Bloomington does comedy – AGAIN

By:  Diane Benjamin The City of Bloomington likes to pretend they are transparent.  They even have a transparency portal on their website:  http://www.cityblm.org/government/transparency One of the items listed is: As I’ve written before, the BCPA documents are mostly non-existent unless I FOIA them.  https://blnnews.com/2019/02/14/it-a-secret-bcpa-creativity-center/ These are the event reports currently on the City website, there […]

Part 3 – Nikita Richards

By:  Diane Benjamin The Bloomington City Code has a section on ethics for employees, it is patterned after the State Ethics Act:   http://www.cityblm.org/government/codes-ordinances/city-code Excerpt: To find out what activities are prohibited, see the State Ethics law:     http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2529&ChapterID=2 This is the definition of Prohibited Political Activities from that link: There is more, but that’s enough […]

Please explain why Nikita Richards has a job!

By:  Diane Benjamin Part 1 See Part 2 here:   https://blnnews.com/2018/08/30/part-2-nikita-richards/ See Part 3 here:  https://blnnews.com/2018/08/30/part-3-nikita-richards/ This was the job Nikita used to have, maybe still does: Nikita’s LinkedIn page shows NDR and Running for McLean County Clerk, but doesn’t mention she works for the City of Bloomington:   There is a description of what NDR Communications does […]

City Vending Machines – Is it party money?

By:  Diane Benjamin Earlier this month the City of Bloomington claimed the Public Works party was financed with employee money from vending machine profits:   https://blnnews.com/2018/06/04/party-at-public-works/ I FOIA’d the City vending machine contracts, of course my FOIA was extended.  Yesterday I received two contracts dated in 2004. This one is for vending machine products other than […]

Guest Editorial – Report on candidates

Note:  The search firm used by Bloomington, GovHR, also found David Hales for Joliet.  They neglected to tell the Joliet Council about the pending Coliseum prosecutions that happened under Hales’ watch.  What are they not telling Bloomington about the two candidates they presented? _____________________________________________________________________ A quick review: Citizens were given the opportunity to meet the […]

Bloomington’s Monday Food, Travel, and more

By:  Diane Benjamin Bills and Payroll for 5/29/2018  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=17800 See page 86-93.  All the NEGATIVE numbers mean they spent more than was budgeted for that area. It’s illegal to spend what isn’t budgeted without Council approval.  If I have time I may investigate further. Note:  Remember all Tari’s free lunches he claimed were for City business?  […]

Is Renner delusional?

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari Renner was on WJBC this morning with Scott Laughlin.  Scott asked Tari about pension funding. Tari had to mention the pension funding award he accepted several years ago.  Pension funding was neglected for many years so Bloomington could do fun stuff like the BCPA and the Coliseum.  When Tari was elected […]

Tossing Money – Bloomington

By:  Diane Benjamin Bloomington has done nothing to stop employees from “spiking” their pensions.  Besides collecting a higher pension for life at taxpayer expense, taxpayers are forced to pay penalties to cover the increased cost. The “spiking” comes from accumulating unused sick days.  Bloomington has changed the policy for new hires, but they refuse to […]

Normal Township’s fuzzy math

See the comments, they borrowed money.  More debt!   By:  Diane Benjamin Continuing this story from yesterday:    https://blnnews.com/2018/04/30/townships-the-hidden-government/ The WAREHOUSE was created by the Illinois Comptroller’s office to give citizens access to local government financial information.  It is much easier to read than whatever local units of government call financial statements.  It would be a […]

Surprises on Bloomington’s Agenda!

By:  Diane Benjamin The packet for Monday is 877 pages!  I’m sure the Council will read every word:   http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=16340 PDF page 294: Remember how Tari claimed he wasn’t interested in the west-side sports complex? Evidently Normal didn’t like paying the full cost of the study.  Since it won’t be downtown, maybe Tari wants the Council […]

What’s wrong with Bloomington?

