Category Archives: Darryl Neher

Hot Air: Democracy? Wow.

Words Hurt

Call me goofy but I would never eat something on a menu called a Garbage Salad.

I mean, it’s just the idea of the thing. Hey, chef, sweep up all your droppings and throw it all on a plate for me, wouldja?

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Why not offer me a shit sandwich?

It’d be like running an ad for a lite beer, extolling its rich amber color — Just like fresh urine!

So, yeah, okay, I’m goofy. But you’re eating Garbage Salad and I’m not.

Democracy. Now.

Lots o’people are saying the emergence of America’s Shart, Donald Trump, is evidence that our democracy is broken. Hell, even Russian former chess champion Garry Kasparov has chimed in, saying Trump and his gang are leading “an assault on democracy.” Kasparov, BTW, quit the chess racket last decade and became a leader of the anti-Putin movement which means, I suppose, he’s lucky to still be alive.

And, BTW again, Trump loves him some Putin, as does Trump’s stage door Jeannie, Sarah Palin. So maybe, Kasparov has a point.

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All Democratically Elected

Anyway, loyal Pencillistas know I’m not one to blame our ills on nebulous, all-powerful cabals controlling our thoughts and actions through media, drugs, and the eating of white bread. In fact, I pretty much blame none of our ills on those things, mainly because I blame us for what ails us.

If the media’s spoonfeeding us senseless garbage it’s only because we eat it up. And if “Big Pharma” is trying to hook us on every new anti-depressant that comes out of its evil labs, well, we’re the ones running to our doctors every half hour telling them how depressed we are and what can you do about it, Doc?

I won’t blame Trump for killing democracy, either. In fact, Trump’s rise is a testament to the strength of our democracy. We have two long-standing, major political parties supported by hundreds of millions of dollars of lobbyists’ and corporations’ dough and one of them could do nothing to stop the juggernaut that has been the Trump ascendancy this primary season. We’ll see if the Democrats can halt his steamroller in November. We can only hope.

No, the people have spoken, even if their language is a pidgin and their thought processes the equivalent of those of subfamily Arvicolinae. That’s democracy, no? The speaking of the people?

By golly, I think I’ve discovered the fatal flaw in democracy. People.

I Like It Here

Don’t get me wrong — I dig John Hamilton as mayor of this sprawling megalopolis. But I also dig his opponent in last year’s mayoral beauty contest, Darryl Neher. The young(ish) IU Kelley School of Biz senior lecturer and recent B-ton city council guy laid a big hug on me yesterday at Hopscotch Coffee.

He told me he was meeting with a couple of big shot sachems in our town’s LGBT community and, indeed, the three of them put their heads together for what seemed an eternity. Neher’s lending his support, natch, to that gang and is hoping to help them solidify their place in the city’s power structure.

Cool, ain’t it? There are tons of things that drive me batty about Bloomington — don’t get me started on the drivers here — but overall, this is a great place to live. Especially when big local dudes and dames like Neher are so dedicated to the issues and philosophies I endorse.

Sigh, our little island of goodness in the midst of the Indiana malum mare.

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May 6th Birthdays

Maximilien Robespierre — France’s big liberal before and during that’s country’s republican revolution, he was executed after the upheaval by even bigger liberals. Those liberals, of course, were themselves erased when Napoleon took charge of things. Napoleon, FYI, was not a liberal.

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Sigmund Freud — The guy with the cigar.

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Rudolph Valentino — The first cinematic sex symbol. He died young (aged 31) of peritonitis resulting from perforated ulcers. His demise caused scads of women to commit suicide and mourners rioted at his funeral.

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Toots Shor — Legendary restaurateur who was the guy to know among New York City’s entertainers and elite. He nicknamed his wife “Baby” and was a legendary drinker. One story has it that he engaged Jackie Gleason in a drinking competition one night that ended only with Gleason collapsing to the floor and Shor stepping over him to leave the premises.

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Shor (Left) With Gleason

Orson Welles — Film director who was forced to cast Charlton Heston as a Mexican in Touch of Evil.

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Willie Mays — Perhaps the greatest baseball player of all time.

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Rubin “Hurricane” Carter — Framed for a murder by Patterson, New Jersey, cops in 1966, his story inspired a Bob Dylan song and a Denzel Washington movie.

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Carter (Left) Battling Dick Tiger In 1965

Lætitia Sadier — Singer, keyboardist, and guitarist for Stereolab.

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Not to be morbid but Maria Montessori died on this day in 1952 — She was an Italian physician and educator who wrote the groundbreaking pedagogical book, The Montessori Method, in 1912. Simply — if not simplistically — she posited that children had a natural internal learning system that shouldn’t be interfered with. She advocated allowing kids to learn at their own paces, largely through practical play. If you want to know more about Montessori, the woman and/or the philosophy, I’d bet you couldn’t find a better source than my pal Linda Oblack who ran a school here in Bloomington in the hazy past.

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Hot Air

Party On

Bloomington was the site of what can only be considered a Democratic orgy yesterday. Dems gathered at the Irish Lion at 5pm to pay tribute to and write checks for mayoral candidate John Hamilton. An hour later even more Dems got together at the Fountain Square ballroom to pat each other on the back at the annual FDR Gala.

As members of the party stretched their conga line the city block from the Lion to the ballroom, I was reminded of nothing more than my days as a randy, rowdy 22-year-old when my friends and I would bounce from party to party on a Saturday night.

Conga Line

Toeing The Party Line

Only there were no guys wearing eyeliner or gals sporting fishnet hose (I ran with an avant garde club crowd back in the late ’70s and early ’80s). Led by that renowned fashion plate, former US Congressdude Baron Hill, the attire of the day was all business. The Dems mean business this year, having suffered a vicious ass-kicking nationally at the hands of the Republicans last fall. With Gov. Mike Pence’s recent pratfalls, party faithful suddenly are giddy with the possibility that the GOP just might piss away all its gains. Seemingly in the snap of a finger, 2016 looks like a resurrection year for the Dems so long as Pence et al keep stepping on their…, um, striped ties.

But first, there’s a mayoral election to get through this annum.

Hamilton and his wife, Dawn Johnsen, hosted their fundraiser at the Lion mere days before early voting begins (Tuesday, April 7th). The primary election day is Tuesday, May 5th. There’s a lot of dough to be spent between now and then. Hoping to draw more wallets out, Team Hamilton/Johnsen rolled in the heavy artillery of Blue Dog stalwart Hill.

“This guy,” Hill told the crowd after Hamilton intro’d him as a cross between his BFF and an elder statesman of rock ‘n roll (think Paul McCartney), “gets it.”

Whatever “it” is, the crowd responded, vocally at least. The number of zeroes they filled out on their checks has yet to be determined.

The currency at the FDR was less precise than dollars and cents. There, the Dems bestowed moral support upon each other. Everybody who was anybody in Bloomington Dem circles was there — save for the elephant who wasn’t in the room, Mayor Mark Kruzan.

