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Statewide probation terms to be addressed in upcoming hearing

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A case that had been scheduled for a hearing in front of the Indiana Supreme court this week could have large implications for offenders on probation state wide – WFHB news director Alycin Bektesh has the report.

The Monroe County Probation Department received 1620 new offenders in 2013.

Ball State Economist Predicts A Strong Economic Performance

Last week Ball State University economist Michael Hicks released an economic forecast for 2015. The report shows separate predictions for the United States, Indiana and East Central Indiana.
The forecast suggests that conditions will improve in the coming year, with gross domestic product and job growth higher than it was in 2014. He predicts that job growth will increase overall next year, and wrote that the unemployment rate will decline to 5.7 percent by the end of 2015.
The forecast anticipates that Indiana’s GDP will outstrip the nation by more than half a percent in 2015. Personal income growth is also expected to increase in Indiana, while the income gap between Indiana and the entire U.S. is expected to shrink.
Job creation should accelerate by the end of 2015, according to the report. Projections say that between 90,000 and 120,000 jobs will be created per month. At the same time, though, the number of unemployed is expected to rise. Nearly a third of these new jobs are seasonal or low-paying, and do not provide many benefits to workers.
Hicks writes that wage growth is “uneven,” which can “brake growth of household consumption and investment over the coming year.”
Hicks’ data comes from his own calculations, which are based on sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Hicks writes that while 2015 will be “the best year of economic performance since 2007,” growth will be gradual. The United States may be in the slowest period of growth it has seen in generations

Daily Local News – December 10, 2014

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Last week, The Monroe County Election Board discussed problems with political yard signs in the lead up to the midterm election; Last week Ball State University economist Michael Hicks released an economic forecast for 2015; A new residence hall at IUPUI has been approved by the IU Board of Trustees; In its first-ever distribution of teacher performance grants, or bonuses, the State of Indiana has awarded $30 million in grants to high-performance teachers in more than 1,300 schools; The office of Governor Mike Pence announced in a press release today, December 9th, that a little more than $4.6 million in total federal grants has been paid so far to help local communities and the state of Indiana recover from the 2014 January fifth (5)-through-ninth (9) winter storm; Hoosiers who need help paying their energy bills this winter may be able to take advantage of a program sponsored by Duke Energy; The Monroe County Public Library has plans for opening a third branch

FEATURE
A case that had been scheduled for a hearing in front of the Indiana Supreme court this week could have large implications for offenders on probation state wide – WFHB news director Alycin Bektesh has the report.

BLOOMINGTON BEWARE!
There are more rotten rumors and crafty con-games going around this time of year than are dream’t of in your imagination, Horatio, and here’s the lowdown on more of them…even if your name isn’t Horatio.

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

Political Yard Signs Recognized as Violating the Law

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Last week, The Monroe County Election Board discussed problems with political yard signs in the lead up to the midterm election. The members said an unusually large number of the signs were placed on public property, which is against the law. Board member Lorraine Farrell explained the current rules.

The Board discussed implementing a policy to fine people who violate the rule. But they said it would be difficult to enforce. Robbins also questioned whether the Election Board has the authority to set that kind of rule.

The Board push forward on a policy to penalize violators. Instead they agreed to send out reminders about the yard sign rules before candidates officially file for the municipal elections next year.

Daily Local News (每日地方新闻) Dec 10,2014 – Old National Bank Will Move (Old National Bank 将移动到布卢明顿市中心)

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Old National Bank is one major step closer to moving its downtown Bloomington branch. — Old National Bank 将移动到布卢明顿市中心

Interchange – Breaking the Rulers: The Neoliberal University

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One tends to get easily bogged down and confused by the jargon used to describe particular powerful factions in our mislabeled Democracy and it’s hard not to think this is intentional on the part of pundits and policy wonks at billionaire-funded think-tanks. In this episode we try to make clear what the term Neoliberal means and see how it can be applied to the world of the American University, and in the process hope to identify the way the University system has come to view the student as only an industrial widget–a consumer of edutainment–and a commodity in the “free market” calculus.

