Belleville's mayor is giving more than $200,000 to the Kroger Co. to tear down the former Bel-Air Bowl site. The sales from that store won't help Belleville, it will only take away from the other food stores in the area. Where did Mayor Mark Eckert study economics?
No taxpayer benefit
The taxpayers of Belleville made a rich man richer. Our taxes paid the $2.4 million that went to Rusty Wagner to keep him in business and now he has sold his business after only five years. What do the Belleville taxpayers get out of this deal? We get to see a rich man get richer.
No bang for the bucks
I thought I had wrapped a dead fish in the newspaper because of the smell coming out of it. But it was just the story about the Wagner-Joseph dealership buyout. The huge amount of money given to Wagner is bad enough but for Mayor Mark Eckert to say that he thinks the city got its $2.5 million back through the development of Belleville Crossing is absurd. I don't see any connection. Belleville Crossing would have been there without the dealerships.
Look at casino losses
I read your article on the profit and loss for the video poker machines. Why aren't you writing about how much people lose on the Casino Queen? Don't worry so much about the small towns, report on the casinos.
No dogs allowed
I'm totally opposed to allowing dogs at St. Ellen's Park in O'Fallon. I frequently use the park to exercise and I have found the park visitors with dogs to be terribly inconsiderate. They allow their dogs to run wild and make messes in the walkway. I can't take my children to the park for fear that they will be scared by an unattended dog or exposed to the filth the dog and dog owner leaves behind. In my neighborhood, families who walk dogs clean up after their animals on their own. I do not want my tax dollars spent to pick up after the animals of irresponsible owners.
Did Democrats know?
Poor Fred Bathon is finally going up the river after all these years when corruption was identified in his Madison County treasurer's office. Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan is apparently shocked and "deeply disappointed" that Bathon has been charged with abusing the public trust. Is he really disappointed or just upset that one of his fellow Democrats got caught and had to be made an example of? What did Dunstan do a few years ago when a Republican candidate brought up these issues? Dunstan is a hypocrite who supported former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and quickly scraped the sticker off his rear bumper when he was indicted. It's hard to believe these years of corrupt tax auctions were unknown to the Democratic Party and Dunstan. What else will be discovered?
Wow, what a pension
Your article stated that Fred Bathon, former Madison County treasurer, is receiving $88,000 in pension with less than 20 years of service. How can that be? The article also said that an ex-Madison County Board member warned that something was wrong with Bathon's tax auction system but no one would listen. Doesn't that sound like the St. Clair County Democratic-controlled county board?
While it is disappointing that former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon will only serve several years in a country club prison for his corrupt behavior, taxpayers can get some satisfaction and fiscal relief in that he loses his pension. With that in mind, maybe we need to have a blanket investigation for all Illinois politicians and upper level employees for any corrupt and self-serving behavior.
Pay for performance
The Cahokia School Board wants to cut programs at the high school because of the lack of funding. Since the district has such a poor academic record with only 27 schools in Illinois being worse, why do we have more than a dozen principals, assistant principals and teachers making more than $100,000 a year? If we were to pay these people by the way the schools perform, they would owe us money. The perfect solution would be for everyone who is making over $100,000 a year to take a $25,000 to $50,000 cut in pay.
School district wastes
The Cahokia School District is wasting money again. I saw the school bus drive all the way to the back of the cul-de-sac in the St. Louis Gardens subdivision to drop off one child. Why are they giving these kids a ride all the way to their front doors when in the past the kids were picked up and dropped off in front of the subdivision? I guess the superintendent must have found more money because he hired two assistants, not bad pay for a school district that ranks among the worst in Illinois.
Strict testing needed
I read James Rosborg's guest view about changing the elementary school achievement tests and have listened to him many times. The problem I have is, in his world, administrators and educators are never part of the problem and the solution always involves more money. He doesn't like or want testing because he doesn't want the educators held accountable. First of all, we need testing to make sure that our students are taught what they need to make them productive citizens and, if not, make adjustments if necessary. Case in point, when you go to a restaurant and the cash register computer is down and the employee can't calculate your change, something is wrong.
