One Normal Plaza and Nick Africano

By:  Diane Benjamin From time to time a reader has left a comment about the deal Nick Africano had with the Town of Normal pertaining to the old Soldiers and Sailors property.  I decided to investigate. Here’s what I know: At the September 18, 2017 meeting this check for $483,900 was issued after the old […]

Citizens of Normal need to see this one!

By:  Diane Benjamin Town Council meeting TUESDAY   http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3172  (delayed for MLK Day) Misc spending:  CDM is Children Discovery Museum.  It’s easy to give your money as a memorial! This is what you need to see: (yes it’s complicated) The Town of Normal owns the building at 104 W. North.  It is currently rented to Dan Brady […]

Why Bloomington-Normal is doomed

By:  Diane Benjamin We live in a capitalist country.  It’s called individual freedom to succeed or fail.  The individual is the most important factor in success, the “collective” has no part in capitalism.  Individuals must be free to make their own decisions.  Capitalism doesn’t see genders, race, sexual orientation or any other tags used to […]

Last night’s Bloomington Council fun

By:  Diane Benjamin Joni Painter was absent last night, so Ward 5 wasn’t represented. There was no presentation last night on employee compensation.  HR is going to want around $20,000 to study more.  Alderman Mathy used common sense when he asked where ending Sick Leave Buy Back is.  It is nowhere.  He also asked why […]

An article Bloomington leaders won’t read

By:  Diane Benjamin Tonight Bloomington is holding a special meeting to talk about TIF’s.  Again, they believe they can create prosperity with the “Right Fit”. Here’s the article they need to read:   https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/6/18/running-government-as-a-business Excerpts: If you’ve been here with Strong Towns for any amount of time, you know the suggestion that, “the object of a […]

More on Downs TIF problems

By:  Diane Benjamin Continuation of this story:    https://blnnews.com/2018/05/10/downs-tif-tensions/ Roger Reynolds has a property that isn’t in usable condition.  See the pics in the above story.  He never authorized anyone to leave his property in the condition it is today.  I also heard Downs is planning on using his property for access to the park Corn […]

Who destroyed downtown?

By:  Diane Benjamin According to Wikipedia: Back in 1967 virtually nothing existed where Eastland Mall is today.  Locals tell me the City Council cheered the new mall without understanding moving anchor stores from downtown would result in today’s conditions. How many employees did the Pantagraph formerly have downtown?  They recently created another empty large building […]

Wrong side of the tracks

By:  Diane Benjamin In March I posted a story concerning the “luxury” apartments in the new building on Uptown Circle:     https://blnnews.com/2018/03/17/more-on-uptown-circle/ At that time Zillow showed 16 apartments for rent.  It now shows 14 ranging from $1650 and month to $4200:     https://www.zillow.com/b/1-uptown-circle-normal-il-9J8XNH/ Public Comment on items other than the Welcoming Ordinance was at […]

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 […]

Another TIF – “Right Fit”

By:  Diane Benjamin Tax Increment Financing (TIF)  districts were meant to redevelop blighted areas.  They divert all increases in property taxes to the City and then to the developers.  The taxes are diverted FROM all other taxing bodies like schools, library, county, township, etc. Downtown Bloomington had a long term TIF that expired a couple […]

Normal: Found in the financial statements

By:  Diane Benjamin If the Comptroller’s office ever does their job, comprehensive TIF reports will be available.  So far they don’t have the software completed to allow entry of information.  Information from 3/13/17 for Normal and 4/30/17 for Bloomington isn’t complete. Normal’s 3/31/17 financial statements: http://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/12750 PDF page 30: The Uptown TIF Fund reported a […]

Facade Grants to WHO?

By:  Diane Benjamin Continuation of: https://blnnews.com/2017/12/26/lets-talk-tifs/ https://blnnews.com/2017/12/26/who-got-tif-money/ I don’t know why Fuller Facade Grants are included on the TIF report.  Usually they are on Bills and Payroll.  The grants are named after Harriett Fuller, but paid for in the budget.  See more information about these grants here:  http://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=4101 These grants are just another way to funnel […]

Who got TIF money?

By:  Diane Benjamin Continuation from this story:  https://blnnews.com/2017/12/26/lets-talk-tifs/ Who got money to improve their properties: 215 E Douglas – E Douglas Apartments.  The owner of 215 E Douglas is listed in the County Assessor’s office as Mike Manna. Illinois House – 201-213 W. Jefferson Ralph Turner, partner in the Darrell Hartweg Law firm 408 W Washington […]

Let’s talk TIF’s

By:  Diane Benjamin If you don’t understand that Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a slush fund for government friends, the Town and Normal and the City of Bloomington will continue to use them to funnel money to people they want to fund.  The theory is the money will be recovered with increasing property tax values […]

Hack off everybody Monday

By:  Diane Benjamin If the “welcoming ordinance” discussion isn’t divisive enough, the Downtown Task Force plan will also be presented.  Most of the crowd will be gone when the previous discussion ends.  The mob will only be there for the “No Justice No Peace” part.  The Council should have held a special session only for […]

Have some fun HERE

By:  Diane Benjamin I reported yesterday about the Comptroller’s Warehouse website.  The Bloomington information from last year is available there when the City hasn’t bothered to release it to you yet. I found a fun page that recaps all expenditures in a succinct format that’s easy to understand.  Want to know where your money goes?  […]

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.  […]

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 […]

Normal: Revised Schedule + Spending

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal Town Council tonight:  http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2745 More proof the Chamber of Commerce is working AGAINST citizens: This is the trip to explore building a sports complex here.  Even if it brings tourism dollars to hotels, restaurants, and retail, these are LOW WAGE jobs.  Guess who is going to pay for it! One person can’t […]

