In the crazy world in which we live, a blog looking to make sense of it all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rep. Lane Evans To Retire

It was reported on WEEK 25 at 6pm that 17th Congressional District Representative Lane Evans announced that he would be retiring after he finishes his current term in office.

I had seriously wondered about his physical condition over the last couple of years. In the 2004 race, if I remember, he would not commit to any open debates with challenger Andrea Zinga, who is again running on the Republican ticket this year. I felt that he did not want the public to see his true condition.

Then, it was reported that Rep. Evans had missed a total of 33 votes in the House. His spokesman claimed that he was undergoing some medical procedures and that Rep. Evans was fine and would be able to do his job. I didn't exactly buy that.

In these last couple of years, I had thought that Rep. Evans should have molded someone to take over his position. He could then step down and enjoy some time with family and tend to his health. Rep. Evans has done an exemplary job as a congressman. No one would think ill of him if he would have stepped down. In fact, it is inspiring to the public the performance he has made while in office with Parkinson's. But the disease does take a toll.

I believe he could do an outstanding job in bringing awareness to Parkinson's Disease as has actor Michael J. Fox.

Common Sense of it All: I wish the best for Rep. Evans and hope he is feeling better.

Noise Pollution

It sounds like the Peoria City Council wants to get more serious about some of the noise pollution going on in this town, or so says the front page story by Jennifer Davis in the Journal Star.

We've all had to deal with it in Peoria. Those blaring sub-woofers kids have in their cars with volume level set on 11. In fact, a couple of weeks ago I was stopped at a light and the car behind me was so loud, I couldn't even hear my *own* radio. Could even feel some of the vibrations. The kids are going to be deaf by the time they're 30! I could accept this more if they would listen to some good music.

The current ordinance states that loud music shouldn't be heard 50 feet or more away from the vehicle. Violators will be fined a minimum of $200. You'd think that would be petty cash compared to the cost of some of these sound systems. Sometimes I figure that these sound systems are worth more than the vehicle they are installed in.

The proposed ordinance is modeled after an ordinance in Rock Island, IL. It would call for a distance of 75 feet *and* the violator's car seized. The vehicle would be released until a $250 fine and other additional fees paid. I'm not sure how constitutional that is, so I'll refrain from any legal comments for the time being. I just hope any officer that would stop me would understand my volume is up for only a brief time during a really good Zepplin song that came on.

All that needs to be done now is to light the fuse on this set of fireworks. Mayor Ardis likes the idea however, not all council members share his viewpoint. Councilman Gary Sandberg fears a racial problem and that the impounding of personal property is "over-reacting" to the problem. First District Councilman Clyde Gulley expressed his uncertainties asking how any infraction will be proved.

The only advice I would give the city council is to closely analyze the results Rock Island has had with this ordinance and how well it worked before implementing it. It's best to learn from the mistakes of others before you make the same ones yourself.

Common Sense of it All: Creating more ordinances and laws is not going to do anything unless they are enforced.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Miscellaneous Ramblings

I was watching the nightly news tonight and a couple of stories influenced me for this post.

1.) Immigration debate. The Senate is about to debate the illegal immigration problems and recently, several protests are being held in California. According to the LAPD, the biggest protest may have brought in 500,000 people. Illegal immigrats say that they should not be treated as *criminals.* Let's see. They are in this country illegally. They are not following the law to become US citizens. Entering the country illegally is a felony offense. Sounds like the definition of criminal to me.

I can't blame a lot of these people as they are seeking a better life for themselves and their children. But they are stressing social programs, jobs, education and the like. Why do you think they want to come to America? We are giving them a free education and health care. They are taking jobs away from our own citizens and/or those immigrants who are hear legally. And most likely, they pay little or no taxes.

2.) Have a beer in Texas. But keep it only one beer. This story explained a new law in the state of Texas aimed to combat drunk driving. Should someone become drunk in a bar is grounds to be arrested. In the case this segment highlighted featured a woman staying at a hotel, having a few drinks in the hotel bar. She was not driving at all. Yep. You guessed it, she was taken in and booked. Talk about Texas law.

Common Sense of it All: Those who enter the country illegally is not fair to those who are abiding by the laws and playing fairly. Ever play Monopoly with a cheater? That's what these people are trying to do; cheat. And they should be dealt with accordingly. They are here illegally. They should not be entitled to a free education, welfare, etc.

