There seems to be a lot of energy around the Peoria City Council right now, and I’m eager to capitalize on that energy in several ways. As I write this article, barely five weeks into the new council term, we’ve already begun several important initiatives.
First, a team headed by two successful small businessmen, Lee Graves (EMC Companies) and Dave Smith (Hunter’s View), along with Councilman Bob Manning, are studying some of our business units and procedures. After considerable examination, I expect them to provide the council with recommendations to streamline actions and make us more efficient. In addition, I anticipate suggestions on areas that may need further investigation and more intense study.
Lee and Dave have both grown multi-million-dollar companies from the ground up and understand the importance of customer service. We want to put a friendly face on City Hall and be sure our customers receive professional, consistent, proficient, and courteous service when they enter our business. Councilman Manning’s strong business and accounting background also will prove beneficial to this group. I’m expecting their initial findings will be presented to the council by Labor Day.
Another area receiving strong support is a group I’ve asked to come together to look at ways of addressing some of the crime issues we’re facing in Peoria. A strong team of law enforcement, judicial, and local school administration representatives, along with Councilman Eric Turner and I, have been meeting almost weekly since mid-May. We started with analyzing crime statistics in Peoria and discussing our individual perspectives of why crime is where it is in Peoria at this time. After this discussion, we collectively offered solutions about how we can work together to reduce specific types of crimes. To my knowledge, a group composed of our police chief, county sheriff, local FBI, U.S. Attorney, M.E.G., District 150 superintendent, chief judge, two circuit judges, the mayor, and a councilman never have collaborated on ways to reduce crime in our city. We foresee public meetings soon to collect public input on some of the areas we’ve discussed and ask for public thoughts on addressing some of these crime-related problems.
Finally, a meeting took place in early June with administrators and board members from the five public school districts that lie within the Peoria city limits and a representative from the Regional Superintendent of Schools office. Also invited to the meeting were representatives from the private schools in Peoria. The emphasis of this meeting was primarily for introduction purposes and starting a communication process among our area educators. While acknowledging that setting policy and establishing curriculum for the schools are clearly outside the boundaries of the city council—and we have no intention of going there—there’s a need for communication between our schools and our elected city officials.
Councilman Chuck Grayeb attended this meeting with me, and, as a professional teacher and administrator, he brings volumes of hands-on knowledge of the issues to the table for us. Former Dunlap School Superintendent Bill Collier also was very involved in the coordination of this meeting and served as the facilitator of our discussions. To grow the population in our city and attract new business to our area, it’s critical we implement the plans necessary to make our educational product superior in the country.
This new Peoria City Council is a team ready to roll up its sleeves and work hard to make Peoria the outstanding community we all know it can be. Our potential is limited only by how hard we want to work together to achieve the results we all desire. I hope you’ll be a part of the positive energy in Peoria. IBI