By: Diane Benjamin
A 10 minute break was taken after the pre-meeting. The Live Stream was supposed to be fixed. It wasn’t. The incompetence continued. Listen at 1:20:00 for Vasudha Gadhiraju claiming she will fix it. She didn’t, At 1:27:50 she claims it will be fixed today. 12:35 pm, still waiting:
Most of the meeting was pretty boring. The Council showed their true colors when they got to the sewer lining project . Remember the two projects that came in $850,000 under budget? https://blnnews.com/2020/05/03/normal-monday-5-4-2020/
See: 2:02:15 One was a water project and one was a sewer project. Don’t expect refunds for the increased fees – That Money Is Theirs!
Kathleen Lorenz claimed we should be celebrating! Now they can do other projects that weren’t budgeted. Was that on purpose Kathleen to force fee increases? The “consultant” evidently prepared the estimate. Wayne Aldrich (Public Works Director) suggested the COVID crisis may have driven the price down.
The “savings” on these two projects will be kept in their respective reserve funds. Planned fee increases will continue, the Council wasn’t interested in canceling the increase delayed until July 1st. 2:11:15 Kevin McCarty thanked Aldrich for saving taxpayers money.
Stan Nord questioned what happens to the money not spent. Since the Town isn’t going to give it back to you, he wanted to make sure it stayed in reserves. Kathleen Lorenz thought he wanted it transferred to “operations”. He didn’t. Hear her at 2:16:00. She never passes up an opportunity to dismiss Stan or put her own spin on what she thinks she heard.
2:19:30 The discussion started concerning One Normal Plaza. Koos began with claims this is what the Town does. McCarthy followed that he is excited about the project, he thanked staff for investing “a fair amount of time” in the project. Koos called for a vote without seeing Stan Nord wanting to speak. Luckily Stan got in. His point was the optics. He wanted the process to start at the Planning Commission because that is their job. The Planning Commission is supposed to recommend changes to zoning.
If Council initiates the process it appears Council supports the project. Stan questioned safely. He again mentioned optics since the property owner is connected to the City. Reece claims the Council is starting the process, she claims it is common. Staff has spent plus or minus 40 hours so far.
Lorenz weighed in again. She claims the Council isn’t circumventing anything, they are just starting the process. McCarthy claims this process if how Uptown started – to stimulate investment. Mercy Davidson (Town Planner) claimed it isn’t unusual, One Normal Plaza is under appreciated, the Comprehensive Plan calls for development. Staff went out their way to make every neighbor aware of what they were looking at.
Nord – 2:30:05. Stan again mentioned safety: Big trucks, drinking by a park, the day care center, swimming pool, tight roads, people parking on sides of roads. Mercy claimed roads did come up in discussions with neighbors. Stan read of the Planning Commission website where it states they make zoning recommendations to the Council. Stan said the Council sets policy, this isn’t setting policy.
2:33:40 – Chemberly Cummings (audio fuzzy at times), Scott Preston, Karyn Smith followed not seeing a problem at all.
Stan voted NO, everybody else was a bobble-head.
If, as most of the Council thinks, approving as written does not circumvent the Planning Commission process – why was this on the Agenda? It still has to go through the Planning Commission. If this has nothing to do with special treatment for friends, what was the purpose? The optics are terrible, nothing said last night negates that. Final approval could be back at Council at the first meeting in June. When was the last time Normal got any development approved in less than a month?
Anybody ever heard of the Development Committee: https://normal.org/161/Planning-Zoning
Where are the minutes?
Now I’ve invested way too much time covering Normal! Done.
5 thoughts on “Normal: The real meeting”
Did the majority of the Town Council see nothing wrong with the process for the new development of One Normal Plaza because they don’t understand the process or is it to force the development as was done when Uptown began? Either way, their action was inappropriate.
This was about money and keeping idle staff employed. There is no development work going on in Normal. New construction permits have been dismal for the past few years. The exodus from IL brought new development and construction to a halt. The pandemic added another a nail to the chances for growth for an extended time. So what do we do keep these people busy and growing their pension?
In walks 2 of Koos political elites made up a husband and wife board appointments duo who Koos owes anyway. They have a lot of money wrapped up in a property which is going no where so why not let the town staff use this property to keep them busy and help line the pockets of the Hile-Broads or at least shield them from huge expenses at the same time.
By the council initiating this zoning change for the entire town it moves through the cogs with the strength of a mandate for staff to find a way to make it work. It moves the cost from the developer paying for the bulk of the work to taxpayers paying for it. The best part is this is officially a town project now,like uptown, which can now be advertised using taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers just got fleeced by an obvious move of government picking the winners and losers again.
This is not ethical and is why Illinois is the most corrupt state. Koos has learned ethics and laws are immaterial if no one enforces them. It is good to know the king.
For people that read this blog and haven’t lived here that long, this blog entry is representative of standard operating procedure in BN. Incompetence means nothing on a job as long you are connected to the right circle of people whether it is government or private business. Local corporations are loaded with people just like the present Town IT Director. It’s all about watching each others back. Doing a good job is never as important as keeping your job under any circumstances. Political favors are the order of the day on both sides of the local political spectrum. Brady’s, Koos, Irvin, Hile-Broad, Dobski, Matejka, Penn, etc., etc. It’s all the same game with different pieces but the winners remain the same and the game never ends.
Thank you Diane for everything you do. For keeping us informed. For helping us connect the dots. For laying bare the ugly truth about our communities. Like they say, not all hero’s wear capes.
Being called a “blogger” has become a badge of honor. It means you are not writing what you are instructed to by a boss to keep your job. Bloggers exercise their freedom to research and write what they discover. Reporters gave up this practice long ago.
I do not always agree with Diane’s conclusions, but she always backs her claims with documentation so I can make my own conclusion.
Diane, wear the blogger badge with honor!