Improbably, the mayor was a no-show. His AWOL-ness only struck me as I was leaving the Gala so I dashed off an email to one party big shot asking if it was merely my imagination. This person responded uncharacteristically tersely: “Mayor Kruzan was a top sponsor of the FDR Gala, but is keeping a low profile at events during primary season and focusing on his job at City Hall.”

This particular big shot knows full well a smart-ass like me would interpret this absence note as the pinnacle of political-speak, and so I have. My source may as well have written Kruzan “wants to spend more time with his family.”

The Mayor indeed is outgoing (ironic, considering he’s such an aloof figure) — his term ends the last day of this year — but, as far as the party is concerned, apparently, Kruzan’s out already.

I get the feeling some bad news will begin trickling out regarding Kruzan’s 12 years at the helm of this thriving, throbbing megalopolis. I’ll keep digging — hell, somebody’s gotta do it.

BTW: Whispers at the Hamilton affair have it that his opponent, Darryl Neher — Kruzan’s hand-picked guy — ought to downplay any connection with the mayor. The Hamilton camp sees the pairing as Neher’s soft underbelly. You know what? I agree with them.

Anyway, perhaps my favorite encounter of the night was with the city council’s District III representative, Marty Spechler. I rode up in the Fountain Square elevator with Spechler and a couple of young party supporters. We all intro’d ourselves to each other and one of the young guys remarked that he’s a faithful reader of The Pencil. Spechler looked puzzled. The following mini-convo ensued:

Me [to Spechler]: Don’t you read the Electron Pencil?

Spechler [still looking stumped]: I read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Me: Well, I’m not that big yet.

Spechler’s look morphed from baffled to grateful, thanks to the elevator doors opening. I wondered for a hot moment if he’d try to dig up The Pencil when he’d get home before my good sense reasserted itself.

As promised yesterday, I stalked two very decent (morally and ethically), very capable figures to ask them what their political plans might be vis-a-vis elective office. One of them already holds county office but I’ve been sensing this character ought to think in grander terms. The other is unelected but nevertheless is a key player in party affairs.

Let’s start with the already-elected pol. I tapped Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal on the shoulder and asked, point blank, “What about Congress, Mr. Prosecutor?”

Gaal: Huh?

Me: You.

Gaal: What?

Me: Congress.

Gaal: What about it?

Me: You. Congress. Why not?

Gaal [a lightbulb going off above his head]: You mean me, run for Congress?

Me: Yeah. You.

Gaal [without missing a beat]: You can quote me on this: I’d rather have a sharp stick in the eye. I love what I’m doing and I have big plans for this office.

That is, the one he already occupies. Fair enough. I believe him. Too bad. I could see Gaal giving Todd Young a run for his money.

The other person appeared equally as mind-blown by my Q. This person absolutely and positively denied ever even entertaining such a crazy idea. Now, I wasn’t meaning this person ought to run for Congress. Maybe something a little less ambitious, like county commissioner. Ixnay, the person repeated.

Me: Can I mention your name in tomorrow’s Pencil?

The Person [aghast]: No!

Again, fair enough. And again, it’s a damned shame.

Here are some pix from yesterday’s bashes:

Hot Air

The Party’s Party

Monroe County’s Dems get together tonight for a pep rally in the ballroom at Fountain Square. The annual FDR Gala begins at 6pm and, per tradition, will feature all the players running for office this year. The mayoral contenders will be there as will dozens of party loyalists and current office-holders who aren’t up for election this time around.


Donkeyshines Tonight

I’ll seek out among the throng two party sachems whom I hope to grill about their plans. One I bet would make a fine candidate for US Congress as early as 2016. The other has a slightly lower profile  but is still an invaluable player in party affairs. This person would be a swell candidate for the Indiana Statehouse. I’ll pitch the ideas to them and see how they try to slip and slide out of answering. I’ll let you know what they say in tomorrow’s post.

Part Of The Party’s Party

John Whikehart threw a house party for John Hamilton yesterday evening, illustrating the wedge the race for mayor has thrown into the Democratic Party here. Whikehart was outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan’s deputy mayor. He quit the post in January and now is backing the opponent of Kruzan’s hand-picked candidate, Darryl Neher.

Also appearing at Chez Whikehart were Ivy Tech-Bloomington Chancellor Jennifer Vaughan, Waldron Center gallery director Julie Roberts, and real estate maven Trish Sterling.

In other Hamilton news, he’s throwing himself a fundraiser at the Irish Lion tonight at 5pm so there’ll be a Democratic conga line between that place and Fountain Square around six o’clock. Drivers, pedestrians, and crows beware.

The Disappearing Fringe

One of Bloomington’s most curious citizens asks whatever happened to the two-mile fringe?

When Mayor Mark Kruzan came into office, the city’s planning and utilities depts. had plenty of sway over the ribbon of land surrounding Bloomington’s official boundaries. In the ensuing 12 years, the county has come to control more and more of that area’s development. In the same period of time, the words Bloomington and annexation have become estranged. My curious citizen interrogator sez tax revenues from some of the new housing developments in the former fringe might have helped the city weather its current financial dire straits.

Writers Gotta Write

The Writers Guild at Bloomington has released its April schedule of events and one particular date caught my eye. For those of you wishing to get in on this often thankless but still weirdly rewarding writing racket, you ought to stop by the Monroe County Public Library Sunday, April 19, 2-4pm for a writing workshop on how to get your own personality down on paper — or, more accurately — the LCD screen.

The prob. with trying to write, as this three-plus-decade veteran of the keyboard clacking game has learned, is trying to find a way to write in a way that sounds like you speaking. Elementary schools generally beat the literary creativity out of us, ergo the need for creative writing programs in our universities. For instance, I’d been an obsessive writer as a young child, concocting ludicrous and imaginative stories about my classmates, teachers, school janitors, and neighbors until, for disciplinary reasons, I was compelled to write 1000-word punishment papers in the sixth and seventh grades. All of a sudden, I came to despise writing because of it. I didn’t get back into the act until I was in my mid-20s.

That old school horror story aside, our schools — especially in this day and age of standardization — labor to get kids writing in a dull, flat, unobtrusive, decidedly non-idiosyncratic manner. Don’t get me wrong, kids must be taught the basics — the standards, if you will — of grammar, usage, punctuation and all the rest. Only then can they be encouraged to violate those standards, strategically and tactically, in search of literary freshness and, well, art.

Anyway, we come out of school thinking we have to write in a certain style, aping some unnamed English country gentleman with a snifter of brandy on the table next to him and an iron rod firmly embedded in his backside.

That’s nonsense, of course. The best writing is that which causes us to hear in our imaginations a voice we’ve never heard before, a stranger’s voice, a fascinating, compelling voice that’s describing for us, naturally, a place we’ve never been before.

So if you feel the need to write, drop in to the workshop, “Jazzy, Snazzy, Bombastic, Shy: Putting Your Voice Upon the Page.”

Oh, hey, speaking of the Writers Guild, here’s a reminder: Board chair Tony Brewer will be creating Poetry on Demand tomorrow and Saturday at the Village Lights Bookstore‘s annual Poetpalooza in Madison, Indiana. The Pencil posted the Poetpalooza sked the day before yesterday.

