At seven o’clock on Saturday morning, the Bloomington Farmers Market is a quiet place. Some trucks are pulling up, some of the growers talk to each other, and some birds chirp in the trees, but mostly, everyone is working. There are virtually no customers. Many vendors are still setting up tents or arranging produce. The market isn’t supposed to open until eight, but there are some early risers beating the crowds. The farmers are happy to accommodate them.
Dan McCullough, an amiable man with a short grey beard, takes a break from unloading his truck of corn and sweet potatoes to sell some corn to a woman at his stand, even though it isn’t nearly time to “open” yet. I ask Dan if people always came to his stand this early. He tells me that they do, but it doesn’t matter. As long as he’s here – which can be as early as 5:30 – and he has corn – which can sell out as early as 9:30 – and there’re people who want to buy it, he’ll sell it to them. Of all of those things, he said it’s the supply of corn that has been the issue this year. “It’s been a tough year to get enough,” he tells me.
Of course, Dan is talking about the drought. As I walk around the market, watching dawn break over downtown Bloomington and listening to the local growers chat and mingle, “drought” is a word that I hear from several directions. You wouldn’t guess at any trouble, though. Everyone seems happy and food is abundant. It better be. At 7:45, Dan has a line already.
Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) policy clearly forbids patrons from bringing firearms into the library but does allow employees to unless they are intent on doing harm, according to documents provided to The Bloomington Alternative by the library’s Board of Trustees.
The MCPL’s “Behavioral Rules” for patrons defines “possession of alcohol, illegal substances, or a weapon anywhere on library property” as “disruptive behavior” and grounds for “loss of library privileges, up to and including removal from the building and contacting police.”
What follows are the full texts of Monroe County Public Library Director Cindy Gray's resignation letter and the library board's statement of acceptance.
The Board of Trustees of Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) accepts the resignation of MCPL Director Cynthia A. Gray, effective August 31, 2007. During her 2 ½ year tenure, Monroe County Public Library has had positive accomplishments under her leadership.
8/31 -- The MCPL Board of Trustees responds to the Alternative's request for firearms policies and incidents. See MCPL gun policies.
8/29 -- The Monroe County Public Library Board of Trustees accepted Director Cindy Gray's resignation at its budget meeting on Wednesday.
A gun deal in the library sealed Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) Director Cindy Gray’s fate.
The MCPL Board of Directors will announce Gray’s future with the public institution at a meeting tonight. Board members will do so after having received an allegation that she sold a handgun to a library staffer in the public building.
On Aug. 23, The Bloomington Alternative submitted the following Public Records Request to Monroe County Public Library Board of Trustees Stephen Moberly. What follows is the request and Mr. Moberly's response.
From: Steven Higgs [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:29 PM
Ask Cindy Gray how the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) devolved from one of the nation's recognized best to a hotbed of labor-management strife, and her eyes widen.
"If I knew the answer to that, we wouldn't be here," she said during a recent interview in her office on the library's third floor.
Gray insisted that she has reached out to her staff and tried to be inclusive during her 2 1/2 years as library director.
"The interesting contradiction in all of this is that we have six committees functioning, with nearly 20 members on each," she said. "... What I've tried to do is bring in staff at all levels."
But the situation is so bad that MCPL board member Randy Paul not only believes a unionization effort will pass, he effectively called for Gray's resignation in a letter last week, saying that her job performance "smacks of cronyism and is, at a minimum, unprofessional."
RESPONSES TO ALTERNATIVE REQUEST
The following are responses from Monroe County Public Library Board President Stephen Moberly to questions submitted by The Bloomington Alternative on July 13. The questions are posted on the Alternative Web site.
1. Stipends at MCPL
Planned renovation of the Monroe County Public Library's second floor drew criticism at the July 11 Board of Trustees work session attended by about 40 citizens.
The renovations, estimated to cost more than $500,000, was pushed to the top of the agenda by board member Randy Paul.
The plan would include relocating the audio visual department to the second floor, installing new furniture and carpets, improving the Kirkwood entrance, replacing the circulation desk with an ergonomic one and incorporating self-checkouts in more user-friendly ways.
TO: Stephen Moberly
FROM: The Bloomington Alternative
DATE: July 9, 2007
RE: Information request
Over the past several weeks, The Bloomington Alternative has spoken with nearly a dozen sources with interests in and concerns about the Monroe County Public Library. In the course of this reporting, some serious allegations have been made about the Director Cindy Gray's actions and attitudes and the Board of Trustee's knowledge of, and perhaps complicity in, questionable activities.
On Saturday, June 16, 10 Bloomington local foods organizations and businesses opened their doors to the community to promote sustainable practices and policies.
Businesses as diverse as orchards, wineries, organic gardens and greenhouses participated in the afternoon Local Foods Tour, the inaugural sustainability tour sponsored by the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability (BCOS).
"There's a lot of interest in eating healthy, and local foods supports that interest," said Keith Clay, BCOS member and a professor of biology at IU.