Jewel No Longer

By:  Diane Benjamin Occasionally the Bloomington elected are still pretending Bloomington is the Jewel of the Midwest. Ask them why 56.72% of the students in District 87 qualify for free or reduced lunches?  https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/libraries/pdfs/il-nslp-eligibility.pdf What income qualifies? SOURCE Obviously way too many people in Bloomington aren’t able to participate in the Quality of Life they […]

Per kid: Area school spending

By:  Diane Benjamin The Illinois Comptroller’s Office has lots of interesting information. Look at this site:  http://warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com/ Virtually every level of Illinois government is required to complete information for this site.  Schools must not be required to provide much information. Cities, towns, villages, etc enter much more. I was looking at area schools and noticed […]

Inside ISU

The writer worked at ISU for 18 years – she walked away because she couldn’t take it anymore.  No – Nobody from this meeting has contacted her. Source and other stories from the same person:  https://justifygettinglost.wordpress.com/ I finally figured it out… This morning I showed up at the Board  of Trustees meeting and made comments (in quotes […]

Evacuate!

By:  Diane Benjamin The Illinois Senate needed one Republican to vote with the Democrats to override Gov Rauner’s veto of the income tax hike.  They got one:  Dale Righter. Madigan got MORE Republicans than he needed to pass the tax hike in the House – 15 of them.  (Including Bill Mitchell and Mike Unes from […]

WJBC: ISU/Central Catholic Facts matter

By:  Diane Benjamin Yesterday WJBC read the Melanie Spellmeyer-ISU-Central Catholic update story on my website.  They read the original story too, but never reported on it.  The story only became important to them when Dan Brady got involved.  It probably helped that his funeral home advertises on WJBC. See their story here:  HERE Totally lost […]

Remember Melanie Spellmeyer, ISU, and Central Catholic?

By:  Diane Benjamin When the Central Catholic girls were playing basketball at Red Bird Arena for the State Championship, an ISU employee violated their fans free speech rights.  She told them they were not allowed to wear anything related to the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. In case you missed the story, see it here:  […]

UPDATE: What’s the penalty for HATE speech?

No one at ISU has responded to my requests for a comment.  They are hoping this blows over if they pretend nothing happened. By:  Diane Benjamin Saturday – Redbird Arena, Illinois State University – Central Catholic High School girls basketball team is playing for the State Championship. Many Central kids arrived at the game wearing […]

What if Unit 5 did this? CPS did!

By:  Diane Benjamin Should schools practice partisan politics?  What if Unit 5 sent a letter home with every student blaming Chris Koos’s TIF districts for stealing money from them?  It would be true, but should they do it?  Of course, Unit 5 had to agree to the TIF districts, so it’s not totally Koos’s fault. […]

Ethics Law everybody ignores

By:  Diane Benjamin From Attorney Tyson Manker:  http://tysonmanker.com/ America is the greatest nation on Earth. Thanks to the Constitution and its enduring principles, We the People enjoy freedoms unknown in many parts of the world. However, right now in America there is a serious lack of honest leadership in Government at all levels. Both nationally and locally, […]

ISU’s Illegal Public Comment policy

By:  Diane Benjamin Complying with the law doesn’t matter when citizens “interfere” with government’s ability to do whatever they want! Normal is the perfect example.  The entire Council, Mayor, and City Manager are pretending they asked the Attorney General to rule on their policy.  They didn’t.  TWO citizens want Lisa Madigan’s Public Access office to […]

ISU avoids a lawsuit

By:  Diane Benjamin First ISU refused to give me a document I requested by FOIA claiming it was exempt. See this story Next they gave me the document but redacted the part I wanted:  See THIS story Some light finally went on at ISU and they decided the document in the story above is NOT exempt […]

ISU is embarrassing . . NIOT?

By:  Diane Benjamin Martin Luther King Day was last Monday, but ISU won’t be holding their annual dinner until Friday.  Maybe even ISU knows this event should not be held on MLK Day since King would never approve of the speakers they bring in. King was a minister.  King was a Republican.  King knew the […]

Does more school spending get results?

By:  Diane Benjamin All of the numbers below are from the Illinois Report Card on public schools:  https://illinoisreportcard.com/Default.aspx Now see this graph on spending since the Department of education was established by Jimmy Carter: Read the whole story  HERE Obviously, the answer is NO. . . .    

