Normal: Another thing found in FOIA – CIRBN

By:  Diane Benjamin

CIRBN is registered with Secretary of State as an LLC – Limited Liability Corporation.

They call themselves a Public Utility and claimed tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3).

In 2017 they had an operating loss of $778,891 but claim to have assets of  $11,907,431.

This is CIRBN in short:

The Obama Administration handed out grants (tax money) for super high speed internet access.  ISU administered the program until the grant money ran out.  Only select organization can use CIRBN – government, schools, hospitals, and apparently friends of government.  Remember that $100 a month lease on Linden?  Normal was going to pay $5000 to run CIRBN service to them,

When the grant ran out representatives from Normal, Bloomington, Pontiac, Heartland, Unit 5, and ISU formed a Board to oversee operations.

As I reported in May of 2018, Unit 5 is switching to Metronet.  I also reported Rob Fazzini signed contracts for the City of Bloomington  even though he was merely a Board representative for Bloomington.

CIRBN has 3 employees.  Here’s where something smells.  Instead of providing benefits for themselves, which would be costly, the Town of Normal made them employees.  At least 2 of the 3 are paying into the pension system and will receive benefits if they stay long enough.  The third person isn’t listed on the Town’s compensation report since the salary is less than $75,000.  All three employees also get health insurance through the Town of Normal.

Supposedly all salary and benefit expenses are paid by CIRBN to the Town.

Now compare this arrangement to any small business.  Wouldn’t it be nice to jump on a government benefit plan – including a pension – even though you provide services only to the entity?

Below are a series of emails Stan Nord exchanged with Pam Reece.  Draw your own conclusions:

cirbn 3

cirbn 4

cirbn 5

cirbn 6

cirbn 7

cirbn 8

cirbn 9

cirbn 10 acirbn 10 bcirbn 10 c

Some of Stan’s questions were not answered,  We have no way of knowing if 100% of the cost of the CIRBN employees is really reimbursed.

Remember the saying:  “Watch the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves”?  That doesn’t appear to be the philosophy in Normal.

This is the documentation for what was passed by the Council:  CIRBN



41 thoughts on “Normal: Another thing found in FOIA – CIRBN

  1. I can see her at her desk when she gets an email from Stan. Eye rolls and heavy sighs abound I’m sure! She just wants him to go away. His question could have had a simple yes/no. “Is the town reimbursed the complete claim cost?” Her testiness increased as they continued to chat.
    I’m glad these conversations are being held electronically. No FOIA for oral conversations!

    1. Sounds like a Normal Town Council meeting that you really must see in person to believe. The camera doesn’t pick up all the animosity these people hold toward Stan. It’s on full display at the meetings, sighs, eye rolling, etc.

      One thing is clear. Queen Pamela sure doesn’t like Council members questioning her. She seems to have forgotten (or more likely never realized) that She works for Stan and Stan works for the people of Normal.

      Thank you Diane Benjamin for doing the work our local media is too lazy to do. And thanks Stan Nord for asking the questions no one else will ask.

    2. Pam just wants (like Fuhrer Koos) for Stan to sit down and shut up. They got this Stan… CIRBN is part of the crony system here. Yes, we give them a sweetheart deal which NO other privately owned company on the planet would get… but hey they are part of the money train. Stan needs to start getting with the program here. Maybe he should start hanging out with Kathleen Lorenz at all the silly Chamber events, etc.? He needs to get is mind right to be on this council.

    3. Reece is the gift that keeps on giving…to the Tiritili campaign and watchdog groups.

  2. Hi Diane, I’ve been wondering this for a while and thought maybe you would know, but how long do employees in general need to be employed to receive these full pension benefits? It seems bizarre that CIRBN would be eligible for them.

      1. WOW! That’s it?? There’s not much to stop people from hitting that mark and then taking off out of state with a full pension…

      2. I think we’re confusing ‘vested’ and ‘full’. I think for most places, public and private, vesting occurs at 5 years. That simply means you are entitled to some sort of pension, or 401(k)/403(b) matching or whatever other ’employer portion’ there may be to your retirement benefits. if you’ve worked there less than that, you get a portion, or usually none, of the employer-paid portion of the benefit(s).
        Full pension implies that you have reached the maximum level of payout. That is typically some portion of your ending salary and on some sort of scale based primarily, possibly exclusively, on length of service. A completely hypothetical example might be that you earn 1.5% per year of service with a cap of 60%. In that example if you made 100K when you left (to keep the math simple), if you had been there 5 yrs you’ve earned a pension of only 7.5K/yr. but you wouldn’t reach a ‘full’ pension of $60K/yr unless you’d been there 40 or more years.
        So there’s a good chance the CIRBN people will be getting a Town of Normal pension, but so far it shouldn’t be too substantial.

  3. SO, IF 100% of Personnel expenses are PAID BACK to the town, and there’s NO COST to the town (as per Reese) Then WHY the heck don’t they get their OWN insurance, and WHY is UPTOWN paying it? Somethings rotten here..
    Sounds like a Roundabout way of saying GO AWAY..

    1. If they got their own insurance for 3 people it would be exponentially more expensive than working with the town’s plan. This saves taxpayers money.

      1. Saving us money? What planet are you on? Saving us money would involve dumping CIRBN and letting a free market company have a shot at providing service to our government entities.

      2. The chamber has a group plan available for small businesses. You only need 2 employees. Pam, Just answer the questions! Fold this entity and disburse the assets!

  4. Apparently, Pam doesn’t realize that Stan is the representative of her employer (the citizens of Normal).

  5. …How long would you last at your job if you basically told your employer to buzz off when he or she questioned you about how you were handling business matters?

  6. OK. Just one more comment:

    “But please know that your public statements about staff and the organization and your in-depth attempt to know every detail of our operation is perceived by many as a lack of confidence in staff and a lack of confidence in the organization.”

    Aha! Now she has finally perceived correctly!

  7. Can someone tell me how a company that has 3 employees has a director (who is one of the employees) who makes $138,000 a year plus benefits. That is $75 dollars an hour to manage 2 people. And can someone also tell me why this director appears to be joined at the hip and in dozens of photo ops with Kathleen Lorenz at every before hours, after hours, between hours events, lunches, dinners, coffees for the elites in the area?

    NO privately owned company in the area would get a sweetheart deal like this. There is something rotten going on here. Stan needs to continue to shine light on this situation.

  8. From a ‘Town of Normal Fiduciary Responsibility’ point of view, there is a simple way to resolve much of the animosity being generated here. CIRBN people were ISU employees, then they were handed off to Normal. Sounds like we did our share and took our turn, so CIRBN expenses can be handed off to the next partner in line – Pontiac, Bloomington, or Heartland – at the end of the current agreement, 12/31/19. If they aren’t willing to step up, then obviously the underlying premise that CIRBN is a critical parter to area governmental entities is false and the whole situation needs to be re-evaluated.

  9. I smell a rat in the woodpile here. What exactly are the three employees doing every day for those great benefits and salaries. They have so sales costs. Their customers are at the limit now. They can’t have marketing. They can’t have anything to do? Where is the $11,000,000 come from? The customers? That would be taxpayers. What is it for? Whose going to report when it starts to disappear? Lots of questions.

    1. It’s one big gravy train with mashed potatoes and sour cream. They have a rented office in downtown Bloomington, some fiber optic wires in various locations and some modems and some wireless equipment? On what planet can this amount to $11 million? I have not seen any fleets of CIRBN trucks? And they have 2 employees and a director? Really? You can’t make this kind of stuff up….

  10. CIRBN is losing customers and market share on price and service despite overly generous government subsidies. It seems at least one of the three employees has plenty of time for selfies at Chamber events, hobnobbing with the local establishment elites (cough, cough…Lorenz), and going out for long lunches. Does Koos know the CIRBN office is in Downtown Bloomington? Perhaps, he can relocate them to 1 Uptown Circle. Everyone else is leaving Downtown Bloomington. So, why not CIRBN?!

    1. That would be pouching from Bloomington, the very thing Koos is against. Maybe Stan Nord should invite them to Normal

  11. The common answer seems to be… all these questions means you don’t TRUST the staff. This almost sounds like the typical response when you don’t agree with most liberals on an issue… then you must be racist or a nazi.
    They keep deflecting to a… “why don’t you trust us?” defense. So evidently the staff is perfect and there is no reason to provide any oversight. I say we should dissolve the council and mayor’s positions and let the “staff” just do what they do.

    1. He is awesome, he just has to get some friends on the council to work with him It is our responsibility to get him these. So get off your ass people and vote those who are Koos clones out and get people who work for the people the represent in! Let’s make it happen, “Koos is done in twenty-twenty one”.

  12. Hey everyone, let’s get some Normal tax paying citizens in the seats in the audience at council meetings and remind them who they represent and work for. Thank goodness Stan is asking tough questions. This CIRBN is ridiculous. They exist in order to employ their fellow communists in unnecessary jobs with unrealistically high salaries in positions they’re not qualified for. This is going on all over town. They relocate these people in order to change the demographics of the area, so they invent jobs for them. The salaries for these people employed by public entities is obscene. THEY ARR ROBBING US BLIND WITH THE BLESSING OF THE MAYOR AND HIS COMRADES.

  13. ROB FAZZINI, Treasurer and Mark DeKeersgieter, Executive Director of Central Illinois Broadband Network.

    Need I say more…

  14. It clearly states in the agreement, on the first page, that CIBRN will reimburse for ALL benefit costs. Insurance claims are benefits costs. Pension expenses are benefits cost. Someone vesting 5 years in at $100k+ will quickly accumulate a nice little pension. They spend 10 years, and the State of IL is providing a nice chunk of a pension to these people – one that will grow at 3% per year into retirement. They spend 25…30…35+ years, and you’re talking another person added to the list who retires with a $100k+ pension that grows thousands each and every year.

    Unfortunately when she’s caught, Pam Reece (daughter-in-law of former Council member Sonja Reece) gets upset and wants to change the subject.

  15. Why do they list 5 employees and 5 board members on their website, if they only have 3 employees?

  16. I was told from a reliable source that CT has $13 MM to spend on a new office. Is this true and if so why are the towns still subsidizing?

  17. In theory, one can actuarially calculate the real current value of those pension benefits and be reimbursed accordingly. I’d like to know if that is actually happening. The town’s ‘general employee’ pension fund is about 75% funded iirc. (Actual number may be significantly off, but pretty sure it’s underfunded by some percentage). Has the CIRBN portion been 100% funded? I know the funding level isn’t broken out by individual or department, but have they paid-in-full vs paying the same rate as general Town payments if they’re less than 100%?

  18. Can someone tell me why CIRBN employees are in the Town of Normal’s pension program? Can someone tell me why a non-profit’s employees are de facto Town of Normal employees? Can someone tell me where CIRBN’s 11 million dollars in assets are hiding? Can someone direct me to how one joins this little club that the elites here have (asking for a friend)?

  19. I’m baffled! I. the commercial world, at least I was always advised we could not provide group medical, even though we were 100% self insured company unless their was a direct employee-employer relationship because it’s an employee to employee benefit. Otherwise, the people would have to claim the insurance as taxable income and the practice violated federal as state law. I think those Corporate attorneys were lying all those years. Silly me

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