Voting and CommUNITY

From Georgia early voting: Prada wearers, discount devotees together:

There, overlooking an Office Depot and, in the distance, a Wendy?s and a McDonald?s, an anymore rare public coming together of the classes has been congregating on recent weekdays to exercise an all-American right: the right to stand in line.

Voters decked out in everything from Prada to Family Dollar have been queuing up for weeks now. The other day, a priest stood shoulder-to-shoulder with some lunchroom ladies, in front of a man in full camo, a uniformed school-crossing guard, a local TV weather guy, a woman in a Dave Matthews Band T-shirt and a fellow in a half-zipped-up blue hoodie with nothing underneath but his bare, hairy chest.

This was also my experience early voting yesterday in Bloomington.  I thought it was great.  I also loved the number of parents and young people voting together, though I hope that each had the mobility to make up their own minds, with input from each other.

Early Voting and Sample Ballots

One of the ways to ensure your vote gets counted is to vote as early as possible.  You may be able to vote but there may be complications with your registration (you’ve moved for instance) that might complicate things and could delay your voting or just make for an uncomfortable situation on election day.

Early voting in Bloomington will be available at the Curry Building weekdays 8:30-4 through Nov. 2 and 8:30-noon on Nov. 3 as well as 8:30-4 (I think) on Saturdays Oct. 25 and November 1.

The Herald Times has information about the election and sample ballots on their website.

Update: Information on the state judges who are up for retention.

Update: Information on state judges up for retention with regards to abortion rights issues  This site is put up by an anti-choice organization, but the information provided should give anyone an idea of the decisions of some of the supreme court judges with regard to rights to have access to abortions.   The site mentions two key decisions with Theodore Boehm being the only justice up for retention who seems to have decided in favor of preserving access to abortions for Indiana women.

From the site:

Dissented against an opinion upholding Indiana’s 18-hour waiting period before an abortion could be done, stating, “Article I, section 1 of the Indiana Bill of Rights includes the right of a woman to choose for herself whether to terminate her pregnancy.”  Clinic for Women v. Brizzi, 837 N.E.2d 973, 994 (Ind. 2005).

Concurred with an opinion that expanded taxpayer funding for abortions through Medicaid in Indiana, stating, “denial of benefits to indigent women for medically necessary abortions is a violation of their state constitution.”  Humphreys v. Clinic for Women, 796 N.E.2d 247, 795 (Ind. 2003)

H-T coverage of juvenile justice forum

I don’t have the time or energy right now to process yesterday’s community meeting on the building of the county juvenile facility.  I learned a lot, was pretty disheartened, and realized, more than anything, that perceptions and realities of limited resources force people with similar interests and goals to become adversaries.  This is how the local paper covered the event.


To clarify my position, I feel that the current Youth Services Bureau should not be relocated or its services replicated on the site of any secure detention facility (adult or juvenile).  I also feel like the current dual role of the YSB as a safe space and as a place where youth are sent by schools, police, courts, or parents is problematic.  There needs to be seperate spaces and adequate funding and staff for both roles.   Ultimately, neither should be on the same site or share staff with any kind of secure detention facility.  Furthermore,  our community needs to expand existing, and develop new  recreational, cultural, counseling, therapeutic, and healthcare opportunities that are youth-initiated, youth-feedback-responsive and voluntary to all the youth of the county.  We must respond to the needs and desires of youth before entering the juvenile justice system, during supervision, and after supervsion, as well as the needs of youth who do not come into contact with the justice system or other services at all.  The proposal of a justice campus would effectively lock much-needed resources and oppotunities for programs behind bars.


Juveniles focus of first meeting on justice issues
Reasons for, against building local juvenile center discussed

By Bethany Nolan 331-4373 |
October 17, 2008

Reducing the number of repeat offenders, expanding the range of sanctions available to local justice officials and centralizing services have been identified as “guiding principles” for Monroe County as it looks toward building its own juvenile center.

That’s what members of the public learned at the first of four public forums related to potential construction of new criminal justice facilities, hosted by the Monroe County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and Noblesville-based consulting firm PSMI Inc. The county commissioners hired the consulting firm back in April to develop facility, site space and operations programs for a new jail, sheriff’s office and juvenile center, plus help identify capital and operating costs and choose contractor, architectural and vendor services.

Other meetings will be held in the upcoming weeks that will focus on a jail and community corrections and work release programs. After those, consultant Bill Shepler said the firm will present the commissioners with a master plan.

