In last month’s column I wondered why no law enforcement agency showed any interest in the questionable behavior of Peoria County Board member Brian Elsasser. Elsasser had attempted to block the board’s vote on awarding a contract to the low bidder for structural steel at the new Bel-Wood Nursing Home. Elsasser announced he wanted the board to reconsider the bidding process and to change bid specifications. The rural board member admitted he was acting on behalf of a company that employed a relative. Fellow board member Phil Salzer pointed out the company Elsasser was promoting had failed to even submit a bid.
I was surprised the Peoria Journal, usually eager to point out even the slightest hint of wrong-doing, was quiet, especially since Elsasser is a Republican. They’re still quiet. But, after raising the question, I learned that Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady was gathering information and interviewing people. Brady told me he would announce the results of his inquiry near the end of September. So by the time this issue of the Community Word hits the stands we’ll know what steps, if any, will be taken. Regardless, I commend Brady for looking into the matter.
PROBABLE COUNTY RACES
Filing for county offices will soon begin. Expect some interesting developments. One of the biggest surprises could be the race for State’s Attorney. Rumor has it that former Assistant State’s Attorney Frank Ierulli will run against Jerry Brady. That’s a shocker to Democrats. Look for Democrats to exert pressure against Ierulli to drop out before and/or after the December filing deadline. Ierulli served under Democrat Kevin Lyons. Though he’s been in private practice for some four years, Ierulli had reportedly hoped Lyons would select him as his successor.
Meanwhile, Republican Jeff Lickiss is seriously considering switching parties to seek the Democrat nomination for the county board’s District 6. That seat is held by Allen Mayer who’s again seeking higher office. In Mayer’s last attempt he failed only to fall back for the party’s nomination to return for another term on the county board. Lickiss has been encouraged, he says, by some board Democrats who’re irritated by Mayer’s constant contests against fellow Democrats.
Another possible race finds Peoria County Republican Central Committee chairman Rudy Lewis opposing board chairman Tom O’Neill. O’Neill’s second term as chairman is ending so Democrats will probably offer a new candidate to head the board.
Several names are being floated including Mike Phelan and Andrew Rand. Rand would need to gain approval from the hospital board that owns Advance Medical Transport where he’s executive director.
Republican Carol Trumpe has made no secret she would like to be the next board chairperson. That’s the main reason she changed her mind after announcing she would not seek re-election. Some on the board would like to support Republican Bob Baietto.
Republican Brad Harding will receive opposition from Democrats in District 16. Democrat leaders say they have not one but two interested in running against Harding.
However, one will drop out before the filing deadline. Democrats believe they can win the Harding seat that was previously held by the late Eldon Polhemus, a Democrat.
Brian Elsasser could also face opposition in District 14. Democrats are working on recruiting a candidate to run against Elsasser who’s made some recent blunders.
Pat Sullivan will run for the State Senate as a Republican. Look for East Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus to be his Democrat opponent next year.
It was WOW time on “Breakfast with Royce and Roger’s” program Friday morning, September 23 on WOAM. The “awesome twosome” interviewed Jerry West, one of the NBA’s greatest players. West spoke by phone with Royce and Roger about his soon-to-be-released autobiography, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life.” It was probably one of the first radio interviews West has conducted about his book. He talked about his “tormented” young life growing up in West Virginia. The book is scheduled for release in October and you can expect to see him on plenty of TV shows because he talks candidly about his life and some of the people he played with and against. As General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, a team he played for for14 years, West writes about the cold relationship he had with Coach Phil Jackson. The book should be a best seller as he emphasizes the importance of providing a supportive environment for children, something West did not experience. Despite that early life, West became a high achiever as a basketball player at West Virginia and then for the Lakers where he still holds the record for the highest points average in the play-offs, 46.3. He was elected to the NBA All Star Team 14 times. West has won the NBA Executive of the Year Award twice; once while with the Lakers and once with the Memphis Grizzlies where he is now. He’s perhaps best remembered for sinking a game tying 63 foot shot against the New York Knicks in Game 3 of the 1970 play-offs. Thanks to good friend Dana Davis, Vice President of Team Operations for Memphis, who arranged the interview.
