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Military Suicide Prevention Act gains attention during Suicide Prevention Month

The Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act authored by Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly is scheduled to receive a full senate hearing this year, but in conjunction with Septembers’ Suicide Prevention Month Donnelly released a statement this week regarding a new report from the Department of Defense. According to the D-O-D in the first quarter of 2014 one hundred and twenty service members committed suicide. The number is right on track with the total number of military suicides in 2013 – which after reevaluation was changed from four hundred and seventy nine to four hundred and seventy five. In his statement, Donnelly said that the majority of assistance goes to those who are active military in their deployment cycle, and that more assistance needs to goes to those to reserve and National Guard members.

Extended Hours For Library

The Main Library has extended its Sunday hours in response to public requests. Beginning this month the library opens from noon to 6 on Sunday instead of the previous hours of 1 to 5 p.m. To maintain the same total number of hours, the library opens one hour later on Friday and Saturday, at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Since downtown parking is free on Sunday, this means that free parking is available during more of the open hours. The increased Sunday hours coincide with the opening of newly renovated auditorium and expanded program offerings on Sunday afternoons, including movies, music, storytelling and dance.

IU Ranks High for Public Universities

IU Bloomington has ranked number 30 for public universities, and 76th of the top 100 universities overall, according to the latest survey by U.S. News and World report. The indicators used to determine rankings include graduation rate, financial resources, faculty resources, student retention, selectivity, reputation and alumni giving.

A high ranking is useful for recruiting out-of-state and foreign students who may not be as familiar with I U as in-state students. Although I U has a sizeable number of out-of-state and foreign students, the majority of the students are from Indiana and most decide to attend IU based on factors other than national rankings.

IU officials acknowledge that it is flattering to attain high ratings, but it has little influence on the overall administration of the university.

Indiana Files Appeal to Strike Down Same Sex Marriage Ban

Hoosiers, along with officials from 31 other states, have rushed to file appeals asking the Supreme Court to consider the issue of same sex marriage. Fifteen months ago, in the case of U.S. versus Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down a portion of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, that denied tax, health and veterans benefits to legally married same sex couples. Since that time, the Windsor decision has been used by nearly two dozen judges to strike down same sex marriage bans every region of the country. Just last week the Seventh Court of Appeals in Chicago unanimously ruled that bans against same sex marriage in Indiana and Wisconsin are unconstitutional. In his 40 page opinion, Judge Richard Posner said that the bans in Indiana and Wisconsin are irrational and animus-driven. He noted that Indiana refuses to recognize same sex marriages from other states, but it does recognize first-cousin marriages from other states, although first-cousin marriages are not legal in Indiana.
The appeals to the Supreme Court come from both sides – states that do allow same sex marriage and those that don’t. According to the Associated Press, thirty businesses including Amazon, Target, and General Electric, say the Supreme Court should extend same sex marriage nationwide because “the current patchwork of state laws causes employees justifiable uncertainty about how their employers and state governments will treat their familial relationships”. Many analysts believe the Supreme Court will decide to take up the matter when they meet in private on September 29th. However, it could be June 2015 until a ruling is issued.

Senator Dan Coats Has Issues With Affordable Care Act Changes

Indiana Senator Dan Coats issued a statement August 26th about modifications made to the Affordable Care Act. Coats says the modifications infringe on religious freedoms. He says, “Religious freedom remains under attack across our country, and a gimmick designed to skirt the heart of the issue will not resolve the issue.”

The changes were made by the Obama Administration and require religious organizations to provide access to contraceptives to its employees.

In June of this year, the US supreme Court ruled in favor of company Hobby Lobby, saying they do not have to provide access to contraceptives to their employees, based on religious objections. Since then, the Obama Administration has proposed to make it mandatory for companies to notify insurers that they object to providing contraceptives. This change has resulted in complaints similar to Senator Coats’, with organizations across the country claiming that religious freedoms are being infringed upon.

Unite Bloomingfoods Facebook Page Opened

On Sunday a Facebook page was opened with the title, “Unite Bloomingfoods,” and a bold headline stating, “UNION YES.” An anonymous posting stated that some employees, “have gone too long waiting for our Admin offices to take care of not only the company, but to take care of its workers. There is a current push to Unionize the co-op.”

