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.