The Observer Reports were written by volunteer observers of the Greater Peoria League of Women Voters. The reports are presented here as a public service. They are in no way “official” but are intended solely as an informal means of enabling citizens to monitor the meetings of local government bodies. Every effort has been made to make these reports accurate; however, like all materials of this nature, they are subject to human error.
The monthly meeting of the Peoria County Election Commission was held with all commissioners present except for Sandra Burke. The public comment portion included several people concerned about voter fraud and unfulfilled FOIA requests. Also, the NAACP spoke in favor of keeping prepaid vote by mail envelopes.
Delivery of election equipment for both the primary and general elections will be done by Federal Warehouse. They have done it well in the past and were the only bid this year. The cost will be $14,100, up $3000 for the June election because it is their busy season for moving.
The Commission voted to use the 30,000 preprinted vote by mail envelopes already in house for the two 2022 elections, then remove the mailing permit in future elections. The motion passed 3 to 1 with Commissioner Bartolo voting “no.”
1850 vote-by-mail ballots had been sent out by the time of the meeting, with two-thirds already returned. Director Tom Bride thinks early voting will surpass totals from 2018. Unfortunately, the two new drop boxes will not be installed in time for the June 28 primary due to issues with an intergovernmental agreement. They should be available for the general election in November. The Commission is still short of judges, especially Republican judges. One reason is the lack of student judges at this time.
The federal government’s security grant money was used to build a window overlooking the tabulation room and to purchase cameras and fire suppressant for the drop boxes.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
Monica Hendricks, Public Health Administrator for Peoria County/City and Katy Endres, Director of Epidemiology and Clinical Services gave overview of gun violence as public health issue and introduced Brent Decker, who gave presentation on Cure Violence program and assessment process to address this serious issue in community. Program is evidenced based and engages community in reducing the problem. The Chief of Police requested funding of $25,000 for assessment of local violence and community partners at May council meeting. Council voted to receive and file report. This subject was introduced later during regular business; after much discussion, motion made to defer vote to fund assessment to June 28th meeting. Additional information on alternate programs was requested by members.
Aggregation Customers informing them of increase in rates with Ameren for electric service. This affects 38,500 citizens who have been receiving electric service from Homefield Energy. The city was not able to secure electric rate less than Ameren currently providing. Some of issues affecting outcome are timing of current contract expiration, war in Ukraine, and lack of renewable energy sources. Citizens can go to www.pluginillinoi.org to explore other options.
Community Development Director Dulen presented report to council on Peoria Land Bank history and responsibilities, as well as the benefits of having local land bank vs. regional. This allows the city to vet future purchase of properties that are for sale due to failure to pay property taxes to avoid future city issues and liabilities when purchaser does not repair or maintain property.
To view video or minutes of this meeting, go to www.peoriaorg.gov. Next Council meeting is June 28, 2022 at 6:00 P.M.
Connie Romanus, Observer
The Peoria County Board held its regular meeting June 9th with all present but Member Allison, and Members Reneau and Reliford participating via phone.
Proclamations were read recognizing the recent Illini Bluffs 1A state softball championship and Limestone student, Wilson Georges, 2A state championship and state record in the 1600m race.
There were no Citizen’s Remarks.
A brief Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act public hearing related to Heddington Oaks refinancing was conducted with no comments.
The Consent Agenda passed on a vote of 17-0 with one item pulled for discussion. Items included:
· Authorizing issuance of General Obligation Refunding Bonds not to exceed $42 million for refunding outstanding alternate bonds.
· Acceptance of a Family Violence Coordinating Council grant.
· Engineering, infrastructure, road improvement, or erosion control for projects on Glasford Road, Dry Run Creek and within Hallock Township.
· The item discussed authorized a 3 year license agreement funded with federal ARPA funds to support a “one-stop shop” for promising entrepreneurs entitled Lifting Up, LLC. This program is currently in use in Morton and Muscatine, IA.
The regular agenda consisted of few items and all were approved following questions and discussion.
· A waiver request for a land parcel split in Jubilee Township.
· Review and hold on Executive Session Minutes due to confidentiality issues.
· Suspension of the Rules to permit extension of the Declaration of Emergency due to COVID-19 in the county.
Items of note during Miscellaneous and Announcements:
· Member Phil Salzer encouraged board members to participate in a county jail tour in order to better understand current challenges there.
· Support was encouraged for the upcoming West Peoria Fourth of July Parade, Glen Oak Park July 3 fireworks, and Moss Bradley Sale following pandemic cancellations.
Jim Runyon, Observer
Link to the meeting agenda and video are here: https://www.peoriacounty.gov/agendacenter
PPD Chief of Police Todd Gavin introduced three of the six civilian security officers employed by the PPD. They were officers Parker, Reed and Starks. (Officers Scott, Johnson and Banks were on duty.) These officers are not badged officers who have undergone law enforcement training like the regular police officers employed by the PPD. They have no arrest powers but are considered influencers and observers who can diffuse difficult situations and can call for police backup if necessary. Most of them are employed by Peoria Public Schools as security officers so they are familiar with many of the young people who frequent park facilities. Gavin extolled their virtues and credited them with many positive results. All of the PPD officers will be deployed during the annual fireworks festivities at Glen Oak Park on July 3.
Rebecca Shulman, director of the Peoria Playhouse, has resigned and will be leaving June 30. Interviews are being conducted to fill that position.
Staff reports were given by the executive director, the superintendent of planning design and construction and the chief of police. Committee reports, new business items and consent items were all approved.
All trustees were present in person or via Facebook. The meeting was called to order at 6:05 and adjourned at 7:00.
The Board of Commissioners met for regular monthly meeting with quorum present. One public comment was heard from 66 year-old male resident with multiple complaints about landlord follow up on plumbing and other issues. Chair Cannon asked individual to leave contact number with staff for follow up.
Armeca Crawford, CEO, asked Department heads to highlight something outstanding that department has achieved. The resident council at Sterling met in May with new resident representatives. Human Resources recently held employee recognition luncheon and distributed service awards. Modernization gave update on capital improvement plan for scattered site housing, elevator maintenance and corridor renovation at Sterling Towers, as well as roof replacements this year.
Ms. Crawford was hired in April 2022 to lead Peoria Housing Authority. She also gave update on follow up of issues residents had presented at May Board meeting.
Minutes of May 2, 2022 regular meeting and May 17, 2022 special meeting were approved, as well as the Consent Agenda. Resolution passed to update admissions and occupancy policy per HUD regulations to include minimum of thirty-day notice to families at risk; previously notice was fourteen days. In addition, families will be provided with information on securing funding for rent.
On June 17, 2022, PHA will hold Strong Families Event from 1:00 P.M to 4:00 P.M. at 100 S. Richard Pryor Place, Peoria. The event will host food, fun and information about HUD initiatives: health, education and economics. July 5 meeting of the PHA of Commissioners will be held at Sterling Towers. Agendas available at www.peoriahousing.org.
Connie Romanus, Observer
Scott Loftus, Superintendent of Recreational Services, presented information on the Summer Fun Park Pass which allows unlimited access to students (from June 1 to August 31) to PPD activities. These passes have been mailed out to all students within PPD boundaries in the city of Peoria. The passes allow two parents to accompany their child.
Kevin Davis, Recreation Services Manager, discussed the PPD scholarship program that allows families that qualify financially to participate in camps, RiverPlex memberships, the Peoria Zoo, etc. for a small fee, not to exceed $5 per person. Scholarships are full or partial, based on financial need. Applications can be picked up at Bonnie Noble Center, RiverPlex, or Proctor Center. From May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022, slightly more than 300 families qualified for the scholarships.
President Johnson recognized four fallen PPD police officers who have died in the line of duty. Chief of PPD police, Todd Green, introduced four of his full time and part time officers. They were thanked for their service.
James Stuttle was presented with a certificate of appreciation for his years of service 2013-2022 as he retires from the Recreation Advisory Committee. He worked closely with Springdale Cemetery, specifically in regards to the intergovernmental agreement.
All trustees were present in person or on Facebook. The meeting was called to order at 6:05 and adjourned at 8:05.
Council members discussed request from City Manager and Chief of Police regarding approval of $25,000.00 for Cure the Violence Assessment using American Recovery Funds. Chief Echevarria and Officer Hodges gave presentation on evidence-based initiatives to reduce gun violence. Some councilors expressed frustration at not being kept up to date on gun violence initiatives and asked for quarterly updates. After more than one hour of debate, the vote was 5-5, with Oyler, Ruckreigel, Valpula, Kelly and Grayeb voting nay. During the debate, Councilor Allen encouraged the council to trust the Chief of Police and his efforts to reduce gun violence using the training and focus that was successful in Decatur.
A presentation on the Municipal Aggregation Program and current state of the electricity market was made by representatives for Good Energy, local electric buying group for past ten years. Charles Decastage made the presentation to the council. He explained the process for buying power at auction this spring in view of electricity shortages, decommission of coal powered energy and not having sufficient renewable energy sources available. Auction rates were as high as $236.66MW-day vs $5.00/MW-day. Good Energy representatives are continuing to monitor pricing and encourage approximately 38,000 area residents that have opted into city plan not to opt out of the program. Ameren has purchased energy for June and July at higher rates. City Manager Urich hopes to have electric energy contract for City of Peoria from Good Energy within next 10-12 days. If resident opts out during this time, they will not be able to get back into city plan. Click on item 22-177 on Agenda to get summary of presentation.
Council passed ordinance to amend traffic and motor vehicle code to be unlawful for occupant of motor vehicle to interact with pedestrian while vehicle is not legally parked and on traveled portion of roadway. In addition, this action makes it unlawful for an individual to remain on median on roadway when not lawfully crossing roadway. Meeting agendas, video and minutes are available at: https://peoriail.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx Next meeting is June 13, 2022 at 6:00 P.M.
Connie Romanus, Observer
On May 23, the PPS board approved the purchase of chemistry curriculum learning materials for high school students to support the district's science curriculum revision plan, Spanish guided reading resources to help students improve English language proficiency and reading skills for Glen Oak and Harrison schools, and a supplemental Black History social studies curriculum for grades 5-8.
The board also heard the annual update from Quest Academy, which currently has 221 middle school students and 241 high school students with 57 seniors graduating on June 2 in Quest's seventh graduating class. All seniors are on track to graduate and advance to post-secondary education with 27 students attending two-year colleges and 34 being accepted into four-year institutions.
Becky Doubleday, Observer
At the May meeting two representatives participated by phone, one was absent and 5 were in-person for the meeting.
Manager’s Report included 49 burials to date in 2022 which is higher than previous years.
Cheryl Budzinski, Observer
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