And, while we’re at it, don’t miss the Writers Guild’s monthly First Sunday event, April 5, 3-5pm, at Boxcar Books, featuring readings by Tia Clark, Madelyn Ritrosky, and Tami Whiting.

Hot Air

The Writer Speaks

Or not. Andrew Guenther of the IDS got back to me early yesterday afternoon regarding my questions about his Monday article critical of Darryl Neher’s bona fides as a Democrat. Here’s his email response, verbatim:

Hello Michael,

Thank you for your email, but everything I have to say about the subject is in my column. I appreciate your interest!

Thank you,

Andrew Guenther

Fair enough.

More Guenther

Well, how about that? Turns out many of us have been talking about the wrong internet forum on which Darryl Neher supposedly told the world he was a voting Republican at least through the 2000 presidential election. That was one of the assertions of the Guenther piece Monday in the IDS.

The IDS staffer contacted me twice yesterday after emailing me to say he would say no more (see above). His second missive read:


Also, no, I am not affiliated with either campaign.

Thank you,


Not long after that, apparently having read my Wednesday Pencil piece, he wrote this:


Also, you used the incorrect forum. The link to the correct one is below.

Thank you for your time.

The link takes you directly to a “garvey” comment about how the poster voted for George W. Bush in 2000 because the Republican candidate had promised Compassionate Conservatism. This “garvey” went on to imply s/he was sorely disappointed in Bush for pulling the wool over her/his eyes. Go ahead and read it for yourself.

BTW: We still have no verification that it was Darryl Neher posting under the screen name “garvey.”


No matter when and how Darryl Neher made his admitted transformation from Republican to Democrat, the question we’re grappling with, mainly, is how can an adult do such a flip-flop? Doesn’t that show…, um, what? Undependability? Sneakiness? Unbridled ambition — after all, how can a Republican get elected in Bloomington? A mercurial temperament? I suppose those who insist on bringing the subject up might want to imagine Neher’s guilty of all four vices.

Street talk here goes that Darryl Neher saw the light — the light pointing the way toward election in a one-party town — when he had himself certified by the Monroe County Democratic Party in 2007. None of us can know what was in Neher’s heart when he flipped. We can only judge him by his actions and they tell us that in four years on the city council, he’s been quite a dependable Dem. And check his platform: It reads awfully Democratic to me.

So can a person make such a switch as an adult and still be trusted?

Lemme tell you a story. I grew up in a working class neighborhood on the Northwest Side of Chicago. The most successful people living on the blocks surrounding my childhood home were low-level politicians or Outfit guys. No doctors or lawyers, no scientists, no authors, no one, that is, who had excelled. Excelling, as a matter of fact, would have been seen as presumptuous or even insulting to the rest of the neighbors.

The folks in my neighborhood had modest aims and achievements. Mr. LeFemina ran a dry cleaners. Mr. Micci was a cop. Mrs. Panarese, Mrs. Nichols, and Mrs. Lenczyk were housewives. Mr. Mundo and Mr. Matassa, both of whom lived in the most showy homes around, did nebulous work for the Mob but they were by no means counted among its top level guys. The Keating sisters who lived next door to my home had been schoolteachers.

They had one thing in common: They were all white. I don’t know precisely what Mr. LaFemina’s or Mr. Mundo’s or Miss Keating’s views were on civil rights and open housing — the buzz issues of the 1960s and ’70s. I only know that the preferred appellation for a dark skinned human in my old neighborhood was nigger. More open-minded souls might use the term coon. A relative liberal would call blacks darkies and titter nervously.

When Chicago’s blacks were marching on City Hall to demand more teachers, more classrooms, schoolbooks for all black children, and even breakfast for those kids who came from poverty-stricken homes, the whites of the city decided to boycott school one spring day. They wanted to show the world how disgusted they were by these “goddamned black bastards.” That was another preferred term for those who’d identified as Afro-Americans.

Those who sent their kids to school on boycott day and refused to sign a petition calling for blacks to be kept in their place had their homes egged and stoned.

I grew up in this environment. And even though my mother forbade the use of the term nigger in our home, I figured she was just weird. I’d told some pals about how it was wrong to say nigger and they laughed and pointed. The week after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed my sixth-grade classmate Paul Trulsch said, “That nigger got what he deserved.” I told him he was an asshole and so a fistfight ensued. For my part, I was hung with the tag, nigger-lover.

There was no worse thing to be known as.

I subsequently found it easier at times to say nigger around my neighborhood pals. I learned to shut my mouth when issues of race or civil rights came up. What was most important to me was never again to be referred to as the worst thing you could call a person.

As I grew older, this same pressure came to bear again and again but with relative maturity, more and more I came to reveal my true feelings. I started pulling away from the most hateful of my neighborhood pals. I started  going out of my neighborhood in search of new friends and new experiences. I met black people. Some became friends. There was a greater, more rewarding world out there than that of my all-white, scared, and hate-filled neighborhood.

Still, there was pressure. I worked at one place when I was about 24 years old. It was mostly white. Those whites, again, were working-class folk who thought little of doctors and lawyers and authors and even less — far less — of black people. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to advance in the company. And I sure as hell didn’t want to be called a nigger-lover again.

One day a co-worker who was black made some stupid mistake that meant some of the guys and I would have to work overtime. We sat around grousing about how unfair life was. “What a tutsoon (a Sicilian pejorative for a black person),” one guy said of the person who’d made the mistake. “Whaddya expect from a nigger,” another guy said.

I felt compelled to join in. “Yeah,” I said, “now that’s what you can call a stupid nigger.” Heads nodded all around.

What I didn’t know was another co-worker, a black guy with whom I’d been quite friendly, had just walked into the outer office and heard my line. I happened to walk into that outer office and saw him there, glaring at me. “What’s with the racial shit?” he demanded. I had no answer.

I could see the deep pain in his face. I’d wronged him. I’d hurt him. His eyes, in fact, were filled with tears. He never spoke with me again.

And so my own conversion was complete. Tolerance, acceptance, embracing of The Other race became my “core” philosophies. Racism, I learned that day, was more than a political or theoretical concept. It wounded human beings.

The image of Chris Jenkins’ face, full of rage, his eyes filled with tears, will never leave me.

Since then, I’d like to think I’m as un-racist a guy as can be. Many people think I bend over backward for Michael Brown and Martin Luther King Jr. and Eric Garner and the displaced people of New Orleans and Abner Louima and even Barack Obama. If I’m guilty of that, okay. It’s a hell of a lot better than seeing the distraught face of Chris Jenkins.

So, what does this story have to do with Darryl Neher?

This: Neher himself says he was strongly influenced to be a Republican by his childhood upbringing. As he got older and saw more of the world, he gradually came around to thinking that maybe the Republicans weren’t for him. He had his own epiphany, he says, when he saw how hurt his gay and lesbian friends were by Republican policies and attitudes.

He now says he is Democratic and progressive to his “core.”

