Steven Higgs

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.

Steve

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.

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.

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee biased against environmental studies

August 11, 2012

The federal panel charged with allocating funds for autism research has squandered hundreds of millions in taxpayer money on ideological, nonscientific priorities. Its decisions have been financially irresponsible and practically ineffective. Its chairman should be fired and many board members replaced.

So says the Brooklyn-based Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy (EBCALA) in a stinging critique of autism policy under the Bush and Obama administrations titled "A Critical Review of the Performance of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee" (IACC).

"From the controversial appointment or retention of committee representatives, to the troublesome history of committee members themselves, to the lack of accountability for the few advances made in autism research, to the questionable direction of the Strategic Plan, it is fair to state that the IACC is not living up to Congress’ and the public’s expectations," the July 10, 2012, report says.

Justice Party's Anderson derides Democrats in The Nation

August 5, 2012

While Mitt Romney trips over his tongue with hysterical predictability and Barack Obama persists in calling America's economic criminal class folks, the two leading progressive candidates for president are putting it on the line, in Dr. Jill Stein's case boldly crossing it.

Less than a month after securing the Green Party nomination, Stein emerged from a Philadelphia jail on Aug. 2 declaring that a night behind bars should be "a required experience for anyone in public office." Both she and running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested the day before for protesting foreclosure policies at a Fannie Mae office on the city's Banker's Row.

And in a lengthy Q&A with The Nation's Sasha Abramsky, Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson called the Democratic Party "irredeemable" and Obama a "phony" on the issue of gay marriage.

"His position on equality was evolving?" the former Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City asked incredulously.
 

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