Category Archives: Tomi Allison

Hot Air

Meet John Hamilton

With a mere two months to go before Bloomington’s mayoral primary election (and the glories of spring, sigh!) John Hamilton met with a houseful of supporters once again yesterday afternoon.

He’s been chatting up cozy groups of friends and allies like this for weeks now, sometimes doing it, say, a couple of times on a Saturday and maybe four times on a Sunday as well as the odd weeknight. It’s hard work, shaking hands, remembering folks’ names, telling a living room full of people what a swell guy you are, pointing out the contributions basket, and fielding questions like How are you, sir, going to save our thriving, throbbing megalopolis from this or that looming peril?

And even though spring and the election are so tantalizingly near, Bloomington woke up to a fresh blanket of six inches of snow on top of the four-to-six already laid down earlier in the week. Ah, I figured, they’re gonna cancel this thing. But a quick check of my email, Facebook, and phone messages revealed no such reprieve from the arctic slog to Tomilea and Jim Allison’s house.

Tomi Allison, of course, was our town’s three-term mayor back in the 1980s and ’90s. She’s thrown her support behind Hamilton, so much so that she’s happy to have a gang of slush-shoed neighbors and pals trudge around her living room and dining room.

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Host Tomi Allison

Than again, who knew how many would show up on this hellish March 1st? When I knocked on the Allison front storm door (after already falling into a deep snow bank trying to negotiate my way from street to sidewalk), Jim Allison greeted me thusly: “Well, you’re one of the brave three.” Sure enough, only a couple of other guys sat, lonely-looking, in the ring of a couple dozen chairs. Within five minutes, though, the place filled up.

Either Hamilton engenders this kind of loyalty or Bloomingtonians are simply sick of winter and will use any excuse to get out of the house. Hard to tell. Maybe both.

A pair of young Indiana University students, campaign vols, skittered about, handing out name tags and passing around sign-up sheets as more and more of the faithful stomped their boots on the welcome mat. Tomi brought in fresh pots of coffee and serving plates piled with cookies. Then the man himself showed up. Hamilton joined the boot-stomping chorus as his wife, Dawn Johnsen, did the neighborly thing and removed her shoes. No matter the foot or more of white stuff on the ground, Hamilton was going to run hard for mayor this day and his fans were going to cheer him on.

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Hamilton And Johnsen Arrive

Time for chitchat

I told Johnsen she and the old man were real troupers. She replied that an earlier event at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs already had been cancelled but she and John were raring to go to it if it hadn’t. They walked here, though, but will have to drive to a third scheduled event immediately after. “I told my son the driveway’d better be shoveled when we get back from here,” she said.

Hamilton talked to a group of three about his book club’s current selection, Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man. One of the the three, a woman, tells him about the book she’s reading, Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial. The woman says it’s about the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in a New Orleans hospital. She described the chaos, the suffering, how piles of dead bodies were found in certain rooms. Every level of government, she said, was caught unprepared for the hit. Hamilton shook his head sadly. ‘You can make great plans for any possible disaster that could happen every hundred years,” he said, “but then you’d have no time to do anything for today and tomorrow.”

I flashed to a landmark political event in my beloved hometown Chicago, the blizzard of ’79, when nearly 20 inches of snow paralyzed the city. The mayor at the time, a seat-warmer named Michael Bilandic, took the heat for the city’s inability to cope and was ousted for it by upstart Jane Byrne in the mayoral primary a month and a half later. Hamilton, I mused, had better pray no such natural surprise derails his mayoral career should he win in May.

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Mary Kay Rothert And Tomi Allison Chat

Time for the star of the show. Jim Allison stood up and said his introduction would be blessedly short. “Having been married to a mayor of Bloomington for 13 years, I think I know what a mayor looks like,” he said. “Here’s our next mayor, John Hamilton.”

Hamilton spent the next 15 minutes or so laying out his curriculum vitae. He called himself a “proven progressive.”

“I love government,” he said, meaning, not necessarily that he was Ronald Reagan’s worst nightmare (although he probably would be), but that he really digs the work. Then he delivered a subtle dig at his main opponent, City Council member and outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan’s hand-picked successor, Darryl Neher, a former Republican. “I am — all my life — a Democratic progressive.”

Now Neher may be thinking of coming up with his own riposte — Hamilton has moved from Bloomington to Washington, DC and back again since the mid-’90s. Johnsen worked for what is now NARAL Pro-Choice America and then became President Bill Clinton’s head of the White House Office of Legal Counsel. While in Washington, Hamilton started a community land trust as well as a lending bank for small businesses and low-income neighborhoods in the capital. Neher may ask if Hamilton wants to stay in Bloomington this time. Hamilton’s ready for that one: “I don’t want to live anywhere else,” he said.

After sufficiently selling himself to a crowd already sold, Hamilton then took on the city. “In the last ten years we’ve made some bad choices that have made downtown less beautiful,” he said. He mentioned the spate of hotels and high-end condominium developments that are springing up around the formerly quaint Courthouse Square. It’s all growth, sure, but the city must give some consideration to its residents who can’t afford huge mortgages and rents. Hamilton promised to make sure “that people of all kinds and all incomes can live in Bloomington.”

