Posts Tagged city council

Can eight minds think alike?

In just under a week, I, like thousands of other Bloomington residents, will head to the polls to decide the fate of the Bloomington City Council and the school system. This election has already been one of the most interesting elections I have witnessed in years due to a controversial referendum involving the schools. There is also, within the city, a city council election that has proved to be amusing.

In terms of the city council elections, I have really only given it substantial thought twice: once about a month ago when I had a strange revelation and this past weekend when I had a complete reversal in my thinking.

About a month ago while I was driving across Bloomington from one place to another, it occurred to me that until that point I had only heard from the Republican candidates. At the time I thought to myself that it was really neat. Imagine, a political party being unified enough to get nine candidates to run for office as a block, in the hopes that they would prevail and control city council. They also had given up on the mayor’s office, opting to let the incumbent Democrat retain the seat unchallenged.

Ironically, shortly after I returned home, Pam Service, the incumbent Democrat City Council member from my district (District 6) who is not running for reelection, rang my doorbell and encouraged me to vote for the Democrat running in my council district, thus shattering my brief notion that the Democrats were not going to be visible at all this election season.

I was still impressed enough with the Republicans that I continued to ponder whom I would actually vote for. Neither of the candidates running in my district are so inspired that I feel compelled to run out and vote for them early, nor so dastardly as to have caused me to run out and campaign against them.

I pretty much stopped thinking about the issue until late last week when I viewed the results of a City Council candidate survey in the Bloomington Independent and quickly realized that I was in the presence of something strange and improbable: Eight of the nine Republicans on the City Council ticket answered the questions as a group.

The odds that two people will ever agree on every issue 100 percent of the time is somewhere near zero, even if both people are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or (even) members of the Reform Party. So if I wasn’t actually witnessing this event, then I must have been witnessing the world’s first eight-headed body that is not completely physically connected. Think of it as a new type of Siamese twin, if you wish.

Naturally, that is improbable as well, so there’s something fishy going on with the Republican side of the City Council ticket. This running as a group thing has gone too far: the last time I witnessed a group of people running together, at least they had the decency to admit that they didn’t completely agree on every subject. Of course, it was a marathon.

It is true that there have been a couple of occasions when the Indiana Daily Student and Herald-Times have cornered the candidates separately and interviewed them separately from the groupthink approach that they as Republicans seem to have undertaken this year. My impression at the time was that the individual candidates acted more like deer caught in headlights than individuals. Of course that held for the Democrats as well: the inane profiles published by the IDS and the H-T are exactly that: inane profiles.

This impressive show of “groupthink” has managed to turn me off. I still do not have any strong opinions one way or another about the two candidates running for office in my district. But since I have strong doubts about the ability of eight men and women to agree on every issue, I am disinclined to believe the Republican ticket’s unified answers to all the questions. Which means that by default, the Republican in my district is facing an uphill battle to get my vote during this last week.

Which presents another problem: I never vote a straight ticket. As such, I have to find at least one non-Democrat to vote for. I can either vote for Michael Schitt, the Libertarian running for City Council At Large, or one of the other two non-party mayoral candidates.

That decision is one I’ll be mulling over between now and Election Day. I hope that those of you registered to vote in Bloomington will do the same and remember to get out to the polls next week as well. It is important that students are involved in the city as residents, not just be visitors passing through.

Oh yes, and about that other vote I’ll be casting: I already know that I support quality education in public schools and I will vote accordingly.

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Nunn, God hurt by new law

Award Winning: This column earned the IDS Best Column of the Week award, April 5-9, 1999.

The March 29 front page of the Bloomington Herald-Times announced that the “Mayor envisions city without billboards.” This is one of Bloomington’s many efforts at beautification. Another example of beautification efforts has included work on Kirkwood Avenue.

But this particular mode of beautification is going to be particularly expensive, both for the city, the owner of the billboards and for advertisers who use those billboards. It is expensive for the city because the city must compensate Hoosier Outdoor, the billboard company, for the eliminated billboards. It is expensive for Hoosier Outdoor because they will have their business significantly reduced.

Last but not least, and perhaps the most expensive proposition of all, it is expensive for those who advertise on billboards and are dependent upon the people who respond to those ads for their business. Two people immediately come to mind: Ken Nunn and God.

Odd, isn’t it? In many respects they are diametrically opposed. One is good and one is, many people would argue, bad. Without pointing fingers, I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide which one is which.

Ken Nunn, a local personal injury lawyer, is a significant advertiser around town. He is probably the number one advertiser in Bloomington with four-color ads in the Herald-Times, the phone book and billboards.

