May 3, 2015

Editor's note: As I feared, other demands – end-of-semester obligations and book deadline – left insufficient time to dig into the 2015 city elections in the way they deserved. I did what I could and hope it helped. I offer the following takeaways from the experience. - sh

Rollo for City Council

First and foremost I urge voters in District IV to re-elect Dave Rollo to the City Council. Simply put, he is one of those rare public servants who not only claims a progressive vision but actually knows what it means and pursues it once in office, regardless of the consequences.

April 29, 2015

"The Bloomington Alternative - 2015 Mayoral Edition Interviews" will play back-to-back-to back at the following times on The Library Channel (Comcast Channel 3). Each candidate for the Democratic nomination for Mayor in the May 5 Primary -- Darryl Neher, John Hamilton and John Linnemeir -- participated.

Linnemeier has dropped out of the race, throwing his support to City Councilman Darryl Neher. His name will still appear on the ballot.

The interviews feature each candidate's responses to the same questions about homelessness/housing, downtown development, police and deer. They run between 50 minutes and an hour, more or less.

Each candidate was also asked to define the term progressive.

The interviews will run in their entirety.

  • Thursday, April 30: 7:35 p.m.  (Neher, Hamilton, Linnemeier)
  • Friday, May 1: 7:30 p.m. (Hamilton, Neher, Linnemeier)
  • Saturday, May 2: 12:30 p.m. (Neher, Hamilton, Linnemeier)
  • Sunday, May 3: 6 p.m. (Linnemeier, Hamilton, Neher)

Post-production work was provided by Bloomington's Community Access Television Services.

The interviews will be posted to YouTube and The Bloomington Alternative website.

April 22, 2015

What follows is the script from which I questioned Bloomington’s three candidates in the May 5 Democratic Mayoral Primary during interviews between April 17-19. Audio and video from the interviews will be posted to YouTube and embedded here on the Alternative website. They will also air on Community Access Television Services at times to be announced shortly.

The conversations deviated some from the script, but all of the issues here were addressed by each candidate.

April 16, 2015

As I have been confidentially talking to knowledgeable sources about the backstories behind this year’s city elections, one asked a question of me that sets up a declaration I was going to make anyway. “So, you just asked, and they all said, ‘Yes’?”

I am sure my 35-year reputation as a journalist in town played the biggest role in their unanimous, quick acceptance, even though it’s been years since I was journalistically engaged at the local level. I also have non-journalistic relationships with each that I am going to declare here.

April 15, 2015

John Linnemeier is the only one of the three candidates in the May 5 Democratic Primary to even mention the term deer on his website, where he predicts the others would “kick the can down the road one more time.” He offers a “novel approach” to the issue of urban deer: sedating and sterilizing them.

“The situation continues to deteriorate as the deer population increases,” he says. “It should be obvious that any action in the future will be more traumatic and expensive as a result of this continued procrastination.”

April 14, 2015

None of Bloomington’s three Democratic mayoral candidates like the direction downtown Bloomington has taken in recent years. And they use some pretty damning language to convey those sentiments.

John Hamilton says it’s “ugly.” John Linnemeier says the streets north of the Downtown Square have been transformed into “unattractive canyons.” City Councilman Darryl Neher says he will stand against “rampant development” to protect the Square’s “quality and character.”

April 12, 2015

Democratic mayoral candidates Darryl Neher and John Hamilton both have suggested reviving the “dormant” Housing Trust Fund to address the chronic lack of low-cost and affordable housing in Bloomington.

“I support creative financing of affordable housing, such as … activating our long-dormant Housing Trust Fund,” Hamilton wrote in response to a question from the League of Women Voters.

April 7, 2015

Dear friends and readers,

I have decided to briefly revive The Bloomington Alternative to take advantage of a second-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lifelong political junkie – the chance to cover a contested election for Bloomington mayor. Since I moved off campus and into the Bryan Park neighborhood in 1971 (the first of three such moves), the only close race I recall was John Fernandez versus Charlotte Zietlow in the 1995 Democratic Primary.

My aging memory’s dependability aside, it is a fact that this may be the last race in which the outcome isn't a forgone conclusion for a decade or more, so I’m jumping back in, even though I really don’t have the time. The Bloomington Alternative – 2015 Mayoral Edition will be a work in progress, but here’s how I see it going.

The centerpiece will be on-camera interviews with the three Democratic candidates on the May 5 ballot: Darryl Neher, John Hamilton and John Linnemeier. The interviews are being scheduled between April 16 and 19. They will be taped and later rebroadcast on Community Access Television Services (CATS) as part of their lead up to the election. Linnemeier and Neher have scheduled theirs. I am waiting to hear from Hamilton.

Because I have been outside the inside political scene for many years, the interviews will focus on four issues I have come face to face with while walking, biking and driving through the slice of Bloomington I travel most, a triangular-shaped path between Bryan Park, Downtown and Ernie Pyle Hall:

  • Homelessness/housing,
  • Downtown development,
  • Police/crime, and
  • Urban deer.

There are dozens of other issues I'd like to explore, but we won’t have time to discuss them all. And I have multiple, competing deadlines between now and Primary Day anyway. I'll do what I can.

As I try to get up to speed, I will, at a minimum, be sharing what I learn on the Alternative and, for now, on my Facebook Page, where I reported that almost $900,000 sits untapped in a city fund that is supposed to be helping combat unaffordable housing.

Friend me on Facebook to follow this and other discussions.


Citizens pressure county for alternatives to jail

August 16, 2012

Though the U.S. contains less than 5 percent of the world’s population, it confines nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Furthermore, as of 2008 it had 2.3 million in jails and prisons, according to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College, London.

Reducing the population in the Monroe County jail is the goal of a local, grassroots organization, Decarcerate Monroe County (DMC). In its own words, DMC “is a local coalition challenging the belief that cages, coercion and confinement keep our community safe. DMC believes people are safe when they have their basic needs met and when they feel empowered and free.”

Citizen, physician concerns ignored by public-private conspiracy

July 24, 2012

In his state of the city address on Feb. 16, 2010, Bill Schmitt, mayor of the southern Indiana city of Jasper, addressed the topic of what to do with the city’s idle coal-fired power plant. One option, he said, according to the Dubois County Herald, would be to convert the plant to a “green-energy-producing facility.”

Little did anyone realize at the time that his comment would turn out to be an early salvo in what has become a bitter, protracted battle between the people of Jasper and their local government.

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