Saturday, February 14, 2009

Exclusive: Obama in Peoria with photos!

Once again a huge Thank you to Paul Wilkinson for his wonderful commentary and outstanding photos of President Obama's visit of last week. Paul is quite the mover and shaker and is never far from the action without capturing the moment on his Canon rebel. It is great that he so willingly shares his experiences right here at PeoriaRocks!

As a guest blogger of Diane's, I am taking some "blogger license" and including much of my personal opinion in this piece.

At work on Wednesday I was asked a few times if I was going to hear the President speak. I said that I had not heard whether or not I was going and was content either way. By the time I had gotten home, I received a call from Washington DC informing me that Congressman Aaron Schock had reserved a ticket for me and my friend, Curphy Smith, who is running for the 2nd District Council Seat.



I found the invitation somewhat of a shock (excuse the pun) specifically because I had just seen Aaron on Sunday and he didn't say a word about it. Always appreciate a good surprise. I called my boss and told her I would not be in Thursday due to this event. She, of course, is getting used to me flexing in and out of work, for political activities, and was most supportive.

I will admit that while I did not vote for the President, I have been curious as to how he would achieve what he has set out to do. Monitoring all the brouhaha about the stimulus package, reading, and listening to various opinions, I also realized that perhaps a better package could have been developed. Specifically in the transportation and infrastructure sections. I agree with Aaron, this could have been done much better. Knowing Aaron, I trust he has done his homework on this bill. We arrived at HH building. It was cold and sunny. There was a long wait to get in so I spent time chatting with some of various people I knew. Much of the city council was present, Reps Leitch and Gordon, Sens. Risinger and Koehler were present.






I very much enjoyed a chat with Arthur Perkins. An entire host of people were present from a variety of walks of life. Curphy is always fun to be around and great to bounce issues off. We talked quite a bit about his race for the Second District and spoke with a number of strong supporters who also waited in line.




We went through the usual security. I was very glad that I could bring in my camera. I probably am not recognized without it. There were a few opening remarks from Mr. Owens and Secretary LaHood. President Obama spoke about the stimulus package. He reported that it will greatly impact the economy, including ours here in Peoria. Interestingly enough in the audience were workers who are facing layoffs. The President called upon Congressman Schock to do the right thing and to vote for the bill. I received several texts from people not believing that Aaron was put on the spot like this, which were my personal thoughts exactly.




I have listened to much of the hype about this president and had not been sure what to expect seeing him in person. I hope great things for him and for the country in general. These times are tough, nationwide, although even with the layoffs, we as a community are still a little ahead of the game. I think back to the tough times in the 80's and remember that when things hit the coasts they slowly filtered into the Midwest and unfortunately they lingered here much longer after more fluid areas recovered. I hope that this is not the case this time. Here is a valuable quote that I took from the president's speech:
"In short, it means we're standing still. And in this new global economy, standing still is the surest way to end up falling behind. Standing still is not an option. It's not who we are; it's not who we have to be. Right now, we have a once in a generation chance to act boldly, to turn adversity into opportunity, and use this crisis as a chance to transform our economy for the 21st century."




I agree. With the global economy, many countries are able to undersell our products, albeit not the quality we once enjoyed. With that change in our economy, we need to develop those goods and services which are more unique to us: technology for example. as a product to sell to the world. Companies have been global for a number of years. That is not going to stop. We need to shift gears, re-educate or retrain the workforce for the new markets we must seek to balance our gross national product against our growing debt. We need strong infrastructure projects for manufacturing jobs. We need strong, responsible investment in our educational system. Businesses need to be able to reinvest in capital projects and pay our workers family wages and health care benefits.




Although excited about attending the event, I did not feel the awe and inspiration that I have felt with my other recent experiences. Perhaps because this visit from the President is on such a somber note. Perhaps subsequent interviews with Mr. Owens have revealed deeper cuts which will greatly effect our local economy and perhaps more of my friends will face more intense struggles trying to feed their families. After the speech, Curphy was able to shake hands with President Obama. It is always an honor to attend a event with a sitting president and much more of an honor to have any personal contact. For that experience I am thankful to Aaron for thinking of me once again.



I did have a chance to greet Secretary Ray LaHood after the event. I had spoken with him in Washington just prior to his appointment. He was excited then and seemed very happy in his current post.



The entire event was yet another honor for the city of Peoria and the region as a whole. For a few brief moments in time, we were the focus of an anxious nation.

11 comments:

Martin Palmer said...

Funny. He never stopped in Peoria. Landed in Peoria County, Spoke in East Peoria and departed from Peoria County. Guess by driving threw Peoria he was here.
Bush was in Peoria.

Diane Vespa said...

Martin, you must have been talking to my husband!

Knight in Dragonland said...

Ummmm ... so what? Jealous?

Diane Vespa said...

Who are you talking to, Knight? Jealous of what? No comprendo.

Raising my kids RIGHT said...

Very well written Diane. Putting Rep. Schock on the spot was tacky, but then again consider the source.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm throwing the grenade...

Are the same people who whined about Bush's visit going to make a stink and demand that Obama pay back the city of Peoria the money lost for closing down roads and the such?

Just wondering.....

KLS

Diane Vespa said...

I agree, Raising - it is very well written. Paul Wilkinson is a great photographer as well as an entertaining writer!

KLS - you really didn't think we would NOT point that out to them, did ya?

Non-welder layoff said...

So I was one of the "chosen ones" to attend the event. I have a bachelors degree, work for Cat in management. Cushy job, pays well. The very next day, Friday at 3:30 pm, I was laid off.

Everything is a dog-and-pony show. Our media reps spent Friday afternoon answering to the press over Owens' "contradicting the president". You think Cat is downsizing due to the economy? Think again. It was a golden chance to become more lean.

Also, it is very telling to see Aaron between VP Sid Banwart and group pres Stu Levenick...

Diane Vespa said...

Non welder - So sorry for your troubles. I agree that a lot of businesses and organizations are using the current economy as a "get out of jail free card" for any number of things.

Mazr said...

Anon and Diane....was the President visiting Cat part of a private fund raiser?

I have another phrase: "You can't see the forest through the trees".

Diane Vespa said...

Oh yeah, well what's good for the goose is good for the gander!