Category Archives: Habitat for Humanity

Your Daily Hot Air

Kid Stuff

A couple of proposed swaps have been talked about in recent days here in the bustling metrop. that is Bloomington, Indiana.

Children Trading

City Business?

One I touched upon the other day: some folks put up a petition on suggesting that the city trade its Certified Tech Park land for Habitat for Humanity’s wooded tract just to the west of it. The idea being that the several dozen planned HforH homes should be built on city-owned land and that the wooded tract be preserved. Proponents of this solution say, by golly, it’s so simple any child should have been able to figure it out. You get to preserve one of the last remaining green areas of the central city and HforH gets to put up structures on land already prepped for development.

The other swap is one I’ve heard many an Average Citizen talk about ever since that big Public Works Department scandal broke last week. You know, the one where a heretofore well-liked, trusted PW project manager allegedly conspired with an out-of-town concrete outfit to bilk the city out of $800,000. Again, the proposed swap is so simple a kindergartner could have come up with it: Just recoup the 800 Gs and use the swag to pay for all those things the revenue from B-town’s downtown parking meters were supposed to finance.

If only the affairs of gov’t could be so simple. I chatted with a city official yesterday who provided the following caveats about that land swap idea:

  • “It’s impractical” at the very least.
  • The plans the city has already spent tons of dough on for the Tech Park cannot be switched over to another tract of land just like that. Similarly, HforH’s plans would have to be re-drawn as well — also at a significant cost.
  • The topographic and ecological conditions of the Tech Park area cannot easily accommodate a single-family-homes development nor can the wooded area adequately underlie the mixed-use Tech Park structures.
  • Some folks avoid the northwestern end of the B-Line Trail, the part that curves through the wooded area, because it is isolated, lonely and, frankly, a little scary for those who fear unexpected head-clunkings. Should homes be built around that end of the trail, it’ll be visible to a lot of neighbors. “Eyes on the trail is a good thing,” the official said.

The Bloomington City Council will vote on zoning variances for the Habitat project Wednesday, March 26th. Expect a quick okay.

Now then, what about that $800,000 windfall the city will get just as soon as Justin Wykoff and his pal, the concrete contractor Roger Hardin, turn their ill-gotten cash over to the proper authorities? (That is if they are indeed guilty of skimming said lettuce.)

This one’s as childlike as any scheme concocted by a kindergartner. It assumes Mayor Mark Kruzan is emptying out one of his old sports bags so he can stuff it with the cash the alleged embezzlers will tote over to him once they get sprung from the federal joint in Indy. The assumption is Kruzan will simply dole out the dough and every dept. head in the city will be fat and happy and city-workers will then go about the business of sawing down those damnable new parking meters.

Money in Bag

Okay, Boys, We’re Square

Kids, it ain’t gonna happen. Let’s not even concern ourselves with the probability that the cash — or most of it, at least — is long gone. The city can’t just spend found cash like a drunken sailor. It’ll have to go through channels, return the money to its original funding source, and then go through the whole process of re-allocating it. It’s not as though the $800,000 was sitting in a pile in some city safe somewhere and the bad guys (allegedly) swiped it in the middle of the night. It’s all too complicated for a straightforward reimbursement and redistribution.

Much as we wish it, spending a city’s money is not child’s play.

My Homestate Blues

Personal to the voters of the great state o’Illinois: y’all had better kick the crap (at the ballot box, natch) out of the newly-crowned Republican candidate for Guv this coming Nov.


Dem. Gov. Pat Quinn (left) Faces Rauner In The Fall

Bruce Rauner is a plutocratic, union-busting “right-to-work” advocate, health care profiteer, low-tax fetishist, and social-service expenditure slasher. He’s a Me Party dreamboat and will accelerate in his own small way this holy land’s headlong rush toward a cold, uncaring, bottom-line-only society. Assuming we’re not there already.

Anyway, Illinois voters, if you do elect this guy to be the state’s big boss, I’ll lose all respect for you. Assuming I haven’t already.

