Predictions for 2010
Whoever is hired as the new superintendent of Peoria School District 150 will have to address the serious problem of school building principles making hiring decisions before job candidates are fully vetted.
The Peoria City Council — even though they’ve fired cops and other city workers who provide essential city services — will continue to increase municipal debt to help fund private projects that mostly benefit millionaire developers.
Low voter turnout will help incumbent Pat Quinn win the Democratic nomination for governor. Whoever wins the GOP nomination will win. That changes if the media wakes up and starts paying as much attention to state politics as it does to American Idol.
The Peoria Riverfront Museum will still not have raised enough private capital, and taxpayers will again be asked to pony up some cash. But because MOST local politicians are too afraid of Caterpillar, they won’t even think of killing this project.
More than one company that received city- or county- backed loans will go out of business or default on their loans. And city and county politicians will do their best to downplay the problem.
Once it warms up, there will be an incident in which the shortage of police officers will reveal itself to be a serious public safety concern. Juggle shift changes and schedules as much as you want, sometimes there just needs to be a bunch of officers on the street at the same time. And when a department loses it more experienced officers, it loses officers who know the players on the street. There’s a bunch of institutional knowledge turning in their badges and retiring to the other side of the river.
Oh my, the Goodness Cafe is a great place to eat
Dad and I stopped at the Goodness Cafe for lunch the other day, and I am glad we did.
The place is located at the corner of Monroe and LaVielle in Peoria, smack dab in the Near North side.
Dad insisted the joint used to be a Kroger’s store back when he was a young child. I argued with him, because I remembered a Kroger’s store in a place that was turned into a dry cleaners. And the most previous occupant of the building that is now Goodness Cafe vacuum sales and repair place.
Dad and I were the first customers through the door that day. The place looks and smells great. It was tastefully decorated, and the aroma of fresh bread permeated the establishment, not surprising since owner Dave Koehler operates an organic bakery next door. Baked goods are for sale inside the restaurant.
We ordered at the counter, with the menu and specials hand drawn on chalk boards above the counter. My one complaint is that they were hard to read. But the counter person talked us into the daily special. Both Dad and I ordered a beef sandwich with cheddar and a cup of split pea soup with ham. Our drinks were complimentary.
As we waited, we admired the paintings on the wall, all by local artists. A sign informed us we could inquire about buying them. The music being played on the stereo system was very pleasant and relaxing.
You know how chain restaurants like to fake being authentic by decorating their joints with fake vintage advertising and knickknacks? There was not of that here. The decor was tasteful and eclectic.
We did not have to wait long for our order. The sandwiches were delicious. Dad proclaimed it the best he ever ate. I won’t go that far, but it was pretty darn tasty. The roast beef was juicy and served on lightly toasted bread, with lettuce, tomato, a light amount of red onion and a cheddar sauce that added to the experience without being overwhelming.
The soup was wonderful. If was wasn’t homemade, it fooled Dad and me. It tasted like the split pea soup his Mom used to make. “This will stick to your ribs,” he said, offering his highest compliment.
The cost was a few pennies more than $19, not including tip. The place recently opened, and they aren’t quite ready to take credit cards, and a printed take-home menu isn’t yet available. Later visits also were satifying, and the credit card machine has arrived.
Not only is the food great, it’s in a nice setting. The place just feels so real. The staff is naturally friendly, not the kind of friendly you get from some teenager who’s been trained from a corporate handbook. And it’s nice to do business at a locally owned place located in a neighborhood, the corner lot at some strip mall. BTW: We parked right in front.
And the place is a fine example of New Urbanism. There are apartments on top of their former neighborhood store turned neighborhood eatery. Ten years ago, city codes would not have allowed this building to exist.
City Council raised taxes in the East Bluff
For the next ten years, property owners on Peoria’s East Bluff will pay a higher property tax rate than other city residents.
They will pay an extra 18 cents per $100 in assessed valuation. Than means if your home is assessed at $50,000 for tax purposes, your property tax bills would be $90 higher than if it was located just across the street from the special service district.
That’s the same rate residents are charged now. That’s why Mayor Jim Ardis scoffed at the suggestion this is a tax increase.
It might not be an increase in the rate from one year to the next. But it is an increase from what residents in the East Bluff would have paid had the council not voted 9-1 to continue the assessment, which was scheduled to sunset out and go away.
The council voted “yes.” Tax bills will be higher than they would have been. That’s an increase. Period. end of story.
The lone dissenter was Gary Sandberg, who noted that neighborhood activists in the East Bluff are very unhappy with the lack of openness and transparency coming from the East Bluff Neighborhood Housing Service.
Sandberg also noted that had the council voted to set the city-wide levy at a level that raised the tax rate by 18 cents city wide, the city could have more easily solved its budget problems.
Mayor Ardis balked at that description saying to compare the special assessment and the overall budget is to compare “apples and oranges.” Since it all shows up on the same property tax bills, I’d say all pretty fruity.
Look at it this way: If you bought a car and paid it off over ten years, you would NOT expect the car dealer to decide without your permission to deliver a newer version of that same car and expect you to make an additional ten years of payments. And you would be especially upset if you were unhappy with the first car’s quality the the service the dealer provided.
This is the situation that East Bluffers find themselves in now: Paying for services they don’t want and specifically asked to not have to pay for anymore.
Is ‘Friday Flu’ one of the issues in teacher contract negotiations?
By the time this comes out, the Peoria Federation of Teachers and Peoria School District 150 might very well have settled on a contract and this information will be out of date.
When I was a general assignment reporter in south eastern Illinois, there was a principal who was determined to cut down on teacher absenteeism. One day, a popular teacher took a sick day. But the principal was clued in enough to know that this teacher and her husband were opening a business out of town.
So he got in his car and drove to their business location to have a look-see. Lo and behold, there they were performing the kind of physical labor one does to get a storefront business open.
As far as this principal was concerned, calling in sick when you are not sick is a major no-no. Sick days, as far as he was concerned, are there for when you are sick and not for when the employee has something he or she would rather be doing. In fact, many private businesses would fire someone caught working elsewhere when off the clock on a sick day.
So he disciplined the teacher. Naturally, there were those who were outraged. No one had ever DONE that before. But the school board and most of the community backed the principal.
Would the District 150 community do the same is some principal here did the same? Probably not. Parents who liked the teacher would probably complain that the principal was not a good fit for their community and start a smear campaign. The teacher’s pals on Wisconsin Avenue would probably agitate for the principal’s contract to not be renewed.
But I can say this: One of the big issues in the contract negotiations between District 150 and the Peoria Federation of Teachers is an effort to change the contract in way to lessen teacher absenteeism. The teachers apparently believe that they are contractually given a certain number of sick days and they have a right to take those sick days, regardless of whether they are sick or not. School principals complain that teachers calling in sick on Friday is a major problem, and the district wants to address this problem in the contract.
By the way, the teacher contract requires them to work just 180 days a year.