All posts by Tim J. Clark

Defining the problem – white privilege

Social issues that are discussed at the national level influence the culture and adds to the polarization at the local level as voters support their respective political brands.

Allegations of white supremacy created a controversy with the Nashville Farmers Market and continue to escalate issues with the current operations of the Bloomington Farmers’ Market.

The intent of this post is to reinforce the importance of applying an evidence-based method to define a problem. Terms such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and white privilege are often used as accusations and are ill-defined.

The following articles provide an example of defining a term – white privilege in this case, and using empirical evidence to conclude that one variable does not account for differences in group outcomes.

Why White Privilege Is Wrong—Part 1 – Quillette

Rarely does a single explanatory variable account for a complex phenomenon. Instead,
complex outcomes are best explained by a confluence of factors. In the case of white
privilege, there are a number of variables which, together, better explain differences in group outcomes. Moreover, there is a bevy of countervailing evidence that calls its validity into question.

When it comes to differences in group outcomes, the far-le and far-right conflate perception with reality. For neo-Nazis and alt-righters, their supposed superiority lies in their genetics. For those on the far-left, the unjust supremacy of whites is based on systemic discrimination. Both are sorely mistaken.

Why White Privilege is Wrong—Part 2 – Quillette

Many people enjoy invoking race as an explanation for all sorts of things. It is a shared pastime for both the far-left and the far-right. The media expend vast sums of money and effort to ensure we don’t escape discussions about race as something that is or should be important. This vocal minority of political extremists and news broadcasters has directed our attention away from more powerful causal explanations that underlie group outcomes. Perverse incentives for these two groups have made race a more a prominent feature of our lives.

More information  Local Farmers Markets – history and timeline of the issues.

Brown County – Annexation

The town of Nashville had/has a policy that linked annexation with sewer service.

The Brown County Regional Sewer District (RSD) has expressed an intent to forcibly connect as many properties as possible to a sewer system in the county. This could be more easily accomplished if BCRSD could consolidate the different RSDs. RSDs existing in Helmsburg and Gnaw Bone. The Town of Nashville also has a treatment plant as has been ceded some extra territory by the BCRSD.

Notes — Annexation, Remonstrance …

Basic issues:

It is a legislative process. A Town Board has to approve the annexation ordinance.   There is a contiguity requirement—defines what areas a Town can annex.  This is a certain segment of the boundary of the proposed annexation area must be contiguous with existing town limits.  Town must adopt a fiscal plan that analyzes government services and how they will be provided in the annexed area.

Need to clearly identify the area proposed for annexation.  There are rules that apply based on the area—size, state of development, location vis a vis the town.

This is the primary statute on the details  required to support annexation:

Sec. 13. (a) Except as provided in subsection (e), at the hearing under section 12 of this chapter, the court shall order a proposed annexation to take place if the following requirements are met:

(1) The requirements of either subsection (b) or (c).

(2) The requirements of subsection (d).

(3) The requirements of subsection (i).

(b) The requirements of this subsection are met if the evidence establishes the following:

(1) That the territory sought to be annexed is contiguous to the municipality.

(2) One (1) of the following:

(A) The resident population density of the territory sought to be annexed is at least three (3) persons per acre.

(B) Sixty percent (60%) of the territory is subdivided.

(C) The territory is zoned for commercial, business, or industrial uses.

(c) The requirements of this subsection are met if the evidence establishes one (1) of the following:

(1) That the territory sought to be annexed is:

(A) contiguous to the municipality as required by section 1.5 of this chapter, except that at least one-fourth ( ¼ ), instead of one-eighth ( ⅛ ), of the aggregate external boundaries of the territory sought to be annexed must coincide with the boundaries of the municipality; and

(B) needed and can be used by the municipality for its development in the reasonably near future.

(2) This subdivision applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted after December 31, 2016. That the territory sought to be annexed involves an economic development project and the requirements of section 11.4 of this chapter are met.

(d) The requirements of this subsection are met if the evidence establishes that the municipality has developed and adopted a written fiscal plan and has established a definite policy, by resolution of the legislative body as set forth in section 3.1 of this chapter. The fiscal plan must show the following:

(1) The cost estimates of planned services to be furnished to the territory to be annexed. The plan must present itemized estimated costs for each municipal department or agency.

(2) The method or methods of financing the planned services. The plan must explain how specific and detailed expenses will be funded and must indicate the taxes, grants, and other funding to be used.

(3) The plan for the organization and extension of services. The plan must detail the specific services that will be provided and the dates the services will begin.

