The Watch | Technical difficulties



Zoom and its cohorts enable groups and governments to meet despite COVID-19. But virtual meetings are not the same — what is? — and can be difficult, at best.

Springdale Cemetery Management Authority, for example, didn’t meet in March, April or May because of virus concerns.

Webex to the rescue. On June 16, Authority members were able to do some business. But the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria observer wasn’t able to access the meeting. Ultimately, the video recording was posted at

Likewise, the Peoria County Election Commission met on Facebook Live on June 16. One LWVGP observer was kicked off after 10 minutes and could only get back on the meeting with closed captioning. The other could follow most of the meeting with sound, but had glitches.

Then: Director Tom Bride presented budget amendments anticipating $300,000 from the Peoria County Board and Governor JB Pritzker’s approval of vote-by-mail legislation. (Both happened later that day.)

More than 68,000 vote-by-mail applications needed to be mailed by Aug. 1, requiring new equipment, a secure ballot box for returned ballots, printing and postage expenses, and extra judges. To save costs, the number of early voting days will be reduced at some locations and some polling places will be consolidated. Polling places in senior living facilities will be moved to other locations that are already in use.

Bride said he didn’t anticipate problems recruiting judges. Schools will be closed on election day, so teachers and students could serve.

Peoria Park District trustees Zoomed June 10, without technical incident. But grappling with the pandemic was no fun. Staff projected a $2 million loss in 2020 if changes were not made. Short-term closure of the Franciscan Recreation Center, Glen Oak Amphitheater and Aquaplex were recommended. Still, the projected savings only totaled $159,000, or less than 10 percent of the shortage. A Zoom Town Hall meeting was slated for public feedback.

During the citizens comments portion of the meeting, removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Laura Bradley Park was mentioned. Trustees said they had also gotten calls about the statue. Staff said there is a policy about adding items to park district properties, but no policy for removing them. More public input will be sought.

PPD trustees Zoomed again on June 24. They learned the 2019 audit was clean, with good trends in major areas such as tax revenue, operating expenses and long-term debt.

The Golf Ad Hoc Committee report also was positive, with 276 passes sold to date.

Then came the closure discussions. There was concern about closing Franciscan Center because that area of West Peoria doesn’t have another recreation center. Trustees were assured it could still be a polling place and the outdoor area remains available. They voted 4-3 to close temporarily: Joyce Harant, Matt Ryan, Nancy Snowden and Mic Williams voted for the motion; Joseph Cassidy, Jackie Petty and Robert Johnson voted against.

Trustees voted unanimously for short-term closure of the Amphitheater and establishment of an advisory group for a Glen Oak Park “Reimagination”.

Concerns were mentioned about access to the lap and therapy pools if the Aquaplex were closed temporarily, as well as the park district’s relationship with OSF if they remained open. Short-term closure was approved, except for the therapy and lap pools, on a 6-1 vote. Cassidy, Harant, Johnson, Petty, Ryan and Williams voted for the motion; Snowden voted against.

A motion to begin evaluating the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue by holding public hearings was approved unanimously.

Peoria Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Zoomed on June 1, with all commissioners participating.

Chief Executive Officer Jackie Newman said the PHA office continues to be closed to the public, but the process of placing families into housing continues. In the past month, 419 applications were processed, and 600 annual resident verifications were completed. Improvements continue to be made at PHA properties, including replacement of gutters and gutter guards at Harrison Homes, hydro-flushing of hydrants and sewers, improvement of a boiler at Harrison, and sidewalk repair/replacement. At Taft Homes, families are being moved to central locations to facilitate caulking of windows due to water leaks. Security camera installation at Sterling Towers is now complete. Twelve scattered units have had routine maintenance improvements.

For full LOGO reports of local meetings, check The Illinois League’s Voter Guide offers information about candidates at

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