A lot of my liberal and Left friends grew up in nurturing, caring, loving, embracing, kumbaya homes and neighborhoods. They never had to grapple with conflicting messages and pressures and even their own contradictory inner feelings. If you’ve never said the word nigger, if you’ve never marked the box next to a Republican’s name on a ballot, you can be proud of yourself. Keep in mind, though, the decision to do or not do those things isn’t natural or easy for many of us — maybe even most of us. Allow some consideration for the guy whose father was a Ronald Reagan idolator. Think about the insecure kid who grew up surrounded by racists.

I’ll never live down using the term nigger. I never want to. I want to remember how stupid I could be forever. It makes me who I am.

Being a Republican, of course, is not precisely analogous with being a racist or even the casual usage of racial slurs — although, the way things are going, that won’t be true terribly much longer. But perhaps Darryl Neher, if he did indeed vote for George W. Bush, keeps that election day fresh in his mind as well. It just might make him a better Democrat.

Hot Air

He Said, He Said

Was it a “gotcha” moment perpetrated by a Hamilton camp operative? Or did that Indiana University student who questioned Darryl Neher’s progressive credentials in Monday’s IDS do us all a service by exposing the mayoral candidate’s sneakiness?

The question has been raised: Is Darryl Neher a Democrat or a Republican?

I’d thought that was settled long ago. Apparently not.

IDS staffer Andrew Guenther zinged Neher Monday with a piece headlined “One Bloomington; Two Darryls” that calls into question the former Republican’s commitment to the Democratic Party. Guenther wrote that, contrary to repeated public statements by Neher, the current city council member continued to vote in Republican primaries through 2007 and bragged of voting for George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election on a now-defunct Internet political forum.

“Darryl Neher,” Guenther wrote, “needs to answer some tough questions before he is ready to run for Mayor of Bloomington.”

The forum,, does not exist at this time and one former participant on it tells me it has been deactivated for some 10 years. The URL does not direct to an active page and a WHOIS search reveals no information about any current owner of the subdomain name.

Neher, acc’d’g to Guenther, has declared that he has “consistently supported and voted for Democrats” since entering graduate school in 1989. Neher’s vote for Bush in 2000 and his participation in six Republican primaries since that time belie his assertion.

“As we can see from his record,” Guenther concludes, “Neher is not [standing by his convictions]. We deserve progress. We deserve honest leaders. We deserve answers.”

As reported here yesterday, Neher addresses his party switch at many or all of his house party campaign events. “There it is: the elephant in the room,” Neher said to a group in the Renwick neighborhood Monday evening when someone asked him about his switch.

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Darryl Neher [right] Listens To A Supporter

Neher rarely fails to mention that he is progressive to the “core” and that his voting record during his four-year term as city council Dist. V rep demonstrates an unmistakable commitment to Democratic and progressive principles.

I contacted Neher yesterday for reaction to the IDS piece. He sent me a draft copy of his open letter to the Monroe County Democratic Party. Here it is:

To all Monroe County Democrats,

As I run for the Democratic nomination to become Bloomington’s next mayor, some people have asked for an explanation of why I switched party affiliation. I am happy to provide openness and clarity to this question. 

Am I a Democrat? Yes, I am a Democrat to the core. I actively chose to become a Democrat in 2008 because it is the party that represents my values.

Was I formerly a Republican? Yes. I was raised in small-town northern Indiana in a blue-collar Republican household, so this was my family culture. I grew up with a brand of Republicanism that emphasized fiscal responsibility, support for small community businesses, public investment in infrastructure, and a belief in volunteerism and serving the common good.

My personal history helps illustrate the transformation of my politics solidly into the Democratic camp. After life-changing service trips to Sierra Leone, West Africa and San Pedro Sula, Honduras during college, I entered graduate school at IU to study issues of race, gender, and social justice. I researched and wrote about the importance of re-writing our histories to reflect true multicultural impacts on our national identity.  And since entering graduate school in 1989, I have consistently supported and voted for Democrats for local, state, and national offices.

My political transformation accelerated between 1996 and 2006 while I hosted public affairs radio programming. I found myself increasingly critical of Republican politics. The erosion of civil liberties, implementing economic policies that punished working families, attempts to dismantle public education, and   a pervasive “anti-science” mentality made me question “Why am I here?” 

But perhaps a more important factor in finding my political home within the Democratic Party is my deep loyalty to my LGBTQ friends and colleagues. I struggled with how I could in good conscience align myself with a political party that consistently tells people I love that they should be denied so many rights because of who they are; denying my friends the right to marry the person they love, telling them they should silence themselves if they want to serve their country, and often denying them the beauty of adopting a child and providing that child a loving home was simply unacceptable.

I entered politics for the first time in 2011 and consider myself a public servant not as a politician. Our former Party Chair Rick Dietz certified me as a Democrat before I ran for City Council. Three former Democratic Party chairs joined my committee in 2011, and I feel the continued support of strong Democrats in our city on my mayoral campaign committee, including current Mayor Mark Kruzan, State Representative Matt Pierce, County Councilmember Shelli Yoder, and former Democratic Party Chairs Dan Combs and Pat Williams.

My track record on City Council also represents my strong Democratic principles. I am proud to have earned the support of all eight of my Democratic City Council colleagues who selected me to serve as the Council President for two straight years. I co-sponsored our Marriage Equality Resolution and was one of the first public officials to marry same-sex couples in our city. I supported resolutions against Citizens United and for Medicaid Expansion for the Affordable Care Act. I advocated increased funding for Planned Parenthood through my role on the Jack Hopkins Fund committee. I enthusiastically advocated for historic preservation, stood up for tenants’ rights, and voted for public funding of the arts and social services.   

I am a Democrat, I won an election as a Democrat, and I’ve governed as a Democrat. 

If you have further questions, please send them my way at I hope I can earn your trust and support in the Democratic Primary for Mayor. 

Best, Darryl

After receiving this, I sent Neher a list of questions concerning the IDS piece and his party switch. Here they are:

  • What is the “Monroe County/Bloomington forum” the author refers to in paragraph 4?
  • Did you use the screen name “garvey” on that forum? What is the meaning or genesis of the term “garvey”?
  • Did you write that you supported George W. Bush in the 2000 election on that forum?
  • Did you thank voters for supporting you in your campaigns for city council on that forum?
  • Is (or was) that forum called
  • If the forum was, was it customary for posters to state ideas and claim affiliations that they didn’t necessarily believe in so they could generate discussions on it?
  • Did you state ideas and claim affiliations that you didn’t necessarily believe in on that forum?
  • Did you vote for George W. Bush in the 2000 and/or 2004 presidential elections?
  • Did you vote in Republican primaries in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007?
  • In an earlier email to me today, _______ referred to the author of the op/ed piece as a Hamilton staffer. How does [s/he] know this?