This was the worst Super Bowl for commercials I have ever seen. Normally there are funny ones but not this year. Some were downright disgusting.
All eyes on Baricevic
With the new voter fraud allegations being brought against two Cahokia women and Kevin Wiggins. I wonder if St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic is actually going to throw the book at these people. Or is he going to just slap their hands, give them a couple of days in the county jail, and release them for time served? It's time for Baricevic to get something done. It's because of people like these two women and the prosecutors who turn a blind eye that we have such corruption in the county today.
The Democrats' doing
I liked your editorial about how vote fraud won't go away and I totally agree with you. Repeat offenders do deserve harsher punishment. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen as long as Bob Sprague and John Baricevic are in charge of the St. Clair County Democrats. Money talks and it always has in the county. I must say I'm ashamed to be from here.
I was surprised to read your story about Belleville giving away all kinds of tax money and tax breaks to people to remodel their businesses and that they can buy the supplies anywhere, even outside Belleville. So in effect, Belleville is allowing its tax money to go to retailers in other municipalities. That doesn't make any sense. The people receiving this money should at the very least have to buy their supplies within the city limits.
Chance slow to act
I have to disagree with the caller who said Caseyville Mayor George Chance acted properly in regard to J.D. Roth. He waited three months after officers made complaints about Roth before he took any action whatsoever. Roth continued to have access to documents, e-mails, use of a village-funded car and other advantages and he needs to go.
Not easy to opt out
Here are some facts about Belleville's new electric service. You are automatically signed up for the new service. Yes, automatically. You have the choice to "opt out." I mailed my form as required and later found out I still wasn't opted out. I called Ameren, which advised me to call our new electric service which I did and had to hear a sales pitch. I opted out again. The fine print states that if you want to get out later than the deadline, there will be a fee. So, yes, you have a choice, but be careful. The way they are doing this is fishy.
Greatest Card ever
The color photo of Stan "The Man" Musial was awesome. His hair was cut, he had no beard and his Cardinal uniform was neat and bloused above the ankles. Stan had no batting glove or other protective gear. He will always be the perfect knight. Maybe some of today's ballplayers should emulate the greatest Cardinal ever.
Fool me once ...
A man was standing outside the Belleville Wal-Mart holding a sign saying he was homeless so I gave him $5. Later I saw the same homeless man in the checkout line in front of me holding a 12-pack of Keystone beer. I was angry thinking that my hard-earned money could have been spent on something more useful, like food, but then I reasoned it was his money now and he could spend it any way he wanted. I hope he enjoyed the beer because that's the last one on me.
Glad for no-knock
I read that Fairview Heights Alderwoman Pat Baeske is sponsoring a no-knock ordinance similar to a no-call phone list. Apparently, when passed, I will have the option to sign up for no-knock to prohibit solicitors from knocking on my door. I am older and am afraid to answer the door when I'm not expecting someone. At the same time, I am concerned that if I don't answer, a criminal will think I am not home, making a robbery more likely. This law will obviously be good for me and many residents of our city.
Interchange will help
The proposed North Ruby Lane interchange would add hundreds of acres of prime commercial land to the Grant-Illini School District that is on the verge of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, it now appears the interchange is going to Scott Air Force Base and O'Fallon. Grant-Illini schools desperately need the money from development of the land that this interchange would bring.
Unions fall short
I used to think unions were good until I joined one at work. I wonder why people are so gung-ho about being in a union? Do they have the workers at heart or the $250 initiation fee and the monthly dues? Does that money go into the pockets of the union bigwigs? It sure doesn't go back to the workers. And what if you don't want to support the politicians that the union gives your dues to? You don't have a choice.
What was the Belleville News-Democrat thinking when it devoted its Sunday Magazine to homosexual issues? Like it or not, you are the conservative newspaper of record for the metro-east. You serve a community that is the home of the Belleville Catholic Diocese. Stop the social engineering.
Trouble for Belleville
I cannot understand why anyone would want to live in Belleville. First, having the mayor and his henchmen deciding who can live in your house is just wrong. With a TIF on every corner, you can expect your property and sales tax to increase every year. But the biggest problem is the racial tension boiling just beneath the surface. It is only a matter of time before it erupts.