Bloomington council set to give symbolic support to driver card legislation for undocumented residents

Just one item appears on the Bloomington city council’s regular Wednesday agenda for final action.

The council will be asked to vote on a resolution in support of future state legislation that would allow undocumented Hoosier residents to get driver’s cards—which could be used only for the purpose of allowing them to drive.

Proponents of this kind of legislation typically frame it as a public safety issue. The idea is that if there’s a legal path to driving, even for undocumented immigrants, that means the government can at least require minimum driving skill levels and insurance.

Opponents typically cite the fact that those who would qualify for such a driver’s ID card have broken immigration law by not having obtained the required documentation before arriving in the country.

Also at its regular meeting on Wednesday, the council will get some updates from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s administration, including a report from public works director Adam Wason on the results of a street and sidewalk condition assessment.

Wason will also be front and center at a committee-of-the-whole meeting that is set to follow the regular meeting. The one topic on the committee meeting agenda is an increase to curbside trash and recycling fees. Continue reading “Bloomington council set to give symbolic support to driver card legislation for undocumented residents”

Miller-Showers showdown: great blue heron versus redwing blackbird

Miller-Showers Park, on Bloomington’s north side, is wedged between College Ave and Walnut Street.

The public park is home to lots of redwing blackbirds—which will defend their nesting territory in a pretty aggressive way. The B Square got a heads up from a reader that they’ve been pretty aggressive in the last few days. They’ll flap their wings against your head if you get too close.

Redwing blackbirds will defend their nests against any threat they perceive—humans and birds alike.

On Sunday (June 4, 2023), it was a great blue heron that faced the wrath of a redwing blackbird, which let the bigger bird know it was not welcome to fish in peace.

There are more photos below. To see a larger version of any photo, click on it, then navigate through the rest at maximum resolution by arrowing or swiping left and right. Continue reading “Miller-Showers showdown: great blue heron versus redwing blackbird”

Honk, if you’d like Bloomington’s traffic counts

On an average day, 2,526 cars drive along the section of Morton Street between 7th and 8th streets in downtown Bloomington.

Measured just a few months ago, that’s one of the freshest numbers in Bloomington’s traffic count dataset. That dataset and others are available through the part of the city’s website that is branded as B Clear Open Data.

As Bloomington gears up for some mid-June public meetings about the College and Walnut corridor, traffic counts are one kind of information that residents might like to have in a handier format than a bunch of rows and columns.

To serve that potential community interest, The B Square has built a Google Map  showing the locations of all the traffic counters  in the B Clear traffic count dataset. Click on a colored dot, and a sidebar will appear, showing the traffic count tally, as well as the year when the count was done.

On June 13, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in city hall, there will be a public meeting to discuss the existing conditions along the College and Walnut corridor. Two days later, on June 15, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., another public meeting is scheduled, to discuss design concepts. Continue reading “Honk, if you’d like Bloomington’s traffic counts”

Public works preview: Latimer Square lane closures, Hopewell contract, Rita’s Italian Ice walkup

Motorists and pedestrians who are navigating north and south on either side of the Latimer Square apartment complex, which is now under construction at the site of the former Kmart off East 3rd Street, will notice some lane closures in the coming weeks.

That’s assuming Bloomington’s board of public works grants the requests from Gilliatte General Contractors, which is doing the construction work. The lane closure requests appear on the board’s Tuesday agenda.

The builder wants to close some lanes on Kingston Drive which runs north-south along the western side of the 900-bed apartment project, and Clarizz Boulevard, which runs north-south along the eastern side.

Closing down some traffic lanes and sidewalks will allow the improvements to the sidewalks and construction of bicycle lanes that are a part of the project site plan. Continue reading “Public works preview: Latimer Square lane closures, Hopewell contract, Rita’s Italian Ice walkup”

Election notebook: Same old story, Bloomington voter turnout is one for the ages

It’s the custom of Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne to send out hourly updates over the course of Election Day.

The May 2, 2023 municipal primary was no different. One of Browne’s updates included this note: “I tried to find the oldest voter who has participated in this municipal election…and, so far, she appears to be 99 years young.”

Browne’s update continued: “Her 100th birthday will be this summer and I want to acknowledge her making the concerted effort to vote.”

The B Square has now confirmed—based on the voter history file provided by county election staff—that it was a 99-year-old who was the most senior voter to cast a ballot in person, on Primary Election Day.

But that nonagenarian wasn’t the absolute oldest person to vote in the primary. After expanding the pool to include those who voted early—either in-person or with a mailed-in ballot, it was a 101-year-old living in the Bloomington 22 precinct, who earned the “absolute oldest” distinction.

On the other end of the spectrum was a 17-year-old living in the Perry 15 precinct, who was the youngest to vote in the May 2 primary. She will celebrate her 18th birthday eight days before the Nov. 7 general election. (In Indiana, it’s possible to vote in a primary, if you turn 18 by the time the general election takes place.)

What about all the other voters in between? How old were they? Continue reading “Election notebook: Same old story, Bloomington voter turnout is one for the ages”

On 4–5 vote, city council rejects direct oversight of Bloomington traffic calming, greenways program

On a vote split along familiar lines, Bloomington’s city council has rejected an ordinance that would have required council approval for the installation of new traffic calming and greenway projects.

