Brown County Regional Sewer District – For the Record

In May of 2013, county health department employee and then-commissioner John Kennard alleged that there was “an environmental nightmare” in Bean Blossom.  His claim served as the premise to establish a county-wide regional sewer district, a proposed sewer project for Bean Blossom, and an aggressive septic maintenance program that would need to be supported with an ordinance.

  • Brown County Democrat May 1, 2013.  “Brown County Commissioner John Kennard called Bean Blossom an “environmental nightmare” due to many failed septic systems in the town located north of Nashville. The comment came during discussion of forming a countywide sewer district. Kennard said the purpose of the district would be to increase the chances of Bean Blossom acquiring a grant to pay for installation of a sewer system for the town. Commissioners voted 3-0 to pursue formation of the district, which could include a septic maintenance program.”

A new ordinance was passed by the commissioners in 2013, successfully challenged in court, and rescinded in 2015.  Mr. Kennard, in addition to the proposed new 2020 ordinance, led efforts to develop a new ordinance in 2017 and 2018. These versions were considered by the Health Board, opposed by citizens, and disapproved by the commissioners. Clint Studabaker, vice president of the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board, has also been a significant contributor to the proposed 2020 ordinance.

Since May 1, 2013, there has been no documented evidence that supports the claim of an “environmental nightmare” in Bean Blossom. The January 28, 2020 article in the Democrat – “Stream Sampling: Where’s the contamination coming from?” does not support the allegation of contamination caused by failed septic systems. To quote: “Is E. coli found in local waterways coming from humans or from animals? Short answer: We don’t know yet.”

Further, the past two Brown County RSD Board presidents – Evan Werling and Judy Swift- Powdrill acknowledged that there was no documented evidence of failed septic systems that would validate a need for a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom.

BCRSD Board. At their Feb 11, 2020 board meeting, Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) board members acknowledged that they did not know of any evidence of failed septic systems in their district.  Current board President Mike Leggins stated that Brownies Restaurant in Bean Blossom closed as a result of a failed system. Septic systems designed for commercial use are approved and inspected by the State.

Commissioners.  At their meeting on Feb 19, 2020, Brown County Commissioners (Diana Biddle and Jerry Pittman) also acknowledged that there is no documented evidence of failed septic systems in the county.

Wastewater (Septic Systems and Sewers) Strategic Planning

I can’t think of a more important issue regarding our cost of living and quality of life than the decisions that are and will be made regarding wastewater treatment strategies.

The best decisions are the result of transparency, effective processes (habits) and citizen awareness of the overall process.  Ideal outcomes result from policies, ordinances, and plans where everyone benefits, or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.

In December 2019, the Brown County Regional Sewer District received a $118, 000 grant to fund the development of a  Wastewater Infrastructure Strategic Plan.

In January 2020, the BCRSD issued a Request for Proposals (RFPs) that will be used to select the contractor for this plan.

Also in January 2020,  a wastewater treatment regionalization study was completed that identifies options for the size and location of treatment plants but not options regarding technologies.

  • FINAL REPORT  (received and posted Feb 7, 2020)- Preliminary Engineering Report – Regional Assistance Program.  
    • Summary: “Based on the analysis completed in this report, it appears that is most cost-effective to construct two regional plants to serve the areas under consideration. Table 6-11, following provide the cost and effective analysis of the various alternative combinations considered.

Determining the optimum wastewater treatment options (septic systems and sewers) for the county cannot be determined until after the strategic plan is completed.

Consequently, the proposed Bean Blossom Sewer project should be “paused” (no more spending) until the wastewater strategic plan is completed.  As of February 2020, $200,000 of the $270,000 provided by the county council, has been spent.  Land for the plant has not been acquired nor have the 190 required easement agreements been obtained.

The BCRSD has asked to acquire land deeded to Parks and Recreation.  If land for a plant could not be obtained from property owners over the past “20 years”, how difficult will it be to acquire the needed easements?  Of the 240 potential customers, how many have submitted a letter of support for this project?

Do we need a Brown County RSD?