For his part, Guenther is listed as a member of the IDS staff on the newspaper’s website. His articles seem to be more opinion-y, even verging on bloggish. I dug up a Facebook page for someone named Andrew Guenther who studies political science and psychology at IU and who lists his work as “Case Manager at Indiana University Department of Student Rights, Housing Assignment Support Staff at IU RPS and Director of Social Advocacy at IU Residence Hall Association.” This Guenther also mentions that he was a member of Indiana High School Democrats.

I submitted a list of questions to Guenther of the IDS. Here they are:

  • How did you get the idea to check the archive of the defunct website
  • How do you know Darryl Neher used the screen name “garvey”?
  • Certain members of the Neher camp believe you are working for the Hamilton campaign. Are you? Have you ever? What is your relationship with John Hamilton, Dawn Johnsen, and/or the Hamilton for Mayor operation?
  • Do you have a personal stake in the upcoming mayoral election? That is, do you have a preference for who wins?
  • What is your role at IDS? Are you a reporter or an op/ed writer? Are you both? When you wrote the Neher piece in question, did you do it as a straight reporter or as an opinion columnist?

Hoping to cover all my bases, I submitted a few questions to John Hamilton. Here they are:

  • Does Andrew Guenther work or volunteer for your campaign?
  • Has he ever worked or volunteered for you in any political campaign?
  • Is challenging Darryl Neher’s credentials as a Democrat a strategy or tactic of your campaign?

Hamilton’s answers, in order:

  • “No, he does not.”
  • “Never has, so far as I’m aware.”
  • “No, neither I nor our campaign has a strategy or tactic of challenging Darryl’s credentials as a current Democrat — he was approved to run as one by the party in 2011 and won election and is serving as a Democrat on city council. I and my campaign do view different backgrounds in experience and policies of all the candidates, accurately described, as relevant.”
I’m hoping the other two get back to me with answers today.


In other mayoral campaign news, I saw longshot candidate John Linnemeier engaged in a tête à tête in a public place with a very prominent member of Mayor Mark Kruzan’s cabinet this morning. I grilled the department head, asking why s/he was meeting with the candidate. This department head said s/he was meeting Linnemeier as a courtesy s/he’d proffer to any citizen. “I’ll meet anyone anywhere,” this person said. The purpose of their meeting? “To exchange ideas.” When asked if the department head was a supporter of Linnemeier, s/he said, “No.”
If all this is true, I think it’s pretty cool. The department head’s boss, Mayor Mark Kruzan, has thrown his lot in with Darryl Neher. In an earlier day and another, less enlightened place, such a meeting would be career suicide for the department head.

John Linnemeier

Anyway, Linnemeier stopped by my table to chat after his meeting. He said, “Everybody thinks I’m gonna lose. I’m gonna win! Give me a level playing field [he’s refusing corporate donations] and I’ll kick their asses!” Meaning, of course, his two Dem primary opponents and not the citizenry of Bloomington.
BTW, Linnemeier also says he’s got a secret weapon issue that he’s sure will gain him scads o’votes. He made me swear to secrecy “for two weeks.” Alright, my lips are sealed ’till then.

Hot Air

Neher’s Turn

Little more than a week ago The Pencil took in a John Hamilton for Mayor house party. On that Sunday afternoon Bloomington seemingly was in the grip of winter, with a foot of snow on the ground. Yesterday, though, I drove to a Darryl Neher house party in the fancy Renwick residential n’hood with my window down and my arm resting on the door.

Man, things change quickly around here.

Here’s another example: back in the fall, Bloomingtonians who thought at all about the 2015 mayoral contest   prob. would have wondered which Republican sacrificial lamb would be wacky enough to go up against three-term boss Mark Kruzan.

But Kruzan sent shock waves through the local political biome in November with the announcement he wouldn’t seek another term. Now, with spring beckoning and the primaries less than two months away, two well-known Democrats — Hamilton and Neher — are battling for the nomination with impish John Linnemeier firing pea-shooters on the periphery.

Like I said — things change quickly.

Then again, there is indeed a Republican wacky enough to run for mayor in this one-party town, he being John Turnbull of Parks & Rec. And, just like Hamilton last week, Neher argued before a living room full of folks that he deserves the title of The Most Progressive Man in Bloomington.

Y’know, plus ça change….

Neher’s soiree was hosted by Bloomington High School North guidance counselor Greg Chafin, his husband,  manager of Indiana University Art Museum’s Angles Café, Murat Candiler, and BHSN librarian Kathy Loser. The crowd at Chez Chafin/Candiler was decidely younger than that at former mayor Tomi Allison’s digs a week ago, reflecting perhaps the age diff. between Hamilton and Neher. For pity’s sake, there were twenty-somethings and even the odd high schooler or two here to listen to Neher.

“I heard you were going to provide refreshments,” a newly-arrived woman jokes with the hosts. Candiler replies: “We’ve got beer, Coke, and wine — red and white.” They’ll help the faithful wash down hummus and tabouli and lentil salad, prosciutto, asparagus spears, crackers and baguettes. Attendees mingle in the kitchen (comparing the bouquets of the various wines), the dining room, the foyer, and the living room. A couple of adventurous young guests peek into the master bedroom. Every room of the place is hung with objets like vases, delicately balanced lamps, mobiles and the like. Clearly no tots or cats live here.

Kathy Loser

Kathy Loser Tends Bar

Murat points toward the loft balcony hanging over the vaulted living room. “There’s our treasure,” he tells me. It’s a print of the famous Shepard Fairey “Hope” poster of Barack Obama. “It’s signed,” he continues, beaming. “I got it when Obama came to town.”

Loser and Neher’s wife, Jeanette, alternate answering the doorbell. Jeanette, like her mate, teaches business communications at IU’s Kelley School. I sit next to a woman recently retired from a local quasi-governmental entity where she served as a union steward. She’s by no means the only superannuated soul here but the young ones have certainly dropped the average age.

Jeannette Neher

Neher’s Wife, Jeanette Heidewald [In Blue]

I wonder: Who’s more likely to vote? The young — those in their 20s and 30s — or the old? The answer to that question just might be the key to May’s primary.

Loser intro’s Neher. He’s used to speaking before groups. He practices every day in front of an IU classroom. He is comfortable, making eye contact left, right and center, using gestures as punctuation, striding confidently stage left and right before the fireplace.


Kathy Loser Introduces Darryl Neher

“I never thought I’d be in public life,” he says.

He tells how he co-founded WFHB’s Interchange program in 1996, where he began to meet public figures. That’s how he became interested in civic affairs. As time went by this or that pol would tell him he’d make a fine candidate for something, anything. He’d laugh at the suggestions. Then, when he left radio in 2009 (he also hosted a public affairs program on WGCL), two big-time local elected officials told him he now had no excuse not to run. So he did, running for the retiring Isabel Piedmont-Smith’s District V city council seat — and winning — in 2011.

Over lunch with Mark Kruzan a couple of years ago, Neher recalls, the mayor said, “At some time in the future, you would be the one to take my place.”

So now, here he is. Tonight’s job interview runs a short five minutes. “I want this to be about you,” he says. “I want to hear your questions.”

