Bloomington’s annual Life Chain demonstration precedes city budget decisions

On Sunday afternoon, a two-mile stretch of 3rd Street in Bloomington, from College Mall Road to College Avenue, was punctuated by clusters of people every block or so, holding signs reading “Stop Abortion Now,” “Abortion Kills Children,” or other similar statements.

It was Bloomington’s edition of the National Life Chain demonstration, which is an annual event that started in 1987.

This year’s demonstration against abortion comes in the wake of the US Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson decision handed down in June, which overturned the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. Soon after that ruling, Indiana’s state legislature passed SB1, which prohibits most abortions in the state.

The local demonstration also comes during during the run-up to decisions on the city of Bloomington’s 2023 budget, which includes a $2,500 reimbursement for expenses that a city worker might pay in connection with travel out of the state to obtain abortion services.

Also a part of the city’s 2023 budget proposal is a $100,000 allocation to fund an emergency reproductive health care grant program. The city council will hear a first reading this Thursday of a $100,000 appropriation that would fund the emergency reproductive health care grant program starting this year.

About the reimbursement for travel expenses, local Life Chain spokesman Eric Rasmusen wrote in response to an emailed B Square question: “I, of course, think the city should not fund abortions, but really they’re just grandstanding—$2,500 to travel to Illinois?” Continue reading “Bloomington’s annual Life Chain demonstration precedes city budget decisions”

Photos: Protesters mourn effective date of Indiana’s law prohibiting most abortions

On the evening before the effective date of SB1, Indiana’s new law that prohibits most abortions, around a hundred people gathered on the southeast lawn of the Monroe County courthouse in an event that was billed as a vigil to mark the occasion.

Attending Wednesday evening’s event (Sept. 14) and addressing the crowd were county and city officials as well as leaders of nonprofit groups. Continue reading “Photos: Protesters mourn effective date of Indiana’s law prohibiting most abortions”

$129M in 2023: Bloomington mayor asks city council to approve 21% bigger budget for next year

The 2023 budget  that has been proposed by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton comes in at $129.2 million, which is about 21 percent more than last year.

That’s the figure in city controller Jeff Underwood’s memo, which was released on Monday at 2 p.m. A  news release came a few minutes later.

Hamilton delivered the proposal to the city council on Monday evening.

The budget reflects a 5-percent pay increase for non-union workers, plus a $250 quarterly bonus, for a total of $1,000 in bonuses.

Hamilton’s presentation was followed by a financial overview from city controller Jeff Underwood and an overview of compensation by human resources director Caroline Shaw.

After that, the council received departmental budget briefings from several departments: human resources; clerk’s office; legal department; information and technology services; city council; controller; and office of the mayor.

The departmental budget breakdowns were released last Friday.  The departmental budget presentations to the council will continue over the next three nights, all starting at 6 p.m.  The B Square will report reaction from councilmembers separately.

The $129 million reflects all of the city’s departments, but does not include city of Bloomington utilities, Bloomington Transit, or the Bloomington Housing Authority. Adding in the budgets for those three entities brings the total to about $229 million.

Changes residents will notice

Part of the budget proposal includes reductions in some city services, increased costs to residents, or changes to current practice.

Continue reading “$129M in 2023: Bloomington mayor asks city council to approve 21% bigger budget for next year”

Fourth of July parade with protest in the mix “quintessentially Bloomington”

The morning’s scheduled events in downtown Bloomington on July 4 included a performance by the community band, the rededication of the Alexander Memorial on the southeast corner of the courthouse, and a parade—which headed south on College Avenue, then back up Walnut Street.

Not a part of the program was a protest against a recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that overturned Roe v. Wade. The earlier 1973 decision had found that access to an abortion was a constitutional right.

When the rededication ceremony started, demonstrators filed past the southeast corner and headed one block west, to the southwest corner of the square. The B Square counted about 150 protesters, who gathered at the intersection of Kirkwood and College avenues, on the south side of Kirkwood.

Chants and speeches through a megaphone from the protesters could be heard at the Alexander Memorial dedication. But the sound system amplified remarks from speakers enough to make them heard on that corner of the square. At the protester’s corner, the dedication ceremony was audible, but was drowned out by the megaphone.

At mid-block, the message from both corners was a bit muddled.

The idea that a protest and rededication ceremony would take place on opposite ends of the same block, was described by one bystander as “quintessentially Bloomington.”

The protest was organized by Students for a New Green World, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Continue reading “Fourth of July parade with protest in the mix “quintessentially Bloomington””

War, peace, cameras: Monroe County courthouse monuments cleaned, repaired for July 4 ceremony

Set to be the main event for Monday’s July 4 celebration at the Monroe County courthouse is the rededication of the 35-foot-tall Alexander Memorial.

The memorial was built in 1928 to honor Monroe County’s veterans of all wars.

The iconic monument, which stands on the southeast corner of the courthouse square, was refurbished in April of this year, by cleaning it and installing eight new limestone panels. The original panels, some of which are now on display inside the courthouse rotunda, had deteriorated in the nearly 100 years since it was first constructed.

Signs have been posted on the courthouse lawn announcing that the space is reserved for the July 4 activities.

The Alexander Memorial needed some additional cleaning on Tuesday this week. The base of the monument, below the recently installed new panels, was spray-painted with slogans supporting reproductive rights. Continue reading “War, peace, cameras: Monroe County courthouse monuments cleaned, repaired for July 4 ceremony”

SCOTUS abortion ruling prompts Bloomington demonstrations

Friday morning’s Supreme Court of the United States ruling, which overturned Roe v. Wade, prompted around 100 people to demonstrate later that evening, at the southeast corner of the Monroe County courthouse square, in downtown Bloomington.

The ruling also prompted a one-man demonstration the following day at Bloomington’s farmers market.

Roe v. Wade was the 1973 SCOTUS decision that concluded abortion is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Friday’s ruling concluded that it is not a constitutional right, which means states can enact laws that prohibit abortions.

Both demonstrations included light brushes with local law enforcement officers, but no arrests were made in either case. Continue reading “SCOTUS abortion ruling prompts Bloomington demonstrations”