Politics

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.

Steve

News media ultimately responsible for predicted, emerging catastrophes

August 26, 2012

An Aug. 23 segment on NPR's Morning Edition about the 2012 drought touched my sentimental side when a Kentucky farmer's voice quivered while he spoke to correspondent David Schaper. "My wife and I just look at each other every night, and we look at our children's faces before they go to sleep, and we wonder, will this be one of the last days?" he said. The piece was titled "Drought Extends Reach, Some Farmers Ready to Quit." I've spent a lot of time in Kentucky and writing about the place. I've met guys like this one.

Sadly but predictably, nowhere in the story did Schaper mention the drought's relation to climate change. Neither did the one that preceded it – "How Smokey the Bear Effect Led to Raging Wildfires" – nor any other segment on that morning's story list. Indeed, a search for "climate change" on the NPR website shows no Morning Edition stories the entire month of August. Talk of the Nation, yes. All things Considered, yes. But Morning Edition, no.

While I do sympathize with this family, especially the children, I'd have to advise the Logan County cattle farmer featured in the piece to look in the mirror. He's a victim of manmade climate change. And as a Kentuckian, he bears as much or more responsibility for his fate as anyone in the world. He and his bluegrass neighors, along with all the rest of us, brought the climate-induced 2012 tragedies of drought and wildfires upon ourselves. Payback is indeed a bitch. And we've only begun to pay.

August 17, 2012

The Greene Report is a compilation of environmental stories written by Linda Greene. This week's edition includes:

  • Great Lakes action on nuclear reactor risks
  • Activists halt operations at mountaintop removal coal mine
  • Dow requests approval for GE soy resistant to 2,4-D
  • EPA stalling on bee die-offs
  • Pennsylvania to shut down one of biggest U.S. coal ash ponds
  • Establishment of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge
  • U.S. clean-up of Agent Orange-contaminated Vietnam
  • Hazards of “green” household cleaners
  • Nigerian oil spill near Exxon operations
  • Ukrainian environmentalist murdered

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.”

August 14, 2012

News Release
Valley Watch

Last week, headlines in this region showed that Kentucky placed first and Indiana fourth in the release of toxic chemicals to our air from coal plants, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

None of the stories looked at the cross border figures like the region considered the “tri-state” of Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Therefore Valley Watch decided to take this ominous study a step further and did its own analysis of those coal-fired power plants that currently operate within a 100 kilometer radius (62 miles) of Vanderburgh County.

Our analysis of EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory and EPA’s eGrid power plant data base reaffirms the shocking problem we have in this area which sports the largest concentration of coal plants in North America, if not the world, at 15,113 megawatt total capacity.

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