Sunday, November 29, 2015

Trump Holds High Cards in Sarasota Saturday

Arriving very early in his helicopter, greeted by hundreds as he landed, took some kids for a helicopter ride and then entered to standing room only crowd of 6,000 in Robards Arena. According to a local TV Station, another 8,000 lined up outside. A patient line of 4 to 6 deep supporters, a quarter mile long stood in 80 degree temperatures on a Saturday without ever getting a chance to see him. I was one of them until I realized that the line wasn't moving. So I, along with many others, retreated to our air-conditioned digs to watch him on TV. Many others could not find a place to park and did the same.

He was the usual Donald; brash, nowhere close to being politically correct, brutally honest especially when he attacked the very Liberal New York Times and their Democrat reporters, sometimes exaggerating to make a point, making claims that he can only achieve if he has the support of the House and Senate and have flair opposed to the charm of the most destructive sitting president this country has ever known. The crowd was typical of Middle Florida. Ordinary people.No 70, 80 or 90 retirees standing in line. A handful of blacks, no people in Muslim garbs and no wild men or women such as those who lead the "Blacks are People Too" or some stupid name making whites seem all like plantation owners.

I may vote for him as I do not see him as a danger to the best interests of this slipping world power called the United States of America. I can see him sitting down with Putin much as I sat down with the Teamsters Bosses and negotiated 7 three contracts without a strike or even a serious threat of a strike. To my knowledge, my successors, Widmer Interiors, still support the the Teamsters Union almost 24 years after I sold my company for the most money any office products company was ever sold for in downstate Illinois. Trump really loves this country but like me and a rising majority of people who love the country but feel that much of the leadership is mostly interested in the well-being of themselves and their wealthy buddies. Or who lean whichever way the wind blows to get elected or re-elected so they can feed on all the 'goodies' they vote to themselves.

No other Republican candidate has come forward who can defeat any Democrat candidate. Trump is no Hitler as some desperate people would like to pattern him. Trump is no war-monger; he has to my knowledge, no financial interests in anything close to being a military products manufacturer. He, like all politicians, sometimes stretches the truth, but somewhere in all my papers, I distinctly remember print about "certain people" cheering as the Twin Towers collapsed. Others had signs on their vehicles claiming this horrible disaster, created by Muslims, saying "it was an inside job".

I have never met a politician and people they appoint to leadership positions who didn't at times, stretch the truth.Remember a nice person by the name of Richarson? And all the leaders sho supported FireFly as the greatest creation since the airplane and the automobile of even the steam engine?.  Prime examples are Democrats mainly and Republicans who lied about the absolute success of  Heddington Oaks and the Peoria RiverFront Museum. And most likely the Warehouse District, the Sports Complex and the Marriott

This country contains a large percentage of angry and disappointed voters. No, we do not need a dictator and Trump is no threat. We. need someone to listen to those of us who deal in 'facts' and who will stand up to the Putins of this world and make us feel safe in our own communities.

Trump may be just the right man and could be elected even if the old and I mean 'old' Republican good old buddies group stays home on election day...

Oh, yes. Were there any protesters inside/ One who was ejected. The paper said there were a hundred of so outside but I did not see one or any sign supporting Bush and Rubio or opposing Trump.

Merle Widmer's Obituary - Well, Sort Of - Part One of Many

I'm still kicking at ninety but I better start recording more of my life story that my daughters and grandchildren and perhaps a few others may want to read someday. Born as the last of nine children of Donat and Lillie (Witzig) Widmer, (Dad said he wasn't aware of birth control back then) I survive as does my 94 year old sister Viola and her 95 year old husband, Herb Kauffman. Herb was born in Congerville and all Widmer kids were born on a farm between Congerville and Carlock, Illinois. While we lived in Woodford County, we all attended a one room grade school half a mile away in McLean County. Most of us had the same teacher, Nellie Moline, nice but strict. The rules allowed spanking and my Dad said if we got spanked at school, we got another spanking at home, no explanations accepted. One spanking was enough to shape me up. Too bad we have become a nation of wimps.

Most of us attended a three year high school in Congerville. (back in Woodford County again) I graduated at the age of 16 from Normal Community High. Two of my older sisters were 'farmed' out to wealthy Peorians. One graduated from Peoria High and one from Woodruff high. My only brother Chester, only attended school for three years, as Dad needed him to work.

We didn't have sports in grade school and I never shot a basketball or threw a baseball until my Freshman year at Congerville. To while away the long winter nights on the farm. I cut the bottom out of a round Quaker Oats card board oatmeal container, mounted it on a top door hinge and used a small rubber ball to shoot one handed baskets while I listened on the radio where Illini greats like Phillips, Matthiesen, etc. were starring. When I went out for basketball at Congerville High, I tried to shoot the big ball one-handed. The coach who was also our Principal, finally told me I would never play at all unless I shot two handed. I still hear my teammates cheering when I finally scored my first basket in a Junior Varsity game. I scored one varsity basket at Congerville and didn't make the squad at Normal Community. Normal had good players and went to the "Sweet Sixteen" losing in the first round to Streator. More on sports later and why I eventually became a Varsity Basketball Coach

At the age of 8 or 9, my life on the farm was work 7 days a week. I still got to listen to Bob Elson as he reported play by play action on WGN of my team, the Chicago Cubs. Our longtime milk pickup man was Tevie Tevis, a really ardent Cub fan. Every now and then, I got to discuss Cub and Yankee baseball with Tevie. When the WW2 broke out, I was a senior in high school and Dad had me exempted from enlisting as I was the only boy at home and with Dad and a couple of sisters and Mom, farmed 300+ acres with all kind of animals to either milk, feed, cleanup, butcher, etc., he had me exempted with a 4D classification which kept me out of service until 1946 when I was drafted and served 20 months. More on my military service later..

Only twice did I get to attend a weekend without working. One was a 4-H camp near Lake Bloomington. The other was when my steer won a blue ribbon at a Woodford County Fair. Since the steer was actually owned by neighbor wealthy State Senator Simon Lantz, Senator Lantz offered to take the steer, my Dad and I to the Chicago State Fair. Unfortunately, I was more interested in sports and my Dad found me trying to play football instead of watching over and continually grooming my steer. I got a severe lecture. While my steer didn't win an award, the steer was lucky it did not have to return to Congerville. It sold for I believe, 13 cents a pound, which was a good price in 1938. Some wealthy Chicago people enjoyed some good steaks and prime rib.

Life on the farm bored me so badly that I told my older sister Loretta that I was day-dreaming my life away. I had serial day-dreams that lasted for weeks as I remember. I was day dreaming when I made too wide a turn with our disc and hit a fence post, bending two discs cutters. It was a bad day when Dad discovered the bent equipment.

There were no boys my age nearer than a mile or so. Then there was the time available. So in the summer I hunted ground hogs. Woodford County paid 25 cents a scalp. I would scalp the ground hog and nail their scalp on the blacksmith shop building wall. When day had to make a trip to Eureka, the County seat, he would take the scalps and I would get to keep all the money. Sometimes up to 3 to 4 dollars. Also, I fished in a couple of creeks that eventually outsourced into the Mackinaw River.  In the fall, I hunted squirrels.In the winter, I trapped and hunted. We ate the squirrels and the fish. Also, in the winter, I trapped,  skinned, dried and sold the muskrat, fox, mink and possum furs.(We would give the possum carcasses to a neighbor who sold them to the black community in Bloomington who considered the meat as a delicacy). I would get up at 5 the usually cold mornings, run my trap lines, come back and do the chores and then have breakfast with the family.

Congerville had a great fast pitch softball team but with all the stars drafted or enlisted in WW2 and since the games were played at night I became a player who looked forward to every game.  More on that later under my sports career. In the winter, I played Independent basketball. We would bribe the janitor with 4 bucks to open the gym for practice on some nights

One year, I trapped a skunk and stupidly tried to kill him. It turned its butt on me and sprayed me. My Mom was so mad she could have "fisted me". That was her expression after I became to old to spank.. She buried my clothes in the ground for about a week and after the smell had gone, she washed the clothes and I wore them again. As for my body, no one would come close to me as I washed and re-washed until the odor was gone. Another time, I caught a ground hog who had holed up in a steep bank. When I crawled up to kill it, It broke lose from the trap. I caught it by the front leg and started screaming for my Dad who luckily was near by. I hung on until my Dad killed the varmit. At any time, it could have turned on me and bit me as a mouse did when I grabbed it by its tail. Was that ever painful for several days. Luckily, I didn't get rabies.

Once in a while in the winter we would wait for the Mackinaw to freeze. Then Dad, my brother Chet and I, would take gigs fashioned from pitchforks, a bag of shelled corn and an axe; find a shallow spot where the river narrowed, cut a rectangular hole in the ice, sprinkled the shelled corn on the river bottom, go up where the river deepened and started pounding on the ice with heavy wood branches. Soon, the fish would start moving toward the area where my brother or my Dad stood with the gig waiting for the shadow of the fish to cross over the corn. Dad and Chet, who was 11 years older than me, had all the fun as I was always stuck with doing the pounding. I did enjoy eating the Channel Catfish that my mother, an excellent cook, prepared for us. What we were doing was highly illegal but fortunately, game wardens seldom were out on a cold winter day.

Occasionally, my Dad had business in Congerville or he needed a haircut. (My Dad cut my hair until I was at least 10) and he would take me along. When business was over, we would stop at the pool hall and shoot a few games of pool. Occasionally, on nice weather evenings during the summer, Dad and Mom would take us kids to Carlock or Congerville, to watch outdoor movies. When we were younger, we always waited up at home because they always brought us ice cream. What a treat on a hot night with only one fan, usually being in Mom and Dad's room, to cool the four upstairs bedrooms.

Susposedly, one night Lucille Ball, using a different name back then, came to Congerville barnstorming and put on a show.  Two of the strongest older boys got in a vicious fistfight over her. Rumor has it that by the time the fight was over, she was on her way out of town. The boys were alleged to have been Bobby Irions and "Mac' McCannon.

When I got old enough to drive, around the age of 13, I would take my Dad's pickup truck to town late on Halloween night and with older boys leading the way, we would topple outhouses, put bailed straw to block the main drag, rob chicken coops of eggs and throw same at one house of maybe two. One night, around midnight, I was driving the pickup truck with two of my friends in the truck bed firing eggs at Howard ......s house. Two shots rang out. Scared to death, I gunned my way, out of town, dropping my friends off near the edge of town and I went to a cornfield, and hid with the truck till three o'clock in the morning. Fortunately, Dad did not hear me come home. But next day, the Woodford County Sherriff came over and asked Dad if  he knew what had happened. Dad called for me.  Of course, I denied being the culprit saying I was out but was home before midnight.  Both knew I was lying but I was not arrested but my Dad gave me quite a lecture. Why did we pick on Howard......? Because his outhouse was toppled so many times that he anchored it down with railroad ties and steel cables. We couldn't budge it.

One night we toppled an outhouse and Sammy .......... fell in up to his waist. We fished him out but stayed downwind from him the rest of the night. A rumor was that some of the older boys took a cow out of a barn, hoisted it up on the roof and tied all four legs down where it's owner finally checked where the bellows of an animal in distress was coming from.The feat was the talk of the town for weeks. The culprits names were suspected but no one could prove who they were.

I wanted to save this to my computer but my software won't let me so I'm hoping I can print this as Part One of a series.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ray LaHood - JS Quotes in Editorial on 11/13/15

"Remains Fond of Obama". Interesting. I guess because Ray pushed for $800 million for a new highway to Chicago and then settled on $400 million for making Rt.29 a four laner', neither one that could be justified by real cost conscious  leaders like Dale Risinger. Ray also tried to push light rail from Tampa to Orlando where the national government would fund all the preliminary expenses, around $2.4 billion, and stick the State of Florida with the building and all other costs. Florida's Governor knew that Florida didn't have the money and rejected the broke federal government largess. Ray's income, including his pension, increased dramatically under Obama. Maybe that makes him "fond of Obama'". Was Ray good for Peoria? Hard to tell. Take a good look at Peoria and you be the judge whether the City, County, etc indicate a bright future in the upcoming years.

