More lies for Normal taxpayers

By: Diane Benjamin More emails the Normal taxpayers need to see. Note the date, Rivian never requested water from Normal. The Town of Normal is trying to talk them into it. Pam Reece has said OVER and OVER spending $5 million+ for water lines on top of Bloomington’s is for future economic development. The email […]

Amenity not Economic Development

By: Diane Benjamin Last night’s Bloomington council meeting: Tari Renner and the Clerk had to be reminded Public Comment was skipped. I hope the next mayor can read and follow an agenda, Tari can’t (numerous examples from recent meetings). See around 49:00. There was only one Public Comment. Ward 3 candidate Willie Holton Halbert took […]

Cancel Culture hits Bloomington

By:  Diane Benjamin The Bloomington City Council will meet on Monday with only 1 item on the agenda (besides approving minutes and hear how everything needs to stay locked down because 20 somethings can’t protect themselves from COVID) Has anyone ever celebrated Columbus Day? I wonder if Jenn knows her native language is Spanish because […]

The emails WGLT didn’t use from Stan

By:  Diane Benjamin On January 14, 2020 I received a tip that WGLT sent a FOIA to the Town of Normal for all communication regarding Stan Nord’s W. College property.  I then FOIA’d WGLT’s FOIA. On January 22, 2020 WGLT did this story: The letter WGLT used in their second story on January 31, 2020 […]

Justin Boyd – Too funny not to comment

By:  Diane Benjamin Recently the Pantagraph put out a call for people to write editorials for them.  Evidently Justin Boyd answered the call, this was published on August 12th:  Bloomington Needs To Rethink Its Future Who is Justin Boyd? Downtown business owner Tari’s One Voice travel buddy:  https://blnnews.com/2019/03/21/bloomington-travels-one-voice/ Justin helped get signatures for Julie Emig  […]

Flashback: May 11, 2016 Renner

By:  Diane Benjamin WJBC has reported Tari Renner wants to end the moratorium on new video gaming  machines: http://www.wjbc.com/2019/07/29/renner-sides-with-businesses-seeking-to-end-bloomingtons-video-gaming-freeze/ I remember when the moratorium was put in place, Tari was outraged that $50 million a year went into the machines.  It sounds like he changed his mind. Back in 2016 Tari was on WJBC talking […]

EDC has a new director

By:  Diane Benjamin How many former Decatur people are going to recruited?  Tim Gleason, Billy Tyus, and now the new director of the Economic Development Council: https://www.bnbiz.org/news/patrick-hoban-chosen-as-new-president-ceo/?fbclid=IwAR1bT5mkeg0vyoW2wiZo07OX0jOUAa65_sTAZcVCPo7UxpPIXiTv1aTt4YM Patrick Hoban gets the job.  At least he didn’t come directly from Decatur: Hoban has served as the economic development manager for the Village of Tinley Park since […]

More Bloomington Brilliance

See the follow-up story:  https://blnnews.com/2019/06/13/chateau-hotel-and-conference-center/ By:  Diane Benjamin Remember at the end of May when I reported the City owns the Jumer’s Conference Center?    https://blnnews.com/2019/05/28/value-of-city-properties-2019/ It looks like $3 million was sunk into it. So what is its status? The City is leasing it and getting NOTHING for it.  From my FOIA cover document: […]

Bloomington Waiving Moratorium for friends?

By:  Diane Benjamin On the agenda for Monday night is a public hearing on next years budget.  PDF page 163 has a brief summary that says next to nothing:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=21243 If you want to see details, go here:  http://www.cityblm.org/government/departments/finance/annual-budget Also on the Agenda: PDF page 166: Allowing exceptions to the moratorium on video gaming! The […]

Tari needs reigned in AGAIN

By:  Diane Benjamin The Council held a retreat on November 4, 2017.  The minutes from the meeting show just how bad a City Manager David Hales was.  See them here, rarely do the minutes reflect contentious discussions – you can see some of it here even if they don’t reflect how bad it was:    http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=16276 […]

Council Recap

By:  Diane Benjamin The Bloomington City Council only had ONE meeting last night instead of 2 or 3.  It didn’t help them not spend your money, but at least they only contemplated how to shovel out more.  Of course, it was on downtown.  More later. Jamie Mathy did not attend, so Ward 1 had no […]

$225,000 unaccountable

By:  Diane Benjamin At tonight’s City Council meeting BN Advantage will get $125,000.  That is in addition to the $100,000 currently paid to the Economic Development Council which happens to be part of BN Advantage. Confused? It’s not going to get any clearer since both organizations can not be FOIA’d. PDF page 277  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=18156 This is […]

EDC 2016 Tax Return

By:  Diane Benjamin How did the Economic Development Council lose $298.319 in 2015 and another $326,863 in 2016?  Spending more than they take in! From the 2016 tax return: With losses like their’s, what kind of help did they provide? We now know how much Kyle Ham was being paid in 2016:   PDF page 10 […]

Cut Admin Bloomington!

