Straight Talk | What’s going on with media?



On Thursday, Nov. 7, 23-year-old Tyshan Gayton exchanged gunfire with law enforcement officials not far from the Glen Oak Learning Center and then fled to a house on Briarwood. Police rushed to the area of 2300 North Knoxville followed by local media. TV reporters announced how area businesses were evacuated. I watched the news as an on-the scene reporter gave an excited update on the activity including “a soft lockdown at Glen Oak School.”

In the background for the report was the Children’s Home bounded to the south by Briarwood. No word about this well-known (to everyone except local media) agency with over 400 employees, at least 100 of them were huddled in the basement of the building. During the search for Gayton, Children’s Home CEO Matt George told me he was in constant contact with Peoria police who made sure they were safe.

“They were great,” George stated in appreciation. I don’t think even today, local media realize people at the Children’s Home were at high risk. George spoke with us on FM 90.7 about the precautions taken to protect everyone.

$14 million mistake

Despite a warning by Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat and a long list of failures by officials with the Quest Charter Academy, District 150 board members approved spending over $14 million over the next two years for operation of the school. After five years, the school failed to provide educational opportunities for special education students in a blatant violation of charter school law and open discrimination against children with disabilities.

Dr. Kherat reported only 2% of the students are considered college ready. As the superintendent ran down a list of requirements for semi-attentive board members, the common conclusion was Quest Charter Academy “did not meet” them. In the end, the board received an “F.” They failed. I’m reminded the District 150 board, by a vote of 4-3, closed Woodruff and sent the families of its 940 students scrambling in order to allow Quest to eventually open with a little over 500 students. The Woodruff closure was “to save” $2 million a year. As poor as I am at math, even I can see how dumb the board was and is.

Change the law

It’s time for Illinois legislators to change its decision that allowed large trucks to drive as fast as cars on highways. Democrats and Republicans voted to allow trucks to do 70 mph beginning in 2014. We just saw the results again when a trucker slammed his rig into the rear of a car driven by a 25-year-old Metamora woman on I-74 east of Morton. She didn’t have a chance and died at the scene. That wasn’t the first time a speeding trucker killed someone in Illinois. If a legislator was driving his car to Springfield on I-55 and had to stop suddenly, would he want another car behind him or a large truck doing 70-75? The answer is obvious. I know the trucking industry has a strong and influential lobby in Springfield, but the safety of our families is more important. A report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said traffic deaths in Texas increased between 25% and 30% with the increase of speed limits. Urge your friendly legislator to call for a reduction of trucker speeds to 65.

Saluting our veterans

Nov. 11 we saluted our veterans, and rightfully so. God bless them all, past and present. Former Congressman, the late Bob Michel, was a foot soldier in World War II and fought Germans in Belgium, France and Germany. I’ll bet you didn’t know that Pfc. Michel captured 28 German soldiers without firing shot. Michel, who could speak German, convinced them to give up after he persuaded a buddy not to shoot several of them who had been captured. The account is in a Jan. 21, 1945, edition of the Peoria Morning Star.

Bring it back to the courthouse

Well-known coach, teacher, hockey buff and all around good guy, Mike Olson, wants the annual Journal Star Christmas sing to return to the Courthouse.

“It’s just not the same inside the Civic Center,” Olson said. He should know. Mike hasn’t missed a single Christmas sing since coming to Peoria as a teen.

Mardell Bucklin’s husband, Rox, played the organ for the sing, and she agrees. So do I. This year the sing will be Dec. 18 at the Civic Center.

Let’s hope we can join voices together outside at the Courthouse next Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

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