The regionalization study calls in to question the need for a “county-wide” regional sewer district (RSD).  Multiple RSDs that include Helmsburg and Gnaw Bone that have a proven track record of successful operation, maybe the best solution for the county.

  • The Gnaw Bone RSD Board requested that board members be elected by those being served by the RSD. Their request was approved by IDEM.
  • The Helmsburg RSD Board has also requested elections and will likely be approved.
    • The Helmsburg community has also formed a Community Development Corporation (CDC), established an economic development area and developed its own economic development plan. More information:

      Helmsburg Revitalization – Community-Led

  • A “decentralized” approach for county leadership was identified in the draft 1993 County Comprehensive Plan. This plan was not approved by the commissioners at the time. (See Hamlet and Rural Village Development).

Brown County Regional Sewer District – For the Record

 

Brown County Community Development Course – Jan 30-Feb 1, 2020


Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people with the skills they need to effect change within their communities … that put people and places first

I had the opportunity to attend the 2.5 day Community Development course that was created by Ball State and sponsored by the Brown County Community Foundation. The information presented has the “potential” of resulting in a more effective and inclusive community where citizen input and participation is encouraged, respected, and valued.  Course description and materials below. At the conclusion of the course, several project ideas were identified and future meetings will be used to work through the process. I do plan on posting updates.

Instructors/Facilitators:

Course Materials – Dropbox

Additional Resources and Supporting Efforts

  • Brown County Leader Network – Support Materials
    • Model for  Improvement –  What are we trying to accomplish?  How will we know that a change is an improvement? What change can we make that will result in an improvement?
      • Plan change or test aimed at improvement
      • Do – Carry out the change – preferebly on small scale (prototype)
      • Study – Examine the results. What did we learn? What went wrong?
      • Act – Adopt the change, abandon it, run through the cycle again
  • Brown County Schools – Engineering Design Process
    • 1.0 Ask. What are the problems? What are the conmstraints?
    • 2.0 Imagine. Brainstorm Ideas; Choose the best one.
    • 3.0 Plan. Draw a diagram; Gather needed materials
    • 4.0 Create. Follow- the plan; test it out
    • 5.0 Prove. Discuss what can work better, Repeat steps to make it better
  • National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information Ecosystem – Rural Communities

The Center for Rural Engagement at Indiana University provided the funding for this exploratory research.  Additional guidance and support provided by Elaine Monaghan at the Media School.

About Kinzen.  Kinzen is a technology company that helps citizens engage with the publishers who inform, inspire and empower them. We’re building tools for individuals and publishers to access and present personalized news and information.

Jan 16, 2020.  Kinzen.com Understanding the Information Ecosystem in Rural Indiana, By Hanna Lennon.

Jan 15, 2020. Kinzen.com The Challenges for Local Publishers in Indiana By Hannah Lennon.

Brown County – Input provided by community members at a meeting hosted by the Community Foundation.

  • Brown County League of Women Voters – LWVBC Newsletter December 2019  Three Perspectives on the Media Discussion by IU Center for Rural Engagement (page 8-9). Comments provided by members Pam Raider, Robyn Rosenberg-Bowman, and Tim Clark.

 

Is America in The Midst of a Cold Civil War?

Definitions  – OneLook Dictionary

  • Civil War – A  war fought between different groups of people within the same country – McMillan
  • Cold War – a condition of rivalry, mistrust, and often open hostility short of violence

Is America in The Midst of a Cold Civil War?
By Tim J. Clark
Updated Feb 2, 2020

The polarity within the country involving political, economic, cultural and social issues symbolized by red states (conservative to right-leaning) and blue states (liberal to left-leaning) is commonly acknowledged. However, does this division as some commentators and scholars have concluded, represent a cold civil war with the potential of going hot?

Adding to the disunity are the special interest groups that benefit from the status quo and a divided, marginalized or disengaged populace. A special interest is defined as any individual or group that advocates for a respective position and too often believe that what is best for them is best for all.  At the local level, this would include pushing or forcing solutions without identifying the scope and extent of the problem.  At the national level, scholars have identified that when determining national policies, the opinions of 90% of the public essentially have no impact at all. (Reference: Represent.US: The Problem).

