Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Morrissey, Hervey deal gender card to justify unjustifiable raise

This should please fellow-blogger Unmanager: I often speak kindly of this alderman, but I'm going to pick on Venita Hervey a little bit tonight. I still say she has potential, but indeed, these past few weeks, she's particularly been a lapdog for Larry at a time when aldermen should be ganging up on His Honor to take back the city's checkbook.

During last night's council meeting, Hervey actually accused aldermen who balked at giving Assistant City Administrator Julia Valdez a $34,000 raise (while facing at least a $5,400,000 deficit) as being sexist. Really, "Lady V?" Sounds like a litigation-happy lawyer's wishful thinking.

No one said Valdez shouldn't be appointed. Most aldermen, after getting an earful from constituents, just think such a huge raise should be out of the question given the current financial hardships. Their position is simple: Let's get the budget in order before we decide how to proceed long-term with the HR director position. God forbid a little fiscal responsibility, especially if it goes against the mayor's childish wishes and uncompromising sense of pride and stubbornness.

Granted, the council is made up of bumbling buffoons who view public service as an elitist hobby for which they're not really directly accountable, but I seriously doubt they're against replacing one woman (a minority, no less) with another female as HR director (which Valdez would do on top of her existing responsibilities, "assisting" City Administrator Jim Ryan, apparently).

"The mission of the Human Resources Department is to support the goals and challenges of the City of Rockford by providing services which promote a work environment that is characterized by fair treatment of employees, open communications, personal accountability, trust and mutual respect. We will seek and provide solutions to workplace issues that support and optimize the operating principles of the City of Rockford."
-City of Rockford Human Resources mission statement

Considering that there should be a hiring freeze anyway (we are talking about cutting fire fighters and cops, right?), I just don't see $34,000 of extra work for Valdez to be doing in human resources. If a position absolutely must be filled, let the head of that particular department deal with screening and hiring applicants.

There, I just offered a cost-saving opportunity, and without billing taxpayers for my advice, as city and county officials elected to make these decisions are now poised to do by hiring yet another consultant. Jesus, I'm in the wrong business. Fleecing taxpayers is where the real easy money is. Recession, you say? Not when it comes to public officials spending other people's money. The gettin' has never been so good.

Supporters of Mayor Morrissey's appointment of Valdez say it's not a raise, but rather a way to save $90,000 by combining the two positions into one. This notion reminds me of TV commercials advertising sales (a/k/a "savings events") where "the more you spend, the more you save." Bullshit. As another old infomercial once asserted, "Stop the insanity!"

Taxpayers, a majority of aldermen have recognized, just don't see the raise as savings, either. It's simply in poor taste for anyone in the administration to be getting a salary increase for any reason. Those of us who have jobs are counting our blessings right now, and we know this is not a time for anyone to expect a raise, even if we're taking on more responsibilities to ensure the solvency of our employers.

Adding insult to taxpayer injury, Mayor Larry was quoted in the daily as saying Valdez's appointment and raise would "eliminate the exposure we'd have to a civil rights lawsuit based on discrimination."


Tell us, Larry, did Julia threaten to sue, or was that your idea?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thompson-Kelly goes from worst to best week ever

Indeed, it's a sad day when the likes of Ann Thompson can outshoot the old clout-master Lenny Jacobson in a showdown. Truly, Lenny is losing his Kung Fu grip if he lost this one.

The Southgate/Church School votes appeared to be tipped in Jacobson's favor after an unflattering story about Thompson's cash advance from a park district credit card at a casino surfaced last week. Lucky for her, few read the weekly that chronicled the would-be scandal, but I'm sure she had to tolerate a little friendly ribbing from her counterparts that read the rag solely out of vanity. Thompson apparently declined to comment for the article unless the Times would snitch on their source. They wouldn't, but the timing almost suggests who may have been behind the tip.

No one is more surprised than me that Jacobson has deviated from his usual pro-union position to oppose the Village of Southgate development, even though it means "hundreds" of short-term union jobs. As I mentioned months ago, his support may have been assured if Landwhite had offered to include a bar in its plans for the apartments to secure Lenny's beverage-association consent. Ah well, they didn't need him anyway; not when they had the rest of the city's wards breathing a sigh of relief that the low-income, soon-to-be slum wouldn't be in their backyards.

For once, though, Lenny actually had some legitimate arguments. The site, nestled on the edge of town right next to the bypass and 11th Street, is best suited for truck stops and tractor pulls. It's not a quiet place you or I would want to live the good life. And despite the claim rents will range from about $600-$900, let's face it, it's just gonna wind up being a place to raise welfare babies, and we've already got no shortage of 'hoods like that. It's just gonna make those existing places even worse.

The major selling point: The city won't have to directly subsidize either development. That's right, Landwhite will put up $800,000 of its own money, while the remaining $24,000,000 will be spread out among the entire nation's taxpayers, not just Rockford's; federal money well spent to buy more blight so that Larry can justify more TIF districts. Maybe he'll decide the existing TIF will become so blighted that he'll have to declare another one on top of it. Two pots on the same burner to steal from! Fucking brilliant. I've gotta take tea with this guy.

As for the Church School shithole, there's not a single old person who deserves to spend the rest of their days in that neighborhood, even if it has the occasional police presence of an overworked cop taking a breather to fill out a report there. The building should just be razed.

Thompson just got the only bone the administration is gonna throw her for a long time, and she should have picked a better battle. Well played, Mr. Mayor. While she was at it, she is also likely to have pissed off Scott Christiansen's right-hand-token-black-man, Earl Dotson, Jr., whose dad lost Church School to the city after she turned her back on him so that a few white men could make a buck instead. Tsk, tsk, Annie.

Now her favors are used up, so she will have no leverage if the city decides to take MFT bucks from her ward. If that happens, you can thank Aunt Thom-pson for fucking up (downscaling) the long-awaited West State Street upgrades. Or, since the city has a habit of moving the public's money wherever it wants, perhaps the Morgan Street Bridge will suffer instead. That is, until a full school bus, or fire truck with only three fire fighters, fails to traverse it without falling through.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Budget crisis?

There's quite a bit I could comment about regarding this week's council meeting, but the one thing that really received no mention in the press is this: We're told the city can't afford to maintain its fire and police forces at current levels, yet more than $1,000,000 was easily found to give to William Charles for Sandy Hollow Road emergency repairs. Hmmm...

My shortest post ever, but maybe the most significant. Anyone else have questions about this?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Element: Boo-hoo, my pussy hurts

What kind of a thankless leech can find a reason to complain about being handed $50,000 in public funds to beat a horse most Rockfordians have no interest in riding? Read on.

Is this Ed McCollough hack, a Morrissey contributor, rubbing anybody else the wrong way with his whining, while being paid $48,000 a year?

Seems to me that tax dollars given to downtown groups like the Element and River District would go a lot farther if these groups were led by people who didn't require salaries to pretend to give a shit.

Wouldn't it be great if creative, artistic folks who value downtown would take on that role for free, just because they care? I'm willing to bet there are plenty of passionate, talented young people who'd be willing to lead the charge. Jesus Correa wasn't mayoral material (nor is Morrissey, for that matter), but I wish Larry had taken my advice to acknowledge what Jesus does have to offer. Mr. Correa should have McCollough's job, and I'd be willing to wager he'd do it for free, or for a small stipend, and do it better.

The problem with the Element is that it's being led by the corporate likes of McCollough and Ron Clewer. While part of me admires Clewer for his past involvement with NAT, I can't ignore that he's stooped to being a part of William Charles now. Seriously, for all the money Billy Chuck makes off of this city for its piss-poor roads, where are the philanthropic contributions to such groups by Rockford (Loves Park, more accurately) Blacktop?

Okay, here's what the local media had to say about the Element getting 50k.

WREX proclaimed, "The Element loses thousands of dollars in funding." How do they figure a $50,000 handout is a loss? Granted, the Element once hoped for $75,000, then $60,000 after someone reminded them the city is broke. I'm sure all the unemployed people who are unwelcome in downtown establishments feel your pain, Ed, but go fuck yourself.

WREX's story quoted McCollough: "I simply don't understand it. You have an organization that's been successful in fulfilling its mission, in being accountable, collaborating and helping to run a great event like Friday Night Flicks. And then you just arbitrarily cut them."

Obviously, McCollough didn't get the memo that taxpayers are tapped out, but he hasn't offered to cut his own frivolous salary. Also, Ed, most people have either a DVD player or VCR, which don't drain public funds to watch 30-year-old movies.

WIFR ignorantly reported that "Aldermen approved taking 10-thousand dollars from another downtown organization to help pay for (On the Waterfront) security costs."

No such allocation was made of the 10k cut from the Element, and they'll probably get that money later anyway when it's discovered OTW is not an eligible TIF expense. But it's cute when TV people try to act smart by reporting falsehoods.

As the old SNL character Fernando would say, "It's better to look good than to feel good." Or, as Don Henley noted, "I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear."

TV news is about looking good, not about delivering factual information, but print isn't much better, as proven by RRStar, which stated the Element's budget had been "slashed," while ignoring who really lost in the deal.

I'm not sure why it wasn't in the print edition, but RRT did report on its site that the money came from the 7th St. TIF. Why the fuck is midtown having to pay for a pet project downtown?

I've evaded the Monday night regulars (mostly because I owe them money for deeply betting the judge would rule against the fire union recently), but as I watched Monday night's meeting, I was actually surprised by how much attention aldermen gave to this subject. Silent, however, was the alderman whose TIF was being raped to fund the Element. It's pretty sad when aldermen from other wards have to try to defend the 11th ward's TIF district because midtown's own alderman won't do so. In the end, Karen Elyea didn't care, so why should they? It went through, and the element has NOTHING to complain about, so zip it, Ed. Count your blessings.

