What if every ordinance and resolution considered by Bloomington’s city council had to be scrutinized and debated publicly based on this question: How is this legislation anti-racist?
I think building such a step into the city council’s regular process could complement Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s recent proposed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is to “recover forward.”
The idea is not merely to restore Bloomington’s economic health, but to make it better than it was before. The same goes for two other areas—climate justice and racial justice.
Hamilton’s proposal includes the idea of changing the way Bloomington does things, so that we are combatting racial injustice in a way that reflects community values.
Here’s one way to build a separate step into the city council’s process, so that all legislation gets scrutinized through an anti-racist lens: Add an anti-racist reading to the legislative routine.
Currently, the normal process is that every ordinance must get read twice, at separate meetings, before it is enacted. A resolution currently just needs one reading.
The idea would be to add an occasion designed to discuss the ways the item does or does not serve the city’s anti-racist policy goals—an occasion called the “anti-racist reading.”
For ordinances, the anti-racist reading would be sandwiched between what are currently the first and second readings. For resolutions, the anti-racist reading would come after what is currently the first and only reading.
At IU Health’s hospital in Bloomington, the area’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases has pushed administrators to find ways to make space for new patients.
A month ago in Monroe County, the seven-day average of confirmed new positive COVID-19 cases had settled around 2. That has increased to around 17 at the end of July. Not every positive case requires hospitalization. But those increased numbers have pushed IU Health’s Bloomington facility towards its capacity.
On Friday, MaryAnn Valenta, IU Health’s regional director for strategic integration, said the hospital is responding to the recent surge by reducing the number of elective procedures and transferring patients to other hospitals inside and outside the region. Where they’re transferred is based on “the location that makes the most sense to each patient based on bed capacity.”
As part of its campus re-opening plan, Indiana University is planning to use a combination of diagnostic and surveillance testing, in a program that will see up to 10,000 COVID-19 tests done in a single day.
During a panel discussion with other city officials, live streamed Thursday afternoon on Facebook, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton put numbers to an idea he mentioned in a speech two weeks ago.
The 2021 budget proposal, which the mayor will eventually present to the city council in mid-to-late August, would reduce the number of sworn officer positions with the Bloomington police department (BPD) from 105 to 100.
The budget is scheduled for adoption in October.
The idea is to re-allocate the money for five sworn officers to at least five new non-sworn positions—a mix of social workers and neighborhood resource specialists, Hamilton said.
Debbie Fish, former teacher and education professional, at Monday morning’s demonstration.
Faculty member at Indiana University’s school of public heath, in the department of kinesiology, Julius Hanks, attended Monday’s demonstration at Monroe County’s health department.
On Monday morning, a half dozen people showed up at the Monroe County health department’s temporary location in the Showers building on Morton Street.
They held signs with slogans like, “Shut it down, now! Start over! Do it right!” They were advocating for a stronger statement from health officials on the question of re-opening schools.
They’re concerned about a start to the school year amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the area, and across the state.
News reporters narrowly outnumbered demonstrators. Organizer Debbie Fish, a former teacher and educational professional, said she expects a stronger continent at a rally planned for Tuesday at the district’s education resource center on Miller Drive.
That’s where the board will be meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, partly in-person and partly by videoconference.
Fish said she is concerned that if schools start up now, and teachers have to go back into the classroom, some will take the semester off. There may be some who will just quit the profession of teaching, Fish fears.
Early in the meeting, the agenda for Tuesday includes a re-entry plan overview by superintendent Judith DeMuth and a board discussion with possible modifications. A resolution on adopting a plan for re-opening schools is the final point of business, after a dozen other business items.
At a committee-of-the-whole meeting on Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council had several questions for mayor John Hamilton about the initial part of his “Recover Forward” plan.
The plan has city government playing a “counter-cyclical” role in the context of the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initial phase of the plan relies on just shy of $2 million of existing general fund money and another $400,000 of funds from other sources, to provide additional support for sustainable development, jobs, and housing.
Most of the questions from councilmembers on Wednesday amounted to requests for additional detail about the programs that the mayor wants to fund. They’d received an initial briefing a couple weeks ago at a work session. But the most recent information they’d received still lacked the level of detail some councilmembers wanted.
Indiana University campus: Square Beacon file photo from April of statue of Herman B Wells, former chancellor of Indiana University.
Indiana University still wants all students to be tested for COVID-19 before they start classes in the fall.
The expectation of universal testing was part an update sent to Indiana University faculty and staff on Friday (July 24). It matched the message from the university’s assistant vice president for strategic partnerships, Kirk White, at Friday’s weekly press conference of community leaders.
The novel part of Friday’s announcement was the hybrid test-on-arrival approach that the university will take to getting all students tested.