The late political consultant and pollster Patrick Caddell  through his Smith Project and in-depth surveys led to his assessment “that tactical politics were not enough and that the aspirations of millions of Americans were being ignored by the reigning political duopoly.”  The survey results also identified that “76% agree that the real struggle for America is not between R’s and D’s, but between mainstream America and the ruling political elites.”

One of the first steps in leading positive change is recognizing there might be a  problem.  The bigger the potential problem, the harder it may be to recognize and accept, and the easier to ignore. This situation is referred to as cognitive dissonance where the truth may be evident but fear of the implications prevents acknowledgment where ignorance is considered bliss.

Following is a selection of articles and presentations (video, audio) from a variety of sources that support an assessment that America is in a Cold Civil War.

How To Stop a Civil War, The Atlantic Monthy, Dec 2019.  (History: The Atlantic was established in 1857)

  • A Nation Coming Apart, The meaning of the American idea in 2019 By JEFFREY GOLDBERG

  • Counter position – Audio episode  – The Public Square, American Policy Roundtable, Jan 2020. Newsletter:  Four Minutes for America, Jan 4, 2020, Vol 36, Issue 1, How to Stop a Civil War.
    • The best way to stop a civil war? Don’t start one.
    • Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921) was the first U.S. President to attack the founding principles of America. The Progressives that follow him have continued the (civil) war ever since.
      • “The Atlantic has seen a thing or two, including the first Civil War. The longevity is quite respectable. It is sad, however, that their writers seemed to have missed the start of the second Civil War by at least 100 years.”
    • “Progressive insist we have outgrown the ancient myths. So it is now up to the government to define and grant all our rights and the task of the administrative state to make sure everything flows to a magical place called “Equality.”
    • “The American system of government was designed to be incredibly flexible. Our systems expand and contract largely upon the consent of the governed with checks and balances and separation of powers to protect the God-giv en rights of the individual.”

Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, was written by community activist Saul D. Alinsky and published in 1971.  “The methods Alinsky developed and applied were described in his book as a guide on future community organizing for the new generation of radicals emerging from the 1960s.”

  • Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins— or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer

America’s Cold Civil War, Heritage Foundation, Panel Interview – Video, Jun 17, 2019

    • Is America in a cold civil war? Many prominent commentators think so. And not without reason. As the culture wars of the past several decades have intensified, the country now finds itself deeply divided. Americans disagree not just about politics, but also about foundational questions regarding the meaning of equality and very the purpose of our nation. As Americans grow apart in our understanding on these fundamentals, we seem to be becoming two distinct nations living in the same country. What remains unclear is where these growing differences will lead, if they can be resolved, and what principle will unify us in the future. Please join us as our panelists share their analysis of America’s divisions.

      • Ends in three ways: (1) Victory – we win, you lose; (2) Permanent cease-fire – live and let live, and (3) succession – we go our way, they go theirs.

Jonathan Roth – Civil War Coming to America? Nov 18, 2018.  (About: Jonathan Roth). Roth does not believe a civil war is imminent.

  • Questions for anyone saying there is going to be civil war:
    • Who is going to lead this war?
    • What will the ultimate aims be?
    • What will the nature of the fighting be and who is going to do it?
      • Causes for a Civil War are primarily economic and not grievance based
      • Media is an instigator  – “if it bleeds, it leads”
  • Rasmussen Poll (Jun 2018):  Is the United States about to engage in another civil war?  31% of likely voters said yes at some point within the next five years; almost 60% of all voters are concerned that those opposed to Trump’s policies will resort to violence
  • Pew Research Center – The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider 
    • More voters are on either the left or the right and don’t mix
  • VICE Special Report: A House Divided Aug 14, 2017.  ‘VICE Special Report: A House Divided’ is nominated in the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special.

IS AMERICA HEADED FOR A NEW KIND OF CIVIL WAR?  

