Category Archives: Frank McCloskey

Hot Air

Petition Pushes B-foods Board

Anybody want to lay odds that Bloomingfoods will be nothing more than a fondly-recalled part of this town’s history within five years? That’s no sucker’s play. “Natural” and organic mega-grocers Lucky’s Market and Whole Foods Market are coming to town and B-foods already is feeling the pinch.

In addition to grappling with the potential unionization of its workforce and the need to shutter its underperforming Kirkwood Avenue store, the Bloomingfoods co-op is running for its life at this time.

Blame it on the vagaries of the trendy “natural” foods market or the phase of the moon if you wish. Some, though, are blaming the co-op’s Board of Directors. In fact, a petition page has been set up, demanding that the Board, well, do something. Acc’d’g to the petition, the Board has been sitting on its hands through what is described as the current  “crisis.”

One Pencil source says that because B-foods had been the only “natural” and organic grocer in town for decades, its Board has come to suffer from “extreme hubris.”

[The Pencil will not disclose the identities of many of its sources for Bloomingfoods stories because they are employees and may not wish to put their jobs at risk.]

This person explains: “Our Board has never had to do anything. They don’t have the will [or] knowledge to act.”

The petition asks the Board to “Reach out to our national association, [National Co+op Grocers (NCG)], and request an emergency peer review/audit.” The NCG, apparently, can send in volunteer General Managers from other member grocers to pore over B-foods’ books, interview management and employees, and assess things like merchandising, buying, and pricing. The vol GMs then would file a report with recommendations for a course of action.

Should the Board take the petition-signers’ advice and apply for a NCG review, they’d better hurry. Even Kroger has upped its commitment to “natural” and organic foods of late. In fact, the east side Kroger Theme Park’s organics section is as big as any of Bloomingfoods’ entire locations. Kroger has gone all-in on “naturals” and organics. Its overall sales in that category for 2014 reached to between $3-4 billion. Kroger’s organic house brand, Simple Truth®, accounted for a billion dollars in sales last year.

Mainstream customers here who have shied away from crunchy grocers like Bloomingfoods are embracing the trend at their preferred neighborhood Kroger. And while many Bloomingfoods customers are driven to remain loyal for moral and ethical reasons, many others who simply want “clean” foods likely will get their grub at Kroger rather than make the trip to B-foods.

A quick lesson in label designations: I put “natural” in quotation marks because there is no legal or regulatory definition of the term. Many consumers define “natural” foods as those without chemical additives, ignoring the scientific fact that things like water (H2O) or table salt (NaCl) are themselves chemicals. Organics, on the other hand, are strictly controlled by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program. The growing, processing, packaging, handling, and merchandising of certified organic foods all must meet the NOP’s rigid standards.


The USDA’s Official Organic Program Logo

BTW: much of the NOP body of regulations was written, essentially, by Whole Foods Market. The Organic Foods Production Act was passed into law by Congress in 1990, calling for regulations covering organic farming practices and the publication of lists of allowed and forbidden ingredients. The NOP took effect in 2000. During that ten-year period, Whole Foods was essentially the only game in town — or, more accurately, the nation — when it came to organic retailing.

Anyway, business and food store co-op expert, Keith Taylor of Indiana University’s Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, set up the petition. You can hear him explain the situ. tomorrow afternoon on WFHB. As soon as I get more info on the time and show, I’ll pass it on.

Time Flies

Make sure to catch this piece on photographer Jeff Wolin’s fascinating study of Bloomington’s citizens. Wolin snapped pix of Pigeon Hill  folk back in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Then he did it again with many from the same cast of characters some 20 years later. Pigeon Hill is a small stretch of shotgun houses northwest of downtown Bloomington, on the other side of Rogers Street. Suffice it to say professors and doctors do not live there.

Tempus fugit, babies, and that maxim has been brought home dramatically through Wolin’s lens. Here’s a taste:

Images/Jeffrey A.  Wolin

A young fellow named Timmie in the neighborhood, 1991, and Timothy in 2012 at Wabash Valley prison — Images by Jeffrey A. Wolin

See more of Wolin’s pix at Pictura Galley, on the Square, through May 30th.

Who Runs This Town?

Perhaps one of the lawyers or pols who read these almost-daily screeches can clear something up. Yesterday I spoke with someone purportedly in the know. This person said that as far back as the Frank McCloskey administration here in this thriving, throbbing megalopolis, there was an understanding that real estate developers have held an absolute upper hand in any negotiations with the city.

That is, if a developer and construction company partnership came along and proposed to erect a mixed-use hotel, grocery store, and opium den at the corner of, say, Indiana and Kirkwood avenues, well, then within a year or two there would stand at that intersection just such a structure — let’s call it The Blooming-den Suites. And no matter how many citizens would object to a grocery store standing there, or how many city council members would rant and rave about the loss of a row of forsythia bushes at that location, the real estate partnership would get its way.

Developers and construction cos., this person observed, were — and are — as powerful as gods. Their will, in other words, be done.

