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I fully intended for the last post to be my last but that was before so many really weird things happening in Decatur over the last couple of weeks and months.  It seems like every time I’m ready to retire from blogging about Decatur, Decatur goes off a cliff.

I’m not going to write about the details of the firing of the chief of police because they have been covered elsewhere (and we don’t even know the details) but I am going to write about things I’ve noticed from the current city council, the city manager, and mayor.  Things have changed.  The appearance of citizens has changed, the whole tone of the meetings has changed, and most importantly discussion of important votes has been minimal with little time between public notification and council votes.

Of course, I expected a change in personalities since the major players have changed but I didn’t expect citizens appearing before council to to be cut off or treated rudely.  According to former police chief Sweeney, the city manager allegedly directed a police officer to remove a citizen from the council chamber apparently because he or she was opposed to a particular agenda item.

Before the last municipal election, we were told Decatur was on the right path.  Things were looking up and brighter than they had been in decades.  Then after the election, we were painted a totally different picture of the city’s finances.  Now, I knew the finances weren’t as great as many may have been led to believe.  I had looked at the numbers and knew there was nothing for city road repairs.  Nothing.  That’s why I proposed major changes to shrink the size of the city since we have lost 25% of our population.

Of course, a lot of the issues stem from the fact that previous councils had put off increasing taxes for years, so instead of modest increases here and there we were hit with some hefty increases all at once.  The main issue though is that the city has no real vision for tackling Decatur’s shrinking population.  A city built for a 100,000 people cannot be supported by a population of less than 75,000.  It’s impossible.  Major changes need to take place and the answer doesn’t involve taxing people to death.  I guess I’ll have to roll out my plan again because it does address those issues in bold and innovative ways.

Other Stuff

I also thought it was highly unethical to appoint a city worker to the library board to essentially be a city spy.  At least that’s how I see it.  I don’t even know why the city wants the library building in the first place.  They don’t have the money to maintain it and they killed off the possibility of commercial development downtown. They also killed a plan for county offices to move into vacant portions of the library building that I thought made a lot of economic sense for taxpayers.  It’s seems the city’s motives regarding the library are petty, shortsighted, and irrational.

I don’t understand what the heck is going on. It’s weird.  I’ve been writing about the city council since 2008 and I’ve never seen behavior like this.  Even when council members were at each other’s throats during the Change Decatur years, at least I knew the motives behind everyone’s actions. I don’t understand the motives behind our city leaders today.  I really don’t.  It’s crazy!

And I really wanted to retire.

 

 

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Well, I think when I chose to shut down the blog late last year I was probably making a wise decision.  I think I knew things were changing for me.  There’s not many topics I haven’t tackled regarding Decatur.  I’ve pretty much said what I’ve wanted to say.  Yeah, there are other things I could say but it’s like a TV show that stuck around a season too long or a sermon that would have been more effective if it had ended 20 minutes sooner, I think it’s just time for me to officially move on.

In about a year, I’ll be pounding the pavement looking for a job and more than likely I probably won’t find it here in Decatur or anywhere too close.  I have no idea where I’ll be, assuming I find my dream job out there somewhere.  I might stay in Illinois and I might not.  I just don’t know!  Either way, I’ve moved on in other ways.  I’ll continue writing and blogging on my other blog and I’m looking forward to the day when I can devote more time to it.

Anyway, there were a lot of good times writing this blog and I enjoyed interacting with some really good and smart people.  I’ve always been amazed that I never once was treated badly by any reader.  That surprises me because I probably wrote some dumb things here and there!  You all were very forgiving. The blog was always good to me and I wish Decatur the best.

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TheJournier.com

Over the past few months I’ve been working on another blog and though I haven’t had as much time to devote to it as I would have liked, it is off the ground.  You can find it at thejournier.com.  I’m still developing the niche of the blog but it is mainly about delving deeper into a variety of topics.  Being a science geek, I enjoy researching topics and looking at things from different perspectives.  In a world dominated by social media that barely scratches the surface of anything of much significance, I enjoy digging into  topics and not just stating my opinions based upon scant knowledge but rather finding out what experts have to say…and then stating my opinions based upon a little bit more than scant knowledge!

I’m also a tech geek and I love gadgets, so I will be reviewing any and all that I can get my hands on, especially anything related to photography, fitness, or the outdoors.  Recently I purchased an action camera to take with me on the trail and hope to share some of my field study experiences.

Humor will be a part of the blog as well.  There’s nothing that I enjoy writing more, even if it only entertains me.  The last half of 2015 was rough on me.   I found myself dealing with major depression, which is something I’ve never had to deal with before.  I was in no condition to be of much help to anyone, so I took some time to take care of myself.  Anxiety, I have plenty of experience with but I never knew what depression was all about.  I sure learned and I have to say, it stinks!  It really threw me for a loop and I can’t even explain why it happened or how but I’ll be researching many topics related to mental health and hope to help others by incorporating some humor into the findings.

It is a little daunting starting over from scratch with a new blog and trying to find an audience.  I don’t expect much of one for quite a while but I’ll keep plugging away.

And I still haven’t found the look I want for the site, which is why I hadn’t introduced it yet but over the next year I’ll be focusing primarily on creating  content anyway.  The look will come later.  You’re welcome to check the site out and I will try to add new content every week.

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I don’t know if I’ll have to time over the next week to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, so I’ll do so now.  I have two hours before I have to attend my son’s Christmas recital at school.  This is a rare down time for me this month.  It’s been crazy.  My daughter’s high school graduation party was last night and in less than a week she’ll be moving to Florida.  Her plan is to eventually enter Miami-Dade’s physician assistant program.  Of course she’s excited to be moving to Florida and her dad and I are of course what parents usually are when their child leaves home.  Wrecks.

I’m hoping my next quarter at Oregon State isn’t nearly as demanding as the last one.  There was hardly time to breathe let alone blog.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I chose three of the most demanding classes in my program to take and all at the same time with a couple extra classes to boot.  With everything else going on, it was, well, torture!

There are many topics regarding Decatur that I want to get to in 2016.  After watching the last council meeting, there’s a lot of things that need to be said about the direction the community is heading.  Most of it isn’t good.

I do want to take the time to make a statement about Caterpillar.  Most of us are aware of their current struggles in the mining sector of their business.  In spite of that the company did give their employees raises except for those union workers on the lowest pay scale.  The local media may choose to remain silent about it but I’m not.

What Caterpillar did was uncalled for and morally wrong.  It was a slap in the face to those employees who have been hurt the most by their downturn, besides those laid-off permanently.  My husband has seen his pay reduced by almost 25% in the past year after being bumped down to a lower job classification.  He and fellow workers who were also bumped down learned this past week that they were the only ones not getting a raise next year.  What kind of logic justifies such a decision?

Well, on that joyous note, I’ll end this post wishing everyone a more peaceful, prosperous and blessed New Year.  Oh, I just remembered the presidential election.  Okay, 2016 is gonna suck but I wish us all the strength and wisdom to get through it and for heaven’s sake, if you have any functioning brain cells, DON’T VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP! 🙂

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There are quite a few things I will be discussing on the blog in the next couple weeks.  For one, I want to discuss the failed increased liquor and gaming machine revenue proposal and what it means for redevelopment plans.  Also, with the recent decision to not rezone US 51 and Ash Avenue for Aldis, I think the community needs to develop a very clear economic development plan for the north side of town.  That’s where most of the action is.  We don’t have a good plan right now. There’s no shared vision between those working in economic development and northside neighborhoods.  That needs to change.

And then there’s the likelihood of Scovill Golf Course closing. I want to discuss what may become of the property and what the best uses would be.  I have ideas of course and would love to hear yours!

These are all topics that I want to discuss in much more detail but I’m in the midst of writing two 25-page term papers, which are major projects.  I also have several other term assignments coming due and finals.  In other words, I’m busy.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention.  I have!

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know I’m still alive and I’m still here.

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