This year's city election results demonstrated for the umpteenth time in a row that citizens can seek and win elective office in Monroe County by running on bold progressive platforms. They also showed that it's past time for public policy makers to begin implementing the will of the people as expressed through the elections of Andy Ruff and Dave Rollo.
Ruff confirmed that a candidate can run on a no-growth agenda, get elected in a citywide race, pursue that agenda unapologetically for four years, withstand everything the Urban Growth Machine has to throw at them, and still get re-elected by comfortable margins. One-on-one against Doug Bruce, the leading Republican on the ballot, Ruff got 53 percent of the vote.
It's as if the spirit of Henry David Thoreau has been sending Bloomington citizens a message in the waning days of the 2003 city election campaign: With leadership, commitment, and determination, citizens can beat the Urban Growth Machine.
Two political developments in the week just passed highlighted the potential for citizen power in Bloomington politics: word that grassroots opposition in Bryan Park has repelled a scheme to Smithize yet another Bloomington neighborhood, and County Councilman Scott Wells' long-awaited opportunity to face his accusers in court.
The I-69 Urban Growth Machine showed its hand this past week. It's a blueprint for the elimination of the progressive voice in Bloomington city government. And it underscores the need for citizens to cast their votes strategically in next week's city elections.
In what should have been announced in a joint news release with the Chamber of Commerce and BEDC, the Herald-Times editorial board last week outlined the Growth Machine's "No Andy, No Progressive" strategy in its 2003 endorsements for City Council. Not surprisingly, campaign finance reports for the first nine months of the year show that it's an effort well-funded by developers, polluters, and an assortment of Growth Machine Republicrats.
For those who missed last week's mayoral debate, The Bloomington Alternative is publishing verbatim excerpts from the next mayor's responses to questions on a variety of issues, including I-69, economic development, the environment, quality of life, etc.
For the record, Mark Kruzan used the phrase "economic development" nine times in his hour-and-18-minute debate with Republican Fred Prall. He used the word "environment" three times, all within the context of economic development. He never uttered the word sustainable.
This is the last in a series of stories on the history behind Interstate 69 in Indiana.
The chasm between Indiana Democrats and ordinary citizens on the economic wisdom of building an interstate highway from Evansville to Bloomington developed in the earliest days of the I-69 struggle. Landowners, business people, and at least one politician sounded the Indiana-can't-afford-I-69 alarm early, and often.
"Where's all that money going to come from?" Peggy Hunter, the owner of a Morgan County motel, asked during an interview for a December 1991 Herald-Times year-in-review story. "It's our money, isn't it?"
When Greg Travis asked last week if The Bloomington Alternative was going to respond to Democrats' online comments on the "Talk about gall" article, I initially told him no. An important part of a journalists' job is to stimulate discussion. It was enough to have people like Andy Ruff, Don Moore, and Dan Combs publicly discussing the issues on the Alternative Web site.
Then I reread Party Chair "Carp" Combs' response and reconsidered.
I found myself face-to-face with the disastrous consequences of a failed public policy last Wednesday morning at the intersection of Lincoln and Dodds. It scared me to death. It made me angry. And I'm going to tell you about it. But before I do, I must declare acute sensitivities to both of the issues involved here - automobile accidents and failed public policy.
My family life was ravaged by an auto accident in 1984. And as a professional journalist for the past 20 years, I've chronicled what I consider to be an epidemic of failed leadership on the part of our public officials, at every level of government, and I'm tired of it.
High on the list of pitfalls faced by those who regularly put their words and thoughts up for public consumption is having to eat them at some subsequent point in time. Such a dinner date appears to have arrived for me, as the 2003 City Election moves to center stage.
Consider the healthy serving of word pie I cooked up for myself in the Bloomington Independent following the 1999 election of Andy Ruff and Chris Gaal to the Bloomington City Council. (Andy was the second leading vote-getter in a six-way major party at-large race.)
Going to jail for the cause - Part II
Five days before Charity Ryerson surrendered herself to the minimum security Federal Prison Camp at Pekin, Ill., she spoke nonchalantly about the six months she would serve for cutting a padlock during a protest at the School of the Americas. Curled up on the couch in The Bloomington Alternative office, Ryerson was unapologetic about her crime, and seemingly unphased about her time.
"Personally, I'm going to put this on my resume," she said. "I'm not going to decide that I want to join corporate America and have this thing erased. It's part of my lifelong commitment to activism. ...
Proponents of the billion-dollar taxpayer fleecing known as new-terrain I-69 have been damned near reduced to blubbering in recent days as politicians from both major parties have publicly begun acknowledging the irrefutable: Indiana taxpayers cannot afford I-69.
During a recent visit with 35 Republicans in Terre Haute, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels reduced the $810 million giveaway of taxpayer money to vested interests to its essence, as reported in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star on Aug. 29: