The following press release was issued by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce to oppose the proposed Bloomington Council Ordinance 21-06 regarding homeless encampments:
Based on overwhelming feedback from members, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed Bloomington Council Ordinance 21-06 that would allow encampments in public parks for extended periods.
“Over the past year we’ve heard increasing complaints and deep concerns voiced by members of the business community regarding encampments at Seminary Park and elsewhere,” said Erin Predmore, the Chamber’s president and CEO. “We must find an alternative way to support the needs of houseless residents that does not negatively impact local businesses, the jobs they provide, and the broader community.”
The Bloomington City Council is considering an ordinance that would allow homeless residents to camp in public parks, under certain conditions. You can read the ordinance here.
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The Council's Committee of the Whole will discuss it on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. There will be opportunity for public commentary. Depending on their action, it could be considered for a final vote on March 3. If you prefer to contact councilmembers directly, find their contact information here.
Click here to take the survey. Thank you for helping us shape our advocacy efforts on this issue.
Updates on police, fire and initiatives of the Community and Family Resources Department (CFRD) were part of Bloomington's 5th annual State of Public Safety report, featured in a Feb. 9 presentation.
In addition to Mayor John Hamilton, presenters included Police Chief Mike Diekhoff, Fire Chief Jason Moore, and CFRD Director Beverly Caldener-Anderson.
View the 90-minute presentation here. Slides from the report are here.
The Bloomington City Clerk is seeking applications for the new Community Advisory on Public Safety (CAPS) Commission. The commission, created by the Bloomington City Council earlier this year, aims to "to increase the safety of all Bloomington community members, especially those often marginalized due to race, disability, gender, sexual identity, or sexual orientation."
Click here for the City Clerk's press release about applying to CAPS. To apply for this or any city advisory commission, click here.
On Tuesday, June 30, the Monroe County Council is holding a special meeting to address community concerns about law enforcement resources. The session on Zoom begins at 6 p.m. and will be facilitated by Latosha Williams, associate director for residence life student conduct at Indiana University.
Meeting details, including the agenda and Zoom link, are here.
The seven-member Monroe County Council is responsible for appropriating all funds for county use. The council adopts the county budget – including the sheriff's office budget – fixes the county tax rate, and has exclusive power to borrow money for the county.
In the wake of security concerns at the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market and other public venues, local activists with Moms Demand Action are hoping businesses take steps to create a gun-free environment.
Organizations can legally prevent people from entering their premises with a firearm. Indiana Criminal Trespass Statute (IN Code 35-43-2-2) allows businesses to deny entry if the business has posted a sign citing this specific code.
Several local businesses have already taken this step. Bloomingfoods, for example, displays a sign at its entrance stating, in part: "We deny entry to anyone carrying a firearm."
Bloomington residents Rachel Guglielmo and Susan Ellenwood are members of Moms Demand Action. They've been working to increase the number of businesses that are willing to ban firearms. They're also working with the Bloomington Police Department to educate officers about their role in helping enforce this prohibition.
Last year, Bloom Magazine and White Rabbit Copy Service & Digital Printing partnered to create signs that they offered free of charge.
On the national level, more business leaders are calling on Congress to act. CEOs of 145 corporations – including Twitter, Uber and Levi Strauss – recently sent a letter to Senate leaders urging stronger gun controls. Walmart, the country's largest employer, announced it will stop selling certain ammunition and guns, and is discouraging "open carry" in its stores. Other major retailers, including Kroger, CVS and Walgreens, are doing the same.
For more information, check out the Moms Demand Action – Indiana Facebook page. Or contact the group by emailing email@example.com.
The Bloomington Police Department is planning to open a crisis diversion center as a way to decrease crime in the city, according to police chief Mike Diekhoff.
Diekhoff described the effort during an Aug. 20 budget hearing before Bloomington City Council.
In his presentation, Diekhoff indicated that one of BPD's goals is to establish an "evidence-based, police-led diversion program to assist in rehabilitation or services as a preference over incarceration for non-violent offenders."
Diekhoff said discussions in the past several months have focused on where to house such a program. He estimated the center would cost about $700,000 to operate annually. He said the city has held discussions with Monroe County and private businesses on this project, and has applied for grants to help support it financially. After a location is established, he said, "then we can move forward with actually doing pre-arrest diversion work."
Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5) expressed support for the center. "I think this is a very smart innovation that has worked well in other communities to keep people whose issues are really not with the law but with mental health, with addictions – to keep those out of our jail and to get them the help they need."
Click here to view their discussion on CATS. Click here to view slides from the chief's presentation.
Monroe County government is currently undertaking a study of its criminal justice system. A diversion center is being considered for that effort.
Mayor John Hamilton and Cortland Carrington III, owner of American Mushroom & Spice Co., were interviewed by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore for the Chamber's 3 Things podcast, sharing their thoughts about the Bloomington Community Farmers Market.
The mayor talked with Erin about steps the city is taking to make the market more secure in the wake of increasing threats to public safety. Those threats came from escalating tensions between supporters of white nationalists and the owners of the Schooner Creek Farm, and counter-protesters who have been advocating for the removal of Schooner Creek Farm for their ties to white supremacist groups. This tension prompted the city to suspend the farmers market for the first two Saturdays in August.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Mayor Hamilton announced plans to reopen the market with additional security measures in place. Read his statement here.
Cortland Carrington described his experiences as a vendor and member of the city's Farmers Market Advisory Council. He talked about the impact of this situation on his business, what he's seen at the market in recent months, and reactions from other vendors to this controversy.
Click here to listen to 3 Things on Apple Podcasts – or subscribe to 3 Things on your favorite podcast service.
Have an idea for a future 3 Things topic or guest? Contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about the operations of the Bloomington Police Department and our community's criminal justice system by participating in the Bloomington Citizens Police Academy.
Sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6-8:30 p.m. starting on Sept. 10 through Nov. 19. Topics include patrol techniques, domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, criminal investigations, drug enforcement, firearms training and more. The academy also includes the opportunity to do a ride-along with a patrol officer.
You must be at least 18 years old to participate, and background checks will be conducted on all applicants.
Applications are due by Friday, Aug. 30. Click here to apply.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy