Monday, June 27, 2011

Van Auken Crosses a Line

uncouth (n-kth)
lacking in good manners, refinement, or grace

Speaking on the racial rant by local blowhard and president of the Altamont Park Neighborhood Association Paul Wilkinson, this quote by Barbara Van Auken in the Peoria Journal Star is simply unbelievable:

"We have some very gullible new council members who were dumb enough to believe him," she said.

To publicly call Akeson and Weaver "gullible" and "dumb" for responding to ANY constituent is over the top, even for someone as uncouth as the 2nd district rep.

Doesn't the council have rules against that type of incivility between council members?

I speak for many in the 2nd district when I say we are sick and tired of BVA playing politics with everything and everyone  (Her feud with Wilkinson is well known).

Our own little Empress Nero, she continues to fiddle while Peoria burns.

She further states in the PJStar article that the situation is a "national embarrassment".

Ms. Van Auken continues to be a LOCAL EMBARRASSMENT.

Barbara, you owe an apology not only to the council members you have defamed, but to your constituents as well.

Actually, the best apology of all would be your immediate resignation!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pierz Appointment to HPC

Reprinted with permission, a letter to Mayor and Council from CILF VP Margaret Cousin:

Dear Mayor Ardis and City Council Members,

Last summer I was appointed to the Library Board of Trustees. I didn't seek this appointment, but I was proud and pleased to accept it, understanding the privileged opportunity it afforded me to serve Peoria in a capacity where I could put my interest in education and literacy to good use. The past twelve months have given me a chance to see firsthand the way in which a group of dedicated and purposeful citizens from greatly varied backgrounds and life experience can work together successfully to meet defined, legitimate goals that further the community good. Lively but respectful debate has been our constant companion during our meetings and not all issues have been resolved with unanimous votes, but we have been strongly united always with an unwavering sense of purpose and a common cause - to meet our mandate to serve the library system's patrons and employees well. In so doing, we have also served our city well.

This is what lies at the heart of every City-appointed board and commission: the ability to properly carry out its mission statement and accomplish its specific function. The Historic Preservation Commission has its own particular set of objectives, distinctly different from that of the Peoria Public Library's board, yet its potential for optimal operation depends on the presence of exactly the same qualities in its members. Industry, integrity, respect for fellow commissioners' opinions, and a willingness to compromise are just a few, but there is also an overriding fundamental ingredient. Simply put, it is an understanding of and commitment to that board or commission's charter and a genuine desire to carry it out. This is absolutely crucial to creating a true sense of cohesion and motivation within the group. The Library Board of Trustees is lucky. We have this. The HPC deserves it, too.

It is not counterproductive to seat the HPC with commissioners who believe in historic preservation. On the contrary, it maximizes the commission's chances to successfully carry out its prescribed task, which is to make sound decisions based on the historic preservation ordinance as a recognized part of Peoria's governing law. A similar level of adherence among these seven folks to the intrinsic value of this responsibility creates the sort of unity of purpose which makes for measured, reasonable, and appropriate judgments. It does not mean all applications and recommendations are met with automatic, arbitrary, and zealous nods of approval. It does not mean there is never room for disagreement on the degree of applicability of the ordinance's rules. The commissioners are not robots who blindly and swiftly consider and then rubber stamp everything that comes before them with a mantra of "preservation for preservation's sake." They are volunteers who wish to serve Peoria by sharing their time, their knowledge, their focus, and their passion for the merits of our past.

How do I know? Because for two and a half years, I have sat in the audience month in and month out, first as a concerned citizen and then as a member of CILF. I have watched the commissioners work hard to make decisions that were fair, not frivolous, mindful of the needs of the owners before them and mindful, too, of their obligation to fulfill the role they were chosen for - to protect and preserve Peoria's historic resources. I have seen them thrilled to help a house get a facelift, a new roof, or an elegant wrought iron fence . I have also seen them struggle to accept compromise or defeat when a structure has fallen prey to the ravages of time, lack of interest, or just plain bad luck. It has been an honor to witness.

I urge you to respect the nature of the HPC when selecting nominees to fill its vacancies. Do not deliberately hobble it by filling positions with appointees who are not committed to historic preservation in an attempt to temper and perhaps weaken its choices. This is neither efficient nor logical. You would never consider endorsing a candidate for the Library Board of Trustees who flagrantly and publicly burned books just to create a balanced profile and test the resolve of others in the group. Where, then, is the wisdom of considering an individual for the Historic Preservation Commission who chose willingly to live in a historic district, dismissed its regulations, and sought a litigious solution for redress of his grievances when asked to comply with the very things his neighbors value and respect? This is the type of management decision at a council level whose lack of basic common sense we cannot afford. It demoralizes those who truly wish to make a difference through their participation on this particular commission, and it is a real disservice philosophically to all those people whose hours without pay make it possible for much of our city's work to get done. Strategically speaking, it just isn't smart.

Respectfully submitted,

Margaret E. Cousin
Vice-President, Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Continued Assault on Historic Preservation

Gosh, I guess it wasn't quite enough for Eric Turner and his City Council henchmen to destroy the Historic Preservation Ordinance by making owner's consent a requirement for landmarking.

I guess it wasn't quite enough for Barbara Van Auken and her City council henchmen to introduce "de-listing" a landmark, that led to the destruction of the Roanoke Apartments and now threatens scores of other structures.

Now comes Chuck Weaver and his City Council henchmen who want to appoint Steve Pierz to the Historic Preservation Commission.

You may recall that Mr. Pierz and his wife sued the city as well as the sitting Historic Preservation Commissioners in 2008, when the commission ruled against their request to vinyl side a historic house next to their own on High Street.

In the end, the city caved in, and the Pierz-Paulsens were allowed to destroy the character of the home with vinyl siding.

It sits in its present state as a testimony to their contempt for true preservation.

Mr. Weaver (and Mr. Ardis) now want to seat Mr. Pierz on a commission that should be promoting and working for Preservation, not subverting it.

And they want to seat him alongside several people that he previously sued and a few of whom have already expressed their outrage at the idea of his appointment.

During the campaign, Mr. Weaver danced around Historic Preservation issues saying he needed six months to consider all the issues.

Well, it didn't take nearly that much time for him to show his true colors.

I publicly call on Mr. Pierz to withdraw his name from consideration.
C'mon, Steve, do the right thing!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of those commissioners that the Pierz-Paulsens sued.
There is also a bit more to the story as well involving a phone call to my work phone from Mr. Pierz's work phone when their case was active.

...but I won't go into that right now.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

- Theater Review - Avenue Q

Eastlight Theatre continues their twentieth season with the Friday night opening of the regional premier of "Avenue Q".

"Avenue Q" is a delightful play, smart and funny. It is a parody (extension?) of Sesame Street.
Unlike the Muppets, these puppets are definitely not for children.
Rather, they are for those adults who grew up with Sesame Street and now have grown-up issues to face.
And like the denizens of its PBS inspiration, these puppets also have life lessons to relay.

The cast consists of three human characters and a gaggle of hand puppets. All the actors/puppeteers are clearly visible as they speak and sing for their characters.

The play requires talents beyond the actors' usual abilities to sing and dance. Here, they also must move and manipulate the puppets in such a manner that the actors soon become lost in their fabric alter-egos.
It is definitely a challenge for an amateur group to do well.

Damon Hackett, making his directorial debut here, delivers the most professional and exciting production on the Eastlight stage since "Rent".

All the actors/puppeteers execute their roles flawlessly, even when there are two actors controlling one puppet. In this situation, they must move in tandem around the stage and still maintain the believability of the puppet character.

Aside from the technical aspects of the performance, there are some beautiful voices that deliver the clever lyrics just as they were intended.

Assembled here are some of our favorite actors as well as some exciting new faces.

Jarod Hazzard and Kates Sitton shine as the sweet young lovers, Princeton and Kate Monster.

Chip Joyce and Adam Sitton are wonderful as roommates Nicky and Rod (think Bert and Ernie with a gayER edge). Both of these actors are pillars of the local theater community and they deliver the performances here that we have come to expect.

The role of Brian, the wannabe comic, is perfectly suited to Derek Pitzer's considerable talents.
And he certainly delivers the goods, as does Phil Raso as the porn-obsessed Trekkie Monster. Mr. Raso nails Trekkie's voice perfectly.

Chris Black and Kyle King are audience favorites as the Bad Idea Bears.

Dominique Reid makes her Eastlight debut as Gary Coleman (yes, THAT Gary Coleman!). I have seen Ms. Reid in some relatively minor roles in Bradley Theater productions, but her first post-graduation performance here is so impressive that I sure hope to see her again soon on local stages.

Some other 'new faces' are Kristen Williams as Lucy The Slut and Carmen McCarthy as Brian's Asian wife Christmas Eve. Ms. Williams brings the required over-the-top sexuality to the role of Lucy.
Ms. McCarthy manages to make the role of Christmas Eve pivotal to the action of the entire play. Her performance is nothing short of amazing.

I have seen this show professionally, here and in London, and I would put this cast and this direction up against those any day.
Yes, it's that good.

My one and only disappointment with this production is the ill-advised decision to censor the "simulated puppet sex" scene. Is it really any more risque than left-in lyrics such as "she sucks like a hoover", etc.??
If you are going to do theater, please do it as written and respect the intelligence of your audience enough to allow them to decide their own level of tolerance and maturity!

Having said that, this play is still one that must not be missed.

Seeing this performance of "Avenue Q" so soon after Peoria Players' "Drowsy Chaperone" makes me grateful to live in a community with such quality theater options.

The show runs through June 25th at Byron Moore Auditorium in East Peoria High School. Reserve your tickets today by calling 699-SHOW.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tony Awards

Sunday night!!

I predict a sweep for "The Book of Mormon" !

Tomorrow IS a Latter Day...


Friday, June 10, 2011

Corn Stock Winter Playhouse - 2011-2012 Season

Corn Stock Theater has announced its 2011-2012 winter season:

"The Vagina Monologues" - directed by Amy Wyckhoff - Oct 14-22, 2011

"Angels in America: Perestroika" - directed by Dani Keil - Nov 11-19, 2011

"Plaza Suite" - directed by Jen Whitmore, Alex Larson, & Howard Gorman - Dec 2-10, 2011

"God of Carnage" - directed by Paul Gordon - Feb 17-25, 2012

"Glengarry Glen Ross" - directed by Renee Boesch - Mar 16-24, 2012

In addition, a play reading workshop will be held in January (dates and details to be announced later.)

Season tickets are still a bargain at only $40 for the five show season. They can be purchased by mailing a check to:

Corn Stock Theater
1700 Park Road
Peoria, IL 61604

...or call the box office at 676-2196.