Why City Councils don’t listen

By:  Diane Benjamin Tonight Bloomington is holding a public hearing on the budget for the year that starts May 1st. All you need to know is Bloomington is planning on hiring 4 more employees which will make the pension liability even higher and, to balance the budget, they are robbing the Enterprise Funds: I guess […]

Another Spiked Pension

By:  Diane Benjamin From Monday’s Bills and Payroll:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=12446 Employees are still allowed to SPIKE their pensions by getting paid for accumulated sick and vacation days. TWO courts have recently ruled that employers do not have to allow this, of course the rules haven’t been changed.  It just cost you another $32,106.66.  The City is […]

Bloomington Pensions

By:  Diane Benjamin Citizens need to know why there is no money for government to do their job without constantly raising taxes. Retired employee PENSIONS, in addition to Social Security and Medicare, and spiked pensions are the problem. Below are just some of the Monthly pensions payments retired City employees are currently receiving.  Note, it […]

The Budget Workshop that wasn’t

By:  Diane Benjamin Thanks to Steve Vogel who today mentioned in his weekly column that Bloomington is in a recession.  Moody’s Analytics  reported that in January (and so did I), but the media has been ignoring it. Anyone who attended the Bloomington “Budget Workshop” today would have seen Bloomington is also ignoring that fact.  If […]

Budget Cuts made easy

By:  Diane Benjamin Cuts could be easy, but nobody at the City wants to cut! It is impossible to suggest specific budget cuts for Bloomington because the data isn’t available.  The City issued hundreds of pages saying where the money is being spent without any details. Was there a line item last year for the […]

Excuses OVER Renner!

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari Renner’s claims to now be protecting the taxpayers of Bloomington in the Metro Zone flap are a joke. Why? Besides the fact that 5 Aldermen put Metro Zone on the agenda, not Renner – what happened to the letters Tari received at Rosie’s from citizens about their health insurance costs?  We […]

Show this to Tari supporters!

By:  Diane Benjamin The budget Tari Renner inherited when he became mayor was $167 million.  (2014)  Page 3 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=5104 2015 budget was $180.4 million  Page 3 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=7075 This took 13.4 million out of the local economy 2016 budget was 186.3 million  Page 15 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=9210 This took another 6.3 out of the local economy for a […]

Mayor candidates: #FactsMatter

By:  Diane Benjamin The Pantagraph has a video on-line of their mayoral candidate interviews.  See the video below.  Yes, as Tari likes to say FACTS do matter.  The video is less than an hour – watch it. Diane Hauman is already planning to increase fees for garbage service even though a January 17, 2017  presentation […]

Bloomington: $20 Million in cuts?

By:  Diane Benjamin Can $20 million be cut from Bloomington’s budget?  David Hales thinks disaster would strike Bloomington if the tax increases were rolled back.  (The media happily reports it!) Here’s a better question: The 2012 TOTAL budget was $165.3 million (Pre Tari) The 2013 TOTAL budget was $167 million (Pre Tari) That 2017 TOTAL […]

Will the GOP help the DEMS fleece you?

By:  Diane Benjamin Of course Illinois doesn’t have enough money!  Springfield has no interest in a balanced budget and spending cuts.  Democrats want more of your money and the Republicans may help them get it because they are desperate. Your income tax could be going up 40%.  In exchange you get a two-year property tax […]

Setting the record straight:

By:  Diane Benjamin Yesterday the Pantagraph did a story about County union employee salary increases:  http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/mclean-county-highway-workers-get-raises/article_e1a807b1-6dcc-535b-83dd-f39b4b00079f.html This paragraph is in the story: Two problems:  The City of Bloomington has been hit by at least 24 penalties amounting to around $1.6 million. (it could be more by now) That’s not “several”. Second, the County negotiated with […]

The Debate!

By:  Diane Benjamin It was WONDERFUL only having 3 of the 5 candidates show up last night, the audience got much more information from the candidates than would have been possible with all 5 there.  The room was packed with people wanting to hear what the candidates had to say. If you didn’t attend or […]

Nothing better than LIES

By:  Diane Benjamin One more note from last night’s Council meeting.  Renner lied – how many times does this make?  Of course, he wouldn’t even recognize lies anymore. The topic was Sick Leave Buy Back again.  The City policy was changed in 2012 to make any new hires not eligible for this benefit available nowhere […]

HOW many employees?

