CITY BEAT: A DIFFERENT KIND OF ENCOUNTER ON DOWNTOWN SIDEWALK, FINAL TERM FOR DAN CAULKINS
I was walking back to the newspaper office after going to the downtown post office one morning last week when something happened on the sidewalk in front of the public library that has never happened before — in all of the decades of walking downtown!
After making sure that I walked safely through the Franklin Street/Prairie intersection, I stepped on the sidewalk in front of the library when I couldn’t believe my eyes at what I saw heading towards me!
It was a motorcycle on the sidewalk heading straight for me! Some guy wearing a backpack was on the cycle and about the time he got near me, he turned right and headed east remaining on the sidewalk on the north side of the library building. I’ve about been mowed down by bicycles on sidewalks downtown (which shouldn’t be on a sidewalk) but never by a motorcycle — until the other morning. Considering the way some people drive their cars on city streets, the cyclist might have thought the sidewalk was safer than the street! Downtown walks are never dull.
• FINAL TERM — Dan Caulkins of Decatur, the Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 101st district of Illinois, is not running for re-election, which means he will have served three 2-year terms when he leaves office after the 2024 Election. The district includes all or parts of Cham-paign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties.
It was my understanding that Dan indicated he would serve two terms when he was campaigning for the office and then he would step down. That’s what I’ve written in the past. Dan indicated in his announcement that he would not run again that he was living up to his promise not to serve over three terms. Maybe he meant if he won election, he would serve no more than two additional terms.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference at this point because Dan’s promise to make his political office in Springfield a short one is being kept. That is somewhat unusual in the world of politics where many people get elected to public office and stay decades.
I appreciate the fact that Dan donated his State Rep.’s salary and refused to be a part of the pension program that he would have coming to him for the time he served in office. That’s pretty rare in public service.
Dan served on the Decatur City Council during some of the years I served as mayor, so I’ve known him for a long time. We didn’t always agree but Dan always treated me with respect during those years and asked many times about how my military son was doing who was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq during that time. I always appreciated that concern.
• OUCH!!! The Illinois Policy Institute reports that “new 2021 tax return data released April 27 by the Internal Revenue Service confirms Illinois continues to lose large numbers of residents to other states as well as their income. From 2020-2021, Illinois lost 105,109 residents and $10.9 billion in income to other states, both record highs.” Double ouch!!!
• OFFICE HOURS — The Office of Congresswoman Mary Miller (IL-15) announced recently that her casework team held office hours last week in Lincoln and Jacksonville on April 25th and Highland on April 28th. The casework team was available to help with Social Security, IRS, VA, and other federal issues. Happy to see the opportunities being provided to residents of communities in Congresswoman Miller’s district. I look forward to Decatur being on the list when another announcement is sent out.
• SIGN OF SUMMER — I saw workmen sprucing up the Central Park fountain as I walked by today. That means the fountain should be operating before long which is a sure sign of warmer months. It seems like the Central Illinois weather has been like a yoyo the past few months — some days warm and some days cold. Hopefully, workmen will not have to return to Central Park to break up the ice in the fountain because of another below freezing morning.
• TOTE TALK — My “Viewpoint” column last week about the very less than satisfactory garbage service drew quite-a-bit of a reaction — with all of the contacts very dissatisfied with their collection service with the new GFL Environmental headquartered in Canada. Concerns were also expressed about the rumored dramatic increase in the cost of the weekly service to the consumers. As one caller said “You can’t get a hold of anybody to do anything about it.” Those who contacted me indicating they never had a problem with the previous IV Container’s service — which was locally owned.
UPDATE! Guess what? When I returned home from the office yesterday, a brand new tote was waiting for me in the driveway! As we’re going to press I don’t know if others in the neighborhood also received new totes this week. I hope so. I appreciate getting one.
• NEW BOARD MEMBERS— Richland Community College held a special board meeting to go over the results of the consolidated election and approve the new Board Trustees: Bishop Wayne Dunning, Ben Andreas and Marcy Rood. Dunning and Andreas are both incumbents. Dunning has been a member on Richland’s Board of Trustees for almost 30 years, and he is the current Board Chairman.
I’ve known Bishop Dunning since he was an outstanding basketball player at Lakeview High School and also at Millikin University. I was also covering sports for the Trib back then which was before our late sports editor J. Thomas McNamara started his 43 years in that position. Wayne was also a big supporter when I ran for mayor and I always appreciated his encouragement.
Ben Andreas joined the board a year and a half ago to fill in for a trustee who moved away from Decatur, and he has been on the board since.
Marcy Rood began her campaign for Board Trustee as a write-in candidate in March, after her tenure on the Macon County Board ended. Rood has served as a Congressional aide and a public servant in the federal government to support the green jobs economy.
At their board meeting on April 18th, Richland Community College inducted their new Student Trustee, Austin Yutzy, for the 2023-24 academic year. Yutzy attended Richland for a short time after she graduated high school in 2010. This spring, she decided to come back to the College to earn her degree in business while she balances her full-time job, her business (Tipsy Traveler), and raising her two children.
• MAYOR Julie Moore Wolfe and City Council Members Lisa Gregory, Pat McDaniel and Dennis Cooper were sworn in for new four-year terms at Monday evening’s meeting. Best wishes to them in helping to move the city forward during the next four years. Thanks for accepting those roles.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 for the City Hall Insider to discuss the issues and challenges confronting Decatur and Central Illinois.