WGLT does journalism – mostly

By:  Diane Benjamin

Yesterday WGLT published a comprehensive story about the Coliseum.  Ryan Denham  proved journalism isn’t dead in Bloomington-Normal yet.  Read the story here:      http://wglt.org/post/how-coliseum-blind-spot-tripped-bloomington-city-leaders

I do have some comments and things I would have written differently:

  • To much emphasis was put on the “bad contract”.  The contract had plenty of statements allowing for oversight, the City staff failed to use those clauses.
  • WGLT has a loss for 2016 of  $673,518, that number is not posted on the City website.  It should be if it’s accurate.
  • According to the story, a 2016 audit could not be done because of the ISP investigation.  I’ve reported the rumor that Butler and company destroyed documents when he left making the financial statements impossible to create.  The article also states VenuWorks noticed “financial discrepancies”.  That statement should have prompted more questions like SERIOUSLY?  (How did I know?)
  • An admission that concessions wrtr never audited is finally in a story.  The story doesn’t say the City owned the concession point-of-sale equipment so they could.
  • Tom Hamilton refused to returns calls from WGLT.  Why Tom?
  • Steve Stockton claimed food and beverage by its nature is difficult to watch closely.  It’s even harder when NO ATTEMPT is made Steve.
  • New details show the ineptness of Tom Hamilton and the Council with the original contract
  • The article claims the hiring of Bronner Group in 2015 was to review accounting and operations at the Coliseum.  The “engagement” documents do not list the Coliseum.  Since my lawsuit was still happening and I couldn’t get the documents, I call this City claim an attempt to vindicate themselves.
  • The City has no grounds to sue Sikich because Sikich was not hired to audit concessions!

The article does have some details you probably haven’t heard before.  It would be tragic for the taxpayers of Bloomington if Jason Chambers’s office plea bargains this case.  Many questions have still not been answered.  Without a trial many details will never be known.

David Hales and his role is barely mentioned in the article.  Why is he paid over $200,000 and year with benefits if he is not responsible for all City operations?  Why is his failure to protect taxpayer dollars not more prominent?

The article also fails to blame every Council member since the original vote – with the exception of Judy Stearns and Kevin Lower.  The first job of alderman is to stand between the City and the people forced to fund their folly.  The aldermen failed to represent citizens when the Coliseum vote passed.  Every Council since has pretended they are a Board of Directors instead of representatives of the people who put them on the Council.  The 2014 attempt by Stearns and Lower to review the contract is noted.  They deserve praise for attempting to do their job.  The rest of the Council should slink away in shame.



12 thoughts on “WGLT does journalism – mostly

  1. Ryan wrote a good article. Keep in mind, he has an editor, so many of the things you mentioned could have been included in draft form. Did you throw him a bone with the missing details or was your first thought to nitpick on your blog?


      1. They all fell for what they were told by Butler regarding the “proprietary” argument. It seems, as usual, nobody reads the original documents. Amendments such as the hockey team usage shouldn’t change the underlying premise of the contract. If anyone wants to know what was discussed by the Council prior to voting in favor of the contract with BMI/CIAM or any amendments, they should research the minutes from those meetings. Simply interviewing someone about what they said 10 years ago is not investigative reporting.


  2. The alleged fraud scheme at the former U.S. Cellular Coliseum took advantage of a known blind spot in the City of Bloomington’s oversight of arena finances, exploiting a decade-long contract that many city leaders disliked from the very beginning, GLT has learned. THEN WHY DID the city “leaders” vote for it? Blind spot was due to city “leaders” wearing their progressive libturd issued blinders. Cheer, cheer, rah, rah, the coliseum is good! Rah, rah, rah…

    “In retrospect, I can see where that’s an easier opportunity (to steal) than, for example, ticket sales where you actually have a set number of tickets. They don’t number hamburgers,” Stockton added. YES THEY DO Steve, it’s called receivables, inventory. Since all of the burgers were pre-formed, using the weight of the burger received, do simple division and presto, Steve-o, ya got your number of burgers. It all works the same with candy bars, draft beer, etc. Simple math Steve-o, ya all shouldn’t need a CPA to do some simple math for you. But ya’ all like hiring others of your political thread and throwing taxpayer money around to make it look like your doing someting. Geesh!

    “This case is about business and business practices and proper accounting for funds,” Butler’s defense attorney, Steve Beckett, told The Pantagraph last week. LOL, if that’s your best reply, if I were Butler I’d be hiring a new attorney. Again, simple math will not be your friend at this point, lol.

    “There were hundreds of people involved in the food and beverage operation. We had community groups that were out there manning the concessions to (fund-raise). There’s a lot of cash flowing through there, and I guess it is a perfect opportunity to say, ‘Well, if we just take a little off the top,’ as apparently what’s alleged here,” Stockton said. STEVE DID YOU just try to throw community groups under the bus? People who donated their time for no pay to raise funds for their organizations! Surely when they were there you and Butler appreciated the cheap, non-living wage!

    The city’s 10-year management contract with CIAM had a tumultuous beginning, as did the Coliseum itself. In an advisory referendum in 2005, 66 percent of voters said they opposed using public money for the arena, but that’s what happened anyway. Those critics have maintained their opposition in the years since, with many who still wish it never had been built. AMEN BROTHER! Now put your hands in your pocket and send me some dollars! Make those checks payable to CIAM, hurry up now I got places to go and people to see.

    “From the very beginning, it was not a good agreement,” Bloomington City Manager David Hales told WJBC last week. THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE SUPPORTED STEARNS AND LOWER when they brought it up instead of dismissing them. That’s how team members work, that’s why a diversification in opinion is valuable rather than looked down upon of which you Mr. Hales and you Mr. Renner are 100% guilty. Now that’s it’s coming back to bite you in the ass, I hope it clamps down and doesn’t let go.


      1. I highly doubt any guns were involved. However I wouldn’t be surprised if plain white envelopes were passed from one hand to another.


  3. With all the drama that is Tari Renner how quickly I had forgotten the stupidity that is Steve Stockton. Everybody in these stories seems to be making excuses for why Hales didn’t do his job. Stockton believes it was contract language that prevented oversight. Matejka wrongly believed CIAM would do the right thing. CIAM claims it was proprietary information and Renner claims he can’t comment due to the investigation. How convenient. Todd Greenberg seems to be on the right path in today’s Pravdagraph:

    “It was the city manager’s call about whether the information that CIAM thought was proprietary should be released to the public,” said Greenberg. “that is a separate issue from whether the city had access to that information. The language that I drafted gave the city the authority to get that information.”

    And Hales never once asked for it or used it. That’s what needs to be the headline of these stories!


  4. I also noticed that in the Pravdagraph’s article that Mike “Not In Our Town… Let me and my union lackeys ignore the taxpayers vote” Matejka states he would still vote for the Coliseum disaster even after all this!!! Gee Mike… just think how many other jobs your union members could have had if not for the millions flushed down this toilet! Too bad we can’t jiggle the handle to stop the waste!


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