Talk deemed off-topic, ill-tempered: Backdrop for Bloomington’s resolution on embargo against Cuba

“Who the hell do you people think you are? You’re not the White House!”

That was Dareal Ruble speaking from the public mic at last Wednesday’s meeting of the city council.

He was reacting to a resolution on the meeting agenda that called for an immediate end to the US economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.

The resolution was not controversial for councilmembers—it passed unanimously.

The vote came almost an hour after the resolution was introduced by Dave Rollo, who co-sponsored it with Susan Sandberg.

Rubel was interrupted twice during his allotted five minutes by council president Sue Sgambelluri, who admonished him—for speaking off the topic of the resolution, not for any particular choice of words.

But questions about the kind of tone and demeanor that councilmembers consider acceptable were swimming just under the surface of Wednesday’s meeting—in connection with an earlier agenda item.

Neither Rollo nor Sandberg supported a raft of resident re-appointments to boards and commissions that were approved early on the agenda.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Rollo confirmed to The B Square that he voted no, because the list included Greg Alexander’s reappointment to the city’s traffic commission.

Based on Alexander’s social media interactions, which Rollo described as “aggressive,” Rollo said he think’s Alexander’s temperament is “ill-suited” to serving on a city board or commission.

Continue reading “Talk deemed off-topic, ill-tempered: Backdrop for Bloomington’s resolution on embargo against Cuba”

Column: Let’s put a stop sign on the road to divisive debate club points, greenlight more ped infra money

Last Wednesday, a divided Bloomington city council approved new stop signs on Maxwell Lane at Sheridan Drive, making the intersection an all-way stop.

The council’s deliberations were on brand—mired in meaningless debate club theater. The desire to score debate points distracted from a fundamental challenge—the need to identify more funding for infrastructure that benefits pedestrians.

But there’s an upcoming venue where a need for additional funding pedestrian infrastructure could get aired. Sometime in the next few weeks, the four-member city council sidewalk committee will be conducting its annual review of requests for new sidewalk construction.

The committee will be making recommendations on how to divvy up $336,000, which is the same amount as last year.  But based on 2019 costs, there’s $17 million worth of requests on list for additional sidewalks, which will take a half century to build at the current pace.

I hope the sidewalk committee members take some of their meeting time to start talking about concrete steps the council could take, working with the mayor, to inject more money into pedestrian infrastructure.

Here’s some ideas that could be explored: annually issue $3 million in general obligation bonds targeted for pedestrian infrastructure; tap a portion of the $16 million in CRED (Community Revitalization Enhancement District) fund balances; or use tax increment finance (TIF) revenue, which is overseen by the redevelopment commission. Continue reading “Column: Let’s put a stop sign on the road to divisive debate club points, greenlight more ped infra money”

Stop signs OK’d by Bloomington city council over dissent from two members

Stop signs requiring traffic on Maxwell Lane to halt at Sheridan Drive have been approved by Bloomington’s city council on a 6–2 vote with one abstention.

The additional stop signs make the intersection at Maxwell Lane and Sheridan Drive an all-way stop. Currently it’s a two-way stop, which requires traffic on Sheridan to stop at Maxwell.

The two councilmembers who voted against the stop signs were Matt Flaherty and Kate Rosenbarger. They both cited the recommendation from the city’s engineering department when the proposal was in front of the city’s traffic commission, which was against making the intersection an all-way stop.

From the city engineering report: “[T]his intersection does not meet the MUTCD [Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices] guidelines for all-way stop control, and staff has concerns with the potential of establishing a pattern of installing all-way stop control at locations that do not meet the guidelines.”

Those who voted for the stop sign pointed to a different part of the engineer’s recommendation, which stated, “Staff acknowledges the unique traffic pattern at this intersection and does not have significant concerns if an all-way stop is installed.”

Abstaining from the vote was Steve Volan, who said, “I don’t disagree with the neighbors. I also don’t agree with them. I can’t vote for this. But I don’t want to vote against it…” Continue reading “Stop signs OK’d by Bloomington city council over dissent from two members”

Traffic notebook: Added stops at Maxwell-Sheridan to be weighed by Bloomington city council

Probably at its regular meeting next week (Oct. 19), Bloomington’s city council will give a first reading to an ordinance that would make the intersection at Maxwell Lane and Sheridan Drive an all-way stop.

Currently it’s a two-way stop, which requires traffic on Sheridan to stop at Maxwell. The added stop signs would also require Maxwell traffic to stop at Sheridan.

The impetus to add the all-way stop comes from neighbors who find that they have to “scurry” across Maxwell, because traffic coming from the uphill side of the road, that is from the west, is not visible until it’s close to the intersection. Continue reading “Traffic notebook: Added stops at Maxwell-Sheridan to be weighed by Bloomington city council”

Stopping not slowing: Bloomington neighborhood pushes for all-way stop, traffic commission says no

Residents who live near the intersection of Maxwell Lane and Sheridan Drive, which is located in a central Bloomington neighborhood, want to be able to walk across Maxwell, without “scurrying” to the other side.

As Stephanie Hatton put it, when she addressed Bloomington’s traffic commission on Wednesday night, “We feel that the only way to make this intersection truly safe for all is to legally require vehicles to cease—not just slow down or be calmed.”

Hatton added, “An all-way stop ensures pedestrians of all ages and abilities have the time and right-of-way to cross safely.”

Neighbor and former city clerk Regina Moore called Hatton’s presentation to the commission at its Wednesday meeting “one of the most extensive and well-presented citizen presentations that I’ve witnessed in my over 30 years of attending city meetings.”

Despite Hatton’s presentation, if the requested all-way stop is installed, it won’t be with the support of the city’s traffic commission.

On a 5-2 vote the commission instead supported the engineering department’s staff written recommendation, which stated: that “[T]his intersection does not meet the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) guidelines for all-way stop control…”

The added stop signs would require Maxwell Lane traffic to stop at Sheridan Drive. Continue reading “Stopping not slowing: Bloomington neighborhood pushes for all-way stop, traffic commission says no”