Benefit concert for Friends of Riverfront Park June 23


Friends of Riverfront Park presents a Save Riverfront Park Benefit Concert, from 6 pm to 8 pm on Thursday June 23 in the park at the foot of Morton Street in Peoria, IL. near Constitution Gardens.

The event stars Barry Cloyd ( and Freedom Street with special guest Robin Crowe (

The event is free. Donations will be gratefully accepted to support expenses to preserve the park.

People should bring lawn chairs and blankets. Picnics are appropriate and food will be available for purchase. No alcohol is permitted in the park.

Parking is available at the Riverplex, or at the Morton Street parking lot for the mobility challenged.

Friends of Riverfront Park aims to save the park, a unique urban open space, from being ruined by four 4-story luxury apartments and a road. Details about the efforts to save the park also will be announced at the event.

Rain location is the GAR Hall, 416 Hamilton Boulevard, Peoria. Check the Facebook page for the latest information.

The concert is dedicated to Dorothy and Henry Sinclair. Peoria City Council member Dorothy Sinclair was a founder of Riverfront Park, and a memorial to her is in the park. Henry Sinclair spoke out to the City Council against the apartments shortly before his death.


An Illinois not for profit corporation



FOIA government for access to information

Greater Peoria League of Women Voters Program on

How Citizens Can Get Information From Their Government

“How Citizens Can Get Information from Their Government” is the topic of discussion for Drinks & Dialogue, a program hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria. The public is invited to participate in the dialogue, at 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the Lariat Steakhouse, 2232 W. Glen, Peoria, 61614. Social hour begins at 5 p.m.

This dialogue about citizens getting information from their government will open with comments from Peoria City Clerk Beth Ball and City of Peoria Deputy Corporation Counsel Sonni Williams, and be facilitated by League members.  Both Clerk Ball and Ms. Williams have extensive experience and knowledge of the most common tool for citizens wanting information – FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).

Regarding this topic, the LWVUS’ position is:  The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation at all levels of government. The League further believes that governmental bodies must protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.

Drinks & Dialogue provides an opportunity for people to share opinions and ideas, ask questions and become more aware of local, state and national issues and the options for making change. There’s no cost to participate, and refreshments are available to buy. It is offered monthly, on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, for one hour starting at 5:30 p.m. on local, state and national topics.

The League is a non-partisan, issues oriented, volunteer, member-directed organization committed to open, responsive and effective government brought about by informed, involved citizens with membership open to both men and women in Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. For more information, go to

Documentary screening on guns drew mixed audience



“Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA” drew an audience of about 50 people Thursday evening at a free public screening at Peoria Public Library North Branch. In the audience were both gun advocates and gun safety advocates. The documentary seeks common ground between those two groups.

The free public screening was co-sponsored by Community Word and Peoria NAACP.

The film looks at gun violence tragedies and how the NRA and gun manufacturers make billions of dollars in profit from maintaining the current culture of guns.

Following the film, a panel answered questions from the audience.

On the panel:

Deputy Police Chief Chris Ahart, Peoria Heights

Marcella Teplitz, former Peoria Police Detective; Private Investigator

Sharon Williams, Peoria County Board

Karen Wilson, Peoria NAACP

Addressing the panel, one audience member stated there was no gun violence in the film, only violence by people. In response to that, Teplitz said as a former police officer she saw far too many children killed by guns in Peoria not to take issue with that characterization of the film.

Chief Ahart stated that reasonable gun regulation does reduce gun violence.

Wilson noted that she was the only person of color at the screening. The film noted that African American men are 10 times more likely that white men to be killed by guns.

Williams said she and her husband are responsible gun owners and compromise does not mean taking guns away from law-abiding people.

At one point, attorney Jack Teplitz explained the evolution of the legal interpretation of the Second Amendment regarding gun ownership by a militia and by private citizens.

The film presents important statistics to understand the crisis and help further the role of reasonable background checks and waiting periods.

Statistics in the film:

  • 48 percent fewer on-duty police are shot to death in states with background checks.
  • Chicago police seize an illegal gun every 72 minutes.
  • More Americans died of gun violence in Chicago between 2001 and 2010 than died in the war in Afghanistan.
  • 74 percent of NRA members support universal background checks yet 40 percent of gun owners did not go through background checks.

“Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA” is a Robert Greenwald film by Brave New Films. For more information on the documentary go to:

Coverage of the event:



WEEK TV: This link is not yet posted; it will be added when available.


Caterpillar Inc. CEO talks about the importance of diversity

In his remarks at a recent Peace for Peoria event at the Civic Center, Caterpillar Inc. CEO Doug Oberhelman said his company is successful not just due to its products but also due to its diverse workforce.

“It’s because we welcome employees, customers, dealers, suppliers and contractors without regard to race, religion, national origin, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability,” he said.

Read his complete remarks here:


Mika’s Bistro chef demonstrates “quick & easy” recipes with early spring produce



Ruth Moser, chef and manager at Mika’s Bistro, 112 S. Main St., Eureka, cooks using produce raised without chemicals by Henry Brockman on his nearby farm.

Moser, a graduate of the culinary school at Joliet Junior College, has cooked in hotels around the country and in Switzerland. The former pastry chef is now back in her hometown of Eureka running the daily operations at Mika’s Bistro where the menu changes seasonally and includes a selection of chef-prepared items in a take-out cooler.