Monroe Circuit Judge Steve Galvin — who handles juvenile cases — pointed out he’s sat in on 20 years’ worth of discussions about a juvenile center, and said Monroe County is the only one of the state’s 15 largest counties that doesn’t have its own facility.

“We have to do it,” he said of constructing a center. “It is our duty. It is our responsibility.”

He said the county spends about $1.4 million annually on both the Youth Services Bureau — which has a shelter and provides other services to young people — and to house local juveniles in secure detention at other facilities throughout the state. On any day throughout the year, approximately seven local youths are in secure detention and between 10 and 12 are in shelter care, he said.

Youth Services Bureau director Ron Thompson said he’s not so sure about a new facility, pointing out his current programs are underfunded and wondering if local officials would do the same in the future. He also wondered if his facility would be rendered moot by a new juvenile center. Galvin replied he’d like to leave the current shelter as is, but admitted it could be difficult to fund both.

Geoff Hing, with newly organized advocacy group Decarcerate Monroe County, said the county’s Safe Place site shouldn’t be at the same place as troubled youth, as it is now with the youth shelter. Others spoke about their concern of a “kiddie jail,” arguing that locking up troubled kids isn’t going to help anything, while others pointed out locating youth services next to an adult prison could send a troubling message.

“It’s never been our intention to have a youth jail here, but rather a part of a continuum of care,” Monroe Circuit Judge Kenneth Todd said. “We’re not about incarcerating kids.”

The idea for a justice campus and a corrections campus took root last October, when the plan was backed by all three county commissioners, the sheriff, five of the seven members of the county council and the county’s board of judges.

The project calls for building a new county jail, sheriff’s office and juvenile center on 85 acres off South Rogers Street. The county already owns the site, but it has no infrastructure.

After the new facilities are built, the plan calls for renovating the Justice Building — which houses the jail on its top floors — to make more space for courts and other county offices there.


Questions/demands for juvenile detention center in Bloomington

This is a sketch of my thoughts on the at-this-time-ambiguous proposal for a juvenile detention center in Monroe County in preparation for the public meeting about this on Thursday.  I’ve organized my thoughts in terms of questions and demands.

QUESTION: Is building our own facility the best way to keep our youth close to their families and communities?  I think that there is a community consensus that we want to keep youth from being sent out of the county for incarceration and that we want to make sure that youth who enter the juvenile justice system get the support that they need to have agency in their lives and to avoid further incarceration.  I question whether incarcerating youth  in the county is the best way to do this.  I believe that if we set the right goals as a community; collectively engage youth, families, the schools, and the community-at-large; develop programs and a culture that empowers and supports youth (even those facing challenges with mental health, addiction, and poverty) we can eliminate youth entering the justice system altogether and not just keep them incarcerated in their community, but have them be recognized as the leaders and contributors that so many have the potential to be (and already are).

DEMAND: The Monroe County community needs to discuss a concrete proposal for a juvenile center, not agree that we will build one and then debate what it will look like.

DEMAND: We  need to include youth, particularly youth who have been in the juvenile justce system in the planning and decision making.  They are experts about the system and what has worked or failed or been deeply problematic with other facilities.

DEMAND: Just because we’re proposing building a center in Monroe County doesn’t mean it will automatically avoid the problems of other facilities.  We need to first understand why there were failures or abuses at other facilities and concretely explain how Monroe County would be able to avoid them.  Our track record with the jail has been less than stellar and we must be able to demonstrate a commitment to youth of the county that does far better before we even talk about building a youth facility.

DEMAND: The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) should not be on the same site or share staff with a juvenile detention center.  The YSB already has the difficult role of being both a refuge for youth escaping violence or homelessness and youth who are sent their as a disciplinary measure.  The YSB needs to have a strong, separate identity from the juvenile justice system.  Even now, the perception that the YSB is a punitive space makes some youth seeking safer spaces avoid using the YSB’s resources.

DEMAND: A youth facility will not take youth from distant counties.  One of the reasons for building a facility in this county that has been most vocally expressed has been the issue of sending youth far away from their families and communities.  Doing this to youth from other counties only displaces the problem, it doesn’t solve it.

QUESTION: What kind of treatment programs will te facility offer?  Who will provide them?