None of Ray's big spending deals went through, thank goodness. Wonder why arrogant, not politically correct presidential candidates, like Trump and Sanders have such a large following?
The majority of the leaders now sitting in seats of power have failed us. Both Republicans and Democrats. Another reason I and many of my friends and acquaintances are Independents. Trump would do no worse looking at all aspects of the position. Sanders? Well.......

Maybe being in a warm climate has further addled this old brain. Hmmm

Friday, November 13, 2015

Go "Links"

Problem corrected. Facebook was slow to respond to problem. Computer Medics and TeamViewer did a super job.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Links" Please, Friends, Stop Sending Me Links for a Couple Days

The links you are sending me are coming thru on my Cell Phone. I don't want them on my CP. When Computer Media and TeamViewer eliminated my WOT virus, something went wrong with them or Facebook. Computer Media has done all they can. If your links are still coming through tomorrow on my CP, I will go crazy.

As Queen Bonnie Exits With Accolades.....

there are some facts that should be know. When I was head of the SouthSide Recreation Committee, she did not want to put up tennis courts at John Gwynn Park unless they could also be used as basketball courts. Joe Stowell, then Bradley Basketball coach told her that was illogical. So two separate tennis courts were built and I used those courts for my At Risk tennis programs that were highly successful. A hitting wall was installed on the wrong fence where every ball hit over the wall, landed in private property. I told her the wall needed to be moved so the balls landed on park property. To no avail. I eventually had to turn my program over to the park and it went downhill the first year and then kaput.

I waged a constant battle for tennis courts and maintenance. When the hard courts at Glen Oak and Bradley became badly cracked, contractors tried to scrape the top of the courts off and replacing the cracked tops with new tops. I told her that unless they went to the bottom where the cracks started, the top surface would crack again and very soon. They did and a total of 10 courts had to be redone. In redoing, one net post was set higher than it's mate so that the tennis net tilted downhill. As far as i know this situation prevails today.

Next step was that she wanted to close all but 2 of the seven clay courts, claiming the space for parking for the African Exhibit. A group of us banded together and saved the 7 clay courts. She tried to convince the board that Clay courts were more costly to maintain. Her staff took a study that proved the opposite. However, neglect of the clay courts of not enough water or too much water or not enough maintenance remains a problem yet today.This year, the clay courts were blessed with a lot of rain or their would usually be a cloud of dust. That we have 44 free public courts is an asset to tennis players as I have pointed out in previous blogs

When I unsuccessfully ran against Tim Cassidy for Park Board President, Bonnie warned all employees that if they wanted to hold their jobs they would not vote for me nor show any of my signs. In fact, a leading caterer to the park put up two of my signs on Pioneer Parkway. In two days they were down. I asked the owner why and he said he was told by........that if he wanted to do more business with the park he must take down my signs. I asked the owner where the signs were and he showed me but the signs had disappeared.

Bonnie brags of Golden Balls the parks won including the RiverPlex. Not mentioning that the RiverPlex came no where near to meeting their projections and it took them at least 16 years instead of 10 years as projected to pay off the bonds. Which may not even now be paid off.

In order to meet rising maintenance costs of the new 33,000 sq, ft. headquarters, the maintenance of the Knoxville facility, originally planned as the new park headquarter, the maintenance ot the Pavilion, rising pension costs lower than expected attendance at the expanded zoo, erosion control, less grant money, etc. expect that as most public bodies in Peoria, that fees and taxes must raised. In fact fees have been increasing slowly for a long time.

Why are tennis courts free? The park tried to charge but the employee cost offset the revenue. One of the reasons tennis is basically dead at Manual and Peoria High is that the park under Bonnie's direction, had and has little interest in tennis. The Tri-County TennisTournament that for years got free use of the courts now must pay for their use. 6 years ago it was $1800. I do not know what the PTA pays now.

