Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Can't Make Sense Of It.

I've been wanting to write this for some time.

Back up two and a half years ago. On another, and mostly abandoned blog of mine, I posted this and you are going to have to read it to understand this rant.

Two and a half years ago. We are still battling over some of the same stuff in Peoria. We can build all the museums, hotels, Civic Center expansions, etc. we want, but are those things going to help sustain Peoria? Not in my opinion. Once again, the "powers that are" are focusing on the "WOOPEE!" factor instead of the basic fundamentals. We are so worried that the East Bluff is falling into farther into disarray, but what is being done? How is a new hotel going to help that? Tax dollars? We've heard that song and dance before. Drive down Kansas Street between Prospect and Wisconsin. I've been on tamer carnival rides. The street is an embarrassment. (And our shiny new Glen Oak School is bordered by this street) How many sidewalks in Peoria are non existant or badly crumbling? Why are people afraid to go out of their own homes after dark? Yet the city can find a way to pony up $29 million in general obligation bonds (the same bonds used to finance the soon to be defuncted Cub Foods for which undoubtedly the city of Peoria taxpayers will have to foot the bill) to finance a new hotel only HOPING that it may pay for itself one day instead of fixing streets, sidewalks and putting the smack down on crime and intimidation. You want to stop urban flight, a new hotel isn't going to do it.

The museum people want to reach into our pocketbooks and want the Peoria taxpayer to foot the bill for their "Build The Block" museum campaign since they can't manage to raise the funds themselves (while spending untold countless dollars on advertsing campaigns). This is unreal. I'd have no problem putting that tax money into the city coffers for some of the above infratructure improvements. I also wouldn't care if it went to District 150 if they showed fiscal responsibility and were held accountable for some of their spending practices. But to want to tax us so the Lakeview people can build some temple unto themselves (and have the audacity to think they will draw their projected numbers so the project becomes self sustaining) is unthinkable when the heart (and soul) of the city is crumbling.

The city has taken the bait far too often with big promises from consultants and developers. We are still paying a 20+ year "temporary" HRA tax to support a Civic Center (that had money to expand) that continually operates in the red with ongoing excuses to why that is. We have a money draining Gateway Building, the Rec Plex, a bunch of development TIFs that are not doing what was promised. And who is paying for all of this? You and I. I'm not going to say the museum and hotel won't work. However, I and a lot of other Peorians have seen, and have been fed, so many empty promises that these projects will become "saving graces" to the city if forces us to become seriously skeptical.

Go back to the basics Peoria. Take a good look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and apply it to the city. For 20+ years, it is build, hope, build, hope and all it has done is let the inner city decay causing urban flight and having people wonder why that is. All these failed "cures" are like a bandaid. Eventually, it will come off and the wound is still there. Quit spending money on bandaids and buy some hydrogen peroxide.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Footloose

Remember the movie "Footloose" where dancing was against the law? Hold that thought.

Why is it that a lot of guys don't like to dance? Store that thought with the thought above.

I went to see a local band, Rachel's Hippo play last night. They play some danceable music. Apparently, the large number of women in the crowd last night a. were by themselves b. couldn't get their S\O guy out to the dance floor as I noticed a significant number of women to men.

What is my point, you ask? Retrieve those stored thoughts. I think guys have this fear of looking stupid in public (which basically proves we do have a shred of intelligence). Women don't seem to have this issue. Or maybe it is an alcohol induced syndrome. They dance and dance and dance regardless of ability to do so. Of course, women will say us guy's just don't know how to have fun. If you go back and watch "Footloose", the reason dancing was banned was unrelated to the topic of this post (however, if you watch it today, the dancing is pretty comical). I don't think there can be a law against bad dancing or most guys would be broke from paying fines and I think some women would get busted, too.

Hey, but as long as they enjoyed themselves.

Before I get a bunch of cranky-ass responses, this is all in good humor, OK?

Good show, btw, if any RH band people are reading this!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sign of the Times? Or....

