Affordable housing myths

By: Diane Benjamin Read this WGLT story: https://www.wglt.org/local-news/2023-09-12/group-looks-to-rally-support-for-a-community-land-trust-in-bloomington-normal-aimed-at-housing-affordability Local housing is a problem that the free market will self-correct. Interference in the process is why housing is unaffordable. One thing is certain: Additional housing can’t be created next month. It takes time and creating a Community Land Trust isn’t going to fix anything quickly. They […]

Bloomington dodged the communists – Part 1

By: Diane Benjamin Unlike Chris Koos in the Town of Normal, Mboka Mwilambwe asked the Council if they wanted to extend time for Public Comment. They all said yes so they could hear from two final citizens. Recently Koos used his tyrannical powers to end Public Comment, nobody on that Council objected: https://blnnews.com/2023/05/03/one-guy-stood-up-to-koos/ The actual […]

Normal budget – in short

By: Diane Benjamin If you want to watch the almost 7 hour budget session you can do so below. You won’t be able to see the slides discussed by the Finance Director because they aren’t on the video. You have to see those here: https://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/19621/Budget-Summary-Proposed—Jan-2022-Budget-Worksession Get your two devices ready, get popcorn, and then fall […]

One Normal Place TIF proves fake news is easy

By: Diane Benjamin I downloaded the TIF report for you. See yesterday’s story for directions on how to look up information on the Comptroller’s website yourself: https://blnnews.com/2020/09/29/normal-pay-attention-uptown-tif-report/ This story will prove TIF reports can say whatever the Town of Normal wants them to say. When a TIF doesn’t generate enough money to pay the bills, […]

Update: More on One Normal Plaza and the brewery

I just received another FOIA from Normal.  Supporting the brewery was the building owner, Rob Morger.  The Baby fold supported the zoning changes. By:  Diane Benjamin Last night the group of citizens opposed to establishments selling alcohol from a building in One Normal Plaza met with Town staff.  Normal brought the big guns: City Manager […]

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 […]

More “Right Fit”

By:  Diane Benjamin Tuesday night the Bloomington City Council is going to talk about TIF districts: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=17858 PDF page 209 Bloomington has a long history of projects that aren’t the “Right Fit”.  Start with the Coliseum and the BCPA, both catalyst project that did nothing to revitalize downtown.  Between the two, around $100,000,000 has been […]

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 […]

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 […]

Normal, Rivian, Easter eggs

By:  Diane Benjamin Spending for the Town of Normal Monday night:  http://normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2589 There is nothing wrong with honoring MLK, but why are tax dollars used?  I wonder how much Bloomington paid considering the Council and employees are invited to come and eat for free, and bring a friend. The Rivian agreement with Normal says you […]

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 […]

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?  […]

More Uptown TIF

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal’s Uptown TIF began in May of 2003. Remember, TIF’s are created to encourage economic development.  The hope is any money borrowed or promised will be paid back by the increase taxes received. The Town of Normal 2010 – 2015 TIF Reports are on the Comptroller’s website:  http://warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com/Downloads.cfm See the chart below.  […]

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 […]

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 […]