High School comparisons

By: Diane Benjamin Below is a summary of stats taken from the Illinois Report Card on schools:  https://illinoisreportcard.com/search.aspx?address=Bloomington&miles=5 This is area High Schools only.  All the data is from the pics below except class size, that was taken from another page. State Averages :  Ready for the Next Level:    33% College Ready:   46% . […]

Have you checked your kids school?

By: Diane Benjamin The below is from the Illinois Report Card website:  https://illinoisreportcard.com/Default.aspx This report only compares area Elementary Schools.  Click below to enlarge – Where does the data  come from?   If this doesn’t start a conversation, nothing will. Screen shots from the website are below.  The chart shows the percentage of kids ready […]

Connect Transit lunacy (Part 1)

By:  Diane Benjamin The October Connect transit meeting was held earlier than usual, so financial information wasn’t available.  The November meeting was held on 11/22, it includes reports from September and October. See the packet here:   November-22-2016-regular-board-packet Start here: Page 32 of packet. Then this one:   Page 27 of the packet I think it’s […]

Bloomington: Check your assessment!

By:  Diane Benjamin I helped a friend do research on property values last week.  Many houses in her neighborhood have sold in the last year and the selling prices have dropped dramatically. I don’t know why the values are decreasing, but owners can not be forced to keep paying taxes on a value the house […]

#2 UPDATE: What meeting was the Pantagraph at?

The sound system at this meeting was NOT the new system.  I heard at the meeting it was, that information was false.  The new system should be installed in the next 10days to 2 weeks. _______________________________ A reader commented that the Pantagraph “corrected” the story in today’s paper.  Unless another story is done and posted […]

9/11 at Tri-Valley High School

Barb Pearson retired from teaching at Tri-Valley about 3 years ago.  She wanted the kids to never forget 9/11/2001 so, by herself, she created a memorial to the victims.  The school has done this display before, but they now plan to display her work every 5 years. The freshman weren’t born when 9/11 happened! What […]

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 […]

Erik Rankin: WE AGREE!

By:  Diane Benjamin Scared? We can agree on some things!  Erik wrote a response on the ISU website to this question: His answer is excellent.  Read it for yourself here:  https://news.illinoisstate.edu/2016/09/ask-a-redbird-scholar-how-did-we-end-up-with-2-unpopular-presidential-candidates/   Besides being assistant to the chair and undergraduate advisor, Department of Politics and Government, Erik is a member of  the McLean County Board […]

UPDATE: BHS: It’s Freedom OF Religion

BHS may want to see this story:  Football-Coach-Fired-for-Praying-With-Team-Turns-Tables-on-School-District-n2203386 “Bremerton School District’s actions violate Coach Kennedy’s First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise, as well as his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion,” said Kennedy’s attorneys in the complaint. By:  Diane […]

ISU Police: Too much?

By:  Diane Benjamin Illinois State University has its own police force. Lately I’ve been hearing stories about the ISU police operating off campus.  They patrol student housing that isn’t on campus and one citizens reported they were writing speeding tickets on Raab road – a long way from campus. I requested information from ISU as […]

Your taxes import labor: ISU, U of I

By:  Diane Benjamin My ancestors came to America penniless and legally – through Ellis Island.  Nobody gave them welfare or paid their way.  They came here to be Americans, nothing hyphenated.  They learned English, just like millions of other legal immigrants.  E pluribus unum  (Out of many one) The push now is for Diversity.  Think […]

ISU buys foreign labor

By:  Diane Benjamin Illinois State University is paying all the bills to import employees from other countries. See this contract Illinois State University made with one law firm:  Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell FY14-1 It’s for 1 year, $70,000, and renewable for up to 9 years.  Since the contract doesn’t say what this firm is […]

ISU: Skirting the law?

By:  Diane Benjamin Below are three contracts between ISU and the same Law Firm.  All cover the same time period.  All are for services not to exceed $19,999.  The only difference is the scope of the work to be performed. See this link for 2016 Expenditures Guidelines:  http://purchasing.illinoisstate.edu/  Yes, the contracts are from 2014 – […]

Tari: Announce your run for reelection yet?

