September 11, 2007

Until 2005, I served the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC) as its special counsel for energy, utilities and the environment. In that capacity, I had the privilege for more than 20 years to represent CAC and its members before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the General Assembly on issues involving the regulation of public utilities.

Because of that, I have not had the opportunity until recently to speak publicly for myself, rather than a client, on an important issue involving public utility regulation.

Today, I write in my role as a bill-paying customer of Duke Energy to ask readers to urge Duke Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers to defer plans for the Edwardsport power plant for three to five years.

July 17, 2007

The Fourth of July celebration in Bloomington once again focused on a parade that celebrated our country’s independence. In addition to the fire trucks, politicians and music, this year’s parade included an entry called “Bloomington Labor Unions and Working Families,” which marched in solidarity under one banner.

For the first time in recent memory, working people in Bloomington had representation for a holiday created by the struggles of artisans and craftsmen seeking freedom from the autocratic rule of the English upper class.

The revolution came on the heels of, and through the support of, working people tired of being pushed around by ruling elites and their soldier patsies.

July 17, 2007

If America could quit pretending that George W. Bush was ever legitimately elected to the presidency, then we could deny that all the sorry disasters of the last six years were done under authority of an American president.

That is, we could lapse into blissful denial - which is the place to go when everything is too awful and shameful to face.

At last we seem to have reached that place, where even those who insisted that he got elected wish they could say it wasn't so.

After all, what country that calls itself a democracy wants to admit that it placidly let schemers get away with a coup d'etat?

What country wants to admit that it acquiesced while its leaders committed war crimes, like the unprovoked invasion and destruction of someone else's country, or condoned torture?

June 19, 2007

High gasoline prices are a wake-up call. They also present us with an opportunity. We can wring our hands and pound our heads against the gas pump. Or we can heed the warning and begin to plan a transportation system for the future.

The world is rapidly changing, and we have to change with it. We should not fear change but direct it to our advantage.

A few realities are now apparent. Gas prices are going to remain high; most experts agree that this is a certainty. We cannot build our way out of congestion; every major city in the nation proves this point. Energy sources are going to change.

Where this will lead is still being determined, but our dependence on fossil fuels contributes to our vulnerability to perverse markets forces, foreign entanglements and terrorist threats.

February 11, 2007

Election season 2007 is officially underway, and all indications are that it will be perhaps the most uninspired in city history. It's pretty much a lock that, when Jan. 1 rolls around next year, Bloomington city government will be a mirror image of this year.

About the only remarkable outcome this quadrennial ritual is likely to produce will be another four years of a city that trumpets diversity as an exalted virtue dominated by an enclave of affluent, white, (presumably) heterosexual males.

That plus, using history as a guide, the ungodly amounts of money that Mayor Mark Kruzan will raise for a race that will once again be, as the lawyers say, no lo contendre.

Unremarkable unless city Republicans field a slate of electable female, African American, Latino or Log Cabin candidates. Then voters would at least have a choice, which sadly is remarkable in contemporary city politics.

March 6, 2005

An Alternative reader admonished me a few months back that journalists can be wrong and should admit when they are. The advice was sage, of course. When a reporter makes a mistake, be it through honest misinterpretation or reportorial sloth, he or she must own up to it. Sometimes these mea culpas are outright corrections, other times they're clarifications.

In that spirit, I am publicly declaring that I have been wrong the past several years when writing about Interstate 69 and the underlying fraud and corruption at Frank O'Bannon's Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). After reading and watching an Indianapolis' TV station's 18-part investigative series last month called "Highway Robbery," I am persuaded that I have actually underestimated the venality that permeated INDOT throughout the I-69 era.

I was also wrong about O'Bannon's last INDOT commissioner, J. Bryan Nicol. I thought he was pretty good at what he did, vile as it was, and therefore was probably pretty smart. That one needs a correction.

February 20, 2005

Second in a series.

No one who has confronted the exercise of power in recent Bloomington history would be surprised to learn that the Monroe County Community School Corp. (MCCSC) Board last Tuesday ignored the concerns of Clear Creek Elementary advocates and voted to gut their school. By an 6-1 vote — over the passionate objections of Clear Creek parents, teachers former administrators, and education experts — the Board voted to transfer 152 Clear Creek students to the new Summit Elementary.

Based upon an initial review of the public record from the just-completed MCCSC Elementary Schools Realignment, The Bloomington Alternative has launched a journalistic investigation into the process that led to the decision. On Saturday, the Alternative submitted the following e-mail request to Mike Shipman, MCCSC Director of School Operations and an ex-officio member of the Realignment Task Force:

"I am having difficulty finding task force information on the MCCSC Web site. I am sure that public records such as the task force minutes and other related documents were posted last week but I cannot find them now. Could you please tell me if that information has been expunged from the Web site and if so why? Also, could you please provide me with copies of all school board and task force minutes at which realignment business was conducted? I would like to see the complete record."

The investigation is a response to contradictions between the words and actions of key MCCSC officials detailed below.

November 28, 2004

Today's issue of The Bloomington Alternative brings to a close the 2004 publication year. We'll be taking take the next month off for some R&R&R — rest, relaxation, and reflection.

The Alternative will resume normal publication on Jan. 2 and will feature a Q&A on I-69 with Matt Pierce, District 61 State Rep. Pierce has agreed to answer a series of written questions on the $3 billion boondoggle. The deal is, I will submit questions, he will respond, and I will publish his responses unedited. It should be instructive.

The new year will most likely bring some as-yet unidentified changes as well. Thanks for your continued interest and support. Please stay with us. We've only just begun.

November 7, 2004

Joe Kernan and the Indiana Democratic Party suffered an electoral humiliation last Tuesday on a par with the one John Fernandez led them to two years ago. I-69 did not cause their defeats. But it played a role. All three lost the moral authority to lead over the issue. And they got what they deserved. Now, the rest of us are stuck with the corporate agenda of George's man Mitch.

That too many Democrats still do not understand the politics of I-69, or, it would seem, the exigencies of progressive political discourse in the post-9/11 age, was evidenced by multiple displays of desperation on their part in the closing days of the campaign.

Among the desperate: Gov. Joe Kernan, Indiana Democratic Party Chair Kip Tew, and, disappointingly, local party strategist Don Moore.

October 3, 2004

It's been years since I felt I had a personal interest in an Indiana gubernatorial debate. I mean, give me a break. Evan (I love John McCain and I'm really a Republican) Bayh? Frank (ever city in the state oughrta be on an interstate) O'Bannon? I didn't even watch FOB debate Steve Goldsmith in 1996, even though I had taken a job with his Department of Environmental Management three weeks before Election Day.

This year, however, my interest was piqued. Not only have I been working overtime helping a committed and courageous group of citizens raise I-69 as an election year issue in the governor's race, but I have a personal stake of sorts in the debate over the Indianapolis Power & Light Co. (IPALCO) scandal. Mitch Daniels and company effectively bankrupted some of my family members.


The debate over I-69 between Republican Daniels, Democrat Joe Kernan and Libertarian Ken Gividen produced the expected fodder for hope and despair.

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