Bonnie and others try to make Peoria into an Indianapolis or a Cincinnati. She would have been a roaring success in a city two to three times larger than Peoria, a city with low growth and a high poverty level..

If Bonnie was being paid $130,000 a year or more, I wonder what the new director will be paid??

Peoria Heights Plumbiing Ability??

First, they are not in Peoria Heights and appear to be working out of a home. They said they were familiar with Kohler stools. They replaced two stool  interiors for an unitemized cost of $1242.00. One stool works fine after they came back and adjusted it. The 2nd stool usually flushes properly when you hold the flush handle down. Even then you need to wait to make sure the plunger settles. Otherwise, the water will continue to flush down to the sewer. Four times they have come back to get the 2nd stool to operate properly; a stool which is exactly like the other stool. Same age, same parts. They no ;longer return my phone calls.


Jerry Becker Research

Jerry Becker 7:51 PM (13 hours ago) to JERRY-P-BECKER. *************************************** From American Educational Research Association, November 11, 2015. See for detailed statement ' See, also, ************************************** WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11-In a statement released today, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) advises those using or considering use of value-added models (VAM) about the scientific and technical limitations of these measures for evaluating educators and programs that prepare teachers. The statement, approved by AERA Council, cautions against the use of VAM for high-stakes decisions regarding educators. In recent years, many states and districts have attempted to use VAM to determine the contributions of educators, or the programs in which they were trained, to student learning outcomes, as captured by standardized student tests. The AERA statement speaks to the formidable statistical and methodological issues involved in isolating either the effects of educators or teacher preparation programs from a complex set of factors that shape student performance. "This statement draws on the leading testing, statistical, and methodological expertise in the field of education research and related sciences, and on the highest standards that guide education research and its applications in policy and practice," said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. The statement addresses the challenges facing the validity of inferences from VAM, as well as specifies eight technical requirements that must be met for the use of VAM to be accurate, reliable, and valid. It cautions that these requirements cannot be met in most evaluative contexts. The statement notes that, while VAM may be superior to some other models of measuring teacher impacts on student learning outcomes, "it does not mean that they are ready for use in educator or program evaluation. There are potentially serious negative consequences in the context of evaluation that can result from the use of VAM based on incomplete or flawed data, as well as from the misinterpretation or misuse of the VAM results." The statement also notes that there are promising alternatives to VAM currently in use in the United States that merit attention, including the use of teacher observation data and peer assistance and review models that provide formative and summative assessments of teaching and honor teachers' due process rights. The statement concludes: "The value of high-quality, research-based evidence cannot be over-emphasized. Ultimately, only rigorously supported inferences about the quality and effectiveness of teachers, educational leaders, and preparation programs can contribute to improved student learning." Thus, the statement also calls for substantial investment in research on VAM and on alternative methods and models of educator and educator preparation program evaluation. ------------------------------------ Related Resources: Special Issue of Educational Researcher (March 2015)- Value Added Meets the Schools: The Effects of Using Test-Based Teacher Evaluation on the Work of Teachers and Leaders - SEE

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Heddington Oaks, Oh, Heddintgon Oaks, You Should Never Have Been Built

