Stop sign veto by Bloomington mayor stands, as council declines to consider an override vote

Remaining intact after Wednesday’s city council meeting was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s veto of the council’s Oct. 4 decision to authorize reinstallation of stop signs at four intersections along 7th Street.

At its meeting on Wednesday night (Oct. 18), the council declined to consider an attempt to override the mayor’s veto of the ordinance, which it had enacted on Oct. 4. The vetoed ordinance authorized the reinstallation of four stop signs along 7th Street—at Morton, Washington, Lincoln, and Dunn streets.

The removal of five stop signs along the corridor accompanied the opening of the 7-Line protected bicycle lane in mid-November 2021. The removal of the stop signs, which had been approved by the city council, was intended to make the east-west corridor a more attractive transportation option for bicyclists.

The stop signs at the 7th-and-Dunn intersection, which had already been reinstalled based on a 180-day order from city engineer Andrew Cibor, will remain in place. The 7th-and-Dunn stop signs will be allowed to persist for another 180 days, based on a fresh 180-day order.

According to former assistant city attorney and now deputy mayor Larry Allen, successive 180-day orders can be issued by the city engineer. On Wednesday night, Allen was speaking to the council on a different ordinance approved by the council that evening, one that included a revision to the wording of the city code on 180-day traffic orders.

On Wednesday, the procedural mechanism used by the council to allow the mayor’s veto to stand was to reject the motion to introduce the ordinance. The vote to introduce the ordinance foundered on a 3–5 tally. The motion to introduce the ordinance got support only from Dave Rollo, Steve Volan, and Ron Smith. Susan Sandberg was absent.

Voting against the motion to introduce the ordinance were: Jim Sims, Sue Sgambelluri, Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger, and Isabel Piedmont-Smith.

In order to override the mayor’s veto, which was issued last Friday, the council would have had to introduce the ordinance, then pass it again, but this time by a two-thirds majority. That’s at least six votes on the nine-member council.

When the council voted on Oct. 4 to enact the ordinance, the tally was just 5–4, along a familiar split. Voting for the ordinance were: Sue Sgambelluri, Ron Smith, Dave Rollo, Jims Sims, and Susan Sandberg. Voting against it were: Matt Flaherty, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Steve Volan, and Kate Rosenbarger.

Wednesday’s vote on the introduction of the ordinance saw Sgambelluri and Sims joining three (Flaherty, Rosenbarger and Piedmont-Smith) from the usual bloc of four. Volan, who is the fourth member of that usual bloc of four, joined Rollo and Smith, who normally vote with the bloc of five.

It was the administration that had initiated the original ordinance, to authorize reinstallation of stop signs at 7th and Dunn. It was Rollo who proposed an amendment, adding three more intersections.

One of the salient data points introduced by the city engineer at the Oct. 4 council meeting was the fact that an increase in crashes was seen in the corridor, after the removal of the stop signs. But the crash numbers returned to about the same level as before—after the city reinstalled the stop signs at 7th and Dunn in April 2023. The reinstallation of the signs at 7th and Dunn was based on a 180-day order issued by the city engineer.

The three additional stop signs listed in the ordinance came from an amendment proposed by Dave Rollo on the day of the council’s Oct. 4 meeting. His amendment, approved on the same 5–4 split as for the ordinance as amended, added stop signs at Morton, Washington, and Lincoln Streets.

Hamilton’s veto statement acknowledges the politics of a new city council that will see five new members on the nine-member group to start 2024: “The council vote to revert three intersections to the pre-2021 condition, with the possibility of it being changed again in a few months, can cause more confusion and directly presents public safety concerns.”

Hamilton’s message adds: “Additional time, hopefully enough to allow a full year of data since the April 2023 changes, will allow for more robust and meaningful data to inform any significant adjustments.”

City engineer Andrew Cibor’s initial recommendation, after reviewing crash data subsequent to removal of the stop signs, had been to reinstall stop signs at all five intersections. But the city’s traffic commission, and the bicycle and pedestrian safety commission, both rejected reinstallation of all the stops.

Both groups recommend reinstalling the stop signs at the 7th-and-Dunn intersection.

Hamilton has vetoed legislation approved by the city council twice before. The veto of 7th Street stop signs is the only one that has not been overridden.

The first veto came in Hamilton’s first year of service as mayor, when the council enacted an ordinance establishing the parking commission. By a 9–0 tally, on Nov. 16, 2016 the council overrode that veto .

Hamilton also vetoed the council’s resolution supporting the establishment of a capital improvement board as the governance for the expansion of the Monroe Convention Center. By an 8–1 tally, on Jan. 11, 2023 the council overrode that veto.

4 thoughts on “Stop sign veto by Bloomington mayor stands, as council declines to consider an override vote

  1. Can not wait till hamilton is gone. The worst mayor I can ever imagine. I will bet that if and when his dealings are investigated there will be issues.

    1. He has created more affordable housing than any other mayor and brought more economic development than anyone else. Being investigated is hyperbolic.

      1. By the logic of your assertions, if he is investigated, his fruits that you speak of will be evident. I doubt he will be investigated though, there is little utility in that and there is MUCH more work to do. I’m not entirely sure why you come to his defense at every-single-opportunity but when you agree with someone about everything there is very little knowledge gain or growth in that effort.

    2. To say a mayor like Hamilton, Kruzan, or the upcoming Kerry Thomson is the “worst I can ever imagine” is to throw away all perspective.

      It’s a real problem in Bloomington — people throw away all perspective when a mayor isn’t as good as they should be, as they could be. All signs are that Kerry Thomson will be roughly as good as Hamilton and Kruzan (who endorsed her), not markedly better (as many likely imagine). Her campaign literature spoke loudly about her perspectives, as she painted an image of a wonderful city if it only had a good government (especially one led by her). No outstanding leader could write or sign off on such campaign literature (there were about five other problems with it).

      The public will need to both be very firm with her in some ways and also appreciate what she does well. Which have also been needs during the Kruzan and Hamilton times.

      While Pete Buttigieg has more of a national platform at this time, our recent/new mayors are not so unlike him. South Bend people had real misgivings about him, based on things he said, did, and didn’t do, but all four of these folks might be called top 35% mayors, and one could easily argue top 20-25%.

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