June 29, 2008

Editor's note: The following e-mail is from an LCW member. A meeting to discuss this resolution will be held July 10 at 4 p.m. at First American Trust, State Road 37 and Vernal Pike.


June 29, 2008

For more than 100 years, the Local Council of Women (LCW) has held significant control, on the community’s behalf, over Bloomington Hospital. On June 16 it gave up that power to pave the way for a friendly takeover of the hospital by Clarian Health Partners Inc., hopefully to improve local health care.

In return, LCW is supposed to ensure community influence through its appointments to a post-merger board. The events around the recent vote suggest LCW is not yet able to do that but could with increased community participation.

LCW founded, built and ran Bloomington Hospital throughout most of the 20th century. Eventually, the business of health care overtook the caring part, and LCW gradually ceded control to the professionals. In 1988, LCW gave Bloomington Hospital the property it was built on.

LCW board threatens Holly for speaking out

June 15, 2008

Steve Cotter, the natural resources manager for the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, is at home in Bryan Park. He walks to the creek and leans against the wooden fence that protects the little-known but ecologically important wildlife habitat that exists in and around the creek.

"We had a problem with the creek here, it was badly eroded and very difficult to maintain," Cotter said. "It had steep, vertical slopes where every time it rained, the creek would undercut the bank, and then the bank would fall into the creek and go downstream. It's bad for the water quality, and it's not good for the park, either."

Part of the remedy was the Bryan Park Creek Naturalization Project, which was also one of the first steps toward Bloomington's certification as a Community Wildlife Habitat.

The project involved vegetating the creek bank, with the emphasis on native plant species, using the plants' natural abilities to protect the creek.

June 1, 2008

Jordan Bleckner leans back in his office chair and looks over paperwork at his desk. The phone rings, and he swivels in his chair to pick it up. The 21-year-old IU junior from Woodcliff Lake, N.J., is the 2008 Union Board Live From Bloomington (LFB) director.

Bleckner's job this day in April was to ensure everything was ready for this year's LFB Club Night, an annual fundraiser for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank (HHFB).

Club Night is one of many charity events for local organizations that add a touch of creativity. These types of fundraising events have been around for decades, like LFB's 22-year run, offering residents chances to help out in ways other than the typical walk-a-thons and marathons.

"I just wanted to be in charge of doing something good for Bloomington because I just love this town so much," Bleckner said. "Whether it be big programs or little ones, they're still great for students and the community."

Collaboration between organizations, such as LFB's with Hoosier Hills, has allowed these out-of-the-ordinary events to grow in number and variety.

May 4, 2008

The following is the full contents of an e-mail from Monroe County Public Library union organizer Phil Eskew.

"What I'm most excited about is that we will now have a true democracy at the library. Prior to the union election, we were experiencing a situation wherein all decisions relevant to employees' wages, benefits, and working conditions were being made by the board and the director. We are now on a path that will put a contract in place that ensures guaranteed staff participation in these discussions via union representation.

May 4, 2008

Kathy Starks-Dyer and Phil Eskew could be understandably smug about the resounding Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) employee vote on Earth Day to unionize. The “business-model” types whose management philosophy has dominated decision making at the community institution in recent years were anything but subtle in their anti-union sentiments.

Former MCPL Board of Trustees President Stephen Moberly expressed dismay back in the winter that the resignation of former director Cindy Gray didn’t end the union movement. He thought the staff would be so enamored with Interim Director Sara Laughlin that all from the contentious Gray era would be forgotten, and they would drop the idea.

The board went so far as to post notice of a behind-closed-door session during which, three days before the April 22 union vote, they would discuss making Laughlin’s appointment permanent. Under President John Walsh and Vice President Fred Risinger, the board learned from their attorneys that they did not meet the 48-hour notification requirement for a closed meeting and canceled it.

So, following a 62-35 vote to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), union organizing committee members like Eskew and Starks-Dyer could easily gloat. But they’re not. They’re looking ahead.

April 6, 2008

Downtown gallery visitors experienced all types of art, from multi media, to photography, to oil and water-color paintings during last weekend's Downtown Gallery Walk.

The nonprofit Thomas Gallery on College just north of Kirkwood, is a not-for profit gallery, where the artists put on their own shows and all proceeds go to the artists. Mary Connors and Kurt Larsen were the featured artists this weekend for Gallery Walk.

"Acrylic on canvas and water color on paper are Connors' favorite painting mediums," says Tom Gallagher, the owner of Thomas Gallery.

March 2, 2008

For Sgt. Gafken, a job was more than money. First, it had to be an escape from tedium. And one day, while browsing through a newspaper, a job advertisement caught her eyes a job as a jail guard.

Long tired of work at a local insurance company, Gafken, who declined to give her first name, applied for a guard vacancy in Monroe Country Jail in downtown Bloomington nine years ago.

"I told the jail commander I was bored," Gafken, a strong-looking blond woman, recalled, smiling. He replied, "I guarantee you are never gonna be bored here."

She took him at his word. There are always enough novel things happening in a jail that "you wouldn't have the ability to get bored," she said.

February 24, 2008

The Indiana Public Access Counselor disagrees with the Monroe County Public Library's (MCPL) private attorney, who says the nature of his work for the public institution is not subject to citizen or media scrutiny.

In response to a complaint from The Bloomington Alternative, Public Access Counselor Heather Neal said invoices from attorney Tom Bunger do not qualify as "attorney work product" under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (APRA) and therefore are not exempt from public disclosure.

At the board's Feb. 20 meeting, Library Director Sara Laughlin denied for the second time a request from the Alternative for detailed records of the library's expenditures for outside legal representation, including the attorneys' names, the amounts paid, the dates and accountings of the services provided.

February 3, 2008

It's a basic horror story: due to an unfortunate episode, you find yourself in need of urgent medical attention. You are throbbing with severe pain, the worst you've ever felt, and you don't know why. All you need is help.

The problem is you're in a foreign place where no one understands what you are saying because they do not know your language. You can't explain what is wrong, where it hurts, how it happened, and the frustration and fear -- in a world where no one understands you -- deepens.

The Latino and Hispanic population in Indiana grew by 31 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to a study in the July 2007 issue of InContext. Among the most recent Latino immigrants to enter this country and live in Indiana mentioned in the study, 57 percent either speak English "not well" or "not at all."

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