Straight Talk | Bad timing



I won’t argue the city council’s decision about its two top management hires, though I could. The creation and hiring of a chief diversity and inclusion officer and assistant city manager at a time when the same people are laying off some employees and making others take off days without pay before the end of the year smacks of management malfunction. Consider that the city is choking on a $600,000 budget deficit that’s growing daily, and council members decide now to add $225,000 in additional red ink. That’s just blatant mismanagement. But, don’t worry about the cost. It’ll just be passed along to local taxpayers.

God knows Peoria needs a diversity and inclusion official because everyone in city management is apparently unable to recognize how to treat people of color and ethnic differences. The new hire, Dr. Farris Muhammad, arrives with a starting salary, and we emphasize starting, of $92,000 with a host of ideas to make Peoria a better place to live and work. We wish him well and hope the council and city manager Patrick Urich put into place methods of measuring Dr. Muhammad’s success including a list of goals and objectives within three, five and 10 years. We welcome too, Debra O’Fallon who replaces Chris Setti as assistant city manager. She’s currently on staff at Amazon as senior strategy manager and worked at Caterpillar for 11 years. Her starting pay is $135,000. My argument against the two hires is timing. Could not the hires be delayed for one year in the hopes the city’s financial condition might be improved? I know they wanted to hire the diversity officer last year and the assistant city manager left last January, but their leaving didn’t create the financial crisis. The new hiring makes it worse. Bad timing.

Good timing

On the other hand, kudos to Peoria school district superintendent Dr. Sharon Kherat. She just hired as band and orchestra director at Richwoods High School, Christopher Render. Like Theo Epstein of the Chicago Cubs, Kherat recruited Render from Metamora High School where he had been for 15 years. His marching band for the Redbirds had 120 members and he hopes to have the same at Richwoods. Render is married and has an 11 year old son and a 14 year old daughter. Many of the district fine arts programs, including band and orchestra, were devastated and virtually destroyed by Dr. Kherat’s predecessors. She’s changing that and it’s a welcome change.

Media notes

The news that Bradley University is getting a divorce from WCBU is not good for the public radio station. I went to Bradley to become a broadcaster. Back then, our radio experience was gained by talking into a tape recorder. It lacked realty, but instructor Hank VanderHeyden helped me get a part-time job at WSIV in Pekin. When I learned later Bradley was going to get a radio station, I was thrilled. However, historically, WCBU has done little on behalf of students seeking careers in broadcasting. While Bradley president Gary Roberts is soliciting bids for a partnership, don’t look for anything to happen soon, if at all. Non commercial stations like WCBU and WAZU struggle. WCBU can survive because it’s largely underwritten by taxpayers.

Close and lock the doors

Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell was a guest on our FM 90.7 morning radio show, “Breakfast with Roger and Friends.” He provided some interesting details and strong recommendations for our listeners. Three young teenagers, two of them already had felony counts against them, were arrested and charged with car and house burglaries. They’re suspects in more than 100 break-ins. Well, not really break-ins. Sheriff Asbell said many of the items they stole came from unlocked cars and houses with open garages. Asbell said there are groups of teens operating in central Illinois going through neighborhoods during the night and sometimes in broad daylight.

“They can hit as many as 50 unlocked cars in one hour grabbing lap tops and anything left in the open or in glove compartments, including guns,” Asbell said.

His advice was simple. “Lock your cars and close your garage doors.”

A Final Thought

I usually leave national issues to others. But the heat generated by the media over the President revoking security clearance for the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, is just too much for me to ignore. First, Brennan could very well be a closet Communist. After all, he openly admitted he voted for a Communist for president of the United States. How he became CIA director is beyond me. The strongest objection is the claim that removing his ability to receive ongoing classified information prevents his free speech. My Lord, he’s been on TV and radio and in editorials in The New York Times and other papers more than the President. Even former intelligence officials claim his opportunity for free speech has been damaged or prevented. The disconnect is so pronounced one wonders if the media and others stricken with mass hysteria are on drugs.

Remember, many of these intelligence officials are the same who told Americans Iraq had weapons of mass destruction leading us into war. They’re the same who failed to warn us of the coming terrorist attack on New York’s twin towers. Now they warn us John Brennan needs security clearance. Why?


“There’s nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” — Thomas Aquinas

Roger Monroe

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