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal is cutting:  communications director, economic development director, and assistant to the city manager. If Normal doesn’t need them, Bloomington doesn’t either.  Bloomington isn’t twice as big as Normal – but Bloomington’s budget is more than 100% higher! Bloomington is once again looking at a budget that does not provide enough money to […]

When Aldermen are absent

By:  Diane Benjamin Aldermen Diana Hauman and Kimberly Bray were both absent Monday night.  Bray participated by phone, Hauman wasn’t allowed because she was supposedly on vacation.  The City Code says absent alderman can only participate if sick or on business travel. I believe, based on the last time the Towanda-Barnes/ Ireland Grove intersection was […]

Cummings: Who do you represent?

By:  Diane Benjamin During public comment many first time speakers almost begged the Council to save the historic buildings at 104, 106, and 108 Beaufort Street.  From the Council discussion, that is not going to happen. City Manager Peterson claimed all they were doing was picking a developer.  Oh they will see what they can […]

Knuckleheads

By:  Diane Benjamin Pre Tari Renner the City of Bloomington didn’t have any staff doing economic development.   See the 2012 job titles HERE For the year ended 4/30/12, the Economic Development Council received $65,610.04   http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=6242 BN Advantage didn’t exist. Was Bloomington better or worse? Post Tari Renner – 2017 The City now has a full time […]

Did Renner’s mouth kill potential?

By:  Diane Benjamin I received a tip that Tari Renner was under a non-disclosure agreement on the deal he revealed during his Town Hall meeting earlier this week. Renner proclaimed City leaders and the Economic Development Council are talking to a prosthetic limbs manufacturer about a factory here.  He also mentioned the jobs would pay […]

De-funding Economic Development

By:  Diane Benjamin It wasn’t that long ago the people in government in Logan County thought Bill Thomas was doing a great job with Economic Development.  The Logan County State’s Attorney refused to act even with definitive proof of criminal activity – including grant fraud that led to the Atlanta Library being ordered to repay […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Citizens Fight Back: Logan County

By:  Diane Benjamin Logan County has more than it’s share of problems.  I’ve written a few stories about the Atlanta Public Library: https://blnnews.com/2017/10/13/the-citizens-of-atlanta-saved-themselves-200000/ https://blnnews.com/2017/10/13/atlanta-library-makes-huge-oma-violation/ https://blnnews.com/2017/07/13/atlanta-more-small-town-shenanigans/ These stories barely touch the surface of the problems in not only Atlanta, but now Lincoln. All the controversy revolves around one guy:  Bill Thomas. If the name sounds familiar, […]

Send a local message to Springfield:

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal spent $100,000,000+ on Uptown and they aren’t done spending money.  See this story:  http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/illinois/small-town-downtowns-il/ 9 Small Towns In Illinois Where Downtown Is The Place To Be Normal isn’t on the list and it isn’t a downtown destination, unless you like the taxpayer-funded free events.  These 9 cities used existing buildings.  Quaint […]

What Bloomington is paying Monday

By:  Diane Benjamin The agenda for Monday’s meeting was posted on Thursday.  The agenda lists the total to be approved for payment in Bills and Payroll.  Somehow, even though the City knew what the list was, it wasn’t posted until after 4:30 Friday.  Anybody think they are hiding something?  See the list HERE Actually a […]

Pretending to create success

By:  Diane Benjamin Government in this country has never created prosperity.  Every dollar they spend they stole from people who worked for it.  Capitalism requires government to get out of the way so individuals can create their own success – or fail on their own. Bloomington government believes they can create economic development by throwing […]

Paying for stagnation

By:  Diane Benjamin From Bills and Payroll for Monday night:  http://www.cityblm.org/index.aspx?page=242&parent=9535 More consultants: http://www.ajg.com/industries/public-sector/ Real Estate Appraiser: ____________________ These groups (plus BN Advantage) get your money for Economic Development, but are completely unaccountable for how it’s spent: Downtown Bloomington Association was supposed to pay for itself years ago.   Budgeted for 2017:  (Because government economic […]

Earth to Vogel . . Earth to Vogel

By:  Diane Benjamin The obvious alien writer at the Pantagraph, Steve Vogel, demanded .04 a gallon gas tax increase today.  Maybe he sneaked into the country when the old Soviet Union dissolved.  Maybe he was dropped on his head.  He thinks the City needs more money for roads. Citizens expect their government to handle: Police […]

Government picking losers UPDATE

By:  Diane Benjamin Tonight the Bloomington City Council will approve an Enterprise Zone.  The majority will vote yes because they believe government creates economic activity. From the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Activity website: The Illinois Enterprise Zone Program is designed to stimulate economic growth and neighborhood revitalization in economically depressed areas of the […]