During the bizzard of 2000 when we got 20 something inches of snow dumped on us, I got out ye ol' snow shovel (actually a corn shovel for those of you who may know what that is) and started shoveling away. Of course, after I got this accomplished, my employer calls and says forget coming into work...today or tomorrow.

Then I bought the Monte Carlo with speed rated tires. The thing sucked on snow so I almost always shoveled the drive so I wouldn't end up the "hard way" in the house. Two years ago, I bought a snow blower. But now, I have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and a couple inches of the white fluffy don't mean nothin'...shift into 4WD and run the shit over.

(Also, notice I'm getting lazier).

Today, I revved up the snowblower and did the driveway, sidewalk, etc. Went and ran some errands. As I am coming home, I get waved down by some guy with a snow shovel (and what appeared to be a 32 ounce can of Budweiser in a paper bag) in sneakers. Dude looked pretty cold. Wanted to shovel my drive for $15. Obviously, had to pass....nothing to shovel. I come home and there is a (computer generated) flier on my door about someone who is peddling their services to shovel snow.

I've lived in my home since '95. Except for two kids who wanted to shovel 1/32" of snow off my drive the first year I moved here, this is the first time I've been approached or "fliered" with snow shoveling offers. (Even though I have had grass mowing offers).

Are times this tough? If so, I guess I should consider myself fortunate. Or is it just coincidence?

Someone Smarter Than I...

...needs to explain two things to me.

1. Person gets out of car and starts walking to a store. They light up a cigarette, take about 3 drags and throws it in the parking lot (where else?) before going into the store. So, I'm guessing they don't smoke in their car. And at what, $2 a cig, that is an expensive puff and toss. Since I've never been a smoker, I guess I don't "get it". And it isn't just one person, I witness this phenomenon many times a day.

2. I understand your need to exercise. But is jogging down Prospect in today's weather on one of the barely cleared channels that expose pavement where traffic is flowing the best idea ever? Aren't you just asking to slip and fall or getting run over by someone who can't slow down?

My bald spot is getting bigger from scratching my head over these two...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Idea For The Cub Foods Building When Cubs Closes

:Cough:museum:cough:

The Improbable Season

I know I don't get much response when I post about sports, but in light of this weekends football match-ups, I feel the need to post this regardless.

Going back to the mid '80's there was this running back named Eric Dickerson. I, like many, jumped on the Los Angeles Rams bandwagon when the team started doing well due to this damned near unstoppable running back. Even though they eventually traded him to Indy, I still followed the Rams. I followed them through some lean years and followed them to St. Louis. Then something happened...they started winning. They really started winning when some grocery store clerk named Kurt Warner became their quarterback. With two world class speedsters for wide receivers and a running back with incredible skills, they went to two Superbowls and won one of them. The glory years for "my" team had returned.

And then, after all those years, I was no longer a Rams fan. I was SOOOO pissed off. I felt they made a HUGE mistake when they traded quarterback Kurt Warner. "Fools!" I thought. "Give the guy's hand a chance to heal". Warner, traded to the Giants basically became a baby sitter (er, I mean, mentor) to golden boy 2, Eli Manning. And for some reason, I just couldn't watch the Giants....just didn't care for their style. Traded again to the lowly Arizona Cardinals in 2005, in his first year, he threw for some impressive numbers but they constantly lost as the defense couldn't stop Farm Creek with Hoover Dam. Same thing in 2006. It was pretty apparent, though, that Warner was brought to Arizona to do one thing: babysit (er, I mean mentor) rookie "sensation" Matt Leinart. Leinart got messed up in 2007 and Warner started light up the air in Arizona. 2008 found him competing for the starting QB spot instead of delegated to the back up role. And now, he and the AZ Cardinals are in the NFC championship game. Granted, they are playing a team that stomped the shit out of them in Philadephia on Thanksgiving Day, but being warm, at home, could change things during this meeting.

