Tari: H**l of a mess

By:  Diane Benjamin One more recap from Monday’s City Council meeting: VenuWorks recapped what they wanted to bring to the BCPA, including saving an estimated $200,000 a year in operations. VenuWorks has access to an email list of 409,000 people in Central Illinois to help promote shows VenuWorks has plans for new revenue including concessions […]

Downtown Task Force gets slapped

By:  Diane Benjamin The “Special” meeting before the 7:00 Council meeting has discussions about the library and the City property tax rate. The Library Board wants a tax increase but they don’t know what it is for.  Either they are going to continue plans to expand where they are or they are going to use […]

Public Comment last night

By:  Diane Benjamin Public comment went over 30 minutes last night.  That set a new precedent for allowing it to go over 30 minutes without a Council vote.  Keep that in mind when Tari doesn’t want to allow all the speakers in the future.  The 30 minute time limit should only apply when someone is […]

The 6 again

By:  Diane Benjamin During alderman comments at the end of last night’s Bloomington City Council meeting, Alderman Sage inquired about a request he submitted to put something on the agenda.  5 other alderman signed the request with him.  As the conversation progressed Sage became more emphatic, Renner attempted to dismiss  his request. Sage demanded a […]

Why jobs and people leave Illinois

By:  Diane Benjamin The Technology and Manufacturing Association released their Legislative Scorecard today showing legislative support in Illinois for manufacturing. From the report: Illinois has been at the heart of transportation, distribution, and manufacturing for decades. Yet, we are losing one resident every 4.6 minutes – 114,000 in 2016 alone. Those moving out of state include members […]

Downtown Loons

By:  Diane Benjamin TIF districts are like Greek to most citizens.  If you don’t understand them, government will continue to redistribute money and call it Economic Development. TIF’s made easy:  Government sets a Tax Increment Finance area.  All government bodies in the area have to agree to forgo tax increases due to increasing property values.  […]

Homeless in Bloomington-Normal

By:  Diane Benjamin According to a report by WMDB TV, there are around 250 homeless people in Bloomington-Normal. See their report here:  http://www.centralillinoisproud.com/news/local-news/homeless-in-central-illinois/856395912 Safe Harbor and Home Sweet Home Mission are the only two emergency shelters in town, according to the story.  Both are constantly at full or almost full capacity. Bloomington raised the Sales Tax […]

Guest Letter to the Council and Mayor

Dear Council Members and Mayor, If you are not able to answer the below questions, please refer me to the correct staff members. On August 28, 2017 members of the Bloomington City Council (or at least 5 of you) voted to turn the Downtown Business Association into a government entity. The DBA was given $850K […]

Normal’s Economic Development Exposed

By:  Diane Benjamin Chris Koos recently spoke at a “State of McLean County” event.    See the newspaper story HERE Koos thinks his job is reducing economic inequity, delivering opportunity, social equity and sustainability. If his claims were true, the Council wouldn’t be set to raise property taxes to fill holes in their budget. Stealing more […]

One more retreat note:

By:  Diane Benjamin I reported in Part 1 that Hales blamed the past Council for approving building Fire Station #5:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/08/49548/ Hales claims the Council needs to assert their authority instead of always taking staff recommendations. Two points to consider: Voting against a Fire Station will get you accused of not caring about Public SsafetyHales could […]

Bloomington: Monday’s bills

By:  Diane Benjamin Source:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=14998 Citizens may not realize when they pay bills by credit card the City gets charged a fee for accepting the card.  Just for one month there is over $81,000 listed as “Credit Card Fees”.  See PDF page 161-163.  That’s money that can’t be used for anything else.  There are other charges […]

Retreat: Part 2

By:  Diane Benjamin The second session of the retreat was 3 hours and 33 minutes.  I DID NOT LISTEN TO EVERY SECOND!  I jumped around and listened to more than half.  It was obvious Quality of Life is not going to be in proposed cuts.  The discussion involved real spending for the first time in […]

The Perils of Public-Private Partnerships

By:  Diane Benjamin If you need evidence that Public-Private partnerships mean taxpayers lose, look at the Coliseum/Grossinger Motors Arena.  The City of Bloomington pretended to oversee operations, they failed the taxpayers. The “private” part of these partnerships think they don’t have to disclose where the money goes.  A far better plan is to outsource entire […]

Auschwitz – Diversity Project

I’m going to occasionally print something different. The McLean County Diversity Project was started in 2002.  This year 23 students were chosen to participate, they range from 6th to 12th grade.  See the Project website here:  http://mcleancountydiversity.org/Jeff_Schwartz.html Last summer the group traveled to Auschwitz/Birkenau.  The group spent months studying and preparing for the trip.  An Auschwitz survivor […]

Here is just one reason Normal raises taxes:

By:  Diane Benjamin Here’s just a few of the Town’s recent follies:  (there are more) Portillos give away – $1,825,000 plus interest:  https://blnnews.com/2016/12/02/portillo-town-monday-night/ Greenbriar Shopping Center – $4.8 million  https://blnnews.com/2017/10/16/normal-revised-schedule-spending/ $100,000 to the Mclean County History Museum + $700,000 that wasn’t budgeted:   https://blnnews.com/2017/09/04/normals-funnybusiness-tuesday/ $420,853.49 for new furniture  https://blnnews.com/2017/07/16/you-arent-supposed-to-notice/ Rivian! Here’s one you probably forgot or never knew: The […]

Illegal or just unethical?

