Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grinnell Street Boys & Girls Club closed for security reasons

What does that tell us about the success of the Harrison School/Neighborhood Impact Zone?

The East Bluff Boys and Girls Club (shown in photo above) is already crammed full of kids, in an area where crime is just a little too normal (the Glen Oak School Neighborhood Impact Zone). They are confined to playing on a very small lot, directly across the street from the Glen Oak Community Center. Now the Boys and Girls Club is adding 60 children from the Grinnell Street location to the mix - is there even room? And why bus them from the Harrison area to the East Bluff, can't they make use of the Harrison School, birth-through-eighth grade Community Learning Center?

Boys and Girls Club's site closed for summer
About 60 children being transported to East Bluff due to security concerns

The Boys and Girls Club's Grinnell Street site near the old Harrison Homes is closed for the summer because of security reasons, according to Leslie Matuszak, the agency's director. Instead, employees or parents are transporting about 60 children daily from the Harrison Homes area to the Boys and Girls Club along Kansas Street in the East Bluff.

"We're primarily running everything from our East Bluff location, primarily because of safety and costs," Matuszak said.

The closing stemmed from concerns about the safety of staff, as well as children who walk back and forth to Boys and Girls Club programs during the summer. Though the club is not responsible for children en route, Matuszak said some children have been approached by drug dealers or bullies as they walked back and forth to the Grinnell site.

"I can't pay a security guard $28 an hour and that's the going rate," she said. Security is less of a problem when school is in session, Matuszak added. Increased activity in and around Harrison Community Learning Center acts as a safety buffer.

One mother, dropping her children off at a van parked at the Grinnell Street site Monday, said her children preferred the East Bluff location. She did not want her named used.

Though the Grinnell site is closed, the agency still offers some programs on the south side this summer. For instance, children walk to a tutoring and mentoring program the Boys and Girls Club offers at Manual Academy.

The summer closing has also resulted in adjustments in the maintenance of a teaching garden the club maintains at Harrison school. Originally, children from the Grinnell Street site would care for the garden during the summer months. Currently, Boys and Girls Club staff transports children from the Kansas Street site a few times a week.

The Grinnell Street location has been closed since mid-June and will reopen in mid-August. About 500 children are involved in the club's summer programs. Source

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It was supposed to be an oasis in the urban desert

... instead the new Glen Oak Community Learning Center looks like a desert. The grass is dead, newly planted trees are dead and the property was devoid of any activity on a beautiful summer day.

It could be that the District doesn't have the funds to run the sprinkler system (assuming one was installed for brand new landscaping); or maybe it's because they can't afford the water bill.

Glen Oak Community Learning Center In the very heart of Peoria’s historic East Bluff neighborhood, a four-city-block area is being profoundly transformed via a unique set of public and private partnerships. The crown jewel in this development is an all-new 126,000-square-foot Glen Oak School and Community Center that will serve pupils from birth through eighth grade. From both urban and architectural design perspectives, the school itself breaks new ground by providing an all-weather pedestrian street that links a two-story academic wing with a one-story community facility wing. This pedestrian way is on axis with Frye Street, an important east-west connector that extends all the way to Prospect Avenue on the eastern edge of the East Bluff, and to Knoxville Avenue on its western edge.

Back of Community Learning Center
Glen Oak’s all-weather pedestrian street is intended to serve as the nucleus for the entire four-block development. Both the school’s expansive media center (to the north) and its cafeteria and multi-purpose community space (to the south) open directly to this interior venue. In the academic wing to the north, integrated learning laboratories can be found on both levels, which can be used collaboratively by student groups across several classes and grade levels. In the community wing to the south, residents of the surrounding neighborhood can take a night class, utilize the full-service gymnasium, or enjoy an exercise routine while looking out over the public park.

The Glen Oak development does not stop with simply a new school building. It includes a new public park (above the 110 deep wells that were dug for the geothermal heating and cooling system serving the school), designed in cooperation with the Peoria Park District, and a coordinated ensemble of new streets and intersections around the perimeter of the four-block site, designed and built by the City of Peoria. Beyond these public stakeholders, the private businesses in the adjacent Wisconsin Avenue Business District have begun organizing themselves in an effort to provide a powerful and dynamic private-sector complement to all of these public sector inputs.

Frye Street side of Community Learning Center
The Glen Oak Birth—8th Grade Community Learning Center development represents all the best and most profound elements of sustainability. The new school itself includes a geothermal heating and cooling system, generous amounts of natural daylighting, extensive use of recycled materials and systems, numerous bioswales and other natural catchments, and other up-to-the-minute green features. More importantly, it returns a significant portion of formerly “developed” urban area to a “natural” state (in the form of a public park, school sports fields and several outdoor nature explorer classrooms). And, perhaps most critically, it rejuvenates and “recycles” an existing, older neighborhood taking full advantage of all of the embodied energy and infrastructure that such a neighborhood has to offer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

As an African-American, Mother and accidental Peorian, I am continually offended by the local newspaper

I find the high level of condescension and what I believe to be race baiting that continues to appear on the Editorial page of the Peoria Journal Star, nothing short of offensive. I would think the "type" of people they feel free to slam in these editorials don't read the newspaper, so one begins to wonder - exactly who are these editorials directed to? 

