We know what Sage is up to

By:  Diane Benjamin At last Monday’s Bloomington City Council meeting, David Sage was adamant that an agenda item signed by 6 Council members be on this Monday’s Committee of the Whole agenda.  Tari Renner attempted to stall, but it is on the agenda:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=15300   Instead of bringing it up Monday, it has played out in […]

Video: Atlanta Library meeting 11/16/2017

By:  Diane Benjamin See the meeting recap HERE Public comment is at the beginning.  The Library Board accepting the “Gift Deed” is at 17:40 The two officers are shown at the end of the video. A Freedom of Information request has been filed for the deed and all documents involved.  

Atlanta Library gets a “free” building

By:  Diane Benjamin Video here:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/17/video-atlanta-library-meeting-11-16-2017/ This meeting was rescheduled from last Thursday when the Agenda had not been posted as required under the Open Meetings Act. No one who spoke during Public Comment was excited about the “Donation of Union Hall” agenda item.  The best comment was made by a gentleman who ended his remarks […]

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 […]

Even State Farm doesn’t want to be downtown?

By:  Diane Benjamin I’ve received several reports from citizens about State Farm leaving their building in downtown Bloomington.  One person just commented they are in the process of moving out the last group now. When did the evacuation start? Why isn’t that public knowledge? Did the Bloomington City Council know? Is the City of Bloomington  […]

Guest Editorial: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Citizen??

GUEST! (In response to this story:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/15/who-called-the-officer-to-the-retreat/) .  Once upon a time there was a Scary Citizen who actually stood up in public and told The Truth!   And that is enough to scare the bewillikers out of the King and his court!  That is enough to conjure tales of mean and terrible citizens who insult or […]

Tari: H**l of a mess

By:  Diane Benjamin One more recap from Monday’s City Council meeting: VenuWorks recapped what they wanted to bring to the BCPA, including saving an estimated $200,000 a year in operations. VenuWorks has access to an email list of 409,000 people in Central Illinois to help promote shows VenuWorks has plans for new revenue including concessions […]

Downtown Task Force gets slapped

By:  Diane Benjamin The “Special” meeting before the 7:00 Council meeting has discussions about the library and the City property tax rate. The Library Board wants a tax increase but they don’t know what it is for.  Either they are going to continue plans to expand where they are or they are going to use […]

Downtown Loons

By:  Diane Benjamin TIF districts are like Greek to most citizens.  If you don’t understand them, government will continue to redistribute money and call it Economic Development. TIF’s made easy:  Government sets a Tax Increment Finance area.  All government bodies in the area have to agree to forgo tax increases due to increasing property values.  […]

Homeless in Bloomington-Normal

By:  Diane Benjamin According to a report by WMDB TV, there are around 250 homeless people in Bloomington-Normal. See their report here:  http://www.centralillinoisproud.com/news/local-news/homeless-in-central-illinois/856395912 Safe Harbor and Home Sweet Home Mission are the only two emergency shelters in town, according to the story.  Both are constantly at full or almost full capacity. Bloomington raised the Sales Tax […]

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 […]

One more retreat note:

By:  Diane Benjamin I reported in Part 1 that Hales blamed the past Council for approving building Fire Station #5:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/08/49548/ Hales claims the Council needs to assert their authority instead of always taking staff recommendations. Two points to consider: Voting against a Fire Station will get you accused of not caring about Public SsafetyHales could […]

Bloomington: Monday’s bills

By:  Diane Benjamin Source:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=14998 Citizens may not realize when they pay bills by credit card the City gets charged a fee for accepting the card.  Just for one month there is over $81,000 listed as “Credit Card Fees”.  See PDF page 161-163.  That’s money that can’t be used for anything else.  There are other charges […]

Retreat: Part 2

By:  Diane Benjamin The second session of the retreat was 3 hours and 33 minutes.  I DID NOT LISTEN TO EVERY SECOND!  I jumped around and listened to more than half.  It was obvious Quality of Life is not going to be in proposed cuts.  The discussion involved real spending for the first time in […]

Who voted for the NEVER used Fire Station?

