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.
A working group of Occupy protesters is planning a conference in Philadelphia during the week of July 4 when elected delegates from across the country will gather to draft and sign a petition for a redress of grievances against Congress.
During a recent appearance on Pacifica radio’s Democracy Now!, former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold openly criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to accept campaign contributions from Super PACs. Feingold succinctly characterized the president’s reversal on taking Super PAC money: “It’s not just bad policy. It’s also dumb strategy."
Feingold’s point is well taken. Obama’s acceptance of Super PAC contributions flies in the face of his stated opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision – a ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate campaign contributions. This reversal may come back to haunt the president, especially as he and the Democrats attempt to capitalize on the popular discontent articulated by the Occupy movement.
A working nonprofit Occupy group, Occupy the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has submitted a 325-page letter to agencies involved in the rulemaking process for the Volcker Rule. Formulated by experts in corporate law and finance, the letter provides public comment on regulations proposed by a subsection of the 2010 financial reform Dodd-Frank Act.
Known collectively as the Volcker Rule, the regulations put limits on financial companies by prohibiting speculative bets with shareholder money that could put the banks and taxpayers at risk. The SEC has proposed methods of implementation for the measure and has requested public comment.
Americans' faith in the two-party system of governance may have plummeted to the point where alternative candidates and parties like Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party, former Democratic Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and his new Justice Party, renegade Republican Congressman Ron Paul and/or his former Libertarian Party, or the Socialist Party USA just might have a impact.
"The mood of the country is toxic," Daily Beast contributor Douglas Schoen wrote on Feb. 14, 2012, echoing a growing conversation about the roles "third parties" might play in this year's presidential election. The day before, Huffington Post bloggers Sheri and Allan Rivlin posted what they called a "bold" prediction that there will be multiple alternative party surges before votes are finally cast on Nov. 6.
In the days since the U.S. Green Party's (GP) Feb. 1 announcement that two candidates - Dr. Jill Stein and comedian Roseanne Barr - had filed the necessary paperwork to meet party requirements for its presidential ballot, the Massachusetts physician has emerged as the odds-on favorite. Even Barr, who insists her candidacy is serious, accepts Stein as the nominee apparent. On Feb. 2, the National Journal reported a Barr tweet:
"I will run until the convention in July in Baltimore - I fully expect Jill Stein 2b the nominee & I will support her, but til then - I'll serve."
This time of year, entertainment awards dominate the news cycle. From last month’s Golden Globes, Screen Actors and Directors Guild Awards to Sunday evening’s telecast of the 54th Grammy Awards, it’s all celebrities all the time. Then there’s Oscar’s big night on February 26th. Between all of the excitement and anticipation of award season, is it any wonder that US news workers have neglected a few important stories?
For readers weary of snarky comments from the Red Carpet fashion police, or otherwise bored to tears by George Clooney’s PR blitz for that elusive Best Actor Award, the Bloomington Alternative presents the Award Season edition of the annals of censorship.
More than 400 Occupy Oakland demonstrators and a number of journalists were arrested in a violent confrontation on Jan. 28 when protesters attempted to convert a vacant building into a community center. Several hours later, a group of protesters separated from the crowd and entered City Hall, allegedly vandalizing the inside of the building.
The events were part of a demonstration called "Move-In Day," a plan to use the indoor base of Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center as headquarters for Occupy Oakland protesters to hold General Assemblies and for shelter during the winter, according to occupyoaklandmoveinday.org. The police response to the protesters' efforts entailed using tear gas, bean bag projectiles and flash grenades to disperse the crowd, according to a Jan. 30 Democracy Now! article.
"They are more interested in protecting abandoned private property than they are the people," Occupy Oakland member Maria Lewis said on Democracy Now!
Rocky Anderson is always deferential to Occupy Wall Street when asked about the movement, most recently in a Jan. 31 interview with the online environmental magazine Grist. Occupy has been a "very healthy thing in this country," and there’s an "enormous convergence" between its concerns and his. But for inspiration, the Justice Party candidate points to Tahrir Square, not Zucotti Park.
"One of the great inspirations for us was what we saw in much of the Arab world, where people were intent on overthrowing their nations’ dictators," he told Grist's special projects editor Greg Hanscom during a wide-ranging Q&A. "… They put their lives on the line, utilizing democratized means of communication through social networking and engaging in classic grassroots organizing — and they succeeded."
INDIANAPOLIS - Following today's passage of the so-called "right to work" law, Indiana State AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott issued the following statement:
"On behalf of all working men and women across Indiana, we are extremely disappointed that the Indiana General Assembly has passed the "right to work for less" bill today. They have set our state upon a path that will lead to lower wages for all working Hoosiers, less safety at work, and less dignity and security in old age or ill health. Indiana's elected officials have given the wrong answer to the most important question of this generation.