New city seal gets stamp of approval from Bloomington’s city council

Three months after the topic was previewed for the Bloomington city council’s administration committee, the council voted on Wednesday to adopt a new city seal, based on the ubiquitous city logo.

The city logo, which was designed by former city councilmember Tim Mayer, was adopted by a resolution of the city council in 1986. The logo was inspired by quilt patterns, according to the adopting resolution. The square in the center of the design signifies Bloomington’s downtown square and community interaction, according to the resolution.

The ordinance establishing the new city seal makes it “unlawful for any person to make or use the City seal and graphical City seal of the City of Bloomington deceptively, fraudulently, or without express written permission from the City Clerk of the City of Bloomington, or the City Clerk’s designee.”

A first violation of the ordinance on use of the city seal is subject to a fine of $100.

The change was prompted by city clerk Nicole Bolden’s interest in having a lighter, more portable device to affix the city seal to documents like marriage licenses, funeral deeds, oaths of office, encomiums, certifications of legislation, bonds and other insurance documents for the city.

Bolden was also keen to make sure that the right image would be used to make a new device. When she was elected in 2015, the featured image on the seal Bolden inherited included the scales of justice. Bolden previously told The Square Beacon that it dates from an earlier era when the clerk also served the courts that used to be a part of city government.

But the scales of justice are not a part of the written description of the city seal in an ordinance from 1971.

Bolden tapped the expertise of graphic artist Danielle Riendeau to create some mockups. Riendeau generated several variants, because the wording is ambiguous in places.

The atomic symbol designating the location of Bloomington on the map of Indiana made it a non-starter as a candidate for the new seal device. Digital communications specialist in the office of the mayor, Andrew Krebbs, designed the new seal based on the city logo.

When the idea of adopting a new seal based on the city logo was floated to the council’s administration committee in early September, it was not controversial. Committee member Jim Sims said: “This is non-controversial, pretty easy. Let’s do it. I think it’s simple. Let’s do it.”

The topic of a new seal was also discussed at an October work session. At that time, Sims had a question about the possible trademarking of the city seal.

And councilmember Sue Sgambelluri, who’s also a member of the council’s administration committee, expressed her enthusiasm: “Hooray! This is exciting. I’m not even sure why it’s so exciting. It just is.” Sgambelluri added, “I am especially glad that you’re putting in language related to enforcement and appropriate use and so forth. So thank you for doing that.”

The ordinance establishing the new city seal was introduced at the city council’s Nov. 18 meeting. The council’s administration committee again took up the topic of the city seal at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Responding to a question from committee member Jim Sims about trademarking, Bolden said the city logo has already been trademarked. But she did not think it’s possible to trademark a city seal. It is, however, possible to prescribe how the seal can be used, Bolden said, which is what the ordinance does.

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