Update: Koos and McBride don’t want your opinions!

The first public comment speaker was Karyn Smith (not Karen) – also a candidate for Normal Town Council.  Other than her comments last night I don’t know anything else about her – yet.

By:  Diane Benjamin

When Chris Koos began public comment he made clear he would time limit the speakers so they could get on to business at hand.  Obviously public comment is an inconvenience.  Just hit play below to hear him and the speakers.  To the Town’s credit, most of what the citizens said was at least mentioned (mostly disputed) during the meeting.  In Bloomington citizens are usually ignored.

FIVE citizens came to the Normal Town council to express their displeasure with the agenda.  Mike Matekja also showed up, but only to make sure his union people would be used to build the Trail East.  Since not much else is happening with construction in the area, he was drooling at the thought of yet another project not possible without government funding.

Matekja made one funny comment – he claimed no up-front money will be involved with Trail East.  Portillos was supposed to be NO up-front too, but the same developer likely needed money for 1 Uptown Circle, so instead of paying him with food and beverage taxes as promised, the Town paid him early.  They claimed it was to save interest costs.  Soon after the staff cuts began.  Koos and company will never admit why he was really paid.  Maybe he can start up his Fact or Fiction site again!

The first speaker was a CPA, Karen Smith.  Koos couldn’t cut her off fast enough when her time expired.  She laid out the fallacy of adding the third building to Trail East and handing out more money to the developer.

Two speakers wanted the Council to wait until ISU students were back in town before approving the new sorority house.  City Manager Pam Reece inadvertently made the case for Wards instead of At-Large elections when she stated the Council would have to cancel around 9 meetings a year when ISU isn’t in session if ISU students were needed.  Obviously nobody holding office is representing the biggest economic engine Normal has.  Pam’s comment is at 27:29.

Stan Nord spoke about changing economic conditions making the need for Trail East questionable when empty buildings exist in Uptown.  He stated the rest of the Town has needs too.  Marc Tiritilli spoke about the subsidies, historic preservation, the use of TIF money in an area that isn’t blighted.  He also mentioned the original Uptown plan did not include the destruction of the three buildings on Beaufort.  He claimed the historic nature of Uptown is being needlessly destroyed.  He asked who we are as a community?  Koos couldn’t get rid of him fast enough either.  Later Koos mentioned all their spending on historic preservation.  He always mentions the Normal Theater, Town owned.

Koos was so flustered by public comment he wanted a vote to approve the minutes and spending without a motion.

Much of the meeting was reviewing the planned new building.  The developer claims to have letters of intent for around 70% of the space.  Two 2-bedroom and one 3-bedroom apartment are still unoccupied at 1 Uptown Circle.  Trail East adds more luxury apartments.  One reader pointed out last night that Portillos came to town with developer subsidies, now the Town is subsidizing Windy City Wieners to complete with them.  They plan to have a space in the new building.   $4.5 million is pledged by the Town – see 1:20:50.  (Media is reporting $8 million!)

It has to be killing Koos and the Council that NO Sales Tax revenue is being generated at 1 Uptown Circle because the first floor is still empty.  Koos still claimed the building is a success.  Of course it is!  Taxpayers are paying $422,986 a year to rent an entire floor!  I’m sure they planned on a huge cash influx from the “upscale” restaurant that was supposed to move in long ago.  Koos claimed later the developer will be bringing in a new plan for the space.  He also said that a month or two ago, still nothing.

RC McBride, the member of the media also governing Normal (Putin would be proud), went off on the public beginning at 1:25:25.  His comments need to be seen since he is running for re-election.  Koos’s rant follows.  Citizens need to hear both of them.

Much was made about “looking ahead”.  20 or 25 years from now everything will be great!  (Think Coliseum)  Of course, if things go south this Council won’t be around to hold accountable.  Matekja is still around to hold responsible for the Coliseum since he voted for it.

Kathleen Lorenz, Mayor Koos, and others pointed out the huge increase in EAV (Equalized Assessed Valuation) because of all the development over the past 20 years.  Her comments are shortly after McBride and Koos.  Since she is also running for re-election, listen to her comments.

If Uptown had produced overwhelming prosperity, the citizens of Normal would not have experienced constant tax and fee increases over the same time period.

Development would not have taken place without government subsidies.  As of 3/31/18 Normal had total debt of $89,823,286, not including pension and post employment liabilities.