He went on: “We have a very high poverty rate. We’re in the top fifth of Indiana in terms of food stamps.” He pledged to provide tender loving care for existing businesses here and market the city nationwide to attract other businesses — and the jobs they’ll bring — to Bloomington.

Those poor folks here, he said, will be the last to be served when the big private broadband companies start building a citywide network. Rather, Hamilton suggested, the city should build its own network and perhaps it can use its TIF moneys to pay for it.

Speaking of those TIF funds, Hamilton said he wants to use some of that dough to give loans to local small businesses to expand.

Jumping back to big construction developments in town, Hamilton called for “inclusive housing,” meaning all developments must include affordable units and those lower-cost homes must be meant for the long term not only for the ten-or-so-year life of the planning agreement.

Hamilton said his aim, if elected, will be to eliminate all kids’ homelessness and half of overall homelessness in five years.

All this will be done in an open, transparent environment, Hamilton said. He asked: “Does anybody know how long it takes to fill a pothole in Bloomington? Not a trick question. Nobody knows. [It’s important that] the public sees and knows what their government is doing.”

Of course, parking meters came up. Hamilton used it to reinforce his assertion that the current administration and council have been less than forthcoming on crucial issues. “Do you know what’s happening with the parking meter money? I don’t.”

What do you think of the meters? a woman asked.

“There’s a tradition in Native America saying that crows are very wise animals,” he said. The new downtown parking meters have been bombarded by crow droppings this winter. “Are these [meters] serving a purpose? And what is it?” he said. No one, Hamilton added, knows exactly why the downtown meters were installed.

To fix that, Hamilton said he and his cabinet would have weekly sessions to meet the public, answer their questions and hear their complaints. “It won’t be fun,” he said, “but it has to be done.”

He concluded by reminding the crowd that fewer than 10 percent of eligible voters show up on primary election day. “You’ve got to talk people into voting,” he said.

During the question and answer session that followed, Hamilton made the following points:

  • The city should catch up to the county in terms of sustainability measures and initiatives.
  • If utilities companies are afraid about more and more people generating their own electricity through solar panels, “Tough.”
  • His cabinet will not be filled with yes-women and men.
  • The decision by IU Health/Bloomington Hospital to move from just south of downtown to the North Park campus outside the city is by no means a done deal, no matter what IU Health says — “It may even be worth it to us to spend money to keep the hospital downtown. I’m not giving up yet.”

It was nearing four o’clock. Hamilton had pressed the flesh and talked for two hours. It was time for him and his crew to head to that next house party. “We’re in a battle,” he said. “We need to show our progressive policies work.”

And so the Hamilton gang ran off. They’ll be running until May 5th.

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Johnsen, Campaigning

[I’m scheduled to attend a Darryl Neher house party a week from today. Stayed tuned for my report in this space.]

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Being a man given to oratory and high principles, he enjoyed the sound of his own vocabulary and the warmth of his own virtue.” — Sinclair Lewis, Babbit, Ch. 6

ROVE SHOW

A number of people asked me yesterday morning if I was going to attend the Karl Rove smut-fest at the IU Auditorium.

Rove was the lightning rod. The event was billed as a sort of colloquy between the one-time “rat fucker” and evil genius behind George W. Bush’s presidency and Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s former mouthpiece, but for all the residents of this people’s republic were concerned, Gibbs would be nothing more than a bit player. The two were to dope out the 2012 Election and everybody expected a hockey game to break out.

Only no punches were thrown and the entire affair, according to observers, was rather tepid.

I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t there.

I told my interrogators yesterday morning I wasn’t going. They know I loathe Rove more than the genetic heart defect that’ll eventually kill me so they were surprised I wouldn’t grab the chance to hiss him.

Unh uh.

I didn’t go for the same reason I don’t watch TV news. It’d make me edgy. I’d fall into that old us-versus-them trick bag the corporate media loves to suck us into.

Some of this town’s most notable citizens gathered outside the Auditorium to shout at its walls how much they object to the very notion that the human species has resulted in something so vile as Karl Rove.

Tomi Allison & Charlotte Zietlow Serenade Rove

Again, that’d be a no-go for me. It plays into the show business aspect of Rove-mania. He’s not only still a mover and shaker on the political scene, but he’s the designated villain in the pro wrestling spectacle that civic debate has become. The mini-mob outside the Auditorium only heightened the buzz and sense of spectacle of the thing.

Rove’s never been accused of outright vote stealing. No, his sins are worse. He peddles tainted information. He manipulates resentments. He games the system. Rove is a diabolical archcriminal.

I wouldn’t give him a dime of my hard-earned dough even if it was just to throw rotten tomatoes at him.

DEATH OF THE ‘WEEK

You’ve heard the news that Newsweek will cease publication this year.

Good.

Newsweek actually saw fit to give Karl Rove his own weekly column after his former boss left the White House.

“News”week

I wonder if the following items on the Rove resume convinced Newsweek’s editors to take him on:

In 1970, Rove, using an alias and pretending to volunteer for Alan Dixon’s reelection, gained access to the Illinois Senator’s campaign office. He worked only for a day. Actually, a mere few hours.

