De-funding Economic Development

By:  Diane Benjamin

It wasn’t that long ago the people in government in Logan County thought Bill Thomas was doing a great job with Economic Development.  The Logan County State’s Attorney refused to act even with definitive proof of criminal activity – including grant fraud that led to the Atlanta Library being ordered to repay a grant.  The Edgar County Watchdogs went around the State’s Attorney to the Secretary of State’s office who administered the grant.

The letter demanding the grant be repaid turned at least some people in government against Thomas.  Last night the Logan County Board voted to end their $55,000 a year partnership with Thomas.  The vote was 11 Yes, 1 abstention – the Board Chair.  The County is continuing their association with an unaccountable group:  Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.

The Logan County Board chair, Chuck Ruben,  is on their Board of Directors.

The McLean County Board passed a budget yesterday that decreased funding to the local Economic Development Council.  Their funding went from $100,000 a year to $94,000.  Maybe people here are starting to see government and their paid unaccountable contractors don’t produce prosperity.

Prosperity is only possible when people are allowed to spend their money where they want, not have it stolen by government.  Local businesses will see what people need or want and fill that slot.  Economic Development Councils mean negotiating subsidies and tax breaks for investors who see free money.  It’s not a sustainable model.

See the story the Watchdogs did a couple of days ago about Logan County’s  vote:

Meanwhile, the Bill Thomas saga is far from over.

Thomas thinks he and the Library Board got out of legal trouble by his donating the Union Hall building last week he was trying to sell to the library just a few months ago.  The Library requested a hearing with the State to try to get out of repaying the grant.  According to the grant application, the library was supposedly buying Union Hall years ago to get the grant.  We can’t wait to hear the Board’s explanation for attempting to buy the building this year when according to the grant application they already own it.  Yes, we have minutes from this year.

The only question left it how many people Bill Thomas takes with him.  See this article published today:

Is the media this clueless, or is the Thomas spin machine in high gear?

The people pictured with him have reason to worry.

Cathy Maciariello, Randy Brooks, Bill and Chris Thomas

The Thomas economic development plans also led Atlanta to spend $495,000 on 15 acres of farmland.

Thomas also gets unaccountable money from government and citizens through the Atlanta Betterment Fund.

Investigations aren’t close to over, but it does prove how Economic Development tax dollars are easily fleeced and why economic development should be left to citizens spending their own money.



6 thoughts on “De-funding Economic Development

  1. Time for the handful of private businesses funding the EDC to bail and form a private business-only council. The writing is on the wall.

  2. Diane, you’re doing a great job of explaining the messy situation in Atlanta. The Bill Thomas corruption (alleged) reads like a soap opera! He has his hands in too many “pots” in Atlanta and Logan County.
    I’ve always though that capitalism works best when unimpeded by government.

  3. “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” Isaiah 5:20. It appears all the media sources in Lincoln ( ) are out to praise Bill & Chris and there has been only one report about all the corruption in the Lincoln Courier & Pantagraph. As Paul Harvey would say, & now for “the rest of the story.” Am thankful that the board chose to de-fund the program & it was probably because they are hoping to dodge all the legal issues that are mounting up against Bill & unfortunately most of the board members don’t seem to understand that a budget that is taking the county into deficit spending is not a healthy situation since it only breeds more taxation in order to cover their careless actions. Several times Dave Blankenship attempted to discuss working toward a balanced budget, but that went on deafened ears.Hopefully some people are waking up to the need for more transparency in our government, as well as, how government handouts open opportunity for abuse in how the money is spent. We definitely need to limit the power of government.

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