Activists Push Aldermen On Immigration Ordinance; Budget Gap Narrows | WGLT

Activists Push Aldermen On Immigration Ordinance; Budget Gap Narrows

Mar 27, 2018

The Keep Families Together coalition continued its rally in the Bloomington City Council chambers Monday after breaking a 24-hour fast.

Several supporters of the Welcoming City ordinance called on aldermen during public comment to revive discussion on the measure. Alderman Scott Black said he supports the council publicly speaking on the ordinance in the near future.

"The folks who are advocating very strongly (for the) process to be expedited, we can give them a line of sight. We can tweak and adjust here and there, but it's going to happen. We're going to get there," Black said.

Black said organizations like BN Advantage and the city's Public Safety and Community Relations Board should participate in discussions.

A date to discuss the Welcoming City ordinance was not specified.

Public discussion between aldermen on the ordinance halted in February after five council members said they wouldn't support it. An ordinance would forbid communication between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bloomington Police Department on a resident's immigration status without a warrant. Communication between BPD and ICE was revealed in February through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Keep Families Together coalition.

During a discussion between Mayor Tari Renner and Alderman Amelia Buragas on bringing back the Welcoming City ordinance for councilwide discussion, Alderman Kim Bray said both of them were abusing the meeting process. Bray said the mayor and Buragas had spoken enough and that it was time to move on to different subjects.

Bray is one of five aldermen that moved to discontinue discussion on the ordinance last month.

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Bray accused Renner of discussing the Welcoming City ordinance with a strong-armed approach. Renner said he did not have that intention and was just trying to finish answering Buragas' question about bringing the ordinance back for discussion. Bray said the measure hasn't been on meeting agendas for months, and that it was time to move on.

Closing The Gap

Meanwhile, the Bloomington City Council has approved three separate measures to help close the city's budget gap. City recovery fees, special-event parking fees and a business registration system will all generate new revenue for Bloomington.

Alderman Jamie Mathy voted against the business registration ordinance. He said creating a new program to register businesses is not effective in saving taxpayer dollars.

"It's going to take more and more time than anybody expected it to to get business owners to comply. Especially when we're saying we don't know where all of the business owners are right now. How are we going to get a hold of them all to send them an invoice saying we're going to register your business?" said Mathy, himself a business owner.

The registration policy will cost a Bloomington business owner a one-time $50 fee. The city expects to bring in $200,000 next budget year with this program.

Aldermen Karen Schmidt, Mboka Mwilambwe, and Black also voted against the proposal. Since Alderman David Sage was absent from the meeting, Renner broke the 4-4 tie with approval. Diana Hauman, Joni Painter, Buragas, and Bray supported it.

Mathy also voted against creating special-events parking fees. He said it will discourage people from attending events. Mathy said he is concerned people under the influence of alcohol will choose to drive if they have to pay more money to leave their car in the garage until the next morning. Black also voted against special-events parking fees.

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