A part-time temp worker documents an improperly parked scooter at 6th & Walnut streets Oct. 11, 2022
North Walnut Street Feb. 21, 2023 (This scooter was reported to the city and moved out of the ADA ramp by The B Square.
North Walnut Street Feb. 23, 2023. These scooters were reported to the city and moved out of the sidewalk by The B Square.
In late 2021, The B Square reported that no citations had been issued to scooter companies for violating the parking regulations laid out in a local ordinance, which was approved by the city council in July 2019.
When no ordinary parking tickets were issued to scooter companies, that came as a surprise to some residents—given the number of scooters they routinely encountered blocking ADA ramps and sidewalks in the downtown area, or in their residential neighborhoods.
The lack of any citations was especially unexpected, in light of the assurance given by city attorney Mike Rouker on July 31, 2019— the night the city council enacted the scooter ordinance. Rouker said that if scooter parking became a problem, parking fines would be imposed on scooter companies whenever the city saw a parking problem.
In August 2022, The B Square raised a question to Bloomington’s corporation counsel, Beth Cate, about the enforceability of the city’s ordinance that regulates shared electric scooter parking. That email went unanswered.
But last week, six months later, Bloomington’s director of economic and sustainable development, Alex Crowley, wrote in response to an emailed question from The B Square: “[T]he language in the ordinance needs to be tightened up, to give us the flexibility to impose fines on [scooter company] without having to impound.” Continue reading “Bloomington concedes: Simple tickets can’t be given to scooter companies for bad parking by their users”
Hans Kelson, who was fined $75 for a late filing. (Feb. 2, 2023)
Monroe County election supervisor, Karen Wheeler, who resigned effective Feb. 3, 2023.
The new fine policy for late campaign finance filings.
At Monroe County’s election board meeting last Thursday, election supervisor Karen Wheeler announced she had resigned her position.
“Today will be my last election board meeting, since tomorrow is my last day as Monroe County election supervisor,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler read aloud some prepared remarks recounting her time serving as election supervisor, which included eight elections.
Chair of the three-member election board, Donovan Garletts, told Wheeler after her remarks, “I can probably say this on behalf of the current and past board members: Thank you for your service. And wish you the best.”
Wheeler had wrapped up her remarks by saying, “And I am hopeful that my next step will be to continue as a Monroe County employee.”
Immediately after the meeting, responding to a question from The B Square, Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne said that for Wheeler’s replacement, she did not yet have a name that she was able to share.
Later on Thursday, responding to a question from the B Square, Wheeler elaborated on her concluding statement at the meeting, by saying that her departure was voluntary, but only in the sense that she had resigned the position.
Wheeler added that she’d been given a choice by Browne—either resign or be “let go.”
Continue reading “Election board roundup: Monroe county election supervisor resigns; board adopts stricter fine policy”
A week ago, up at Miller-Showers Park, a flock of Canada geese banked overhead and came in for a landing on the southernmost stormwater detention pond.
The surface was half frozen, because a couple days before the temperature had dropped to –8 F.
As elegant as geese appear in flight formation, on landing they do not make a picture of grace. They sort of wobble along the final approach, webbed feet akimbo, before mostly crashing into the water.
But they were, of course, unscathed. They started cruising around, dabbling for whatever aquatic plants were under the surface.
That’s somewhat like how local government works: It’s elegant and smooth in theory, but when it lands on some particular topic near you, it might look a little clumsy. You might get splashed.
Where will Bloomington’s area local government land in 2023? Here’s a roundup of spots that is surely not exhaustive. Continue reading “Column: Looking ahead to local government news in 2023 like a goose landing on a half frozen pond”
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”
Scooter blocking a sidewalk along 7th Street (Sept. 19, 2022)
Scooters staged in all the bicycle hoops at Miller-Showers Park (Sept. 16, 2022)
Scooter blocking an ADA ramp at Walnut Street and College Avenue. (Sept. 24, 2022)
Shared electric scooters that are parked so they block ADA ramps and sidewalks in Bloomington will soon be systematically documented and moved out of the way by two temporary workers.
In action taken on Tuesday, the city’s three-member board of public works approved a contract with Express Employment Services that is supposed to pay two workers $15.75 an hour for around 25 hours a week. The total cost of the city’s payments to Express can’t be more than $15,500.
The parking services division, within the department of public works, will administer the pilot program, which is supposed to be evaluated at the end of the year.
A temp agency is being used just to get the new workers on the job as quickly as possible, with an eye towards bringing the same people on board as temporary city employees soon after that.
The jobs are posted on the city’s own job board.
The program to document blockage of ADA ramp and sidewalk access, and move the scooters out of the path is being launched more than three years after the city council enacted its scooter ordinance.
Bloomington’s local law allows shared use electric scooter companies to use the public right-of-way for their operations, in exchange for a licensing fee of $10,000 a year, and a payment to the city of 15 cents per ride.
Currently licensed to do business in Bloomington are Bird, Lime, and VeoRide.
Continue reading “Cataloging scooter parking violations: Bloomington to use temp agency for initial staffing of 2 positions”
Shruti Rana on screen at the Aug. 5, 2021 board of election meeting.
In this file photo from the third week of January 2020, Monroe County’s Election Central space is shown as it undergoes renovation.
The old Johnson Hardware building at 7th and Madison streets (aka Election Central).
At Thursday’s regular meeting of Monroe County’s election board, one of the highlights was a briefing from county clerk Nicole Browne on an upcoming conversation she’s requested with Monroe County’s three county commissioners.
The idea that Browne will be pitching to commissioners at next week’s Aug. 11 work session is one with a history stretching back over a half decade—more room for the elections division.
The elections division currently shares space with the probation department in the old Johnson Hardware building at Madison and 7th streets.
Based on the history of the topic, commissioners won’t be eager to allocate more space to the election division. They approved the funds for a renovation to the building in early 2020 that was, in part, supposed to relieve some of the need for additional space.
Joining her first meeting of the three-member election board on Thursday was Shruti Rana, who was picked to succeed Carolyn VandeWiel as the Democratic Party appointee. The board consists of a Democrat, a Republican (Hal Turner), and the current county clerk.
Continue reading “County clerk to pitch more space for elections division, election board welcomes Rana as new Dem appointee”
Monroe County’s election board (from left): Nicole Browne, Carolyn VandeWiele, Andrew Guenther.
Members of Monroe County’s election board met Thursday afternoon to review some logistical issues related to elections in 2020 and to wrap up some loose ends from this year’s municipal elections in Bloomington. Continue reading “Monroe county election board looks ahead to 2020 after imposing one fine, waiving two others, finding no violation of electioneering law”