Normal: Professional Staff?

By:  Diane Benjamin

For the second time in recent months Normal was incapable of live streaming with good audio.  The posted video still has the same problem, luckily it was fixed almost 13 minutes into the meeting.  About every 20 seconds the prior audio was replayed over the first.  In another 20 seconds a third version was added.

The entire Liquor Commission meeting was played in a three ring loop which continued during the Council meeting including the Pledge of Allegiance.  The problems coincide with Normal hiring a person with little experience in technology – Vasudha Gadhiraju.  She is listed as the Director of Information and Technology.  Previously she led the McLean County Regional Planning Commission.  I remember hearing comments that it would take her 6-9 months to learn the job.  Professional Staff?

Mayor Koos was not at the meeting, it was conducted by Kevin McCarthy.  I really enjoy the mystery of people you elect not showing up and everyone on the Council pretends that’s okay.  Evidently, once elected, it isn’t your job to represent the people who elected you.  Of course we see that frequently anyway even when they do show up.

No one signed up for Public Comment.  It would have been fun to see McCarthy throw people out because they didn’t speak to agenda items.

All three items that used to be automatic votes were pulled from the Omnibus Agenda.

The first item pulled was approving the minutes of the Work Session held on December 6th.  It was pulled by Stan Nord.  The Work Session occurred right after the Citizens Summitt and incorporated many ideas from citizens.  The facilitator hired by Normal, Lyle Sumek, is suppose to be compiling a report.  The minutes say next to nothing.  Stan wanted to know when that report would be available, he didn’t receive a real answer.  The Town isn’t pleased with items like No Sports Complex, No Underpass, sublet the 2nd floor of 1 Uptown Circle, Uptown parking management, Trail East, empty space at 1 Uptown Circle, and No Uptown 2.0.  Let’s see how long they try to hide the report.

The next item pulled, also by Stan, was bills.  He questioned the Uptown Business Association contribution of $10,000.  He wanted to know how much other members contribute, Pam Reece didn’t know.  Stan asked if Normal contributes to other business associations, the answer was no.  Stan wants the Association to support itself eventually.

McCarthy responded by recapping Bloomington’s DBA history, he thinks Bloomington hired the former association staff because they realize the importance of promotion.  Actually Kevin, the downtown businesses did not provide financial support.  The two employees got a stable income, benefits, and pensions by becoming City employees.  Meanwhile, CVS either moved out or is moving out.

Next Stan questioned why the Town is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and paying them for it.  He thinks there is a conflict of interest with government being a member of a business organization.  The Town recently funded their Work Force Development plan.  Pam Reece explained they have a long history and it doesn’t conflict as long as the money isn’t used for political purposes.  She also claims Normal is a significant employer and finds value in the membership.  No one explained how the Chamber raises money for their PAC.  Karyn Smith stated unions divert part of dues, she didn’t get clarity on how the Chamber is different.

The Cottage Avenue final development plan was pulled by Karyn.  She was concerned about the availability of units for person with disabilities.  A staff person explained the units have no steps, but code doesn’t require any special accommodations.

Trustee comments:

27:00 Karyn Smith – Leaf pickup is over.  January 16th is an all day Budget Work Session.  This session will be lived streamed and archived on the website.  Maybe audio can be clear this time.

28:20 Stan Nord read a letter from a citizen who attended the Citizens Summit.   If you watch nothing else, just hit play below to hear it.  Pam Reece didn’t appreciate Stan’s points, she stated many other priorities will be in the report too.  Kathleen Lorenz chimed in on the same letter, she also was in contact with the letter writer.  She responded to that person with a detailed email.  She didn’t say if the person responded to her again.

A formally 5 minute meeting stretched into over 30 minutes.  The Liquor Commission meeting was barely audible, but it sounded like “staff” handles enforcement.  Council merely gets a report.

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Normal: Professional Staff?

  1. So, the former director of regional planning, who was tasked with planning out the future of the community and local economy can’t properly hookup some A/V equipment to tape a meeting. Let that sink in for a moment. Must be a lack of experienced technology professionals in the community. Or, this might be a political hire…no way, right? Tip of the hat to Stan… Town membership in business organizations is most certainly a conflict of interest. Monies they send to both the Uptown Business Association and Chamber of (Crony) Commerce are aimed at controlling the local economy and narrative. The Town wants to screen for the “right fit” and keep an eye on those that may question their (blurry) vision for the community’s future.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The body language of the attorney while addressing the issue of PACs and the Chamber of Commerce was interesting. (about 19:00) He seemed uncomfortable swinging in his chair.
    Should there have been some type of explanation for the Mayor’s absence ?

    Like

  3. Vasudha Gadhiraju—-annual salary $126,000 per year plus benefits. Come on guys what do you expect for $126K? Someone who knows what they are doing to start? Get real. Knowing the local broadcast industry where in technical areas 40K a year is a Godsend why would one expect a competent person to be in this area (tee tee). Nope jut more proof it is not what you know but who you …. By the way she came from the great city of Decatur 2 jobs back.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Knowledge of your craft, work ethic and competency have never appeared at the top of list when being considered for any management position in this town. The who you know mantra is front and center and the most important qualification one can have in this town when seeking a position that actually pays. People who make these decisions are looking for yes men and women who have a circle the wagons mentality and have no problem lying in order to protect their jobs and security. Most managers in this town are not educated in the field they manage, are either drinking buddies with those that hired them or have been hired to pay off a debt for something a friend or a relative of the hired did for them. Nepotism in the hiring practices in both government and private business has been off the rails here for decades. Think of the scene in the movie “Moneyball” at Boston’s Fenway Park. Pretty much sums it up.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, Queen Pamela is right about one thing. The Town of Normal is indeed a major employer in McLean County. I would argue growing at too rapid a rate, even faster than the private sector. What’s more, we the tax payers are on the hook for funding their public pensions in which our taxes are consistently raised in order to fund, or in the case of this year are taxes are raised to hire a new propaganda manager. What does this say about the state of our local economy? The McLean County Chamber of Commerce and those who hang out in this crowd make me want to vomit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing, though not surprising, that Pamela touts the Town as a major employer in McLean County. Pamela – that’s not a good thing. Government doesn’t create jobs or wealth, as they must first confiscate wealth from productive members of society (people and businesses). The Town’s membership is all about unduly influencing the business sector and the local economy. They are strategically and methodically influencing the political narrative. The Chamber accepts large dues payments and sponsorship money from both Bloomington and Normal governments, as well as various other quasi-government entities under their influence. Time for that to stop. Thanks, Stan!

      Liked by 2 people

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