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Sandberg liaison resignation letter

Here’s the letter Gary Sandberg sent to Mayor Ardis announcing his resignation as liaison to the Library Board. This may answer some questions about why he resigned, and raise some other questions about the intentions of the rest of the council:

27 May 2008

Mayor Jim Ardis
419 Fulton Street
Peoria, Illinois

Dear Mayor,
Please accept my resignation as the City Council Liaison for the Peoria Public Library effective at [7:00] PM on 27 May 2008. It is abundantly clear that you do not value my participation as Council Liaison by recent events. At this point I am not sure you and a majority of the Council share mine or even a common vision for Peoria. From my perspective based on behind the scene deals proposed on the 16th of May by Corporation Counsel Randy Ray such as “three negative Council votes would convert to positive votes if the Library would use it’s eminent domain powers against the Elliot’s Site (7807 N. University Street)” is totally over the top and morally, ethically wrong, if not totally illegal. Combine that with the total lack of communication regarding “unanswered questions” appearing at the last moment (after 4:00 on this day) and a last minute deal yet to be offered by Councilman Nichting at 5:30, it is clear that my views and values at it relates to public service and more importantly the public process are of no consequences to you or the Council.

The Library brought forward a product which was the result of a totally transparent process, objective criteria evaluation, careful analysis and recommendations from professional consultants that was totally within the criteria contained in the 2007 advisory referendum. To entertain debate on the merits of that product is healthy, but to politically sabotage those efforts thru these sorts of antics is totally unacceptable to me, so therefore I wish to separate myself from the Council majority that feels actions like these are appropriate.

The past year has been a wonderful experience working with the Library Building Committee, the full Library Board, and the professional Library Administration. They accepted each and every challenge to produce objective recommendations and a multi-faceted program within the referendum budget. I became completely convinced that the public interests were served by their open, transparent and inclusionary actions. The involvement raised my opinion of public service and it’s assurance that with public participation, everyone’s best interest is served. It is sad that the same opinion of public service and it’s transparency is not the rule of the City Council.

At my age, I value time and by the actions of a majority of the Council, they do not share the importance of one’s time. I do not wish to waste their time nor mine by continuing as liaison.

Gary Sandberg, City Councilman At Large

There was a serious proposal to put the new north branch on the site of Elliot’s strip club so the city could take that land and get Elliot’s out of the north end. Besides the obvious ethical violations, that site is too small anyway. The city would have to not only buy Elliot’s, but a number of surrounding sites for that to work, pushing up the cost of land acquisition, razing existing structures, and construction … not to mention the legal battles (if you thought what the City paid for Eagle Cleaners was high, just try to take Elliot’s via eminent domain). This from a council that is only delaying a vote on the library bonds because they are supposedly looking out for the taxpayers’ best interests.

UPDATE: Here’s Billy’s take on the resignation letter.

Here’s the Journal Star’s article.

33 comments to Sandberg liaison resignation letter

  • Mazr


    I would like to thank Gary if he sent you a copy of this letter. This is quite a “man behind the curtain” view of how the Council operates out of the public eye. Nichting has a big future in politics, going by the letter.

    I have no doubt these scenarios took place, and if it didn’t I will wait patiently for a response from any of the mentioned parties.

    I bet some in the horseshoe would love Gary to go away.

  • Mazr

    Also funny how the Journal Star article conveniently left out the juicy parts of the letter.

    Thanks for posting the letter, and big props to Gary if he sent it to you.

    I do have to say Spears idea sounds pretty cool.

  • I have to applaud Councilman Sandberg for a well-stated rebuff of the current council’s operating practices. I wish that he had stayed as the liaison and sent this letter of admonishment to the public. We would have been better served with him still in that capacity – but I can understand his frustration.

    I fear now that with the person appointed as liaison that the library will not get a fair shake. Councilman Sandberg went above and beyond to assist the library in getting to this point, for a project (that despite the many nay-sayers) was approved by the public in referendum. I had a HIGH level of comfort that the library would be wise stewards of the money provided to them from the bonds with Gary being involved. Not so much now….especially since the appointment of an individual that probably hasn’t cracked open a book in 25 years as the library’s liaison.

  • kcdad

    What a proud City we should be of our City Council… What need we with people supporting the law, and upholding our liberties? Bend over and give The Trusted Few all the authority they so richly desire. Imminent Domain…Ha! Fascism you mean.

    Shame on you Gary for daring to be a dissenter. Shame for being the odd man out… don’t you know? If the entire is world is crazy except you, you will be the one in the mental hospital.

  • Mazr — Yes, Gary sent me a copy of the letter.

  • ImaSwede

    When I voted “yes” for the library, I certainly wasn’t thinking of it being where a strip club is now locate. I thought it was going to be on Pioneer Pkway or an empty piece of land somewhere out there in Oz… GO GARY!!!

  • Raoul Duke

    I would hope that the letter alone has prompted the owners of Elliotts to file a very large lawsuit against the city. Disgusting behavior and a truly corrupt council, filthy animals.

  • The Mouse

    It doesn’t matter where you stand as to Elliot’s, these kind of dirty (and arguably illegal) tricks, and the Propaganda Star covering it up should be revolting to every citizen and taxpayer. Let’s not forget Nichting’s public disreard for the law when he advocated an “Operation Miegs Field” either. We should not have to tolerate councilpeople who have so little regard for the laws they are supposed to uphold, and expect us ordinary citizens to obey.

  • And not one word about Elliot’s on the Journal Star … except in the comments section.

    Maybe they will wake from their coma and get some coverage in time for Saturday’s issue.

  • peo proud

    Can’t believe I would have ever said this…but Sandberg for Mayor?

  • Mazr

    He’s got my vote……

  • Harry

    Wonder why the library director or any of the library board did not bother to find out if Gary was involved. Can’t blame it all on the City Council.

  • Mazr

    If Gary was involved in what?

  • Wondering, who do you think the 3 council persons were that were in on this?

  • Harry — So the library board is to blame for not doing the council’s job for them?

  • Wise stewards of the public dollar, the library board? Evidently some people have forgotten about the half million spent on the doomed Southside Library. An $80,000 library to a hardly used 2nd floor?

    Wise decision?

    When I asked PHA Adminstrator Roger John if the library board wasn’t aware that most Harrison Homes were going to demolished he wisely said “they have their board, we have ours”.

    Wise decisions? The City gave them money to open the Downtown Library on Sundays in September of 2001 or 2002.

    Never happenend.

    On this weeks visit to this library I was told that 40% of the people in the building that morning are “street” people. Now the board plans to give them easy chairs and a food bar plus restrooms on the ground floor. Maybe some sofa’s for naptime?

    It took all the way up to 2008 for the Lakeview Library to stop using “date stamps”. Date stamps in public libraries in fair sized cities across the country went out of use when pillow size calculators like Peoria were replaced with book sized and now compact sized multiple purpose electronic devices.

    In 2002, the library installed self-check out machines at Lakeview. Never were dependable from day one. Both units have “out of order” permanent signs attached to the back of the monitor. So it’s easier to take your check-outs to the circulation desk were hard-working, underpaid, courteous library employees will do it for you.

    Go see.

    If the libraries are so “overcrowded” why weren’t self-check out machines installed at say,the “bustling” Downtown Library?

    Wise decisions? Read my 15 or so blogs on the subject.

    And in closing, some of you say the people spoke on the referendum. I’d say the cost of the referendum; $100,000 plus pro promoter Steve Shearer, 20% paid by the Caterpillar Foundation “dropped” this question on an unsuspecting property tax payer. $100M in “vote yes advertising” to $0 for the opposition.

    Why wouldn’t Caterpillar want everthing new downtown? Their headquarters are downtown. They already got these money losing property tax payer entities, the Riverplex and the ball park to mention just a couple.

    And just a reminder, our friend Gary paid $16.50 as his part of his $410.00 property tax bill for the use of all city libraries last year.

    Some of you might want to look more closely to see where your property tax dollars are going.

    Have a nice weekend.

  • Mazr

    You know what really bugs me about this?

    That I’m worked up about it! Like this kind of crap doesn’t go on all the time!

    I need to wake up and smell the back-scratching. This is how the game is played….I guess I hoped this council would be different.

  • Mazr

    Nice try, Merle.

    I’m not quite sure what the amount Gary paid in property taxes has anything to do with under-the-table deals by what looks to be a verrrry oily council.

