Democrats challenge Green Party write-in candidate for judge based on loss in primary

 

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From left: Jennifer Crossley, chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party; Al Manns, currently a write-in Green Party candidate for the Division 1 circuit court race; Randy Paul, co-chair of the Monroe County Greens.

For the Monroe County Division 1 circuit court race, it’s certain that the November ballot will show two names: Republican Carl Lamb and Democrat Geoff Bradley.

What’s not yet certain is whether a blank will have to appear on the ballot where a voter could write a different name: Al Manns.

On July 6, Manns filed the paperwork required for write-in candidates and indicated an affiliation with the Green Party. He now appears on the Secretary of State’s official list of candidates.

But on Friday morning in Indianapolis at the state election division, Monroe County Democratic Party chair Jennifer Crossley hand-delivered a challenge to the write-in candidacy that Manns wants to mount. Continue reading “Democrats challenge Green Party write-in candidate for judge based on loss in primary”

Monroe County sheriff’s deputies to get regular training updates with Lexipol policy management program

Sometime before December, the 44 sworn officers under the Monroe County sheriff will start taking monthly training on policies they’re supposed to follow.

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Monroe County Sheriff’s Office on 7th Street, looking north. Image links to Google Street View from which it is taken.

They’ll also get regular testing on the policies, according to Monroe County sheriff Brad Swain.

On Wednesday morning, county sheriff Brad Swain described the training and policy management program to county commissioners this way: “It will be as much a part of their work week as making sure their car is safe and all their equipment is good.”

The range of policies to be reviewed on a routine basis include those from 21st Century Policing  and #8CANTWAIT, Swain told commissioners.

The #8CANTWAIT policies require that law enforcement agencies: ban chokeholds; require de-escalation; require warning before shooting; require exhaustion of all alternatives before shooting; impose a duty to intervene; ban shooting at moving vehicles; require use of force continuum; require comprehensive reporting.

At their regular Wednesday meeting, the three county commissioners gave their unanimous support for the one-time “implementation fee” of $9,425 for the Lexipol system, that will, according to Swain, put the policies “all at their fingertips, their phone apps, as well as their within their car.” Continue reading “Monroe County sheriff’s deputies to get regular training updates with Lexipol policy management program”

On split vote, public safety income tax committee recommends: No “off-the-top” allocations this year for rural fire departments

A committee of the Monroe County tax council voted Tuesday morning against a recommendation to allocate $353,700 of public safety income tax money to support requests made by four rural fire departments in the county.

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Screenshot of the Aug. 4 meeting of the PS-LIT committee of the local income tax council of Monroe County. It was conducted on the Zoom video conferencing platform.

The potential direct allocation of funds to the fire departments would have made up about 4.5% of the $7.8 million that the committee was using as a conservative estimate for the total amount it could allocate for 2021.

The distribution of local income tax revenues for 2021 is based on 2019 income tax filings, which have been delayed because of relaxed deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vote on the seven-member PS-LIT (public safety local income tax) committee was 2–5 for the direct allocation of the funds to the Monroe County Fire Protection District, and fire departments serving Richland, Bean Blossom, and Benton townships.

The tally flipped to 5–2 for the committee’s vote on its recommended allocations for 2021 public safety income tax revenue.

The dispatch center—which is a public safety answering point (PSAP)—is recommended to receive its requested budget of $2,247,490.

The remaining amount is recommended to be divided, through a property-tax-footprint-based formula, among Bloomington, Monroe County, Ellettsville and Stinesville. In round numbers, that works out to about $2.8 million for Bloomington, $2.5 million for Monroe County government, $165,000 for Ellettsville and $1,100 for Stinesville. Continue reading “On split vote, public safety income tax committee recommends: No “off-the-top” allocations this year for rural fire departments”

Bloomington RDC OKs payment of property taxes connected to real estate deal for convention center expansion

On Monday night, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) approved the payment of some property taxes, on land it does not (yet) own.

The uncommon circumstance arose from the fact that when the RDC purchased the Bunger & Robertson property on College Avenue last year for $4,995,000, the deal did not include two parcels making up the north part of the parking lot that serves the building.

That portion of the parking lot has different owners. Based on a count using aerial images from the Monroe County GIS database, the two parcels include around 45 parking spaces.

The RDC is still looking to buy the parking lot parcels, so they can be used for the Monroe County convention center expansion project. That’s why the RDC bought the Bunger & Roberston real estate.

The convention center expansion is currently paused due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For now, the RDC is leasing the two parking lot parcels from the owners. The deal approved by the RDC in May includes a contractual agreement that the RDC pay $3,500 a month, for an annual total of $42,000.

But the contract also includes a requirement that the RDC pay the property taxes on the parcels.

It was payment of the property taxes that the RDC approved at its regular Monday night meeting. Continue reading “Bloomington RDC OKs payment of property taxes connected to real estate deal for convention center expansion”

$130K awarded to community non-profits by Monroe County through annual grant program

SophiaTravisBarChart 2020Community service grants to 33 organizations totaling $130,000 were announced and approved by Monroe County’s council at its work session Tuesday evening.

The awards were made after deliberations at earlier public meetings by the Sophia Travis community service grants committee, which includes two citizen members.

The grant program was renamed six years ago in honor of Sophia Travis, who served on the county council from 2004 to 2008. She worked as a councilor to “assure the applications for the limited funds available for support would be considered in a fair, even-handed and transparent process,” according to the renaming resolution. Continue reading “$130K awarded to community non-profits by Monroe County through annual grant program”

Opinion | Recovering four words: true and equal partnership

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This Square Beacon file photo is from a joint meeting of city and county officials on the convention center expansion that took place in 2019.

Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, gave a speech last week on Thursday, released in a Facebook video, that revealed the basic approach the city will take to spur a local recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19. It’s a program the mayor is calling “Recovering Forward.”

The speech prompted a response from county elected officials in the form of a pointed press release issued late this Friday afternoon.

By way of background, the mayor had sketched out the initial part of his recovery plan at a Bloomington city council work session the Friday before. To jump start the effort, the initial part of the plan includes a request to the Bloomington city council for a $2-million appropriation.

Overshadowing the rest of the speech was the mayor’s renewed pitch for an increase to the local income tax, something he’d announced as a goal on New Year’s Day. The amount of the proposed increase last week was reduced—from a half point to a quarter point—compared to the proposal he’d made earlier.

The way the local income tax works is already a point of friction between Bloomington and Monroe County government.

But escaping mention in the local press was this passage from the mayor’s speech:

I’ll note that the City’s recovery investment can and I believe should be in parallel with a similar county government investment in recovery, with their also-healthy financial reserves. I’ve urged our colleagues in county government to expand their support for eviction protection, for our public health system, for the criminal justice system reforms so sorely needed, and for other recovery needs.

That paragraph from the address, among others, piqued the interest of the mayor’s “colleagues in county government”—who wondered why the mayor felt it was his place to urge them to do anything at all.

They wondered even more why the mayor was urging them to do things they believe they’re already doing. Continue reading “Opinion | Recovering four words: true and equal partnership”

Building “culture of compliance” preferred to punishments for Bloomington’s triple layer of COVID-19 health orders

The major COVID-19 news across the state of Indiana on Wednesday came at governor Eric Holcomb’s mid-afternoon press conference. Holcomb announced a statewide mandate for wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus.

for beacon exported mask-4982908_1280The governor’s order is to be issued Thursday, and is supposed to take effect on Monday, July 27.

The governor’s order will make a failure to wear a face covering, in certain prescribed circumstances, a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a possible sentence of up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

But at the press conference, Holcomb said, “Please know the mask police will not be patrolling Hoosier streets.”

Enforcement of the governor’s mandate could be a moot point. Indiana’s attorney general on Wednesday issued an opinion that says the governor lacks the authority to criminalize a violation of the mask mandate. The opinion says it’s the state legislature that has that kind of authority. Continue reading “Building “culture of compliance” preferred to punishments for Bloomington’s triple layer of COVID-19 health orders”

Monroe County board of health elevates COVID-19 health order to regulation status: $500 fine possible

A regulation adopted unanimously by Monroe County’s board of health on Tuesday night is based largely on same the wording of an order issued late last week by county health officer Thomas Sharp. Both are meant to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The regulation takes effect at noon on Wednesday, July 22, but puts off some of the requirements until July 31. The requirement on face coverings is effective at noon, Wednesday, sooner than the other requirements. That sequence follows the same pattern as the health order did, which was issued last week.

In practical terms, the regulation has a status that allows for enforcement and punishment with a fine. Under the county code, the violation of a board of health regulation is a Class C ordinance violation. And a Class C ordinance violation carries with it a possible fine of up to $500. [Updated 11:11 a.m. on July 22, 2020. The board of county commissioners adopted an executive order at their regular meeting directing the sheriff to enforce the health board’s regulation.]

But the regulation approved Tuesday recommends that individuals, as opposed to groups, be fined $50. Group violations are recommended to be fined at a higher, unspecified amount.

The county regulation on wearing a face covering is something that can be enforced less than 24 hours after it was approved by the board of health on Tuesday evening. Continue reading “Monroe County board of health elevates COVID-19 health order to regulation status: $500 fine possible”

Local prosecutor charges two in July 4 Lake Monroe case, victim wants feds to prosecute as hate crime

Two weeks ago on July 4, an incident took place in the woods at Lake Monroe. Vauhxx Booker has described his role in that incident as “almost the victim of an attempted lynching.”

On Friday morning, county prosecutor Erika Oliphant announced that she had filed charging documents in the Monroe circuit court about two people in the incident.

The filing of charges was based on the investigative report and evidence given to the prosecutor’s office by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which handles law enforcement for Lake Monroe public land.

Sean M. Purdy is alleged to have committed criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, and intimidation—all felonies. Jerry Edward Cox II is alleged to have committed aiding, inducing or causing criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, and intimidation. Those are all felonies. Cox is also alleged to have committed two misdemeanor batteries.

At a Friday afternoon press conference, conducted on the Zoom video conferencing platform, Booker and his attorney, Katherine Liell, gave an update on the status of the FBI investigation. “We continue to cooperate with the FBI—we trust them more than we trust DNR. And so Vauhxx has already submitted to quite a lengthy interview.” Continue reading “Local prosecutor charges two in July 4 Lake Monroe case, victim wants feds to prosecute as hate crime”

COVID-19 Update: Mask order now in effect for Monroe County; other measures take effect on July 23 in Bloomington, later elsewhere

A new health order issued Friday afternoon requires Monroe County residents to wear face coverings when they’re not at home—with several caveats.

The order took effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, a few hours after it was issued by Monroe County health officer Thomas Sharp. It will stay in effect until it’s rescinded, according to the order.

The order comes as numbers of confirmed positive cases continue to rise in the county, and hospitalizations are starting to edge upward as well. The last death in Monroe County due to COVID-19 came three and a half weeks ago, on June 21. Continue reading “COVID-19 Update: Mask order now in effect for Monroe County; other measures take effect on July 23 in Bloomington, later elsewhere”