July 2013
« Jun   Aug »


  • Karrie E. Alms: Amazing insight into the world of politics awaits any reader at pibgorn … from a Demon’s...
  • Tony: Homefield is Dynegy. Dynegy is Ameren. There Charging You twice for the same energy. Do you really thihk $.04...
  • SouthEnder: Also does anyone remember the Velvet Freeze located on Jefferson St, up the street from the Warner Homes....
  • Eric Pollitt: I flew economy class to Hong Kong for Christmas vacation, which is a 14 hour flight. When I got back...
  • Mike: Homefield has been sold to dynery. Google dynegy scandal to see who your new parent is. If this upsets you give...
  • mortified: Fun while it lasted. Godspeed!
  • aaron: your blogging will be missed but i know that your spirit of fairness will remain alive in your other...
  • Jon: CJ, your blog was a revelation and an inspiration. You have a wonderful talent that is an asset to the...
  • Billy Dennis: Of course the Chronicle is done: Screw you. The Chronicle is one of the best researched blogs...
  • Paul Wilkinson: CJ, am sorry you have ended your blog. It was well done. It seems many have given up as we keep...
  • Sharon Crews: Your voice is definitely needed in this community. Thanks for all your insights.
  • emergepeoria: Your blog is great resource to research Peoria issues. I hope you leave it up.
  • BucketHead: I was not suggesting that, I believe the both of you had very strong common sense and that lead to your...
  • C. J. Summers: Without anonymity, there is no courage among my detractors. Take a look back at the wide variety of...
  • Of course the Chronicle is done: Without Sandberg to give stores to the Chronicle there is no Chronicle.

To my friend, Gary Sandberg

Dear Gary,

It’s too bad you missed the All-Star Game Tuesday night. You would have loved it. The American League won, and Mariano Rivera got a standing ovation. It would have brought tears to your eyes. You know, despite being an obnoxious Yankees fan, I always appreciated the fact that you were, above all, a baseball fan. There are so few of us around these days. Everyone (and especially ESPN) is into football and basketball. You’d think with 30 teams playing 162 games each year that there would be plenty of baseball to talk about on sports shows, but baseball always seems to get short shrift. You always enjoyed watching a game no matter who was playing (even the Cubs — it was always fun to see them lose), and I’m the same way. I’ll miss meeting you at Whiteys to watch a game over pizza.

I’m glad you got to see the Yankees one more time — and even make the highlight reel! That was pretty cool seeing the home run ball bounce just a few seats to the right of you in Yankee stadium. Too bad it wasn’t the Yankees who hit the home run. Ha ha. Hey, you can’t win them all.

Remember last year when you found out I was going to the Heart of Illinois Fair and you asked me to pick up some salt water taffy for you from the guy who sets up near the front gate? I remembered that this year, and I picked some up for you again. I even drove by your place Thursday night to drop it off as a surprise, but all the lights were off. It looked like no one was home, so I drove on. I was hoping you were there because my wife and son were in the car, and I wanted them to see the work you had been doing on your apartment. My son especially would have loved the fire pole you were putting in.

I thought it was strange that you hadn’t responded to my texts and appeared not to be home, but you’ve taken unplanned trips before, so I wasn’t too worried. I figured you’d get back to me soon with tales of how your phone was lost or broken, or how you were out riding on Route 66 and didn’t hear the phone ring. You always had a great story to tell.

The story my wife thought was so funny was the one you told when we met you at the Garden Street Cafe for breakfast. You know, the one about mailing that package to Colt in Macau, and all the different ways you had to repack it and compress it until it met the size restrictions? And how exorbitant the cost was? You really had us in stitches by the end of that one; it was almost too ridiculous to believe.

The cars that you had were a real hoot, too. My favorites were the Austin-Healey Sprites you would drive in the summer when you weren’t on your motorcycle. They are impossibly small; I still can’t believe you could fit into them. And they were so low to the ground! I remember you saying you really noticed the city’s lack of infrastructure maintenance in that car because you could feel every bump and see every deteriorating curb. Your ability to get them running and keep them running was pretty ingenious. You were the last of the shade-tree mechanics.

Everyone knows you as the guy who (supposedly) always votes “no” on the City Council, and always stands up for the citizens when it seems like the rest of the council only stands up for the developers and the movers and shakers of the community. I always appreciated you holding everyone’s feet to the fire, even if you were the lone voice crying the wilderness. It was nice to know someone at City Hall was listening and fighting for the little guy. That’s what made you a hero to many. I always tried to encourage you to keep up the good fight, not that you needed the encouragement. I wonder who will stand up for the citizens of Peoria now.

I wonder a lot of things. Right now, I wonder why you insisted on working in that building without air conditioning in the kind of heat we’ve had — especially after you just had heart surgery not that long ago. You’re smarter than that. What was it? You just like living on the edge? Like riding your motorcycle without a helmet? Or walking to the Election Commission just seconds before they closed to turn in your nominating petitions?