The Normal Town Council is gambling and using taxpayers as seed money.   The Town Council believes revenues will pay the debt.  1 Uptown Circle proves plans don’t always pan out.  The recent staff cuts prove revenue is a problem.  The only way to stop this speculative development with your money is to elect different people.  Unfortunately, the only one I see wanting to protect taxpayers on the April ballot is Stan Nord.

Hit play for Public Comment:



18 thoughts on “Update: Koos and McBride don’t want your opinions!

  1. Haha! Koos can’t stand that there are people with opinions different than his. You can tell that he’s so accustomed to getting his way and not being challenged. Perhaps, he should stop hanging around his elitist circles and talk to us common folk. But, as Diane mentioned, we’re an inconvenience. I see Koos has Cheryl Gains on local BN-related Facebook pages trying to ward off the angry taxpayers. Her answers are awful. Koos & Company are finally being held to account with demonstrable evidence of their economic failures. They have no answers. This is fun to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With all this talk about a food court in this new building, it’s clear they’ve forgotten that they had to subsidize Subway in Uptown Station.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I’d seen Marc or Stan speak before – good to do so. Glad I voted for Marc, and this reinforces my planned vote for Stan. Do find out more about Karyn, as she seems she may be another good candidate.
    I didn’t watch much past the public comments – I assume the council followed their established policy of “If it’s on the agenda, we’ve already passed it – the public vote is just to make it look legal.”?


      1. Don’t forget to add Jeff Fritzen to the mix. He doesn’t like being challenged either. Does he really believe the line of bull that he consistently tries to feed us with his remarks at Council meetings? There was a time when he offered himself as an alternative to Koos, even ran for mayor against him and his Uptown plans that he claimed at the time were too aggressive. After his loss, it appears Jeff and Koos have kissed and made up and are best buddies. Jeff seems to go out of his way to tow the Koos agenda. His remarks show a severely flawed logic that’s abandoned any moral principle.


  4. This is nothing new on Koos. He doesn’t want any opinions at all from citizens cause too often they prove to be smarter than him. Not good for the king status.


  5. A couple thoughts:

    1.) The preferred development partner has been a huge flop in uptown. How about letting them work on filling their existing building, with non-government space, before erecting another building? If people really wanted to relocate their businesses here from out of town, it would have happened. You aren’t helping the market by having a place leave one area of Normal and move to uptown. Maybe you get a business to move from Bloomington but then they steal one back with huge incentives that, overall, cost the taxpayers.

    2.) McBride talks about the benefit of construction jobs. That’s nice but how many of those companies are local? How many of those suppliers are local? How many workers will be employed past the construction of the building? If we’re going to throw taxpayer money at a project, have it be a company like Brandt or some other manufacturer/financial services company/tech company, etc. to get new jobs here that add people to the community. New jobs means hires from local universities, employing local workers, and bringing in new taxpayers from out of town. It means people buying houses and paying property taxes. Not just shifting where we get the money from. Unfortunately changing state and local tax conditions here and the growing pension/healthcare debt cripples our business climate.

    3.) It’s sad the malarkey Koos tries to peddle. When his projects look bad, he switches to try and focus on, “Well, 25 years down the road things will be better.” It’s the only way he can go because people in the past, now, and in the immediate future aren’t looking to lease this space. And say they do, will the Town be handing out new TIF money to do rehabs in 25 years?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Koos and McBride are typical liberal elites. They know what is best for us….they have a vision that we don’t understand and in spite of what you can see with your own eyes… what appears to be failure will some day be a success. They have no respect for anyone elses point-of-view or opinion if it assaults their ideas. They are smarter than everyone else… they have the inside information….they can see what we can’t see. This is of course all a way to ram their agendas and vision of what they think the town should be, down the throats of the taxpayers. Never mind that their liberal “government intervention in the free market” never works and is not working in the Uptown Boondoggle. Sit down and shut up taxpayers…we are doing this no matter how stupid it is or how much you don’t want it.

    Instead of raising their heads out of the sand and realizing that what they have already done is not working and will become a devastating financial burden on the taxpayers of Normal, as we continue into the ongoing economic decline that has just begun, they double down with yet another building project? The heck with the mural… who cares about the naysayers concerned about the last part of the old downtown Normal going out the the landfill. Full speed ahead with another monument to the folly that is Uptown Normal!


