Saturday, October 15, 2005

I. Am. In. Hell.

I spent most of yesterday playing Trouble Ticket Hell with my host. They make a minor change and email me, then walk away from the problem. I email them back, wait an hour and then they resend what they wrote before, perhaps hoping by rewording their reply, I'd understand that I was an idiot for even asking. I'd follow their intruction again and and only occasionally the lightbulb went off over there and they realized what they did/suggsted didnt' work. Of course, by that time, it was time for them to go home.

And us course, each reply is from a new techie who apparently has only a passing familiarity with sentence structure and punctuation. And each time, it's like reinventing the wheel.

Essentially, this is the problem. I deleted what I thought was an old test blog and its database. Turned out I deleted the real Peoria Pundit database. And my backup is nowhewre to be found. With all my posts. Yeah, a huge problem.

Not to worry, my host said. Send us $10 and we'll restore your database from Oct. 8. Great! That's only a few days of posts I'd miss. No problem. Well. It took almost 10 hours from the time I paid till when they started. I can get a brand-spiffy news installation working. I can even move over the content folders and get the old themes and plug ins. The only problem is that I need the POSTS that are trapped in this backed-up database.

I can't get them to do JUST THAT! They keep insisting on using the entirity of that massively screwed up database with it's bad settings.

ALL I WANT ARE THE FREEKING POSTS. I swear on the bones of my ancestors I will never, ever screw aroudn with the databases again. Just get my posts back.

Sort of fixed

I have a working weblog at peoriapundit.com now.

But the hosting company can't seem to get a database reinstalled.

All I want are the posts, categories, comments and blogrolls.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Forgive me, gentle readers ...

... but I am in the middle of a freekin' database nightmare with my hosting company.

At this point, all I want are the posts. If they can export those to ME, I can upload them to another WP site, build a new WP installation on my server, move over all my plugins, themes, images, etc. Then I can reload the database field for posts and comments.

All that other stuff, I can do without.

ADM odor might become an issue

Don't be surprised if there is some action taken regarding the odor from Archer Daniels Midland.

I've complained about it a lot, only to be met with official and unofficial shrugs of the shoulders (I can't say the city ignored my complaints; they just pointed out it isn't their jurisdiction). Peorians are used to it, and besides, it's the "smell of money."

Fine. OK. I surrender. It's no fun trying to stir up trouble over an issue when no one else seems top be bothered.

But I've learned that the city of Peoria will try to meet with IEPA about ADM emissions and the impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

Good.

My hope is that ADM wants to avoid grief and will to something to lessen the odor. Or, that they build a bio-diesel plant here and put a couple hundred people to work. I'm flexible.

Proper 'form'

For those who don't know, the City of Peoria is considering dumping its rigid code that sets specific standards for specific zoning catagories that can't be broken without speicif permission with a different system that lets the city take into account the different conditions in each neighborhood.

It's either going to either make it easier to get a building through the city's red tape or it's going to make it hearder for neighborhoods to fight projects they don't want in their backyards. Or both.

Her'e s press release:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT A MAJORITY OF A QUORUM OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF PEORIA, ILLINOIS, MAY ATTEND A PRESENTATION OF FORM-BASED CODE PRESENTATIONS BY FERRELL MADDEN ASSOCIATES ON OCTOBER 26, 2005, AT THE PEORIA CIVIC CENTER, 201 S.W. JEFFERSON, ROOM 220-221, PEORIA, ILLINOIS, FROM 7:00 P.M. TO 9:00 P.M. NO ACTION WILL BE TAKEN BY THE COUNCIL.

I vote for more details about this purchase

Whether or not the
Peoria Election Commission picked the right vendor for new voting machines, the fact that they bought from a company partially owned by one of the commissioners just doesn't look good at all:

That fact was disclosed in the news release announcing that the commission, after reviewing bids from four different companies, would begin negotiations with Populex, and that Wittry abstained from voting on the decision. The release did not mention that Wittry served on the company's advisory board or owned stock in the company, but the 27-year commissioner said he doesn't see how that's problematic.

'I started an inventor on a project and invested in him,' Wittry said, noting that legal counsel informed him doing so was OK so long as he didn't vote or engage in negotiations with the company. The board's attorney, Robert Day, did not return phone calls.

In a brief interview Thursday, Jeanette Mitzelfelt, executive director of the Election Commission, said she was not aware that Wittry owned stock in the company. Mitzelfelt said she was busy and couldn't talk longer, but also did not return repeated phone calls to her office or cell phone.


I've never been a fan of the standardized "could not be reached for a comment" cop-out that many newspapers use in almost ever situation (thus avoiding an an appearance of not being objective). Molly's description told the whole story.

There's a difference between being out of the office and just not getting a message in time to return it before deadline and with a politician ducking a tough question. The State Journal-Register reported in depth on the ownership situation last week. Did Wittry fail to tell Mitzelfelt about his ownership in the company? That needs to be addressed.

I also vote that Wittry resign from the board now, since he plans to do so anyway in December, and then let the new commission vote on what do do.

No reason to go downtown

I'm listening to Dan Diorio and Greg Batten on WMBD 1470. They are bemoaning the loss of a handful of downtown restaurants and bars this week. The concensus is that there are a few destination businesses downtown, but no reason to just walk around and shop. DiOrio is suggestign the city get "off the backs" of would-be businesses,perhaps changing the building codes to let the owners of small businesses live in the places they work, just like they did in the old days.

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Some advice for Bloggers ...

... don't blog when you are depressed. You get annoying phone calls from friends and family trying to cheer you up.

Seriously, I appreciate all the good thoughts.

Just like an episode of Dragnet

There's a police crackdown
going on.

Last week, officers discovered a kilogram of crack and powder cocaine, along with $300,000 in cash and property. The bust is just part of the department's progress.

Chief Steve Settingsgaard is making sure officers also focus on everyday crimes like littering, noise violations and truancy.

'I have a theory about why that's so important to them, even though it is not the most serious crime. My belief is that it impacts them; it hits them every time they open their front door. You can have a robbery at a gas station two blocks away, but you can still feel at peace and safe in your own home.


