The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce just announced their opposition to HJR 6, the legislation in the Indiana State House altering the definition of marriage. The Chamber’s Board of Directors approved the official documentation of their opposition, saying instead legislators should work on legislation that will bring business to the state, not give them reason to leave. The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce represents over 1,100 local businesses including IU Health-Bloomington and Indiana University, which have both also released public statements opposing the amendment. The Bloomington City Council also made a motion against HJR 6 last week and Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan has joined mayors statewide in opposition to the bill.
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Two Monroe County officials gave a presentation Tuesday in hopes of quelling fears about a looming financial dilemma.
The officials spoke before the County Council about the fact that the County Treasurer’s Office has fallen several months behind on required financial reports.
Without filing the monthly documents, the county would be unable to distribute tax money to other units within the County, potentially leaving local governments like the city of Bloomington and the town of Ellettsville unable to meet their obligations.
Although the office hasn’t filed a report since May, County Treasurer Cathy Smith said her staff made up for lost time in recent weeks.
“We’ve been working hand-in-hand with the Auditor’s and Commissionors Office in keeping up to speed with where we are each day,” Smith said, “I think it’s fair to say that we are in the final preparations to approve a settlement.”
The County Auditor’s Office needs to approve the reports by Dec. 20 in order to send money on to other governmental units.
Auditor Steve Saulter said he’s confident the money will be distributed, even if the entire process is not complete in time.
Saulter said that’s partly because the law allows him to distribute 95% of the money before all the approvals are finished.
“I can’t promise we’ll get the whole settlement process done with the timing and holidays,” Saulter said, “We’ll complete the process the first week of January.”
During the presentation, Smith made another request to the County for a fifth employee in her office. She said that would help address future issues like this one, which she said was caused by the loss of a staff member.
“We don’t want to lose someone with all the knowledge again,” Smith said, “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Several members of the County Council thanked the Treasurer’s office for working to complete the reports before the deadline. Council President Geoff McKim said the county avoided what could have been a “pretty serious problem,”
Last Thursday, during a board meeting at Indiana University East in Richmond, IU trustees talked about the contracts awarded by the school to businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans.
Governor Mike Pence set diversity targets for all state purchasing from the Indiana government.
According to trustee Patrick Shoulders, IU considers those aspirational goals. The aim is to encourage the development of women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses, known as WBE and MBE, in the state of Indiana.
Shoulders says IU is one of the leading institutions in the state making the effort to achieve these goals.
“We have not attained the self-imposed aspirational goals and I think there are a lot of explanations for that,” Shoulders said, “It certainly isn’t through lack of effort but perhaps through lack of available, qualified WBE and MBE providers.”
Shoulders explains that the awards are given out based on the lowest bid, which can make it hard for small businesses to win contracts at IU.
“I think that this effort is difficult and we’re fighting against years and years of discrimination,” Shoulders said, “The Board of Trustees was quite clear that We expect IU to be on the cutting edge of pushing for the success of WBEs and MBEs.”
Though IU fell short of the state’s diversity directives, Shoulders says the trustees want IU to be a leader in the state for awarding these kinds of contracts.
On Tuesday a newly assigned diversity official at the Monroe County Community School Corporation said minority employees there are mostly pleased with their work environment.
Diane Hanks, the corporation’s diversity and talent specialist, said her office held forums last month for employees from underrepresented groups.
“Generally the employees were satisfied and feel comfortable in their respected environment,” Hanks said, “Their work environment is inclusive regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability and age.”
The forums were a response to the same controversy that led to the creation of Hanks’ new position.
Many community members were angry when the corporation promoted a white administrator to be principal at Tri-North Middle School. Hanks had also applied for the job, and some alleged that racial bias affected the decision, especially because Hanks had more experience as an administrator.
During that controversy, some MCCSC employees of color said a lack of diversity at the Corporation was a problem. And in her report this week, Hanks said there are indeed still issues that need addressed.
Hanks went on to say that the corporation should address concerns from employees who want more information about how to advance within the corporation.
The Bloomington Telecommunications Council continued its discussions Dec. 3 about bringing telecommunications scholar Susan Crawford to Bloomington.
The council has encountered issues getting funding for the visit, and last month it requested $5,500 dollars from the city Board of Public Works.
New Council member Jo Throckmorton asked another member, Duane Busick, why the Council would push for the visit from Crawford, who is known mostly for her advocacy of internet access and net neutrality.
“It has nothing to do with what this council deals with,” he said.
Busick said the Council deals with some issues that include internet communication, even though the Council’s statutory responsibility is primarily related to cable television. He said the Council has tried unsuccessfully to redefine its role in city government in recent years and that cable TV is now outdated.