  • I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. 
  • In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years.
  • Mines’ definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. 
  • Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction:
    1. entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution;
    2.  increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows;
    3. weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a
    4. sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and
    5. the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.
  • Eric Foner, the Columbia University historian, won the Pulitzer Prize, in 2011, for his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.”  “Obviously, we have some pretty deep divisions along multiple lines—racial, ideological, rural versus urban,” he told me. “Whether they will lead to civil war, I doubt.”
  • Foreign Policy Magazine – June 2017 – expert (Keith Mines) predicts 60% chance of civil war within America in the next 10 – 15 years

    • This Is Just the Beginning by Hamilton Nolan, 

    • What a new U.S. civil war might look like. Following an earlier 2017 survey, Foreign Policy’s Best Defense blog opened a poll about the likelihood of a second U.S. Civil War. BY  | 
    • What are the chances of a second American Civil War? (Foreign Policy,  A Best Defense update) BY  | Last time out, in early March, when we discussed this, the consensus number for national security experts was at about 30 percent, with some outliers at 60 percent and even 95 percent.

    • Will we have a 2nd Civil War? You tell me. What are the chances of another civil war breaking out in this country in the next 10 to 15 years? BY  | 

      • I asked a group of smart national security thinkers that question the other day over my wild boar burger at Austin’s Dai Due. I was surprised that the range of answers ran from “five percent” to “95 percent.” I would say the consensus was about 35 percent.

America’s Cold Civil War, • Imprimis, Hillsdale College, Volume 47, Number 10

  • I fear America may be leaving the world of normal politics and entering the dangerous world of regime politics—a politics in which our political loyalties diverge more and more, as they did in the 1850s, between two contrary visions of the country.
    • One vision is based on the original Constitution as amended. This is the Constitution grounded in the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution written in 1787 and ratified in 1788.
    • The other vision is based on what Progressives and liberals, for 100 years now, have called “the living Constitution.” This term implies that the original Constitution is dead …
  • If one thinks about how America’s cold civil war could be resolved, there seem to be only five possibilities:
    • One would be to change the political subject.  ….  some jarring event intervenes—a major war or a huge natural calamity—it might reset our politics.
    • A second possibility, if we can’t change the subject, is that we could change our minds. Persuasion, or some combination of persuasion and moderation, might allow us to end or endure our great political division. 
    • … secession, which is a danger to any federal system—something about which James Madison wrote at great length in The Federalist Papers. With any federal system, there is the possibility that some states will try to leave it. 
    • So secession would be extremely difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is that it could lead, as we Americans know from experience, to the fifth and worst possibility: hot civil war. 

Quora – Is the United States in a cold civil war? Six answers – June – Nov 2018.

A Historian Explains How Close We Are to A Second Civil War Breaking Out in Trump’s America

  • Civil War, 2.0?  “Nah.  Always try to separate the noise from the thing that makes the noise.”

The Origins of Our Second Civil War By July 31, 2018 6:30 AM

  • How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?
  • We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968. Left–Right factionalism is increasingly fueled by geography — always history’s force multiplier of civil strife. Red and blue states ensure that locale magnifies differences that were mostly manageable during the administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton.

America’s Second Civil War, By Dennis Prager, Tue, Jan 24, 2017

  • It is time for our society to acknowledge a sad truth: America is currently fighting its second Civil War.

We are in a Cold Civil War – Carl Bernstein, Oct 26, 2017.  Former reporter, Washington Post, co-author “All the Presidents Men.” Bio at Wikipedia

Looking Ahead — Three Scenarios:

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is failure of people to understand
that what is best for the whole country is identical with what in the long run
is best for everybody.” 
  – W. Edwards Deming

  • Best Case – Optimum.  Grassroots advocacy for new strategies that will result in outcomes where everyone benefits or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.
  • Status Quo – A Zero-Sum Game. Some will continue to win and some to lose. This scenario can result in short term gains while losers mobilize to continue the fight.
  • Worse Case. The status quo leads to a second civil war. Everybody loses.

