Happy New Year to all! We so need 2018 to be a better year. And that’s up to us.
Let me say I’m excited about Bloomington’s prospects. We have good things ahead, including an expanding downtown convention center, a big new city park on the south side, an activating tech park on the north side, and, just announced, 24 acres downtown that the city will purchase at a deep discountwhen the hospital moves to a new eastside location.
Not to mention our largest private employer, Cook, doubling down to invest in Bloomington’s future. And our first “Unicorn” – a young tech company recently sold for a billion dollars (Cook Pharmica sold to Catalent).
These successes reflect the good efforts of Bloomingtonians and bode well for 2018. I hope you’ll join us on Thursday, February 15 for more discussion about 2018, at the State of the City event (more below).
In 2018 we’ll continue striving to make our community work for everyone, with new affordable housing. More support for people with addictions. More opportunity for entrepreneurs and young workers and families. More support for arts and parks and trails and schools.
We’re also excited to celebrate our 200th year as a city (and county) in 2018! Besides lots of fun events, we’re committed to planting hundreds of hardwood trees and expanding our network of trails.
I’m keeping my gaze forward, because 2017 was a painful year at the state and national levels. The year began in DC with awful divisiveness and bigotry, unprecedented in my lifetime. When the President described “American carnage” in the inauguration, I winced and I worried. Now I believe those very words could describe the past 12 months of federal activity.
At the state level, funding squeezes erode public school systems. Head-in-the-sand (or -in–the-coal-mine) legislation frustrates solar installations. The state’s outrageous midnight hour overthrow of our annexation process and its prohibition of inclusionary zoning for affordable housing targeted Bloomington directly.
The year ended with wrenching news as the head of Indiana’s Division of Child Services resigned with a scathing public indictment of how badly our state is treating at-risk kids every day. As the former director of the Family and Social Services Administration, I took that news particularly hard. Our government has many responsibilities, but taking care of children in need is fundamental.We’ve seen the impact of the state’s approach to DCS here in Bloomington. It’s unacceptable.
So we commit to acting locally, including:
supporting new child care slots for poor families
hiring hard-to-employ folks in public projects, to help break negative cycles
paying at least $15/hour for all regular city employees
increasing recycling with weekly pickup
always working to improve housing affordability.
I’m optimistic about 2018 in Bloomington because I know our people are resilient and determined and caring. Let’s keep at it.
P.S. On Thursday evening, February 15th I’ll host the 2018 State of the City gathering at the Buskirk-Chumley. We’ll enjoy good music and spoken word from some of Bloomington’s creative folk, and I’ll review our status and look ahead to our community’s coming year. Mark your calendar and please join us!!