By: Diane Benjamin
I did finally receive my FOIA for the General Ledger entries to the Sister Cities accounts. Travel expenses is sometimes in “Travel” and sometimes in “Community Relations”. The accounts are full of transfers and memo entries that make it difficult to determine what is happening.
The Sister Cities program is supported by both Bloomington and Normal. Normal wrote checks to Bloomington in August of 2016 and August of 2017 for $12,100.00. Bloomington agreed to contribute $12,101.00 a year. The General Ledger shows a long list of transfers, to Sister Cities accounts and later back to the General Fund.
This program is set up as a non-profit existing under the City of Bloomington. They are not required to file tax returns themselves. The General Ledger shows way more expenses than what was budgeted. In fact, the City failed to budget anything in this year’s budget for the 55th anniversary trip: Page 399 of the current budget: http://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=13157
I filed a FOIA request on July 31st for the names of the people booked with IACE Travel. The list posted yesterday is what I received. It shows they “donated” $68,333 from March through May. I could file many more FOIA requests that the city would extend or twist to delay transparency. I’ve played their game long enough. Instead, I turned what they sent me from March – July into a spreadsheet, these months cover when the people who went on the trip should have paid.
It looks like $55,008.47 more went out than came in. That means Japan did cost taxpayers money, regardless of what anyone says. Worse, Tari and Margot’s plane tickets were bought on a PCard in May for which the statement would have been received in June. The total was $3,671.34. Margot’s check was for $1,835.67 and deposited June 2nd. Unless the City rounded the deposit to $1,845.00 it isn’t listed. Since neither the deposit or the expense went through a Sister Cities account, add another $3,671.34-$1,835.67 to what Japan cost taxpayers.
If the City had been transparent from the beginning, I would keep researching the cost. They weren’t, and now they have recruited the media to hide the truth.
I wonder if Tari’s buddy Dick Durbin has talked to the State Police? http://www.wjbc.com/2017/05/02/sen-durbin-undergoes-outpatient-heart-procedure/
It wouldn’t be the first time the State Police were not allowed to do their job. If you don’t know the Michale Callahan story, get the book: https://www.amazon.com/Too-Politically-Sensitive-Since-Murder/dp/0615281036
How could the Pekin Mayor be prosecuted and not Renner?
It will be interesting to see if Tari still has a PCard after flagrantly violating the City policy. If he does, why should any of the other more than 200 PCard holders follow the rules?
The fastest way to fix the sister Cities program is to cut them loose. Bloomington and Normal could still make their yearly contributions, but the committee is charged with raising money for all other expenses. We wouldn’t see anymore free pizza at Lucca Grill with $100 tip. https://blnnews.com/2017/08/10/japan-what-we-dont-know/ We also wouldn’t see any more expenses with fuzzy accounting.
The next meeting of the sister Cities committee is scheduled for September 11th at the airport:
Maybe they will be more transparent than the City of Bloomington. Maybe they will say what Renner was up to in Japan too.
General Ledger – source: