April 2013
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More not-so-shocking news from the museum group

The finagling museum CEO Jim Richerson is trying to get more of your money, Peoria County. You thought the museum would be satisfied after you foolishly agreed to raise your own sales tax rate during a recession to give them $40 million. Now you’ll see why giving money to the museum is like feeding a stray cat — they keep coming back for more.

The Journal Star chronicles some of the ingenious ideas Richerson the Schemer has cooked up to get his fingers in your pockets:

  • Have the county reimburse the museum for some “outstanding capital costs” so they can free up some private money to purchase some Ansel Adams photographs for their collection — or have the county just buy the photographs outright and give them to the museum! I’d like to know why there are “outstanding capital costs.” Didn’t Dave Ransburg raise all the private funds needed to build the museum, plus enough to fund the endowment for operational expenses? Wasn’t that a requirement for the county to give their $40 million? From where is this shortfall coming? But the best line in this part of the story is Richerson’s quote: “I was not asking for public dollars for this purchase.” We can put that down in the annals of untrue statements, along with “Our theater will be an IMAX,” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
  • Have the county sponsor a “free day” at the museum for county school children by donating public dollars to cover the cost of their attendance. Wait, you mean all the kids in the county aren’t already attending? I thought this was going to be an educational mecca for area school kids. That’s what all the museum literature touted during the run-up to the sales tax referendum, remember?
  • “[C]lose off a portion of the grounds — the ground-level sculpture garden and part of the deck-level viewing platform — for a fundraiser open to museum members and their guests prior to and during the annual fireworks display over the Illinois River.” Yes, they want to block off public land for private use … just like they do on Water Street for Kellehers and like they used to do at Riverfront Village when Old Chicago/Retro American Tap were still there. But this is County, not City, property, and the County doesn’t think it’s as hot of an idea as the City does.

The good news is that he was rebuffed by Steve Morris on all these ideas. The bad news is that you know he’ll keep trying, and eventually will likely succeed. Some public body will end up bailing him out. Just wait until the museum threatens to go under. The City will jump at the chance to infuse more public cash into this private business, just like they’re doing now for the Peoria Chiefs.

And if all else fails, they can go directly to the people. Promise them an IMAX and they’ll follow you anywhere.

33 comments to More not-so-shocking news from the museum group

  • Have Smokin Gun will Travel

    Oh my heavens, I fell on the floor laughing this morning, “Well, after all, I’m the idea man.” Oh gracious, that’s a hoot. This from a guy who was and is the biggest failure in the county. This from a guy whose grand museum plan was going down in burning flames, until the local state politicians decided that getting CAT to recommitt to downtown Peoria was so important they’d suffer any fool that was tagging along on the coattails of the plan. We have only to look at the first two wonderful exhibits to see just how grand his ideas are, an exhibit of the work of local artists, oh certainly, that’s really going to pull in the crowds to see this new museum. And then the Ansel Adams exhibit all summer, yes sir, once again a marvelous idea to get the families and kids down to the museum, looking at a bunch of black and white photos. Certainly Adams work is exceptional, but it only appeals to a small audience. Remember all the talk about Lakeview being a Smithsonian affiliate, and they needed more exhibit space to bring in the “blockbuster” Smithsonian exhibits that were to large for little ole Lakeview. Guess the Smithsonian isn’t too impressed with “the idea man’s” creation cause we certainly don’t see any blockbuster exhibits coming our way from Washington D.C.

    Ransberg and Daly and those others on the PRM Board have to be fearful of how “the idea man” is gonna dig his hole any deeper. Maybe they’ll soon realize, they’ve got a semi-pro trying to manage a Class AAA Museum and their only hope of rescuing the operation is to bring in an experienced manager with fully qualified credentials.

  • AnneC

    My favorite line:

    “Isn’t this like when the park district has ticketed events on the riverfront?” he asked.

    Um, no. It’s more like selling nights at the White House Lincoln Bedroom to your highest campaign contributors.

  • Anonymous

    My child goes to a private school and just a couple of weeks ago, we were “had” to pay $11.00 for him to go on a field trip to the museum.

  • Martin Palmer

    “Some public body will end up bailing him out. Just wait until the museum threatens to go under.”

    Money will flow in Under the statements: Its too big to fail, important communiy asset,vital for drawing people to peoria,and what ever spin they will put on it.
    The same statements fit police, fire, public works,code enforcement, basic services, but that is quick thrown under the bus for “no money”. County roads and sherrif cut. Roads are bad, police is thin, now the county will open a new nursing home and upkeep the old one for what? The public’s money is so easly spent.

  • just another casual observation

    “The city will jump at the chance to infuse more public dollars into this private business, just like they’re doing now for the Peoria Chiefs”

    Maybe Idea man Richerson can get idea man Rocky on a lark to bundle the museum into a bulk purchase of some additional palm-trees that taxpayers are, in essence, being forced to purchase.

    Years ago they were paying twenty thousand dollars a year for approximately eight trees that died every winter, an idea Rocky thinks too good to pass up.

  • cttsp5

    Yes Anonymous, all schools or the students are having to pay to attend. By having over 400 students from one high school alone attend and pay, the attendance looks great. How many students attended this year? Subtract it from the museum attendance and I am sure out side of students the attendance wasn’t that great! I use to have a grandparents membership when it was at Lakeview, but no more. Not only is the price now outrageous, but I can take take the grandkids out of town to a more kid friendly museum. I don’t intend to go to the museum or even encourage others to go. It is a joke and just a waste again of taxpayers money.

  • Conservatives* keep moaning like it’s a terrible thing that a museum was built in a place of a mud pit in the center of downtown. It’s done, it’s great , get over it. CEO is probably not a stupid schmuck and realizes that museum must have a cultural value to be, you know, a museum. Sounds like a artistic collection could be a good way to sustain and improve the cause – no??

  • Eye in the Sky

    I don’t care about museum when its not safe for my children to play in their own yard for fear of being shot. Since they are spending a million here a million there to keep all the pet projects afloat. We are still having shots fired several times a day roaming groups fighting with bats and the newest has been carrying SWORDS. How long do you think folks will come to a cultural center and then worry if they will get out alive.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    Feel free to make your generous check payable to Peoria Riverfront Museum. This taxpayer is tapped out.

  • Paul, no problem, i’ll just go build a few museums and other places of cultural infusion to make our city better overnight trying to reduce lifestyles that contribute to crime and negligence.
    Out of curiosity – what would you spend your taxes on, if anything?

  • Eye in the Sky


    Lets start by enforcing the current laws no matter skin color or recinding tickets for breaking the law. I live just down from the 30 million community center with all the activities the school provides plus the B&G club and the St Bernards new community center. Still have walking riots shots fired bangers running from police. How much more money do we need to pump into fixing problems. Now these folks thinks some photos by some old famous guy is going to make this museum the center of the world culture. The need to go to Chicago and tour MSI and see how its really done not the BS they are pushing. Stuff painted on the walls or some shadow boxes. Lets not forget the carnival games to make the IHSA folks happy they can go to Glen oak and play for FREE in the SUNSHINE if they aren’t to afraid of being robbed.

  • Paul wilkinson

    Anon. Seeing a lot of gang bangers hanging out at the opera? We pay taxes for services we collectively need. Primary concerns are public safety and infrastructure how much safer would we be if that was funded. People don’t head downtown often because of safety issues. If we had maintained safety and infrastructure in the south end, the east bluff etc. how much better would Peoria be? I would submit that reducing the problems then and there would have saved other areas of town from the growing crime and blight. More invested residents will lead to more investment in their children at school, thus a positive effect on the school district. Use our economic incentives to bring family wage jobs with solid companies. Creating residents with more disposable income and from that can come more private funding for the arts. When residents , heck, even growing swaths of town are disposable to our leaders how then do you propose adding culturally elite programming to have an effect. The stadium, the civic center, the hotel, the museum should be economic engines for the city. By poor business design they will remain huge drains. Quite frankly it is the council that wants these projects. Polical plums and repayment. If the residents wanted them, then the residents would patronize them in significant numbers to be self sustaining,

  • Gary Grady

    @ Anonymous69:

    You sound quite liberally cosmo. Ansel Adams is sooo B & W and sooo 20th century, like early rabbit-ear 20th century. Thought you libs were sooo progressive and conservatives were stuck in time? How hypocritical you are in life and at self-reflection.

  • Paul,
    I’m glad you are getting around to the real issue here. You want YOUR tax money to be spent on YOU. Not the collective society you are referring to. If it was only for your fear mongering, city would build a fence around your house and put a police man on every corner of it. Are you forgetting there are different layers of society that, as surprised as you may be, also pay taxes and have needs that not always align with yours? You obviously have a solid idea of long term investment, and I appreciate that. But your one-sided grief about spending YOUR tax money isn’t going to do anything , except maybe get your ignored.

    Grady, to your message

    Thanks, i don’t even have to add anything.

  • mazr

    Anon69…spending tax money on police and infrastructure is hardly selfish. It benefits everyone. And don’t worry about the taxpayers of Peoria being ignored, they already are. You can think about that as you wander around the near-empty museum or while you’re sitting with the 712 other people at a Chiefs game.

  • Anonymous

    Pay $50 per person to play miniature golf tonight in the new Riverfront Museum (Mt. Hawley closed because of the rain).

  • mortified

    Y’all can keep bickering. I’m just happy as hell CJ is back blogging regularly. I haven’t seen CJ in twenty years but I’m sure that I would recognize his suit.

    As you were..

  • Paul Wilkinson

    hardly. there are vast tracts of the city to which I am referring. The crime experienced in them does stay within the boundaries of the dredges that I am sure you couldn’t be force to drive through. A museum isn’t a need. The chiefs are not a need. Public safety is a need. Ask the growing population of the wealthy citizens who come home to find their home burglarized or who are robbed at gunpoint out northwest.
    I would guess that you are expecting the intersection at Allen and Alta to be fixed. Odd that the same amount that will cost is what was just dumped into the baseball team by the tax payers. Perhaps since your cultural needs are much more important then the taxpayers should leave the intersection as is.

  • 50+Peorian

    Anyone know what Doug Oberhelman’s dog is named? I was told it is Dozer. Yep, he named the stadium after his dog. Maybe it’s fitting – dog of a public works project and all, but Proving Grounds that Dennis suggested is MUCH better.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    According to May 16th PJS, Jim Richerson is out as PRM CEO, with Debbie Ritschel named interim CEO. No opinion one way or the other from me,
    just an interesting development.

  • Teachingrocks

    I was absolutely stunned by the news………not!

  • 50+Peorian

    Cat bought 102 Main st. Wonder when new building design will be announced and if the whole block will be rebuilt…..

  • Ed Sanders

    I heard from a downtown businessman and property owner whose property is coveted by Cat that Cat wants to build a very tall building with one or more towers but the County has said no dice. The building cannot be taller than other downtown buildings.

  • Chase Ingersoll

    Museum supporters had their heads in the sand over this issue, but 2 years ago passed a millage to maintain their support. Now they could lose the art to BK court to cover pensions and other debt. Interesting to watch because it is uncharted water in case law.

  • David P. Jordan

    I heard from a downtown businessman and property owner whose property is coveted by Cat that Cat wants to build a very tall building with one or more towers but the County has said no dice. The building cannot be taller than other downtown buildings.

    That’s strange. I guess the County (or is it the City?) doesn’t want anything taller than the Twin Towers.

  • Ed Sanders

    David, I was told county by the businessman referenced.

  • loveculture

    The real pitiful death of the museum is Rachel Pace!! Late on all bills…find out how much she spends on late fees and rushes because she is incompiten at her job!! Shut off notuices on water and electricity!! Just look…she is a rude mess!

  • aaron

    i can say for certain that the museum has replaced the screen twice. as i understand things, it was manufacturer defects both times. i am unsure, but i believe the manufacturer paid for replacement both times. so if there is fault by the museum, it is in choosing the particular manufacturer. Stomper can take the non-imax rant from here…

  • lanestar7

    The one and only time I saw a movie at the museum I noticed a big either dent or scrape in the center left of the screen which was very noticible througout the movie. I did greatly enjoy paying $1 for a soda and $3 for popcorn though. Although weirdly, their popcorn is pre-salted so we needed a lot of refills on that drink.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    I sez: $40 for non members? What a deal.