An open letter to Mark Kruzan

Dear Mark:

As I am sure you know, I called on you at last week's City Council meeting to hand deliver the Council's resolution opposing I-69 to Gov. Kernan and make the case on your constituents' behalf. I am reiterating that request here. I am asking you to show leadership.

I also asked that you please stop saying that there is nothing local communities can do to stop I-69. When you say that, I hear: "Citizens don't count." If you believe that, you are more cynical about the state of our democracy than I am. You should consider getting out of politics and joining us on the streets.

History shows that citizens, banded together through enlightened self-interest, can change the world. I may be totally naïve, but I believe that individuals can change the world, too. Specifically, Mark, I believe that you, personally, can stop I-69, if you mean what you say and show courage and leadership. I don't say it often, but I'm saying it again. Please.

As I know you know, I have been following state and local politics since you were a kid growing up in the Region. Here's why I believe you can save our community from becoming Anywhere USA, a pit stop on the NAFTA Highway.

More than any politician I've seen in 20 years as a journalist, you are politically invincible. You could confront your own party's governor in an election year, without fear of political retribution. (Unless, of course, like our last mayor you have higher political ambitions. If you do, please tell us now, and we'll look elsewhere for the leadership Bloomington needs.)

I also know from the four years that I spent working with top policymakers at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that governors do listen to mayors, at least those from their own political parties. Joe Kernan would not stiff you the way he has the public. He would at least hear you out. He couldn't say no, if you asked.

Now, I know that you sitting down with the governor, man to man, and telling the truth about I-69 will not spawn instant enlightenment on his part. But it would dramatically further our community's cause and let the Statehouse know that J. Brian Nicol's mantra that I-69 is a done deal is just another lie.

Ultimately, it is your former colleagues in the Legislature who will kill I-69. And as one of their former leaders, you have earned their respect. If you help us educate them about the impacts I-69 will have on their districts, and tell them the truth about how Bloomington really feels, this $3 billion taxpayer boondoggle will quickly die the death it deserves. Your community will be a better place for it, and forever in your debt.

I do believe that you believe what you wrote in The Bloomington Alternative as a mayoral candidate in January 2003: "The quality of life in Bloomington is what makes our community unique. An interstate threatens that quality. ... An interstate dividing us is not a part of my vision."

Well, Mark, Joe Kernan and the highway lobby's vision of Bloomington future is the antithesis of yours and will undermine everything you are trying to do to enhance our quality of life. You must decide whose side you are on, theirs or ours, and then act, boldly.

Bloomington citizens will gather with other Hoosiers from across the state for a massive "I-69 is not a done deal!" rally in the Statehouse on Oct. 22. Please join us. Drop in on the governor. Visit with your former colleagues. Tell them you're on our side and are going to fight for our vision.

Show some leadership, please.


Steven Higgs

Steven Higgs is editor of The Bloomington Alternative.