Hot Air

The Mob

Ralph Nader quotes Jim Hightower in Saturday’s Huffington Post:

Assume you ran a business that was found guilty of bribery, forgery, defrauding homeowners, fleecing investors, swindling consumers, cheating credit card holders, violating US trade laws, and bilking American soldiers. Can you even imagine the punishments you’d get? Howe about zero? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. No jail time. Not even a fine. Plus, you get to stay on as boss, you get to keep all the loot you gained from the crime spree, and you even get an $8.5 million pay raise!

The hoodlum H-tower speaks of would  be the big boss of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, a man whom, Nader reminds us, proclaims for all the world to hear that he is “so damn proud of this company.”



We keep forgetting that reprobates like Dimon were responsible for crashing the entire world’s economy back in the mid-aughts. It wasn’t socialism, or communism, or same-sex marriage, or legalized pot, or a Manchurian Candidate president from Kenya, or even god’s will that millions more Americans now live below the poverty line, millions are unemployed, municipalities are going broke, school budgets are being slashed, libraries are closing, and…, and…, oh, it’s all too depressing.

All those ills were brought to us courtesy of the Liar’s Poker, casino-mentality, degenerate gamblers in fancy Wall Street offices (and their coat-holders in Congress).

They all are the very definition of mobsters.

Trade Rumors

Here’s an idea regarding the development of some land along the B-Line Trail that cuts through central Bloomington. Habitat for Humanity wants to develop a little strip of woods along the Trail, just northwest of downtown B-town. So the city’s angling for a zoning variance to allow HforH to build a couple of dozen homes for the needy there.


Habitat’s B-Line Neighborhood Is Next Door To…

And, according to folks who don’t think much of the idea, the city’s positioning the question as an either-or: either you want to help Habitat do its good works or you don’t. The problem acc’d’g to some, is that Habitat’s property is the last lush green space near downtown. That, and it is apparently going to be difficult to develop.

Instead, say a group of petitioners, the city and Habitat should swap land. The city-owned Certified Tech Park butts up against the Woods parcel. The CTP already is zoned for high-density residential development, the argument goes, and much of the land is cleared.

Bloomington CTP

…Bloomington’s Certified Tech Park

The simple solution? Let HforH build its homes on the Tech Park site and let the city take over the Woods and transform that land into a Parks & Rec facility.

If you buy this argument, slap your sig. on the petition calling for the land swap.

Then again, if you think the city’s gonna let low-income folks live in its shiny new neighborhood, you must believe you live in a liberal college town.

A Dickens Of A Tale

Overheard at Soma the other day, a barista talking to a customer:

My parents told me my actual last name was Nintendo. When I was about six, they said I was the heir to the Nintendo family fortune but that my original parents disowned me because they didn’t like the way I looked. So I was adopted.

Does too much coffee do that to people?

The End Is Near — Maybe

And finally, it took a foreign newspaper to report on disturbing study by this holy land’s own NASA. Our Murrican space geeks have sponsored some alarming research with the help of scads of scientists from a variety of disciplines that show humanity’s present rate of consumption and excretion could potentially topple our whole house of cards within a few decades.


We’re using so much stuff and belching so much of our wastes into the air, the water, and the soil that our civilization itself could collapse of its own weight. Don’t laugh — countless civilizations before us have gone all to hell for a screwing up what they knew of the world a lot less than we are.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has submitted the study to the peer-reviewed journal of the International Society for the Journal of Ecological Economics. That gang contemplates stuff like this; you know, how much it costs us as a species to make sure everybody’s got all the latest hand-held devices and to keep our petro-plutocracy in charge of, well, everything.

Natch, Murrican newspapers and TV news outlets haven’t touched this thing yet because it has nothing to do with Justin Beiber or a white man shooting an unarmed black kid. Those, of course, are the only topics of import in this mad, mad, world.

Anyway, the study doesn’t come right out and say we’re doomed, only that we could be. There’s a chance, see? Except folks who think scientists are a political party would pooh-pooh the report out of hand, if only they had the intellect to understand it.