QUESTION:  Why are we tying up programming with the juvenile justice system?  Many of the programs that have been alluded to do not exist for youth in Monroe County, period.  For instance, a high-quality, empowerment-modeled,  substance abuse program that is partially developed by youth and that is accessible for low-income youth does not exist in the county.  This is something that would be of great use to youth both inside and outside of the juvenile justice system.  By making it only available to incarcerated youth, we are reinforcing the idea that such programs are about punishment instead of healing and empowerment.

QUESTION: Why are youth being sent out of the county to be incarcerated?  We need to know why this is happening so we can fully explore our options.  For instance, are youth being sent to facilities for serious drug addiction issues, or have they just gotten caught using drugs in a way that is prevelent with youth as a whole?  In the latter case, this speaks more to the need to cultivate cultural alternatives to drug use in our community than to incarcerated youth.  Are they being sent away for the sale of drugs?  This speaks more to changing the economic reality and employment prospects for youth than for further incarceration.

Republican environmental policy

Republican flyer on tree

I’m as sick of snarky partisanship as much as the next guy, but couldn’t help but share this flyer for Indiana Republican candidate Mike Sodrel that I found stapled to a tree on the IU campus.  I think the tree will survive, but it just seemed crass to me somehow.  Still it wasn’t quite as crass as the flyers discussion of “The more you make, the more they take” tax policy.

FYI: change of address and voter registration

Procrastinating as usual, I went to change my voter registration address today, the last possible day to do it.  I asked what would have happened if I hadn’t changed my address and the answer was that, at least in Monroe County, you are allowed to vote once at your previous polling location.  The challenge is that, with redistricting, your previous district’s polling location may now be the polling location for a new district.  So, in that case, one would most likely have to wait in line, only to be sent to a new location.  In any case, I was told that having different addresses wouldn’t keep you from voting, but could delay voting.  Info about this was mailed out to registered voters, but in a community like Bloomington where, for students, and many of my peers, housing situations change a lot, it’s easy to not get the info.  So, for those who moved, but didn’t change their voter registration address, I would just call the local election office and find out where the polling place is for the address under which you’re registered.  If you go there, you should be able to vote.

my notes from Today’s FSSA forum

I went to a forum today about FSSA’s recent privitization of the administration of Indiana’s food stamp, medicade, and other benefits. Here are my notes from the forum. I tried to be as accurate as I could, but in many cases, couldn’t keep up with names, positions, or people’s entire stories/statements.

Before I offer my notes, I wanted to give a little of my own analysis. The panel of experts represented various township and state government officials who were presented as experts. While one panelist aknowledged that they were only experts because they had heard so many criticisms and seen so many problems faced by their constituents, I still thought that the lack of people directly affected by the FSSA privitization on the panel was very telling of a system that continues to fail to put people using the services at the center of the disucssion and in control of driving the program’s future. There were a few people who had personally struggled trying to maintain FSSA benefits through the privitization rollout, but many of the voices were from people who worked through agencies or informally as advocates or who were friends, like myself, of people who had to deal with FSSA privatization. The sheer number of people affiliated with agencies or other nonprofits was encouraging because there seemed to be such a consensus that the current system was very flawed.

On the other hand, I think the non-profit to individual ratio represents how voices get masked behind the web of non-profits in Bloomington. Ideally, I would love to see people, not just represented by the non-profits that serve them, but representing themselves, with support (childcare, transportation, media access, employment) from the social services to allow people who are affected by issues of healthcare access or food security to direct their own voices to decision makers. The reason for this seems complicated. Bloomington non-profits definitely lack the resources to be both service providers and support for communities organizing themselves. Still, I think many non-profits are trapped in the mindset of helping the less fortunate or “humanizing the system”, as one commenter stated, rather than being part of more radical and fundamental change by helping those most affected be at the forfront of the dialog and the decision making or critically reshaping the social values and assumptions that underly inequality in Monroe and the policies that preserve it.

The role of non-profits remains a difficult one. As many people at the forum explained, the privitization of FSSA services also involved the removal of local FSSA caseworkers from communities across Indiana. This created a situation where the FSSA representatives that most people dealt with (mostly over the phone) were both unfamiliar with their cases and could not effectively help with problems. Charlotte Zietlow, who works with the Middleway House, made the additional analysis that removing local caseworkers has placed the burden of casework on other local agencies that are already struggling to find the resources to do the work that they’re doing. Exaserbating resource scarcity for supporting people in Bloomington creates a fearful and competitive atmosphere, where non-profits don’t communicate or collaborate and where they choose to hold the course of their work rather than pushing the boundaries of what could be or expanding their work to challenge root causes instead of helping people survive.

Here are the notes:


  • Vi Simpson
  • Peggy Welch
  • Matt Pierce
  • Dan Combs
  • Linda Sievers?
  • Zach Main – FSSA – “The guy in charge of the project”

Comments from agencies

Luanne Morrow (Fiscal Coordinator w/ Stonebelt)

  • Deals with developmental disabilities who live in group homes and who are medicade funded.
  • Notices from FSSA come from P.O. Box, look like junk mail and are often thrown away.
  • Only one phone number for the whole state
  • Used to deal with local agencies
  • Recently the FSSA line has also been used for natural disaster issues, which has hurt access
  • Why can’t regional and local offices have seperate phone #’s
  • Monroe co. Medicade office moved and was hard to locate.
  • Need e-mail address contacts
  • 800# menu is really confusing
  • Records are accessed by case # (not medicade #). It’s hard to find this case # because it’s only on the mailings.
  • 10+ minute wait on 800 #.
  • Can only talk about 3 “consumers” at a time.
  • Her caseload is 66+ “consumers”
  • Have different points of contact so the same situation has to be explained over and over again.
  • FSSA reps wouldn’t talk to her as “consumer” representative because paperwork wasn’t filed
  • No phone number for offices.
  • Would only allow phone interview
  • Only called office phone, when she wasn’t there.
  • Thrown into reactive mode for advocating for her consumers
    • Forced to neglect other duties

Q (Peggy Welch): What has gotten better? What should we preserve in the system?
A (Luanne Morrow): Hasn’t seen anything that works better yet. “Everything has caused more work.”

Q (Vi Simpson): Why do you have to contact the office so frequently?
A : Each consumer has to have annual review with Medicade. Consumers have expenses with Stonebelt that they owe. This is funded through FSSA. Also, income, child support, etc. changes frequently.

Q (Dan Combs): Is there a specific group or contact for developmentally disabled individuals?
A: There used to be at the local office. There is allegedly a contact at the 800# who is a specific contact for group homes, but she hasn’t contacted them.

Q: Are there some people who navigate this w/o professional advocates?
A: Yes.

Comment (Linda Sievers): Works for an agency that has gotten access to the system to be able to pull up the FSSA records and pull up individual info by case #. This has been able to help some people.

Comment (Zach Main): Not here to argue or defend the system. “We’re working very hard.” Listening to feedback.

Chris Holly – Private advocate for medicade

  • Lots of people shouldn’t need me (if the system worked)
  • Personally likes to use the internet and feels tech savy, but the web forms on the FSSA site doesn’t work well.
  • FSSA doesn’t honor paper applications from the old days, even when the computer system doesn’t work.
    • This is important because things are time sensitive.
  • Biggest problem is that we can’t call someone at FSSA to finish a case.
  • Appointed rep doesn’t get notices.
  • For him, phone interviews are okay but
    • Reps aren’t familiar with the part of program he’s dealing with. He gets bumped to a specialist but can’t contact them directly.
  • Reps haven’t looked at documentation
  • Only get one chance for a call in a 2 hour window and one callback in 10 minutes.

Q: Peggy Welch: Does “failure to cooporate” describe people’s rejections from FSSA? Call doesn’t come through, often call the next morning instead, don’t reach the person, and the client get’s “failure to cooperate”. What does failure to cooporate mean?
(Lots of people in crowd raised hands in response to the first question)

A (Zach Main): Defined failure to cooperate as when reps say that they’ve sent them multiple notices and people haven’t met their responsibilities.

Q: Peggy Welch: In the past people could call to respond to find out why they got a failure to cooperate (what signature was missing, etc.). Now they can’t. What we’re missing is caseworkers (or a person responsible for a person). This is what missing, not the online forms.

A: Chris: This is a problem. There isn’t one person who understands the case and one person who is responsible. Social security has undergone similar modernizations but still has case workers.

