Normal’s agenda for Monday

By:  Diane Benjamin Agenda and Bills:   http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2821 If you want to know why local government isn’t run for citizens, check out where they go to learn how to do their job. NLC is National League of Cities:  http://citysummit.nlc.org/schedule/schedule-by-day/ One Voice is the biggest fleece of all!  Big group goes to Washington DC to beg for money […]

They built it – nobody came

By:  Diane Benjamin Old story, but the Coliseum was built against the wishes of the people, bigger venues already existed in Peoria and Champaign.  The Coliseum isn’t big enough to draw big name acts, the sports teams have lousy attendance at games. The economic impact of the Coliseum is a made-up number with no actual […]

Morale cratering at State Farm

By:  Diane Benjamin It’s not hard to find someone at State Farm willing to talk.  The employees have no idea whether they will have a job tomorrow, 3 months from now, or 6 months from now.  I’m told 2018 is going to be worse for downsizing than 2017 was. Keep your eyes on this site:  https://www.thelayoff.com/state-farm […]

Parka required at the Normal Theater?

By:  Diane Benjamin The Normal Theater is showing classic Christmas movies this month, see the calendar here:     https://www.normaltheater.com/calendar.aspx Some friends went to see Holiday on Tuesday night.  Air conditioning was blowing on them during the entire movie.  Yes, even with coats they were frozen. One of them asked what she described as the night […]

Down 9,000 in seven years

By:  Diane Benjamin WGLT interviewed an economist from the Economic Development Council.  Mike Doherty is the one that reported Bloomington-Normal has lost 9000 jobs in the last 7 years. He claims government has shrunk.  (Not Bloomington!)  He also attributed the decline to State Farm ending consulting contracts and Mitsubishi closing.  Then he blamed my personal favorite:  […]

Normal: Know about this survey?

By:  Diane Benjamin Do you want more services from the Town of Normal? I’ve seen far too many surveys that nobody knows about except the “chosen” who will answer it correctly. This one is from Parks and Rec. Take the survey here:  https://illinoisstate.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4O2h5LyxDmw06oZ Yes, it looks like Illinois State University is running the survey. This link […]

Have some fun HERE

By:  Diane Benjamin I reported yesterday about the Comptroller’s Warehouse website.  The Bloomington information from last year is available there when the City hasn’t bothered to release it to you yet. I found a fun page that recaps all expenditures in a succinct format that’s easy to understand.  Want to know where your money goes?  […]

FACT: Normal’s pensions

By:  Diane Benjamin The Town of Normal has to cover all these pensions every month.  How much money would you have to pay into retirement to get these monthly benefits? This is only the first 50.  As of 2016 124 former employees of the Town of Normal are collecting pensions.  https://www.openthebooks.com/search/?PensionCode=1000&F_fiscalyear=2016&F_employernm=Town%20Of%20Normal&F_employeenm= MONTHLY!

Cries from the unaccountable

By:  Diane Benjamin The citizens of Normal need to understand they do not have accountable representatives on the Town Council.  Since Normal does not have a WARD system, all trustees are elected “at-large” and therefore do not have to represent you.  Trustees McCarthy, Cummings, and Preston were elected with between 3012 and 3668 votes last […]

Koos and Fritzen: OPEN MIC!

By:  Diane Benjamin Chris Koos had to call for a break after all the Trustee babbling, a story I am going to get to. Fritzen and Koos forgot the mic was still open: Listen for 30-45 seconds to around 2:24:52.  Fritzen walks behind Koos and says something about Rich Buchanan Truth or Fiction website.  Since […]

ELEVEN! Citizens fight back

By:  Diane Benjamin Maybe the citizens of Normal have finally decided enough is enough.  11 citizens (one from Bloomington) spoke against the property tax increase during the public hearing before the Normal Town Council.  They came armed with facts which the council later tried to refute.  That story will be next.  Meanwhile, just hit play […]

Everybody in Normal must be rich!

By:  Diane Benjamin Tonight:  Town of Normal 7:00 p.m. Public Hearing on a proposed Property Tax Levy . I expect few citizens will show up to express outrage that their government is not capable of living within their means.  The Council and the Mayor are counting on it. This hearing is required because the Town […]

Rivian: One year later

By:  Diane Benjamin A reader sent this story to me from one year ago:     http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-rivian-mitsubishi-robert-reed-1214-biz-20161214-column.html The title of the story is: Who is the mysterious auto startup that wants to bring jobs back to a shuttered Mitsubishi plant in Normal? . We don’t know any more today than we knew a year ago even […]

Why is the Chamber running ads?

By:  Diane Benjamin The local Chamber of Commerce is running radio ads claiming they help local businesses. What does it take to make a business successful? It’s pretty easy, businesses needs products people want and people with the money to buy them.  It also needs government not hindering the ability of both parties to make […]

Normal Tossing Money (Yours!)

