Well, the experiment in independent media called The Bloomington Alternative is eight months old now. And after a two-week hiatus, this seemed a good time to consider where we've been and where we might be going.
I'll start with the news. Due to other professional commitments, the "Daily E-Mail Headlines" will be published in the early afternoon, Monday through Thursday, for the next six weeks. I hope to resume daily morning publication in late June.
A convergence of personal and professional forces separated me from the computer and my journalistic routines last week. So, rather than following one of the darkest weeks in human history from my usual array of online sources of news and information, I grabbed what I could stomach from the broadcast media. It was a dark few days intellectually, to say the least.
The screaming meemies on the cable stations and somber-voiced network and PBS-NPR anchors delivered the same message: America's the greatest! This war is good! And those who disagree don't count! The only exceptions were the BBC (thank you thank you thank you WFHB!) and Bill Moyers.
Good God! Could our society's crisis in elected leadership be any worse, or any more obvious? In Washington, a bellicose little rich boy - universally understood to be the most unprepared man ever elected president - is "leading" us into a war that one former Republican National Security Advisor has warned could lead to "Armageddon." And closer to home, John Fernandez was "mentioned" last week as a candidate for head of the Indiana Democratic Party.
No joke. It's the honest-to-god truth. The Indianapolis Star on Friday reported that Fernandez, a harshly divisive figure in local party circles, was on a short list of names "mentioned" for state party chair. State Democratic leaders were scrambling to replace Peter J. Manous, who resigned Wednesday "under the dark cloud of a federal investigation."
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.
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.
Dear Ms. Webber:
First, I want to thank you both for last Tuesday's story on Interstate 69 and the Hoosier Environmental Council, and for the outstanding job you have done covering the environment since your much-anticipated arrival at the Star. You've done much during your short tenure in Indianapolis to help raise citizen awareness about the sad state of Indiana's environment and its impacts on human health. Keep up the good work.
As one who has spent more than two decades writing about the two issues you referenced in your article - I-69 and the Hoosier National Forest - I would like to offer you some historical perspective on these two watershed environmental struggles for your future reference. The parallels are relevant to the ongoing struggle to stop new-terrain I-69 and critical to the future of Indiana Democrats, whose party is poised for an historic implosion due in part to their unrelenting pursuit of this anti-democratic, pork-barrel highway.
With the 2003 City Election season officially underway, Bloomington progressives should be wary of the euphoria that recent news events might induce. It's true that John Fernandez is out as mayor, almost. And it's official that Mark Kruzan is in, almost.
The words of the immortal pop culture philosopher Dr. Johnny Fever resonate deep within my being these days. "When everybody's out to get you, paranoia just makes good sense."
You see, I think the cops are following me.
The following items were posted by Bloomington Alternative Editor Steven Higgs on the Sierra Club's Hoosier Topics online environmental discussion list in response to various posts in the days after Tuesday's election.
Greens who see the end goal of politics as winning elections are understandably lamenting Tuesday's electoral losses by green candidates in Monroe County. Developers, Republican strategists and the editorial board at The Herald-Times are reveling in their alleged defeat. And that is hard to swallow.
But just as they missed the point throughout the entire election season, so are the forces of greed, corruption and environmental destruction misreading the results. What they don't understand, or refuse to accept, is that Monroe County is on the cutting edge of a green political revolution that will take years, perhaps a generation, to fully realize its potential. The target today is the hearts and minds of the American people, not County Council seats.
In that context, Tuesday was nothing short of a spectacular success.