Inhofe Book Cover

And here’s a conclusion the study makes that’s sure to make Ma & Pa Kettle bristle: We ought to stop having so many kids. Yup, overpopulation is strangling us, the study sez. There ain’t enough raw stuff on this planet to manufacture the products needed to satisfy all 7B of us. The conclusion is, those of us who have need to make sure that the rest of us have not; otherwise, we lucky few won’t have as much as we want.

Yeesh. So, when’s the last time you read the word overpopulation in your morning newspaper? Or heard the word uttered by a blonde, lacquered anchor lady?

The Pencil Today:


“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.” — Ernest Hemingway. Today’s temperatures should reach the 60s in South Central Indiana.


I’ll scream if I hear anyone saying teachers get paid too much. Or that they don’t deserve collective bargaining rights.

Granted, there are lousy teachers. Hell, I was saddled with, oh, seven of them through my eight years of elementary school. The one outstanding teacher I had, Miss Tristano in fifth grade, was a full-fledged hero. She’d been teaching at Our Lady of the Angels in December, 1958, when fire tore through the school and killed 92 kids and three nuns.

Iconic Image Of The Our Lady Of The Angels Fire

Anyway, a teacher doesn’t necessarily have to brave an inferno to do heroic things. Take Kathy Loser, the librarian over at Bloomington High School North.

She visits the Book Corner regularly. She dropped in Wednesday, all aflutter. She was consumed by a brilliant new idea that she hopes the school and the bookshop will buy into.

Kathy Loser

Here it is:

BHSN is one of the few schools in the nation to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity chapter. The kids have been helping build a home for a family with a couple of young children. The house will be ready to move into next month.

Kathy was watching — what else? — “It’s A Wonderful Life” over the holidays. When she got to the point where the Italian family moves into their new home and the neighbors all welcomed them with gifts of wine and groceries, housewarming seed gifts as it were, Kathy got a brainstorm.

Why not present the new family with seed gifts for a new home library?

Her plan is simple. Some of the kids can make a wooden bookscase for the place. Kids in the social studies classes can draw up a list of kids’ books and some standard reference works that every home should have.

Then, with the help of the attractive and charming Book Corner staff, a kind of new home library registry can be created.

BHSN parents and other citizens can come to the shop whenever they need to purchase gifts for their kids or other family and friends. Only the recipients won’t keep the gifts. The customers will select a book from the registry, buy it in the recipient’s name, and the book will be packaged with all the other such gifts and presented to the new home family along along with the bookcase on the day the move in.

What a great idea!

Kathy Loser is so gung-ho for it that she actually bought the first book. It’s “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. “Every home should have this, don’t you think?” Kathy asked as she plunked the book down on the counter.

I think indeed.

Give Kathy a call at the school, 812.330.7724, ext. 50197, to let her know you like the idea or to make suggestions for the registry or even to donate time or money to the cause.


What is a Republican?

Someone who espouses financial prudence?

A backer of strong defense?

An opponent of strong federal regulations?

A pro-lifer?

Look no further than State Senator Vaneta Becker, who represents the Evansville area in the statehouse. Oh, she’s a Republican.

Becker: “Do It My Way Or Else. That’s Freedom!”

The Republican, in fact, at this weird, weird moment in American history.

Becker has introduced SB 122 this week. It calls for strict standards to be set for the performance of the national anthem at school events. Performers who violate those standards would be fined.

She says the proposed standards would reflect “how we feel about freedom.”

Not habeas corpus. Not the Bill of Rights (except for the sacred Second). Not torture. Not wiretapping. Not personal information harvesting. Not any of the things that Republicans and their all-too-willing Democratic apologists have created or destroyed in response the the specter of scary brown people.

Nope. The national anthem. That, Becker says, is our freedom.

Becker is the modern Republican.


This is a better song than the “Star Spangled Banner” anyway. And no one could sing it like Ray Charles.