By: Diane Benjamin Normal bills for Monday night: http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/279242  When your property taxes go up Monday: You will be told the cost of other people’s retirements went up: The real reason is the debt Normal has incurred building utopia. . Look at all the INTEREST payments below in Monday’s packet.  They total  $1,628,761.92. It gets […]

QUIT paying for Economic Development!

By:  Diane Benjamin Bloomington, Normal, and the County have been handing out your tax dollars to unaccountable agencies who claim they promote economic development and business retention. Peoria has their own version:  http://greaterpeoriaedc.org/ When Logan County de-funded local economic development they kept this group.    https://blnnews.com/2017/11/22/de-funding-economic-development-2/ When I first looked at their website I found minutes of […]

BREAK Normal’s Attitude!

By:  Diane Benjamin The Town of Normal doesn’t want citizens showing up at meetings like they do in Bloomington.  That is the reason their Public Comment policy requires citizens to sign up 2 hours before a meeting, not just walk in a fill out a card. Remember the November 6, 2017 meeting where your property […]

Celebrate or Cry?

By:  Diane Benjamin From Connect Transit’s October report:    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1anF4rCMlP7zqbGQ3vM1EE6PhNz-FaJ9x/view PDF page 14 Ridership Increasing! Problem? Those 225,646 generated less than $100,000.  The first chart only reflects Fixed Routes, not Connect Mobility. Of course there is more to the story: See this link for October 2016:  PDF page 20   https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4zAZemF_qQuZEhveVl3aVMzakE/view Total Operating Revenue with fewer riders […]

Normal throws money at employees

By:  Diane Benjamin When the citizens aren’t paying attention to what their government is doing, you get the below.  If you thought $100,000,000 was ridiculous for Uptown, be prepared for more folly. PDF page 59:   http://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/7440 This statement is in the Town of Normal’s Annual Report: There is a good reason people want to work […]

It’s confirmed: Laws Don’t Matter!

By:  Diane Benjamin Laws most likely broken by the Town of Normal Council don’t matter because prosecutions need a prosecutor.  The citizens of Normal don’t have one! In case you forgot the facts, see this story:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/16/normal-your-government-is-fixed/ Basics: The Town held a Secret meeting (Executive Session) on August 11th at 9:30 in the morning. The meeting […]

Sustainable? nope

By:  Diane Benjamin Government help frequently makes the problem worse. There is no clearer case than Connect Transit! Keep in mind the Federal Government is funding this lunacy at your expense across the country. The below was an addendum to last month’s agenda:  PDF page 3    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4zAZemF_qQubmxRRUsxaHZicFU/view   65% funding is the same as 2017.  […]

Government creates jobs

By:  Diane Benjamin According to Kyle Ham (Economic Development Council) at last night’s Bloomington Council meeting: McLean County lost 2000 jobs between 2015 and 2016 K-12 schools are down 1100 students in the last 5 years which affects aid from the State New housing starts are down 56% from 2000 to today 8 out of […]

Sit down Normal

By:  Diane Benjamin http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2784 Town of Normal payments for tonight:  (Click on any pics to enlarge) Would you take your kids Trick-Or-Treating in Uptown if you knew you paid for the candy? The ICMA conference was in Texas, looks like a FOIA for all credit card charges is needed. Sit down if you aren’t already: […]

$7000 for one day

By:  Diane Benjamin On November 6, 2017 Normal had this payment on the meeting documentation:   http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2772 I filed a Freedom of Information request for details.  See the response here:  Invoice for Camp Workshop CAMP stands for Commissioner Assistance & Mentoring Program.  The full name of the Payee is  National Alliance of Preservation Commissions.. It looks like Normal […]

Why do Democrats HATE Business?

By:  Diane Benjamin Years ago I attended a MoveOn rally outside the Bloomington Public Library.  I only went to hear what they had to say.  The speaker recognized me, made a few comments, I responded with if anyone wants to talk I’m available. Several people did.  I found out they despise corporations:  The owners or […]

Normal: Your government is FIXED

By:  Diane Benjamin The citizens of Normal probably already knew “outsiders” aren’t allowed to participate in their government, how many Trustees have quit during their term so the Mayor could appoint a replacement?  The last Mayor did the same thing so incumbents have an edge in the next election.  I expect Chris Koos to do […]

Normal’s Economic Development Exposed

By:  Diane Benjamin Chris Koos recently spoke at a “State of McLean County” event.    See the newspaper story HERE Koos thinks his job is reducing economic inequity, delivering opportunity, social equity and sustainability. If his claims were true, the Council wouldn’t be set to raise property taxes to fill holes in their budget. Stealing more […]

The Perils of Public-Private Partnerships

By:  Diane Benjamin If you need evidence that Public-Private partnerships mean taxpayers lose, look at the Coliseum/Grossinger Motors Arena.  The City of Bloomington pretended to oversee operations, they failed the taxpayers. The “private” part of these partnerships think they don’t have to disclose where the money goes.  A far better plan is to outsource entire […]

Here is just one reason Normal raises taxes:

By:  Diane Benjamin Here’s just a few of the Town’s recent follies:  (there are more) Portillos give away – $1,825,000 plus interest:  https://blnnews.com/2016/12/02/portillo-town-monday-night/ Greenbriar Shopping Center – $4.8 million  https://blnnews.com/2017/10/16/normal-revised-schedule-spending/ $100,000 to the Mclean County History Museum + $700,000 that wasn’t budgeted:   https://blnnews.com/2017/09/04/normals-funnybusiness-tuesday/ $420,853.49 for new furniture  https://blnnews.com/2017/07/16/you-arent-supposed-to-notice/ Rivian! Here’s one you probably forgot or never knew: The […]

Illegal or just unethical?

By:  Diane Benjamin The event below is being held tonight on public property. The Normal Township website says nothing about having a room to rent:    http://www.normaltownship.org/index.php Since a couple of politicians are using a room, according to an email I received, you too can reserve it.  Just make it open to the public and not-for-profit […]

Normal Taxpayers got SCAMMED!

By:  Diane Benjamin Last night Trustees RC McBride and Kevin McCarthy went out of their way to thanks the 5 citizens who spoke at Public Comment.  They needed to because 3 out of the 5 were plants. Normal illegally requires citizens who want to speak to sign up hours in advance.  That gives Koos and […]

Part 2: Normal Spending tonight

By:  Diane Benjamin Part 1:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/06/normal-let-them-eat-cake/ Source:  http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2772 Were all those beautiful mums for a couple of weeks worth this?  Keep in mind the labor to plant them is not included!   Misc Payments: Listed under City Manager General expenses: More Misc Expenses: FOIA filed:   . . . .

Normal: Let them Eat Cake!

By:  Diane Benjamin Part 1: In September Normal held their annual staff retreat. It wasn’t held locally, they once again went to Starved Rock Lodge.  I haven’t found the transportation expenses yet, the below is just for the Lodge: $4,263.98 Keep that number in mind when your property taxes are raised tonight because the Town […]

Normal: It’s the Council’s fault!

By:  Diane Benjamin The Town of Normal is pretending pension expenses are mandated by the State and they can’t afford them without raising Property Taxes. Somehow the Police and Fire pensions have been seriously underfunded for years.  IMRF retirements have been funded above the 80% level since 2013, think Mark Peterson’s retirement, while in 2016 […]

Past Due TIF Reports?

By:  Diane Benjamin Yesterday I did two stories on past due Tax Increment Financing reports: https://blnnews.com/2017/11/03/is-normal-hiding-tif-data/ https://blnnews.com/2017/11/03/bloomington-plays-the-same-tif-game/ First:  It is ridiculous the citizens have to wait over 6 months after a year-end for financial information. Second:  If you look under Finance on both the Bloomington and Normal websites, there are NO links to TIF reports.  […]

Is Normal hiding TIF data?

By:  Diane Benjamin I’m always suspicious when an article appears in the paper praising something when the data to back up the claims is unavailable. It happened again October 26th with this story in the Pantagraph:  Normal TIF Districts Paying Dividends One has to wonder where the story came from.  Did somebody at the Town call […]

County should Defund the EDC

By:  Diane Benjamin What does the Economic Development Council do? Here’s their website:  https://www.bnbiz.org/ They have dinners and lunches, organize the One Voice trips to DC to beg for federal funds, and soak up a lot of money from both Bloomington and Normal. Last year McLean County budgeted $100,000 for the EDC.  For 2018 they dropped […]

What’s a “bona fide plan holder”?

By:  Diane Benjamin Nobody checked into why David Hales left Bend Oregon after only 2 years and all the records were sealed.  See this story:  https://blnnews.com/2013/09/17/who-is-city-manager-david-hales/ Obviously nobody in Joliet did any independent research of David Hales either since the Council had no idea 5 people were charged with 111 felony counts while he was in […]

1st Student, Unit 5, and the safety of YOUR kids

By:  Diane Benjamin The email below was sent to the entire Unit 5 School Board.  If your kids ride Unit 5 buses, you need to know the facts and ask questions. From: David Bradley <Redacted> Date: 10/12/2017 1:04 PM (GMT-06:00) To: clearyj@unit5.org, dwfortner@unit5.org, hayekj@unit5.org, hitchinsb@unit5.org, lefflet@unit5.org, mickensm@unit5.org, traskm@unit5.org Cc:  letters@pantagraph.com Subject: Staffing Issues at First Student . Good Afternoon Unit 5 Board Members. […]

Downtown isn’t the City Core!

By:  Diane Benjamin Downtown businesses didn’t even support the Downtown Bloomington Association.  Now the DBA employees are happy City employees complete with higher salaries, benefits and pensions! The Coliseum and the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts (BCPA) were supposed to brings hoards of people downtown. The Visitor’s Center in the McLean County History Museum was […]

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