By:  Diane Benjamin The Bloomington City Council voted last night to spend $894,537.07 over 5 years for timekeeping and scheduling software. Claims were made about reducing a massive amount of paperwork. Nobody bothered to ask how many employees will no longer be needed with this massive reduction of time and paperwork. Nicole showed a pic […]

Pantagraph fails at truth again

By:  Diane Benjamin The daily rag has a new story about pension spiking at the City of Bloomington.  In an effort to deflect from the City’s unethical practice of allowing employees to spike their pensions with unused sick days, they even call the practice legal. It is legal because Bloomington’s Mayor, City Manager, and Council […]

Watch the Normal Council raise your taxes

By:  Diane Benjamin At the last Normal Town Council meeting property taxes were raised.  There was the obligatory gnashing of teeth before the ENTIRE Council voted yes, they are all wonderful actors pretending pensions funding isn’t their fault.  Blame the State, blame under performing markets,  never Uptown! The video is available here:  http://normal.org/779/Council-Videos The entire […]

Dear Jim Fruin,

(Jim announced last night he is not running for reelection.  Petitions are due 11/21 – info here:  http://www.becvote.org/wordpress/) Dear Jim, Here’s the problem:  The citizens feel like their government is stalking them like a famished predator. They have good reasons:  Amusement Tax, Utilities tax, Gas Tax, Sales Tax, Garbage fee increases, Liquor fee increases More […]

David Hales screw-ups

By:  Diane Benjamin Hales is frequently praised for pulling Bloomington back from the brink of disaster, but Tari Renner claimed he did it when he became mayor.  See his announcement for re-election.  Both believe taxing people to death creates prosperity.  For government it does, not so much for those not in or profiting from government.  […]

Unit 5 salaries

By:  Diane Benjamin Household income in McLean is said to be around $60,000, maybe slightly higher. According to Open The Books – Unit 5,  the top 250 employees in Unit 5 made more than $74,000 in 2015. The top 500 employees earn more than $59,000. 912 employees are currently members of the teacher’s union negotiating […]

Bloomington Credit AA+, see WHY!

By:  Diane Benjamin Fitch hasn’t changed Bloomington’s credit rating from AA+, but you need to understand why.  See the story here:  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/fitch-affirms-bloomington-ils-gos-182900665.html They seem to have miss the local RISING unemployment rate, even though the story does mention Mitsubishi closing. The article has much more information. I’m sure Mayor Renner will tout his great management. […]

Proof the Council is immaterial

By:  Diane Benjamin I’ve now got proof that Bills and Payroll, approved by the Council at regular meetings, is meaningless.  Nobody is holding checks waiting for the Council vote.  I wonder how many aldermen even read what they are asked to approve! If you don’t know what Bills and Payroll looks like, see this webpage.  […]

Gold plated government

By:  Diane Benjamin Some months ago a presentation at a Bloomington City Council meeting talked about the ObamaCare Luxury Tax and how the City might be hit with HIGH penalties.  Some of the aldermen had never heard of it. From this link:  money.cnn.com/2015/12/18/news/economy/obamacare-cadillac-tax/ The tax has been delayed because people subject to the tax have […]

Congrats! They did it again

By:  Diane Benjamin Sick Leave Buy Back will cost Bloomington taxpayers for decades.  New employees are no longer eligible as of (I think) 2013.  All other employees could be getting paid for unused sick leave when they retire.  The City is too chicken to tell employees it isn’t fair for them to get a benefit […]

Structural Deficits

By:  Diane Benjamin The City of Bloomington continues to hide the formerly transparent tax receipts.  That means they are either way above projections or dropping like a rock.  There is no way of knowing since transparency died.  Thank Alderman Hauman for suggesting the City Manager’s Report doesn’t need to be done.  I agree printing it […]

Pension scam continues

By:  Diane Benjamin The Bloomington Sick Leave Buy Back policy continues to kick Bloomington taxpayers.  Hales gets a huge raise without fixing the abuse.  Yes David Sage and crew, the Budget Task Force was a joke! It’s way to difficult for your elected “public servants” to look overpaid employees in the eye and tell them […]

Pure and simple: It’s THEFT

By:  Diane Benjamin Luckily IMRF actually cares about transparency.  Yesterday I filed a request for all the Accelerated Payments charged to the City of Bloomington because they are to chicken to change the Sick Leave Buy Back policy.  Instead of the precious government employees being told the golden goose got cooked, employees are told it’s […]

More proof: Budget Task Force was a joke

By:  Diane Benjamin See Bills and Payroll for Monday night – the LAST page:  http://www.cityblm.org/index.aspx?page=242&parent=9535 Remember how Bloomington was exposed in the Chicago Tribune paying massive penalties for allowing employees to SPIKE their pensions?  https://blnnews.com/2015/08/26/imrf-what-did-hales-know-and-when/ Remember when the Budget Task Force recommended fixing the problem but never did? Well, it just cost you another $122,735.32! […]

The IML scam

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari Renner and David Hales love to tout the greatness of the Illinois Municipal League.  From the IML website: The Illinois Municipal League is the formal voice for Illinois municipalities. The League was founded in 1913 and has worked continuously for the benefit of municipalities, promoting competence and integrity in administration of […]