The vote came on Wednesday night just a few minutes before midnight, at a meeting that started at 6:30 p.m. The ordinance, which was sponsored by Dave Rollo failed on a 4–5 vote.

It was a familiar 4-4 split, with Sue Sgambelluri providing the deciding vote to give one side a majority.

Supporting the ordinance were Rollo, Jim Sims, Ron Smith, and Susan Sandberg. Voting against it were Sgambelluri, Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, and Steve Volan.

The outcome hung in the balance until Sgambelluri weighed in. As council president and chair of the meeting, she was last to offer her view.

Continue reading “On 4–5 vote, city council rejects direct oversight of Bloomington traffic calming, greenways program”

Bike-ped group advises against direct oversight of traffic calming projects by Bloomington city council

May 8, 2023 meeting of the bicycle and pedestrian safety commission. Clockwise from left corner of the frame: Zac Hunec, Mitch Rice, Paul Ash, Pauly Tarricone, Hank Duncan (staff), Ryan Robling (staff), Rob Danzman, Ann Edmonds, and Jaclyn Ray.

On a unanimous vote of its seven members on Monday night, Bloomington’s bicycle and pedestrian safety commission (BPSC) recommended that the city council not adopt an ordinance that would establish the council as the decision maker on traffic calming and greenway projects.

The ordinance appears on the city council’s Wednesday (May 10) meeting agenda.

The council had postponed consideration of the law at its meeting last week, specifically in order to give the BPSC a chance to weigh in on the latest version of the ordinance. Continue reading “Bike-ped group advises against direct oversight of traffic calming projects by Bloomington city council”

2023 Bloomington primary notebook: Breaking down a citywide council race: 7 candidates, 3 seats

On Tuesday, three candidates won the Democratic Party’s nominations for at-large seats on the Bloomington city council: Isak Asare, Andy Ruff, and Matt Flaherty.

There were four other candidates on the ballot: Lois Sabo-Skelton, Jonas Schrodt, Steve Volan and Ryne Shadday.

Asare is a newcomer to city council politics. Ruff is making a comeback, after missing out on his re-election bid in 2019. Flaherty is an incumbent, who helped displace Ruff from his at-large seat in 2019.

At-large seats are elected by voters citywide—unlike district seats, which are elected by voters in one of six geographic districts. The at-large seats aren’t labeled in any way—that is, an at-large candidate doesn’t declare a run for some particular at-large seat.

On Tuesday, voters picked up to three at-large candidates from the seven on the ballot. It’s the top three vote-getters who won nomination to stand for the Nov. 7 general city election.

The top vote-getter was Asare (4,194 votes), followed by Ruff (3,961 votes), then Flaherty (3,726 votes). Continue reading “2023 Bloomington primary notebook: Breaking down a citywide council race: 7 candidates, 3 seats”

2023 Bloomington Democratic Party Primary: Mapping out the mayoral results

It’s no longer breaking news that Kerry Thomson won the Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor of Bloomington in Tuesday’s election.

Bloomington 2023 Mayoral Primary. Kerry Thomson’s Percentage of the Vote by Precinct. The image links to a dynamic version of the map. Data for all candidates can be downloaded via the dynamic map.

Thomson’s 3,444 votes gave her about 43 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent (2,644) for Susan Sandberg and 24 percent (1,924) for Don Griffin.

The county clerk’s office has now released the precinct-by-precinct totals. Thomson won 30 of the city’s 47 precincts. Sandberg won 6 of them, and Griffin won 9.

Who won the remaining two precincts?

In Richland 09, not one of the 13 registered voters participated in the primary, so it was a three-way tie at zero.

In Perry 15, which includes an older central Bloomington neighborhood northeast of Bryan Park, Thomson and Sandberg tied with 105 votes apiece. Griffin tallied 32 votes in Perry 15.

Those totals are all unofficial. The results won’t become final until provisional ballots have been adjudicated by the election board. Adjudication of provision ballots is scheduled for next Friday, May 12. Continue reading “2023 Bloomington Democratic Party Primary: Mapping out the mayoral results”

2023 primary election notebook: Final prep done for Bloomington, Ellettsville voting on May 2

Final preparations for tomorrow’s May 2 primary elections in Bloomington and Ellettsville are now pretty much complete.

Monroe County’s election board met on Monday evening at Election Central at Madison and 7th streets to field telephoned questions from the workers at the 18 polling locations, who were setting up for 12 hours of voting on Tuesday.

Making calls to inspectors at the 18 locations to confirm that all the equipment was set up were Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne, and deputy clerk Tressia Martin.

Browne is a member of the election board. Also on hand Monday evening were Democratic Party election board appointee David Henry and Republic Party appointee Donovan Garletts. Henry is also Monroe County Democratic Party chair.

Bloomington voters are electing party nominees for mayor, clerk, and nine city council seats. Ellettsville voters are electing party nominees for clerk/treasurer and town council. Preliminary results from Bloomington and Ellettsville precincts will be published as updates to this article as they are available.

Continue reading “2023 primary election notebook: Final prep done for Bloomington, Ellettsville voting on May 2”