His sole desire was to make off with a few reams of stationary bearing the Dixon campaign letterhead. Rove then printed up phony invitations promising “free beer, free food, girls, and a good time for nothing” at an upcoming invitation-only Dixon rally. Rove then distributed the faux ducats at dive bars, flophouses, homeless shelters, and rock concerts where he sought out the scruffiest and foulest-smelling stoners.

The Dixon campaign was shocked when its rally was invaded by the rather unsavory battalion.

Rove went on to do much volunteer work for the Richard Nixon reelection campaign. He was so valuable to CREEP that Watergate prosecutors actually considered indicting him but decided not to only because he was small potatoes. His artistry in the field of dirty tricks was not yet fully honed.

For instance, working for George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, Rove floated the rumor that Bush’s biggest rival, John McCain, had fathered a black “love child.” McCain, at the time running ahead of Bush, suffered a surprising defeat in that state, long a bastion of racism.

Bushy & The Brain

I could fill ten posts with a laundry list of Rove violations of the public trust. Suffice it to say he’s a baddie.

So, if Newsweek wanted this brand of reprobate to pen a weekly column then it deserves to suffer a painful death.

MARRIAGE: GOVERNMENT REGULATION RUN AMOK

Speaking of Right Wingers whose dark souls emit a nauseating reek, that darling of the Tory classes, Dinesh D’Souza, has gotten his bully club caught in a wringer.

Following in the tradition of Republican stalwart, Newt Gingrich, D’Souza has thrown his wife over for a younger woman.

D’Souza Goes For The Youth Market

D’Souza, who regularly wows conservative Christian audiences with his railings against the morally bankrupt liberal, secular world, has been toting around a young chickadee whom he introduces as his fiancee.

This even as D’Souza’s ever-loving wife of 20 years, Dixie, has kept the home fires warm for him.

Some observers on my side of the fence say this is typical of the hypocrisy of podium-thumping evangelicals and conservatives.

Pure

I say nonsense. In fact, I believe the whole incident proves D’Souza is philosophically consistent to a fault. His devotion to the “free market,” obviously, extends to all areas of his life.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

ART ◗ Foxfire Park, NashvilleFall Fine Arts Festival; 11am-6pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Willkie AuditoriumFriday Noon Concert Series: Jeeyoon Kim on piano; Noon

ART & LECTURE ◗ IU Woodburn HallKen Kewley talks about his works in the “Small Is Big” exhibit; 1pm

LECTURE ◗ IU College of Arts & Humanities — “The Myth of Host Desecration in Medieval Aragon & Paris,” Presented by Robert Clark of Kansas Sate University; 3pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Field Hockey ComplexHoosier women’s field hockey vs. Michigan; 4pm

HISTORY ◗ Monroe County History CenterOpening reception for the exhibit, “The Girl Scouts“; 5:30-7:30pm

ART & LECTURE ◗ IU Grunwald GalleryBuzz Spector talks about his current exhibit, “Off the Shelf“; 5-6pm — Opening reception; 6-8pm

MUSIC ◗ Malibu GrillBob Straight & guest; 6-9pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsOpening reception for the exhibit, “Carved Wood, Native American Inspired Art“; 6pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Detropia“; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Side by Side“; 6:45pm

AUTHORS ◗ Sweet Claire Gourmet BakeryLemonstone Reading Series, Presented by Writers Guild of Bloomington, tonight Emily Bobo reads and Zach Moon & Lawrence Washington play music; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC FEST ◗ Various locations, BloomingtonBloomingTONE Music Festival, purchase tickets for single events, all events on one night, or a full two-day pass, Friday & Saturday, Tonight’s events:

SPORTS ◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier women’s soccer vs. Minnesota; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallOctubafest, Daniel Perantoni, director; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleIndiana Boys; 7-9pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ Haunted Hayride & StablesScary hayrides; 7-11pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ Bakers Junction Railroad MuseumHaunted train; 7pm

STAGE ◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreDrama, “Richard III“; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheatreRyder Film Series: “2 Days in New York“; 7:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA BeachStar Gaze with the IU Astronomy Club, weather-permitting; 7:30-9pm

ART ◗ IU McCalla SchoolThe Fuller Projects: “Kissing Bachelard: Urban Spaces Conceived,” Paintings by Maggie Crowley; 7:30pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “The Merry Widow“; 8pm

BENEFIT ◗ The BishopXO Variety Show, for Middle Way House; 8-11pm

FILM ◗ Bear’s PlaceDark Carnival Film Festival: “Found,” Plus annual costume contest; 8pm-Midnight

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMaster’s Recital: Haewoon Yang on piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubLottaBLUESah: Snakedoctor, Michael Kelsey; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “The Dark Knight Rises”; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Stars in Shorts“; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdRod Tuffcurls and the Benchpress; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleWhiskey Mystic; 9:30-11:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Chicken with Plums“; 9:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “The Dark Knight Rises“; 11pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Beyonf the Black Rainbow“; Midnight

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “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:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

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 LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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: Bloomington’s Best

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