers in any of our surrounding central Illinois cities. The raise amount was negotiated down from numbers that were initially proposed. I believed it was still too high, as did Judy & Steve, but I voted in the affirmative because that was the compromise that we arrived at. Compromise means that no one is happy because no one got exactly what they wanted, but usually, people are satisfied because they got some of the things they wanted. Voting against a proposal I had worked with others to craft the compromise on served no purpose other than to look petty and foolish because I did not get 100% my way.

    Now, in response to reader comments:

    Penniwise: If you read what I said to the Pantagraph, I told them I would be happy if someone did something with the downtown building. I said I didn’t care (and I still don’t care) if it is a hotel, retails with apartments, condos, or office buildings. Something needs to be done with that building. Were you aware that 4×6 panes of glass fell out of the building to shatter on the street? We’re just lucky no one was hurt. Was I in support of city council trying to make something happen? I said yes, but only if it made sense for the city. I was also quoted in the paper as saying I was happy to see the city walk away from the developers when looks looked wrong.

    I have also said that because of this building, and others like it that have been allowed by property owners to deteriorate into a such a public danger stage that we need to have a series of escalation fines for non-compliant property owners. I think we should give owners every chance to make changes to their buildings to fix any violations. But at a certain point, if someone is ignoring all requests to repair issues to the building, fines should kick in that increase. Every 6 months the repairs are not made, double the fines. $200 a month fines are not going to phase a large property owner – they are simply a cost of doing business. By the end of the 3rd year, fines would be at $6400 per month. That is enough to make large developers take notice. We would not have a building that has been neglected for 9 years like this one has.

    I also find it curious that you think I won’t represent the place where I live. That simply makes no sense. Does someone who owns a business on Veteran’s Parkway not care about their home and neighborhood in Founder’s Grove or Old Farm Lakes? I have owned my house for almost 14 years and have spent significant time and energy maintaining it, just like the rest of you. Living in historic Dimmitt’s Grove is as much a part of who I am as being a business owner. Unlike others, I actually attend neighborhood events. I have many friends, both personal and business related, all over ward 1. Kelly’s Bakery and Cafe, and Red Raccoon Games support and donate to many of the non-profits and church fundraisers located all over the city as well as in the ward. I was even at Westminster teaching board games to residents last week, much the same as I support and teach games for grade school and junior high game clubs.

    Jf: You are correct that I have 2 businesses downtown. I have already spoken with legal regarding what constitutes a conflict of interest, and yes I will recuse myself when there might be a situation where I personally might see a gain. Every alderman has to use their best judgment to avoid conflicts of interested, and I will continue to consult with legal if I have any question as to where the line between what is for the good of the city and what is for the good of my businesses lies.

    Thank you for taking a moment to read my responses. Diane prefers I not engage in debate on her forums, so I will extend to all of you the same offer I have made in other times: should you wish to discuss any of your concerns regarding my candidacy further, please email me at [email protected] and I will gladly buy coffee so we can meet and talk. Last time it was just Diane and I – I would love it if others wanted to join in also.

    Jamie Mathy

    1. One thing that aggravates the people paying for high salaries is government comparing their employees to other government employees. Where is the comparison to the private sector? Government benefits and salaries aren’t close to what citizens receive! Hales also gets a car allowance of I think $500 a month. He is now one of the highest paid people in the County while handing out spiked pensions to employees. The massive budget increases since he supposedly saved Bloomington are now destroying the local economy. Bloomington had too many employees and early retirements were merely a reset. Hales also forgot to tell the Council when they approved the early retirements that millions more (if I remember right 4 million) was needed for Sick Leave Buy Back.

      1. I agree with you on the salaries being compared to private businesses, and said as much on the budget task force and in front of City Council last year. I also think we need to get back to looking at total compensation packages and not allowing individual pieces like healthcare be singled out without pulling the total compensation back into the discussion. I also agree that the early retirement program was not executed well. Tom Hamilton swore up and down he would not participate in the program, it was implemented, and then out the door he went.

        I disagree with you that the budget is destroying the local economy. Business owners I know are hiring / expanding. Most had 2 years of uncertainty waiting for Big Red to settle down, and for everyone to figure out who was being transferred and who was staying here. Now, things are looking fairly positive. Trump is the uncertainty factor now. Most of the games I stock are printed in China. If the USA started importing an import tax on goods from China it could affect my business significantly. I really hope this doesn’t spiral out of control, but other than that, things are looking positive.

    2. What penalties have the Huff’s paid for being negligent building owners? The panes of glass falling out of the building and hitting the sidewalk are THEIR responsibility. Furthermore, it is the duty of the city to fine them and hold them responsible.

      1. Which businesses are you referring to? Macys? The Limited? Lone Star? National chains closing stores across the nation is not our budget devestating the local economy.

        FedUp – I completely agree that there should be fines for creating public safety hazzards. You doing something that puts unwilling strangers in danger should not be tolerated.

        1. Radio Shack, Gap, Gap Kids – probably more. Macy’s in Champaign didn’t close because their economy is better than Bloomington. If these stores were profitable here they wouldn’t have closed.

    3. Thank you Jamie for providing an explanation for your stances. I remember being at a presentation of the hotel/conference center and some of the comments you made. Your statements seemed to be strongly in favor of the hotel. That is what I am basing my comments on. The Pantagraph editorializes so I take their reporting with a grain of salt. Ward 1 encompasses more than Dimmitt’s Grove. Many families outside of that neighborhood struggle to make ends meet. Taxes are burdensome. TIFs and tax rebates exacerbate the problem. The current council and mayor seem to be focusing significant resources mainly in downtown. From my observations, you will support the continued increase in taxing and spending for the downtown at the expense of infrastructure repairs in the entirety of Ward 1. For the sake of Ward 1, if you should win, please place your focus as their representative on those with less financial resources then you.

Leave a Reply