Straight Talk | Conflict of interest claims are shameful



“Never underestimate desperate people. You never know how far they will go to get what they want.” — Anonymous

Does that quote apply to the CEO Council? After learning of the personal attacks on Mayor Jim Ardis and councilwoman Denise Moore, methinks it does. The CEO Council, made up of distinguished local business and education leaders, has been campaigning to convince taxpayers, the city council, and God to buy Illinois American Water Co. Leadership of the CEO’s apparently convinced Bill O’Brien and former council member Gale Thetford to go after Ardis and Moore. The goal is to disenfranchise the voting rights of Ardis and Moore regarding purchase of the water company. O’Brien charged Ardis with a conflict of interest because the water company made a donation to Peoria Promise, a charity that helps students with scholarships. Ardis has been instrumental in its success. Thetford made a conflict of interest accusation against Denise Moore because the water folks made a contribution to the community radio station she and husband Garry Moore own.

I’m sympathetic to the Mayor and council woman because it’s a bad tactic. If the merits of buying the water company are so weak you have to resort to personal political stunts, one has to question the ethics of the CEO Council. Shameful. The same stunt was pulled on me years ago. As a member of the Peoria County Board, I was appointed to co-chair a public safety committee with the late Sheriff Chuck Schofield. The 23-member committee invited people and agencies to submit possible after-school programs to help at risk students. Counseling and Family Services, with an office on North Knoxville, submitted a program that was unanimously accepted by the committee. Though I was a member of the agency board, I had nothing to do with the application. Before the item came before the county board, I asked the state’s attorney’s office whether I could or could not vote due to my membership on the agency board. The state’s attorney said since I was a volunteer and received no payment or benefit, I was eligible to vote. I did, and the agency was awarded a grant to help children.

Shelley Epstein, editor at the Peoria Journal, was critical of my vote. I’m told Epstein is now working as a consultant with the CEO Council. Bah Humbug.


Not too long ago, a local organization held a news conference in front of City Hall urging people in central Illinois to buy local. I agree. We should support local businesses. Then I started hearing 309 radio commercials on local stations sponsored by local businesses. Guess what? The commercials are on radio stations owned by broadcasting corporations located in Portland, Ore., and Atlanta, Ga.

One local business said by buying at their store, the money stays in Peoria for repairing potholes. But, oops, they spend their advertising dollars at radio stations owned by people in Oregon so they can repair potholes in Portland. Great logic.


By now, readers know I stopped subscribing to the Peoria Journal. The lack of pages, content and fairness and objectivity made it easy to quit. Besides, I’ve saved quite a bit of money not paying for the paper and packages of anti-acids I had to buy due to reading left-wing editorials and ridiculous headlines. Since then, I’ve received a number of telephone calls from pleasant solicitors on behalf of the newspaper. The offers of amazing reductions in subscriber fees have been tempting. Really. Then I heard from a close friend who said she was seriously thinking about quitting the paper. She said, “They’ve raised the price again. I think I’m going to quit.” So being the nice guy I am, I told her to quit and wait until they call with an offer to become a subscriber again.

“That way, you’ll get a much better price,” I advised.


You can always tell when Arbitron comes to town. Arbitron is the company that conducts surveys to determine who’s listening to which radio stations. Those stations that receive the highest ratings use the numbers to convince businesses to advertise with them. Arbitron has been conducting surveys for decades. While the surveys are beneficial, times have changed. At one time, Peoria had only five primary stations, all on the AM dial: WIRL, WPEO, WMBD, WEEK and WSIV. Today, there are over 22 and each has an audience. And that collective audience is smaller than ever with people watching television, listening to satellite radio, cell phones, computers and CD players. Still, radio stations are eager to recruit listeners during the survey. So when Arbitron sends out its surveys, stations start bribing potential listeners by giving away $1,000 in cash and/or prizes. Free money worked years ago and apparently works today.


The mid-term elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6. Overall, the nation will be watching to see if Democrats regain control of the House and Senate. Locally, Peoria County Republicans are hoping to win enough districts to finally elect a board chairman from their party. It appears they have an outside chance. Even current chairman, Andrew Rand, a Democrat, has competition from Dr. Lawrence Splitter running as an Independent. There are contested races in Districts 4, 6, 9, 10 and 18. The most watched county race is for sheriff. Brian Asbell, the current sheriff who was appointed when Mike McCoy left to become chief of police for Washington, is opposed by Bartonville’s police chief Brian Fengel. Look for this race to be very close. Do your part by voting.


“Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.” —Aesop

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