According to former Bloomingfoods employee Cindy Beaule, line workers are paid at or near minimum wage with modest increases for seniority,  and no formal benefits such as health care, paid leave, vacation time, etc. beyond what is required by state or national labor regulations.  Furthermore, Beaule found that her fellow employees and even line managers had little input into administrative decision making regarding day-to-day operations.  Recently, the administration established what it called an “Open Books” policy to encourage employee feedback. However, Beaule said employees were pessimistic as to the sincerity and credibility of this program in light of previous administrative indifference.

The Daily Local News spoke to a Bloomingfoods employee involved with the “Unite Bloomingfoods” union drive who stated that though they had begun their Facebook campaign, she was unwilling to do an interview due to the unionization drive being in early stages. This summer two large natural and organic grocery chains announced plans to open branches in Bloomington. The national chains can offer more attractive employee pay and benefits. Employees of the Kroger corporation, which operates stores in Bloomington, are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

The Daily Local News has contacted Bloomingfoods representatives for an interview. Cindy Beaule is a WFHB volunteer.

Controversial Rideshare Program Uber launches in Bloomington


Despite not conforming to the regulations of Bloomington’s Taxi Ordinance, popular rideshare Uber announced it’s expansion to Bloomington this morning.
WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh has the report.

5:09pm UPDATE
In response to an interview request regarding the cease and desist notice from the City of Bloomington, WFHB News received the following e mail
“Uber has been providing residents of Indiana with safe, affordable and reliable transportation options for over a year. We’ve already received overwhelming demand and support from residents and visitors of Bloomington eager for access to expanded transportation choices. We look forward to continuing to work with officials in Bloomington to find a permanent home for ridesharing in the city.”

Media School Releases Franklin Hall Renovation Plans

The IU Media School tweeted a drawing of the plans for Franklin Hall renovation following last week’s Board of Trustees meeting. On August 8th, Associate Dean Lesa Hatley Major met with IU trustees to propose interior plans for the merged media school. Major told trustees that the school will have space for student media including the IDS, WIUX, IUSTV, the Arbutus, and American Student Radio. The school will be open 24 hours a day to keep the media programs running. Level one of the school will have a broadcast studio as well as Ernie Pyle archives and the largest TV on campus. Classrooms will be on level two, along with study areas overlooking the first level.

Vote Centers A Proposed Discussion With Monroe County Budget

Monroe County will tackle the contentious issue of vote centers again in the coming weeks. County Clerk Linda Robbins says she will propose vote centers during upcoming budget talks.Robbins made the statement at an August 7 meeting of the County Election Board.

“We are also going to look at comparing costs of precinct voting to vote centers so we’re going to try and tackle that again with some comparative costs,” Robbins says.

Switching to a vote center model would shrink the number of voting locations in the County. But a resident could vote at any of the locations instead of being limited to a single precinct. In the past, county Republicans have opposed the change.

Robbins insists it could save hundreds of thousands of dollars during each election.

“There’s been pushback from certain individuals about these centers,” Robbins says. “Any cost we incur with this will be charged back to the city, not the county.”

The Board plans to begin 2015 budget discussions on August 12.

Local News, Quick Reads – August 12, 2014

  • Indiana University has a new women’s basketball coach.  Teri Moren was announced as the Hoosiers’ new coach Saturday night. She replaces Curt Miller, who resigned on July 25.   Moren played for the Purdue Boilermakers  from 1987-1991 and has spent the past four seasons as the coach  at Indiana State University.
  • The Hoosier Hills Food Bank distributed more pounds of food in July than ever before in the organizations history. 413,835 pounds of food were distributed last month. HHFB distributes to nearly 100 non-profit agencies in Brown, Lawrence, Orange, Owen, Martin and Monroe counties with limited distribution in Crawford and Greene counties.
  • The Indianapolis Business Journal is reporting that local for-profit hospital Monroe Hospital filed for bankruptcy federal court in Indianapolis on Friday. Court documents show the hospital to be $125 million in debt. The hospital currently employees 315 people, and is in works with Prime Healthcare for a buyout.
  • MaryEllen Bishop stepped down as Chair of the Indiana University board of trustees during the trustee meeting in Bloomington on Friday. Randall Tobias,  the Retired Chair and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company and  a 2013 gubernatorial appointment to the IU board of trustees, was unanimously voted in a chairman of the board on Friday.
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