But if billboards are eliminated from Nunn’s advertising mix, the number of injured clients who seek his assistance from him will probably drop dramatically, perhaps even forcing him out of business. Naturally, we wouldn’t want to let that happen, because it is important that everybody knows their legal rights.

God, a universal deity, seems mainly to advertise on billboards, although his message is usually sponsored by a number of people in the newspapers Fridays. One of his billboards can be seen on North Walnut as you approach State Road 37.

“Keep using my name in vain, I’ll make rush hour longer,” signed God.

It would be immensely interesting to find out what kind of response rate God’s getting from his ads. This turned out to be impossible to find out, because there are fifty different kinds of churches in Bloomington, according to the Ameritech Yellow Pages.

That’s not counting the fact that five different Lutheran Churches exist: Faith Lutheran Church LCMS, Lutheran Campus Ministry ELCA, Lutheran Church Shepherd of the Hills, St. Thomas Lutheran Church ELCA and University Lutheran Church.

To top it off, that doesn’t include Jewish people, who are relegated to look under “Synagogues — Jewish” instead of the churches. (Before I get any howls of protest that this is indeed appropriate, let me point out that one of the categories under Churches is “Churches — Buddhist.”)

Of course, to get to this point in my logic, one must assume that God is an all-encompassing God and that he does not care which place you go to worship. Whether it is a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, Buddhist temple or Muslim mosque (although I did not see any in the phone book), God is just happy to have you praying for Him.

Regardless, conducting a survey of these churches and asking about the increase in attendance as a result of God’s billboards around town would be expensive, time consuming and difficult.

Given all the potential problems that come from the elimination of billboards around town, Ken Nunn’s bankruptcy and reduced prayer for God, this is not a decision the mayor should take lightly. The repercussions of this decision could last for an eternity.

In all seriousness, hats off to Bloomington Mayor John Fernandez for undertaking this bold initiative.

I sincerely doubt that the advertisers in this town will suffer tremendously from the loss of this space. Injured people will still make their way to Ken Nunn and God will still win the hearts of many.

The big winners in this decision are the people of Bloomington who will live in a city without billboards — a place where you can see the sky, the trees and historic buildings without a big, ugly billboard getting in the way.

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Ken Nunn and God on the same line
(published April 22, 1999)

Adam Lederer did a good job on his April 9 editorial “Nunn, God hurt by new law.” I must confess that this is the first time my name has been on the same line with God. I am absolutely flattered.

Keep up the good work

Ken Nunn
Attorney at law Nunn and
Green Law Offices

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Time to take a stand on nudity

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

It’s time to put a stop to all “vacation sneaks.”

The vacation sneak is a tool often used by authorities to pass legislation or change the rules while the affected constituencies are not in town.

In other words, the Laramie City Council could pass the nudity ordinance in late December or early January while students are conveniently out of town on vacation.

This is not the only time the vacation sneak has been used to change the rules around this town; but is the most current possible exercise of this tool.

The last major use of this tool came during the summer when College of Business Dean Forester decided to stop students from cutting through the business parking lot by building a fence.

If he had proposed the fence during the school year, there would have been such an uproar that any physical plant employee approaching the area with a shovel would have been shoved away by a large body of angry students.

Summer has traditionally been the time to put new and improved stupid policies in place.

It’s even happened to faculty members on occasion. They go out of town for the summer to do research and relax, only to return and discover that they too have been victims of the surprise vacation sneak.

However, the winter vacation is not used nearly as often, although it appears to be looming here in Laramie.

When city council sits down at its next meeting on Tuesday, it will decide the date for the public hearing over the nudity ordinance.

If the council picks a date after the first of January, beware, a vacation sneak may be occurring. The council members who vote for that date are only trying to ignore the students.

If it chooses a date before Thanksgiving, the council will be leaving the process open for many who would otherwise be excluded.

Additionally, ASUW needs to get involved in stopping vacation sneaks.

ASUW has not yet said a word about the nudity ordinance. The senate sits around its table on Tuesday nights deciding whether or not the Campus Toe Fungus club should get funding to attend a conference in Hawai’i.

What would be really inspiring is if ASUW got off its rocker and canceled one of its pointless meetings and went down to meet Laramie’s City Council.

In this town, the city council plays a far larger role in affecting the lives of students than ASUW could ever hope to play.

Additionally, ASUW should appoint an effective speaker to represent ASUW members’ opinions at Laramie City Council each meeting, whether school is in session or not. That would be an effective use of some student dollars.

It should be noted, vacation sneaks will always occur, even with the most effective student voices possible.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to minimize the effects.

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.

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