Gregory Travis

May 18, 2003

CIVITAS is often reminded of Tip O'Neill's famous aphorism that "all politics are local" as we survey our national situation and find that situation repeated, in microcosm, at the state and local levels. One of the best laboratories in which to titrate those parallels is found in our attitude regarding energy, more specifically its cost, and the decisions made regarding that attitude as they play out from the national to the local.

May 11, 2003

Bloomington Chamber of Commerce president Steven Howard wrote a curious guest column this week in the Herald-Times. In the column, Howard asserted that "wealth" (exactly what constitutes wealth was not defined in the column) is not generated as a general byproduct of the self-interested interactions of individuals but only by what he termed "basic employers."

April 27, 2003

As this is the last CIVITAS prior to the political primary process this May 6th (the Bloomington Alternative and CIVITAS will be on vacation next week) we thought it appropriate to reflect on the upcoming formal exercises in that experiment we call Democracy.

April 20, 2003

Last week our hometown Hoosier Times editorialized against what it characterized as the "naked NIMBYism" of neighbor's objections to the development of the "Summit Woods" property along High street. Until now the property has been an unmolested 23-acre evolutionary freak utterly lacking the physical characteristics (strip malls, cheap housing, over-provisioned roadways, dysfunctional cul-de-sacs, etc.) of its surrounding urban peer properties. Unfortunately, as every middle-school veteran knows, freaks must ultimately be destroyed.

April 13, 2003

In 1853 what was eventually to become known simply as "The Monon" arrived in Bloomington. The railroad's arrival up from the Ohio river marked a watershed in the town's development from an isolated hamlet, already home to Indiana University, into a city connected to the nation's commercial fabric. That connection was strengthened further just a year later as the railroad pushed north from Bloomington all the way to Lafayette and Indianapolis.

April 5, 2003

We were recently offered the privilege to guest-host local radio station WGCL's "Afternoon Edition" show - an offer we quickly accepted - and to discuss the state of the "business climate" in Bloomington and Monroe County. It seems that, after years of playing the contrarian on the issue, we'd finally gotten traction at some level of the establishment. It was a chance to engage.

March 29, 2003

This is not written in anger. It is written in fury though not, I trust, in blind fury. It is a deliberate attack upon all those who have already befouled a large portion of this country for private gain, and are engaged in befouling the rest.

March 23, 2003

Although people often denigrate it, our hometown paper the Herald-Times actually does a pretty good job of reporting local demographic data. At CIVITAS our only complaint is their irritating habit of waiting until just after elections to publish it, instead of before, when it would help put the candidate's platforms into better relief. Last week's article, "Monroe draws work force from area," by Brian Werth, was an example of that irritating tendency.

Briefly, the article pointed out that Monroe County is one of Indiana's nineteen "job rich" counties. What does that mean? It simply means that there are more jobs in Monroe County than there are people to fill them. As a result, employers in Monroe County must fill a portion of their workforce with employees from the surrounding counties. This is not a new statistic, it's been true of Monroe for decades and is yet another affirmation of the county's excellent business climate.

March 8, 2003

It's never pleasant to witness an accident and even less so when the accident involves those you know and care about. Such was the foundation of our discomfort earlier in the week as we witnessed the beginning of what History will eventually record as the Great Harrodsburg Train Wreck. Notice that we said the beginning, as this accident is playing out before our very eyes. And, in a bizarre form of slow-motion torture, this accident will continue to play out in a timescale measured in years, not moments.

March 1, 2003

Why is the cartoon the primary method by which civic planners convey information to the public? You know what we're talking about: the endless parade of artist's depictions of road projects, building projects, whatever are foisted upon us whenever it's necessary to convince the electorate of the utility and inherent worth of the next great shining march forward in the built environment.

Nowhere was this made more obvious than during one of the preliminary "discussions" that the city hosted for the public regarding the West Third Street widening. Right there, smack in the middle of the room and bestraddle a diminutive easel, was the obligatory "artist's depiction" of the project. A depiction that functioned more as a Maginot line between an enervated public and the city's planners and hired consultants than as a method of conveying information. And, like the real Maginot line, no one seemed to pay any attention to it (except for us).

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