BOB BAIETTO TO RETIRE

Peoria County board member Bob Baietto will not run for re-election. The 12th District representative has been a member of the board since 1996, serving on a variety of board committees including Public Safety and Justice of which he’s chairman. Bob is best known as a coach and educator at Richwoods High School for 34 years. He was football, track and swimming coach and later principal. A true leader, he should’ve been elected chairman of the board at sometime during his plus 20 years of public service. Alas, he’s a Republican. Democrats have had control of the board for years so fat chance of that ever happening. Nevertheless, even Democrats admit Bob has been a fair and balanced leader and will be missed.

Look for Rachel Reliford to throw her hat in the ring to replace Baietto. Reliford is a bright woman who’s a physician recruiter for OSF St. Francis Medical Center and its related hospitals in Illinois. Rachel holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, Springfield. She’s been active in the Republican Party, well-liked and involved in the community. Rachel would make an excellent Peoria County board member.

CATERPILLAR STIFFS PEORIA: New Headquarters Planned In Tucson

It was just two years ago everyone was excited to hear Caterpillar was not only staying in Peoria, but was going to build a $2 billion world headquarters center in the city’s downtown. With a dramatic change in leadership came a change in plans. Caterpillar dropped a bomb by announcing it was not going to build and expand in Peoria and further the company was moving its world headquarters to Deerfield, Illinois. Out of Arizona comes news Caterpillar is spending $2 billion for a regional headquarters west of downtown Tucson. Take that Peoria, says, Big Yellow.

The Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District Board reportedly approved a $43 million agreement to construct the headquarters building that includes a cooperative arrangement with the city of Tucson, Pima County and the state of Arizona. That board will then lease the building to Caterpillar. Officials in Tucson said Caterpillar’s Surface, Mining and Technology Division will bring 600 executive jobs to the area in the next five years. Rio Nuevo says it is spending $52 million to bring Caterpillar to Tucson.

CATERPILLAR NEWS AND VIEWS

Gosh that headline sounds familiar. Do you remember the company publication? Always sleek and informative. Well, here’s some Caterpillar news and views. The company held its annual meeting in Georgia without any fireworks, though some expected to hear complaints about the decision to move its global headquarters from Peoria to Deerfield, Illinois. Instead, all directors were re-elected without objections and the company approved retaining its “outside” financial consultants. There’s been no public notices or company releases about the ongoing FBI and IRS investigations regarding their tax strategies exposed by whistleblower Daniel Schlicksup. Meanwhile, the company announced it would continue to make contributions to local charities as it has for decades. Some retired CAT executives said otherwise.

“The loyalty isn’t there,” said one. “Their families didn’t grow in Peoria and central Illinois, so there isn’t the attachment other Caterpillar leaders had from Don Fites to Jim Owens.”

They suggested company donations to Peoria agencies will gradually decline in number and amounts over the years. One retiree said, “A key decision-maker has already stated more of their donations will be distributed globally.”

MEDIA NEWS

It’s been widely publicized that WHOI-TV is dropping morning personalities Gretchen Wirtz and Mark Welp come September. Sources say station management will be changing the morning format and the two do not fit into those plans, whatever that means. What it does mean is Wirtz and Welp are probably searching the TV job market. It brings up an interesting question; actually, several questions. Inquiring people want to know why the high turnover of TV reporters? They come and go with regularity at all the stations. Anchors like Bob Larson and Tom McIntire were both popular because they became like family due to their tenure on the tube. Many of us remember Tom Connor on Channel 25 and before him Bob Arthur. Chuck Harrison was at Channel 31 as well as WEEK before moving to Chicago and WGN. Two of my favorites at WMBD-TV were Sally Larvick and Bruce Asbury.

A bigger question is what has happened to radio news in the Peoria market? Years ago, the news competition among local stations was fierce, especially between WMBD and WIRL. WIRL had “Big Red” and later added “Little Red.” These were news cars that scurried to accidents, fires and news-making events for live and sometimes exciting reports. WPEO, the first rock station in Peoria, also had a white and green news wagon. I know. I drove it.

WIRL dominated the market. Not anymore. The AM station in the fall Arbitron rating didn’t even score 1.0 in the survey. WMBD, in the meantime, spends about 90 seconds reporting news followed by five minutes of commercials. The station is a “cash cow,” but its ratings also dropped in the fall survey to the 6 point range. Gone are talented news directors like Ira Bittner of WIRL and Phil Gibson, the cigar smoking news voice of 1470.

THE DECLINE OF JOURNALISTIC STANDARDS

I really didn’t think I would ever do it, but I did. I canceled my subscription to the Peoria Journal. Tired, frustrated and irritated by the constant drumbeat of left wing headlines, editorials and opinion stories written like news stories, was just too much. I finally had it. No more. It’s gone from my home and from my workplace. Michael Goodwin, chief political columnist for the New York Post and former City Hall Bureau Chief for The New York Times, better explains in an article he recently wrote why I and others have quit reading the Peoria newspaper and other newspapers in the country. Goodwin said,  “…most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility.”

Regarding the presidential campaign coverage last year, Goodwin said, “Day in and day out, in every media market in America, Donald Trump was savaged like no other candidate in memory. We were watching the total collapse of (journalistic) standards, with fairness tossed overboard. Every story was an opinion masquerading as news…”

My decision was not easy. Heck, as a young boy I delivered the Peoria Star in the morning and the Peoria Transcript in the afternoon. When I told a close friend what I had done, he surprised me, saying, “I did the same thing today.”

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“If you don’t read the newspaper you’re uninformed.  If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”—Mark Twain

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