IS IT TRUE?
Big changes have been taking place at “Big Yellow.” More are planned. It’s only a rumor, but it’s worth repeating. By the year 2020, Caterpillar will be leaving Peoria. According to whispers, the Peoria operations will be split per finance, heavy equipment and mining divisions. The planned moves have finance going to Tennessee where they have been for the most part, mining goes overseas and heavy equipment to Texas. If this is true, it’ll be devastating to our city.
Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman has announced his retirement. No big deal, but not to others including Peoria Journal columnist, Phil Luciano. The Wall Street Journal has some credibility due to their years of writing in the financial arena. Luciano doesn’t. He’s a full-time writer and part-time college instructor. He knows even less about the business world than most. As Luciano slammed Oberhelman and Caterpillar, I was reminded of the financial track record of his own company. In 2013 it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It had a debt of $1.3 billion with assets of only $433.7 million. GateHouse stock was canceled and a new holding company was formed called New Media Investment Group. Its stock dropped from $20 to 16 cents and was delisted on the stock exchange. During a recent visit to the offices of the Peoria Journal, I noted the difference in staffing compared to 10 years ago. Luciano needs to worry more about what has happened to his co-workers than those at Caterpillar. As the old saying goes, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
In a letter sent to the Peoria Journal, new Bradley president Gary Roberts said he was “baffled” by support for former Bradley basketball All American Gene “Squeaky” Melchiorre. In a rather condescending tone, Mr. Roberts called supporters like the late Pete Vonachen and Mayor Jim Maloof along with the very much alive Harry Whitaker, legendary Bradley Coach Joe Stowell, Ron Ferguson, past athletic director at the Hilltop, and many others, “small and vocal.” If he meant in community stature, he could not have been more wrong. If he didn’t, he is still wrong. He pointed out that if he approved retiring Squeaky’s jersey there would be “justifiable blow back” from those opposed to such an honor for the only Bradley player to ever be ranked as #1 draftee for the NBA. One could assume Mr. Roberts is worried that some donors to the school would no longer contribute money. Interesting that he’s influenced by money like Squeaky was 65 years ago.
Apparently, the new school president and his band of anti-Melchiorres have forgotten the NCAA sanctions placed on Bradley in 1986 including two years probation. The school and its basketball coach were accused of a variety of recruiting violations. Anthony Webster was offered cash, as in money, and a job for his father if he came to Bradley. He did. After the NCAA penalized Bradley and Dick Versace, the president signed the coach for another year. Once the sanctions ended, Bradley returned and was forgiven by the NCAA.
I had to laugh when Mr. Roberts made up a story about a young fan looking up at the retired jersey of Melchiorre saying, “Isn’t that the player who took money?”
Over the years, I’ve told our two sons and three grandsons, that Squeaky was an All American, the number one NBA player in the draft, was just 5 feet, 8 inches, frequently played the post, and was the leader of a team that finished second in the NIT and NCAA tournaments. I could’ve told my boys while watching Bradley at the Civic Center, “Now boys, Bradley is a school that bribes high school players to come here with cash, a car, and jobs for family members.” That would be as ridiculous as Roberts’ fable.
I urge the Bradley president and trustees to read Luke 6:37 and then do the right thing. Retire Squeaky’s jersey this basketball season.
WHY DID SAM LEAVE?
The director of the Riverfront Museum is gone after less than three years on the job. Local media gave a “flowery” send off, but failed to ask why after such a short time on the job? Why did Sam Gappmayer quit to take a similar position in small town, Sheboygan, Wis., population 49,000, at a museum with only 100,000 square feet? The departure raised questions, but not at the newspaper or TV newsrooms. A source told me Gappmayer and his board had differences. No one would confirm, of course, but it’s obvious there was an issue or issues. Gappmayer’s move was not upward. Nice city, however, no comparison to Peoria’s 115,000 population and 350,000 metro area, and a virtually new museum far larger and more magnificent. There are issues on the riverfront with now a fourth director in five years. Not a good sign for taxpayers who’re helping to underwrite the facility.
Most Americans want the local and national media to be fair, honest and objective. Sadly, it’s not happening and hasn’t been for years. Today’s presidential race has been marred by multiple personal stories obscuring the issues affecting all of us. The economy, high unemployment, the widening margin between the haves and have nots, immigration and refugees, continued slaughter of men, women and children in Syria, the growing threat from Russia, and the war against ISIS, have all been forgotten. Blame the media for the absence of thoughtful and meaningful debate.
The Peoria Journal has turned just about every page save obituaries into liberal monologues from headlines to story content. The editorial page has been filled daily with anti-Trump stories, columns, and cartoons totally ignoring any balance or fairness, “trumped” by a huge, rambling Clinton endorsement. I admit I didn’t read it. Didn’t need to. The newspaper is guilty of first degree political bigotry.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt