Normal needs transparency!

By: Diane Benjamin This statement is in the Town of Normal code: No the Council can’t “waive” disclosure requirements, but that’s not the important part. The Open Meetings Act states they can’t vote on anything not disclosed 48 hours in advance. The code states the City Manger must know a week in advance what will […]

Bloomington Council: Transparency joke PLUS cannabis Monday

By:  Diane Benjamin The Council held an Executive Session on December 9th to review minutes of previous Executive Sessions.  Review is required by the Open Meetings Act.  The cabal then votes on what minutes no longer need to be kept confidential. See PDF page 46:  http://bloomingtonil.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=1052&Inline=True The Council voted to keep minutes that are 24 […]

We knew, but here’s the proof

By:  Diane Benjamin For a long time we have known that much of what happens at Council meetings is pre-determined.  This email proves it – the council members have 3 on 1 meetings with the City Manager: Hold on before you think this is a problem! They meet three on one to keep from violating the […]

Who’s on First?

By:  Diane Benjamin Nothing is more frustrating than government employees who can’t get their story straight. Here’s another example: See PDF page 4 of the February City Manger’s report:  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=21477 According to the guy in charge, the BCPA held 6 events in February. How many do we have event reports for? http://www.cityblm.org/government/advanced-components/documents/-folder-1702 TWO! Where are […]

Correction: Normal Water Fee Increases

By:  Diane Benjamin (I’m not having a good day and tomorrow won’t be any better!) Water Rate documentation for tonight:  PDF page 72:  http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3230 Back when Normal wasn’t afraid of transparency, they posted the history of rates citizens pay for essential services.  Luckily, I copied them:  https://blnnews.com/2012/05/30/normal-il-what-is-up-with-the-debt/ Water rates in 2009 were:   $4.95 per 1000 […]

Atlanta: What you need to know before voting

By:  Diane Benjamin Did you know… In the Library Trustee’s “FAQ’s”, they state the liquor commission “…confirmed that the district does not violate any state liquor law by offering complimentary wine.” Will they provide documentation to that effect? Probably not. A FOIA sent to the Illinois Liquor Commission requesting all documents and findings pertaining to […]

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 […]

Bloomington Library No longer Publishes Facts

By:  Diane Benjamin It wasn’t that long ago the data pertaining to City functions was available.  We used to know what the tax receipts were – now we don’t.  We used to know traffic at the library has been declining – now we have no idea.  Traffic isn’t included in Library Board reports either. The […]

Missing Minutes is a pattern

By:  Diane Benjamin In the past month I had to file a FOIA request for the missing Sister Cities Committee minutes:    https://blnnews.com/2018/04/18/cut-sister-cities/ I also had to file for the minutes missing from the Police Safety and Community Relations Board (PSCRB):    https://blnnews.com/2018/05/17/pscrb-update-police-review-board/ The March and April Liquor Commission minutes are also missing: Tari needs to tell […]

Miscellaneous:

By:  Diane Benjamin The next time you are present when Tari talks about his transparency award – please start laughing! Bills and Payroll for Monday night are not posted.  Normally delaying them means they are hiding something.   (as of 10:30 Saturday morning)    http://www.cityblm.org/government/advanced-components/documents/-folder-1609 They know what they are paying because the total is on the […]

Tari speaks in the Pravdagraph

By:  Diane Benjamin It looks like the Pantagraph is now allowing Tari to write about himself, from March 23rd: http://www.pantagraph.com/special-section/bloomington-a-leader-in-open-government-communication/article_6376ee0b-1adf-58cd-ab19-55d71d5eccfd.html#tncms-source=infinity-scroll-summary-siderail-latest I wonder what section they ran this in? The article/editorial has some problems.  Tari must have forgotten he changed the rules for his “Open Houses”.  They aren’t open, citizens have to make an appointment.  The […]

What Tari used to say:

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari Renner is a master at campaigning, it’s the governing part the citizens have a problem with.  When he ran for reelection he repeated the same talking points over and over and never varied from the script.  Truth didn’t matter, only the talking points.  The uniformed fell for it. The first time […]

Tari clamps down on Open House

By:  Diane Benjamin I hope we’ve heard the end of Tari’s pre-public comment speech he’s been using for over 4 years.  His new Open House policy ends the open and transparent Mayor persona. I wonder if the Mayor will close the fish pool doors for those making appointments? I wonder if the public can sit […]

FOIA Failures

By:  Diane Benjamin No, transparency doesn’t exist in Bloomington! This FOIA request was made on July 31st.  I did receive the information on the dinner at Lucca Grill, I have not received the names of the people money was paid to IACE Travel for.  A second request on August 10th and a third request on […]

Welcome Tyranny to Bloomington

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal came really close to ending their tyranny when Chris Koos was almost defeated in April.  Renner didn’t get Modified Wards, but now that he’s reelected, nothing is going to stand in his way.  The Council certainly won’t – gee they approved his girlfriend’s ticket to Japan! No, nobody is looking out […]

Liar Liar

By:  Diane Benjamin We have an A+ rating from the Illinois Policy Institute for transparency. – Tari Renner Did is more applicable Tari. Proof:  The Attorney General found Renner and the WHOLE Council guilty of violating the Open Meetings Act by discussing Metrozone in secret.  They were ordered to release the audio of the meeting […]

Bloomington Fails FOIA

By:  Diane Benjamin This isn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last for the City of Bloomington employees to not care about the law.  Lavish salary and benefits frequently make people think they aren’t answerable to the people who make both happen.  Bloomington employees feel entitled to secrecy and therefore do […]

FOIA goes unanswered

By:  Diane Benjamin I sent this FOIA request to the City of Bloomington on March 27th: I am requesting the following information under the Freedom of Information Act: The following documents have disappeared from the website.  They consist of Agendas and Packets: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11528  10/24/16 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11527  10/24/16 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11529  10/24/16 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11530 10/24/16 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11477  10/17/16 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11476  10/17/16 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=11443  […]

Tari: The windows are closed

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari’s campaign speech is probably memorized by everybody now.  Repeat things often enough some people might believe them. No, transparency doesn’t exist at City Hall.  I dare anybody to file a FOIA request and actually get the information they filed for. The windows are NOT “wide open” as Tari claims. Here is […]

Laws don’t apply to government

By:  Diane Benjamin Illinois Open Meetings Act Law: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=84&ChapterID=2 Monday night the Bloomington City Council is approving minutes dated between 1998 and 2009.  http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=12450 Not approving minutes as required by law isn’t just something the City did a long time ago.  Here is another example from April 11, 2016: September 21, 2015 just happens to […]

The MISSING Minutes

Were these minutes ever approved by the Council?  By:  Diane Benjamin On February 20, 2015, the Bloomington City Council held a special meeting to CENSURE Tari Renner for his vile comments made on this site. The minutes have been missing ever since, a Freedom of Information Request had to be sent to obtain them.  Luckily, […]

No Public Discussion!

By:  Diane Benjamin Everything is scripted in the City of Bloomington to make sure citizens only know what the City wants them to know.  Unlike Tari Renner’s claims of transparency, very little exists.  Try filing a FOIA request and see how long it takes, what is denied, and how much is redacted.  It has gotten […]

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 […]

WOW! YEAR-OLD financial statements

By: Diane Benjamin Bloomington finally released the financial statements for April 30, 2016. The TIF report still hasn’t been released and neither has a separate audited statement on the Coliseum. Maybe another year? Two? At this point, what difference does it make? It’s much easier to read the information from the Comptroller’s site. Total Full […]

Bloomington: $20 Million in cuts?

