Bloomington board of public works from left: Jennifer Lloyd, Elizabeth Karon, Kyla Cox Dexard.
From the Turning Point application to paint a street mural.
For now at least, a proposed mural that says “All Lives Matter” will not be painted on Kirkwood Avenue just west of Indiana Avenue in downtown Bloomington.
Bloomington’s three-member board of public works has unanimously denied a special events application from Turning Point USA at Indiana University, to paint such a mural on the weekend of April 7 and 8.
The denial came at the board’s regular Tuesday meeting, after about 20 minutes worth of public comment, all of it opposed to the approval of the application to paint the mural.
The public commentary in opposition was based mostly on the fact that the “All Lives Matter” slogan is associated with opposition to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
When it came time for a vote, the board didn’t deliberate on the question.
But when the item was put in front of the board, the basis for the denial was laid out by city attorney Mike Rouker: The proposed mural is for permanent or semi-permanent art (intended to last more than seven days), and it includes “speech.”
The inclusion of “words, letters, numbers, or universally recognized symbols, or logos of any kind” for a permanent art installation put the proposed ALM mural in conflict with the city’s new policy on art installations by private entities in the public right of way.
Bloomington councilmember Susan Sandberg (Feb. 1, 2023).
From left: Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Sue Sgambelluri, and Dave Rollo (Feb. 1, 2023).
From left: Dave Rollo, Jim SIms and Ron Smith (Feb. 1, 2023).
Greg Alexander addresses the Bloomington city council (Feb. 1, 2023).
Bloomington city councilmember Steve Volan (Feb. 1, 2023).
From left: Kate Rosenbarger and Susan Sandberg (Feb. 1, 2023).
Bloomington councilmember Dave Rollo (Feb. 1, 2023).
Greg Alexander (Feb. 1, 2023).
Eric Ost (Feb. 1, 2023).
Stephanie Hatton (Feb. 1, 2023).
The question of removing Greg Alexander from Bloomington’s traffic commission won’t get a vote by the city council until March 1 at the earliest.
At this past Wednesday’s city council meeting, the matter was referred to a special committee that already existed, after it was appointed by council president Sue Sgambelluri at the first meeting of the year.
By March 1, the four-member special committee on the council’s legislative processes is supposed to deliver to the full council some kind of recommendation on the question of Alexander’s removal.
Bloomington traffic commissioner Greg Alexander (Jan. 25, 2023).
Jeff Richardson delivers public comment as Greg Alexander looks on from the audience.
Letter sent by Greg Alexander to Stephanie Hatton.
At last Wednesday’s city council meeting, several speakers during general public commentary time objected to the previous week’s re-appointment of Greg Alexander to the city’s traffic commission.
The commission is an an advisory board that, among other things, recommends to the city council and other city officials ways to improve traffic conditions and the enforcement of traffic regulations.
After public commentary time was finished, council president Sue Sgambelluri said, “We are in conversation with our attorney administrator, Mr. [Stephen] Lucas, and have asked him to research possible steps forward.”
Those steps forward could include an effort to remove Alexander from the traffic commission pursuant to Bloomington’s local code.
Local law says the city council can “for cause” remove a council appointee to a board or commission. The definition of “cause” is specific only for one kind of infraction—excessive absences. But it leaves room for other reasons: “Cause shall include, but not be limited to, failure to attend three consecutive regularly scheduled meetings of the board, commission, or council…”
(Jan. 4, 2023) The word “vote” as written by Thomas Westgård on the street at 7th and Madison streets ( Jan. 4, 2023)
(Jan. 5, 2023) An apparent attempt to wash away the chalk-based compound.
(Jan. 13, 2023) After about 0.75 inches of rain on Jan. 12, 2023 as measured by NWS at Monroe County’s airport.
Text of letter received by Thomas Westgård on Jan. 13, 2023 from the city of Bloomington.
Area resident Thomas Westgård has been fined $500 by Bloomington after writing “VOTE” on a city street.
Westgård sent The B Square a photo of the letter that he reported receiving from the city on Friday.
The letter, signed by Bloomington public works director Adam Wason, states: “On January 4, 2023, at the intersection of Madison and 7th Street in Bloomington, you spray-painted the word ‘VOTE’ in the street.”
The city of Bloomington has now responded to an application submitted in December by Indiana University student Kyle Reynolds for the installation of a mural on Kirkwood Avenue that says “All Lives Matter.”
Based on the city’s response, and the litigation backdropping the request, if Reynolds is eventually allowed to install his mural, it looks somewhat unlikely that it would be on the requested date of April 3, 2023.
It was under a court order that the city’s new policy on private art in the public right-of-way was developed.
That order came in connection with a lawsuit that Reynolds filed, after being denied permission to paint a mural in 2021. The court found that the city’s refusal in 2021 to allow Reynolds to paint his mural likely amounted to viewpoint discrimination, and issued a preliminary injunction.
For Westgård, it was the right time and day to write “vote” on the street, because a status conference was on a federal court calendar for about an hour later, for a case that involves the right of private individuals to install art in Bloomington’s public right-of-way.
A federal judge has ordered that by Jan. 2, 2023, Bloomington must develop and disseminate a policy on private art installations in the public right-of-way.
The court’s order came as a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by an Indiana University student, after Bloomington said he could not install a street mural with the phrase “All Lives Matter.”
The “All Lives Matter” slogan is associated with opposition to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Under the court order, Bloomington has to allow the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Kyle Reynolds and the Indiana University Chapter of Turning Point USA, to apply for installation of a mural under the new policy.
Under the new policy, the previously rejected mural might be allowed, but only if it is “temporary art”—which means it would be expected to last longer than seven days.
Complete mural on 6th Street looking south towards the Monroe County courthouse.
A special events application to hold the third annual Freezefest downtown in the Trades District area would have normally received a straightforward approval from Bloomington’s three-member board of public works on Tuesday night.
It’s an ice carving festival set to take place along Maker’s Way from Jan. 15 to Jan. 22, and features a chili cook-off at The Mill, a coworking space located in the former dimension mill of the Showers Brothers Furniture Company.
Instead of receiving an approval, the Freezefest application was pulled from the meeting agenda.
The reason Freezefest didn’t get a vote on Tuesday is not related to any controversy related to Freezefest itself. In fact, the festival’s special event application will likely be approved at the board’s next meeting, on Dec. 20.
Under Friday’s ruling, by Jan. 2 next year, the city of Bloomington has to come up with the procedures that private groups and people can use to request approval for use of the city’s rights-of-way to display public art.
The order says that the city has to “promulgate” the application procedure to the public within 45 days of the order, dated Nov. 18, 2022. The public that is described in the order explicitly includes Indiana University student Kyle Reynolds and the Indiana University Chapter of Turning Point USA, who filed suit against Bloomington in late February.
In their lawsuit, Reynolds and Turning Point asked the Monroe County circuit court to issue an injunction requiring the city of Bloomington to allow Reynolds to paint a street mural that states “All Lives Matter” on Kirkwood Avenue in front of the Von Lee building.