I can't say that I'm a AZ Cardinals fan. They are kinda fun to watch. How many teams line up with five wide receivers? How many teams, on 3rd down and goal to go on the 3, line up four wide receivers and put the sole running back in the slot? I'm watching them because some old guy (in NFL years) is lighting up the sky in Phoenix.

However, the end may be near. I'm not talking about the season, I'm talking next year. Warner's contract is up this year. They are paying Leinart a shitload of $$ to sit on the bench. Anquan Boldin, the wide receiver who along with Larry Fitzgerald, is helping make Warner look good (and vice-versa), was whining at the beginning of the season that he isn't paid as much as Fitzgerald and hinted at being traded. Edgerrin James, who was a star in Indianapolis and had 1200 yards rushing last year, wants to be traded as he isn't getting much running time this year (well, EJ, averaging 3 yards per carry the first several games of the year causes the offensive coordinator to find other avenues of moving the ball forward).

My 2 cents: If they don't win it all this year, re-sign Warner if he doesn't want to retire which is the rumor. Pay Boldin. Deal James to someone for a good pass rusher (Julius Peppers is a free agent next year....but the Panthers don't need a running back...Hmmmm.....). Warner was a student of (at one time offensive genius) Mike Martz. He HAS to know the two plays that sprung Marshall Faulk for gazillions of yards while the two played together on the Rams. Get running backs Hightower and Arrington, who frequently lines up as a receiver, and the O line to start running these and it would be the offensive juggernaut that was in St. Louis in 1999 and 2001 (until they abandoned Faulk in the last half of the 2001 Superbowl and look what happened.....).

With all the hype about Brett Favre going to the Jets this year, there has been some other "old guy" making it happen, it has been fun to watch and hopefully, there will be one more to watch after this weekend. How about starting the game off by giving Fitzgerald a three second head start on a fly pattern, put the ball 60 yards in the air and see who come down with it?

Oh, and the Rams, well, nevermind.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Just one more, please?

Unfortunately for us blog reader of Peoria, the esteemed blogger C.J. Summers is going into semi-retirement. Too bad. I would have loved to read his take on the proposed District 150 financial cuts the school board is recommending.

Come'on, C.J., we know you want to. And you know we want to read it. Just one more before you REALLY semi-retire. Please?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Student Accountability

I was listening to NPR this morning. President elect Obama is obviously concerned about education. Long story short, it seems Mr. Obama wants to hold schools accountable for test scores. Personally, I disagree. I think Mr. Obama needs to hold the students and their parent(s) accountable for test scores. I think Mr. Obama also needs to hold students and their parent(s) accountable for their actions and behavior while in school.

I have a hard time believing that there are soooooo many bad teachers out there that we have such bad test scores. I think the problem lies somewhere else.

Disclaimer: This isn't a slam against Obama and I'm happy to hear he is focusing on education. I just think he needs to get to the root of the problem: children who don't or refuse to learn and those who cause trouble.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 Money Saving Tips

This article from WEEK caught my eye: "Money Saving Tips for 2009".

Things like "leave your credit card at home". In other words, live within your means. Unlike our government that spends money faster than a bunch of drunken "good 'ole boys" at a strip club.

Lower the thermostat. When the White House's thermostat reads 62 in the winter and 80 in the summer like mine, maybe then.

Cut coupons and look over ads for good deals. Yeah, I'm sure that is what the wives of the CEOs, CFOs, etc. of the banking and auto industry were doing while deciding how big of a Prada purse it would take to hold hubby's 7 million dollar bonus.

I'm tired of saving, scrimping, settling for less so that the government can go freakin' nuts with my money.

Illinois Is The Only State With A Weak Economy

Did you know this? It is true according to Kathy Drea, the director of public policy for the American Lung Association. The smoking ban has NOTHING to do with Illinois casinos revenues being down over 20%

According to an article in the Peoria Journal Star:

...casino business is down since the (smoking) ban started. Revenue at Illinois casinos dropped 20.2 percent between November 2007 and November 2008, according to the most recent figures available from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Several factors are to blame, among them the weak economy.

“But the majority of the decrease has been as a result of the smoking ban,” said Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association. Swoik points out that casinos in Indiana, Missouri and Iowa — neighboring states where smoking is legal in casinos — saw nothing like Illinois’ revenue drop, and he contends gamblers are leaving Illinois for casinos where they can smoke.

The American Lung Association’s Drea disputes that. New casinos opened in those neighboring states over the past year, she said, which she believes accounts for their better fortunes.

And Illinois’ sharp drop?

“Absolutely, I think it’s the economy,” she said. “The smoke-free law is insignificant.”

I think Ms. Drea needs to actually talk to Illinois casino gowers who smoke. I know (or know of) several Central Illinoisans who drive to Iowa (even when gas was $4 a gallon) to gamble for one reason...they can smoke. (On a side note, to drive 2.5 hours to smoke, lose money and pay up to $4 a gallon for gas isn't MY idea of a good time or be prudent with my $$, but, hey, to each their own).

So, the theory that "if there is no smoke more people will come and spend money", isn't holding true. If a smoke free enviroment would (supposedly) draw more people, then the loss from a few, upset departed smokers would be made up from the massive influx of non smokers just dying to gamble in a smoke-free enviroment. Oh, that's right....the ECONOMY is stopping that massive throng of non-smokers. Apparently, the weak economy only affects non smoking Illinoisans. Sorry, didn't get the memo.

Ok, I'm not going to re-hash the countless debates over personal rights vs. business owner rights, etc., I just had to poke some fun at Ms. Drea's overdramatic statement.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Maybe I'm Just Getting Older.

I read the Peoria Pundit's post about Joss Stone covering a Who tune. At least I know who Joss Stone is. Even without hearing it, I had to chuckle as I just couldn't quite imagine it. For S & Gs, I headed to YouTube and found something that may have been equally or even more disturbing: Ms. Stone covering "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie. Freddie Mercury is no longer resting in peace...he is surely rolling in his grave.

Oh, yes, the Britney Spears, Beyonces, Joss Stones, Christina Aguileras, et al, are nice to look at. And *maybe* they do have some talent. Maybe it is because I'm not fond of their style of music. But when I listen to this:




I think "why are they so popular" while Lisa Fischer has the far more superior voice? The song "How Can I Ease The Pain" & Ms. Fischer even won a Grammy. Maybe because she isn't "hawt". Maybe she doesn't put her dog whistle range to use in "popular music" like Mariah Carey. Or as some Internet sites suggest, she doesn't like being the center of attention on stage. I digress, this isn't a Lisa Fischer blog.

I guess my musical tastes have changed. Or maybe popular music has changed into something for which I do not care to listen; I might listen to it if it was more to my liking. It seems like after the grunge and post grunge phase of music history, I'm just disinterested with main stream. I think a lot of heart is gone and it is more about image, skin and flamboyant lifestyles than about the music. I guess that is why I search out the Marc Broussards, Indigenous', and "tamer than they used to be" solo efforts from Neal Schon and Michael Schenker and others who "it is more about the music" than the popularity contest.

Yeah, I still love old school rock and roll. Gary Richrath's live guitar solo in "Golden Country" still blows me away. The melodic yet wickedly quick guitar solos of Neal Schon. The soulful growl of BB King. Brian May's wide array of power and finesse. Yet there is this yearning for something new...new and better.

And what is with all the covers and re-makes? Go make\write your own damned music.

With Progress Comes....

I was driving on Wisconsin Avenue today. I noticed what appears that Mad Dogs Wisconsin Tap is for sale. I could be mistaken but the "restaurant for sale" in that section of the block makes me think so.

However, with the new Glen Oak School being built so close, I'm curious to what restaurant would go in there knowing that a liquor license wouldn't be possible. Yes, yes, there are restaurants without liquor licenses. And true, another restaurant\bar does not need to go into that structure. However, in that mini business district of Wisconsin, what kind of business would survive? I'm racking my brain.