My theory is that it makes little sense to brag about the amount of coke, marijuana or other drugs seized by cops. Sure, it causes problems for individual dealers and their regular customers. But I doubt it took longer for 24 hours for the amount of drugs available on the streets to go back to what is usually is. Did it reduce by one minute the amount of time dealers deal from street corners? Nope.

Want to reduce street level drug sales? Arrest users. Set up spy cameras on regular dealer sites, then bust the drivers a half mile down the road. People don't buy crack on street corners on a lark. People sell drugs on street corners because there is a demand for it. Reduce demand, and neighborhoods stabilize before drug dealers go away.

Sure, most of these arrests won't get to court. But it sure creates an environment unfriendly to drug sales. Maybe they'll take their act to Creve Coeur, Metamora, Washington, Morton or Dunlap, which is where a lot of the buyers come from anyway.

Any why not post pics of drug buyers on the Internet, along with their addresses?

Not so new Peoria blogger

The Peoria-based blog Pizza the Huts is no more. Sick of the tone that blog had taken, he's starting over with a fresh site, In Flux, and a new attitude.

My advice: No embedded sounds, this time. I almost never visited his old one because of it.

PS: Remind me to add In Flux to the 'roll back when my original site is back up and running, probably later today.

'Peoria's lack of rail vision'

I found this posted on the Peoria Rails Yahoo! Group:

If you look at Peoria, the growth areas are very far north Peoria, south of Pekin, near Morton, west of Peoria and near Mapleton. Now, where are the rail leaders that are buying the land near the rails and holding it so it can be built on by industries that will ship by rail? There aren't any.

Peoria will soon lose any hope of developing the Kellar Branch as housing and strip malls fill in around the tracks. The NIMBY's will not allow a car plant to build in Peoria that may provide jobs that pay more than minimum wage.


And the Peoria City Council, the Peoria Park Board and the Journal Star are perfectly happy with this situation. Jobs aren't important, unless it's selling sports drinks to the occasional cyclist who wanders into town for a ride.

Another good reason to hate the White Sox

Not that any real Cubs fan needs a reason. But it turns out these bums are sucking on the taxpayer teat.

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No shield for bloggers

Blogger Dan Gilmore has taken notice of legislation that would define journalism and exlcude bloggers from shield laws. His reaction:

Plainly, what's at issue -- if protection is needed -- is the act of journalism, not whether the person doing it is a journalist. We can all do acts of journalism from time to time. Most of us are not journalists except at those times. Congress is clueless, perhaps by design, on this issue.


Not that I have to worry. I'm not a blogger. I'm the publisher of an online magazine of news and opinion. You pesky bloggers can go to heck, for all I care.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Blogging: Cure or disease?

The Washington Post takes yet another mainstream media swipe at blogging. They've found some quack to fret over the mental health implictions of getting too personal on your blog:

Although it may feel good to blog, psychologists warn that going public with private musings may have ramifications, and that little research has been done on the consequences of the Internet confessional.

"I certainly don't advise anyone to do it. They're taking a big risk," said Patricia Wallace, a psychologist and researcher at Johns Hopkins University and author of "The Psychology of the Internet." People open themselves up to cruel comments, and worse: identity theft, for instance, or even losing a job for kvetching about a boss.


Remember The Peoria Pundit's 25 Rules for Good Blogging No. 12: Do not blog about work. Trust me on this one. Even if you do it anonymously, someone will find out.

Blogging has kept me sane for the past couple of months. So I guess I can say that it feels good. When I have something to write about -- and can't get to a computer right away -- I start getting very anxious.

So my upcoming six-day hiatus will be like going cold turkey.

Perhaps I need something like BA: Bloggers Anonymous.

Maybe Mark DeSantis and John McConnell will try to have me committed. For my own good, of course.

Well, I'm depressed (not clinically) now. So I'm going to go take a 12-hour nap.

It's official

The cable Internet connection goes away on Oct. 16 (probably shortly after midnight). Which is about six days before I'll have the scratch to pay if off.

Such is life.

But my prospects are good on several fronts. More later. Maybe soon.

Fire Station 11 isn't coming back any time soon

Well, I got my answer today, courtesy Jennifer Davis and the Journal Star. Returning Fire Station 11 to full service has been left out of the 2006 Peoria budget. Not only that, no one is going to fight for it.

To fully staff Station No. 11 is an estimated $721,000 annually compared to the one-time cost of purchasing equipment.

Nevertheless, Mayor Ardis and 2nd District Councilwoman Barbara Van Auken, who represents the area covered by Station 11, both believe the council will discuss it during budget negotiations.

'I think it will come up in the sense that I and other council members want to know we're going down the road to re-establishing an engine at that station,' Van Auken said Wednesday. 'I dare say all of us on the council are acutely aware of finances and it may not be this year and maybe not next year, but this remains one of my top priorities.

'I know there are constituents who would like us to move faster (but) right now, most of us are in the same boat, we don't have a spare cent."


Here's the problem. The gnomes who helped create this budget the ones who insisted -- absolutely insisted -- at the time that we didn't need fire station 11. These are the people who told us with a straight face that there would be no substantial increase in response times, an assertion that flies in the face of physics and the evidence of our own eyes. They are never going to want to fully fund the station. Any money going to station 11 is money that isn't being spent on their more politically powerful and more affluent buddies out in District 5 and the Dunlap School District.

To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I understand where Barbara is coming from; there are a ton of needed improvements to fire protection that are getting funded instead.

Were I hearing this from some other members of the council, I'd be jumping down their throats now. But I trust Barbara to be giving me her honest appraisal of the facts. But if it wewre me, I'd be fighting and agitating to take money from other less worthy sources and -- dare I say it -- less essential city services.

'Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, a box of rubbers, a $20 room for an hour on a sesame seed bun to go please'

A Nashville TV reporter had a really bad day at the station:

After about 13 years at WSMV-Channel 4, James Lewis has resigned following a piece in which he reported that Metro cops arrested a McDonald’s employee when the worker sold a Big Mac to a hooker, thus violating a law against giving “nutrition to a prostitute."


Trouble is, he got this morsel of news from an on-line column called "The Fabricator."

He's going into the real estate business now.