Jody from Community Health and Wellness center in Bedford (also does WIC program)

  • One postive thing – likes being able to check WIC eligibility on the Internet
  • 17/52 prenatal patients are ineligible
  • One patient has applied 3 times.
    • Internet form didn’t let her enter info
  • Another patient is Asian and there are head of household communication issues
    • Jody has tried to support this family
    • Has had wrong doctor and wrong managed care assigned to her
    • Has been billed for ultrasound personally when she was eligible
  • Computer issue, website issues, enrollment center training issues, local agencies aren’t trained, provider issues, panel issues, accurate adding of people to
  • Using federal grant money to cover charges for ineligible folks “Who’s going to pay for them anyway.”

Vi: Why are they ineligible?

Vi: What about being in the 3rd trimester?

Jody: Yes

Tara Doyan: Crisis Pregnancy Center

  • Previously an enrollment site. Weren’t given info on how to do this in transition.
  • Needs caseworkers with knowledge of TANIF, childcare, hoosier healthwise, etc. that is a broad knowledge instead of having to be bounced around
  • Only given notification of interview call for 2 hour time frame a day before or 2 days before. This doesn’t work for working moms.

? from Southern Indiana Pediatrics

  • services thousands of kids (like 9000) on medicade
  • wants to provide same level of service to kids regardless of payer
  • Things have improved
    • Can now work with Anthem, MDWise, MHS, (Maybe one other)
    • Reimbursement rates improved under privitization because rates can be negotiated based on quality of care, level of utilization,
    • They’ve worked hard to develop relationships
    • Anthem and MHS works well (communication and websites)
  • Decrease in caseworkers has hurts patients
  • Autoassignment hurts patients
    • Assigned to care in a different county
    • Switched from provider they’ve used for years.

    Walked away from plans who have been bad business partners. They’ve steered parents away from MDWise because they haven’t gotten paid correctly from MDWise.

Jason Karns – Caseworker for Baron Hill’s office

  • Since conversion 2-3 issues a week (vs. 2-3 issues a month before)
  • 812.336.3000 – Contact Baron Hill’s office if you’re having a problem

Steve Sharp – Indiana Legal Services

  • 1.800.822.4774 – ILS contact # for help
  • Read letter from coworker who is a lawyer and wasn’t able to make the forum
    • Since mid may saw a sig. increase in cases due to clients losing benefits
    • Due to “Failure to cooporate”
    • In most of the cases of “failure to cooperate” people sent requried documents by deadline
      • i.e. document blurred in fax transaction = ‘failure to cooperate’
        • rejection letter was returned to sender so she never got the notice
        • didn’t find out until she tried to buy food and didn’t have funds
        • reapplied for expedited food stamps in May but never got a response
        • took a week for the release form to allow advocate to represent him
        • Call center rep verified that person had sent the required documents but couldn’t fix the error
      • No prompt way to resolve even agency errors
      • Old system: caseworker could solve this
      • New system: explainers and fixers but people can’t do both.
      • In the old system caseworkers could contact people when there was a problem. In the new system, people don’t run into problems.

Response (Zach): If a case takes too long to resolve, it does count against the error rate for IBM. If IBM’s success rate drops below 95%, they could lose funding

? – Rep from Area 10/2-1-1

  • Questions, need help, call 2-1-1
  • Calls, faxes, computer data gets “lost”
  • Better results when things are “wireless” (I assume she means face to face communication)
  • Food stamps is a big problem
  • Monroe county had a flood but even worse in Owen county
  • “Hispanic” community in Owen county even more vulnerable (esp. homes condemmed)
  • Dan Denny with HT has been able to get help for people by contacting FSSA directly
    • FSSA Ombudsman hasn’t been as helpful
  • Ever since the transition 2-1-1 has seen more calls.

Liz Jones – Area 10/2-1-1

  • Immediately on rollout got calls
  • Confused about system
  • Confused about lack of caseworker
  • 2-10 calls a day related to FSSA services
  • Mostly foodstamps
  • Lost benefits
  • Ultimately refered to local food pantries

Janet ? – Bloomington Housing Authority

  • 1350 section 8 families served by BHA
  • 17% (~945 familes) are disabled or elderly
  • “volumes you can’t believe” of folks coming with stacks of paperwork asking BHA to send (fax) paperwork for them
  • HT has been helpful
  • Not getting info from FSSA in a timely manner because these benefits effect people’s standing with BHA
  • Don’t always have case #, used to accessing by SSN#