(4) That planned services of a noncapital nature, including police protection, fire protection, street and road maintenance, and other noncapital services normally provided within the corporate boundaries, will be provided to the annexed territory within one (1) year after the effective date of annexation and that they will be provided in a manner equivalent in standard and scope to those noncapital services provided to areas within the corporate boundaries regardless of similar topography, patterns of land use, and population density.

(5) That services of a capital improvement nature, including street construction, street lighting, sewer facilities, water facilities, and stormwater drainage facilities, will be provided to the annexed territory within three (3) years after the effective date of the annexation in the same manner as those services are provided to areas within the corporate boundaries, regardless of similar topography, patterns of land use, and population density, and in a manner consistent with federal, state, and local laws, procedures, and planning criteria.

(6) This subdivision applies to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2015. The estimated effect of the proposed annexation on taxpayers in each of the political subdivisions to which the proposed annexation applies, including the expected tax rates, tax levies, expenditure levels, service levels, and annual debt service payments in those political subdivisions for four (4) years after the effective date of the annexation.

(7) This subdivision applies to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2015. The estimated effect the proposed annexation will have on municipal finances, specifically how municipal tax revenues will be affected by the annexation for four (4) years after the effective date of the annexation.

Political subdivisions in the county that are not part of the annexation and on taxpayers located in those political subdivisions for four (4) years after the effective date of the annexation.

(9) This subdivision applies to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2015. A list of all parcels of property in the annexation territory and the following information regarding each parcel:

(A) The name of the owner of the parcel.

(B) The parcel identification number.

(C) The most recent assessed value of the parcel.

(D) The existence of a known waiver of the right to remonstrate on the parcel. This clause applies only to a fiscal plan prepared after June 30, 2016.

(e) At the hearing under section 12 of this chapter, the court shall do the following:

(1) Consider evidence on the conditions listed in subdivision (2).

(2) Order a proposed annexation not to take place if the court finds that all of the following conditions that are applicable to the annexation exist in the territory proposed to be annexed:

(A) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance was adopted before July 1, 2015. The following services are adequately furnished by a provider other than the municipality seeking the annexation:

(i) Police and fire protection.

(ii) Street and road maintenance.

(B) The annexation will have a significant financial impact on the residents or owners of land. The court may not consider:

(i) the personal finances; or

  1. ii) the business finances;

of a resident or owner of land. The personal and business financial records of the residents or owners of land, including state, federal, and local income tax returns, may not be subject to a subpoena or discovery proceedings.

(C) The annexation is not in the best interests of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed as set forth in subsection (f).

(D) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted before July 1, 2015. One (1) of the following opposes the annexation:

(i) At least sixty-five percent (65%) of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

(ii) The owners of more than seventy-five percent (75%) in assessed valuation of the land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

Evidence of opposition may be expressed by any owner of land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

(E) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted after June 30, 2015. One (1) of the following opposes the annexation:

(i) At least fifty-one percent (51%) of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed.

The remonstrance petitions filed with the court under section 11 of this chapter are evidence of the number of owners of land that oppose the annexation, minus any written revocations of remonstrances that are filed with the court under section 11 of this chapter.

(F) This clause applies only to an annexation for which an annexation ordinance is adopted before July 1, 2015. This clause applies only to an annexation in which eighty percent (80%) of the boundary of the territory proposed to be annexed is contiguous to the municipality and the territory consists of not more than one hundred (100) parcels. At least seventy-five percent (75%) of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed oppose the annexation as determined under section 11(b) of this chapter.

(f) The municipality under subsection (e)(2)(C) bears the burden of proving that the annexation is in the best interests of the owners of land in the territory proposed to be annexed. In determining this issue, the court may consider whether the municipality has extended sewer or water services to the entire territory to be annexed:

(1) within the three (3) years preceding the date of the introduction of the annexation ordinance; or

(2) under a contract in lieu of annexation entered into under IC 36-4-3-21.

The court may not consider the provision of water services as a result of an order by the Indiana utility regulatory commission to constitute the provision of water services to the territory to be annexed.

(g) The most recent:

(1) federal decennial census;

(2) federal special census;

(3) special tabulation; or

(4) corrected population count;

shall be used as evidence of resident population density for purposes of subsection (b)(2)(A), but this evidence may be rebutted by other evidence of population density.

(h) A municipality that prepares a fiscal plan after June 30, 2015, must comply with this subsection. A municipality may not amend the fiscal plan after the date that a remonstrance is filed with the court under section 11 of this chapter, unless amendment of the fiscal plan is consented to by at least sixty-five percent (65%) of the persons who signed the remonstrance petition.

