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The Decatur City Council will be meeting tonight at the Civic Center at 5:30 pm. The main agenda will be the budget. Councilman Caulkins reimbursement request for his legal fees is on the agenda again, we’ll see if his lawyer shows up this time. If you can’t make it down to the meeting and you have Comcast, tune in to channel 18. ( I think that’s right!)

The council packet for tonight’s meeting can be downloaded here. (Offsite, PDF, 10.67 MB) This is a 208 page packet! I’ll have to set aside some time to read it through and take some notes. There are quite extensive details regarding the city’s beautification program in this packet. I believe the recommendation is to have Macon Resources take over the maintenance of these beds. Private landscapers have done this in the past but for whatever reason(s) that didn’t work out too well. Personally, I’d like to see more wildflowers planted, they take care of themselves! I’ve been waiting for the flowers to grow and bloom in the median between Water & Main by Brettwood Village all Spring. (See the picture below from last year.)

A Side Note:

A good link to keep bookmarked, if you haven’t noticed it before, is the council agenda page on the city’s Web site. This has all the up-to-date council meeting times, agendas and other important information regarding city council business.

http://www.ci.decatur.il.us/citygovernment/council/council_agenda.htm

UPDATE:

I watched most the the council meeting last night. It looks like Caulkins was denied reimbursement for his legal fees though most of the council expressed sympathy for his troubles. It was agreed that some sort of “system” needs to be in place for the future. I’ve been on the fence on the Caulkins thing for a while. Part of me could see his point of view, it’s not like you get rich being a councilperson in Decatur; the other part of me realized that if he were reimbursed – this could possibly open up an expensive can of worms in the future!

An interesting lengthy “discussion” centered around a property that had been ordered demolished, but was purchased by a private entity, who hoped to secure a federal loan of $360,000 to turn the property into low-income housing. Apparently this building has been a notorious hot spot for criminal activity through the years and the neighbors wanted to see it go; they even inquired into purchasing the property themselves but for whatever reason didn’t know the right channels to do so before the other entity did. (At least that’s what I got out of the conversation.) The neighbors have complained of lewd conduct by the contractor working on the building and claimed criminal activities are still a problem. I’m sure there’s two sides to the story, but at any rate, the council chose to nix the building owners request for the funds.

The council plans to meet in special session on Wednesday April 23rd, to select an Executive Search Firm, to find qualified city manager applicants.

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Today my daughter, I and about 70 other people from Decatur were lobbyist at the state’s capitol. We were all there to urge our state representatives to support continued funding for the Gifted Student Program in Illinois. Decatur’s program is faring well but others in the state are running into financial problems. We rode over to Springfield in two yellow school buses; I sure remember those buses being much roomier, either the buses have gotten smaller or I’ve gotten bigger – I say the buses have gotten smaller… Anyway, Rep. Bob Flider came out to meet us outside the capitol, then we marched in the capitol rotunda in our bright yellow t-shirts and met for brief photo ops with Rep. Bill Mitchell and Sen. Frank Watson. I was impressed with all three gentlemen. Sen. Watson has a very good tan! I might even vote for a couple of them next time 🙂 I couldn’t hear their speeches too well with the crowd noise but I believe they all share the same disgust with our current governor and his preference for funding projects well north of Central Illinois.

A scary ChangeDecatur moment happened too! Rep. Mitchell, who was one of the local politicians who stood against the ChangeDecatur movement – remember that horrid debate, was greeted by a ChangeDecatur supporter who happened to be part of our group. I was standing next to Mitchell and the man showed the button on his shirt and said to Bill Mitchell and me (I don’t know why me), the “change” is coming back. I don’t think Mitchell heard him too well but once he caught sight of the button with the ChangeDecatur logo he leaned back. I said to Mitchell “Oh yeah, you know all about that, don’t you?” Memories of the debate started filling my mind. I had totally forgotten about Mitchell being involved with the ChangeDecatur deal. Everything was going so pleasant until that point. Mitchell didn’t say anything and kindly moved to another location. I don’t blame him. That was a little awkward but hey that’s part of politics too – not everybody is going to be in love with you!

All-in-all it was a very interesting and enlightening trip, my first to our state’s capitol. We got to sit in and listen to a few minutes of House Chamber business. It sounded and looked more like an auction than a meeting to me. None of us could understand what exactly they were discussing or voting on. Something about mortgage stuff…I think. Most importantly it was a day to remember for my daughter. I told her when she becomes President, she’ll remember this day as her first brush with politics. Hey if not Hillary, than my daughter!

Some photographs of the experience: (Click thumbnails to enlarge)

Bob Flider Addresses CrowdSpringfield, Illinois Capitol RotundaStudents from Decatur’s Gifted Program in front of State Capitol 2008Looking Down in Illinois State Capitol RotundaRotundaSen. Watson and Rep. Mitchell

Completely Unrelated:

I just thought this was the coolest sculpture, so I thought I’d post it here too! It stands in front of the Illinois State visitor’s center. The piece is by artist John Kearny, who’s famous for making metal sculptures. I so want one of those for my front yard – maybe just a little scaled down so as not to annoy the neighbors 😉

Deer Sculpture

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As a Clinton supporter this election year, boy has it been rough. I’ve watched Clinton lose, be written off, win unexpectedly, lose again, get written off again, win unexpectedly again, win some states but lose the delegate count, win other states that, oops sorry, don’t count this time around, be written off again….I’m nauseous from the ride! The only thing I’ve really enjoyed these long painful disappointing months (Hillary what happened!) are the Saturday Night Live skits of Clinton, Obama and McCain.

This skit has Senator Clinton answering President Obama’s 3 AM call…

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I finally found them! The pelicans at Lake Decatur that have been on the news lately, were hovering above my car with the strong wind currents above South Shores Friday.

At first I thought they were sea gulls but I realized they were much too large, plus the black tips of their wings revealed their true identity. Of course, this was the last part of the lake I thought to look. I drove around nearly the entire lake thinking they were camped out in the shallow waters by Rea’s Bridge behind Richland – well I was close except they were south, while I was north; west while I was east. Hum. My psychic powers have been letting me down lately!

Anyway, if you want to catch a glimpse of the big birds before they leave, they’re along the Grove Road area. Don’t ask me directions. I went cross-country across dirt paths and one-lane roads until I found them. You may need to use your imagination a bit with these pictures but believe me there’s pelicans in them!

Pelicans Pelicans

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