Bloomington citizens last week were served up some sobering reminders of how difficult it will be to wrest power from those who are hell-bent on converting our bucolic little college town into a piss stop on the NAFTA Highway.
First, Herald-Times reporter Kurt Van der Dussen wrote an eye-opening series of stories exposing the money behind the candidates on last year's ballot. The inescapable conclusion is that there is no limit to what our community's real-estate-development machine will spend to keep citizens away from power.
Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) officials prominently declare their mission in the agency's Web site header: "Making Indiana a cleaner, healthier place to live … " That's been IDEM's mantra, routinely expressed in written and spoken proclamations since the days of Evan Bayh, before Frank O'Bannon took office in January 1997.
The environment, Gov. O'Bannon has repeatedly reassured the citizens of Indiana, is a top priority. "As we approach the millennium and Indiana's 200th birthday in 2016, our efforts to improve and protect Indiana's natural environment should remain a primary focus," the governor said in IDEM's 1999 State of the Environment Report.
Below is Indiana Department of Envioronmental Management Commissioner Lori Kaplan's response to the Alternative's request for cooperation on the project "Indiana: A Clean and healthy place to live? - The Bayh-O'Bannon environmental legacy."
January 17, 2003
Congratulations on creating a new way for Hoosiers to learn about Indiana's environmental history, challenges and accomplishments! This is a wonderful opportunity for thoughtful discussion and open dialogue among those who want to help make a positive difference in Indiana.
The Bloomington Alternative launched a new online environmental journalism project this week called "Indiana: A clean and healthy place to live?" This long-term, in-depth series will explore the environmental legacy of Evan Bayh and Frank O'Bannon.
The project began on Wednesday with the following letter to Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Lori Kaplan, who has agreed to cooperate. The series introduction will appear in Sunday's edition.
So much to say, so little time and space. Let's start with the positive because, believe it or not, the good news on I-69 continues to dwarf the bad, Frank O'Bannon's announcement last Thursday notwithstanding.
That the governor made the exact wrong choice, not to mention a political miscalculation of historic proportions, was to be expected. His decision to squander $2 billion of Indiana highway funds on a new-terrain I-69 was the inevitable result of the unvarnished, mean-spirited, pork-barrel politics practiced by Bayh-O'Bannon Democrats over the past 12 years.
With the first whiffs of a bad wind blowing out of Indianapolis on Tuesday, Bloomington City Councilman Andy Ruff is calling upon the Bloomington community leaders to send a message to Gov. Frank O'Bannon that this community does not want Interstate 69.
Ruff says the governor deflected a request from Terre Haute Mayor Judy Anderson on Tuesday for a personal meeting on I-69. Anderson, who along with the Terre Haute City Council are on record in support of the 41-70 route, wanted to make her case personally with the governor.
The Bloomington Alternative on Monday sent the following letter to Gov. Frank O'Bannon's press secretary requesting an interview with the governor prior to his announcing a decision on Interstate 69.
To: Mary Dieter, Gov. O'Bannon press secretary
As editor of The Bloomington Alternative I would like to request an opportunity to interview Gov. O'Bannon before he makes a final decision on Interstate 69. I think it is fair to say that every Alternative reader has a direct stake in the governor's decision. Some literally have their homes and/or their livelihoods on the line. I believe they deserve to hear directly from the man who holds their fate in his hands.
Mark Kruzan emphatically re-iterated his opposition to a new-terrain I-69 highway in a statement issued Saturday.
"I oppose a new terrain highway from Indianapolis to Evansville," the mayoral candidate and former Indiana House Majority Leader said in an e-mail to The Bloomington Alternative. "More pavement is not synonymous with progress, especially when it's through farmland and forest."
Gov. Frank O'Bannon has personally decided to delay a decision on Interstate 69 this year, according to the Indiana Legislative Insight, one of the state's leading political newsletters.
Before Linda Oblack, Chris Kupersmith, and Jeanne Leimkuhler could proceed with plans for a "journal of revolutionary thought," they had to decide just what the phrase means. Their conclusion was necessarily simple and powerful.
"Our mission is revolutionary," Oblack writes in the introduction to the premier issue of Tea Party: A Journal of Revolutionary Thought. "Our mission is to make people think."