Opera benefit



From a press release:

A benefit for Opera Illinois will be held Friday, Nov. 11 at The Country Club Peoria. Light opera selections and favorite hit musical tunes will be performed by hot young talent in a French cafe atmosphere. Chef Pierre's French Bistro Buffet will include Quiche Lorraine, a variety of crepes, and other selections.

Ticket price is $65 per person and includes buffet dinner and entertainment. There will be a cash bar and casual attire. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. with entertainment and buffet to follow.

For reservations please contact the Country Club of Peoria
or Opera Illinois Office at 309-673-7253 or info@operaillinois.com

I suggest a ton of debates

Now this is going to be a very entertaining race to watch.

First District Councilman Clyde Gulley said Wednesday he plans to run on the Democratic ticket for the 92nd District House seat currently held by Republican Aaron Schock of Peoria.

Last week, the state and local Democratic Party endorsed 4th District Councilman Bill Spears, who sources say is expected to formally announce his intentions within the next few weeks. Spears, however, said Wednesday he wants to talk to more residents before making up his mind."


Gulley will get a majority of the Black vote. But I don't see him getting such support elsewhere. He just isn't an effective campaigner. The man lacks effective verbal skills and sometimes has a problem making a lucid point on the floor of the council. Several times this week, he started speaking after another council members was recognized, and he did so simply to repeat a point he already made.

The general line on the race is that it's going to be difficult to unseat Schock, who is a master campaigner. But Spears is the only one mentioned who has even a chance against a well-funded Schock. It all depends on whether the unions put their rivalries and disputes aside and get fully behind Spears.

Turnabout is fair play: Chase files suit against Taft

You've got to admit Chase Ingersoll thinks outside the box. He's apparently gone down to the Peoria County Circuit Court and filed a suit under the Controlled Substance and Cannabis Nuisance Act. The plaintiff? The Peoria Housing Authority.

Heh.

The suit is an attempt to get the PHA to abate the drug use problem at Taft Homes.

It's easy to conclude that this is Chase's way to prove a point about how the city treated his friend, Kris Jain, the owner of the Grandview Hotel. Chase is the first to admit the site has problems, but he thinks the city targeted Jain when there are worse offenders out there.

Chase has a point on that score.

But he's not alone when it comes to taking Taft to court. There are folks on the Peoria City Council who wanted the city to do the same thing, but the city's administration didn't think it work.

What Chase's lawsuit against the PHA does is point out a little hypocrisy on the part of government. We have the City of Peoria taking the owner of a hotel to court and closing him down for continuing to rent to marijuana users. Yet we have the Peoria Housing Authority -- whose members are appointed by the City of Peoria, running a housing project that's an open-air drug market.

And I guarantee you one thing: The criminals who live and operate out of Taft Homes have caused more havoc and human suffering to the residents of the Near North Side than the shabby down-and-outers ever caused to the more affluent residents of the Prospect Point neighborhood.

Will this tactic work? We'll see. What is certain is that nothing else has worked. And one definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over in the belief that it will accomplish a different result. Obviously, some innovative solution is needed. But it seems sometimes that we've got a city hall convinced that nothing that hasn't been done before is worth trying at all.

Here's the test of the suit:

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE TENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
COUNTY OF PEORIA, STATE OF ILLINOIS

On behalf of the People of the State of Illinois )
CHASE INGERSOLL )
Plaintiff, )
)
vs. ) 2005 CH __ __ __
)
Peoria Housing Authority, )
Roger John as Director )
)
Unknown Occupants, )
)
The property known as: )
)
“Taft Homes” “Bayview Gardens” or by any other )
name, located between the Illinois River, NE )
Adams Street, I 74 and Wayne Street )
)
Defendants. )

NOTICE OF THE EXISTENCE OF A DRUG NUISANCE

PURSUANT TO:

(740 ILCS 40/) Controlled Substance and Cannabis Nuisance Act, you are hereby advised that acts and conditions that are in violation of the Controlled Substance and Cannabis Nuisance Act have taken place on the premises within the last year, not limited to yet unidentified residences, but particularly the commonly used areas of the property, and that upon information and belief the same violations of law are present as of the date of this notice.

Pursuant to statute you are hereby advised to present yourself to the Office of the State’s Attorney of Peoria County within 14 days of receipt of this notice, having abated said nuisance or to otherwise present a plan consistent with statute to abate said nuisance.

If you fail to take such action within 14 days on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois, I will file suit requesting that the Court order for the abatement of the property for up to one year, and any other remedy as provided for by statute.


__________________________________
Dated:________________________
Chase Ingersoll, a resident of Peoria County,
and Plaintiff on behalf of the People of the State of
Illinois.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So much for 'reform'

Rich Miller links to information about how our reform-minded governor weeds out candidates for high-ranking position who just might have an inclination to put the their duty ahead of politics.

Good news for a Peoria blogger

David Henderson reports that his health has improved.

Best wishes.

Fair and balanced?

The standard spin is that Fox News may lean toward the conservatives, but that's only fair because the rest of the media sucks up to the Clintons:

Another interesting development is Murdoch's hiring of a Democratic public affairs company run by Hillary adviser Howard Wolfson. Murdoch's News Corp. hired Wolfson's firm, the Glover Park Group, to run a campaign against a proposed change in the Nielsen ratings system. News Corp. thought the change would negatively affect their advertising dollars. Senator Hillary Clinton reportedly sent a letter to Nielsen supporting the News Corp. position.
---
The New York Times has commented on the emerging Murdoch-Clinton alliance. "Even within the company, Mr. Murdoch's political bent does not prevent him from working with Democrats," said the paper. "Peter Chernin, the News Corporation's president, is a major Democratic figure who contributed more than $100,000 to John Kerry's failed presidential campaign. Gary Ginsberg, a vice president for corporate affairs and the company's chief spokesman, is a former Clinton White House aide."


Oh, never mind.

Anyone who thinks for one single moment that the corporate media (and yes, I am talking aboutPeoria's media as well) don't play games and alter news coverage because of business concerns is fooling themself.

The only honest solution is complete transparency.

