Thomas and Sandra Tokarski
We have sad news. Our friend and fellow litigant Cora "Betty" Young has died. She died Tuesday, June 26th, a mere 17 days after she was forced out of her home by INDOT and the I-69 highway. We send our heart-felt condolences to her husband Ralph and all her family who have suffered this loss.
Betty was a long-time Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads member and stood with us during the legal fray and added her voice in letters and comments during the long I-69 study process.
Trees have already started falling on some of the land at the heart of an I-69 ruling in Monroe Circuit Court last week.
Republican Monroe Circuit Judge Frances G. Hill on March 22 gave the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) what it asked for: a permanent injunction requiring seven local landowners to let INDOT contractors cut trees and otherwise damage their properties.
INDOT argued it needed to carry out hydraulic and other investigative work to apply for needed state and federal permits and finish designing a Monroe County stretch of I-69.
Monroe County Commissioner Mark Stoops
Monroe County Commissioner and Metropolitan Planning Organization member Mark Stoops says Friday's vote to include I-69 in the local Transportation Improvement Program failed because one of the yes votes violated state conflict of interest statutes and was thus invalid.
Monroe County Public Works Director Bill Williams 'yes' vote became the deciding vote on a close 7-6 decision to include the controversial interstate after he failed to recuse himself when it was revealed that his son was employed by a subcontractor working on I-69 for INDOT.
"The decision by MPO Chair Kent McDaniels to allow Bill to vote on the issue violated State conflict of interest laws. State law (IC 4-2-6-9) requires Boards and Commissions to have possible conflict of interest issues reviewed by a third party and then to issue a written decision on the matter," said Stoops.
In 30 years reporting on the local political scene, I've never witnessed a more cowardly display than the Nov. 4 Bloomington-Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting.
The only truths that can be culled from the proceeding is that this group of "community leaders" is prepared to turn our future over to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), demonstrably the most corrupt and incompetent of all the state agencies. And they just didn't have the guts to do it on Friday.
In Texas, at the southern end of I-69, people have been opposing the highway for 10 years. It’s a tug of war with proponents of the highway. The opponents have had some wins, but the struggle is far from over, and it contains some lessons for opponents of I-69 in the Bloomington area.
Terri Hall, a resident of San Antonio, is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom. According to its website, “Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public on our government’s new shift to tolling using controversial financing methods called public-private partnerships (called Comprehensive Development Agreements or CDAs in Texas), the tolling of existing corridors, and the eminent domain abuse inherent in these plans (confiscating private land to give to a private company for commercial gain).
“Jobs, jobs, jobs” – that’s the recurring refrain by I-69 proponents claiming that the interstate highway will bring economic development to Central and Southwest Indiana. But after nearly 21 years of opposing I-69, Thomas Tokarski says about that claim: “It’s bogus.”
“The myth of highways as economic saviors and bringers of jobs is very engrained in people’s minds. People don’t even question it anymore; they just assume that’s the case,” he says.
The reality is very different from the myth.
I-69 Accountability Project, CARR
Editor's note: The MPO postponed action on this matter until its next meeting on Nov. 4, 2011.
Earlier this year, members of the Bloomington Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) took an action long-awaited by many residents of Monroe County and southwestern Indiana. The MPO members said “no” to a NAFTA Superhighway project that has produced numerous environmental violations that are currently in federal court. They also said “no” to a multi-billion dollar I-69 project that has already taken away funds from much-needed projects to address our crumbling infrastructure throughout the state. And if new terrain I-69 moves ahead as planned, it will only accelerate the unacceptable deterioration of Indiana’s transportation infrastructure.
On Friday, Sept. 9, residents of Monroe County and all of the neighboring counties will encourage the Bloomington MPO to continue to hold firm in the decision made earlier this year.
South-central and southwestern Indiana has buildings, roads and bridges built on apparently solid ground. Yet below the surface is a complex system of limestone caves, sinkholes, bedrock springs, conduits (caves humans can't fit into) and swallow holes (that take in water). This collection of surface and underground features is known as "karst." It has a kind of Swiss-cheese physiography.
Indiana's Monroe, Lawrence, Greene, Orange, Crawford, Harrison, Jennings, Jefferson, Owen and Putnam counties all contain karst. It's a distinctive characteristic of this area and worthy of interest and care.
The tiny Indiana Bat, which is the size of a small mouse and weighs the same as a door key, has a wingspan of 10.5 inches. It normally lives 14 years, summers in the woodlands and hibernates in the caves of southern Indiana, as well as in the forests of 20 other states.
Since 1967 the Indiana Bat has been on the federal list of endangered species.