On Saturday afternoon, at the Crestmont Boys and Girls Club on the north side of town, the Kappa Tau Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority hosted a Bloomington municipal candidate forum.
Alpha Kappa Alpha is one of the Divine Nine—that’s the nickname for the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), which is an umbrella council composed of historically Black fraternities and sororities.
Invited to deliver remarks to kick off the forum were Jeanetta and Charlie Nelms. The couple, who have been married for 54 years, issued a clarion call to an audience of around 60 people: Vote in the May 2 primary.
Jeannetta Nelms was director of the Indiana University 21st Century Scholars Program in the mid-2000s. Charlie Nelms served as professor of higher education administration at IU and in several top posts, including vice president for institutional development and student affairs.
The B Square will report out separately on what the candidates had to say.
A recommendation from city engineer Andrew Cibor, to reinstall five stop signs along 7th Street in downtown Bloomington, will not have complete support from two advisory groups when it lands in front of the city council.
A hearing on the matter of Democrat David Wolfe Bender’s residency, as a Bloomington city council candidate for District 6, has now been set by Monroe County’s election board for May 18.
The three-member board set the date on a unanimous vote taken at its Thursday meeting.
The date falls roughly two weeks after the May 2 primary election, which will undoubtedly make Bender the District 6 city council nominee for the Democratic Party. He’s the only candidate on the ballot.
But Bender previously conveyed through his attorney, an intent to withdraw as the District 6 nominee: “David [Wolfe Bender] has decided to withdraw his candidacy for Bloomington Common Council District 6.”
Bender’s name will appear on the primary ballot, because the questions about his residency, which were raised by an Indiana Daily Student article published on Feb. 17, 2023, did not come to light until after the Feb. 10 deadline for challenges to be made.
Assuming Bender does withdraw as the nominee after the primary, the Democratic Party could place an alternate candidate on the November 8 city election ballot.
It was held on Wednesday at the Monroe Convention Center.
The revenue report for the county’s five-percent innkeeper’s tax showed a a 55-percent increase for the first two months of 2023 compared to the first two months of last year.
Mike McAfee, who’s executive director of Visit Bloomington, described the current state of planning for the solar eclipse next year. The narrow band of the full solar eclipse will pass right over Bloomington just a little over a year from now, on April 8, 2024.
One glumly received point of information was the status of the convention center expansion project, which still has not moved forward as hoped.
The stops for 7th Street traffic at Morton, Lincoln, Washington, Grant, and Dunn streets were removed, but those for the north-south side streets were left in place.
The elimination of the stops was meant to encourage the use of the east-west corridor by cyclists.
Now with a year’s worth of crash data in hand after the opening of the 7-Line, Bloomington’s city engineer Andrew Cibor is recommending that the five stop signs be reinstalled.
The reinstallation of the stop signs would have to be approved by the city council. Before the city council considers the engineer’s recommendation, two of the city’s advisory boards are supposed to weigh in—the bicycle and pedestrian safety commission (BPSC) and the traffic commission.
On Monday, the BPSC unanimously rejected the idea that all five stop signs should be reinstalled. But the BPSC unanimously supported reinstallation of the 7th Street stop signs at Dunn Street.
Just after the first of the year, the three Monroe County commissioners made a trip to Arizona to have a look at jail facilities there.
The trip came in connection with the work of the community justice response committee (CJRC), which is the group the commissioners established to address the work of two consultants, which was released to the county government about 20 months ago.
The report described Monroe County’s jail as having “far exceeded its structural and functional life cycle” and pointed to a failure of the current jail to meet Constitutional standards of care.
At the CJRC’s first meeting this year, just after the Arizona field trip, other committee members voiced their dissatisfaction with the lack of a heads-up given about their trip by the commissioners. One source of complaint: Had other members of the committee known, they might have been able to send along specific questions to be asked.
Commissioners told other committee members they would report out on what they’d seen in Arizona. The contentious character of the next few committee meetings meant that the report on the Arizona trip did not get addressed until this Monday.
County councilor Jennifer Crossley is a member of the CJRC. As Crossley put it at Monday’s committee meeting, “This has been like the moment we’ve all been waiting for…”
It was a move that put a significant sum behind the city’s preferred site for the planned expansion of the Monroe Convention Center. But it came with at least some amount of controversy for what was supposed to be a city-county collaboration.
For some of the actors involved in convention center planning at the time, it had been an open question: Should the expansion be located north or south of the existing convention center at 3rd Street and College Avenue? The city’s purchase appeared to be an attempt to settle that question.
The price tag was just under the $5-million statutory threshold that would have required the city council’s approval. And the deal still did not put the whole block under the city’s control.
The city was still negotiating with a different property owner for the remaining 0.4 acres, which consists of about 45 surface parking spaces.
Now, Bloomington’s RDC is set to buy the remaining part of the block.
The first live ballots are now headed into the hands of voters in Bloomington’s May 2 municipal primary election.
On Thursday and Friday, absentee ballots were sent to the 28 registered voters who have requested them so far. That’s based on the absentee voter list distributed by Monroe County election division staff.
Over the next few weeks, more absentee ballots will be sent to those who qualify, as more voters request them.
The Democratic Party’s primary will almost certainly select Bloomington’s mayor, city clerk and city council for the next four years. Just one Republican, Brett Heinisch for city council District 3, has declared a candidacy this year.
Davis had previously appeared before the board to appeal a total of $200 in fines imposed for the city’s notices of violations, saying that the materials that are stacked around his property are not garbage, but rather building materials and tools. They’re needed for the kind of active construction site he is overseeing, he has said.
That’s the position that Davis has outlined in a tort claim that he has sent to the city. The claim is against the city of Bloomington, the HAND department, the department of public works, and the board of public works.