The CIAM Grand Jury

By:  Diane Benjamin

Some local media have reported on the grand jury testimony which laid out the case against the 5 former Coliseum Managers.

The City of Bloomington continues to claim they did not know about improprieties at the Coliseum until VenuWorks took over in July of 2016.

The local media continues to let them get by with it.  McLean County does not have a credible source for media.  You have no investigative reporters (other than me), and you have no one willing to hold government accountable.  The formerly “conservative” radio station has abandoned local politics.

Much of the case against the former Coliseum mangers revolves around concession sales.  The State Police investigator claimed in testimony CIAM would not allow the City to see micros reports, CIAM employees claim they never tried.

The micros reports are on machines OWNED by the City of Bloomington, purchased for the Coliseum specifically to track concession sales.

Regardless of what the City says, the contract gave them permission to enter the Coliseum with notice and look at anything they wanted.  They didn’t.  If John Butler was blocking access to records it is still the City’s fault for allowing him to do it.  The contract called for specific percentages of sales to be paid.  The City never looked at gross sales to see if they were getting paid the right amount.  Brilliant.

I firmly believe the City never tried since they had the perfect opportunity when Butler appeared before the Council requesting to change the contract from professional hockey to junior hockey.  Then Alderman Stearns demanded an investigation, then City Manager David Hales brushed her demands under the proverbial rug.  The rest of the Council and Tari Renner were oblivious.

In October of 2014 I filed FOIA requests for micros reports.  Tie this into the previous story today, my requests were denied.

I wrote this story December 11, 2014

Note 2014 is WAY before VenuWorks took over in 2016.

How did I know shady things were happening and the City NOT know?

I did file a Request for Review with the Attorney General’s Public Access office which they never ruled on.  The law says they have 90 days, it’s really whenever they get around to it.

Since the City was ready to resign CIAM to a new contract, I filed a lawsuit for documents on September 21, 2015.  I believe this is the only reason CIAM walked away from the Coliseum.

I didn’t receive anything until August 26, 2016

I had reported on Coliseum antics for more than two years before the city finally asked for an investigation.  David Hales, Tari Renner, and the Bloomington City Council have never been faulted for their roles in this fleece.

Of course, I’ve never been credited for exposing it either..



9 thoughts on “The CIAM Grand Jury

  1. This is one of your greatest achievements! While the Pantagraph was/is busy bashing Trump and advocating for every possible “letter” of sexual deviance, you were doing the research to uncover a million dollar (maybe more) criminal fraud.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your excellent work, and your perseverance. You are a fine example that one person can make a difference and you have done just that. The taxpayers involved should be grateful to you.
    Please keep up your good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Renner and Hales were willfully blind. At a minimum, they should have known something was fishy at the Coliseum. Whether its someone not wanting to show you records or you not asking for records in a contract is almost immaterial at this point. My hunch is that Renner and Hales were aware something was shady but didn’t want to look into it for fear of what they would find. Renner is so committed to his ideology of the government runs things better, is politically aligned with Downtown and its champions, and, finally, did not want Judy Stearns and Diane to be proven right. Speaking to some Tari supporters about the Coliseum was eyeopening. They said many folks had a feeling the deal was shady from Day 1 before suggesting it was just “luck” that Diane found this or that she was “finally right about something”. Unreal! Renner looks awful for ignoring this. If he came into office and launched an investigation and shut it down, he’d be a hero. (Transparency award anyone?) After all, he didn’t make the Coliseum deal itself. But he instead chose, in my opinion, to cover things up by ignoring facts and information because they and their messengers weren’t politically convenient for him. Not to worry Tari, your PR team at the Pantagraph will cover up for you.


  4. It’s hard to say who in knew what at City Hall but someone or more than someone likely knew a lot. I have always suspected the financial scamming went right through the building…think kickbacks. Politically, Bloomington and Normal has always been a smaller version of Chicago, too much tax money passing through for someone not to be able to resist. It’s why Diane is one of the most hated people in the county among the local political class and those that profit from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great work Diane. This would still be going on today if you had not called it out.

    All Mayor Judy needed was the three union representatives and their one buddy to vote for it and it became the golden goose for all of those involved. The city manager / contractor relationship was a very sweet deal for both, while us taxpayers continue to pay for it for many, many years.

    Tari just adds to the pain by acting as though he has a potential buyer. If he is truly willing to sell it, list it with a firm to market to potential buyers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The coverup will continue as long as King Tari has an Illinois AG in his corner. Diane, I consider you the ONLY credible news source in McLean County. You are one hell of a reporter! Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Negligence is the word that comes to mind in regards to Renner, Hales, and anyone on shitty council that failed to check the direct sales numbers. Absolute negligence.

    Liked by 1 person

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