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Daily Local News – February 5, 2015

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Bloomington’s status as a bicycle-friendly community has been elevated to gold-level by the League of American Bicyclists;The Indiana Department of Corrections punished a prisoner after he publicly proclaimed his innocence;The city of Bloomington officially launches its Black History Month events tonight with a program in the City Council chambers

FEATURE
The race for the next mayor of Bloomington has begun. The final day for candidates to file is tomorrow. This will be the first election in more than a decade in which Mayor Mark Kruzan is not a contender. Kruzan has announced he won’t seek reelection after completing his third term as mayor later this year. Last week Kruzan was in the WFHB studios to speak with William Hosea and Cornelius Wright of Bring It On, our weekly African American public affairs show. We bring you a portion of that conversation for today’s WFHB community report.

VOICES IN THE STREET
The anti-vaccination movement has been in the news a lot lately, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie drawing fire for stating parents should have a measure of choice when it comes to deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children. Voices in the Street hit the street to ask your friends and neighbors what they think about the movement, whether you feel vaccinations contribute to higher rates of autism in children, a parent’s right to choose and what are some of the ramifications of this movement.

CREDITS
Anchors: Carolyn VandeWiele, Scott Weddle
Today’s headlines were written by Joe Crawford
Along with Alycin Bektesh for CATSweek, a partnership with Community Access Television Services.
Our feature was produced by Michael Hilton.
Voices in the Street was produced by Kelly Wherley,
Our engineer today is Jose Rodriguez.
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes.
Managing Producer is Alycin Bektesh
Executive Producer is Joe Crawford.

EcoReport – February 5, 2015

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In today’s Ecoreport feature, Alyce Miller talks about the movement to grant legal rights to non-human animals.

EcoReport is a weekly program providing independent media coverage of environmental and ecological issues with a focus on local, state and regional people, issues, and events in order to foster open discussion of human relationships with nature and the Earth and to encourage you to take personal responsibility for the world in which we live. Each program features timely eco-related headline news, a feature interview or event recording, and a calendar of events of interest to the environmentally conscious.

Today’s Anchor’s: David Lyman and Julianna Dailey.
This week’s news stories were written by Linda Greene and Norm Holy. Our feature and broadcast engineer is Dan Withered. This week’s calendar was compiled by Catherine Anders.
EcoReport is produced by Dan Young, Filiz Cicek, Nancy Jones and Gillian Wilson. Executive producer is Joe Crawford.

Senator Coats; U. S. Senate Interrogate Health and Human Services Over 2016 Department Budget

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The U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee, including Indiana Senator Dan Coats, aggressively questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell for three hours this morning. The interrogation was part of the Committee’s review of President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget for the Department. Correspondent Alycin Bektesh has this report.

In Indiana, 193,567 people are signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Better Beware! – Kidnapping Smartphones

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Ransomware has been an increasing danger for computers, but now the bad guys are targeting smartphones and other mobile devices. Beware, bigtime!

Mayoral Candidates Shun Corporate Money…Sort Of

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So far three Democrats have officially filed to run for mayor of Bloomington in the municipal elections this year. And so far, all three have pledged not to accept any corporate money to fund their campaigns. But does that pledge really mean businesses won’t influence the mayoral election? WFHB News Director Joe Crawford brings us that story for today’s WFHB community report.

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John Hamilton started the conversation about campaign finance. Just more than a week after he filed to run for mayor last month, Hamilton’s campaign distributed a press release. In it, Hamilton says he won’t take campaign contributions from “any corporations or business organizations.”

Running for mayor of Bloomington is not particularly expensive compared to, say, running for governor or president. But candidates do typically spend money on things like signs and mailers. In 2011, when Hamilton ran for mayor against Mayor Mark Kruzan, he spent about $100,000.

“I announced on the fifth anniversary of Citizens United I would not accept corporate contributions to the campaign even though that terrible Supreme Court decision said you could, legally,” Hamilton said.

To be clear, the race for Bloomington mayor doesn’t have much to do with Citizens United. That decision affected federal elections, not local ones. But Hamilton’s press release got him some relatively favorable news coverage in both the Herald-Times and the Indiana Daily Student, who both quoted him talking about the dangers of the Citizens United ruling.

Hamilton’s stance — against the Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for even more corporate money into our electoral process — is not an unfamiliar or probably an unpopular one in Bloomington. The City Council and the Monroe County Commissioners both passed resolutions a few years ago in favor of a constitutional amendment to effectively undo the ruling. Lots of residents have spoken publicly about their concerns that corporations are gaining more and more power over our elected officials. One of Hamilton’s supporters, James Allison, wrote a play about it a couple years ago that was performed at the Unitarian Church. It’s frankly, not a very controversial position here.

So it’s probably not surprising that both of Hamilton’s competitors took him up on the challenge to accept no donations from corporations. Here’s one of those candidates, City Council member Darryl Neher. He also mentions Citizens United.