And down in Texas, the state legislature should pick up a history book and brush up on the Prohibition of the 1920's. It didn't quite work out. If you can't get drunk in a hotel bar and walk back to your room, why not just make alcohol illegal. Classify this one under *stupid laws.*

Play Ball

My condolences to all the Bradley fans over last Thursday night's loss to Memphis. Though it may have been a defeat, the Braves played very well against a tough opponent.

It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. That's the lesson Bradley taught us that night. It seems more and more, society becomes more obsessed with sports. Peoples lives almost revolve around sports. Have you ever been to some event or meeting and you find someone who brought their portable TV or radio to constantly get an update on a game. Parents get in fights over a little league game. Over in England, British soccer fans go as far as to create mass riots. Even last week, the Gridiron was rescheduled because of the Bradley game. I would not be surprised that if the Bradley game took place on a Saturday afternoon, there would be a wedding somewhere in Peoria that would have been postponed.

The fans are not the only ones obsessed. Even the athletes. Jose Consenco and many other baseball players are found to be taking steroids. Pete Rose was found guilty of betting on baseball games. On the college level, you hear about stories of scholarships with perks and luxurious gifts if certain athletes will play for their school while they hold little or no scholastic achievements.

All the same, congratulations to Bradley and coach Jim Les for a great season!

Common Sense of it All: Good grief folks! It's only a game. However, the amount of money that is spent and is made off of sports has fueled this obsession. If people could put the level of interest and enthusiasm into their relationships, jobs, lives and their community as they do in their fascination over sports, they might find life to be a bit better. I bet there was a little more than 18% of registered voters more in tune to Thursday's night game than they were Tuesday's primary election.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Keep America Beautiful

So this past Saturday I headed out to the unincorporated part of Peoria County for a family reunion and enjoyed the drive in the great weather. That was until I noticed in the cornfields, butted up against the myriad of new construction from city annexation, an unsightly mess of trash that had blown in from said new construction.

I was born and raised in Peoria and have been a city dweller all my life. While I could never live on a farm, I still respect what farmers do; as Les Nesman at WKRP believes, it’s the oldest profession. I wish these contractors would to. They need to get off their lazy ass and pick up after themselves. Why should the farmer have to clean up after them? The farmers didn’t move; they were there first. And it’s not their trash.

I’ve witnessed this in the city as well. On any given day in the East Bluff, you can see for yourself litterbugs who carelessly discard their trash in people’s yards. If I did that when I was younger, I would have received a good lecture and spend some time grounded; of course I'd have to pick up my mess too.

On another environmental topic, I watched a segment on 60 Minutes last Sunday that featured a scientist who claims that the Bush White House is keeping him silent on his theories regarding global warming. His claims are that if mankind does not act within the next 10 years, that there will be no turning back. This scientist also claimed that the artic regions will suffer the most first. This was also corroborated in a story today at MSNBC. I’ll save the politics of global warming for another debate and another post. The fact remains, the subject of global warming is more common. From everything I’ve seen and read, a vast majority of scientists strongly believe that global warming is possible and is probably happening right now. The difference of opinion is the magnitude of how the problem is growing.

Common Sense of it All: Human mankind is obviously the most intelligent creature on Earth. Arguably, human mankind is also the dumbest creature on Earth. We’re shitting in our own nest here and I don’t think any other animal does that. Our culture has grown to where we are aware of these problems and have developed the technology to begin to combat it. Yet the wheels turn slow. I’m not suggesting we should all join Earth First and become treehuggers, but we, as a global community, need to wake up, get out of denial, change our attitudes and work to make a change for the better. The sooner we start, the better. I don’t want to have to pick out pieces of plastic Wal Mart bags in my sweet corn this summer.

Another Quote From JB Topinka

From Doug Finke’s story in the March 22, 2006 issue of the Peoria Journal Star:

"We don't have all of the numbers, but I think by the end of the night, it's
going to look very, very nice," Topinka said. "And then we're going to bring
this little old fight right to Rod's doorstep. We're going to go out there and
make sure we give Rod an early retirement. Sorry about your pension, Rod. It got

Topinka was referring to Blagojevich diverting money from
state pension systems to help balance the budget.

There was no surprise in the outcome of these two primary races. Although Eisendrath’s garnering 30% of the primary vote says a lot about the dissatisfaction of Blagojevich’s performance in office from his own party.

So now it’s a slugging match between Blagojevich and Topinka. I’m not really a betting man, but I would say that it’s 50/50 at this point in the race. Both candidates can market themselves reasonably well, both are fairly charismatic and accomplished public speakers and both have a good campaign war chest of cash. But who can sling the most mud? Let the insanity begin!

