On Wednesday at its first meeting of the year, Bloomington’s city council decided on a 5–4 vote that Susan Sandberg, not Isabel Piedmont-Smith, would serve as its appointment to the city plan commission in 2021.
It was a night when the council settled on a raft of appointments of its own members to various boards and commissions.
That included the appointment of Sandberg to the city plan commission. She’s served on the nine-member group for the last couple of years.
Sandberg’s appointment to the plan commission was the only one that required a vote of the council to settle the question of which councilmember would serve. A couple of other competing councilmember interests were resolved when one deferred to the other.
Voting for Sandberg to serve on plan commission were: Sandberg, Dave Rollo, Jim Sims, Sue Sgambelluri, and Ron Smith. Voting for Piedmont-Smith were: Piedmont-Smith, Steve Volan, Kate Rosenbarger, and Matt Flaherty.
During Friday’s media preview of his proposed budget for next year, Hamilton reflected on this year’s numbers compared to the four budgets he presented in his first term as mayor. “This is my first non-balanced budget,” Hamilton said, “meaning the expenses are higher than the projected revenues.”
Controller Jeff Underwood was on the conference call, so Hamilton was quick to clarify, “in case Jeff falls out of his chair” that the city has sufficient revenues plus reserves to pay for the budget.
The headline to this column could provoke a reflexive response from longtime Bloomington city councilmembers. As a matter of law, they’ll say, it’s not up to them, but rather the mayor to increase the budget for Jack Hopkins social services.
From a legal point of view, I think they might be wrong.
But all nine city councilmembers and the mayor are members of the Democratic Party. So even if they’re right on the legal question, partisanship works in their favor.
Without confronting any of the typical partisan barriers that some cities might face, Bloomington’s elected officials could fund more social services.
A 1980 article in the Valparaiso University Law Review states that the political party caucus exemption in the Open Door Law (ODL) here in the state of Indiana is “a major potential weakness in the act, and is virtually impossible to police.”
The same article mentions that there have been few problems with the caucus at the local level, either because it is not abused or else is used discretely enough to avoid criticism.
At lot has happened since 1980. But the law review article also mentions, as a point of curiosity, that up to that point there had been “few complaints by the press.”
On Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to postpone, until Feb. 19, council president Steve Volan’s resolution on establishing several council standing committees.
The unanimous vote on the postponement went smoother than the subsequent discussion of the council’s schedule for next week. That’s when an ordinance regulating non-consensual towing will appear on the agenda for a second reading.
The procedural options for the council’s Feb. 5 action on the towing ordinance include rejection, adoption, postponement, or referral to an ad hoc committee.
On Wednesday, council attorney/administrator Dan Sherman wanted direction from councilmembers on how to portray the towing ordinance item on the the Feb. 5 agenda.
It was a rest day for the baseball World Series between the Astros and the Nationals. But about 20 people attended a city council candidate forum Monday evening, hosted by The Civil Society at Indiana University. Moderators were students Meredith Karbowsky and Taylor Combs.
Only the council hopefuls in District 2 and District 3 were in the lineup—five candidates in all—because the races in the other four Bloomington districts are uncontested.
Held in the basement of Woodburn Hall on the IU campus, the event was unmarked by any real friction through about the first hour. Candidates did not offer radically different views on public safety, housing, or climate change, even if their talking points differed. It resembled a mostly friendly game of political pitch and catch, not hardball electioneering.
But a question about the situation that emerged this summer at Bloomington’s farmers market, which was pitched by moderators straight down the middle for each candidate, was blasted by Republican Andrew Guenther right at Democrat Sue Sgambelluri. The two are competing for the District 2 council seat.
On Monday night, Guenther accused Sgambelluri of “political cowardice,” based in part on what some of his supporters told him her campaign treasurer has said. Sgambelluri reached for Guenther’s line drive with a “results-oriented” glove.
At a forum held on Wednesday night for Bloomington city council candidates in District 3, an audience of around a dozen Bell Trace residents heard from the three candidates who are on this year’s ballot: Nick Kappas (independent), Ron Smith (Democrat), and Marty Spechler (independent).
Bell Trace is a senior living community on the city’s east side. Residents had questions about two specific topics: transportation and a planned convention center expansion downtown.
The timing for those topics squares up with a couple of public meetings planned before the end of the month, on Oct. 29. One is the kickoff to a series of meetings hosted by Bloomington Transit about a proposed new route configuration, which has been studied for more than a year.
Monroe County attorney Jeff Cockerill presented a proposal to Bloomington’s city council Wednesday night that will use revenue from the West Side TIF (tax increment financing) District to pay for two new roads in the area southeast of the intersection of Vernal Pike and Curry Pike.