Protest at Bloomington park board meeting yields 2–1 vote on farmers market rules of behavior

Bloomington’s board of park commissioners voted 2–1 on Tuesday night to adopt new rules of behavior at the city’s farmers market. Dissenting was the newest board member, Israel Herrera.

The rules specify how and where protests are allowed at the farmers market.

Herrera told The Square Beacon after the meeting that his vote was based on the concerns that meeting protestors had conveyed—from the public podium and their seats in the audience—about the possibility of increased police violence in the coming season, due to the new rules. People who speak up should not be forced to shut up, he said.

The 2–1 tally was enough to pass the measure on the four-member board. One seat is currently vacant. The city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, told The Square Beacon the board needs a majority of those present to approve a motion. Continue reading “Protest at Bloomington park board meeting yields 2–1 vote on farmers market rules of behavior”

Mayor’s state of city address reiterates sketch of New Year’s Day local income tax proposal; more info possible at March 5 city council event

Last Thursday’s “state of the city” speech by Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton focussed on the 2020s as a “make or break decade,” in light of the challenges posed by climate change.

The news out of the speech was a planned public meeting  about the topic of a possible increase to the local income tax to pay for climate action initiatives.

The meeting is to be hosted by the city council on March 5 at The Mill starting a 7 p.m. Additional details on the meeting weren’t immediately available from the mayor’s office.

City councilmember Matt Flaherty sent a message to The Square Beacon Friday morning saying that the agenda for March 5 is still in the works. The primary focus will be public engagement and gathering input from the community, Flaherty said. Continue reading “Mayor’s state of city address reiterates sketch of New Year’s Day local income tax proposal; more info possible at March 5 city council event”

$800K in federal community development fund allocations OK’d by Bloomington city council

At its regular Wednesday meeting this past week, Bloomington’s city council approved allocations for $800,000 worth of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

Doris Sims, who’s director of the city’s  HAND (Housing and Neighborhood Development) department led off the presentation to the city council on the resolution.

The amount awarded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development could turn out to be more than $800,000. If additional funds turn out to be available, the resolution approved by the city council allocates the extra money based on a priority ranking of programs that were not fully funded, or funded at all, in the basic allocation. Continue reading “$800K in federal community development fund allocations OK’d by Bloomington city council”

Non-consensual towing companies in Bloomington now need a license

 

Beginning July 1 this year, companies that tow vehicles that are illegally parked on private property in Bloomington will need a license from the city to provide the service to property owners.

Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously at its regular Wednesday meeting to enact the new law.

Highlights of the law include a $350 annual license fee for tow companies that do non-consensual tows. Those companies can’t charge vehicle owners more than $135 for basic towing, $25 for use of a dolly, and $25 per day storage, to retrieve their towed vehicles.

Companies also have to offer vehicle owners the chance to pay 20 percent of their fees and sign a payment agreement for the balance.
Continue reading “Non-consensual towing companies in Bloomington now need a license”

Bloomington city council creates standing committees on 5–4 vote

At Wednesday’s regular meeting, after about two hours of deliberation, Bloomington’s city council voted 5-4 to establish eight new four-member standing committees.

Wednesday’s vote means that after a first reading of a new local law, the council will now have the option of referring the legislation to any of the standing committees for further consideration. And as one consequence of local code, a standing committee can meet twice on a referred proposal, before it has to report back to the full council. Continue reading “Bloomington city council creates standing committees on 5–4 vote”

Transit board tees up March 17 vote on new routes for fall, including one that could go outside Bloomington

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Bloomington Transit board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 (Dave Askins/Square Beacon).

On Tuesday night at its regular monthly meeting, Bloomington Transit’s board got a briefing from general manager Lew May on recommended staff adjustments to proposed new routes.

The board is expected to take a vote on the changes at its March 17 board meeting. The changes are planned to be implemented in August this year. Continue reading “Transit board tees up March 17 vote on new routes for fall, including one that could go outside Bloomington”

Bloomington to seek plan commission OK for parking garage design without extra land

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The view eastward along 4th Street from the northwest corner of the lot where the 4th Street parking garage previously stood. Feb. 17, 2020. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

Bloomington is still reserving the right to appeal its unsuccessful eminent domain action to acquire additional land to replace the 352-space parking garage that stood downtown at the corner of 4th and Walnut streets.

But in three weeks, at the plan commission’s regular monthly meeting on March 9, Bloomington will present a design for a replacement garage that does not include the additional land, according to a news release issued by the city late Monday. Continue reading “Bloomington to seek plan commission OK for parking garage design without extra land”

Redistricting question served up to state legislators, talk turns again to local issue

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State legislators representing the Monroe County area appeared at an update hosted on Saturday by the League of Women Voters and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.  From left: Rep. Matt Pierce, Rep. Peggy Mayfield, Sen. Mark Stoops, and Rep. Jeff Ellington. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

On Saturday, the League of Women Voters and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce hosted the second in a series of three events tied to the General Assembly’s session calendar, which concludes in mid-March this year.

Like the first such event, held in late January, the idea of re-districting at the local level got some airtime. Continue reading “Redistricting question served up to state legislators, talk turns again to local issue”

Next week’s agenda: Will a majority of Bloomington city council support standing committees?

At a work session held Friday afternoon, city council president Steve Volan and other councilmembers heard again from city staff about Volan’s proposal to establish several four-member standing committees.

The proposal—which is a resolution, not a new ordinance—will appear on the council’s agenda next week (Feb. 19) for a third time. It was first heard on Jan. 8, postponed until Jan. 29, then put off again until next week.

The smaller standing committees would replace the “committee of the whole” in the regular legislative process.

Under Volan’s proposal, the standing committees would also play an oversight role for departments in the administration.

First introduced on Jan. 8, Volan’s initial proposal met with resistance from city department heads. Volan has since clarified that he means “oversight” in the sense of “inspect or examine.” Volan says the standing committees are not meant to exercise oversight in the sense of supervisory authority.

Volan’s proposal has also met with some opposition among the same councilmembers that voted 9–0 on Jan. 8—their first public meeting of the year—to put him in the president’s chair. If the council gives the standing committee resolution a final vote next Wednesday, the tally could be a 5–4 or 4–5 split. Continue reading “Next week’s agenda: Will a majority of Bloomington city council support standing committees?”

Tow me the money | Up for possible vote next week: Bloomington ordinance regulating companies that remove cars parked illegally on private property

Bloomington’s city council will have a proposed non-consensual towing ordinance back on its regular meeting agenda for continued consideration next week, on Feb. 19.

The proposed new local law establishes a licensing regime for companies that remove vehicles parked illegally on private property. An annual license would cost $350 a year.

On Wednesday, after three and a half hours of deliberations by the city council, in its guise as the committee of the whole, some likely differences emerged between the version of the ordinance that will be enacted, compared to the legislation that was first introduced on Jan. 15. Continue reading “Tow me the money | Up for possible vote next week: Bloomington ordinance regulating companies that remove cars parked illegally on private property”