Deadlines for campaign finance reports in 2023 could get stricter enforcement in Monroe County

In the state of Indiana, a candidate who files their campaign finance paperwork three weeks late could owe a fine of up to $1,000.

But it’s almost never the case that late filers in Monroe County have to pay a fine at all.

That’s because Indiana’s state election law allows a county election board to waive or reduce the fine that a candidate has to pay.

And that’s the approach that Monroe County’s election board has taken in the past. The board has imposed a fine only on the third offense, and even then, not the full amount.

For this year’s Nov. 8 election the deadline to file the CFA-4 was by noon on Oct. 21.

Eleven candidates in Monroe County missed the deadline—and of those, five still have not submitted the form, according to Monroe County election officials.

Even if the late filings this time around will be handled with the same “generous” approach as before, that could change for 2023, when the municipal elections are scheduled.

The topic got some discussion at the Monroe County election board’s regular meeting on Thursday.

As election board member Donovan Garletts put it: “Perhaps for January’s meeting, we need to talk about our generosity and reevaluate that.” Continue reading “Deadlines for campaign finance reports in 2023 could get stricter enforcement in Monroe County”

Election 2023: Sims won’t run again for city council, still plans continued service to Bloomington

Bloomington at-large city councilmember Jim Sims will not be seeking reelection in 2023.

Sims has confirmed his plans not to run in 2023 in a phone interview with The B Square.

The nine-members of the city council, along with the mayor and city clerk, are up for election in 2023. All 11 elected Bloomington officials are Democrats.

Sims said his decision not to seek reelection was a tough one—something he had grappled with, and consulted with others about.

But in the end, Sims said, he recognized the potential impact that the stress of city council service might have on his own health. That led him to conclude he could serve the community better in non-legislative ways.

“It’s just time to move on,” Sims said.

Some of those non-legislative ways include his involvement in the Monroe County branch of the NAACP. Sims currently serves as the organization’s 2nd vice president for political engagement and finance. Sims said he plans to continue his more than 20 years of service with the NAACP. Continue reading “Election 2023: Sims won’t run again for city council, still plans continued service to Bloomington”

Company email: Catalent’s Bloomington operation to cut 400 jobs

In a Wednesday morning email sent site-wide on behalf of Andrew Espejo, who is general manager of Catalent’s manufacturing facility in Bloomington, the pharmaceutical manufacturing company has announced a reduction of its Bloomington workforce by 400 jobs.

The email indicates that employees—which include full-time and temporary employees, mostly within the operations team—will be notified between Wednesday and Friday to “discuss the next steps, review available support, and address any questions the impacted employees may have.”

Wednesday’s email message states: “Those who are not contacted by Human Resources should report to work as scheduled.”

The message also says, “[W]e’re committed to operating in a transparent manner to ensure every employee impacted by these changes has the information and support they need, severance pay, benefits continuation, and outplacement assistance.”

The email states that “every colleague on this team has performed admirably,” and adds that the workforce reduction is in “no way a reflection of the quality of the work we’ve done.” Continue reading “Company email: Catalent’s Bloomington operation to cut 400 jobs”

Standard procedure: Ballots impounded by Indiana State Police for House District 62 recount

By around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, two state police sergeants had appeared at Monroe County’s Election Central at Madison and 7th streets—to secure the ballots and voting equipment that were used for the Nov. 8 general election.

Indiana state police first sergeant Brad Stille. (Nov. 29, 2022)

It’s the standard process that is used under state election law, when a recount of ballots is requested.

The recount in question is for the District 62 state house race, which was requested the day before, on Monday, by the Monroe County Democratic Party (MCDP).

The race was won by Republican Dave Hall, who had a certified tally of 12,990 votes, which was 40 more than Democrat Penny Githens.

The impoundment order, from recount director Philip Sicuso acting on behalf of the state’s recount commission, was served by first sergeants Dana Miller and Brad Stille with the Indiana State Police. Continue reading “Standard procedure: Ballots impounded by Indiana State Police for House District 62 recount”

Recount for 40-vote margin: Monroe County Dems to ask for hand re-tally in Hall-Githens District 62 race

The Monroe County Democratic Party will petition the Indiana state election division for a recount of votes in  the state house representative District 62 race, which was won by Republican Dave Hall over Democrat Penny Githens.

Left: Penny Githens (D). Right: Dave Hall (R). In these photos, they were giving stump speeches at a candidate event hosted by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce held on Oct. 3, 2022.

That’s according to a news release issued by the MCDP on Monday morning.

The news release cites the 40-vote margin as the reason for the recount request.

MCDP chair David Henry is quoted in the release saying, “In such extremely close races, a recount is simply about exercising our candidate’s rights under the law, and crossing every t, and dotting every i.”

The procedure for election recounts in the state of Indiana is spelled out in three places: state election law; the state recount commission’s recount procedure manual; and the procedures manual for the state board of accounts.