Jacob ? – Legal aid coordinator w/ Shalom

  • As soon as the rollout happened, Shalom inundated with calls for assistance
  • IU law student has dedicated his summer to help folks with understanding the system and dealing with appeals
  • 20 cases active in last week
  • 3 “areas of concern”
    • Lack of local caseworkers
      • Frequent complaint from people the shalom center works with
      • Forms themselves are way too complex.
      • Folks need local caseworker to help understand forms
    • Homeless folks don’t have phone or internet, phone number to receive call back
      • This is the biggest concern
      • Rollout was handled by mass mailing
      • Transient population didn’t get the notice.
        • I.e. family lost housing so they didn’t get packet
        • lost benefits for them and their kids, still working to get benefits back.
    • In the past time between application and interview was ~ 2 days, now it’s 20 (even with expedited application)
      • Also, 7 day “limbo period” after app. submission
        • can’t confirm receipt or any errors

Charlotte Zeitlow – Case manager w/ Middleway House

  • Burden for caseworking has effectively been transferred to local agencies at a time when their resources are even more limited.
  • Women who get services from MWH need services but aren’t sophisticated electronically.
    • Don’t have time to get access to computers or needed training
    • Many women don’t have telephones
  • Asking people with the fewest resources to do the most complicated things technologically.

John Cardwell – Indiana Home Care Task Force, Generations project (looks at privitization issues)

  • Problems articulated at this forum have been articulated in Muncie/Anderson/Kokomo particularly affected because they are the last community affected by the rollout
  • People affected by this should work with caseworkers or representatives to file a “formal complaint:to “Food and Nutrition Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture” (Tim English, I think he said). Chicago office. Send foodstamp complaints here.
  • Center for Medicade and Medicare Services (CMMS) – has Chicago office. Will take formal complaints.* Above 2 orgs initiates fed investigation into Indiana problems.
  • Biggest problem is lack of caseworkers
  • As a test, gave highly educated people the 16 page app. They would have all received a failure to cooperate notice because they couldn’t interpret the application
  • Thinks IBM/ACS contract needs a “thorough public audit”.
  • Federal law
  • How $’s are being used
  • Staff in Marion call center aren’t trained
  • Caseworkers who were transferred have left
  • Wants formal legislative hearings on this.

Comments from individuals

Mike Biggs – interested in this issue

  • Indiana didn’t knock people off rolls initially and was successful and keeping good track of who should/shouldn’t be on the rolls. This got worse with privatization.
  • Replacing trained FSSA staff with IBM workers and volunteers. This change hasn’t helped people. One state number instead of local service. Offices inaccessible because they’re hard to find and harder to get to.
  • Goal of this was to knock people off of the rolls

Mary – Medicade User

  • Forum balance on agencies rather than users
  • Spent 2 hours on phone this morning and was referred to 6 different numbers to get one medicade answer
  • Can’t have a needed procedure until another (lower cost) procedure was done first
    • Trying to be a good steward of medicare money, response was “just do the procedure anyway”.
  • Couldn’t get info about restricitons and her particular case
  • Given the run-around on the phone
  • Don’t know what department to direct her to on the phone
  • Wants to find a caseworker.

Catherine – Restuarant Owner

  • Crime in neighborhood has increased since FSSA changes
  • Increase in mentally ill people visiting her restaurant
    • Feels these people are getting knocked off of FSSA rolls
  • “I’ve never seen poverty like I’ve seen in Indiana”
  • There’s a “war on the poor people in Indiana”.
  • IN should find a model in other states that works and be adopted in IN.
  • Case workers are very important to bring back.

? – Received foodstamps and medicade services for children

  • Ivy tech student, had to miss classes to attend forum
  • Didn’t receive call at the time that they said.
    • Threatened with loss of job

? – Works with immigrants

  • Children (even undocumented) are able to have some benefits
  • When calling, call center doesn’t speak spanish, asks for SSN which people can’t give (even though their undocumented kids are eligible)
  • Technology difficult to navigate, even for those with computers
  • Need computers and tech support at local offices
  • Need people who can interpret different languages

Dianna Goodman – Ivy tech student

  • Classmate couldn’t take full course load, so she lost eligibility

Bob – medicade user

  • Dyslexic, found out today that he was denied for 2 years for his medicade

Panelist Comments

Linda (Panelist) – Township Trustee

  • Township can help
    • Food pantry
    • Rent/mortgage assistance
      • Makes decision about this in 72 horus
    • Shelter

