It’s A Small, Small World Hot Air

All local, all the time today.

Meters, Made

A member of the notorious Bloomington Seven had his gang’s most egregious crime against humanity on his mind yesterday.

Tall Steve Volan plopped his skyscraping frame in a chair in the WFHB lobby following his Thursday afternoon music show. He accosted innocent passersby for their feelings on how the recently installed downtown parking meters have directly affected them. (Of course, he might use the term canvassed but, y’know, he’s a politician.)

Anyway, Tall Steve is getting all voice of the people-y now. Perhaps he’s concerned about the seemingly universal negative reaction to the downtown pay-to-park move that went into effect in August. As far as I can gather, the only people happy about the new coin bandits around the Square and surrounding streets are restaurant and cafe owners who want the continuous flow of open parking spaces that meters will produce.

Deatil from photo by Ying Chen/IPM

Meter Matters

The rest of the citizenry is ready to string up Volan, Mayor Mark Kruzan, and the other city council members (the B-7) who voted for the meters.

Next, Volan wants to gather the mobs in a safe place in order to convince them he is indeed a servant of the people. He’s looking to set up one or two public forums in hopes of evoking community input on the meter mess.

The ultimate goal, Volan tells me, is to establish a parking commission here in Bloomington. He revealed there was no blue-ribbon body that pondered the philosophical, moral, and practical considerations of making shoppers dig into their pockets and purses for quarters every time they come downtown. The meters were the brainchild only of the mayor and a few Department of Public Works wonks who crunched numbers and felt a frisson when they concluded that pay parking would dump thousands of dollars a day into the general fund.

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Natch, pols hate to admit money is the sole reasoning for any decisions they make, so Kruzan et al claim to want to prevent all the nouveau downtown residents from hogging parking spaces all day and night long. Volan says the idea is for residents and downtown employees all to park off-street, thereby leaving an open parking field for customers, diners, and other dignitaries.

The city, from this EP vantage point, sees all the East Coast B-students whose parents have copped them swanky condos downtown, are swell for all the dough they spill in the city but their aircraft carrier-sized SUVs take up much of the available municipal acreage.

Volan was surprised to learn that the surface lot behind the Buskirk-Chumley Theater was not packed even at the busy hour of two in the afternoon. That lot and the multi-story garage on 4th Street offer the first three hours free. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting the word out about that,” Volan said.

Buy Local

Here are three things you should spend your hard-earned cash on.

Krista Detor‘s new CD, her first in four years. Titled Flat Earth Diary, you can still catch a free sample download here. The CD is due out in January. Bloomington’s own Krista Detor is a cool dame; if you’re not yet a fan, where you been, mang?


Krista Detor

The Rise of the Warrior Cop, by Radley Balko. Former Indiana University journalism student Radley Balko has released a pressing new book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. Balko cut his teeth as a press snoop with the Indiana Daily Student. Believe it or n. the IDS is my daily paper of choice. Balko looks into the the militarization of this holy land’s thousands of police forces.

Boston Police

Officers Friendly

Apparently, too many police chiefs and city fathers have grown up watching RoboCop-type movies and have conflated the images on the screen with real life. Do you really want your local cops to tool around city streets in fully armored vehicles and be armed with battlefield weapons?

I didn’t think so.

March (Book One), by Rep.  John Lewis (D-Georgia) and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell. Lewis, a chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and one of the famed Freedom Riders, got his head broken in Selma, Alabama on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” His crime? Being one of the leaders of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Bloody Sunday

Lewis, On The Ground

Illustrator Nate Powell now lives in Bloomington. He’s famed for numerous graphic novels, including Any Empire, and is n ow working on a graphic adaptation of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero.

The first entry in the Lewis graphic novel autobiography trilogy recounts his early days as a freedom fighter. I can’t wait for books two and three.

One thought on “It’s A Small, Small World Hot Air

  1. Steve Volan says:

    Well, I have to admit that the Pencil threw me for a loop with this post. Because for a while, I thought it was serious.

    It isn’t, but quite a few people in Bloomington these days hold many of the hyperbolic opinions described…enough to make this post sound like news, when it was satire. Since the topic is so hot, I thought I’d untangle a couple of common misconceptions the Pencil’s hyperbole unintentionally alluded to.

    First, the meters weren’t “the brainchild only of the mayor” et al. I’ve been advocating the return of meters to downtown for at least seven years. I say this not to brag — who wants to claim something so apparently toxic? — but so as to not leave the mayor and Public Works hanging out there by themselves. I take responsibility for being the most adamant supporter of the meters on Council, without shame. They are a necessary tool for the management of the most popular part of Bloomington.

    Second, revenues from parking have never gone directly into the General Fund, but into a fund specifically for parking dollars. (During the recently completed 2014 budget process, Council approved creating a second fund: now garage dollars will go into one and meter dollars into the other.)

    Is it significant that these dollars don’t go directly into the General Fund? It is…now that meter dollars will generate revenue in excess of the cost of parking operations. Use of those extra dollars for general purposes (other than strictly for parking operations) will require a vote of Council to transfer them to the General Fund.

    The administration has publicly admitted that regulation was not the only goal of installing meters. Excess revenues was also a goal (just not the “sole” one, as EP said). That’s one reason why, yes, I’m planning to introduce legislation to form a Parking Commission: to give the downtown some more direct say in what those revenues will be used for. Because dollars generated downtown should stay downtown and be invested in downtown.

    Another reason is to give the public a say on what meter rates should be. Should they all be $1/hr across the board all the time? I think they should vary with time of week and proximity to demand. We should want to optimize the city’s parking supply. That kind of optimization is complicated; there ought to be a body with members of the public — directly affected by such policies — dedicated to studying and thinking about how to set such rates.

    If I seem touchy about all this, it’s because parking is about as touchy a subject as it gets these days. Everyone’s talking about it; on behalf of those that are touchy about it, I wanted to wade in here and clarify before things got hairy. Okay, Pencil, on with it.

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