At the May 11 cooking demonstration, Moser used early spring produce including rhubarb, chives, sorrel, choy, beet greens, lamb’s quarters and green garlic in “quick and easy recipes.”

Brockman has farmed following organic practices on his rich, chemical-free bottomland between Congerville and Eureka for 23 years. He is taking applications for his CSA. For more information visit his website at

For more information on Mika’s, visit the Facebook page at

Cleve Heidelberg case assigned to Circuit Judge

Cleve Heidelberg has been in prison for 45 years, always maintaining his innocence in the murder of Peoria County Sheriff’s Sgt. Raymond Espinoza. His case will now be reviewed by an associate judge in the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court.

A petition seeking a special prosecutor for Heidelberg has been assigned to Judge Kirk Schoenbein.

Six days after receiving the petition on April 21 from attorneys Andy Hale and Don Jackson asking for a special prosecutor to review the Heidelberg murder conviction, Chief Judge Stephen Kouri assigned the case to Schoenbein.

Hale and Jackson are the first attorneys to study this case and become convinced of Heidelberg’s innocence.

Now 73 and in declining health, Heidelberg has been in prison since his conviction in 1970 for the Espinoza murder. Heidelberg has steadfastly maintained his innocence but has failed to convince a legal ally until Hale agreed to look at the case a year ago.

Hale said he began his review with skepticism but was shocked by problems with the investigation and prosecution. He reconstructed the crime with the assistance of private investigator Marcella Teplitz, and the two have concluded police arrested the wrong man.

Reached Monday evening, Hale indicated by email that Judge Kouri decided to assign the case to another judge rather than hear the case himself. It does not mean Kouri made any initial assessment of the merits of the petition.

Hale had sent a letter to Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady in December asking him to reopen the case. Brady declined, saying he did not find any compelling new evidence to convince him Heidelberg was innocent.







Petition filed to reopen Cleve Heidelberg murder conviction



Attorneys Don Jackson, left, and Andy Hale speak at a press conference Thursday announcing a court petition they filed seeking a special prosecutor to re-examine the murder conviction of  Cleve Heidelberg who has been in prison since 1970.


What could prove to be one of Peoria’s most egregious criminal prosecutions was dissected, analyzed and challenged in a 98-page petition filed Thursday morning in Peoria County Court.

The trial was 46 years ago, and the defendant has been in prison since then.

Attorneys Andy Hale and Don Jackson are seeking a special prosecutor to review all records and additional new evidence they have unearthed regarding the conviction of Cleve Heidelberg for the murder of Peoria County Sheriff’s Sgt. Raymond Espinoza in 1970. Heidelberg, now 73, has been in prison since he was 33.

The petition begins:

“In the early morning hours of May 26, 1970, a lynching took place in Peoria, Illinois. There was no rope or tree and the man did not lose his physical life. But make no mistake; Cleve Heidelberg’s life was taken from him through the unspeakable abuse of State power as surely as if his body had been left hanging from a tree.”

During a press conference held after filing the petition Hale said that after spending more than a year reviewing court documents, examining evidence and conducting interviews, he is convinced of Heidelberg’s innocence.

“No doubt in my mind,” he said.

Jackson, who is president of the Peoria NAACP, said there are many troubling aspects to the case, including items taken from the scene of the accident that were flown to an FBI lab in Washington, D.C. Yet the FBI report was never submitted to the court, most likely because it was labeled “negative” meaning no fingerprints from Heidelberg were found on the gun used in the crime.

Evidence was withheld, witnesses were coached, one witness was paid and normal police investigative protocol was ignored in this case, the two attorneys said.

More surprisingly, another person confessed to the murder before Heidelberg was convicted. That person was James Clark who died shortly after Hale started investigating the case a year ago.

The 1970s was an era when racial tension was sweeping the country and Black Panthers were in the news. This case involved the murder of a white police officer by a black man.

Jackson said during the press conference that it was especially troubling to look back through the records and see how many African American men testified Heidelberg was not in the car, not part of the discussion leading up to the crime and not involved in the crime.

Hale said he sent letters to all names of people involved in the case in 1970 asking to meet and discuss the case. He would like to hear from anyone who has evidence of Heidelberg’s guilt because he has not found any, he said at the press conference.

Before filing a petition with the court, Hale had asked Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady to examine the case, but Brady refused to do so saying the evidence does not support reopening the case.

At the press conference, Hale said Brady has a conflict of interest because even though he was not state’s attorney at the time, he was being asked to investigate his own office.

Hale also said Brady was obligated under a new rule that went into effect Jan. 1, 2016, to reopen a case when clear and convincing evidence is submitted that a defendant did not commit a crime.

“Jerry Brady did not follow the rules of professional conduct,” Hale said.

Brady responded that he reviewed all the information Hale submitted and other material before deciding not to reopen the case.

He said he’s very aware of the new rule that went into effect Jan. 1 and there was no violation on his part.

“We don’t try these things in the press,” he said, noting that Hale could file for post conviction relief in which he would set out the basis of seeking a new trial, and he has not done that.

Chief Judge Stephen Kouri met briefly with Hale and Jackson when the petition was filed and indicated he would review the documents and be in touch with the two attorneys within a week.

The press conference was held in the offices of private investigator Marcella Teplitz who is working with Hale and Jackson on the case.

Read past coverage of the case in Community Word at: