Democratic Party noms for senate, judge: Yoder, Krothe


Based on unofficial results of the June 2 primary, the Democratic Party’s nomination for the District 40 state senate seat is Shelli Yoder. The former Monroe County councilor prevailed over John Zody, the Democratic Party’s state chair, and Trent Feuerbach, with 81 percent of the vote. No Republican candidate appeared on the primary ballot for the District 40 senate seat.

Another closely watched race in the Democratic Primary was for the county circuit court judge Division 8 seat. Kara Elaine Krothe, an attorney in the county’s public defender’s office prevailed over Jeff Kehr, a Monroe County deputy prosecutor, with 68.5 percent of the vote. Krothe will face incumbent Republican Judith Benckart in the November general election.

The three county council incumbents—Geoff McKim, Trent Deckard, and Cheryl Munson—prevailed in the race for the Democratic Party’s primary for at-large county council seats. McKim, who was third among the incumbents with 24 percent of the vote, outdistanced Dominic Thompson by 12.5 points and Karl Boehm by 18 points. The November general election contest will feature the three Democratic Party nominees and two Republicans, James Allen and Zachary Weisheit.

[.pdf of June 2, 2020 unofficial cumulative results]

[.pdf of June 2, 2020 unofficial results by precinct]

Alea iacta est: June 2, 2020 election Monroe County results, when served

Here’s where The Square Beacon will post incremental results from the June 2, 2020 primary election, as they become available directly from the Monroe County clerk’s office, in reverse chronological order.

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When the polls closed at 6 p.m. there were still 18 people standing in line to vote outside Bloomington city hall. They were, of course, allowed to vote.

At 7 p.m. Monroe County clerk Nicole Brown sent out an email saying 7,041 voters turned out on Election Day and 1,981 turned out for in-person voting between May 26 and June 1.

The game plan here is to dump the incremental results from the county clerk into a shared Google Sheet. For realtime changes to the sheet, here a direct link to the sheet: [June 2, 2020 primary results Google Sheet] [Updated: 12:12 p.m on June 3. Here’s a .pdf of unofficial election results from June 2, 2020] The sheet is embedded in this page below, which has a delay of something like five minutes compared to the most recent edit. Try refreshing the page.

Final unofficial results are not expected on June 2. It’s not clear if any incremental results will be available, but if they are, here’s where The Square Beacon will post them.

Updated at 8:37 p.m on June 2. The county election board has recessed and will resume tomorrow at 8 a.m. According to Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne, no preliminary counts will be done tonight, and they’re wrapping up now so that everybody can be fresh in the morning. The added benefit is that any partial preliminary results won’t tease the public overnight, she said. Counting currently is estimated to be done by around 2 p.m. Continue reading “Alea iacta est: June 2, 2020 election Monroe County results, when served”

Election Day June 2, 2020: Polls open “without incident”

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Bloomington city hall a few minutes after 6 a.m. when the polls opened. The half dozen or so voters who were standing in line by the cones, which designate appropriate physical distancing for COVID-19 considerations for voters standing in line. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

A few minutes after 6 a.m. this morning the word came from the precinct inspector standing at the door to Bloomington’s city hall: “The polls are open.”

A half dozen or so voters were standing in line before the polls opened, spaced out by orange cones to maintain adequate physical distance to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

An email from Nicole Browne sent at 7 a.m. sharp said that all polls had opened “without incident.” Continue reading “Election Day June 2, 2020: Polls open “without incident””

County, city committees: Open Door Law is a numbers game

Two three-person committees were disbanded by the Monroe County council last Tuesday. One was an “executive committee” established at the start of the year.  The other was a “COVID‐19 budgetary and fiscal review committee” created at the end of March.

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A seven-member county council is a governing body under Indiana’s Open Door Law, and a three-member committee can be, too, if it’s appointed by the council  and it’s been delegated authority “to take official action upon public business.”

Councilors aren’t against the idea of subsets of Monroe County’s fiscal body working on public policy issues. But they want to avoid inadvertent violations of Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL).

Councilors received a five-page memo, dated April 27, from the county’s legal department  with an overview of the ODL requirements and exemptions.

Last Tuesday’s vote made it about a month after the memo was issued, when the council decided to dissolve the two committees. But one member of the budgetary committee, Marty Hawk, had already resigned—around the time the memo was given to councilors.

Several new committees were established by Bloomington’s city council at the start of the year, on a 5–4 vote. It generated enough controversy that councilmembers continue even now on occasion to conduct implicit debate about the existence of standing committees, when they’re deliberating on other topics.

Do the county council’s committees pose risks for ODL violations that the Bloomington city council’s new standing committees don’t? Not inherently. But the numbers work against the county council and for the city council when it comes to ODL violations. Continue reading “County, city committees: Open Door Law is a numbers game”

Quick update: Masks available for June 2 voters, blood drive details dialed in for June 23

Monroe County in-person voting sites on June 2 will have masks available for voters who want to wear one. And the details for a June 23 blood drive at the Monroe County convention are now set. Appointments can be made for times between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Monroe County convention center.

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Screen shot of May 29, 2020 press conference with local leaders, conducted on Zoom. Highlighted on the screen is Monroe County’s emergency management director, Allison Moore.

Those two items were among the news nuggets passed along by Monroe County’s director of emergency management, Allison Moore, at Friday’s weekly press conference on COVID-19 response issues.

On Friday, Moore reported that the county is expecting next week another drop of personal protection equipment (PPE)—like masks, gloves and sanitizer—from the state’s department of homeland security.

She also said that 1,000 surgical masks had been delivered to Monroe County’s Election Central, to be distributed to voters who want to vote in person. The state’s election division had earlier provided every county with some PPE to equip election staff, but not voters. Continue reading “Quick update: Masks available for June 2 voters, blood drive details dialed in for June 23”

Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others

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Protesters take a knee in the middle of College Avenue next to the Monroe County jail on Friday evening and observe “seven minutes of silence.” The seven-minute period was chosen to match early media reports of the timespan during which the Minneapolis police officer had pinned his knee on George Floyd’s neck, which killed the 46-year-old Black man. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women, has sparked protests across the country.

Floyd died on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down with a knee-on-neck hold, an incident that was caught on video. Chauvin, who is white, has been fired and is now charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Locally, the initial reaction played out in the form of a demonstration Friday evening, when a group of around 150 protesters gathered at the southeast corner of the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington. The gathering looks like it was spurred by a more-or-less impromptu call to action on local social media websites.

Protesters eventually moved one block east west from the intersection near the Alexander Memorial, to the corner anchored by The Tap. They later walked two blocks north. They wrapped up the roughly 90 minutes of protest in the middle of College Avenue, across from the Monroe County jail.

An event scheduled for next Friday, June 5, led by Indiana University Black student leaders Selena Drake and Salina Tesfagiorgis, is planned to start at Dunn Meadow, and make its way to the courthouse. Drake is studying law and public policy. Tesfagiorgis is a masters student at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Continue reading “Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others”

Monroe County synched up with governor’s order except: Mass gatherings still limited to 50

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Screen grab from May 29, 2020 press conference of local Bloomington and Monroe County officials. 

The latest COVID-19-related order from Monroe County’s health officer, Thomas Sharp, issued on Thursday and effective starting Saturday, matches the requirements for Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s current order, except for one.

The one exception: In Monroe County, mass gatherings are still limited to 50 people Under the governor’s order, mass gatherings can go up to 100.

Monroe County’s order lasts through June 15.

At Friday afternoon’s press conference, Monroe County’s health administrator, Penny Caudill, described the local order as “carving out” the one difference on mass gatherings.

When Holcomb issued his first “Back on Track” order, Monroe County’s local order maintained all the precautions up to then for another couple of weeks. Local orders can be stricter, but not more lenient than the governor’s order. Continue reading “Monroe County synched up with governor’s order except: Mass gatherings still limited to 50”

Beacon Benchmark: A more resilient funding model for local journalism—what do you say?

Over the last two months, revenue for the B Square Beacon is up about 20 percent. The number of “paid subscribers” is up by the same amount.

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At last count, 108 patrons have pledged a total of $856 a month to support The Square Beacon.

It’s a solid number. But it won’t sustain one reporter, let alone the full newsroom of journalists that I think this community deserves.

Still, any upward trend is counter to the sharp revenue drop that traditional news outlets have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That makes me believe a full local newsroom could be supported with the voluntary subscription model used by The Square Beacon.

Compared to traditional news outlets, it’s a model that relies on more rank-and-file  community members to provide smaller contributions.

I think that approach will be more resilient in times of economic crisis than one that relies on fewer, but much larger contributions. Continue reading “Beacon Benchmark: A more resilient funding model for local journalism—what do you say?”

If you still have your ballot, please hand-deliver, says Monroe County election official


On Wednesday, Monroe County election board member Carolyn VandeWiel passed along a kind of public service announcement to The Square Beacon:

If you still have your absentee ballot, don’t drop it in the mail.

Please hand-deliver it to Election Central.

Election Central is at the corner of 7th and Madison Streets in downtown Bloomington. Continue reading “If you still have your ballot, please hand-deliver, says Monroe County election official”

Bloomington city council votes to offer staff job to current deputy without a search

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City clerk Nicole Bolden, deputy administrator/attorney Stephen Lucas, and administrator/attorney Dan Sherman confer during a procedural debate by the city council in November last year. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

On Wednesday, Bloomington city councilmembers voted 9-0 to make an offer to Stephen Lucas to assume the role of council attorney/administrator on Aug. 1.

That’s the day after Dan Sherman retires from the job, after around 30 years of service. Lucas is Sherman’s current deputy.

Council president Steve Volan and and vice president Jim Sims were tapped by their council colleagues to sort out the details with Lucas, assuming he accepts the offer. When asked by councilmembers, Lucas had indicated his interest in the upcoming open position. Continue reading “Bloomington city council votes to offer staff job to current deputy without a search”