Under state law, the deadline for a county party to petition for a recount is 17 days after the election, which translates this year to Monday (Nov. 28), due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Barring botched paperwork or failure to hit deadlines, state law indicates that the state recount commission has to order a recount. Continue reading “Recount for 40-vote margin: Monroe County Dems to ask for hand re-tally in Hall-Githens District 62 race”

Public bus notebook: BT to work with Go Bloomington on guaranteed rides home

Bloomington Transit’s five-member board has approved in concept the idea that the Go Bloomington program will tap into BT’s existing arrangements with Uber and Lyft, to give program participants a guaranteed ride home.

Through October, Bloomington Transit fixed route ridership continues to show gains over last year, but still well under pre-pandemic numbers.

Go Bloomington  is the branding that’s been adopted for the city’s transportation demand management program. The idea is to help participants find other ways to get to work, besides driving a car by themselves.

The idea behind a “guaranteed ride home” feature is that someone might be more inclined to take the public bus, bicycle, or walk to work—if they know that they have a backstop for any unexpected transportation need.

If someone’s day unfolds in an unexpected way, they’ll be able to use a voucher with Uber or Lyft to handle whatever scenario has come up.

What the BT board approved at last Tuesday’s monthly meeting was a motion to authorize BT general manager John Connell to develop the interlocal agreement that’s needed, in order to make sure that BT gets reimbursed by Go Bloomington for the cost of the rides. Continue reading “Public bus notebook: BT to work with Go Bloomington on guaranteed rides home”

Conservation district math: Dec. 4 to mark conversion of Near West Side to historic district

Next Sunday (Dec. 4), Bloomington’s Near West Side conservation district will become a historic district.

That’s based on a city council decision that was made three years earlier. On a unanimous vote in December 2019, the council voted to establish the Near West Side as a conservation district.

It’s the area roughly bounded on the north by the railroad right-of-way alongside Butler Park, on the south by Kirkwood Avenue, and on the west by North Adams—shown in green in the maps that are included with this article.

At just under 100 acres, by land area, it will be the biggest historic district in Bloomington.

The difference between a conservation district and a historic district is more than just the label.

In a historic district, any exterior alterations are subject to review by the city’s historic preservation commission (HPC). In a conservation district, it’s just moving or demolishing buildings, or constructing new buildings that are subject to HPC review.

No additional city council approval was needed to make the conversion next week. In historic preservation terms, the conversion is called an “elevation” of the conservation district to a historic district.

Under state statute and local law, the conversion to a historic district is automatic, unless enough property owners object in writing.

Among property owners who responded to a recent city poll, nearly three-quarters objected.

Responding to a question from The B Square, Bloomington’s historic preservation program manager Gloria Colom Braña indicated that 120 returned a ballot voting against the elevation, with 41 voting in favor.

But that’s not how a majority is determined for purposes of objecting to a conservation district elevation. Continue reading “Conservation district math: Dec. 4 to mark conversion of Near West Side to historic district”

Canopy of Lights 2022: Thank you, Mae!

The traditional day-after-Thanksgiving lighting of the Monroe County courthouse square canopy in downtown Bloomington took place on Friday evening, just as it has since 1984.

But for this year’s countdown from 10, the throng was led in an extra step of rehearsal by emcee Jim Inman, Jr.

The crowd was given one added line to recite, just after “… 3–2–1” and before the lights were flipped on: “Thank you, Mae!”

Mae Cassady was the founder and owner of Cassady Electrical Contractors, which does the work every year to prep the lighting stands, which connect the roof of the courthouse to adjoining buildings around the square, to form the canopy.

She died a week ago at the age of 82. From her obituary: “The Canopy of Lights surrounding the Monroe County courthouse was a special delight for Mae each year. In 1984, the electricians of Cassady Electric, under her guidance, hung the first lights that would immediately become an annual tradition for the entire community.”

Here’s how the crowd’s thank you to Mae Cassady sounded:

Continue reading “Canopy of Lights 2022: Thank you, Mae!”

Thanksgiving week Bloomington turkeys—in disguise

A full week of Thanksgiving break at Indiana University means the campus and all of downtown Bloomington has been a lot quieter the last few days. One benefit: more wildlife. Continue reading “Thanksgiving week Bloomington turkeys—in disguise”

Dems ask for recount of 4-vote margin in Benton Township board race

A recount in the Benton Township board race has now been requested by the Monroe County Democratic Party.

In the Benton Township board race, where the top three vote getters win election, Democrat Hans Kelson finished fourth, missing third-place by a 4-vote margin. The third-place finisher and was Republican Jake Dodds.

Under state election law, a recount request for a township board race takes the form of a petition filed  with the circuit court. The announcement of the recount petition filing came on Wednesday from Monroe County Democratic chair David Henry.

In the same announcement, Henry wrote that the Democratic party is still weighing a possible recount request in the District 62 state house race.

The District 62 race was won by Republican Dave Hall over Democrat Penny Githens with a post-provisional ballot count margin of 40 votes. The 17-day period for a county chair to ask for a recount translates into next Monday, due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Because Monroe County has the largest population of the three counties covered by District 62, it would fall to the county chair of Monroe County to file for a recount in that race. Continue reading “Dems ask for recount of 4-vote margin in Benton Township board race”