  7. This REEKS of “ARENA” or maybe even another RIVIAN. I think KOOS would buy into an eskimo snow cone factory IF he thought everyone wanted it, and OF COURSE we do, and R.C. would be right there with his “INTEGRITY” mantra and telling us that it would give us “quality of life” or some other BS..
    OH, and SAVE THE MURAL! What’s another $50 or 80K! Donate it to the MET.


    1. Yes from the evidence displayed so far, Mayor Koos is pretty gullible and not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I wonder if he is going to have the town buy more imaginary $60,000 trucks in the near future? Why not? It’s only someone elses money, right?


  8. DO as I say and NOT as I do would be a great slogan for the McBride camp on the next election.
    From his FIRST “integrity” line
    “Integrity is NOT assuming that you speak for EVERYBODY” But he WANTS to move forward with this.. DAMN THE TORPEDOES!!
    WHEN did UPTOWN all of a sudden NEED or WANT a NEW building (or mud hole) ? Do these folks wake up in the morning and ask themselves” What dumb thing can I propose today, and sound like an illuminati”


  9. sounds like its time for Koos to change the rules again on public comment. King Koos doesnt like what is being said so you can bet your bottom taxpayer dollar he will change the rules.


  10. What I find really infuriating is how much Bush (and the Town) are paying Windy City Wieners for their building. That building appraised for $250,000. Yet, they’re being paid over $800,000 for it! Bush is paying them and the Town is reimbursing Bush for it. That’s outrageous. Sure, Windy City could be compensated some for down time, but at over 3x the appraisal cost? That’s just nuts.

    As info, per my contacts, Farnsworth Group will be occupying a whole floor and then it’s not yet been announced, but Afni will be relocating their operations from Bloomington to another floor in this building. There remains a “mystery” group that is in talks with Bush about occupying a third floor, and I’ve heard that it may be a branch of Microsoft. If they could bring that much buisness to Uptown, I think that would be great, but I still could never imagine that justifying the huge costs that the Town is fronting.


  11. Public comment is a waste of time, unless you simply want to voice an opinion. And you know what they say about those. If you really want to get something done, have a problem you’d like addressed, or want have an intelligent conversation or dialogue about policy, the best way to do that is a one on one conversation. I’ve done it. Set up meetings in Bloomington and Normal to meet with elected officials. It was enlightening. Public commenters don’t seem to be interested in actual results, though. It’s more about railing against “the system,” hearing their own voice, and grandstanding. To public bodies, such as the Normal Town council, I imagine it is an inconvenience. And I don’t necessarily disagree.


    1. I was going to delete your idiot comment, but changed my mind.

      PUBLIC COMMENT is the LAW!

      Does that matter? I always tell people brave enough to go address their leaders that their comments aren’t for them – they don’t care. Their comments are for all the people who won’t go address them and need to know they aren’t alone. You might want to re-read the first amendment – not the Free Speech part. Citizens have a right to petition government for a redress of grievances. That’s what public comment does, even if they don’t care.


  12. I agree our current council does not appear to be willing to understand what their constituents have to say, in a public forum. Concerned citizens should have input on how and what their tax dollars are spent. Unfortunately, if it conflicts with Uptown, subsidizing a restaurant, or dress shop you will likely be ignored.

    The businesses, jobs, people, and the homes in which they live, who the town says, this tax payer subsidized, Trail East building is so crucial for, are already located in B/N. So when you look at the entire community, tax payers are getting NO net economic benefit, just reshuffling of what we already have. (Bloomington is getting all this poached away at the expense of Normal taxpayers, which is divisive and does not help the overall economy or community of Bloomington-Normal.) Economic development must be a combined Bloomington and Normal initiative, we must work together not against!

    If Uptown 1 and Trail East buildings are so necessary and in demand, why won’t a private business fully fund building these structures?

    I have tried, as a concerned citizen and taxpayer, to have my voice heard and change at least one of the 7 votes. I have realized, if no one is listening, I am wasting time and energy.

    So, I have refocused on becoming ONE of the 7 votes instead. One who will listen and is not afraid to say no. I am running for council because I cannot continue to watch my home town of Bloomington-Normal spend our tax dollars on projects with minimal economic value.

    Stan Nord
    NordforNormal.com or Facebook at NordforNormal.

    Liked by 1 person

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