Column: Bloomington’s city council should increase Jack Hopkins social services budget for 2021

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.
Annotated R Bar Chart History of Jack Hopkins Funding 2020 Apps

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.

At least a 10-percent increase in Jack Hopkins social services funding is achievable for the 2021 budget, even assuming no additional revenue.
Continue reading “Column: Bloomington’s city council should increase Jack Hopkins social services budget for 2021”

Bloomington city council includes memory of BearCat purchase in COVID-19 emergency powers for mayor

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At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council approved an ordinance that gives the city’s mayor and controller more flexibility to act in the context of an emergency, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, without following standard procedures or existing laws.

One of the amendments to the ordinance, adopted unanimously by the city council, inserted a mention of the emergency clause already included in a local law enacted by the council in 2018. The 2018 ordinance imposed a requirement that some fund transfers and some expenditures over $100,000 are subject to city council review.

The 2018 legislation was enacted by the council after the administration’s purchase of a $225,000 Lenco BearCat armored vehicle in early 2018 for the police department’s critical incident response team. The purchase generated considerable controversy. Continue reading “Bloomington city council includes memory of BearCat purchase in COVID-19 emergency powers for mayor”

Bloomington mayor, Monroe County commissioners schedule public meeting: Charting course to catch better winds for becalmed convention center expansion?

In a letter sent Thursday to Monroe County commissioners, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, told them he plans to attend their weekly Wednesday morning meeting on Nov. 6.

The mayor’s letter didn’t come out of the blue—it was his response to an invitation sent by commissioners earlier the same day: “[W]e write to invite you to attend our November 6th meeting to discuss this exciting opportunity.”

The “opportunity” to which the commissioners referred was the idea of creating a capital improvement board in connection with the convention center expansion.

Administrator for the board of commissioners, Angie Purdie, told The Beacon on Friday that the mayor will be first on the agenda under new business. Continue reading “Bloomington mayor, Monroe County commissioners schedule public meeting: Charting course to catch better winds for becalmed convention center expansion?”

Twenty elected officials to meet and discuss one topic : Convention center expansion

Twenty elected officials are now scheduled to meet on Monday, Sept. 16, to discuss the expansion of the convention center in downtown Bloomington. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the existing convention center, on the southwest corner of College Avenue and 3rd Street.

Monroe County commissioners announced the scheduling of the 20-strong gathering at the start of their regular Wednesday morning meeting.

Bloomington’s mayor (1), the city council (9), the Monroe County Council (7) and the Monroe County Board of Commissioners (3) have agreed to come together to talk about how to move the convention center project ahead.

The backdrop to the meeting is the work of a city-county steering committee over several months, which culminated earlier this year, in May. Continue reading “Twenty elected officials to meet and discuss one topic : Convention center expansion”

Now posted: The Beacon’s voter’s guide for 2019 Bloomington general elections

This November will mark the first election, dating back at least to 1967, that not all registered voters in Bloomington will able to cast a ballot for city offices—mayor, city clerk, and the nine-member common council.

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Shown are the two districts where Bloomington city elections will be held on Nov. 5 this year, with the names of candidates who will appear on the ballot. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

That’s because elections are contested in just two city council districts: District 2 and District 3. Voters in District 2 will choose between Andrew Guenther (R) and Sue Sgambelluri (D). In District 3, the choice is between Nick Kappas (I), Ron Smith (D) and Marty Spechler (I).

The Beacon’s voters guide includes short profiles of the five candidates in contested elections and links to other useful information. The guide also includes candidates in non-contested elections.

In areas other than District 2 and District 3, no elections will be held, because there are no contested races. Ballots in those districts will show just the contested races. That’s not automatic, but in areas where no races are contested, state law gives county election boards the authority to cancel them. And that’s what Monroe County’s election board did in August. Continue reading “Now posted: The Beacon’s voter’s guide for 2019 Bloomington general elections”

May 7 Bloomington Primary Election: A Nonpartisan Resource

Twenty-three candidates for 11 city offices are on the ballot for Bloomington voters in the May 7, 2019 primary election – all but one of them Democrats. And this year, all but two of the Democratic Party primary races are competitive.

Bloomington Primary Candidates 2019
Candidates in the May 7 Bloomington primary.

To help voters research their choices for Bloomington mayor, clerk and council, we’ve compiled a nonpartisan resource guide that profiles each candidate in the May 7 primary.

Here’s a link to the guide: Bloomington City Primary Elections 2019

In addition to biographical background, the profiles include links to each candidate’s online campaign information (website, social media, email) as well as links to campaign finance documents filed with the Monroe County clerk’s office.

Each profile also provides links to relevant news articles from a variety of sources, a listing that will be updated throughout the election cycle.

To register to vote, check your registration status or find your polling location, go to the Indiana Voter Portal. The deadline to register to vote in the May 7 primary is Monday, April 8.

Early voting starts on Tuesday, April 9.