By:  Diane Benjamin The event below is being held tonight on public property. The Normal Township website says nothing about having a room to rent:    http://www.normaltownship.org/index.php Since a couple of politicians are using a room, according to an email I received, you too can reserve it.  Just make it open to the public and not-for-profit […]

Normal Taxpayers got SCAMMED!

By:  Diane Benjamin Last night Trustees RC McBride and Kevin McCarthy went out of their way to thanks the 5 citizens who spoke at Public Comment.  They needed to because 3 out of the 5 were plants. Normal illegally requires citizens who want to speak to sign up hours in advance.  That gives Koos and […]

Part 2: Normal Spending tonight

By:  Diane Benjamin Part 1:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/06/normal-let-them-eat-cake/ Source:  http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2772 Were all those beautiful mums for a couple of weeks worth this?  Keep in mind the labor to plant them is not included!   Misc Payments: Listed under City Manager General expenses: More Misc Expenses: FOIA filed:   . . . .

Normal: Let them Eat Cake!

By:  Diane Benjamin Part 1: In September Normal held their annual staff retreat. It wasn’t held locally, they once again went to Starved Rock Lodge.  I haven’t found the transportation expenses yet, the below is just for the Lodge: $4,263.98 Keep that number in mind when your property taxes are raised tonight because the Town […]

Normal: It’s the Council’s fault!

By:  Diane Benjamin The Town of Normal is pretending pension expenses are mandated by the State and they can’t afford them without raising Property Taxes. Somehow the Police and Fire pensions have been seriously underfunded for years.  IMRF retirements have been funded above the 80% level since 2013, think Mark Peterson’s retirement, while in 2016 […]

Past Due TIF Reports?

By:  Diane Benjamin Yesterday I did two stories on past due Tax Increment Financing reports: https://blnnews.com/2017/11/03/is-normal-hiding-tif-data/ https://blnnews.com/2017/11/03/bloomington-plays-the-same-tif-game/ First:  It is ridiculous the citizens have to wait over 6 months after a year-end for financial information. Second:  If you look under Finance on both the Bloomington and Normal websites, there are NO links to TIF reports.  […]

Irony of the Day!

By:  Diane Benjamin The below is what the City of Bloomington has in this year’s budget for Public Transportation: Bloomington has more than doubled what they give Connect Transit.  Yes, that structural deficit is the Council’s fault.  Even with more of your money, CT continues to lose between $800,000 and $900,000 every month. Tomorrow the […]

Bloomington plays the same TIF game

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal has not submitted TIF reports to the Comptroller as required:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/03/is-normal-hiding-tif-data/ Bloomington hasn’t either: warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com Bloomington TIF Past Due The Comptroller’s  office must not know Bloomington created another TIF in October 2016 for downtown.  They will when I notify them. See the Council minutes here for when the TIF was created:   http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11542 […]

Is Normal hiding TIF data?

By:  Diane Benjamin I’m always suspicious when an article appears in the paper praising something when the data to back up the claims is unavailable. It happened again October 26th with this story in the Pantagraph:  Normal TIF Districts Paying Dividends One has to wonder where the story came from.  Did somebody at the Town call […]

Legal: Employee Investigations?

By:  Diane Benjamin I’ve written before about the City spending resources to prosecute employees when arbitration reaches a different conclusion than the one the City wants.  Remember Scott Oglesby?   https://blnnews.com/2013/05/06/the-real-story-of-scott-oglesbys-firing/ Now they are doing it again.  This time it’s a fireman, Jon Caponi, who was arrested in 2016 for domestic violence.  See the newspaper story […]

NIOT has no moral authority!

By:  Diane Benjamin Not In Our Town only means some people in town are not allowed to have opinions.  Any mention of ILLEGAL and immigrant together could lead to public flogging!  Laws aren’t meant to be obeyed, it all in how one “feels”. NIOT proved who they really are the first time Tari attacked me […]

Atlanta Library: FOIA exposure

By:  Diane Benjamin The Freedom of Information Act clearly states the personal information can be redacted.  Employees have a right to not have their Social Security thrown around the Internet! The Atlanta Public Library doesn’t understand that simple concept.  The following was sent to a citizen who FOIA’d wages paid.  That citizen partially redacted the […]

Dump Rauner for Jeanne Ives

By:  Diane Benjamin Bruce Rauner has accomplished little for Illinois, now add he declared Illinois a sanctuary state and forced pro-life people to pay for abortions.  He is mistaken to believe his base will support him for another 4 years.  We have been betrayed by Rauner and we will not forget. We have a better […]