Speaking of blondes*

Stolen from here:

A man was sitting in a cafeteria next to a blonde woman who was engrossed in her newspaper. The bold headline read "12 Brazilian Soldiers Killed." She shook her head at the sad news. Then turning to the man she asked, "How many is a Brazilian?"


* It's an inside joke.

The Pundit returns!

No, not Peoria Pundit (although I'm still waiting to get my regular site back up and running).

I'm talking about my nephew, Neil Johnson. Neil left for North Carolina more than five years ago. He went to college for a bit and ended up with a nice little life for himself over there. After a personal setback, he's back in Peoria to work and to finish his education.

He's also a blogger. He operates The Sports Pundit, a nifty little MT blog that details his sports and fantasy league insights (he and Edgar Sandoval would get along nicely, I believe).

As soon my site is back up, I'm going to set him up as a contributor to Peoria Pundit and see how that goes.

Condolences

Two friends have recently lost loved ones.

B.J. Stone is in Minnesota, dealing with the death of his grandfather.

Gary Sandberg's mother passed away the day before yesterday.

My condolences all around.

Fiscal responsibility at city hall ... what a concept

Instead of making a list of what projects the city wants to do and then coming up with ways to pay for them, At-large city council member George Jabob wants the city to figure out how much money it has coming in, then make a list of projects it can afford.

Heh.

Good luck with that.

I doubt there's a member of the city council, neighborhood organization, business group or the media who would disagree. After all, the platform that government needs to be run like a business is very popular. Entire political careers are based on that slogan.

But the reality is that that every single member of the city council, neighborhood organization, business group and media organization has one or more pet project that he or she considers absolutely essential and insist it be included in the budget. This list has included -- at one time or another -- reduced costs for sidewalk installation, inspections of rental properties, flowers, municipal bands, never ending renovations and additions to the Peoria Civic Center, committees and commissions that meet endlessly and produce nothing but an agreement that more meetings need to be held, a place on the riverfront for people to hold wedding receptions, the costs of using eminent domain to snatch homes from widows so millionairs can build doomed-to-fail shopping centers, baseball parks, taxpayer financed recreation centers that compete with the private sector ... and I could go on.

Which cows in the herd are sacred, asks a cowboy in an old political cartoon I recall from some years back.

Just ask em, replied the other cowboy.

Meanwhile taxes go up every year. Gee, I wonder why?

New motions filed in Kellar Branch case

Pioneer Railcorp has filed a motion for clarification and a motion to compel with the Suface Transportation board. Basically, Pioneer wants Central Illinois Railroad Company to provide requested information.

Warming up for the coming budget marathon

Jennifer Davis has a wrap up of last night' Peoria City Council meeting, focusing on the city's 2006 budget. And she's Jennifer Peryam* has a story about cute kids who won a fire prevention poster contest. Seems there have been a lot of proclamations recently that bring cute kids to the council floor. A conspiracy? Hmmmmm.

Dave Dahl has a stort story on the budget up at the WMBD site. Nothing on his blog though. Well, there will be plenty of opportunities for all of us to write about it. This process is going to take a looooooooong time and it looks to be a nasty fight over a bunch of little things.

*Oops. My mistake. I saw the first name and didn't notice the last.

Promises, promises

Anyone remember this one, made to Bill Spears back in July?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Taking umbrage

The person taking the umbrage is George Jacob. And person whose umbrage he is taking is me.

He's a little POed that I described him in an earlier post as (and I'm paraphrasing here) the "Chamber of Commerce's guy" on the Peoria City Council. Don't bother looking. It's MIA.

Not true, he says. After all, he voted against buying the Illinois American Water Company, which was something the city council endorsed.

Point taken. But Gary Sandberg voted for the buyout, and that doesn't make him the Chamber's darling, either.

But I concede that he's more independent than my earlier post suggested and I apologize for saying otherwise.

Still, the line on George at the time the council voted for him was that the business community really wanted one of their own on to fill the facant at-large slot. Understandable, since Dave Ransburg, millionaire member of the Peoria Civic Federation, was shown the door by voters sick of his act.

I like George. He comes across like a working class guy. He's a good guy to have a beer with (or a Diet Pepsi, in my case) and share tall tales with. And it's obvious he and his family worked hard to get what they have: Brewer's Distributing, which has a lock on sales of Budweiser in this part of Illinois.

So let's not kid ourselves. George is stinking rich. He hangs out with August Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch, the guy who owns Budweiser. I hang out with Chase Ingersoll, the guy who owns the Grandview Hotel.

We run in different crowds.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see George out on the campaign trail. We'll have to see during the upcoming budget battle whether he's an essential services guy, a progressive or some mixture of the two.

I'm rooting for him to be one of those three.

But if you really want to see him get red under the collar, when he offers to buy you a drink, order Miller Light.

A little advice for the coming budget battle

This advice is aimed at the council members who represent the 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts of the Peoria City Council. There is this neat little trick city staff does to make sure projects out in North Peoria get done at the expense of projects in the older sections of the city.

Remember the repavign work they did on North University? They did the work in two different sections and and took about about two years to complete. What does this have in common with the work the city is doing now on North Allen Road? All are included in the city's operating budget and are being funded with operating funds.

Let's turn our attention to the road project on Wisconsin Avenue. It's needed to be done for a long time, and city staff included it in the last budget only reluctantly (according to my sources). It's being funded through capital improvement funds -- a completely seperate section of the budget that the University and Allen road projects.

This is the sneaky way it's worked for years in this city. Projects the muckety-mucks and their buddies in city hall want done get tucked into sections of the budget where they don't really belong so they don't have to compete with other, similar projects.

But projects in the poorer parts of the district are held to stricter standards, and thus must compete for a smaller piece of the funding pie.

Our man-boy in Springfield



That whooshing sound you hear is all the gravitas being sucked out of the room.

And what's up with that tie? He should start letting him mother pick out his clothes again.

Bill Spears, sick in bed with the bird flu and a 103-degree fever, will be a better legislator than Aaron Schock.

Meeting cancelled

Via a press release:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE AD HOC COMMITTEE ON COMMISSIONS OF THE CITY COUNCIL SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2005, AT 1:00 P.M., ROOM 404 HAS BEEN CANCELED.


I wasn't going to go anyway.

History in the unmaking

Leave it to C.J. Summers to be the first blogger to delve into the history of the Sears store and the reasons for its demise. Of course, he does reprint an HOI article for most of the history post.

About that new biodiesel plant in Peoria ...

... No one I know knows anything about it. Or if they know, they ain't saying nothin'.

But I did get this missive from City Manager Randy Oliver:

We are willing to talk with anyone about something that would benefit Peoria.


One would hope.

You are reading an 'online magazine'

I think IlliniPundit has the right idea. If the feds are going to define what is and isn't journalism, so they can "shield" journalists -- and not include bloggers -- then I am simply going to have to re-define this site as an official part of the news media.

So don't call me a blogger. Yuck. Ptooi! I am the publisher of an online magazine of news and opinion. Yep. Me and John McConnel. Publishers.

When do I get my invitation to the Peoria Civic Federation?

An odd definition of 'bad'

The muckety-mucks are whining to the Journal Star's Jennifer Davis about how hard it's going to be to get federal monty to help build a museum on the site of the former Sears store.

Yeah, well cry me a river. I think it's obscene to even try to get money for this project while the government is trying to find enough money to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

And then there are these two paragraphs:

More bad news locally is that Peoria County officials recently learned they cannot levy 2 cents for the museum, which would have generated an estimated $650,000 annually for Lakeview.

"We found out about three weeks ago that by statute we can only levy two-tenths of a cent, not two cents," said Peoria County Board Chairman David Williams.


Do you mean that we taxpayers aren't going to be allowed to pay exta taxes on anoher economic development boondoggle on the Riverfront? Aw, no! Darn it all to heck!

Terry Knapp calls it quits

Terry Knapp, my freshman biology teacher at Woodruff High School, has retired from his position as president of the Peoria Deferation of Teachers.

Mr. Knapp -- who was known for wearing colorful and mismatched clothes back in the late 1970s -- is a hell of a teacher. He actually had the audacity to teach actual birth control information to his advanced biology stuents, which was a major no-no during the Harry Whitaker era.

Not long after I graduated, the district started moving him around to different teaching jobs as punishment for daring to contact school board members directly with complaints. He sued and won.

When his son Nick was kept off the Northwestern University basketball team because they were overly concerned about a heart condition, he sued them too.

He brought that same integrity to his job as union leader. If he thought he was right, that was all he needed to know.

There aren't that many people like that these days.

JS version of story doesn't mention Cullinan

The Journal Star does have the Cellini/Cullinan story. It chose to run an Associated Press version of the article that fails to mention the name of Michael Cullinan, a Peorian who just happens to be a member of the politically powerful Peoria Civic Federation. This is the organization that once incuded JS Publisher John McConnell. Well, he was a member, his namew appeared on a list of federation members that somehow slipped into the paper. A month later, there was a story saying that "oh, yeah, I resigned from that group a loooooooong time ago."

OK. Sure. If you say so.

Of course, perhaps it's true that no high-ranking editor at the Journal Star bothers to read the Sun Times, or perhaps they did but didn't recognize the guy whose name is in the paper all the time because of the Upgrade 74 project. Perhaps it's also true that no one on the copy desk read the original Sun Times article either. Or any reporter.

Perhaps all these things are true. Therefore, when this wire story crossed their desk, no one had any reason to even think of assigning any of the dozen or so reporters who were working on Monday to do a local follow-up, even if to add one sentence or two to the Associated Press story.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps the only reason this wire story ran at all is because Michael Cullinan's wasn't in it.

Hey, don't blame me for asking the questions. If the folks over at 1 News Plaza had their heads pulled out of their butts and were doing their jobs they way they are supposed to, no one would be questioning their integrity.

Hotel scandal has a Peoria connection -- and the JS isn't reporting it

Since Peoria’s newspaper of record isn’t going to cover this story, I might as well pick up the slack.

The Chicago Sun Times has the details about the investors in a luxury hotel developed by a Republican big-wig have snatched up $1.8 billion in state deals — even though they haven’t repaid taxpayer-backed construction loan for the hotel.

Republican power broker William Cellini is the majority owner of the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield. A minority owner is Michael Cullinan.

Yes, that Mike Cullinan: The CEO of R.A. Cullinan & Sons, the Peoria-area-based contractor that is the general contractor on the first phase of the “Upgrade 74″ project. This is the same Mike Cullinan who is a member of the Peoria Civic Federation, the group of Peoria-area power brokers with whom former Mayor Dave Ransburg met to map out policy for the city.

Most of the state business goes to companies linked to Cellini, led largely by the Commonwealth Realty Advisors investment company that he founded and now is controlled by his children.

Another hotel investor, Michael Cullinan, runs a pair of Peoria-area road building businesses with $494.9 million in state contracts since 2001, state records show. This year, his companies are getting more than $186 million.


Various state agencies are trying to get the loan repaid or declared delinquent. There’s been not much luck getting the investors — including Cullinan — banned from doing business until the loan is repaid:

Citing the lucrative road-building deals with Cullinan’s companies, Topinka’s office said it would not have awarded those contracts and disputed the idea the administration lacks authority to scuttle the deals. Blagojevich aides predicted more lawsuits if it arbitrarily pulled the plug on any of the contracts.

“Any firm primarily owned or wholly owned by any of these investors, we think, shouldn’t be awarded huge, lucrative contracts while we’re trying to squeeze every penny from them based on a deal gone bad 20 years ago,” said Martin Noven, Topinka’s top lawyer.


So how big is Cullinan’s investment in this hotel? Not much, as it turns out:

Cullinan, a 0.98-percent stakeholder in the hotel investment group, did not return two messages left at R.A. Cullinan & Son.


We’ll have to add this to growing list of scandals involving Peoria big shots that Peorians cannot find within the pages of Peoria’s daily newspaper.

I dunno. Perhaps I’ll pick up a paper tomorrow and see it run across the front page. I kind of doubt it though.

NOTE: The Belleville News Democrat, the KWQC in the Quad Cities and NBC5 in Chicago all picked up this story.