His first interlocutor turns out to be a former intern for the first Hamilton campaign for mayor. The kid doesn’t let on whether he’s here to support Neher or gather intelligence for Hamilton. “What are your plans for affordable housing,” the kid asks.

Neher says the Indiana statehouse has been playing havoc with local plans to develop housing for the poor. Indiana cities and counties cannot, acc’d’g to Neher, create development zones that “mimic” the federal Section 8 program (meaning any municipality looking for state vouchers for low-income housing had better quit looking.)

Rather, Neher suggests, Bloomington might use inducements like increased density or parking variances to get developers to include low-income units in their plans. “We still have possibilities,” he says.

A woman asks why she should vote for him over Hamilton. (BTW: I get the sense that at least several of the Q’s tonight are intentional softballs.) Neher takes his swing: He’s been working in the city council for four years now, he says. “That is invaluable experience.”

One of the most important decisions he’ll make should he win, Neher says, is naming a deputy mayor, “who does much of the day to day work of the office.”

Another woman asks what his take is on the big new downtown developments of the past decade. Advocates of big development like to use to word growth, Neher says. “I don’t like the word growth. We need economic value…. We need to protect those areas that define who we are…. It turns my stomach the way the hotel passed the way it did.” That hotel, the new Hyatt Place on Kirkwood, is 70 feet tall. Bloomington zoning ordinances cap downtown building heights at 40 feet. The Hyatt got its variance without much public or city council input, Neher says. He asked the city attorney to find out if all such variances can be kicked from the Planning Dept. to the whole city council for final say-so.

“If I’m elected,” he says, “I want my legacy to be that we protected our character.”

A woman asks what his relationship would be with IU president Michael McRobbie. “”I would not want this town to be a slave to the university,” he says. [MG Note: Jeanette Heidewald has asked me to emend this quote. She says the woman asking the question used the “slave” reference. My notes and my memory tell me otherwise. I do acknowledge that my rushed note-taking could well have been mixed up and my memory faulty. I’m a human and so is Jeanette. If anyone else in attendance has a recollection of this reference, I’d appreciate if she or he could contact me at] The city, he continues, needs a better, stronger relationship with IU. He wants to revive a working group relationship wherein city and university reps  meet four times a year to discuss developments “so that when something like the FIJI move comes up no one is surprised.”

Neher returns to affordable housing, saying it would help the city retain IU grads who love the town. “We have an emerging tech community growing up here. Those 20- and 30-somethings are doing terrific things…. Let’s keep them here.”

A woman asks about the homeless. “The city doesn’t have a magic bullet,” Neher says. “The mayor needs to be a catalyst in the conversation and the solution…. What’s great? Both John [Hamilton] and I have been talking about it. Whoever wins, hold us accountable.”

Translation: Nobody on this good Earth knows how to solve the problem of homelessness w/o alienating half the voting populace.

Host Greg Chafin says he’s been worked with “marginalized” people all his adult life and he’s noticed that Bloomington seems to be pulling away, bit by bit, from that progressive ideal. “What can you do about it?” Chafin asks.


Greg Chafin [L] & Murat Candiler

“Be there to cheer them on,” Neher says. He recounts when City Clerk Regina Moore placed in front of him to sign as last year’s council president a document endorsing same-sex marriage. “That was the greatest moment of my public life,” Neher says. “And if I lose [in the May primary], they can’t take that away from me.”

Neher adds that when protesters shut down 3rd St./College Mall Road intersection last fall in response to events in Ferguson, Missouri, and Bloomington police marched alongside them to protect them, “I was proud of that.”

A man asks what he thinks of the possible move of Bloomington Hospital out of town. “We don’t know exactly what IU Health’s going to do,” Neher says. Then he asks, “What are we going to do to hold the hospital accountable for that site?” He refers to one city that was stuck holding the bag for demolition and site clean-up after its hospital moved to a new location. “We cannot allow that to happen,” he says.

Neher then suggests the site might serve as an affordable housing development. “Not first-floor commercial and apartments on the second and third floors but real mixed housing,” he says.

Loser asks what he thinks of charter schools and school vouchers. Neher admits that, as mayor, there’s little he can do to affect the machinations of the Monroe County Community School Corporation nor can he single-handedly nullify state education regulations. “There is the bully pulpit,” he says. As mayor, he might rally other Indiana mayors to go up to Indianapolis to lobby legislators.

At last, a woman asks him about his noted switch from the Republican to the Democratic party. “There it is,” Neher says, laughing, “the elephant in the room!” [Last week, Hamilton’s wife, Dawn Johnsen advised me to ask Neher about his party switch. “There’s the story,” she said. I told her I wouldn’t ask the Q myself but would be listening for someone else to. “If they don’t, that’s a story, too,” I said.]

Neher says he grew up in a small Indiana town that was “99 percent Republican.” His eyes were opened when he traveled to places like Sierra Leone and Honduras. “My social policies have been strong and progressive for a long, long time,” he says.

Recent Republican moves further and further to the Right alarmed him, he says. He adds, “I never voted a straight ticket in my life.” Finally, he announced on his WGCL program in 2008 that he would support Barack Obama for president. “That was a very liberating moment,” he says.

Neher’s kick in the elephant’s behind? His four-year record of voting in the city council has been “very Democratic.”


Chafin & Candiler’s Treasure [Upper Left]

After a few more questions, Neher takes a sip from his green water bottle and says he needs help. He asks for money, for all the guests to wear Neher buttons and put up yard signs, and to talk him up to their neighbors. “Roughly 7000 people voted in the Democratic primary in 2011,” he says. “We need people to turn out.”

And that’s that. Neher mingles a bit before leaving with his wife. I take the opportunity to query him on a part of his personal story he loves to talk about. He’s a fervid Chicago Cubs fan. “Let’s say you have magic powers,” I say. “You can choose one of two things: Win this election or watch the Cubs win the World Series. What would you do?”

Neher jumps back theatrically and roars with laughter. “That’s impossible!” he says.

The question remains whether a Cubs World Series victory or the choice itself is what’s impossible.

Hot Air

Storm Of Battle

Doug Storm, the dynamic, dynamite host of WFHB’s Interchange is gathering the 2015 Bloomington mayoral combatants in his studio for a battle royal Tuesday evening.

The four candidates for mayor — John Hamilton, Darryl Neher, John Turnbull, and John Linnemeier — have agreed to face the nation…, er, well, the city live on-air with Storm officiating.


[L-R] Linnemeier, Neher, Turnbull, Hamilton

Storm wants the B-ton citizenry to submit some Q’s before the show so if you want to know how Neher or Linnemeier might react if the ISIS hordes threaten our thriving, throbbing megalopolis send an email to Doug at

The party primaries will be Tuesday, May 5th with Hamilton, Neher, and Linnemeier facing off for the Dems and Turnbull running unopposed in the Republican race. This promises to be a fun election, what with it being the first real contested campaign in better than a decade. Neher has outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan’s backing while Hamilton claims former mayors Tomilea Allison and John Fernandez as allies. Hamilton also is amassing an all-star cast of Indiana University Maurer School of Law profs on his endorsement roster as well as former legislators Lee Hamilton and Baron Hill and even singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer. Neher counters with current statehouse figures Shelli Yoder and Matt Pierce.