Common Sense of it All: Rod didn’t lose his pension; he’s the one who did the raiding.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Be Sure To Vote

Get out and vote on Tuesday, March 21st!

Common Sense of it All: The only wasted vote is the one not cast. Too many Americans over the past 230 years have paid the ultimate price so that we are assured this freedom. Please vote (even if you don't like the choices offered).

Friday, March 17, 2006

First Impressions of the 46th IL Senate Race

Woes me. As if the gubernatorial race was not bad enough, I've got a quandary on who to vote in the 46th district senate race. Among the choices this November, based upon my first impressions of these candidates:

From the Democrats, a pair of Daves. Dave Williams, the current chairman of the Peoria County board is one of the candidates in the Democratic primary. If memory serves, didn't he rubber stamp his approval to send some county officials on a trip to Hawaii for some useless municipality convention. Sounds like a good way to spend taxpayer dollars, at least for some people. Also, didn't Mr. Williams ramrod some pay raise for county board members? I seem to remember Merle Widmer writing about that at his blog as he was not available to vote on that measure. Alas, a true fiscal manager, wouldn't you say?

The other Dave is Dave Koehler. My impression of this Dave is weak. No backbone. I believe it was reported that well over 50% of Mr. Koehler's campaign contributions had come from labor unions. This has a familiar ring to it. He will no less become a slave to those who had paid for him to run. Will Mr. Koehler become beholden to these unions and become their whipping boy, catering to their every whim? Whether its unions or the gun lobby or the Christian Coalition or whatever; candidates seem to have to pay back those who paid to put them into office. Is Mr. Koehler any different?

The Republicans are only giving me one choice this election season; Blair Gambill. Yes Mr. Gambill, you did get to meet the Vice-President of the United States. Yes Mr. Gambill, we did see the photograph of you several times meeting said Vice-President. No Mr. Gambill, we're not impressed. My first impression of Mr. Gambill is summed up in one word; "slick." He might make a good game show host however.

Common Sense of it All: We are all going to miss the current Senator who holds this office, George Shadid. Sen. Shadid is one of those rare exceptions of an elected official the people could count upon, and from both sides of the aisle. I wish Sen. Shadid the best in his well deserved retirement.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

License To Slum

Councilman Bob Manning offered an idea to help combat the growing problem of slum rental properties in Peoria; mandate that landlords be licensed to rent property. And if rental properties fall into disrepair, fine that landlord, or rather slumlord, a hefty amount.

The intentions are very well and the idea has some merit, but I’m skeptical. I’m pretty much a free market dude and think government regulation should be kept to a minimum. Like Tom Jefferson said, “That government is best which governs the least." I’m afraid that while one problem can be alleviated, one or more can be created.

Mr. Manning did point out that the fee would be minimal and should be easy enough to acquire. But for a deterrent, keep fines high. Sounds like years of being a financial consultant, Mr. Manning knows the corporate world do not like regulations and he’s trying to keep a balance. Now if a property should break code, in need of repairs and the owner is not compliant, how will this be enforced? What will be the cost of enforcement? How far can the city enforce this, ie evict the tenants? What will be the paperwork involved? The bureaucracy involved?

Here’s an idea. Since the city council is experts at using eminent domain, just take the property of offending slumlords for pennies on the dollar. Evict the tenants. Then sell the land to some developer and they’ll put in a hotel or a ball park or a strip mall. Then the next problem, the tenants will be forced to move to another part of town; maybe to *your* neighborhood.

Common Sense of it All: I’m not fully opposed to this, but my main concern is that, if not developed well, we’d be growing government with little or no benefit to the community. I was pleased to hear Mr. Manning state that they would outline a plan in an open forum and allow people to add their ideas.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Say That Again

Today's Journal Star provided a closer look to several of the candidates in the March 21st primary. In Doug Finke's article covering the candidates for the Republican primary, there was an odd quote from Judy Barr Topinka.

If elected, Topinka said, she will live in the
Executive Mansion.

"It's everybody's home and mama is there," Topinka
said. "When mother is in the house, believe me, houses have much more
symbolic value."


Topinka's endorsement from the Journal Star was no big surpirse, but I was a little surprised with their endorsement of Edwin Eisendrath for the Democratic primary. I only wish the editorial covered Eisendrath more and less of the shortcomings of Rod Blagojevich.