By:  Diane Benjamin Can $20 million be cut from Bloomington’s budget?  David Hales thinks disaster would strike Bloomington if the tax increases were rolled back.  (The media happily reports it!) Here’s a better question: The 2012 TOTAL budget was $165.3 million (Pre Tari) The 2013 TOTAL budget was $167 million (Pre Tari) That 2017 TOTAL […]

$2.6 Million isn’t enough

By: Diane Benjamin At last night’s City Council meeting some aldermen were upset by a Public Comment where the person evidently tried to campaign or something.  Alderman Fruin wants rules against it. No, you can’t see the comment in question. Meanwhile, Mayor Tari Renner evidently gave a campaign speech and called it the State of […]

BGA on Madigan’s Public Access

I was interviewed for this story WEEKS ago, glad to see this is STATE problem.  The story is published on the Better Government Association website:  http://www.bettergov.org/news/illinois-foia-appeals-linger-with-no-end-in-sight Illinois FOIA Appeals Linger With No End In Sight Lengthy appeals process, non-binding decisions hamper ability to obtain records through Illinois Freedom of Information Act. After Edgar County corrections […]

Watch out after dark downtown!

By:  Diane Benjamin The email below was written by the now fired VenuWorks Executive Director.  It was received under the Freedom of Information Act. The City of Bloomington heavily redacted tons of other emails, so this is all the information available. If walking at night from the Coliseum is dangerous for female employees, how safe […]

Bloomington needs to know what transparency is

By:  Diane Benjamin The City of Bloomington included a newsletter with October Water/Sewer/Garbage bills.  You can see it here:  HERE There are a number of problems with the newsletter.  I wonder whose job it is to put it together and include it with the bills.  The Communications Director? First, the newsletter sent in October is […]

Surprise: Bloomington Bills and Payroll

Bills and Payroll posted at 8:53. See this link for details:  https://blnnews.com/2016/09/26/what-is-bloomington-paying-tonight/ By:  Diane Benjamin The agenda for tonight’s Council meeting was posted last week.  This item is on the agenda: This means the Finance Department knows what Bills and Payroll the Council is expected to approve.  They knew this last week! The actual list […]

In honor of Tari’s Transparency award:

By:  Diane Benjamin Tonight’s Committee of Whole meeting starts at 5:30 – not the normal 7:00 pm. A transparency award is scheduled to be presented by the Illinois Policy Institute.  It’s a WEBSITE transparency award, not a general transparency award. Transparency is much more than a website!  It’s not meeting in secret and violating the […]

More Bloomington (lack of) Transparency

By:  Diane Benjamin See this document – page 16 – 26  2015 Audit Communication The title: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENTS CONTROL DEFICIENCIES This report is from the City of Bloomington’s auditors.  Every other year I have reported on these “Control Deficiencies”, many are reported year after year after year with nothing being done to fix the […]

CIRA – still violating?

By:  Diane Benjamin The next meeting of the CIRA (Central Illinois Regional Airport) Board of Commissioners is May 10th.  Since the April meeting, Minutes for January-March have been posted on their website:  http://www.cira.com/   See the bottom of “About CIRA” If you missed previous stories, CIRA was violating the Open Meetings Act by not posting meeting […]

Let’s see if CIRA gets it

By:  Diane Benjamin The Central Illinois Regional Airport is owned by taxpayers.  It isn’t a private company doing whatever it wants – it just acts like it. The meeting minutes aren’t posted on their website.  No agendas and no meeting dates either. That means they are violation of the Open Meetings Act! I thought CIRA […]

Transparency Fallacy

By:  Diane Benjamin The City of Bloomington now believes “Citizens don’t have a right to know”.  The local media is told what to report and they dutifully comply. Here’s the latest example: I’ve written before about deficiencies in Internal Controls at the City.  In English – the Auditors found the City isn’t doing enough to […]

Bloomington holds illegal meeting

By:  Diane Benjamin Don’t miss the update:  https://blnnews.com/2015/11/04/more-on-the-illegal-meeting/ Today an illegal meeting was held at City Hall.  David Hales has divided the Council into groups of three to meet on various issues.  Instead of being open and transparent by discussing City business at City Council meetings, they are meeting with no public notification as required […]