April 22, 2015

What follows is the script from which I questioned Bloomington’s three candidates in the May 5 Democratic Mayoral Primary during interviews between April 17-19. Audio and video from the interviews will be posted to YouTube and embedded here on the Alternative website. They will also air on Community Access Television Services at times to be announced shortly.

The conversations deviated some from the script, but all of the issues here were addressed by each candidate.

April 16, 2015

As I have been confidentially talking to knowledgeable sources about the backstories behind this year’s city elections, one asked a question of me that sets up a declaration I was going to make anyway. “So, you just asked, and they all said, ‘Yes’?”

I am sure my 35-year reputation as a journalist in town played the biggest role in their unanimous, quick acceptance, even though it’s been years since I was journalistically engaged at the local level. I also have non-journalistic relationships with each that I am going to declare here.

April 15, 2015

John Linnemeier is the only one of the three candidates in the May 5 Democratic Primary to even mention the term deer on his website, where he predicts the others would “kick the can down the road one more time.” He offers a “novel approach” to the issue of urban deer: sedating and sterilizing them.

“The situation continues to deteriorate as the deer population increases,” he says. “It should be obvious that any action in the future will be more traumatic and expensive as a result of this continued procrastination.”

April 14, 2015

None of Bloomington’s three Democratic mayoral candidates like the direction downtown Bloomington has taken in recent years. And they use some pretty damning language to convey those sentiments.

John Hamilton says it’s “ugly.” John Linnemeier says the streets north of the Downtown Square have been transformed into “unattractive canyons.” City Councilman Darryl Neher says he will stand against “rampant development” to protect the Square’s “quality and character.”

April 12, 2015

Democratic mayoral candidates Darryl Neher and John Hamilton both have suggested reviving the “dormant” Housing Trust Fund to address the chronic lack of low-cost and affordable housing in Bloomington.

“I support creative financing of affordable housing, such as … activating our long-dormant Housing Trust Fund,” Hamilton wrote in response to a question from the League of Women Voters.

April 7, 2015

Dear friends and readers,

I have decided to briefly revive The Bloomington Alternative to take advantage of a second-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lifelong political junkie – the chance to cover a contested election for Bloomington mayor. Since I moved off campus and into the Bryan Park neighborhood in 1971 (the first of three such moves), the only close race I recall was John Fernandez versus Charlotte Zietlow in the 1995 Democratic Primary.

My aging memory’s dependability aside, it is a fact that this may be the last race in which the outcome isn't a forgone conclusion for a decade or more, so I’m jumping back in, even though I really don’t have the time. The Bloomington Alternative – 2015 Mayoral Edition will be a work in progress, but here’s how I see it going.

The centerpiece will be on-camera interviews with the three Democratic candidates on the May 5 ballot: Darryl Neher, John Hamilton and John Linnemeier. The interviews are being scheduled between April 16 and 19. They will be taped and later rebroadcast on Community Access Television Services (CATS) as part of their lead up to the election. Linnemeier and Neher have scheduled theirs. I am waiting to hear from Hamilton.

Because I have been outside the inside political scene for many years, the interviews will focus on four issues I have come face to face with while walking, biking and driving through the slice of Bloomington I travel most, a triangular-shaped path between Bryan Park, Downtown and Ernie Pyle Hall:

  • Homelessness/housing,
  • Downtown development,
  • Police/crime, and
  • Urban deer.

There are dozens of other issues I'd like to explore, but we won’t have time to discuss them all. And I have multiple, competing deadlines between now and Primary Day anyway. I'll do what I can.

As I try to get up to speed, I will, at a minimum, be sharing what I learn on the Alternative and, for now, on my Facebook Page, where I reported that almost $900,000 sits untapped in a city fund that is supposed to be helping combat unaffordable housing.

Friend me on Facebook to follow this and other discussions.


Alternative remains on hold

June 22, 2013

It has been more than 10 months since I declared The Bloomington Alternative on hiatus. I write today to say it will remain there a while longer as I develop a new project called Natural Bloomington: Ecotours and More. The Alternative archive, which still attracts more than 3,000 pageviews a month, will remain online. Someday, I may revive it.

But after 10 months working overtime to pay off the money changers who run our wealth-care system – I am now a cancer survivor – I have decided to commit what creative energies I have to nature for awhile. Frankly, Natural Bloomington is a way to spend as much time in the wilds as I can, with as many people as I can.

It's also about sharing the journey with anyone who cares to accompany me, virtually or in person.

September 9, 2012

Friends and readers,

For a long list of personal and professional reasons, I am taking a break from publishing The Bloomington Alternative. The website and archive of our decade's worth of stories, columns, photographs, videos, etc. will remain active.

How long the hiatus will last will be determined by forces and events outside my control. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has read, contributed to and supported us these many years.

I leave you with three quotes that have been on my mind of late, since all speak to a fundamental theme we've focused on the entire time I have been publishing the Alternative – American democracy's 40-year devolution into a police-state plutocracy – and progressive America's pathetic response to it.

  • “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” – Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister
  • "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results." – Albert Einstein
  • "Where's the outrage?" – Bill Moyers (and many others)

Keep fighting.

Steven Higgs, editor and publisher

August 31, 2012

Peace & Justice News is a collection of news items collected by Bloomington Alternative contributor Linda Greene. Today's edition includes:

  • Hungry and homeless college students
  • Outer space adventures for the super-rich
  • School suspensions of African-American students
  • Justice for DHL workers in Turkey
  • Janitors demonstrate for health care benefits and wages
  • Scandinavian ship to challenge Israel’s Gaza blockade
  • The fight over labeling genetically modified foods
  • Perils of the for-profit higher-education industry

News media ultimately responsible for predicted, emerging catastrophes

August 26, 2012

An Aug. 23 segment on NPR's Morning Edition about the 2012 drought touched my sentimental side when a Kentucky farmer's voice quivered while he spoke to correspondent David Schaper. "My wife and I just look at each other every night, and we look at our children's faces before they go to sleep, and we wonder, will this be one of the last days?" he said. The piece was titled "Drought Extends Reach, Some Farmers Ready to Quit." I've spent a lot of time in Kentucky and writing about the place. I've met guys like this one.

Sadly but predictably, nowhere in the story did Schaper mention the drought's relation to climate change. Neither did the one that preceded it – "How Smokey the Bear Effect Led to Raging Wildfires" – nor any other segment on that morning's story list. Indeed, a search for "climate change" on the NPR website shows no Morning Edition stories the entire month of August. Talk of the Nation, yes. All things Considered, yes. But Morning Edition, no.

While I do sympathize with this family, especially the children, I'd have to advise the Logan County cattle farmer featured in the piece to look in the mirror. He's a victim of manmade climate change. And as a Kentuckian, he bears as much or more responsibility for his fate as anyone in the world. He and his bluegrass neighors, along with all the rest of us, brought the climate-induced 2012 tragedies of drought and wildfires upon ourselves. Payback is indeed a bitch. And we've only begun to pay.