While you weren’t watching . . .

by:  Diane Benjamin 1) Mayor Transparency is now not listing the cost of items on the agenda.  See tonight’s agenda here:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=13109.  Go to page 114 to find out the Motor Fuel Tax is being raided to pay for street light electricity. This tax was passed as being for the streets – not lights:  (Page […]

Tari admits subverting capitalism

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari Renner believes in the top down approach to government.  He wants total control of local economic development.  Think about his hotel plans in downtown Bloomington that will steal business from existing hotels.  HE wants to decide who succeeds and who fails.   Understand now why he didn’t sign the loyalty oath […]

Bloomington IS Normal

By:  Diane Benjamin If the massive tax and spending increases Renner and Council have handed taxpayers aren’t evidence of a need for HUGE changes in Bloomington – Monday night you give you another reason. A 3rd TIF District! Did Bloomington elect a Chris Koos for mayor?  Koos has FIVE TIF districts.  He has buried Normal […]

Boring predictable Council meeting

By:  Diane Benjamin Of course the TIF District passed last night 8-1.  Only Kevin Lower knows government doesn’t create economic development without taking your money to do it.  Free markets are dead in Bloomington.  I hear Giebelhausen is still planning a hotel for the Pantagraph building, not where the City wants one and not in […]

Normal: QUIT sleeping!

By:  Diane Benjamin Chris Koos CAN’T stop spending your money.  A new library is on the way, not for books – he’s creating a social and fun club and expecting all of you to participate.  Think Uptown events.  Government controls your life – you aren’t allowed to make independent decisions because he is abolishing capitalism.  […]

Normal’s DEBT!

By:  Diane Benjamin Last night Normal voted to waste more taxpayer money on consultants.  They already know they want an expensive underpass, but they are spending $1.4 million+ on another study anyway. As of March 31, 2016:  http://warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com/LandingPage.cfm?code=064/095/31&searchtype=allunits&originalSearchString=Normal%20-%20a%20Town%20in%20Mclean%20County%20-%20064/095/31&CFID=11824458&CFTOKEN=2f4040be3c789a16-9F1393A4-5056-93B5-5E7A726C9A88D866 From the link above – click View Data – Indebtedness 2014 Total Debt:  $86,788,630 2015 Total Debt:  […]

Normal: Sleeping into Slavery

By:  Diane Benjamin Some regimes hold their populations hostage at gun point, other do it with debt.  Normal is using debt for your entertainment. The Town must not appreciate their public safety personnel.  If you missed it, police and fire pensions are seriously underfunded while the staff has plenty of room to collect their retirements.  […]

Who’s fault is The Grove?

By:  Diane Benjamin Mayor Renner, David Hales, and members of the City Council blame The Grove housing development on East Ireland Grove Rd for taking too much tax money.  Some members did it again last Monday night.  Tari frequently says the development contracts are bad.  So who is at fault? Former City Manager Tom Hamilton?  […]

NOW: Tonight’s meeting

By:  Diane Benjamin The Pantagraph has been running this ad on Facebook: I will wait for you to stop laughing! waiting . . . waiting . . . Today an entire article is devoted to praising the City of Bloomington’s for closing last year under budget. Some things they meant to mislead you about: (tonight:  […]

Buragas not Renner’s pet anymore?

By:  Diane Benjamin At the May 9th Council meeting Alderman Buragas went into a long speech about the Hales review process, but then voted yes to his raise anyway.  Her speech seemed out-of-place unless she was going to vote against the increase. Last night she voted against the TIF feasibility study.  I don’t know why […]

TIF reporting problems

By:  Diane Benjamin The One Normal Plaza TIF began 10/19/2009.  Luckily, all the TIF reports are on-line.  To make it easy, I posted them all here: 2010   2011   2012   2013   2014   2015 The purpose of a TIF is to cure blighted areas.  The Town gets to keep any increases in property taxes in the […]

Normal: Sick of your government yet?

By:  Diane Benjamin I rarely write about Normal because the citizens never get outraged.  What does it take?  Bankruptcy? Tonight: Chris Koos had to know the Mitsubishi plant was already sold to a liquidator, but took a trip funded by you to Germany anyway: Hope the Council enjoyed eating at your expense:   Do residents […]

Bloomington got lucky – for now (kidding)

No – you aren’t safe.  Evidently everybody can’t attend, so they changed the meeting from Committee of the Whole to Special Meeting.   By:  Diane Benjamin Mayor-Developer Renner just can’t stop creating his version of utopia in Bloomington.  He’s the king of paying people (with your money) to create economic development.  The local, state, and […]

Normal’s TIF debt

By:  Diane Benjamin As Bloomington decides to blanket the City with TIF Districts, let’s look at the Town of Normal.  They have FIVE! First a little review.  TIF’s create money for the City without any over-site.  The City Council will never be asked where to spend this money – it’s comes from keeping taxes generated […]

Bloomington Taxpayers liable

By:  Diane Benjamin Of course the Bloomington City Council passed everything Tari Renner wanted last night.  It’s all going to be great.  Public Comment was stacked with former officials and friends of government who proclaimed the $1,400,000 land purchase brilliant, the east side TIF brilliant, and the downtown hotel brilliant.  Except for the one guy […]

TIFs explained

By:  Diane Benjamin Did you know Tax Increment Financing (TIF) was outlawed in California? Way too much money was going to developers and campaign contributors and costing taxpayers money – so they were outlawed.  (Note:  California!) Bloomington wants one on the east side, one downtown, and it’s unclear if the downtown TIF would expand to […]