Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Global Warming Solutions Group - City Council Candidate Survey Results

What follows is a guest editorial from Kassy Killey of the Global Warming Solutions Group of Central Illinois.

Global Warming Solutions Group of Central Illinois is pleased to release the results of its environmentally-focused survey of the 2011 Peoria City Council At-Large candidates. Eight of the ten candidates responded to a five-question survey. Only Eric Turner and George Azouri did not. The candidates were polled for ideas on increasing recycling participation, views on the piggyback landfill expansion, beliefs about human-caused climate change, and approaches to making Peoria a more sustainable city. They were also given a chance to showcase how they are making their own lives more sustainable.

In April 2010 Peoria Disposal Company (PDC) became the city’s waste hauler, offering free curbside recycling with a once-a-month pickup. At that time, PDC told the Peoria Journal Star (5/25/2010) it was targeting 30% participation. Right now, around 15% of Peoria households are enrolled. When asked what should be done, all candidates expressed support for recycling. Many suggested education and incentives. Sandberg would increase recycling pickup frequency and pay for it by reducing yard waste pickups. Spain would fund increased recycling pickups by replacing Waste Management as the landfill operator, a move he believes would save the city $350,000 a year. Summers supports a “pay as you throw” model with free, more frequent recycling pickups. Akeson would study mandatory recycling programs in other cities and look at requiring landlords to provide recycling for all tenants.

Candidates were also questioned about the proposed piggyback expansion of the city/county municipal waste landfill. As background, when PDC won the landfill contract it proposed a 10 million ton standalone expansion. Now alternative designs under consideration include an 18 million ton expansion piggybacked on top of the existing landfill projected to create landfill capacity through 2070. Grayeb, Sandberg and Akeson share the environmental community’s concerns about the long-term integrity of a piggyback landfill. Sandberg also points out that creating excess capacity drives the wrong behavior—burying waste instead of reuse and recycling. Neither Stowell nor Summers believe Peoria should be taking waste from other communities. Weaver, Williams and Spain all see the need for further study.

When asked whether they believed “human activities are the most significant contributing factor to the very real threat of abrupt and disruptive climate change,” five candidates gave an unequivocal “yes.” Weaver and Williams did not fully commit to the belief, but emphasized that regardless of whether climate change is human-caused or not, we must act. Summers flatly answered “no,” but shared his belief that humans need to be better stewards of the environment.

Everyone recognizes that with the long-term fiscal outlook, there will be very limited local, state and federal funds for making Peoria more sustainable. Candidates were asked how Peoria could be more competitive for these scarce funds, what low- or no-cost initiatives could be pursued, and how to best utilize existing tools such as the energy efficiency revolving fund. Many candidates indicated the need for a shared vision and a local approach. Sandberg believes that government is not the solution, using the example of a decision to subsidize downtown parking rather than mass transit. Spain pointed to his track record of securing scarce funds for initiatives such as sustainable streetscapes, storm water management and alternative energy. Summers and Akeson, both vocal proponents of the Heart of Peoria plan to combat sprawl, see dense, walkable neighborhoods as a route to sustainability. Weaver suggests using “global conscience” to determine where sustainability funds are best spent, even if it is not Peoria.

All eight candidates have made laudable personal lifestyle changes. Seven of eight recycle. Grayeb and Spain drive hybrids. Williams and his wife share a car. Sandberg drives his 50 mpg motorcycle year round. Grayeb and Weaver have both made energy efficiency improvements in buildings they own. Sandberg keeps his carbon footprint small in a 1000 square foot home and uses his single-room air conditioner fewer than 10 nights a year. Summers comes from an older, walkable neighborhood. Akeson made the decision to send only one campaign mailing, keeping excess campaign literature out of the landfill.

Global Warming Solutions Group thanks the responding candidates for their thoughtful answers and looks forward to working with the new council to make Peoria a more sustainable community. The candidate survey was intended as a public education tool, not to endorse any particular candidate. To that end, we have attempted to create an unbiased summary and published the full set of candidate responses on our web site, And, regardless of where you stand on environmental issues, Global Warming Solutions Group encourages you to get out and vote on April 5, 2011.

About our group:

The Global Warming Solutions advocates for practical local solutions to the problems posed by global warming. We are a coalition of individuals and organizations interested in a more sustainable Central Illinois. We began as an offshoot of the Heart of Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club in 2007. Anyone is welcome to get involved and help us promote energy conservation, recycling and exploration of alternative energy sources in our community.

Visit our web site at or join us on

Facebook ( or

Twitter ( for details.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CILF Candidates Forum

The Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation is pleased to offer this opportunity for the general public to hear and ask questions of the City Council candidates.

All 2011 council candidates have been invited to attend.

• Thursday, March 24, 2011
• 7:00 pm
• G.A.R. Hall, 416 Hamilton in downtown Peoria

Peoria At-Large City Council Candidates

• Beth Akeson
• George Azouri
• Chuck Grayeb
• Gary Sandberg
• Ryan Spain
• Jim Stowell
• C.J. Summers
• W. Eric Turner
• Chuck Weaver
• Andre Williams

Please pass the word to anyone who would like to attend.


And The Oscar Goes To...


Ok, there were 141 other people who also got all of the Oscar picks right in the Peoria Journal Star contest.

But my entry was drawn as the second place winner for Rave Theater.

I received my prize in the mail - THIRTY-SIX free movie passes!

Not bad for a guy who saw only four of the ten Best Picture nominees!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

March Poetry Corner

What Is So Rare As A Day In June
                       - James Russell Lowell

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,-
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For our couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,-
And hark! How clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,-
'Tis for the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave not wake,
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

- Theater Review - The Women

Peoria Players Theater continued its 2010-2011 season with the Friday night opening of the Clare Boothe Luce classic comedy, "The Women".

A couple dozen great comedic performances in a good solid production can almost redeem a play that may well have outlived its shelf life.

Written in 1936 by writer, editor, and politician Luce, the play celebrates the bitchiness of socialite women who have their 'jungle red' claws sharpened in readiness to fight for their men.

The George Cukor movie version featured a slew of Hollywood stars including Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Crawford, and became an enduring camp classic due to its plethora of one-line zingers.

This Peoria Players production is competently directed by Steve Bortolotti, and the all female cast of twenty-some women deliver those one-liners with relish.

Kerri Rae Hinman stars as the too-nice Mary Haines who must learn the art of sharpening her claws.  And indeed she has no shortage of teachers.

Cheryl Dawn Koenig is wonderful as the deliciously duplicitous Sylvia Fowler.

Also noteworthy is Sally Hodge as the much-married Countess de Lage.

Susan Irwin has fun as the constantly pregnant Edith Potter.

Turning in equally good performances are Mary Lang as Lucy, Casey GoldmanDewitt as Peggy Day, and  Rebecca Somogyi as Miriam Aarons.

In the end, this is a fun night of theater, with a heavy dose of laughter. 
And yet there is a bit of discomfort in watching women who define themselves only in terms of their child-bearing abilities and in the stature of their husbands and boyfriends. 
The never-seen but often-discussed men of the play are given a pass for their infidelities because... well, that's just how men are.

If you can get past this and put yourself in a 1930's frame of mind, then by all means go see this fun-filled show.

It runs through March 20th at Peoria Players.