Straight Talk | The Fight Continues



Just when the Peoria Catholic Diocese thought the fight with the Catholic Archdiocese of New York might be over, they learned it isn’t. New York Catholics don’t want the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be moved to Peoria. For the second time, a judge in New York ruled in favor of the Peoria Diocese and for the second time that decision is being appealed which is, for the second time, appalling.

I think most people believe the New Yorkers are displaying shocking behavior for a church.

Sheen was born in El Paso, Ill., the oldest of four sons. He was baptized as Peter John Sheen, but later used his mother’s maiden name, Fulton. He contracted TB as a small child and survived. His family moved to Peoria where he attended Spalding. His roots are in Peoria and central Illinois, not New York.

East Peorian Joe Girardi managed the New York Yankees for many years. I doubt he wants to be buried in New York. For that matter, who does, especially in the basement of St. Patrick’s Cathedral where they have placed the remains of Archbishop Sheen.

So, the 10 year battle to bring him home continues.

Safety in the Schools

Peoria’s city council approved once again an intergovernmental agreement with Peoria Public Schools. That agreement stipulates the Peoria police department will provide three police officers during next school year. They will patrol the halls of Central, Manual and Richwoods high schools. The officers will be armed, as in, carrying guns.

Council member Chuck Grayeb released some startling figures that were tabulated, as required by federal law, by Peoria police officials. As an example, there’s been a 255.6 percent increase in assault and battery incidents involving school personnel during the last two years. School personnel is defined as attacks on teachers and students by other students. Reported drug offenses were up 44 percent last school year and firearm offenses jumped more than 43 percent. As reported in this column last month, calls for police services have dramatically increased. Some speculate the numbers we quote are not totally accurate because many incidents go unreported.

Grayeb said he wants a series of joint meetings with school officials to discuss ways in which the city and others can help the school district with the growing safety problem. He thinks representatives from the teachers’ union should be a part of those joint meetings. So far, no meetings have been scheduled.

Council member Beth Jensen was quoted by Peoria Journal reporter Steve Tarter saying that everyone should use caution in describing problems in Peoria’s schools. She said, “We have to be careful in the portrait we give of our schools.”

My concern isn’t with a portrait of city schools, but safety of city schools. Putting your head in the sand doesn’t solve anything.

Bad Decision!

The motion to change the name of Woodrow Wilson School to Dr. Maude Sanders was approved by the Peoria school board with a 6-1 vote. I have no problem with Dr. Sanders receiving recognition as the city’s first black physician. I’m among the few people still alive in Peoria who knew Dr. Sanders. She was a very nice lady who was kind, cordial and quiet. Dr. Sanders knew my father as well because of his position as Supervisor of General Assistance. I knew her while serving as community relations director at Methodist Hospital. Doctors back then admitted and then visited their patients. I would see and visit with her usually in the hospital lobby.

My argument is the board had five other schools without personal names from which to select, but chose instead, to slander President Woodrow Wilson unnecessarily. Unfortunately, there are those who want to exterminate history, rather than retain it. Sad.

Congratulations PJ Star

Our local newspaper proudly announced its staff had won 52 awards in competition with other big city newspapers at the annual meeting of the Illinois Press Association. In overall competition, the Peoria Journal placed third. That kind of achievement should earn writers an increase in pay or even a bonus, but we’re told it “ain’t going to happen.” An employee told me they haven’t been given a raise in pay in over 10 years. Perhaps if they became more “fair and balanced” it might happen. Regardless, congratulations are in order.

Dead in the Water

When you hear the term “lobbyist,” you would probably think about a well-paid person working for a large corporation like Caterpillar, Ameren Illinois, Boeing and Amazon. They call on elected officials seeking support for certain legislation that would benefit their respective employers. Lobbyists make good money and have large expense accounts. There are some local lobbyists working very hard who aren’t well-paid and I doubt they even have expense accounts. I’m talking about a small group of men and women working on behalf of the CEO Council seeking to persuade members of the city council to buy the water company. They even have a former newspaper editor coordinating strategy. The city has the opportunity to acquire the water company every five years and that option this time around expires next year. A variety of people have been quietly and not so quietly promoting the benefits of city ownership. They’ve offered some strong arguments publicly before service clubs and quietly over lunches with council members. My sources say the issue this time around is “dead in the water.”


“To enjoy good health and longevity, choose your parents carefully.” – Art Holst (95 years old)

Roger Monroe

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