Guests:

Jon Simons, an Associate Professor of Communication and Culture at Indiana University Bloomington. His research is about cultural theory, the connection between popular culture and politics, and images of peace in the Israeli peace movement. He is a member of the newly formed Faculty Governance Caucus that successfully ran a slate for the last Bloomington Faculty Council elections.

David Fisher, a professor of mathematics at IUB. He works on geometry and dynamics and is particularly interested in objects with lots of symmetry. He is a member of the newly formed Faculty Governance Caucus that successfully ran a slate for the last Bloomington Faculty Council elections. In 2011, he organized a petition which played a role in reversing IU’s attempt to turn health insurance into a mode of monitoring employee health.

Cassidy Sugimoto, an Assistant Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington. She studies and teaches in the areas of scholarly communication and scientometrics. Her most recent book compilations have looked at the historical criticism of scholarly metrics and have explored the proliferation of novel forms of tools for scholarly assessment. She has been active in shared governance at IUB since her arrival in 2010 and is currently serving as President-Elect of the Bloomington Faculty Council.

Of related interest:

Bloomington Faculty Council

The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, approved by the Board of Trustees at its December 2014 meeting, includes eight strategic priorities that will be addressed between now and IU’s bicentennial in 2020. The plan provides a roadmap for IU’s efforts to remain among the best public research universities.

Biography of IU President Michael A. McRobbie

IU Board of Trustees

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

Gov. Pence Eliminates CECI, Pushes For Appointed Board Of Education Chair

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The long running dispute between Indiana Governor Mike Pence and State Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz seems to have switched battlegrounds.

Both won their respective offices on fundamentally opposing education policy platforms. Pence adheres to the nation-wide Republican promotion of what has been labelled “school choice”, which means the use of public funds to finance vouchers for private schools and turning under-performing public schools into privately controlled charter schools.

Ritz, a former school librarian, teacher’s union leader, and public education activist, ran on a platform of strengthening public schools and against the increasing emphasis on high stakes state-wide tests, the state-run school grading system, the shift to performance based teacher pay, and what she and her allies saw as the general devaluation of the teaching profession.

This ideological opposition was aggravated when e-mails were discovered showing that Ritz’s predecessor – Tony Bennett, a former gym teacher and the GOP candidate who Ritz defeated – had tried to manipulate the school grading system for the benefit of a favored charter school while he was in office. Republicans blamed Ritz for the e-mail release. Tensions mounted when, soon after Ritz took office, Pence created the Center for Education and Career Innovation, C.E.C.I., to reside within his office and staffed with his personal appointees. Ritz viewed Pence’s creation of a parallel education department as an attempt to usurp her policy making power.

Ritz sued Pence, charging a violation of her constitutional powers. The suit was dismissed on a technicality last fall. However, this issue became moot when Pence announced last week that he was dissolving his education center effective February 20th. He coupled this move with an announcement that he would be requesting the state assembly pass legislation allowing the state board of education to elect its chair. The superintendent is by law automatically chair of the board. However, the Governor appoints the other ten members of the board.

Mark Stoops, member of the state senate for district 40, which includes all of Bloomington and most of Monroe and Brown Counties, is a member of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee.

“I’d like to think Pence saw the writing on the wall and I think what this means is they’ve decided to go after Ritz and make her elected position an appointed position,” Stoops says. “That’s a real problem.”

Since the mid-19th century Indiana’s constitution has recognized the office of education superintendent as separate from all other branches of state government and it is unique under state law in being the only elected government department head. Consequently, Ritz and others have seen Pence’s efforts to usurp Ritz’s power as being in violation of the state constitution and the state code.

However, Senator Stoops does not hold to this view.

“I believe that the legislature votes and approves a measure to remove Superintendent of Public Instruction as automatic chair of the Board of Education, that would probably be legal,” Stoops says.

Since her election, Ritz has found support in the state assembly for many of her policies, in particular the senate supported maintaining federal Common Core standards.

However, Senator Stoops thinks that the majority of the members of the General Assembly will go along with Pence’s campaign against the current superintendent of education.

“Unfortunately I think the message from the past election is that the public doesn’t really care what they do and they’ll use that as an opportunity to push more privatized public education,” Stoops says.