By:  Diane Benjamin Everybody knows the streets aren’t being fixed.  Bloomington can’t even find money in the budget (that has skyrocketed under Tari Renner) to invest in infrastructure.   https://blnnews.com/2018/03/26/nice-pantagraph/ They will happily raise your taxes though to pay for a couple of roads.  Yesterday we learned there was a “disconnect” ordering tickets for the One […]

Why City employees cost so much (revised)

By:  Diane Benjamin At tonight’s City Council meeting ratification of a contract for Sergeant and Lieutenants is on the consent agenda. They will be getting retroactive raises back to May 1, 2017: PDF page 92:   http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=16030 PDF page 142 shows the previous contract wage increases were 1.5%. PDF page 149 still has Sick Leave Buy Back! […]

Pothole FAIL

By:  Diane Benjamin I was in town this morning dodging potholes because errands made me cross Veterans Parkway.  I try to never do that! Before any of my critics comment, I wasn’t driving when I shot this video – I was PARKED.   This is a City of Bloomington crew working on East Oakland Avenue. The guy […]

Can the Council finally do their job?

By:  Diane Benjamin Five aldermen stopped the welcoming ordinance meeting for next week.  More important are the names of the aldermen who didn’t sign the request to stop the waste of time and money:  Scott Black, Amelia Buragas, Diana Hauman, and Jamie Mathy Maybe now the Council’s full attention can be working on the budget.  […]

Admitting Guilt?

By:  Diane Benjamin All elected and appointed officials are required by law to file a Statement of Economic Interest.  They all have to file by May 1st of EVERY year.   Filing is not only required by law, it’s vital so citizens can see the people supposedly working for them don’t have undisclosed conflicts of interest. […]

Bloomington (questionable) spending

By:  Diane Benjamin Monday’s Bills and Payroll:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=15550 More spiked pension expense: More Interest-Free loans? I don’t care how great the cause is, what statute allows the City to hand out your money to people they chose?  Most people call this vote-buying: More handouts:  I’m guessing the City if buying tickets to a Chamber event for […]

State Farm News!

By:  Diane Benjamin State Farm has an Employees Activities group, it sounds similar to the City of Bloomington except the activities aren’t during working hours.  One activity I know they organize is golf tournaments. This message was on the SFEA site today: The SFEA area is going through a redesign and all SFEA activities for […]

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 […]

Fun Facts (or not so fun facts)

By:  Diane Benjamin Bloomington population:  78,005 Normal Population:  54,264 Bloomington Total Budget:  $214,126,710 PDF Page 2:  http://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=13155 Normal Total Budget:  $107,133,177 PDF Page 15   http://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/11571 Normal has 30% fewer citizens. Normal budgets 50% of what Bloomington does. Bloomington spends $2,745 for every citizens Normal spends $1,974 for every citizen Bloomington total debt 4/30/16:  270,629,828 http://warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com/ProcessSearchResults.cfm?DisplayMode=GETAFR&AFRDesiredData=Indebtedness&Code=064/025/30&CFY=2016&Menu=Yes&PrintIt=No 4/30/17 information […]

More on Bloomington Roads

By:  Diane Benjamin If I hadn’t been out of town this weekend, I would have written A LOT more on the Pantagraph story that attempted to make you believe the Bloomington roads are getting better.  It’s really difficult to compose story on a cell phone, so I left a lot of details to readers:  https://blnnews.com/2017/09/24/more-pantagraph-conspires-with-city/ […]

More Pantagraph conspires with City

By. Diane Benjamin Today the Pantagraph lauded the $3.8 million Bloomington is spending on streets.  Seems like rewriting history so people think the streets are getting better is the goal of both Bloomington and the so called press. Why?  Because both want downtown spending, not silly things citizens want like the roads fixed! See their […]

You can afford it!

By:  Diane Benjamin The Council is going to vote next Monday to raise your sewer and storm water rates much faster than originally presented.  After all, this Council is fixing what previous Councils ignored – essential services.  Even though voting on items not on the agenda isn’t allowed, the council took a “straw poll” on […]

It keeps getting funnier!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                             September 13, 2017 Contact:         Katie Simpson, City of Bloomington Planner, 309-434-2341                         Tricia Stiller, Downtown Bloomington, 309-829-9599       PARKING DAY COMES TO DOWNTOWN BLOOMINGTON   BLOOMINGTON, IL– On Friday, September 15, in cities around the globe including right here in Downtown Bloomington, artists, activists and citizens will transform parking spaces into temporary public parks […]

More JOKES from Bloomington

By:  Diane Benjamin I’ve written MANY times about the joke that is Bloomington’s Enterprise Funds: Garbage, Water, Sewer, Storm Water, and Grossinger Motors Arena.  All of these funds are expected to have positive balances, except the Arena of course that probably never will.  If the others don’t have enough money in them – your taxes […]

Bloomington supports friends-with your money

By:  Diane Benjamin From Monday’s bills and Payroll:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=14534 Some of the more interesting spending: 1) Every non-profit in Bloomington needs to get their share of the free taxpayer money Bloomington hands out to their friends – this time the McLean County History Museum.  It helps if you can claim you create Economic Activity: 2) […]

Lack of Transparency continues

By:  Diane Benjamin The City of Bloomington can’t legally withhold documents that existed before the State Police announced their investigation, but they are trying to keep me from finding the truth anyway.  Did they really think I wouldn’t write about it? I filed a FOIA request for the all General Ledger Accounts pertaining to Sister […]

Maybe THIS is Tari’s excuse:

By:  Diane Benjamin The following Press Release was sent today by the City of Bloomington.  It has a couple of problems though! Who gave Tari the award? Did he award himself in his hotel room?  I predict a GLOWING Pantagraph article! ___________________________________________________ From: Nora Dukowitz <ndukowitz@cityblm.org>Date: Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 11:19 AMSubject: Press Release: MAYOR RECEIVES […]

Spending Posted!

By:  Diane Benjamin Bills and Payroll got posted for Bloomington Monday night:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=14211 Why is the City using your money for Rotary Club Dues? Library too! Bronner isn’t conducting an annual audit, are they helping the State Police? Did you get your picnic invite? See this story: https://blnnews.com/2016/09/28/consultants-another-one-that-slipped-by/  Yocum only bills the City every six […]

Arena name change

By:  Diane Benjamin The contract between the City of Bloomington and Grossinger Motors is in the packet for the City Council meeting Monday night: PDF page 115  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=14175 The City will use up to $75,000 of their first payment to offset changing the signage. One problem – page 121: Since the document is a legal […]

Laws are immaterial

By:  Diane Benjamin The ruling by the Attorney General’s Public Access office against the City of Bloomington is completely meaningless.  Read the entire ruling here:  17-004 The only penalty for the Bloomington City Council violating the Open Meetings Act by holding an illegal Executive Session is: The tape of the meeting must be released The […]

UPDATE: Not up in smoke – it’s the cloud

The newer website is now back.  The Council approved the website back in March of 2016:  http://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=10583 ________________________________________________ By:  Diane Benjamin I came across the name of the company I think the City of Bloomington hired to do their new website.  I went to cityblm.org to research payments. Surprise – the new website was gone and […]

Tari’s stacked appointments and more

By:  Diane Benjamin At every recent Council meeting Mayor Renner has appointed people to various boards and commissions.  He is obviously transferring his agenda to every part of Bloomington and anywhere he can in the County.  How many people didn’t want to stop serving, but were forced to? Monday night Renner has two appointments and […]

Downtown smells

By:  Diane Benjamin Last week I received this email from a patron of a downtown Bloomington business: When I drove down Main Street today, I noticed that several businesses had their doors wide open.  I made a comment to an employee at the locale where I was conducting my business about the nice weather outside.  […]

Sheep or Wolf?

By:  Diane Benjamin A few days ago a saw a biker on Veterans Parkway, he constantly looked over his shoulder to see if he was going to get hit.  Yesterday a lady on a bike made a left hand turn in front of me without any signals.  Remember when we were kids – left arm […]

Controlling Costs is a LIE

By:  Diane Benjamin Tonight’s Bloomington Council packet contains this statement on PDF page 4:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=12802 Now jump to the Bills and Payroll for tonight: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=12794 PDF page 107 The City if THROWING away money by allowing employees to spike their pensions! This payment of $64,859.95 brings the total to $1,877,252.40 since the law was changed in […]

Spending Spree Monday

By:  Diane Benjamin First a medical update:  Prayer does work!  My husband has had people all over the globe praying for his recovery.  Today he woke up, opened his eyes and responded to our voices and commands from the medical staff.  He had a brain aneurysm that burst on Good Friday.  The ICU neurology staff […]