[Correction: Isabel Piedmont-Smith correctly points out that Shelli Yoder is not a “statehouse figure.” Yoder is a member of the Monroe County Council. Mea culpa. And thanks, Isabel.]

Both Turnbull’s and Linnemeier’s candidacies appear quixotic at this time.

Storm’s got plenty of questions to throw at the quartet but he’s still aching for listener input. Go to the show’s Facebook page for more info. And tune in, for pity’s sake, Tuesday at 6pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. It promises to be an hour of real democracy — fitting since we like to call ourselves one.

Big Questions

And, hey, don’t forget I’m doing a Q&A thing with the four candidates myself. Yup. Even now the boys are contemplating deep questions like What was the first album you ever bought with your own money? and Do you do your own taxes?

Now that’s democracy, kids.

My profiles of the candidates will appear in next month’s Ryder magazine. If that doesn’t get you voting, hell, I have no idea what will.

Who Loves The Sun?

I do. Even today, when it’s a goddamned bone-chilling 11º at 10 in the morning.

This recent spate of frigidity has turned me off even from checking the NOAA site for the 10-day forecast. I figure Why depress myself?

That’s why, when I overhead someone say it was going to be 50 degrees come Tuesday, I started feeling that old hint of optimism. Winter, folks, just may end one day. You heard it here first.


Hot Air

Winter’s Winning

Okay, things are getting weird now. WFIU’s Annie Corrigan told me this morning that the temp was -11º. So when I went outside to let Steve and Sally the Dogs out, I figured I’d freeze my delicate Fred Flintstone toes off.

Didn’t happen.

In fact, the air outdoors didn’t feel all that cold. It felt more like 11 degrees above zero.

Aha, I thought, Annie’s reading the temp wrong. Or something. Admittedly, 11 degrees above is not the condition under which you’d start thinking bikinis and fishing poles. But it is a 22-degree shift which, at any temp, is significant. I dashed back in to check the NOAA’s National Weather Service website. Lo and behold, the feds said we were sitting at -12º, a precious degree colder than Annie said.

What’s happening? Am I — shudder — starting to knuckle under to winter?



It’s depressing I tell you. Well, even more depressing than I’ve been thanks to this winter that began, um — when was it, back in September?

The Loved One snapped at me the other day in response to yet another of my ranting diatribes regarding this second yucky winter in a row. “Just get used to it!” she said.

Can it be? Am I getting used to it? Pardon me while I cry.

Humans Write

You and I both know this thriving, throbbing megalopolis is chock-full of writing talent. Do you need proof? Then hie down to Boxcar Books, Sunday for the Writers Guild at Bloomington‘s monthly First Sunday reading.

This month’s featured scribes include Amy Cornell, Antonia Matthew, and Gabriel Peoples.

  • Amy Cornell is one of the many good local souls involved in helping Monroe County Corrections Center inmates read and write. She leads writing circles there. Her work includes poetry, creative non-fiction, novels, blog posts, book reviews, and short stories.
  • Antonia Matthew has led the writing group Five Women Poets for years. She’s written, among other things, about her mother’s experiences with Alzheimer’s and her own time as a child in World War II England.
  • Born in Detroit, Gabriel Peoples lives in both Bloomington and College Park, Maryland, where she’s working toward her PhD in American Studies at the University of Maryland. She’s focused her studies on Black Performance Studies & Visual Culture.

Sounds like a compelling, varied line-up, no? Go there and support these writers.


Other than giving her a fat paycheck, the greatest thing you can do for a writer is listen to her read her stuff. Boxcar is at 408 E. 6th St. The readings begin at 3pm and run through 5pm.

The Mind Of A Leader

So, Rahm Emanuel goes before the voters of my beloved hometown Chicago today seeking a second stint as the object of hundreds of thousands of people’s rage, disappointment, and contempt.

Why anyone would want to be a president, a state governor, or the mayor of a city is beyond me. Some suggest such ambitious folks are, well, sort of off in the head. Several psychological observers have even advanced the notion that presidents and prime ministers are more sociopathic than not.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? What kind of person says, “Yeah, I want to be the most powerful human being on the planet, possessing the full capability to incinerate hundreds of millions — nay, billions — of my fellow human beings with the press of a button.”

Honestly, when The Loved One says it’s my turn to let the dogs out, I feel crushed and oppressed by the responsibility. “Do I hafta?” I whine.

Mayors must juggle the wants and demands of a seemingly endless parade of satisfaction seekers. And to do this, those mayors must slice up an ever-shrinking pile of dough. No matter what Rahm Emanuel or Bill De Blasio chooses to do, he’s going to make a lot of people mad. Not just mad as in angry; mad as in, well, mad.


A quartet of men want to be Bloomington’s next mayor. Two of them have an honest chance. By a couple of years after the election, the victor will be both the most hated and loved man in this city of some 75,000. For my money, Darryl Neher and John Hamilton are capable, nice, good guys. But, let’s be frank, they’ve both got to be crazy to want the job.

Let’s hope the next mayor’s skull doesn’t explode when, at some point in 2016, his wife says it’s his turn to let the dogs out.

Summer Soft

No, no! I won’t let winter win!

Hot Air


How weird is today, Thursday, February 19, 2015, in our corner of South Central Indiana?

At the time I’m writing this, the temperature is -5ºF with a 7 mph wind, giving us a wind-chill of -19º. Here’s a chart showing how quickly you might suffer frostbite on any exposed area of your sacred temple should you decide to walk to the Book Corner to pick up the latest copy of Girls & Corpses magazine:


You will, acc’d’g to this chart, enter medical emergency territory after walking a mere 30 minutes or so. Good luck.

Wait — that’s not the weird part. This is: the Bruster’s ice cream joint near my palace at the intersection of State Roads 46 and 446 is set to reopen for the season in no more than eight days, on Feb. 27. In fact, as I waited at the red light there this AM, my toes beginning to lose all feeling and my breath steaming up the rear view mirror, a woman was unloading her SUV and bringing in bags of stuff to the place; undoubtedly she was coming in to start opening tasks, writing up employee schedules and ordering — brr!— tubs of mint chocolate chip, etc.

And there’s more: Today, my beloved Chicago Cubs open up the doors of the team’s spring training headquarters in warm, sunny Mesa, Arizona, for today’s mandatory reporting date for pitchers and catchers. That means the 2015 Opening Day game between the Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field is only 46 days away. If the weather gods cooperate, conditions at the Friendly Confines that evening should be in the 60s with some high, fluffy clouds breaking up a Carolina blue dusk sky.

‘Course, early evening April 5th in Chi. prob. will be sleety and windy with temps in mid- to low-30s.

But even that would seem downright tropical compared to today.

Kyle Watch

BTW: Here’s where things stand with Indiana University alum Kyle Schwarber, who was selected by the Cubs with the number 4 pick in last June’s amateur draft: the burly slugger will be in Mesa beginning next week as a non-roster invitee. That means the club is giving him a taste of the Major League experience because they have such high hopes for him. He’ll benefit from parent club instruction and get to know some of the teammates with whom, it is hoped, he will be playing come September of the 2016 season.