Senator Stoops noted that several candidates running as democrats during the last election, some of them teachers and principals, and strong advocates of public schooling, were leading in the polls up to the election. However, they were defeated after a last minute mailing from the Republicans claiming support for public education, and promising to increase funding for the public system.

“I think we have to be wary because some schools are seriously close to being in a position of being taken over, and people need to understand that this is imminent,” Stoops says. “This is something we could see in Monroe County pretty soon.”

Indiana already leads the nation in the creation of charter schools. Governor Pence has promised to increase the pace of this process.

Hoosier Hills Food Bank Will Host Red Cross Book Fair

A committee of former Red Cross Book Fair volunteers has completed its selection process for a new host for the popular book fair fund-raiser annually held at the Monroe County Fair Grounds.

The new host and organizer is the Hoosier Hills Food Bank.

Noting that Hoosier Hills in the past has conducted a food drive during the book fair, its director, Julio Alonso, noted that this was a logical move for both Hoosier Hills and the book fair.

The next step will be to move the remaining books and book book fair supplies from the American Red Cross Chapter House to new sorting facilities and reorganize book fair volunteers

Just as with the food bank, the book fair will continue to rely on funds and volunteers’ time as well as corporate sponsors and extensive marketing to alert the public to the book fair’s new host. Hoosier Hills is immediately prepared to accept book donations at its office at 2333 West Industrial Park Drive Mondays-through-Fridays from 9-5 PM.  If citizens plan to donate more than one or two boxes of books, they are asked to call ahead to Hoosier Hills at 812-334-8374. Future book collection events are also planned for various places in the Bloomington community.

‘Dead Voter Law’ Reason For Delays In Monroe County Election Results

A law prohibiting dead people from voting was responsible for delays in tallying election results last month.

That’s according to the Monroe County Election Board who oversees the vote counting process. They said most of the ballots were processed by 8 p.m. on election night.

But final results weren’t available until early the next morning. Board member Brian Lemonds said that’s because of what he called the “dead voter law.”

The dead voter law says that if anyone dies after submitting an early vote before election day, then the vote doesn’t count.

County Clerk Linda Robbins said Monroe County has never had to invalidate more than three votes because of the law. Robbins and Lemonds both said the law should be repealed.

“If someone took time to vote, it should count, so I think it should be repealed,” Robbins says.

The law applies to all of the counties throughout Indiana, most of which typically get their results tallied before Monroe County. Robbins said the voting system in Monroe County is responsible for some of the complications.

“As long as we continue with the same kind of voting system, the best option would be to repeal the dead voter law,” Robbins says.

Over 19,000 residents cast their ballot in person this fall and over 7,000 absentee ballots were sent in for the midterm election.

Bloomington Plan Commision Approves Bank Plans, Delays Hotel Plans

Old National Bank is one major step closer to moving its downtown Bloomington branch.

On December 8, the Bloomington Plan Commission approved plans for a two-story building on the corner of Kirkwood and Lincoln. Old National plans to vacate its current branch, which is just one block west, and move those operations to the proposed building.

The company developing the project, GMS-Pavilion Properties, has been negotiating with the city for years.

City Planner Jim Roach said the Planning Department is happy with the recent progress.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we believe this building meets all city requirements and there are no parking or residential density issues,” Roach says.

Plans for the building originally included a third story as well as 17 apartments. Over the past year the developer scrapped those elements, making the proposal better comply with the city’s zoning rules. Plan Commission members had few complaints about the current proposal.

But Commission President Jack Baker did have an issue with the brick developers plan to use, saying in order to keep the vibrancy and quirkiness of the street, they should use a more reddish color.

The brick currently proposed for the building is more earth-toned than Baker wants.

Steve Hoffman, from Pavilion Properties, said his company can’t do much to change that part of the plan, because it’s what the bank asked for.

Baker proposed an amendment that would require the developer to work with staff to consider a new color of brick. But that amendment didn’t pass.

The Commission later approved the plans for the entire building unanimously. It still needs approval from the Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals before construction can happen. By moving into a new building, Old National hopes to clear the way for a new hotel on the site of its current branch.

But there have been complaints about the hotel proposal. The Commission delayed a vote on that plan at the December 8 meeting and won’t take it up again until February.

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