Gov employees too sweet to cut

By:  Diane Benjamin A long string of local golfers took the mic last night to sing the praises of the City employees managing the three Golf Course.  They urged the Council to pass the ordinance stating they were dropping any investigation of privatizing or selling any of the courses.  Yes, David Sage – the Budget […]

Vogel: You make my writing sooooo easy

By:  Diane Benjamin Evidently Steve Vogel’s god is Santa Claus.  Today in the Pantagraph, Stevie is asking Santa not to wait until next Christmas to grant a long list of progressive requests.  Hide the children:  Sorry Steve, Santa Claus isn’t real. Still believing in Santa must be why Steve thinks  “Gun Free Zone” signs magically […]

Round 3: Last Monday night

By:  Diane Benjamin A Work Session was held before the Council meeting.  The most remarkable discussion was started by Alderman Fruin.  It pertained to employee benefits.  Watch his comments starting at 15:30, other people join the conversation, so keep watching.  Jim actually stands up for citizens!  That’s until he gets to an off-hand comment about […]

Bloomington Pensions – Round 1

By:  Diane Benjamin I doubt you noticed, but I haven’t written about last Monday’s Council meeting.  I still can’t convey the outrage I feel properly, but I will give it a shot.  A number of items shocked me, it’s hard to believe the people claiming to represent you didn’t just immigrate from a communist country.  […]

Pantagraph: Research YOURSELF!

By:  Diane Benjamin Oh, I forgot the Pantagraph doesn’t do investigative reporting.  Printing ridiculous statements from Tari Renner and David Hales is better?  For who?  Your bottom line?  The story today proves the Pantagraph is the last place to get news! David Hales claims to have investigated the accelerated payments problem for Sick Leave Buy […]

Rauner is right – here’s proof

By:  Diane Benjamin Bloomington residents: Have you looked at the address you send water payments to? If you have the misfortune of taking a trip in an ambulance, and get billed for it – where does that payment go? Remember yesterday’s story about ISU?  https://blnnews.com/2015/10/21/isu-destroying-free/ What do they all have in common?  Illinois discourages business! […]

Monday: Boutique Hotel!

By:  Diane Benjamin Monday night the Bloomington City Council will hear a proposal from David Bentley.  He wants to turn the Pantagraph building into a boutique hotel. Tari Renner discussed the idea Tuesday on WGLT:  http://wglt.org/post/bloomington-mayor-cautious-about-potential-developer City Manager David Hales mentioned at the last Council meeting Jeff Giebelhausen would also make a presentation.  (https://blnnews.com/2015/10/13/next-monday-your-destruction-continues/)  We […]

A little about Normal

By:  Diane Benjamin While I rarely ever agree with ANYTHING the Town of Normal does, they are light-years ahead of Bloomington on transparency.  A lot of information is on their website, citizens just need to look for it. See this report,  it is issued every year:  http://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/6662 This Financial Trends and Conditions report covers 4/1/2014 […]

Throwing away $49,152.21

By:  Diane Benjamin Even though Bloomington’s Springfield attorney (Jeff Jurgens) knew on August 24th that stopping pensions spiking wasn’t a violation of the Illinois Constitution, the policy still hasn’t been changed.  See his email and IMRF response here:  https://blnnews.com/2015/09/18/who-knew-and-did-nothing-imrf/ The agenda for Monday is on-line, nothing about stopping the rip off of taxpayers that is […]

Who knew and did nothing – IMRF

By:  Diane Benjamin The below are from a big pile of information I received from IMRF under the Freedom of Information Act.  They all pertain to pensions spiking that David Hales allowed to keep happening and is still allowed today.  Remember this when your taxes get raised Monday!  I may be posting more, I haven’t […]

Taxes increases would be easier with TRUTH UPDATE

How did I forget?  5 years ago Tari, Bloomington wasn’t sending around $50,000 PER MONTH to Springfield for legal! By:  Diane Benjamin Renner on WJBC:  http://cdn.stationcaster.com/stations/wjbc/media/mpeg/Tari_Renner__Bloomington_mayor-1442412227.mp3 Renner on WGLT:  http://wglt.org/wireready/news/2015/09/01831_09-15Renner_070330.shtml Tari Renner:  We aren’t doing anything today that we weren’t doing 5 years ago.  Inflation is causing the need for tax increases. 5 years ago […]

Tonight’s bottom line

By: Diane Benjamin David Hales gives frequent interviews on WJBC, I’ve posted links to many of them.  I remember one of his lines about the budget – but I’m not going to re-listen to find it.  He claimed any cuts to the budget now are cuts to “muscle”, not fat. Of course he was lying […]

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