Good news

"Spoke" with tech support. A database restire is possible from their end. Cost: $10.

Well ... I'm still alive

There's a database error of some sort going on over at my hosting company. That's the message I get whenever I try to access my peoriapundit.com site. But I'm getting ana ctual WP message, which tells me it isn't a billing issue or server issue.

I submitted a trouble ticket asking them to respore it or figure out what happened so i can restore it.

On the mean time, I'm sorry for the interuption in service. Hopefully, I didn't lose too many posts.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Liv Tyler


liv-tyler-02, originally uploaded by ecb29.

There are naughtier photos out there, but this one shows off her elfin beauty. I first noticed her back when she and Alicia Silverstone were doing the fake lesibian thing on MTV (back when they actually had music videos). But I fell in love with Liv in Lord of the Rings.

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Scarlet Johansson


Scarlet-Johansson-03, originally uploaded by ecb29.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Last gasp ...

Since it might be a while till I'm up and running again -- assuming I lose access today -- I thought I'd leave something nice -- yet perfectly safe for work -- to look at.



What did I tell ya?

It's this girl's small imperfections that make her so attractive.

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Does this make sense, por favor?

In the interest of encouraging diversity (and boosting hit counts) I'm trying to make my site more accessible to Spanish speaking (and reading) Peorians. I've used Alta Vista's Bable Fish to generate a link to a translated version of Peoria Pundit. Because I barely speak a work of the language, I need someone to tell me if this site make sense. If it does, I might consider a couple Chinese-language versions for people in our beloved Sister City of Benxi can read it.
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I have issues

• I've added "Day by Day" to my sidebar. I still have a bit of tinkering to do, I think.

• To make room, I've dumped the pics from my Flickr site. Judging by the uttler lack of comments, no one was visiting it anyway.

• I've increased the size of the text. I've also switched to the serif font "Georgia" for enteries, and went back the the san serif font "Lucida Grande" for blockquotes. It mirrors the approach found in most newspapers. I think it will be more readable this way.

• And on the job front: I interviewed for a sales job yesterday. I'll find out Thursday. And I have many many resumes out there. I like to keep my readers informed because so many of my fans find such amusement in these details.

• And finally, and this is the biggie: I can't justify keeping my cable television and Internet connection. It's just too difficult and there are too many people and businesses having to take late payments from me. So, I'll be making do with my parents' Internet connection for the time being.

I'm due to be shut off soon, perhaps this weekend or next. As soon as that happens, posting will be light (to say the least) and will pick up after the job situation improves.

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Bingo's a blood sport

I am reminded of a joke:

Q: How do you get 50 little old ladies to swear at the same time?

A: Yell "Bingo!"

Heh. Via the Journal Star:

The fight started about 11 a.m. at Human Service Center, 228 NE Jefferson Ave., when Roslyn D. Moore, 45, of 1014 W. Hanssler St. allegedly moved items belonging to another player before the game.

Osceola A. Bowers, 45, of 403 NE Perry Ave. had placed belongings on a table in preparation for the game, left momentarily, and when she returned found Moore had moved them, police said.

The two women started arguing, causing facility staff to break up the fight and move each woman to opposite ends of the room.

The women, however, continued to exchange words, causing Moore to attack Bowers with her cane, reports said. Moore struck Bowers hard enough on the arm to break the cane.


I have one question: What the Hell are they doing playing organized Bingo in a government building? Peoria police just raided a place in Peoria where people were gambling on video poker machines. Apparently, only the government and churches are allowed to gamble.

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Truancy center not exactly Attica

Kudos to the Journal Star's Clare Jellick for her report on a day at the District 150 Truancy Center. It's hardly the chain gang that some people predicted it would become.

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Peoria Civic Center's failure: Bad leadership or simply a bad idea?

One of three situations is true:

1. The Peoria Civic Center was a wonderful idea when original conceived, but the people running it on the Peoria Civic Center Authority obviously are not up to the job.
2. The people running the PCC are up the the task, but there was never any chance in the world it could have become self sufficient to the point its doesn't need taxpayer subsidies.
3. Not only was the PCC doomed to failure from the very start, the people running it don't know what the Hell they are doing.

It's one of these three choices. There is no fourth choice: Competent people managing a facility that is capable of raising an adequate amount of revenue on its own. If this was the case, they wouldn't be begging -- once again -- for even more taxpayer dollars.

At-large Peoria City Council member Chuck Grayeb says there not six votes on the council in favor of giving the authority even more money. And for that, we can credit the last election when three "progressives" were kicked out and replaced with at least two "essential services first" people.

Democracy works.

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Another handout for the Civic Center

Here comes the Peoria Civic Center Authority with its hand out again. Seems they've gone ahead and started a massive construction project and then discovered that the bids are higher than they have money to spend.

Oops.

Why does this stuff keep happening? The Hotel, Restaurant and Amusement (HRA) tax was supposed to be temporary to pay off the bonds. But the damn thing keeps falling apart. And they can't make money without expanding. Again.

Proponents talk about hotel occupancy rates and the number of dollars that are pumped into the economy by visitors. Yet the damn thing cannot pay for itself. If taxpayers keep having to foot the bill through higher taxes, it obviously isn't benefiting taxpayers. The PCC was supposed to raise money for the city, not drain the taxpayers' wallets. Because of that, the Civic Center obviously and without question is NOT a financial benefit to the city as a whole. Perhaps there are some businesses who benefit, but not the people who are working minimum wage jobs who subsidize a high-end opera and ballet venue every time they buy a burger and fries.

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Peoria firefighters at risk

Wisely, a group of Peoria firefighters are getting ready to evacuate themselves should Rita take a turn toward Louisiana. That looks to be what is happening.

Be careful guys. We are proud of you all, but upu need to mind your own safety as well.

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Leave God out of it

I find myself in the position of agreeing with Vonster about this post:

I think God is punishing Texas for producing such feeble-minded, selfish choads as our president. It's like God is saying, "Mr.'s Bush and Cheney, how about YOU go {expletive deleted] yourselves." Heh Heh. You response, Mr. Bush? "We must keep fighting science in the church, so that science will keep kicking our asses everywhere else."


