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Voices of Resistance: Bloomington, Indiana

by Andy Ruff Thursday, Jun. 23, 2005 at 3:21 AM

How many resolutions were passed against the invasion of Iraq? 100 or more? In times like these when neoconservatives and the extreme right dominate the legislature, execu-tive and judiciary, it is very important for the community to make a local comment.


Bloomington City Council against the Iraq War and the “Patriot Act”

Interview with the President of the City Council of Bloomington, Indiana

[This interview published in: Zeit-Fragen, May 30, 2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, htty://]

[The independent American radio station “Democracy Now” broadcast an interview with the president of the city council of Bloomington (Indiana) that passed different laws and resolutions against the invasion of Iraq and the “Patriot Act” and for fair elections and an increased minimum wage.]

Amy Goodman: I am broadcasting from Bloomington, Indiana. With us in the studio at the University of Indiana is the president of the city council of Bloomington, Andy Ruff. Thanks for coming.

Andy Ruff: Thanks for the invitation.

Among the many resolutions and laws passed by your very productive city council is a resolution against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. What can you tell us about this?

Several months before the recent invasion, we passed a resolution with an overwhelming majority of city council members that said essentially: “We oppose the invasion of Iraq and do this in an official opinion of the community. A resolution is the formal way of a legislative body to give a political opinion in the name of the community. We oppose the invasion of Iraq that occurred without a direct and clear finding of a threatening danger for our country and without the support and consent of the international community. We passed this resolution and directed it to the congressional representatives of the state of Indiana in Washington, the office of the president and so forth.

Did they reply?

While many recipients did not answer directly, some members of the congressional delegation, Baron Hill and other representatives of the state of Indiana reacted.

Your city council passed a whole series of resolutions and legislative bills. Would you say something about the most important resolutions with national significance?

You emphasize national significance. I think it is important that these are local opinions passed together with communities from all over the country. How many resolutions were passed against the invasion of Iraq? 100 or more? I think this is an extremely strong opinion. In times like these when the neoconservatives and the extreme right dominate the legislature, executive and the judiciary on the federal plane, it is very important for the community to make a local comment. This is the only way to have a voice – a formal and official voice of resistance in this matter.

Several other resolutions that we passed refer to the “Patriot Act.” One resolution that passed with an overwhelming majority was directed against the “Patriot Act” as a violation of constitutional rights and civil rights. We also turned to our congressional representatives. We passed a resolution demanding fair and transparent elections. Transparency must be guaranteed. Measures must guarantee this transparency with the help of a verifiable paper trail for every vote.

Are you demanding a receipt or record of the electronic voting machine?

Yes. We passed other rejoinders to federal policy. Recently we resolved a minimum wage, a guaranteed local minimum wage. A minimum wage law is the answer to the absence of a minimum wage law on the federal or national plane. This law, this local law requires local firms receiving public contracts or tax exemptions to pay a salary far above the federal minimum.

How much is that?

This is per hour. 15% of that could be health insurance.

Thus one receives .50 if one claims health insurance benefits.

Yes, when a benefit amounting to .50 is paid for health insurance. We recently passed this law with an overwhelming majority.

Are there nine persons on your city council?

Yes, nine. Most of these votes were 7 to 2 or 7 to 1 when someone was sick. One was even 8 to 1.

Are there 7 Democrats and 2 Republicans?

Yes, but our republican colleagues in Bloomington are very cooperative. They listen to the arguments, weigh them honestly and participate in formulating laws.

What do you mean by the NAFTA-highway?

I-69, Interstate 69, is the NAFTA highway. For several years attempts were made to lengthen Interstate 69 southwesterly from Indianapolis to Texas and the Mexican border. This is urged as a NAFTA-superhighway connection to support the goals of NAFTA. It would be a new highway through Bloomington and the southwest from Indiana.

Does this highway begin in Canada?

Yes, it begins in Canada, Port Huron, Michigan at the border. We are very active against this because we are against global trade agreements like NAFTA in its present form. The highway would support this. The main local problem is the terrible cost. Spending our limited transportation budget for this would be financially irresponsible. We should support a more sustainable future in transportation. Destruction of the environment would result from the new road. The communities impacted by this thing would suffer negative effects. Thus we recently passed a resolution and last week appointed a sustainability commission as part of our sustainability initiative to develop proposals and find a local way with authorities and firms since the federal government doesn’t recognize humanly-caused climate change and hasn’t signed the Kyoto protocol. Through the sustainability initiative, we try to take several local steps to achieve a sustainable policy, lifestyle and economics here in our community.

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