(i) The municipality must submit proof that the municipality has complied with:

(A) the outreach program requirements and notice requirements of section 1.7 of this chapter; and

(B) the requirements of section 11.1 of this chapter.

Here is a separate section on the requirements for a remonstrance petition.

The statute that has all of these rules (and much more about court appeals, etc) is Ind Code 36-4-3

Schools 2020 Budget and Enrollment Numbers

Oct 17, 2019.  BCD. ‘Fiscally stable’: Financial consultant presents budget to school board By Suzannah Couch.

Despite declining student enrollment, the Brown County Schools’ budget is fiscally stable because the district continues to make cuts each year.

Debt

At the Oct. 17 meeting, the school board will hear a presentation from financial advisers Baker Tilly and bond counsel Jane Herndon with Ice Miller about issuing a $3.6 million bond in 2020. The bond would be paid off over three years.  … The bond will replace debt that is currently falling off, which means the new bond will have no impact on the tax rate.

Health Insurance

.…  school employees will not see an increase in their health insurance premiums next year. This is the second year in a row that employees will not see an increase.

.. the district’s health insurance fund is now at $1.3 million, Hammack said.

We’re a self-funded plan. We’re funding at the level that we need to be funding,” Hammack said.

Oct 15, 2019. BCD. SCHOOL NEWS: Preliminary student enrollment numbers are in; teacher contract negotiations; bus stop arms going out on State Road 46 by By 

  • At the Sept. 19 Brown County Schools Board of Trustees meeting, Superintendent Laura Hammack reported that the district only lost 18 students since last school year. The count taken on the official student count day last month was 1,768; last year’s enrollment was 1,786.

County considering switching financial system

Oct 17, 2019.  COUNTY NEWS:   county considering new financial system

The Brown County Council will hear a presentation from Low Associates about switching its financial system at the Oct. 21 meeting.

The price tag on the switch is around $105,000, but Auditor Julia Reeves said it would ultimately save the county money on yearly maintenance. Currently, the county uses Harris for its financial system and pays $26,500.95 a year for maintenance along with extra money for additional licenses. Former Auditor Beth Mulry had purchased three additional licenses for $1,350 because employees kept getting kicked out of the system when too many people were on it, Reeves said.

“With Low, you don’t have that issue. There’s no need for licenses. It’s not required,” she said.

Under the Low contract, yearly maintenance would be $24,000.

Reeves said that neither her office or Harris can find the current contract for their services. The council will look into where the money for the initial contract startup would come from, but Reeves said Low would allow for the county to make three payments toward the $105,000. If a commitment is made before the end of October, Low will give a $20,000 discount.

The treasurer’s office would also switch to Low. Reeves had a letter from Treasurer Mary Smith stating she was also in agreement with the switch.

The new contract would have to be approved by the commissioners.

A Better Way to Deal with the Bloomington Farmers Market Controversy

 A Better Way to Deal with the Bloomington Farmers Market Controversy
By Tim J. Clark
Updated Oct 8, 2019.

The effects of the controversy involving the Bloomington Farmers Market (BFM) identify an opportunity to take a fresh look at the methods and strategies for how the community addresses challenging issues.

The methods applied so far to address the BFM situation have resulted in a reduction in market attendance in July from 40,000 to 16,000. They have also resulted in unflattering local and national attention, which attracted the interest of what is perceived to be far-right and far-left groups. These groups’ involvement contributed to the perceived need to shut down the market for two weeks. This shutdown had an adverse economic impact on almost all the vendors.

To help prevent actions that can lead to violence within a community, the Department of Homeland Security proposes applying a whole-of-society approach that would have to be supported at the local level of government. The CIty of Bloomington has recently enlisted a mediator to help address the issues.

The controversy does not appear to be ending anytime soon, so a better process is needed to resolve the BFM issue as well as any other problems that arise in the future.  Along with mediation, the development of an enhanced capability for problem resolution and decision making will have practical benefits within the community, Indiana, and the nation.

Inspiration for this better problem-solving approach can be found in the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. system of government is designed to enable “We the People” to continually work together toward the ideal of “a more perfect Union.”   This requires continually improving the strategies and methods that will result in achieving outcomes where everyone benefits or at least is not any worse off in the long-term. This requires addressing a few questions, including:

  1. As a community, how do “We the People” describe and define “more perfect” — that is, what is the ideal?
  2. What feedback will need to be collected to assess progress in working toward the ideal in the near-, mid-, and long-term?
  3. What methods will be applied to assess whether the changes made to the system are resulting in improvement?