God didn't send Katrina or Rita to to punish anyone. God didn't send AIDS to kill homosexuals and He certainly didn't send roadside bombs to kill soldiers because our nation fails to stone homosexuals to death.

This kind of comment is ridiculous whether it's coming out of the mouth of Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps and Peoria bloggers.

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The race is on to replace Sen. Shadid

UPDATE (5:22 a.m.) : The Journal Star's Jennifer Davis reports that Dave Koehler is rumors to be Shadid's pick to replace him. I wouldn't be surprised if Shadid resign early and let the powers-that-be appoint Koehler.

WEEK is reporting that long-time State Sen. George Shadid plans to retire. That's sad news for his fans, but understandable. Shadid has spent most of his adult life in public service, from being a city cop to Peoria County Sheriff to the state legislature. Why not kick back and watch from the sidelines for a while, and enjoy being honored as an elder statesman?

Now, on the the speculation on a replacement:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I do have a few minutes to catch up on personal business, so ...

I hate my current bank (actually a credit union, but they are going to remain nameless). I'll be moving my account to a new location as soon as circumstances permit. I used to have an account at Busey Bank from back when I lived in Rantoul and Tolono (north and south of "Chambana", respectively). Now that they've bought out a Peoria bank and changed the name, I'll call them and see if the account is still open or if I closed it completely when I moved back to Peoria.

I spent an hour at WXCL studios this morning interviewing IDOT engineer George Ryan about the Upgrade 74 project. He's seems very certain that we'll be sable to drive across the Murray Baker Bridge right after the "Meet Me In The Middle" ceremony scheduled for Oct. 2. We'll see. The "Behind the Scenes" public affairs show airs Sunday mornings on all AAA Entertainment stations.

I have an interview for a sales job this afternoon. Wish me luck. No call back for a second interview for the sales job I interviewed for last week. Still possible, though. I applied for both through peoriahelpwanted.com.

Poor little B.J. Stone is upset yet again that no one is visiting his site. Go and cheer him up.

I'm going to try to write my Community Word column tonight, so I don't keep poor Debbie Adlof waiting this weekend. And I've got to get that River City Times story done about the ADM stench. The trouble is getting people from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and and Archer Daniels Midland to call me back.

Yes, the comic books are STILL for sale. The entire collection. Best offer. Email me. And if you are short on cash, you can put it on your credit card via my PayPal button on my siderail.

By the way, the new River City Times will be hitting the stands today. The most up-to-date list I have of pick-up locations is here:

Grandview Hotel owner learns punishment tomorrow

The Grandview Hotel trial continues tomorrow, Friday, at 9:15 a.m., Rm. 323, at the Downtown Courthouse. The trial is in the "remedy" phase, and the judge can decide to shut down the hotel for up to six months, now that the judge has ruled in the city's favor. Neighborhood activists who have tried to get the place to clean up its act would like to have as many supporters there as possible.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Good news for fans of local BBQ

Work is progressing nicely on the new Grandpa John's Rib Shack on West McClure Avenue. I hear that it's going to open for business on Monday. The site is the former Hardees fast food joint at the corner of Linn and McClure.

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We're going to be getting another hour of Jamie Markley and Phil Luciano on WMBD 1470 every day. I consider that good news by itself. Even better we're getting an hour less of Sean Hannity. In fact, he'll be on for onely one hour ever day. Why they don't dump the clown all together is beyond my understanding.

Here's the press release:

Riding the wave of increased listenership from recent Arbitron radio ratings, WMBD's Jamie Markley and Phil Luciano are expanding their show one additional hour. The show will now run from 3-to-6pm instead of 4-to-6pm.

“We wanted to expand the show to three hours because of our desire to be more local in drive times” said WMBD General Manager Mike Wild. “After the recent Arbitron results, the decision to expand became a real no-brainer. In the past, our syndicated mid-day shows had easily out-performed our
local afternoon show, but Markley and Luciano have turned that scenario upside down.”

In the key 25-54 demo, Markley & Luciano's numbers are 245 percent higher at 4pm than popular nationally syndicated talk-show host Sean Hannity at 3pm. “The amount of new audience that comes to WMBD when Jamie and Phil go on the air is unprecedented,” said Wild. “At 3pm, we're 10th in the
market with males 25-54. At 4pm, with Markley and Luciano, we're 2nd with a 9.7 share. We're also seeing huge gains in our female listenership during The Markley and Luciano Show.” The gain with females 25-54 on WMBD is over 250 percent from Sean Hannity to Markley & Luciano.

“This is the most fun I've ever had doing a radio show,” said Jamie Markley. “We really are just your common everyday guys doing a radio show. We want people to feel like if they don't turn on our show, they might miss out on something. People get tired of the same rhetoric or the same lame tired songs everyday. We want people to think, 'I don't know what those guys will be talking about today, but I know it'll be interesting'.”

Phil Luciano, who is also columnist for the Peoria Journal Star, had a one word reaction to the announcement of the show's expansion: “CANNONBALL!” -- an apparent reference to the duo's popular “Cannonball Friday” feature. Sean Hannity remains on WMBD from 2 to 3pm. The expansion of The Markley & Luciano Show starts this Monday, September 26th.


I think it's a good thing for the show. These guys talk about a lot of stuff, and sometimes they seem rushed.

jamie markley,phil luciano,wmbd,sean hannity,local radio,peoria

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Beyonce



I'm thinking that a pic of Beyonce in a bikini might be what we all need on a cold and rainy day like this.

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New Scarlett



Found: Another batch of Scarlett Johansson pics. I'll be posting one a day until hit counts improve.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Oktoberfest gal?

I'm a big advocate of putting one's thoughts on t-shirts, and this one says it all about why people need to visit the downtown Peoria event:



Heh. I found this on the Web, not at Oktoberfest. But it's true, isn't it?

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Time for a time-out Drew

I think Drew's relationship with the rock musician is to blame for this:

The Charlie's Angels star, her rocker boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti and a group of friends were watching a New York Mets game in a luxury box at the Shea Stadium in Queens, New York City, when the family in the next box began taking photos of her.

Despite Barrymore's claims the family were disturbing her, the family allege the actress burst into their box and shouted at one of their group.

