COUNTY AUDITOR RESIGNS
Not many people, especially those holding public office, will walk away from a job paying $96,000 a year, but Carol Van Winkle did. The Peoria County Auditor, angry and frustrated with the county board, resigned from her job a month after she was re-elected to another four year term. The board reduced her budget for 2017 by $78,000 and that meant she had to eliminate one staff member. Appearing on “Breakfast with Roger and Friends” on 90.7 FM, Van Winkle said it would be impossible to adequately and efficiently screen and evaluate more than 26,000 purchases and invoices made by county offices annually with a reduced staff. She suggested the county board needs to do a better job of prioritizing its annual budget. The long-time Democrat said she had no second thoughts about her decision to quit even after spending more than $10,000 campaigning for re-election. “Had I known what the board was going to do to my office, I would not have spent the money,” she jokingly said during our interview.
Van Winkle was not alone in voicing criticism of the county board. Peoria County Sheriff, Mike McCoy, a Republican, strongly objected to the way the board slashed his public safety budget. “I worked hard,” he said, “making cuts and at the last hour they demanded additional reductions. This is not the time to reduce our efforts to protect the people of Peoria County.” When it was all over, his budget was slashed by more than $600,000. McCoy called the cuts “drastic” as a guest on our morning radio show. He did say he will continue to do the best job he can within the budget constraints.
NO REAL COMPETITION
Mayor Jim Ardis is running for re-election. Though he has two opponents, no one doubts he’ll be elected once again. The two people who filed against him have no political or public service experience, little, if any, name recognition, and I doubt they have the money to spend on a citywide campaign. The newspaper did its best to convince Jim Montelongo to give it a shot, but his political wisdom prevailed. Besides, Montelongo has stiff competition in his own bid for re-election to city council. Ardis did have to hire an attorney to handle a challenge from Elroy Miller who filed challenges to his petitions and statement of economic interest. Miller’s challenges were heard by the Peoria Election Commission and were dismissed.
The Election Commission, also known as the Electoral Board, consists of five members with David Collins as chairman. The other four members are Matt Bartolo, LaColis Reed, Mark Ketterer, and Camille Gibson. Gibson, the senior member, was one of those who helped get rid of Jeanette Mitzelfelt as executive director of the Peoria City Election Commission in what I consider was an unfair, unkind and unjust decision. The fact that Gibson is still on that board is a head scratcher.
Local attorney Dan O’Day filed challenges to the petitions of city council at-large candidates Scott Kelsey, Anthony Walraven and Sid Ruckriegel. The Electoral Board threw out all of the O’Day objections except those of Walraven. The board removed Walraven from running for city council for a couple of reasons, one of which was his failure to be more specific about the office he was filing for. He failed to state on his petitions he was entering the contest for city council at-large. He said only, city council, and the board thought that would be confusing to voters. Apparently, the Electoral Board believes voters are stupid. The board dismissed an earlier challenge to a candidate who filed with the wrong election date, saying that mistake was irrelevant, but threw Walraven off the ballot for failing to add the words, “at-large” to his petitions. So O’Day was successful in his challenge against Walraven, but not Kelsey and Ruckriegel. By the way, O’Day is a law partner with Rob Hanauer who is also running for city council at-large. Hmmm.
One of comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s favorite lines was, “I get no respect.” Bradley University’s basketball team and coach could say the same on occasion about local TV sportscasters. On a recent Saturday night, the local sportscaster led his report with Illinois and then Illinois State basketball games before even a mention about the Bradley home victory. More insulting, the female news anchor told everyone to stay tuned for sports as they rolled videotape of the ISU game. Why the demeaning approach to Bradley while elevating Illinois and ISU in sports? I don’t get it. And yes, Peoria TV stations serve the Twin Cities and it means advertising revenue. OK, but they are Peoria stations, well, Peoria, East Peoria and Creve Coeur. The Peoria Journal is just as bad. Its Sunday, Dec. 11, front sports page had a huge photo and story about their high school football player of the season. A talented player for Peoria High. Big deal . . . for Peoria High. Period. And, yes, I realize the sports editor graduated from Central and is active on the school’s alumni association. I get it. That’s why the year Kansas City won the World Series the newspaper named Shaun Livingston athlete of the year rather Ben Zobrist, a hitting star for the Royals. Anyway, the huge football photo and story dominated the page with the Bradley game buried at the bottom of the page with a small picture. Bah Humbug!
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
1944: 18-20 year olds stormed enemy beaches, parachuted behind enemy lines, charged into battles and almost certain death.
2016: 18-20 year olds need safe zones on college campuses to protect their fragile emotions from “offensive” words.