Opinion: Legislating against Bloomington’s long city council meetings would not be a good use of time

At last Friday’s work session held by Bloomington’s city council, councilmember Steve Volan announced that he would be submitting a new ordinance for consideration that would “set a hard limit for all meetings to five and a half hours.”

Volan’s proposal to make city council meeting length a matter of local law comes after a record-setting nine-hour city council meeting that took place in early March.

On Friday, Volan added, “I don’t know when leadership would like to take that up. I’d like to see it taken up as soon as possible.”

I’d like to see Volan’s proposed ordinance ignored by the council’s leadership.

Consideration of such an ordinance would count as a distraction from a more pressing need—to address the kind of basic procedural dysfunctions that plague Bloomington’s city council.

While a nine-hour meeting can be headline grabbing, three-hour meetings that should have required only 90 minutes are also problematic. Perhaps even more troublesome are whole meetings that could have easily been elided. Continue reading “Opinion: Legislating against Bloomington’s long city council meetings would not be a good use of time”

Drought, not much else, can dampen Indiana fireworks fervor

Over the last few days, as July 4 approached, posts to social media by Bloomington area locals included several complaints about noise from fireworks.

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They pointed to increased stress on dogs, cats and kids who are trying to sleep. Also a part of the mix is the impact of fireworks on military veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome.

Similar complaints are reflected in the archives of the Herald-Times at least since 2006, when Indiana’s state legislature decided that Indiana residents should be allowed use consumer fireworks.

It’s hard to know if letters to the editor, op-eds, or a social media posts have had an impact on a typical Hoosier’s decision to set off consumer fireworks. In any case, the effect is not immediately apparent in the data collected by two different departments of Indiana’s state government.

But the numbers from the Indiana Department of Revenue and the Department of Public Health both show significantly less fireworks activity in 2012 compared to the years before and after.

The reason likely has little to do with a public relations effort against fireworks.

In 2012 most of the country was hit by a drought, creating dry conditions that most counties in Indiana addressed with bans on outdoor burning, which included fireworks. Continue reading “Drought, not much else, can dampen Indiana fireworks fervor”