Schwarber Meets The Press At Wrigley Last Summer

He’s due to open the regular season with the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League. If he hits as as did last year, when he absolutely mauled pitchers in three different minor leagues, he can expect to be promoted mid-season to the Double-A Tennessee Smokies.

Schwarber continues to wield his catchers mitt despite scouting reports that grade him sub-standard at best at that position. The Cubs organization tried him in left field a bit last summer but his performance there made the bosses’ hair stand on end.

He knows how to swing a bat, though, and Baseball America, the bible of such things, has ranked him the fourth best prospect in the Cubs’ system. BA will release its Top 100 Prospects in the game tonight at 9pm. I’ll get you Schwarber’s rank on that list as soon as I can.

Mayor Neher?

Have you checked out Darryl Neher’s platform for his run for mayor in the May Democratic primary yet?

Here are the highlights for me:

  • Neher promises to “Protect our community from excessive development.” He mentions the flood of out-of-state developers that, as I see it, threaten to turn downtown B-ton into a soulless, high-density hotel and sports bar orgy.
  • “One Bloomington [his campaign catchphrase] means proactive engagement between city and citizens.” Neher pledges to initiate regular mayoral roundtables with the public grilling “various stakeholders.” I hope that means developers, municipal dept. heads, the mayor himself, and other characters whose feet need to be held to the fire.
  • “IU Health/Bloomington Hospital must be accountable to Bloomington.” Amen. But good luck with that, Darryl. IUHBH already has unilaterally decided to abandon the city center for greener pastures (literally) at Curry Pike and SR 46. As soon as the new monument to itself is built it will be the region’s hospital, not Bloomington’s.

Everything else is pretty boilerplate political stuff. Neher stands four-square for schools, the police, the fire department, good jobs, and good weather.

The primary difference, philosophically, between him and opponent John Hamilton is about six inches of height, Neher’s favor. The other two guys running for mayor? They’ll be trivia answers precisely 24 hours after election day.


Neher [L] & Hamilton

And, hey, a great letter to the editor in today’s Herald Times called for Neher, a former Republican, to denounce his more antediluvian former GOP brethren and sisteren. [No link because it’s not online yet.]

That Big Round Thing In The Sky

Oh hey, the sunlight today is 80 percent stronger than it was on the Winter Solstice, December 21st. And we’ll enjoy a good 96 more minutes of sunlight today, too.

Take heart, kiddies.


Your Friend And Mine

Hot Air

Book ‘Em

Like any impresario, Malcolm Abrams was nervous. He was hoping to put on a big show Monday night and he worried he’d have an empty house.

Abrams created the Bloom Magazine Book Club a couple of months ago and tabbed Those Who Wish Me Dead its first selection. Written by native son Michael Koryta, Those... is yet another booming bestseller from the keyboard of the crime/fantasy author. Still, Abrams wondered if anybody’d show up at Oliver Winery on the Square for the first meeting of the club.

Sure, Koryta was scheduled to read from his book and the young, smart, good-looking scribe ought to have been a draw. But Abrams knows there are no guarantees in any business. “I hope people show up,” he said to me last week.

Oh, people showed up. The first gathering of the BMBC packed the house. Abrams told me yesterday he and his staff had to keep on adding chairs for late arrivals until the crowd nearly squeezed Koryta off the stage. And Bloomington, natch, loved him.

“He only read for about ten minutes,” Abrams said. “The rest of the time was all questions and answers. He was very gracious. Everybody had a good time.”

Abrams can relax now.

The next selection of the Bloom Magazine Book Club is Scott Russell Sanders‘ latest book, Divine Animal. A woman bounded into the Book Corner around noon yesterday and announced, breathlessly, that she’d been at the Koryta show the night before. “It was fabulous,” she said. She wanted to get her hands on the Sanders novel before we sold out. Turns out her instincts were correct; she got the last copy we had.


Scott Russell Sanders (Union University photo)

I put in an urgent message to Sanders, begging him to please, please, please get us as many copies of Divine… as he could. Next thing I knew — well, about an hour later — here came Scott Russell Sanders lugging a case of books in on his shoulder. And every one of those copies is signed.

The next meeting of the BMBC is Tuesday, March 31st, 5:30pm, at the Root Cellar Lounge of FARM Bloomington. You’d better get there early unless you want to be sitting with Sanders on stage.

Decisions, Decisions

Talked to one B-ton citizen the other day who says s/he’s going for Darryl Neher.


“It’s a gut thing,” this person says. Apparently, Neher’s opponent, John Hamilton, had phoned this person and asked for her/his endorsement. The person told him s/he hadn’t made a choice yet. Hamilton, acc’d’g to this citizen, then said, “Whatever you do, don’t make an endorsement before calling me. Call me first! Talk to me before you do anything.”

Hamilton’s tone was so insistent, this person says, that s/he was put off him. “I don’t want a used car salesman, using high pressure tactics on me,” s/he says.


Go Ahead, Take It For A Spin

Hmm. It’s funny; John Hamilton usually seems like such a mild-mannered fellow. Then again, people around town whisper in my ear that the person’s story is quite in keeping with what they know about the second-time aspirant for the Dem mayoral nomination. The question: Is this trait a good or bad thing?

That said, there’s still not a hair’s difference between Neher and Hamilton when it comes to their stances on social issues.

Another Bloomington observer tells me whoever wins the Democratic primary (and, therefore, the general election) will bring refreshing new work habits to the City Hall mayor’s office. “At least,” this other person says, “he’ll show up occasionally.”

I’m already scheduled to sit in on a Neher house party, which I’ll report on. I’m still trying to weasel my way into a Hamilton soiree. Stay tuned.

The Rules Of The Game

The national title won by Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League All-Stars has been vacated. Jackie Robinson West copped the flag in 2014 in a memorable lead up the the international Little League World Series. The team’s story was tailor-made for a movie script.

JRW was the first all-black team to win the American title. It was the story of kids who’d grown up in hard-scrabble neighborhoods achieving a rare triumph and glory. Denzel Washington surely would have played some role in any potential film about that dream season.


Fans Cheer At A JRW Watch Party In August, 2014

But one of the team’s local rivals, the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, was led by a man who watched JRW advance through the tournament and seethed. Acc’d’g to this fellow, Chris Janes, JRW was using players from outside its precisely drawn eligibility boundaries. He screeched about it to the sport’s governing body, Little League International. Officials there at first waved him off, buying JRW’s assertions that kids had what seemed to be addresses in violation of eligibility requirements due to divorce and other family fractures.

Janes kept the pressure on until yesterday when the LLI finally relented and stripped the team of its title. And so “justice” has been done.

I can’t express my displeasure any clearer than my pal, the crusading attorney Jerry Boyle, has stated his:

It’s like everything else in this society. When they finally get their turn, all of a sudden the rules are strictly enforced.


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