“I’m on record even back in 2012 when the (City) Council passed a resolution supporting a Constitutional amendment that says corporations are not people and money is not speech,” Neher said. “I already wasn’t planning on taking corporate money for this campaign.”

The third Democratic candidate, John Linnemeier says he also won’t take corporate money. In fact, he goes even further than that. We’ll explain that a little later.

So that’s settled. No corporate contributions to the mayoral candidates this year, at least not these three. But does that actually mean anything? I asked Andy Downs, the director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

“It sounds good to a lot of people,” Downs said. “Because they believe that will remove undue influence from corporations…in Indiana corporations have had a limit on (campaign contributions) for quite some time.

“There are a lot of folks who get around (those regulations) in a fairly easy way. Instead of the corporation making a contribution, an individual who works for the corporation makes a contribution. And contributions from individuals are unlimited.”

Businesses have long been allowed to donate but they been limited to donating $5,000 each to statewide candidates. For a local candidate, like someone running for mayor, a corporation would be limited to $2,000. And as Downs says, there is a giant loophole in both Indiana’s campaign finance law and in the pledge that the mayoral candidates made.

Basically, it’s not a big sacrifice to reject contributions from businesses as long as you can still take money from the people who own and run those businesses.

“In some respects, not accepting contributions from corporations is a bit of a (public relations) ploy,” Downs said.

WFHB asked the three Democratic candidates whether they would be accepting money from business owners. They all say, with different qualifiers, yes. But Linnemeier, who is the only of the three who’s never run for office before, is willing to draw a hard line about exactly which businesspeople can contribute.

“You don’t want to take money from anyone…who is going to be doing business with the city,” Linnemeier said. “That includes the owner of any business. That includes employees of that business.”

Neither Neher or Hamilton are willing to go that far.

Hamilton says he’s open to setting even more limits on fund raising. But he says it would be difficult to meet Linnemeier’s standard. In response to a follow up question from WFHB, Hamilton sent a statement saying it would be hard to monitor contributions closely enough to enforce the rule. Plus, he said “one might accept a contribution tomorrow from an individual who then the next week gets a contract with the city, and it looks funny.”

Neher, on the other hand, says he doesn’t think a blanket ban on donations from businesspeople is a good idea.

“There are a number of even small restaurants that participate with the city of Bloomington,” Neher said. “They’re fundamentally different from businesses from Indianapolis or Chicago that do high-dollar contracts with the city.”

Neher says he won’t take money from business owners with those high-dollar contracts. But he doesn’t draw a clear line about which contracts or which businesses would be too big. He says he’ll make those judgments on a case by case basis.

But for Linnemeier, the pledge not to accept corporate money doesn’t mean much if candidates are still taking money from people who might benefit from having a friend in the mayor’s office.

“That’s a sham, obviously,” Linnemeier said. “That’s exactly what makes people cynical about politics.”

WFHB took a look at campaign finance reports from the 2011 mayoral election, when Hamilton went up against Mayor Kruzan in the Democratic primary. Hamilton lost. He got 40 percent of the vote. In that race, both candidates accepted money from business owners. But Hamilton took no donations from the businesses themselves. Kruzan did.

Corporate money didn’t make up a big percentage of Kruzan’s campaign — just more than fifteen hundred dollars in the months leading up to the primary.

But one of those companies, Greeley and Hansen, has done a good deal of business with the city government. About 18 months after donating $530 to Kruzan’s campaign, that Chicago-based engineering firm got a contract worth three quarters of a million dollars with the city’s Utilities Department.

There are options for getting most of the money out of the city elections. Hamilton says he’d like Bloomington explore the idea of public financing.

“There are cities that have municipal financing that basically matches small donations with other donations from the public,” Hamilton said. “It’s a way to encourage more smaller donations but still be able to finance elections.”

Shortly before our deadline today another candidate filed to run for mayor. John Turnbull is the first Republican to enter the race. We asked Turnbull about his stance on campaign contributions. He says he will accept money from some business owners, but not if he knows they do work for the city.

Turnbull joined the three other candidates in saying he would take no money directly from corporations.

The deadline for candidates to file paperwork for the city elections is Friday.

4th Street Parking Garage Is Under Repair

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Visitors to downtown Bloomington’s 4th street parking garage, between College and Walnut streets, may have been disconcerted this winter to see the facility held up by metal poles and entire groups of parking spaces blocked off by scaffolding. The ongoing work is just routine maintenance, according to Susie Johnson, Director of Public Works for the City. She says that the construction involves routine preventive maintenance for the future.

Monday through Friday the Fourth Street garage is free for the first three hours. After that, it costs 50 cents an hour, half the cost of the parking meters on the street. After 6pm the 4th street garage is the only free parking garage downtown. It is also the oldest, and requires adjustments to its drainage flow and paving. The City is paying Indianapolis-based contractor Carl E Most & Son one hundred and eight thousand dollars for the repairs. Johnson said the project is weather dependent and is being done in stages so as not to block off too many of the spaces at one time.

A restructuring of Bloomington’s city government last year moved parking enforcement responsibilities from the Public Works Department to the Bloomington Police Department. But Public Works is still responsible for maintaining city properties, such as the garage.

Daily Local News – February 4, 2015

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Ridership for Bloomington Transit Services has continuously increased over the past decade, according to new statistics from Bloomington Transit; Monroe County will say No More to domestic violence and sexual assault next week with an interactive awareness event and community service project; New flood hazard maps for Brown County have been released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA; Visitors to downtown Bloomington’s 4th street parking garage, between College and Walnut streets, may have been disconcerted this winter to see the facility held up by metal poles and entire groups of parking spaces blocked off by scaffolding; The U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee, including Indiana Senator Dan Coats, aggressively questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell for three hours this morning.

FEATURE
So far three Democrats have officially filed to run for mayor of Bloomington in the municipal elections this year. And so far, all three have pledged not to accept any corporate money to fund their campaigns. But does that pledge really mean businesses won’t influence the mayoral election? WFHB News Director Joe Crawford brings us that story for today’s WFHB community report.

BETTER BEWARE!
Ransomware has been an increasing danger for computers, but now the bad guys are targeting smartphones and other mobile devices. Beware, bigtime!

CREDITS
Anchors: Taylor Telford, Kelly Wherley
Today’s headlines were written by Sophia Saliby
Along with Alycin Bektesh for CATSweek, in partnership with Community Access Television services
Bloomington Beware was produced by Richard Fish
Our feature was produced by Joe Crawford
Our engineers today are Jim Lang, Adam Reichle and Matt Gwaltney
Our theme music is provided by the Impossible Shapes
Executive Producer is Joe Crawford
Managing Producer is Alycin Bektesh

No More to Domestic Violence Event to be Held Next Week

Monroe County will say No More to domestic violence and sexual assault next week with an interactive awareness event and community service project. The Protective Order Assistance Partnership along with several Indiana University student groups will be hosting an event next Monday, February 9th. It’s titled Monroe County Says No More. Activities will include decorating tote bags to be filled with winter clothing and donated to Middle Way House, a local domestic violence shelter. Participants in the event can also help create a community quilt and listen to a new public service announcement about domestic violence. The sponsors are also requesting donations of women’s winter gloves, hats, scarves, and thick socks for the event. It will take place from one to four PM in the Indiana Memorial Union Georgian Room.

Bloomington Transit Services Are Increasing In Popularity

Ridership for Bloomington Transit Services has continuously increased over the past decade, according to new statistics from Bloomington Transit. 2014 set an all-time high for ridership with over three and a half million riders, a seventy-two percent increase since 2004. A press release from Bloomington Transit cited progress over the past decade, including the opening of the new Downtown Transit Center on East Third and Walnut streets. According to the city, transit services have been improved with the inclusion of new routes for underserved areas in the community and expanded hours on both weeknights and the weekend. A bus tracker application and a new website design have also been put in place with the goal of making services more accessible for Bloomington residents. Funds for this progress have mostly come from federal grants. Bloomington Transit’s service has received numerous awards in recent years, including the American Public Transportation Association’s Outstanding Public Transportation Award in North America in 2010.

Interchange – Terror Skies: The Drone as Judge and Jury

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In Part One, we’re joined by Majed Akhter, an Assistant Professor of Geography at Indiana University Bloomington whose current research examines how state power shapes, and is in turn shaped by, mobile objects such as drones and rivers. His writing focuses especially on Pakistan and the United States.

And in Part Two we’ll joined by Stephen John and Greta Wohlrabe to discuss a new play being produced by The Cardinal Stage Company called “Grounded” by George Brant about a female Air Force fighter pilot “grounded” by pregnancy who becomes a drone pilot operating out of a trailer in the Nevada desert. John is the play’s director and Wohlrabe its star.

Morse Peckham had this to say about state violence and terrorism back in 1987 (“Literature and the State”).

It cannot be that the state objects to terrorism because its citizens are being killed. In this country the citizens kill each other by murder and automobiles, fifty percent of the latter by drunken driving, and the state remains on the whole quite unruffled, except when some group of citizens forming itself as an organ of the state manipulates the state to take some action….No, the state objects to terrorism for quite different reasons. A state maintains its legitimacy by maintaining a monopoly on the use of violence for politics and governance. Terrorism is a challenge to the state’s monopoly on violence for such purposes….The trouble with violence is that if it is used in its ultimate forms there is no further recourse. So we may understand civilization as the strategy by which control and position are maintained without resorting to violence. Legal texts are of the first importance, of course, in circumventing the use of violence as well as justifying violence.

Related
Dronification of State Power

Grounded (Cardinal Stage Company)

Credits
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board Engineer: Jonathan Richardson
Social Media: Carissa Barrett
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

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