Indiana University (IU) could prove to be an important resource when addressing the first question, as it has gone through the process of defining its ideal. IU’s strategic plan identifies its ideal as being “one of the great research universities of the twenty-first century.” This vision includes “Engaging in the economic, social, civic, and cultural development of Indiana, the nation, and the world by building on the base of excellence in research and education.”

IU could also be a good resource when answering the second question. Its research strategy could be reviewed and assessed to get an idea of the types of feedback that could be collected and where to get it. This feedback would need to include qualitative and quantitative data.

Finally, Walter A. Shewhart and W. Edwards Deming have developed methods that should be used to determine whether changes are resulting in improvement for everyone. Shewhart developed methods that can be used to close the gap between the actual situation and the ideal. These improvement methods have been integrated within the International Organization for Standardization standards.

Deming developed a philosophy that supports Shewhart’s methods. Deming estimated in 1986 that it would be another 50 years (2036) until the new philosophy and methods were more commonly acknowledged in liberal education, science, and industry.

Reducing the gap between the current situation and the ideal requires the continual application of better methods for making changes that “We the People” will conclude result in systemic improvements. The controversy with the BFM provides an opportunity to experiment with a new philosophy and methods.

More Information.  Terms such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and white privilege are often used as accusations and are ill-defined.  The following articles provide an example of defining a term- “white privilege”  in this case and using empirical evidence to conclude that one variable does not account for differences in group outcomes.

October 7, 2018.  Indianapolis Star, Sunday Edition – Faith and values:  Guest Column: “People working together can make a more perfect union

BCRSD Board Meeting – Notes

Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) Meeting
Tues, Oct 8, 2019.

o. BUDGET. The BCRSD was given $270K from the county council. After current invoices are paid, the remaining balance will be $174, 670. A plant location has not been determined (See RAP below).
o. FUTURE FUNDING APPROVALS FOR A PLANT IN BEAN BLOSSOM. List of potential customers. Two main requirements for funding (estimated at $7.3 million) include a validated NEED and EASEMENTS.
oo. As has been pointed out by the past two BCRSD Board presidents, there is no documented evidence of failed systems. The Health Department’s policy has been to resolve septic system issues as they emerge. As was pointed out at the Septic Summit, the life of a system is “indefinite” and is determined by many factors. oo. Easements. Property owners have the right to negotiate fair market value (FMV). FMV for homeowners affected by the Salt Creek Trail received significantly more in compensation than what was originally offered.
o. LIST OF POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. I obtained the list (provided within the link below) of potential customers of the “proposed” Bean Blossom Sewer project. State law limits RSDs to just providing names but more detailed information is available through the county’s GIS system (brownin.wthgis.com).
o. HISTORY. The desire for sewers in Bean Blossom goes back 20 years. Initiatives to obtain service from Helmsburg were not successful in the past. Bean Blossom did not have enough customers to obtain state funding for their own plant so the BCRSD extended the service area to include Freeman Ridge, Woodland Lake, and the Little Fox Lake areas. I also provide a link below to a timeline on the Bean Blossom project – “For the Record.”
oo. The initial plan of the current BCRSD board was to run a line to the Nashville Plant but Nashville no longer supports the option so they opted to build a new plant in the Bean Blossom area. Running a line from Bean Blossom to Helmsburg would require upgrades and expansion of the HRSD plant.
o. RAP. Regional Assistance Program (RAP) Grant. Given the needs of the Helmsburg RSD to support more customers and to lower rates from the current $92.50, the State intervened and the Helmsburg RSD and BCRSD agreed to support the development of a study that would help determine the best solutions for the area (region). Study due to be completed by the end of the year. oo. The study may identify options that include support for two plants or a main hub in either Helmsburg or Bean Blossom. The study is estimated to be completed by the end of this year. Note that unlike the BCRSD, the Helmsburg RSD’s policy was to “not” force customers to hook-up to the sewer.
o. TIMELINES. “Assuming” that a plant in Bean Blossom is determined to be a valid option, a need is documented and accepted by the State and Feds, and Easements can be obtained in a timely manner, construction can begin in summer/fall of 2020 with hook-ups beginning in Spring 2021. Note customers will be charged a monthly fee to support construction costs. (Fee is TBD). If Helmsburg is selected as a hub, costs could be less and timelines could be much shorter.
o. ROI/108K Grant for a County-wide Wastewater Treatment study. No decision yet.
o. WEBSITE. The county agreed to host the BCRSD website. The need for the website was identified at the June 2018 meeting.

MORE INFO: Regional Sewer Board – Bean Blossom Sewer Project – For the Record