In fact, this person swore, Frank McCloskey gathered the city’s planning commissioners one day in his office and said:

I won’t tell you what to do but I will say this — when a big development plan comes in, no matter how much it violates our dearly-held “character” or flouts our zoning guidelines, if we nix it, then that developer will sue our pants off. And we don’t have enough money to pay for those legal fees even if we win.

Hmm. This is one of those stories that sounds really good. The world is rife with avaricious money and concrete men who are dead-set on ruining our quaint small town. And the valiant, embattled mayor, realizing the deck is stacked, sadly explains the facts-of-life to his people.

These facts of life, my source attested, are in play today even more than they were back in Frank McCloskey’s day.

So, is there anyone out there with the guts to admit this or the credibility to deny it?


The Pencil Today:


“It’s useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office.” — Shirley MacLaine


One of the advantages of being a relative newcomer to Bloomington is that I’m still hearing the town’s lore with a fresh ear.

For instance, I had a sit-down with a long-time local pol the other day. We tried to impress each other with our predictions of how the election would turn out. We pretty much agreed on all the races save for Shelli Yoder, whom I backed even though I knew she was going down hard.

If At First…

BTW: I told the pol that Shelli should view this election the way a baseball manager looks at spring training games. It’s only practice. Yoder will be a force in South Central Indiana and, eventually, statewide politics for years to come. I threw a hunk of chum out: What about Governor Yoder?

My pal the pol shook his head. That tears it for me: Yoder’s future doesn’t lie in the executive branch. But she’ll be a legislator. My bet is she starts thinking statehouse for 2014.

Anyway, my pol friend and I agreed, pre-vote, that Tea Party sweetheart Richard Mourdock’s spectacular flameout was the biggest surprise of the race. He tanked his bout with Joe Donnelly for the US Senate when he tried to channel the thoughts of his god vis a vis rape, pregnancy, and abortion.

Mourdock Watches His Chances Slip Away

“Man,” the pol said, “he really drove his car into a tree, didn’t he?”

I nodded, figuring the pol was simply using colorful language.

“You don’t know what I’m referring to, do you?” he asked.

I shrugged.

“Okay, I’ll tell you. You’ve heard of Frank McCloskey, right?”

Naturally. Frank McCloskey is a legend in these parts. He started out his adult life as a newspaper reporter in both Indy and Chicago and then, improbably, became the first Democratic mayor of Bloomington in 1971, after years of GOP dominance here. He was reelected mayor twice and then decided to try for a seat in the US House from what was then Indiana’s 8th Congressional District, also known as the Bloody Eighth.

A Legend

The District, you see, had been notorious for upstarts unseating incumbents. Still, McCloskey wasn’t expected to win. He was running against the Reagan economy in 1982 and even though this immediate area had suffered under rising unemployment figures and Reagan-era service cuts, well, a smart politician in Indiana didn’t run against Saint Ronald.

The two-term incumbent Congressbeing, a fellow named Huey Joel (Joe) Deckard, was fused at the hip with Reagan. My pal the pol can take over the story here. “Oh, Deckard was a winner,” the pol says. “All he had to do was keep his mouth shut and not do anything stupid. Famous last words, huh?

“So, one night he was driving home and he crashed his car into a tree. The police got there, took one look at him and knew he was drunk. They ran him in and he refused to take a blood test. Well, this was huge in the newspapers and on TV the next morning. He got hit with a driving under the influence charge and just like that his lead started disappearing.”

Deckard In 2010 (Herald-Times Photograph)

McCloskey won, of course, and went on to make a national name for himself by opposing Reagan’s Star Wars scheme and George H.W. Bush’s first Iraq War. He fought for an assault weapons ban and called for US intervention to stop the atrocities in the Balkans in the early 90s. He was as big a liberal as could be found in Congress.

Ironically, McCloskey was challenged twice by Richard Mourdock, in 1990 and 92, repelling the coal mining company executive both times. McCloskey would lose his seat in the 1994 election, AKA, the Republican Revolution.

McCloskey had a nice run, though. And he owed it all to a tree that jumped into the road in front of his opponent.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

LECTURE & DISCUSSION ◗ IU Poynter CenterPhotographing Patients: Clinical and Ethical Considerations, Led by John Woodcock; 4-5:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallMaster’s Recital: Hannah Robbins on viola da gamba; 5pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Gulrukh Shakirova on piano; 5pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Sweeney HallDoctoral Lecture/Recital: Joy Yeh on harp; 5pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Woodburn HallBurke Lecture Series: “Performing Painters: Hands, Brushes and Palettes at Work,” Presented by Philip Sohm of the University of Toronto; 5-6pm

LETTERS ◗ Rachael’s CafeNational Novel Writing Month Write-In; 6-9pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubCathy Gutjhar; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “The Intruder“; 6:30pm

CLASS ◗ BloominglabsIntro to Programming; 6:30-9pm

CELEBRATION ◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryCarl Sagan Day, Tour the observatory, Miscellaneous activities, Refreshments, Presented by the Secular Alliance at IU; 7pm