Common Sense of it All: It's a sad day when so many candidates running for the highest office in the state promise to live in the Executive Mansion if elected. Doesn't that come with the job?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

100 Channels and Nothing On

In 1961, FCC Chairman Newton N. Minow described television as a "vast wasteland." In many instances, that cannot be closer to the truth.

I find I have an evening open so I decided to channel surf. Nothing but crap.

I watched a bit of Survivor. I don't know where they're at now, but still the same old thing; a bunch of kids running around half naked in the jungle trying to win $1 million. I did watch the first couple of seasons of the show until I got board with it. Nothing's changed. And note to would be contestants: the $1 million prize is a gross amount. You need to pay taxes on it, which I would assume the IRS would consider it to be unearned income. After your 40 days of hell, you'll probably wind up with only half of that. You might ask Richard Hatch about his experiences.

Will & Grace. This has to go in the annals of TV history as one of the worst shows *ever*. Period. How it managed so many Emmys is beyond me. The only reason this show has been on so long is because it has rode on the coattails of Friends. Now that Friends is no longer on, Will & Grace isn't even on the radar. I didn't even know it was still in production. It's a shame; Debra Messing is hot and has no business being involved with this crap.

NBC needs to get a clue. The show is terrible and not even remotely funny. It's more or less 3rd grade potty humor. A couple of years back, I caught a scene where that chick with the hiqh squealy voice recited "Milk, milk, lemonade, around the corner is where fudge is made." Good grief!

If Mr. Minow was around today, I wonder what he'd say about TV now. Trivia: I'm not 100% sure, but I think Mr. Minow's name was used for the name of one of the most famous boats in television, the SS Minnow on Gilligan's Island (a program that *is* funnier than Will & Grace).

Common Sense of it All: Unfortunately, there's no accounting for taste.

Gubernatorial Race

Oh boy, here we go again. The circus known as the gubernatorial race. I've already seen enough campaign adds on TV to keep me stocked for the next 100 years. Thus far, all the candidates for governor do not look too promising. Sure, they all say they are going to achieve a balanced budget, lower taxes, improve education, get tough on crime, help the environment, make health care affordable and stop corruption in Illinois. Yada yada yada. However, it’s doubtful any of these people will get any of that done.

From the Republicans: The state party in Illinois is weak, borderline chaos from what I can tell. Among their ranks is no one strong enough for an election win to take the governor's mansion. Topinka has the strongest and best known name out there from her many years in state government at the Treasurer's position. Of course, many years in Illinois state government doesn't quite help you as Illinois ranks towards the top in reputation for being a corrupt state. And the stories are out there that Topinka is/was not on the up and up as well as many other Illinois politicians. Oberweiss and Gidwitz are marketing themselves as "outsiders" of the political arena and are playing some hardball with Topinka in their current TV ads. While Oberweiss and Gidwitz may be successful businessmen, can they convert that to successful governors? I don't know a whole lot on Bill Brady other than he's a local state senator who appears to be pretty conservative. At least the Republicans didn't recruit Alan Keyes for the job.

Now the Democrats: There are two candidates on this side of the aisle. Rod Blagojevich and Edwin Eisendrath. To say that Blagojevich has been a disappointment is gigantic understatement. He came into office stating that he would govern as a reformer; all we got was politics as usual. Blago had the opportunity to show contrast between 26 years of Republican rule at the governor's mansion and Democratic control. All he has done was illustrate that more things change, the more they stay the same. In some respects, the state is in worse shape than it was 4 years ago. He has raised fees and taxes and help create a reputation that it is difficult to do business in Illinois. A number of investigations are going on into Blago's affairs while in office. He's tampered with pension funds to fill budget holes and then have the gall to claim he balanced the budget. And to top it off, refuses to live in Springfield as should the Illinois governor. Eisendrath, though I don't know much about, at least shows some balls within his own party. He too is fed up with Blago and is standing up to do something about it. It was recently reported that Eisendrath wanted to have a Democratic debate with Blago. However, Blago said "no;" he claimed he was too busy running the state to take part in a debate. Or is it because Blago is running scared; his popularity is low and fears Eisendrath could kick his ass. I think the voters of Illinois should have a chance to see a debate like this. If Blago is *so* busy running the state, how did he ever find time to do a stint on The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart?

Most probably it will be Blagojevich and Topinka that will get the party nominations.