Vi Simpson (Panelist) – State rep

  • Thanked FSSA for their flood relief, esp. one stop shop for Brown county
    • Flood relief proves that we can accomplish things when we work together
  • system faced “sudden and emotional changes”
  • system is broken
  • Because so many lives and vulnerable people depend on these programs working well and efficiently, by working together we can improve things. This is really the reason for today’s meeting.
  • Hope that by bringing caseworkers here today, they could solve specific problems, but also wants to identify systemic problems
  • I learned today: 2 page document to apply for children’s health service -> 18 page document
    • Vi was on comittee that recommended a 2 page app.
  • This summer there will be hearings on this issue
  • Contract needs to be funded in the budget so this could come into play in the budget hearings
  • FSSA has suspended rollout to further counties

Matt Pierce (Panel) – Rep

  • The way we serve the neediest members of our soceity is the fundamental gauge of our government
  • General assembly must provide oversight
    • Understand what’s happening in system
    • ensure that changes are made if needed
    • Hearings this summer, this is the beginning of the process.
  •  Goal: to have as few people as possible slip through the cracks -> contact his office if you need help
  • Biggest concern: people reduced to data points. We might have moved into a structural system that has caused this to happen.
Peggy Welch (Panel)
  •  Panel of “experts” because they’ve heard from so many people about this
  • There’s been an increase in calls. This represents some kind of systemic problem.
  • Peggy serves on ways and means committee. Not sure if current contract represents the most efficient use of taxpayer money in terms of people getting services. These questions will be asked during the summer.
  • This forum will be broadcast on CATS.

Dan Combs (panel) – township?

  •  Most disturbing forum he’s ever been at
  • Developmentally disabled left on their own w/o advocate.
  • Sees this as a result of deinstitutionalization
  • Vendors don’t neccessarily want to work in this area. They’re in it to make money.
  • Has taken 20+ years to build relationships with vendors
    • Local mortuary was going to stop taking medicade burials because they couldn’t get paid
  • Township couldn’t get ahold of FSSA via phone number after rollout
  • Media coverage changed this and the township was able to get a direct contact
  • Direct contact is key, this doesn’t exist for client
  • Social services will never be cheap or cost effective
  • Good people in Indiana, not out to do a bad job, but we need to look and see if the job we’re supposed to be doing is what we’re doing.
  • Low income people couldn’t have made a later meeting either because of non 9-5 hours of many workers* “Maybe it’s even bigger than what I thought it was”.

Zach Main (panel) – FSSA

  • Changes in the last 3 years had the goal of making life better for neediest Hoosiers
  • “It’s not a perfect system”
  • Local office channel of communication is still available (his answer for call to casework)
  • Changes
    • FSSA will increase staffing of local offices
    • FSSA local office will be able to handle cases from beginning to end
    • FSSA will remind people of local office option
  • Goal wasn’t to force people to use phone/Internet
  • FSSA working on forming closer partnerships with advocate organizations
  • “Today is not the end, it is the beginning”

A New Jail?!: Exploring Alternatives to Incarceration in Monroe County

May 3 Jail Education Banner
Saturday, May 3, 2008
A New Jail?!: Exploring Alternatives to Incarceration in Monroe County

Events At:

Boxcar Books
310A S. Washington St.
Bloomington, IN 47401
(812) 339-8710


The Cinemat
123 S. Walnut St.
(812) 333-4700
Bloomington, IN 47401

A day of popular education that will explore alternatives to the current proposal of building new adult and youth jails in Bloomington. Through interactive workshops featuring community members, non-profits, experienced activists, and YOU, we will explore: What is the history of incarceration in Monroe County? What are some existing community alternatives to incarceration in Bloomington and other parts of the country? What have successful campaigns to challenge other jail constructions looked like? Several workshops will offer education, training, and networking opportunities for local folks questioning the need for new jails. The day’s events will culminate with special guest speaker Kai Barrow from Critical Resistance. This is an open event, with people from all backgrounds and political beliefs encouraged to attend.

Workshop One- 11:00 am, Boxcar Books
A discussion and Presentation on the History of the Monroe County Jail System

This workshop will begin with an interview from Indiana University Criminal Justice Department faculty member, Hal Pepinsky. Following the interview will be a facilitated discussion on the history of the jail, encouraging input from community members in piecing together the jail’s history and the sharing of personal and familial experiences with the jail.