BENEFIT ◗ Oliver WineryConcert: “The Life and Bassoon Works of Roger Boutry“; 7pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “Cendrillon (Cinderella),” Presented by IU Opera Theater; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleTom Shinnes; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallChamber Music Stduio Recital: Stduents of Sung-Mi Im; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallFive Friends Master Class Series: Judy tarling on Baroque viola and violin; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Bloomington High School NorthFall Concert: “Remembering Our Heroes,” Performed by the Southern Indiana Wind Ensemble; 7-8:15pm

STAGE ◗ IU Halls TheatreDrama, “Spring Awakening“; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ IU Sweeney HallComedy, “Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps“; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Bloomington High School North — Comedy/drama, “Ondine”; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Radio/TV Center — “Through the Gift Shop,” Presented by the IU Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association; 7:30pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Hahn; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceThe Hot Carls; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Soojin Joo on piano; 8pm

FILM ◗ The Bishop — “Handmade Nation“; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallDoctoral Lecture Recital: Matthew Cataldi on piano; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdRumpke Mountain Boys, Trashgrass CD release party, New Old Cavalry; 9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Holy Motors“; 9:30pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:


Courtesy of the White Rabbit.


A couple of things about my favorite Martian, Rick Santorum, before I get into the meat of today’s post.

  1. Yesterday, speaking before a crowd in Arizona, Rickey-girl slammed the Obama health care bill, natch. But he acknowledged that part of Obama’s reasoning was that every citizen should have the right to health care. Haharights. “When the government gives you rights, they can take those rights away,” he spewed. I’ve never thought about it that way before. I guess Martin Luther King, Jr. and all his cronies, were they still alive, would regret the enactments of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. Because, after all, who cares about rights when they can be taken away?
  2. Pennsylvania’s man-in-the-closet is taking heat for casting aspersions on Obama’s “theology.” He has declared he will not step back from the statements because they came from his heart. You know, that’s why Republican Cro-Magnons are attractive to a lot of voters. They won’t back down. It’d be refreshing to hear a Democrat once in a while saying, Screw it, I said it and I believe it, no matter how many people think I should apologize.


Speaking of Democrats, the Monroe County party faithful gathered together last night in the Fountain Square ballroom to pat themselves on the back and tell each other how badly they’re going to spank the GOP this coming November.

Even Mayor Mark Kruzan emerged from his cocoon to press the flesh.

Kruzan Has Been Seen In Public Before

Dem hopefuls running in the May primary for city, county, and statewide offices were introduced by the somnolent county party chair Rick Dietz during last evening’s finger-food love fest.

BTW: perhaps Dietz does a fine job maintaining the records of the party, or maybe he finds the best deals on yard signs and bumper stickers. But when it comes to rallying the troops, Steven Wright would be a more emphatic orator.

Anyway, the star of the show was the mustachioed John Gregg, who’s running for governor. He grabbed the mic out of Dietz’s hand when he was introduced and wowed the crowd. The man has charisma in addition to that big furry thing on his upper lip.

A Hirsute Governor?

The five brave souls running for US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District met the flock as a unit for the first time. In fact, some of them met the flock for the first time, period.

At least three of the contenders threw their hats into the ring within the last few weeks. They’re all earnest and most of them paid lip-service to the memory of liberal Dem representative Frank McCloskey as well as the sainted Lee Hamilton. But from this vantage point, it seems likely the only one with a ghost of a chance to unseat Congressboy Todd Young is Shelli Yoder.

McCloskey: Local Hero

I came down hard on Yoder Monday. She’s best known as Miss Indiana 1992 and earned a second runner-up spot in that year’s Miss America drool-fest. Apparently, she’d earned her second-lieutenancy by smoking up the pageant stage in her swimsuit.

Being a licensed and certified smart-ass, I felt compelled to make fun of her beauty-queen past. But smart pols like Regina Moore and Linda Robbins dig her the most, so I can’t discount their evaluations.

On the other hand, I spoke to a couple of female pols last night who want to see more from Yoder — and they weren’t talking skin, either.

Here are the Dems running for the nomination:

I haven’t got time right now to reveal my impressions of the gang (there’s the little matter of catching my bus to get to the Book Corner) but I’ll run them all through my wringer within the next few days. It should be fun.


Back to the-man-whom-Google-made-famous, Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times decided to check out his website. Steinberg reveals the results of his research in today’s column.


His conclusions? What I’ve been saying all along, these theocratic right wingers think about sex, sex, sex, and more sex.

To be frank, I do, too. As do you, I’ll bet. But, speaking for myself, I don’t flagellate myself for those thoughts.

And yeah, I tried the whole whipping-for-fun trick once. Didn’t do much for me. Still, I don’t run around screaming that my S&M pals ought to be banished to a desert island.

Maybe, Rickey-girl should try it. Could it be that’s what he really wants?



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