By:  Diane Benjamin Luckily I have a huge network of people who want the truth told.  The local media has failed miserably at being government watchdogs. Below is a post that WAS on Tari’s campaign Facebook page from 2013.  It has since disappeared.  It was sent to me MONTHS ago by a reader who copied […]

Truth about property taxes

By:  Diane Benjamin Between 2007 and 2015 my total property taxes went up almost 15%.  The assessed value went up  a little over 9%. That’s EIGHT years. All those rate decreases mean nothing when the assessor thinks your property values went up. Remember the 2008 crash when property values supposedly dropped?  For taxes, mine didn’t. […]

ISU, Voting, and stupid Media

By:  Diane Benjamin Same day voter registration was a stupid law and, contrary to what Democrats think, it’s not government’s job to make it work without any attempt to DUMP it.  Stupid laws with unintended consequences can’t be fixed.  It was never about increasing voting, it’s about getting uniformed to the polls.  Think ISU. So […]

ISU pay policies you aren’t supposed to know

By:  Diane Benjamin This might be a State-wide policy for hourly employees.  I’m positive it happens at ISU.  I’ve heard prisons do the same thing, readers can tell me where else it happens.  I’ve got the smartest readers on the planet (and no time to research further). The easiest way to describe this is with […]

ISU: nepotism

By:  Diane Benjamin A reader sent a Freedom of Information request to ISU for student employees in the offices listed below. This email and document were received from the FOIA officer at ISU: 3 of the students are related to the FOIA officer. Children of ISU employees get 1/2 off tuition too. Only one job […]

It’s about the kids?

By:  Diane Benjamin Source:  http://www.openthebooks.com/map/?Map=1823&MapType=Heat&Zip=61704 Highest area school district monthly pensions: See others at the link above. . . . .

Heartland’s Public Comment Policy

By:  Diane Benjamin Heartland Community College Board Policy:  Board Policy Manual 6-17-15 POST to WEB See page 22.  Part of the policy is something some citizens wish other areas of government allowed: The Board may at any time recognize members of the public for purposes of making formal presentations to the Board. Formal presentations shall […]

Heartland abates taxes too

By:  Diane Benjamin Big corporations do two things: Hire people Negotiate taxes Because of an extensive well-funded legal department, corporations weld a lot of power not available to small business. It’s impossible for free market competition to exist when the biggest entities use their money and connections for perks available only to them. Here’s the […]

More non-profit fun: ISU

By:  Diane Benjamin If you are an ISU graduate I’m sure you’ve received fundraising calls from the ISU Foundation. As a non-profit organization, they have to file public tax forms.  See them here:  http://nccsweb.urban.org/communityplatform/nccs/organization/profile/id/376025713/popup/1 I’ve only looked at the first one listed-2014.   Compensation must be disclosed – see the page below (Page 8 of the […]

Get facts before approving more Wind Farms

By:  Diane Benjamin Invenergy wanted to build a wind farm in Livingston County.  The Livingston County Board refused to approve the project.  All of this was very recent. Being defeated in Livingston County, Invenergy has moved to McLean County to try again. Before the McLean County Board jumps at yet another wind farm in McLean […]

Common Core

By: Diane Benjamin I just caught the last few minutes of District 87’s Barry Reilly on WJBC. Dr Reilly repeated the Common Core talking points:  It’s a set of standards not a curriculum. Dr Reilly:  Since the students are tested over and over and over, please explain how that “set of standards” doesn’t become “teaching […]

Unit 5 – Because taxpayers need to know

By:  Diane Benjamin I finally got around to looking at the Unit 5 spending.  This isn’t the only report that will be coming, it’s just the first definitive information. Looking at the vendor payments, I saw many checks written to what appear to be out of district educations.  I’m not making a judgement calls, but […]

District 87 Vacancy

Don’t sit back and complain about our failing education system.  Do something about it: http://www.district87.org/pages/Bloomington_School_District_87 BLOOMINGTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS DISTRICT 87 ________________________________________________________________________ The Bloomington Public School District 87 Board of Education will be filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Mr. John Dirks effective December 29, 2015. Persons interested in the position should send a […]

Big Project

By:  Diane Benjamin I haven’t been writing much because I am working on a BIG project.  It will take filing Freedom of Information requests, so don’t expect the result very soon.  Losing power for many hours yesterday didn’t help! Meanwhile, my research has led to other questions.  I could use some help.  Anybody have some […]

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