A $3 million dollar a year deficit collar around the Peoria County Boards neck. This yearly $3 million loss despite approximately another $3 million in tax revenue. I fought hard to stop this massive boondoggle but failed badly. At one point, I was the only Board member opposed to this $51 million or so, "safety net" mainly built for Medicaid and Alzheimer clients. Plus a few full pay private occupants. I am not sure what the census is but it was built to house 214 clients, including some from other counties. Board Chairman Andrew Rand denies that the County Nursing Home is up for sale. Possibly not right now but expect more concern by elected County officials as was expressed recently by Republican Peoria County Treasurer, Trip O'Conner and some board members. The County will eventually sell the facility to the private sector, a sale that SHOULD have been made when it was still named Bel-Wood. Who were the major cheerleaders entranced by the persistent efforts of our highly paid consultants? Former County Board Superintendent, Patrick Urich and now Peoria City Manager, and Board Member Phil Salzer. Sorry again for no paragraphs. I suggest those interested refer to my old blogs on the subject. Just enter Bel-Wood in the search bar on the upper left hand side of any of my blogs. You may also want to refer to an article, "Panel wants Bel-Wood Replaced", written by Karen McDonald then as a reporter for the JS and more recently known as an Aaron Schock staff member, dated 6/27/09. Ms. McDonald reported that Merle Widmer was the only Board member opposed to this ALWAYS apparent boondoggle. She also wrote that the expected cost of the new Nursing Home would cost roughly $26-29 million. Oh boy, how did it fly to a $51 million? Low paid, often unqualified public board members who never met a payroll or ran a size-able business, are a major reason why Peoria is running growing deficits on all of it's publicly funded entities. The same is true in most of the states in the Union.Never in my era has the old adage of never spend more than you can prove you will take in unless it is a project for all public use on which you do not exspect to break even, And can AFFORD it. Again, I apologize for no paragraphs.

A Noble Exit

Peoria Park Board Superintendent Bonnie Noble has announced that she will be vacating her position sometime in 2016.To add to my enemies list I will point out that her leaving may be influenced by these following facts: The park will be losing somewhere around a quarter million dollars this year, depending on which set of books are made public. At a recent board meeting, those in attendance heard that the expected golf deficit next year will show an approximate $800,000.00 deficit. This, despite the closing of the popular Donovan course and converting it into some type of wildlife sanctuary. While the park brags of owning 9500 acres of land, there appears to be no money for erosion control. An example is my efforts to get the park to build a berm to stop the erosion around the south side of the hard surface tennis courts at Glen Oak. A feeble effort was made to do so, but the erosion is worse than before. A second example is the growing delta in the Illinois River as topsoil from park owned land as being the major source of erosion. Mrs. Noble point out that one or her major accomplishments is the RiverPlex originally named the WreckPlex by many. The 10 year loan to pay off the loan to build the RiverPlex adjacent to the troublesome Taft Homes and in the Illinois River flood zone and in competition to the private sector, was extended to 16 years as reported by the JS and to my knowledge, the note may still have a balance due. The park budget is somewhere between $41-45 million, the largest of the next five downstate park budgets combined.Mrs. Noble points out the many awards the park has won over the years, including the RiverPlex, but never once mentions that the facility has been a money losing pit having a major impact on other park resources. Under Mrs. Noble's direction, $27 million was spent to build a new African Zoo with a large sign off Prospect so designating the site. This well publicized sign was never built and the promised alteration to the entry off Prospect never happened. When funds were lacking for new offices, souvenir center and ticket sales, the Glen Barton family stepped in to pay for this structure. Plans for another $100 million plus expansion in the area never happened. Park headquarters, formerly housed in the old Pavilion, is home to the Peoria Playhouse group but the park still owns the Pavilion and is responsible for it's maintenance. While Park headquarters are now in the 33,000 sq. ft. former Lakeview Museum, the park still owns and maintains the old District Highway Headquarters on Knoxville purchased from the State of Illinois for one dollar. This site was publicized as being the next park headquarter but the space and design of the building caused Mrs. Noble to bypass it in favor of the abandoned Lakeview Museum building. With the new trail and the bridge over Knonxille, the halt in the flow of grant money from a near bankrupt State of Illinois, plus the decline of grant money from the national government, Caterpillar's slide in sales and postponement of the new downtown headquarters, it will be interesting to see what fee increases and taxes are required to support all of Mrs. Noble's mostly completed projects. I also point out that to my knowledge, prior Superintendents were unpaid volunteers. Approximately 5 years ago, the JS reported that Superintendent Noble's salary was around $125,000 a year plus perks and a pension. I applaud Mrs. Nobles accomplishments; she was often called Queen Bonnie even by the JS as she dominated the Board and Board president. But for many of us, we believe it is time for her to retire. A competent new Superintendent can accomplish a lot with $40 plus million available Again, I apologize for no paragraphs but my software evidently won't permit them.