Bloomington City Hall. (Photo by Ryan Denham)
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Monday, Sept. 24, 2012:
Move over, "How I Met Your Mother," I've got a new show to watch Monday nights. Bloomington aldermen on Monday could vote on the final phase of a plan to televise and Web-stream city council meetings. The $121,000 project -- a price that includes audio upgrades in 2010 and other equipment -- is a much-needed one for the city's leadership. The $80,000 up for a vote Monday also includes TV monitors in the council chambers, a DVD player, and a screen the displays how each alderman voted on an agenda item. As you know, WJBC.com has streamed audio from the the biweekly meetings in the past, but video will be a great addition. It's a key piece of building a transparent local government, and one that's long overdue in a city the size of Bloomington.
WJBC's downtown correspondent Eric Stock follows up on the recent establishment of vehicle-for-hour staging areas for the late-night bar scene. Specifically, he looked at how many tickets and tows have been doled out since the staging areas have been established -- a key recommendation from the Downtown Entertainment Task Force. The tow zones were set up as a safety measure for party buses and shuttles that park along those blocks to take bar patrons home. So far, 31 vehicles that were parked in one of two staging areas have been towed, Bloomington police said. "A lot of people are seeing the signs and they are doing as the signs are telling them to do, be gone by 10 p.m. if they are in their personal vehicle," a spokesman said.
U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, the Peoria Republican who is expected to soon represent the Twin Cities after November's election, was on Fox Chicago News over the weekend talk about the presidential election and his plans for 2014. The big question for him, of course, has been whether he plans to run for Illinois governor. Schock again said that he's not ruling anything out -- a sentiment I appreciate, since it's not deliberately vague or misleading. He said he'll make a decision "once the dust settles" after November's election. "I appreciate the fact that there are those that want to focus on 2014, which is over two years away," Schock told Fox Chicago's Mike Flannery and Dane Placko. "I've not been quiet about talking about the need for a change in leadership here in the state." Schock also weighed in on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's "obviously not good" secretly recorded comments about the now-infamous 47 percent.
Schools and race
Molly Beck with the Springfield Journal-Register takes a look at efforts within Springfield School District over the last few years to decrease the number of expulsions and suspensions. She found that the district has been successful, but still struggles with a disproportionately high number of those expulsions/suspensions involving black students. Officials trace the real cause of that disparity to the fact that two-thirds of the district's students are considered low-income, but three-quarters of those students are black. “This kid is processing it all ... be it bad or good, and it spills over into their school life. ... We have some kids with so much stress from home they just don’t know how to manage or control their emotions,” Michael Phelon, founder of The Outlet, a mentoring group for young men, told the SJ-R. "It goes back to the community and parents. We as a community must step up to the plate and help raise the youth before we lose this generation.”
In case you missed it, CNN and the State Department went head-to-head over the weekend over the network's use of a diary that belonged to slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. The journal was found in the building where Stevens was killed. CNN reportedly went against the wishes of Stevens' family and aired reports based in part on the journal's contents. Here's the State Department: "Whose first instinct is to remove from a crime scene the diary of a man killed along with three other Americans serving our country, read it, transcribe it, email it around your newsroom for others to read, and only when their curiosity is fully satisfied thinks to call the family or notify the authorities?" I'm more inclined to sympathize with CNN, which used the diary for reports last week that hinted at well-known security problems in Benghazi, including the ambassador himself. "...But we felt there were issues raised in the journal which required full reporting, which we did," CNN said. "Perhaps the real question here is why is the State Department now attacking the messenger." I'd have to agree with CNN.
Ryan Denham can be reached at email@example.com.