Common Sense of it All: What Illinois needs is a leader, not a politician. We need someone who can work with other people and other parties, not someone who works in a partisan manner. Illinois needs someone who really cares about their community and their state, not someone who is a self-serving idealist. Unfortunately, those who fit this bill don't want the job and Illinois has nothing but partisan politicians in which to choose. Do you think it's too late for Kinky Friedman to move to Illinois?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Stupid Laws

Over the weekend I read a story in the Journal Star that defies a lot of common sense. It delt with an emergency situation where a firefighter collapsed and appearently needed medical attention.

While on a routine call, the Dunlap Volunteer Fire Department arrived with 11 members including Chief John Doering. The call they received was a cardiac emergency call. As the firemen brought the patient out and wait for an ambulance, one of the firemen collapsed. Immediately, Doering radioed to see if there was an additional ambulance nearby and available. There was not.

Doering ordered a couple of his men, who were EMT-trained by the way, to transport the fallen firefighter to the hospital in one of their vehicles. Fortunately, the fireman was later released from Methodist after taking a number of tests and is fine. Unfortunately, the Peoria-Area Emergency Medical System (PAEMS) is throwing a big stink as they claim Doering violated state law by transporting a patient in a Dunlap Fire Protection District vehicle. Dunlap is not a licensed transport provider.

Good grief!! What was Chief Doering suppose to do; go to the neighbors house and ask for their vehicle to drive their injured firefighter to the hospital. How about leaving the patient they originally came to help behind and use the ambulance that was on the way for the firefighter?

This was an emergency situation. There were trained, qualified people taking care of the situation. If a patient needs to get to the hospital ASAP, and no ambulance is available, as was reported to Doering, then you should use whatever means are open. I know if I was the patient and every minute counted, I would want Chief Doering making the right decision to get me to the hospital rather than wait for the "proper" transportation.

Corrent me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me PAEMS is a bureaucratic system with officials who have hardly been in the field, if at all. Sitting behind a desk all the time, they don't know what happens out there. In addition, they are probably afraid their missing a billable fee so then they have to do a lot of whining and complaining.

Common Sense of it All: Chief Doering made a logical decision, one that conflicted with a stupid law. Stupid laws originate from bureaucrats unfamiliar with the situation or subject matter. Stupid laws will always be broken eventually.

Friday, March 03, 2006

City Annexation

What sense does it make for the city of Peoria to continue to annex land out towards Dunlap in Peoria county? I'll take a guess that city officials would say that the city is growing so much they need the additional area. My theory is that the city is losing population and property tax revenue so fast that they need to "recapture" what they are losing.

I can't blame people for moving to North Peoria or into the uncorporated county. It's only natural that people want to live comfortably, to have safe neighborhoods to live in and to have quality schools for their kids to learn and grow. More and more, the city of Peoria is unable to offer this. Violent crime increases, increasing taxes and fees, District 150 continues to fail, the city's budget is in such disarray that basic city services are comprimised. Who wants to reside in an environment like that?

A few years back, Peoria annexed area west of Knoxville Ave in Dunlap School District 323. Now they are annexing area off of Allen Rd north of Route 6, also in Dunlap School Disrict (notice a pattern?). I'm sure the developer will attempt to cram a few thousand homes in there.

When does it stop? In 10 years time, are we to take a drive towards Princeville and find that we are still in Peoria? You'll know this answer: there will be stop lights every 100 yards, the roads will be in terrible disrepair, traffic will be heavy, there will be nothing but residential homes and area residents will still have to drive an hour to Cub Foods to do their grocery shopping because there's no nearby neighborhood stores. Not only is there continued annexation, but most often, the planning behind it is very poor. But this is another topic for another post.

In 1962, the city of East Berlin found a solution to keeping their population in tact; they erected an big wall. They kept their tax rate at 100% to ensure continued tax revenues and held a very high retention rate. Though unpopular, it worked for about 25 - 30 years until it woefully failed.

Common Sense of it all: Peoria will need *more* basic services to facilitate these annexations. The city cannot handle what it already has, so why annex more? This is like the Captain of the Titantic taking on more passengers while the ship is going down. City leaders need to focus on the core problems first. Once these issues are mainly resolved, then consider annexation if warranted.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Blog Is Born

I'm not a big news or political junkie, but I do like to know what's going on. The past several months, a lot of folks always talked about these blogs. Well, inquiring minds want to know. I checked out a few blogs and now the bug has bit me. I might as well join the rush and start my own blog.

I'm going to do my best not to get on a pedistal and rant. I hope to just point out some of the rather crazy stuff that goes on in my community and the world, either political or otherwise.

So let's see what happens.