We didn’t agree on everything. We rooted for different baseball teams. We differed on gun control. We were poles apart on religion. But we were friends. You were always very encouraging to me and very kind to my family. You were always genuine. No one ever had to wonder where they stood with you. You let them know in no uncertain terms. I always appreciated that kind of honesty, even though you probably took it a bit too far sometimes.

I guess there’s nothing left to say except farewell, and I’ll miss you. And the Yankees are in fourth place, but the Cardinals are in first.

Your friend,
C. J.

21 comments to To my friend, Gary Sandberg

  • Ben

    I think you would be excellent at taking Gary’s seat in the Council. You would continue the legacy Gary has to look out for the little guy.

  • Frequent Reader

    That was a great tribute to your friend CJ! I really liked the personal touches.

  • mazr

    Nicely done, CJ. The citizens have also lost a friend.

  • Your friend

    I feel the pain in your words. So sorry for your loss. I know it’s hard to accept, but God does have a plan – as crazy and mixed up as it seems to us mortals. Perhaps you will have a role in it.

  • Chase Ingersoll

    Thank you CJ. I’ve been checking Peoria Chronicle the last several days for this.

    Gary had an open door policy. Literally. I stopped by many times when he lived on Bigelow. Whether he was home, or out of town for two weeks, the door was never locked. The Bennett’s across the street and next door who, with their drug and gang activity had run off countless neighbors, had reached detente with Gary shortly after he purchased the place and with their extended family’s ever presence on the street no-one would dare to mis-touch the place.,-89.597014&spn=0.006921,0.011415&sll=40.709563,-89.596679&layer=c&cbp=13,52.43,,1,-3&cbll=40.709456,-89.59702&t=h&z=17&panoid=2z2QGCAp9wVw11VShWEaKA

    I’ve not seen Gary since my last trip to Peoria (at least 5 years), but I feel a sense of loss for all of you who still live there and who knew him.


  • Pat Lewis

    Gary and I both shared frustration with our City leadership; his was more broad-based, mine concerned Springdale. He responded to an email from me on the 7th, he was in NYC, he did not seem to hold my occasional criticism personal; I know he loved to ride through Springdale and I felt he knew from where sprung my frustrations. I am sure when the time finally arrives and the City faces the issues that have so damaged Springdale he would have been one of the few voices of reason and fact in this much overdue discussion. This is a loss for Springdale as well as the City.

  • AnneC

    Beautiful! My deepest sympathy to you and your family in the loss of your dear friend.

  • BucketHead

    The everyday man just lost a great friend and a fierce voice for common sense! RIP Gary……………………………..

  • conrad stinnett

    Sandberg will be missed. I always appreciated his support and assistance on many issues. We need more like him in local government.

  • Curphy Smith

    I remember when I was much younger and not paying attention like I should. I would hear from people all of the time of the crazy antics and stubborness of this one particular council person named Gary. As I got older and met him for the first time over a pizza at Hoops, I come to realize this guy has one of the brightest minds I have met. He wasn’t crazy, he was real. He was Gary. You just needed to understand him. Take the time to get to know him. I am glad I did. I enjoyed our lunches at Hoops. I am upset that I never followed up with him the last time I talked to him to get together once more. He will be missed. I am glad I could call him a friend.

  • Dennis in Peoria

    Very touching post, CJ. I hope you do contact Mayor Ardis to consider you for the seat left open by Gary.

    I had met Gary only a few times while at PCCEO, but he was always friendly to me, willing to be on camera. Unfortunately, the only footage I see listed has to do with the controversial remarks he made against a Black woman in the 90’s. Too bad I’m no longer employed there; I would look for other footage, put together some kind of video tribute.

  • Curphy Smith

    Appears any council person can make a recommendation per the PJ Star today. I think CJ would do great on the council and more importnatly, he would represent Gary very well. Wrong or right, the question that needs to be asked is who would Gary want to replace him. We owe him that.

  • CFD

    reportedly Ardis already has someone in mind. He wouldn’t nominate CJ or anyone who won’t pursue
    the agenda of the he and the youngest councilman. They have already been trying to line up support for that crucial 6th vote that they lost in the last round of elections.

  • The Mouse

    the establishment tosses the term “public servant” around a lot, even though most of those referred to are engaged in everything but public service. Gary was the real deal.

  • mazr

    CFD….that’s bad but expected news. I had a bad feeling Ardis had a short list of candidates ready to go and a citizen-first person wouldn’t be on it.

  • tr64

    Two thumbs up…

  • CFD

    When the mayor in the media was saying there was no hurry to replace Gary, meetings were held to work out a plan. I wonder if the incorrect information given to pjstar about the process was part of the plan.

  • Sharon Crews

    C.J., I am so glad you wrote this tribute–wonderful!

  • mazr

    C.J., any chance you’ll be throwing your hat in the ring?

  • If Mayor Ardis picks someone else, don’t let it be because you didn’t apply.