Sale of Showers admin building to investor in Kiln Collective OK’d by Bloomington RDC

The boarded up historic Showers administration building in the Trades District, north of city hall, will be getting at least a partial rehab by its new owner, Eurton Properties.

The conveyance agreement, which calls for Eurton to pay $400,000 for the property, was approved by Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) at its regular Monday evening meeting.

The admin building stands at the corner of Morton and 10th Streets. Continue reading “Sale of Showers admin building to investor in Kiln Collective OK’d by Bloomington RDC”

Police union speaks against specific plan for location of new police facilities in city hall building

Last Wednesday, president of Bloomington’s police union, Paul Post, led off his public commentary at Bloomington’s city council meeting with a general statement of support for the administration’s plan to upgrade and modernize the city’s police station.

“We fully support mayor [John] Hamilton’s initiative to make the much needed improvements to working conditions at police and fire facilities,” Post said.

Post added, “I’ve worked at the 3rd Street police station now for over 20 years, and I can tell you that everyone would welcome a new and upgraded modern facility.”

However, about the administration’s exact proposal, Post had reached a different conclusion: “We can’t support this specific plan and its associated financial costs.” Continue reading “Police union speaks against specific plan for location of new police facilities in city hall building”

Next year’s first ruling on a Bloomington annexation lawsuit could depend on meaning of “proceeding”

At the end of a Friday hearing that lasted about an hour and 20 minutes, special judge Nathan Nikirk did not issue a ruling in the case that remonstrators against Bloomington’s annexation have brought to the court.

Friday’s hearing involved the remonstrators in Area 1A and Area 1B, who collected signatures from more than 50 percent of land owners, which was enough to qualify for judicial review, but fell short of the 65 percent threshold that would have stopped annexation outright.

Area 1A is just west of Bloomington. Area 1B lies to the southwest.

Remonstrators in those two areas are asking that the judge grant them additional time for signature collection, under a state statute that provides certain emergency powers. [IC 34-7-6-1]  The emergency in question is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the fact that the judge didn’t issue a ruling on Friday, based on the clarification that Nikirk requested from both sides during the hearing, his eventual decision could depend on the interpretation of the word “proceeding” as used in the statute on emergency powers. Nikirk wanted both sides to lay out how they understand the concept of “proceeding” under that statute.

The statute refers to the emergency powers as applying to a “proceeding…pending before a court, a body, or an official, that exists under the constitution or laws of Indiana.”

At the end of the hearing, Nikirk asked both sides to prepare proposed orders on the question by Jan. 6, 2023.

Nikirk’s ruling on the question of a time extension will by no means settle the question of whether annexation happens, either in Area 1A or Area 1B, or the other areas, which are also subject to pending litigation. Continue reading “Next year’s first ruling on a Bloomington annexation lawsuit could depend on meaning of “proceeding””

Deputy mayor Don Griffin files paperwork to run for mayor of Bloomington in 2023

At 11:11 a.m. on Friday morning, Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin, Jr. filed paperwork with the Monroe County election division to become a candidate for mayor in the 2023 election.

Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin, Jr. (B Square file photos from 2021 and 2022)

Griffin joins Susan Sandberg  and Kerry Thomson  as previously declared candidates for the mayoral nomination of the Democratic party.

Clearing the way for Griffin to run for mayor was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s announcement two weeks ago  that he would not be seeking a third term.

Griffin and Hamilton both appeared on Wednesday in front of the Bloomington city council to present the administration’s proposal for a $29.5 million bond issuance to rehabilitate fire stations and to integrate a new police station into the western part of the Showers building—the same structure where city hall is located.

Reached by The B Square on Friday afternoon, Griffin said a more formal announcement would be forthcoming, probably early next week. For now, he’s just telling people that he is, if fact, running, and they’re welcome to tell others, too.

Griffin has served as deputy mayor of Bloomington since late April of 2021, when Mick Renneisen retired from the position. Continue reading “Deputy mayor Don Griffin files paperwork to run for mayor of Bloomington in 2023”

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”

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”