By:  Diane Benjamin To understand why the Council approved building a fire station on 6 Points Rd, you have to go back in time. The current Council is convinced Bloomington’s future is downtown.  Just as they are wrong, history has proven development in SW Bloomington started and stopped.  Mitsubishi hadn’t yet failed and reduced its […]

Council Retreat Recap – Part 1

By:  Diane Benjamin I wasn’t able to attend the retreat last Saturday, so I FOIA’d the audio.  Of course it’s long, so far I’ve listened to part one.  A link is below.  The documents they are discussing can be found HERE  Below are comments I had while listening to the audio, it’s not a story in […]

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 […]

Atlanta Library: Taxes and Fraud?

HEREBy:  Diane Benjamin The Library Tax information was compiled by an Atlanta resident. Logan County is a PTELL(Property Tax Extension Law Limit) county. That means that a maximum rate is set which limits the tax multiplier for the lifetime of the tax. The Taxing District is allowed to raise their Tax Levy a full 5% […]

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.  […]

Irony of the Day!

By:  Diane Benjamin The below is what the City of Bloomington has in this year’s budget for Public Transportation: Bloomington has more than doubled what they give Connect Transit.  Yes, that structural deficit is the Council’s fault.  Even with more of your money, CT continues to lose between $800,000 and $900,000 every month. Tomorrow the […]

Bloomington plays the same TIF game

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal has not submitted TIF reports to the Comptroller as required:  https://blnnews.com/2017/11/03/is-normal-hiding-tif-data/ Bloomington hasn’t either: warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com Bloomington TIF Past Due The Comptroller’s  office must not know Bloomington created another TIF in October 2016 for downtown.  They will when I notify them. See the Council minutes here for when the TIF was created:   http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11542 […]

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 […]

Legal: Employee Investigations?

By:  Diane Benjamin I’ve written before about the City spending resources to prosecute employees when arbitration reaches a different conclusion than the one the City wants.  Remember Scott Oglesby?   https://blnnews.com/2013/05/06/the-real-story-of-scott-oglesbys-firing/ Now they are doing it again.  This time it’s a fireman, Jon Caponi, who was arrested in 2016 for domestic violence.  See the newspaper story […]

Atlanta Library: Return the Grant!

By:  Diane Benjamin The dominoes are now starting to fall in Atlanta Il. On October 23rd the Illinois  Secretary of State’s State Library General Counsel issued a letter to the Atlanta Public Library District which included an intent to recover grant funds under the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act (“IGFRA”), 30 ILCS 705. The demand letter cites […]

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 […]

Lunch with people who sue: Renner

By:  Diane Benjamin When the last Downtown Bloomington TIF ended, I hear David Bentley wasn’t happy with the money he got to rehab the CII East Building.  He sued the City in 2014. See the 2014 TIF report here:   ftp://ftp.illinoiscomptroller.com/LocGovTIF/FY2014/06402530/14TIF06402530Dwtwn_Cendistrict.pdf Since the TIF was pretty much over, expenses for legal fees were all that is […]

PLEASE run Rob!

By:  Diane Benjamin Former Bloomington alderman Rob Fazzini announced to WGLT he is thinking of running as an independent for the County Board:  http://wglt.org/post/ex-alderman-fazzini-considers-run-mclean-county-board Fazzini thinks the Board elections should be non-partisan.  It’s easy to see why since Bloomington and Normal Council elections are non-partisan.  Big spenders, who think everything needs managed and regulated, find it […]

Connect Transit Travels!

By:  Diane Benjamin I filed a FOIA request for details from Connect Transit – Travel & Meetings:  $10,272.18.  Original story here:  https://blnnews.com/2017/10/23/connect-transit-september-fleece/ I received 106 pages:  Travel and Meetings Everyone that traveled must not have their own credit card, so the statements are a maze of charges on one card for someone without one.  The statements also contain […]

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. […]

Pantagraph: Explain why Tari is scared

By:  Diane Benjamin The local paper has an article about the Cease and Desist email Bruce Meeks sent to the mayor.  See it HERE I don’t know what the writer means saying Meeks is “raising questions” about the airline ticket to Japan, but I wonder why Renner chose to go after Bruce Meeks when I was […]

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 […]

The Letter

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari has thought he is god’s gift to Bloomington since the day he got elected the first time.  He planned to RULE, not serve.  Every action he has taken from his first day on the job proves that.  He has no concept of what most people think a mayor should be. The […]

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