Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tae bo for Kids

Remember back in the '80's when Tae bo was all the rage? Billy Blanks was and continues to be so hawt! Those roundhouse kicks were a bear to master but once you got it down, it was fun to run around the house planting the tips of your toes on anything roughly shoulder height.

Last week, a friend gave us a DVD of the Tae Bo Kicks® Kids' Workout . We pushed all of the furniture in the livingroom against the walls and then let loose. Punches, kicks head rolls, and various combinations thereof! What a blast!

I highly recommend this as an activity to do with the kids on a cold or rainy day. Not only did we get our exercise, but it was great family time as well.

Peoria Times-Observer now on-line

Today's Times Observer reported that they have a totally new website that is up to date and on-line. It features their news stories of the week plus a new moderated comments section. I just sent a test comment as Alfred A Neuman and I'll report back on how long it takes to publish. Oh, I feel like a sleuth ;)

Some of the features still need tweeking in my opinion, but its a great start and long overdue.

Update: My comment was published within the hour.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Farmer's Share of the Food Dollar

Last Saturday we took the kids to the "Farmer's Share of the Food Dollar Breakfast"- not necessarily for a teachable moment but more for a "good cheap breakfast" - according to the neighbors. So off we trotted to the Knights of Columbus Hall on the corner of Willow Knolls and Radnor and ended up experiencing not just the promised great breakfast but a memorable event as well.

The Farmers Share breakfast is sponsored by the Peoria County Farm Bureau, and provides the public with a farm fresh breakfast of eggs, pancakes, sausage and orange juice for a mere 65 cents. The 65 cents represents what a farmer makes from a typical $5.00 breakfast.

While we were eating our yummy breakfasts one of the Farmers came up to our table and started talking to the kids about farming. He asked them where milk came from. They replied "a cow". Whew. Then he asked who took care of a cow. They replied "a farmer". Double whew. The farmer (Ron) then said my kids passed. Many kids, he explained, think milk comes from a store.

Then another farmer came up and gave them coloring books and crayons, which of course thrilled them. They sat quietly coloring while I browsed the silent auction items.

Needless to say, we left with full tummies, and a newfound appreciation of our hard working farmers! Yay farmers, and a big thank you to the Peoria County Farm Bureau!

photo by the Illinois Farm Bureau

Shrug off the winter blah's with the Boat Drunks!

Just can't wait till the Cabin Fever party at the Packard plaza Friday, March 28, 2008. This is definately one of my fav events of the year and a sure sign of Spring. The Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band "The Boat Drunks" will be performing live starting at 8:00pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at One World Cafe on Main Street. Last year they sold them at the door also but to be on the safe side I would buy them in advance.

Gather your sweetie or your BF and head on down for some Corona lites on ice and a rocking good time. I blogged about this last year. See you there!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This just in: Peoria Real Estate taxes too high!

Ever since DeWayne Bartels did me dirty in an interview, I rarely pick up the Peoria Times-Observer. But this morning before the unwrapped paper hit the trash can I couldn't help but notice the headline through the plastic blue sleeve: Taxation Board gets bad review. Apparently, County Board member Merle Widmer, Clyde Hendricks, a Peoria Attorney, and Vivian Hagaman, a local tax appeal specialist have found the real estate tax appeal process unfair, questionable and cumbersome.

Noooooooo! Reeeaaaallly? This is exactly what I told Dewayne back in October when taxpayers still had a chance to do something about it. But at the time he filed me under "one woman show on a mission". Apparently, had there been a little more testosterone coursing through my veins he would have paid better attention.

According to Dewaynes article, there have been at least 1500 appeal cases that have been denied at the local board of review level and are being further appealed to the state. (That number has not been verified by the state). In the past, there have been fewer than 100. Peoria Attorney Clyde Hendricks is quoted as saying he is concerned that the board of review is acting illegally as county employees and trying to raise county revenues, when in fact, the Board of Review by its very nature should be disinterested in the outcome of the appeal.

According to the article, Hagaman states that her success rate in appealing property taxes this year fell to less than one percent, down from 95% in years past.

Widmer, who is appealing his own taxes to the state, feels the need to investigate the Board of reviews actions and policies.

My view: Peoria Real estate assessments are made by nothing more than a computer program. A computer program does not come out and see your house, it does not come in to your home, it does not factor in the nuances between homes and neighborhoods, it does not reflect current consumer confidence or market fluctuations. In short, it utilizes what we call in the real estate business - the SWAG method - a sophisticated wild-assed guess! Another big flaw: The assessment process presumes stable or rising prices in housing for at least a four year period. It is possible that housing values in certain neighborhoods can actually decline.

I am shocked to hear that Ms. Hagaman has reported a less than one percent success rate in local board of review appeals. If Bill Gates himself wrote the county assessment program it couldn't be that accurate, and in my estimation she should be seeing at least a 50% success rate. This suggests that there may have been some sort of predetermined plan to deny her claims- unless the appeal board can show that the overall success rate of appeals was less than 1%- a fact I would find impossible to accept.

Another disturbing comment in the article was an assertion from Gary Shadid (who I think is the head-dude at the Board of Review) that past Board of Reviews acted with a lack of integrity. Now I'm no brain surgeon, but something tells me that he better start practicing his apologies.

In a related article, editors of the Times Observer laid out a good case for Peoria County Board Chairman Bill Prather to order an open inquiry of the Board of Review and give the public some answers about the integrity and transparency of the process. Mr. Prathers phone number is 309-672-6056

Finally, on a personal note, I would like to say that I was one of the homeowners who appealed our tax assessment under the new board rules. We won our tax appeal, so we are not one of the alleged 1500 or so that will appeal to the state. In the past, however, under one of the board of Reviews - you know, the ones that "lacked integrity"... we lost locally, appealed to the state, and won! Additionally, when we had our last hearing I found Gary Shadid friendly and engaging, and I think he took a little extra time with me to make sure we "understood each other".

Oh, and DeWayne, I'm still waiting for my apology.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This ain't no tragedy

Anyone sick to death of the media describing the recent allegations against the Governor of New York Eliot whatzisface as a tragedy? To me, this is anything but a tragedy. I call it karma, or just justice but it sure as heck ain't no tragedy. This was willful, wanton, in your face, laws-and-morality-don't-apply-to-me perverted behavior.

The media needs to refocus on what a tragedy really is. One look no further than the last few weeks headlines of the PJStar. Babies dying, college kids dying, brutal random shootings, lives destroyed - those are tragedies.

Oh sure, its too bad for his wife and kids. The ramifications of Eliots behavior will deliver profound consequences for them, but they'll get through it. Everyone has obstacles to hurdle at some time in their lives. They have the resources to get counseling and move on with their lives. Mrs. Spritzer looks like a fine, attractive and competent woman. This could turn into a "lemonade" moment for her, and good riddance. The children will learn the definition of a "true friend" and will undoubtedly land on their feet a little roughed up, but wiser to the ways of the world.

Myself, I will save my grief and prayers for those families that have been truly affected by tragedy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Peoria County Comprehensive Plan public hearing

Peoria County will be holding a public hearing tomorrow night, March 12, as part of the County Comprehensive Land Use Plan update. This will offer a great opportunity for commenter's (anonymous and otherwise), bloggers and concerned citizens to provide their input and comments about the future of Peoria. Don't be a whiner - be a do-er!!!

The hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Alpha Park Library, 3527 South Airport Road, Bartonville.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daylight Savings Time

I love it and hate it all at the same time. In a feeble attempt to condition myself to a new artificially induced bio-rythm, I play games with the clocks in our house. The main clock on the microwave will be changed to the new "real" time. This insures that all necessary appointments are kept. The other clocks will be transitioned at the rate of approximately one clock per day - partly due to laziness, and partly to remind myself of the true status of our hunger/sleep/wake-cycle. Add in two finicky kids to the mix and a time change can be quite the logistical challenge.

Wouldn't it be great if the powers that be were able to change the "real" time in 15 minute increments over a month? That would be insignificant to the point of irrelevance. Afterall, 15 minutes late can be considered fashionable. And why is it that after decades of time changes and clock ownership I can never remember how to change the clocks from one season to the next? I get my car manual out exactly twice a year - every time change - just to reset the clock!

And finally, does anyone else have trouble remembering the few days after a time change if you are one hour ahead or one hour behind what you are used to? For instance, the clock on my computer right now says 10:50. So yesterday at this time was it 9:50 or 11:50? I can't ever seem to keep that straight in my head. I hope its not just me....