Throckmorton and Busick were the only members who attended the meeting. The council was not able to conduct any official business because there was not a quorum.
The Board president of the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District announced plans Nov. 21 to renew discussion about a controversial recycling facility.
At a meeting of the District’s Citizens Advisory Committee, Board President Steve Volan said he would reintroduce a measure that was voted down earlier this year. The measure would allocate $60,000 to study the feasibility of building a materials recovery facility, also known as a MRF, which would process recyclables.
“The study for a clean MRF has been done,” Volan said, “We’re talking about being able to do a dirty MRF which takes the waste stream itself and recycle items out of it. As a public asset it would reduce such a dramatic amount of waste that much less would need to be trucked to another landfill.”
The District’s Executive Director, Larry Barker, said much of the waste the district currently pays to have hauled to a landfill could be used for other purposes.
The district collects trash in the county, and it pays the company Republic Services to haul it to a landfill in Terre Haute.
“The ultimate goal is to get as possible to zero waste,” Barker said, “And that means nothing going to a landfill. Food and yard waste are currently going to the landfills and those can be pulled out to be put into a machine to actually create energy.”
Many of the arguments for building a MRF concern the increasing costs of waste management in the city and the county. Volan said Republic Services is increasing the prices it charges to the city next year.
“Part of the reason I’m supportive of this investment is that the city’s cost of disposal of trash and recyclables will be going up to 46 dollars a ton and the recycling that they’ve been taking for free for the past three years will go up to 46 dollars a ton too,” Volan said, “This results in a six-figure cost to the city that we didn’t anticipate.”
The feasibility study was initially part of the District’s budget for 2014, but the funding was removed in August because of dissent from two District Board members. Those members, Iris Kiesling and Patrick Stoffers, are also County commissioners, and they represent the County on the District Board.
Although those two were the only votes against the MRF on the seven-member board, they were still able to strip the funding, partly because of poor attendance by other members. The board is expected to vote again on the funding at its meeting Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. at the Monroe County Courthouse.
The Indiana State Police are investigating a Thanksgiving night police shooting that resulted in the death of a Nashville man.
That night, Brown County Sheriff’s deputies and a Nashville Town Marshall’s officer arrived at a home on Annendale Drive in Nashville, after receiving a tip that Troy Harden was there. Harden was wanted on two Bloomington warrants for probation violations.
According to the State Police, the officers located Harden after being let in to the residence. Harden initially resisted arrest and told officers to kill him. One officer deployed his taser after noticing Harden was holding a gun.
Harden managed to escape through a window and the officers proceeded to chase him through a wooded area. Harden eventually emerged on Annendale Drive, where officers managed to successfully tase him. Harden collapsed but pointed his gun at the officers, who responded by shooting him. Two bullets hit Harden and he was declared dead at Columbus Regional Hospital.
State Police investigators found Harden’s gun at the scene of the shooting, as well as meth lab equipment in his truck parked at the Annendale Drive residence. Witnesses told investigators Harden was afraid of going to prison.
After State Police complete their investigation, Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver will review the results and determine whether charges should be filed.
Two exceptional research images, taken at Indiana University’s Light Microscopy Imaging Center, are finalists in the International GE Cell Imaging Competition. Last year the center won the contest with an image of a dividing cell.
Imaging Center manager and research scientist Jim Powers gives background on the competition, and explains why IU has a good chance to take home the prize again.
“Every year GE runs a world-wide contest on their microscopes, which we have,” Powers says, “There aren’t too many in the world and every year people submit their images. Last year one of our images one and two got accepted this year.”
The IU Imaging Center captures their microscopic subjects with a $1.2 million super-resolution microscope. The microscope, in use since 2009, was funded entirely by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Scientists everywhere can use this tool to look at things impossible to see with a regular microscope, and Powers says that can be significant help to biologists.
“This imaging center is for all of IU and beyond,” Powers says, “A lot of us are very visual and to be able to see something otherwise impossible to see is really huge for biologists and
The microscope itself is understandably complicated. A computer takes thousands of pictures a minute from the microscope, and then math algorithms patch them together to create a single picture.
One image submitted this year is of newt chromosomes making RNA from D-N-A. These are the building blocks of an organism, and those in the image were stained red and, coincidentally, heart-shaped. Powers says this image is especially incredible.
“We hear about all these genes and what they do for us,” Powers says, “To be able to actually see this happen is so cool and something we haven’t been able to do very well with other microscopes.”
More than 15,000 votes were cast last year. To vote for the pictures and to see the other submissions this year, you can go to GE’s website.
The winner of the contest gets a free trip to New York City to see their image on a screen in Times Square.