Michael Delvecchio tells PageSix.com, "She was drinking and smoking like a chimney, so we asked the security guard to tell her to put out her cigarette because there were young children present, but she just kept on doing it.

"Suddenly she stormed into our suite with a lit cigarette and berated one of my friends in front of his young daughter for taking a picture of her. Thankfully, one of the stadium staff kicked her out of our box."


Normally, I would dismiss this claim. Drew is a loving soul, wise beyond her years, and is kind to animals and small children.

Alas, there's visual proof:



Yikes.

Drew, Drew, Drew ... you need to take it down a notch. Perhaps your relationship with the rock star is just too high-energy. Perhaps you need a camling influence in yoru life. Perhaps an older man who is wiser to the ways of the world and would be perfectly supportive of your career, especially since you make in one movie about 1,000 times his annual earnings.

But you will have to shave that armpit hair.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

A whole lotta Lil' Kim

I'm not a huge fan of rap, but I couldn't pass this up:



The mother of murdered hip-hop star Notorious B.I.G. - gunned down in 1997, presumably by rival rappers - savages Sean (Diddy) Combs and Lil' Kim in a soon-to-be-published memoir.
---
Wallace accuses Lil' Kim of pilfering her New Jersey home after she let her use it for a magazine interview.

When the magazine hit the stands, "The first picture I saw was Kim wearing my son's mink coat, holding his chain and wearing his hat. I was in shock," Wallace writes. "I felt violated."


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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Time for Scarlett

It's been too long since my last Scarlett Johansson post. Momma will begin to suffer withdrawal pains.



Nice. I like the way she cleans up. Her's is not the typical Hollywood supermodel, beach bunny, cookie-cutter version of beauty.

Here's more:



I have some more, but I'll save them for later.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Calling Paris Hilton; Your 15 minutes of fame were over 3 years ago ...

Paris makes the (NSFW)cover of formerly dignified Vanity Fair:



I mean, seriously ... Is there anybody left in America who hasn't seen her boobies?

It almost makes me yearn for the relatively demure and publicity-shy ways of Madonna.

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Kirsten Dunst



She's become a big star thanks to that rain scene in the first Spiderman movie.

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Simon sneaks a peek



I always thought he was gay. Maybe he's just British. Not that I ever watch that show. Ugh.

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For Sale: My entire comic book collection -- cheap

I've been buying and hoarding away comic books all my life. I've got a collection that stretches back into the late 1970s. I haven't taken inventory, but I've got 10 full comic boxes (the kind you see used in comic stores) as well as an equal number of plastic milk cartons filled with them.

I've been lugging them with me as I've moved from one part of Illinois and Missouri to another. I've always told myself they were an investment. Well, now it's time to cash in. I don't have the time or patience to dicker around with a comic book dealer, who will no doubt explain that the market has fallen out of the market, yadda yadda. So I'm willing accept pennies for the dollar to get rid of 'em all at once. I'm not going to promise complete collections, cause I never worried abotu that. Nor did I spend a lot of time bagging them and sealing them up. Nor am I going to promise they are in pristine or near prinstine condition. I'm selling then for less than cover price, here.

But if you want the beginnings of a great collection that you can complete on your own, this is the way to do it.

I've got thousands of 'them. And I'm selling them all for $300 bucks. The buyer hauls 'em out. Don't even try to low-ball me any further. There's some good X-men and Teen Titans in here. No alternative or undergrounds though, I'm keeping those.

If Kevin Smith could finance the movie "Clerks" with his Daredevil and Spiderman collection, I sure as Hell can make this month's rent. If you are interested, email me their phone number and we'll get together for the exchange. And I can take a credit card payment, thanks to PayPal.
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Jessica Simpson seeing red


Jessica Simpson seeing red, originally uploaded by Peoria Pundit.

While I bow to none in my appreciation for the intelligent, seductive and sophisticated beauty of Scarlett Johansson, I've gotta admire the "dumb blonde" act Jessica Simpson has going on.

Let's face it folks, anyone who can make a a career out of portraying herself as a ditzy blonde airhead can't really be stupid, now, can she?

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Are you feeling patriotic yet?


are you feeling patriotic yet?, originally uploaded by flwrbabe.

As a matter of fact, I am. Thanks for asking.

Jenny's tongue


Jenny's tongue, originally uploaded by Peoria Pundit.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More gratuitous Scarlett Johansson pics



Over at my Word Press site, I have a regular commenter who drools over Scarlett. "Momma" says she doesn't swing "that way," but any chick who clamors for more pics of this hot lady has some issues.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Aw, what the heck. Here's another:



That's enough for now, children. Let's save some for later.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Red Hot


Red Hot, originally uploaded by Kiki J.

"Notting Hill Carnival 2005, London.
The biggest street party in Europe and second biggest carnival in the world.
It was rocking!!!"

A thought it time to put a little beauty on this blog.

John Ashcroft's worst nightmare


Tette spruzzanti, originally uploaded by pecus.

He'd throw a sheet over this statue, but it would probably look like a wet t-shirt contest.

Holly Oaks, site issues



At least I think that's what her name is. Cute, isn't she?

Anyway, for those who haven't noticed, I'm going to start posting eye candy posts here on Blog*Spot instead of my other site. The hits I get via the Blogger NavBar are completely different than the hits I get from Peorians wanting news and information about Peoria.

Since I'm running the same Site Meter and PayPalbutton, as well as BlogAds and Google AdSense strips, on both sites, it can only help my hit counts.

I'll start doing some more cross-posting too.

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Counterprotest



I wonder what scorn Cindy Sheehan's supporters would heap upon this woman. No know a few people who think any criticism of Sheehan is a de-facto attack on the 1st Amendment.

Feh. Your free speech right is no guanantee someone won't exercise their free speech right to call you an idiot.

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Scientists knew New Orleans was doomed

Via Little Green Footballs, I found this link to a National Geographic article that predicted exactly what happened:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Scarlett Johansson



Notice anything new? I've figured out how to apply Technorati Tags to Blog*spot posts. I'll post some instructions later. Oh, and you poor, pathetic IE users might be left out in the cold.



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