A Way Ahead – Best Case Option

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection
we can catch excellence,
” – Vince Lombardi

  • By law (Constitution),  “We the People” own our system of government. The system was designed to be continually improved in pursuit of “a more perfect” (better) Union, community, village, town, city, county, state.
  • Volunteers in Brown County have been working to develop a collaborative leadership approach referred to as the Brown County Leader Network (BCLN). The intent for the program: To work together to develop  “a more perfect” (better) county that strives to address the needs and respects the values of our citizens.
    • How do citizens define more perfect or better?
    • What feedback is needed to determine that change resulted in improvement?
  • A new Brown County community development initiative has recently been introduced by the Community Foundation through a 2.5-day course.  The program has a focus on engagement and has the “potential” of resulting in a more effective and inclusive community where citizen input and participation is encouraged, respected, and valued.  At the conclusion of the course on Saturday, February 1, 2020, several project ideas were identified and future meetings will be used to work through the process.   Information on the course.

 

U.S. Modern Monetary Policy (MMT)

The “So What?” at the local level?   National policy effects state and county budgets.

How Can the US Keep a Trillion Dollar Debt?

  • “As a reminder, MMT argues that sovereign governments with their own currency can’t go broke and can spend until inflation becomes an issue.” (1)
  • To condense the argument: Taxes are not about raising revenue for the government. They’re to reduce spending power to avoid price inflation. (1)
  • “Consider the Atlanta Fed’s wage-growth tracker for prime-age U.S. workers, currently at 3.9%. It bottomed out at a record low 1.6% at the end of 2010, down from 4.2% before the recession began. It didn’t reach 3% for another four years and still hasn’t reached the levels seen from 1999 through 2001.” (1) 
  • The Peterson Foundation, one of the last voices calling for fiscal restraint, bemoaned the budget deal: “Another $400 billion in debt is the worst possible holiday gift for our children,” the group said. “We should be looking at ways to reduce our interest burden so that we can fund important national priorities.” (1)
  • Kelton points to Japan, which is running a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 238% with low inflation and interest rates locked near zero, as an example of failing conventional wisdom.  (1)
  • None other than Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, has said he sees MMT as “inevitable.” Policymakers, he says, have to figure out “how to get the economic machine to produce economic well-being for most people” when typical central-bank tools fail. He sees a coordination of fiscal and monetary policy as the only answer. (1)

(1) Dec 23, 2019. Bloomberg, America Turns From Tea Party to MMT in a Decade  The winds of economic thought have shifted drastically heading into the 2020s.  By  Brian Chappatta 

  • Since August 2011, the U.S. public debt has increased by almost $9 trillion, to $23 trillion, and virtually no one has batted an eye …
  • Randall Wray, a senior scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College and a leading thinker in Modern Monetary Theory. (MMT)   “We do not have to repay the debt — what we have to do is make the interest payments.”
  • None other than Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, has said he sees MMT as “inevitable.”

(2) The Federal Reserve Is Directly Monetizing US Debt In a very real way, MMT is already here  by Chris Martenson Friday, November 15, 2019

  • At a time, mind you, when US fiscal deficits are exploding and foreign buyers are heading for the exits.
  • It’s now clear that something spooked the Fed badly in September. … We still don’t know what exactly went on, but the Repo market blew up. While this was a clear sign that something big was amiss, the Fed has not yet explained what the cause was, who needed to be bailed out, or why.
  • Given all the secrecy, obfuscation and lies, the Fed is now in clear violation of the spirit of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
  • The debate over whether or not MMT (“Modern Monetary Theory” see here for background and discussion) should or should not happen is now moot. It’s already here.
  • This is a very serious and extremely important conversation to have. But it’s not being had at all.

Ray Dalio Warns A “New Paradigm” Is Coming (Old paradigm 1919-2019)

  • Identify the paradigm you’re in, examine if and how it is unsustainable, and visualize how the paradigm shift will transpire when that which is unsustainable stops. – Ray Dalio
  • Ray Dalio  – Articles  posted on LinkedIn