Column: A quick reminder for Bloomington that there’s a better way to corral meeting documents

Looking northeast at the intersection of Fourth and Washington streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s not a scooter corral (Sept. 2, 2023)

Yes, it’s been quite a summer.

Mine ended with a one-day visit up to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to see Chris Buhalis  play a show at the North Star Lounge.

When Buhalis sings the lyric, “I come from a big car town, we shine ‘em up and we drive ‘em all around,”  he’s not talking about Ann Arbor. He means Detroit, where he was born.

But Ann Arbor, just like any city in America, including Bloomington, Indiana, has its share of cars.

On this weekend’s short visit to Michigan, I noticed some efforts by Ann Arbor’s city government to keep car drivers from killing people.

At first, I did not recognize the pylons and paint that now tighten up the turn radius at some downtown intersections—as a way to slow drivers down. That’s because they bear a resemblance to the scooter corrals that Bloomington has recently installed throughout its downtown area.

My first thought was “What a weird place to put a scooter corral!” They are not scooter corrals.

It was helpful that some signage was placed nearby, which described them as “quick build” projects that are part of Ann Arbor’s Vision Zero efforts.

Like any civic-minded visitor, I wondered: When did those pylons and paint get approved? Where are all the “quick build” projects in town located? How much did it cost? Who paid for it?

Sometime in the past, I spent six years working as a journalist in Ann Arbor, so I knew where to look—it’s the same place any resident can look. I dialed up the Legistar online system, and typed “quick build” into the search box.

Here’s a screenshot of the results. It looks like the projects got their first mention as a report to the city’s transportation commission in May of 2021:


On Aug. 15, 2022 Ann Arbor’s city council approved a $698,808 contract with P.K. Contracting for installation of “quick builds” at several locations:


The Aug. 15, 2022 agenda item includes a few attached documents—one of them includes images of the various intersections where such projects were to be installed:


The project must have been at least a little bit controversial, because two councilmembers dissented on the vote:

In sum, finding documents about legislative actions in Legistar is way easier than finding documents in Bloomington’s onBoard system. OnBoard relies on meeting information packets that consist of a single .pdf file.

I wish that elected and appointed officials in Bloomington would stop considering 500-page meeting information packets as an acceptable solution to the challenge of disseminating and archiving the documents associated with public meetings.

It was almost two decades ago when Ann Arbor implemented Legistar to handle the task of meeting document management.

I am hopeful that when a solution like Legistar is implemented in Bloomington, I will still be alive to write about it.

6 thoughts on “Column: A quick reminder for Bloomington that there’s a better way to corral meeting documents

  1. Would you describe the contrasting current situation here and if you sought info what steps you’d have to take vs the few in. Ann Arbor?

    1. Yeah, not clear to me what is at issue here, the amount of data or the difficulty finding it or something else. I have found it difficult to find what I’m looking for if I don’t know exactly which meeting on which date to look for. And volume of data makes it challenging sometimes, but basic search tools usually address that pretty well.

  2. City Clerk Regina Moore and I worked with Granicus on a proposal to use that company to coordinate legislative information and other projects. The city wanted to create their own system.

    I hope Granicus will be considered again.

  3. Based upon the accompanying story in this newsletter, seems as though it could be a reasonable expectation of the clerks office to set up the infrastructure for this. Maybe it’s not their entire responsibility to populate it outside of city Council documents, but they could be the shepherd in coordination with IT.

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