The continued editorials in a newspaper that is known for allowing hateful comments on articles about African-Americans is the reason I don't allow my children or any out of town visitors to read the local newspaper. Unfortunately, the editorials sound a lot like the hateful rhetoric that appears regularly on pjstar.com and local blogs - including EmergePeoria.

Below are just a few of the comments from recent editorials that I find in poor taste. Below that are just a few of the comments that racist are allowed to make on pjstar.com. The comments are seldom if ever removed for racist content.

July 6, 2012
"One wouldn't give them too much credit for self-restraint, however, as their enthusiasm for mayhem was likely quelled somewhat by the earlier presence of 22 police officers patrolling the public housing project, hoping to prevent a repeat of last year. As always, that uniform presence makes a difference. As soon as that disappeared, all hell broke loose."

"Some locals don't like the badges hanging around, of course. One visitor to Taft told a Journal Star reporter, "I don't want to say it's (military) tactics, but that's kind of what it feels like ... I understand the police presence to a degree, but this is overbearing."
" To which police Lt. Mike Eddlemon responded, and rightly in this view: "That's too bad ... I'm not doing and my officers aren't doing anything other than providing a safe atmosphere for everyone here."
"It's fair to ask: When was the last time police felt compelled to fire pepper balls to try to disperse a mob in a surrounding community?"

"At what point does the bar get raised not just for external influences - teachers, law enforcement, etc. - but for those who have the most direct responsibility for what they choose to gift to or unleash on the world? These kids have parents or some contact with an adult who should know better, don't they?"

"Here's one rule of thumb: Police yourself, police your own family, police your own block, and in time there will be no need for an "overbearing" police presence anywhere in the community."

"Meanwhile, the irony should not be lost on anyone: Even on Independence Day, independence can be too much of a burden for some."

Posted Jul 09, 2012 @ 11:01 PM
"… making their presence known, confronting young people in traffic stops, enforcing curfews, issuing citations for even the most innocuous of violations, impounding vehicles, just generally hassling those who are up to no good in a community that would be immeasurably better off if they shaped up or took themselves elsewhere."

"Few people wish to live with an occupying force in their neighborhoods, but apparently quite a few don't dislike it enough to cooperate with police so that indefensible crimes such as the drive-by shooting that killed 8-year-old Albert Billups in his sleep a year ago don't go unsolved."
"They hate the police, they hate the neighbor who wants to clean up the neighborhood. They are ... hell bent on destruction and disorder," noted Lt. Mike Eddlemon, who's leading the task force.
"Arrests are made when people who will not tolerate living like that tell police what they know, as someone did regarding the whereabouts of those allegedly responsible in the homicide of an East Peoria man in June. Two Peoria men are now in jail on first degree murder charges, facing the bleakest of futures."

"Of course, if you enjoy the nightly gun play, if you want your kids growing up in an environment where "you never know when a bullet could fly off in the wrong direction" - where if you don't lose them to violent crime you might forfeit them to gangs and jails instead - then by all means, keep your mouth shut. Most folks, it's safe to say, would weary of that lifestyle, but hey, the world is made up of all kinds."

"In any case, it's very troubling to hear a young teen say "we're not scared" while describing that kind of existence. The adults in the community have failed him, because that is not the right reaction. He and his siblings should be frightened. Peoria's leadership owes it to them to help them appreciate that shootouts in the streets are not normal. For those who disdain the tactics in preventing that, well, get used to them."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Judge James Shadid - the errs and reversals continue to mount

He may have been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate as a member of the Federal bench for the Central District of Illinois, however, United States District Judge James Shadid's, list of case reversals from the Appellate Court continue to mount.

Appellate court orders new trial for convicted killer
Judge erred by not permitting defendant to testify after resting

A trio of appellate court judges this week ordered a new trial for a Peoria man convicted two years ago of fatally shooting a pregnant woman in Harrison Homes. The panel, from the 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa, found then-Peoria County Circuit Judge James Shadid erred when he refused to allow Preston Marizetts, now 21, to testify at his trial after both sides had rested their cases.Source

The list of reversals - add Marizetts and Moore
I specifically recall the court decision where the Appellate Court said another local judge (Judge Frederickson) abused his discretion (People of the State of Illinois vs. Deonte Moore). Also named in the subtitle of the decision, was none other than Judge James Shadid.

At the time, an associate of mine was very concerned about the handling of Deonte' Moore and was wondering if in vetting Shadid, if he was asked how he could have sentenced a 13 year old child to 21 years in prison for a single armed robbery count. Judge Shadid would have certainly had the option at that time of overturning the juvenile court decision or refusing to apply the 21 year sentence for constitutional reasons, but he didn't.

Below is the list of the reversals from the Appellate Court that Judge Shadid submitted when he was being screened for the position of United States District Judge for the Central District of Illinois,"although there may be others" he was "unable to identify." The Deonte' Moore case is not listed.