Speaking of radio, I’m delighted to learn that Harry Canterbury will once again do a three hour Sunday morning show starting in October. Instead of WMBD, Canterbury, editor and publisher of the popular monthly magazine, “Adventure Sports Outdoors,” will be broadcasting on WOAM 1350 from 7:00 – 10:00 a.m. Harry, who has a great personality on and off the air, is known as the “Voice of the American Sportsman.” Don’t miss his show.
Michele Bachmann is the latest Republican female to become the target of the radical leftists in the media from Leonard “The” Pitts to the editorialists at the Peoria Journal. Sarah Palin, of course, was one of the first. Keep in mind, the latest poll of Republican presidential candidates has Bachmann with a 5% share of the vote. No mind. The radicals love smearing Republican women. Democrat Maxine Waters is best remembered for telling President Bush and the media that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in good shape only to see those financial agencies flop, starting the disastrous recession and plummeting stock market. No one on the left has ever written an editorial or column about her ridiculous statements or Nancy Pelosi’s famous line, “We have to pass this bill to find out what’s in it.”
The new Bass Pro Shop in East Peoria is simply awesome. People agree. A week after its opening the parking lots continue to be packed and everyone I’ve talked to who’s shopped there rave about the new place. The Peoria Chamber of Commerce has to be embarrassed by the amazing development going on across the river. Just compare each side of the river. But Peorians, don’t despair. The new museum and Caterpillar Visitors Center will breathe new life in the downtown area of the city. Both facilities will draw visitors too, but won’t generate the kind of dollars Bass Pro Shop will.
I’ve written extensively about the ongoing feud between Bradley University and former basketball coach, Jim Les, accurately predicting his firing. By now everyone is aware the two sides, in secret, settled their differences. Who won? My guess is the attorneys for both sides and then Les. One thing is certain. Les and Bradley president Glasser will not be exchanging holiday cards in December.
Condolences to the Paul Moore family. A graduate of Woodruff High School and Bradley University, Paul was a track star. However, he is best remembered for his faithful and loyal support of Bradley athletics, especially the women’s teams. He appeared a few times on our morning show to promote the annual luncheon for the Bradley women’s basketball team. Paul Moore was a nice, gentle man.
Also remembered is Reverend Bob Springer, who died at the age of 88. Bob was director of the Christian Center when I served as a coach and coordinator of the summer baseball leagues for seven years. There were two diamonds at the Christian Center and another at Concordia School for the Pony League. Before every game players and coaches would be led in prayer. I’ll never forget one evening after about three innings, I heard a commotion at the other diamond. I went to investigate and learned that the two opposing coaches had gotten into a fight. I guess the pre-game prayer missed the mark. Bob Springer felt awful about the incident.
WALK FOR THE MIND
The 9th Annual Mark Linder Walk for the Mind was held Saturday morning, September 24, at the Riverplex. It was the largest turnout ever, thanks to the hard work of a lot of volunteers, especially committee chairperson Peggy Flanagan, a brain tumor survivor. Special thanks to Diane and Doug Oberhelman. They were honorary chairpersons for this year’s event. I had the pleasure of emceeing the program for the fourth time.
The Chicago Cubs were out of the running by June 1 of this year. That might explain why you didn’t hear from them or me, “Wait until next year.” I can wait. With the firing of GM Jim Hendry, I expect major changes. It’s needed. For the life of me, I still don’t understand how the Cubs left Brian LaHare in the minor leagues while he was hitting over .300 with more than 35 home runs while twice promoting the light hitting Tyler Colvin. Colvin’s’s batting average was an anemic .126. Since he was called up, LaHare is hitting .375 and Colvin is .146. Go figure.
HALL OF FAME BUSINESS
Members of the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame are in the process of evaluating the list of nominees for next year’s Civic Center banquet. When the selections are finalized I’ll provide the names in this column.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Today I am grateful for all those things that go missing because their absence reminds me of how blessed I am to have had them at all.” ——Kate Nowak