Workshop Two- 2:00 pm, Boxcar Books
A Panel Discussion on Alternatives to Incarceration

This workshop will explore community alternatives to incarceration in Bloomington, as well as highlight successful initiatives from around the country. Representatives from different organizations will speak briefly about how their work keeps people out of jail by offering positive responses to poverty, homelessness, hunger, and conflict that enrich and restore community. Workshop attendees will be able to offer their own perspectives on what makes a community safe and whole.

Film Screening- 4:00 pm, The Cinemat
Yes, In My Backyard, A documentary by Tracy Huling

Financially-strapped communities are now begging for prisons to be built in their backyards. With plundering agribusiness, military-base closings and major industry relocation, incarceration is seen as the salvation of rural communities. Through the eyes of one farming-community-turned-prison-town, this hour documentary explores the increasing and multi-layered dependence of rural America on prison industries and subtly probes the profound implications of this dependence for both the keepers and the kept, and for our society’s understanding of and response to crime.

Workshop Three- 6:00 pm, Boxcar Books
Potluck Dinner and Discussion with Kai Barrow from Critical Resistance

Kai Barrow, one of five paid staff persons for Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization committed to ending society’s use of prisons and policing as an answer to social problems, will lead a discussion

For more press, interview, or further contact information, please use information below:

Judah Schept
(812) 219-3611

Download a flyer for this event (PDF)


I’m always a little skeptical about new businesses opening in Bloomington, but Amy gave Rachael’s high marks:

So I wanted to alert you to a couple of cool things going on in town
that haven’t received much press yet and a couple of venues/locations
that should probably be added to the Let’s Go! Calendar. One of them
is Rachael’s Café, located at 300 E. 3rd Street, 812 330-1882. Rachael
is a member of the Indiana GLBT community, a huge supporter of the
arts, and a complete and utter sweetheart. Everyone should meet her.

She’s got a mission statement, but I’ll just put the first part here.

“Rachael’s Café grew out of a desire to create a friendly, inclusive,
peaceful atmosphere for all. Our mission is to bring understanding,
education and acceptance over a cup of coffee.”

Rachael’s Café serves gourmet coffees and drinks, homemade soups,
salads, sandwiches and entrees. She loves ethnic foods and healthy
nutritional options. I’ve been working with her to develop a more
extensive vegan menu. I bake vegan treats for her and have convinced
her to work more with raw foods, live/slow foods (homemade) like
smoothies, kombucha and saurkraut. The best part is that she’s going
to start serving loaded vegan hotdogs and vegan chili dogs!!! (Can you
tell that I’m excited?) I’m quite sure that she’s the only business
doing this from here to Chicago. So basically, I’m stoked that there
will be a new late-night, cheap food destination in town. The café has
wireless internet, good lighting, lots of walls and a large floor
space, perfect for music, dancing, movies, art shows or pretty much

Here are the dates for upcoming things at Rachel’s Café (missed the
deadline for last month, but I’ll post them anyway)

THURS 13th Shalom Writers Circle – Poetry Reading, 7:30-8:30pm
FRI 14th Bob Dylan Talent Show & Friday Night Open Mic (hosted by Alan
Ginsberg), 6pm
TUES 18th Gretchen Clearwater (Democrat for Congress, Indiana – 9th
District) hosts a political discussion about the pros/cons of the
Clinton and Obama campaigns, 7pm
WED 19th Verbal Terrorism Poetry by Jada B, 7pm
THURS 20th Babbling Banshee Dinner Theatre, serving @ 6:30pm, starting
at 7pm. Irish Stew and Boxters (Irish Potato Pancake) served.
FRI Friday Night Open Mic, 6pm
SAT 22nd Babbling Banshee Dinner Theatre, serving @ 6:30pm, starting
at 7pm. Irish Stew and Boxters (Irish Potato Pancake) served.
THURS 27th Babbling Banshee Dinner Theatre, serving @ 6:30pm, starting
at 7pm. Irish Stew and Boxters (Irish Potato Pancake) served.
FRI 28th Friday Night Open Mic, 6pm
SAT 29th Babbling Banshee Dinner Theatre, serving @ 6:30pm, starting
at 7pm. Irish Stew and Boxters (Irish Potato Pancake) served.

March Let’s Go! calendar

Crystal made this month’s Let’s Go! calendar of Bloomington events and it’s awesome.  She included a lot of free films and lots of diverse events that span outside the punk scene.  She was kind enough to send me a scan of the calendar:

Link to full sized scan of calendar.