A week before, Elyea stood up and had a mini-tantrum over a layover of the Element's funding request, oblivious to the council rules that even a layman knows. To me, that suggests she promised someone the request would be granted that night, because she wouldn't stand in the way of pouring dollars out of her ward into another-as though she has ANY clout. It makes one wonder where her heart really is, because it certainly isn't in the 11th ward that unwisely elected her. I'm not sure which is more hilarious: when she opens her mouth, or when she squirms like a child waiting for each meeting to end.

As I watch the meetings, while she sits there with a blank stare, I swear I can actually see a cupcake in a comic think-bubble next to her head. It would be funny if it wasn't such a sad outrage.

OK, so as not to be just some jaded critic, let me offer a suggestion, even if it's not directly pertinent to the Element.

The new RAVE Authority seems to be a major improvement over the Metrocentre do-nothings, and I applaud the private management that's being given an opportunity now. While Davis Park is too small for such events, it wasn't so long ago that major concert tours like Metallica and Lollapalooza landed at the fairgrounds in Pecatonica. That was pretty fucking huge. I hope the new Metrocentre management will consider taking advantage of that resource for more concerts that may otherwise ignore our area. Sure, it's in Pec, but they could still be Metrocentre events, from which Rockford would benefit. Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ban the mayor!

OK, so this Jim Buckingham yahoo has been banned from City Hall because Mayor Milquetoast feels (politically) threatened by what he had to say in front of aldermen and anyone else who may have been watching, including yours truly. But Larry played it cool in front of the cameras, then tried to handle things like a real legal-beagle behind the scenes. Little did Larry know that such a common man could have the potential to kick out the clay feet propping up his tin administration.

True, Buckingham seems a little off, a bit eccentric, or perhaps he sustained a head injury at some point, maybe during selfless military service to his country, none of which are against the law last time I checked, but he's not a danger. He's just pissed off, and who can blame him? He's earned the right to candidly speak his mind, and he fought for the rest of us to do the same while a cloth-diapered and privileged Lil' Larry was only daydreaming about chasing privatized ambulances in his daddy's backyard and hiding behind the laws he would one day make to serve his own interests and those of his rich friends who never had to worry about being sent to fight a war in a strange land, but instead profit from it (Children, can you say "Supplycore?").

Now all grown up, Larry lacked the spine to take control of the council chamber that fateful day by stopping Buckingham in his tracks to warn him he was crossing the blurred line of "decorum." No, instead, the mayor tried to handle it subtly, thinking former employee Joe Bruscato would charge Buckingham with threatening a public official. Joe wouldn't do it, thank God, so Larry and Patrick Hayes schemed to try and convince Buckingham he cannot come onto public property (City Hall), betting a slighted war hero wouldn't call their bluff. But I think he will if he can keep the media interested. Today at least, local talk radio was all about it, prompting me to make this entry. It's a great little story, but one that Larry never meant for anyone to hear about.

Considering the media attention he's getting, it's only a matter of time before the likes of Dan Lewandowski or John Nelson take his case. They should, because it would be a big step up from the cheap political victory they scored in the Carolyn Gardner coup of Ted Biondo. And they wonder why they can't win an election. Besides, it would help their party to give Larry a nice welt-inducing slap from the Democrats to remind him of who really runs the blue collar town living beneath Larry's tower.

Says here, Buckingham now has a legal fund. Congrats, Rockfordians, Larry and Patrick have just ushered in another unnecessary lawsuit at your expense. Must be nice to have the luxury of spending other people's money on personal vendettas.

By the way, Mr. Biondo, no hard feelings with my last blog, but you're really setting yourself up for headaches through your association with the Liberal Register Star. Are you sure your keepers at that rag really have your best interest in mind? I seriously hope you'll consider breaking that tie and start your own blog independent of those hacks. I'd be happy to grant you a permanent banner on this site, for whatever it's worth, even though I may disagree with you from time to time. You're OK in my book, because I believe you speak in the interest of tax payers.

By the way, don't you just wanna snatch that dirty rug off of Sweeny's pretentious little head? Somebody really oughta inform him he has gray hair and that he should probably update his blond toupee for those vain, over-sized photos he places next to every column. Jesus, what a fucking horror show. That's not to say Chuck isn't a good writer from time to time, but shit, throw on a hat or something, man. Better yet, embrace baldness as I have. It's really not so bad, Chuckles. You're not fooling anyone with that dreadful thing on your head.

Back to business. Being a council junkie, I've seen this Buckingham guy speak many, many times. The mayor has, too, which is why he knows there was no threat. Gimme a fucking break, Larry.

Now, since we're on the subject of threats, let's talk about how Larry is physically threatening the entire city by wanting to cut public safety. If there's a man or woman on the council with mayoral aspirations, or even a sense of thanks to the brave men and women who've served, they oughta bring forth their own resolution to ban Morrissey under the very example the mayor has set. The media would eat that shit up for much longer than this Buckingham thing will last, if only someone had the balls...

Please don't let the crickets start chirping, PUBLIC SERVANTS.