    If Gary’s getting such a great deal on his property taxes, why don’t you move down with him? I’m sure there are some available properties.

    Oh, that’s right….you’re moving out of the city.

  • As to the professional Library Adminstrator. Read C.J., 2007 blogs and my still standing blog about stories from Indianapolis.

  • Mazr,

    Nice try to you. People have a tendency to say “yes” to anything they pay little or nothing to use.

    An owner of house worth $100,000 will pay approximately $50.00 more a year to pay off the 20 year bond.

  • Mazr

    Guess what Merle?

    We’re going to be paying a lot more than that in a property tax increase and we will do it with no hesatation, even though we maybe go once or twice every couple of months to the library. Do you know why? Because as a child, I spent the majority of my time in the library and I know what an important part of a community it is.

    I guess some people would rather support a ballpark though, in case there is some money to be made.


  • Mazr

    And why did he invest the money, Wacko? Out of the desire to see the southend improve? If so, he should be up in arms over the lack of development down there, because hardly anyone thought that the ballpark would be a failure. But somehow, what the power people in Peoria wanted came to fruition.

    And yet, when people got out and actually voted yes to something, it seems to be hitting roadblocks…even after a year.

    Maybe if the Biefeldt’s were behind the scenes working for the library, this would be a done deal already.

    This whole situation does have something in common with the ballpark…maybe a potential lawsuit.

    I’m not going to see one dime from a “library” investment either, so cry me a river.

  • Karrie E. Alms


    what type of information as in hard documentation supports your statement?

    ‘because hardly anyone thought that the ballpark would be a failure’

    I cannot imagine that I was one of the only ones who thought the ballpark would be a failure.

  • Mazr

    Karrie, that was my attempt at sarcasm.

    And the Journal has finally decided to look into the Elliot’s angle:

  • Karrie E. Alms

    Mazr: Thanks! 🙂

  • Wacko and Mazr

    You need to know the history of the ball park. A group of investors including myself pooled the money to buy the ball club from it’s Chicago owner in 1994. (Research the JS in that time frame) It certainly wasn’t my wish to move it period. Nor to ask the taxpayers to support the move. My money was invested in 1994 when the ball park was at Meinen Field, later named Vonachen Park later named Shea Stadium.

    All stockholders were informed by prospectus that return on our investment would be minimal. I did not expect a return of more than 3%. That for all these years of no return and not even a free ticket”, no, I’m not happy with the results.

    I did not support the move downtown nor was I in favor of asking for ANY money from the taxpayers. It’s all in the archives of the JS.

    I invested largely to keep the ball club franchise in Peoria.

  • Return on my investment from the Vonachens? No Vonachen owns the ballpark. Some were investors just like the rest of us. Read the archives of the JS. I suggest MAZR donate $50M to the library. Maybe start a trend and we won’t need any property taxpayer money.

    I’m a long time believer in public libraries. Peoria Public Libraries have usually found what I wanted or could order it. Staff has always been most helpful.

    In 20 years, I have never waited in line as long as I have at a grocery store where I pay for what I remove from the store.

    This week, my wife was told that their computer system was down for four days and some records of check-outs and due were in error.

    The number of checkouts have dropped off by approximately 120,000 items from 2006 to 2007.
    See my blogs taken from the Board Chairman and the JS. 722,500 in 2007 (reported in the JS on 5/22/08 down from 868,062 in 2006, reported in the JS on 8/12/07). A shrinkage of 120,000 items.

    Apologize in my previous comments, the $80M was spent for an elevator to a now basically empty second floor on the Krause Library location scheduled to be closed, not Grinnell where the Boys and Girls Club is locked up since May 2007.

  • Mazr

    We’ll agree to disagree on the library, Merle.

  • nontimendum

    I’m far from being an apologist for the PJS, but just perhaps they wanted to do a little research and make sure they had some facts from both sides before reporting the allegation regarding Elliot’s. Last I checked, it was a newspaper, not a blog.

  • The Mouse

    PJS, a newspaer? Since when, yesterday?
    I doubt it.

  • Harry

    Mazr, if Gary was involved with the meeting that happened between the library board president and other members of city council.

    Just pick up a phone. Hey Gary, do you know what they are saying to the library?

  • […] Harry: Mazr, if Gary was involved with the meeting that happened between the library board president and other… […]