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Mark Kruzan should show leadership on civility

The Honorable Mayor Mark Kruzan
401 N Morton Street, Suite 210
Bloomington, IN 47404

August 23, 2007

Dear Mr. Mayor,

As you know by know, a planning meeting for Interstate 69 this past Tuesday degenerated into a farce as anti-highway protesters hijacked and then shut down the meeting. It was an embarrassing display of childishness. Worse yet, it again represents a willingness by some on the Left to physically intimidate political opponents into silence. Anti-highway radicals would not even allow a meeting on specific ways to plan for I-69 to proceed; instead they shouted down the group attempting to make a presentation.

Bloomington prides itself in being a "safe and civil city". The chaos on Tuesday night was anything but "civil", and with tempers flaring had the potential to become very unsafe. As Mayor, I urge you to take a leadership role and denounce this thuggery. As a highway opponent yourself, your leadership would be valuable in making it clear that, however we may feel about I-69, shouting down people who were only trying to make a presentation is unacceptable and unwelcome in our community.

I urge you to also denounce those who have irresponsibly defended the inexcusable behavior of the extremists who shut down the meeting. Greg Travis (husband of County Council member Sophia Travis and an active member of the Democratic Party) attempted to justify acts of extremism by making the ridiculous claim on HeraldTimesOnline.com that the purpose of the meeting was "(t)o create an atmosphere were an emotional outburst was almost certain to transpire. It was deliberate. It was engineered. It was cynical beyond belief."

I find it disappointing that a community leader such as Mr. Travis (who was appointed by the Monroe County Council to the county's economic development commission in 2005) would attempt to place the blame for Tuesday night's events on the people making a presentation rather than on the people screaming, kicking chairs, and generally attempting to silence anyone who disagrees with their views on the highway. I urge you to denounce Mr. Travis for his irresponsible comments and make it clear that the only people responsible for the radicals' behavior were the radicals themselves.

I am sending a carbon-copy of this letter to the Bloomington Human Rights Commission with the hope that the inexcusable behavior displayed earlier this week will be classified as a "hate incident". In my opinion, this certainly qualifies. The extremists made it clear that they do not want anyone connected with the highway to even be in our community. Such intolerant, divisive and exclusionary rhetoric is in direct contrast to the ideal of inclusivity that our community wishes to uphold.

I am writing this letter to you, Mr. Kruzan, because you are in a position to use the bully pulpit of the Mayor's office to encourage this community to be tolerant, to disagree in a civil manner, to respect diversity of opinion, and to respect the right of people to disagree without being told that they are not welcome in Bloomington, Indiana. Thank you for your time.

Scott Tibbs
Citizen of Bloomington, Indiana

Cc: Bloomington Herald-Times
Indianapolis Star
AM 1370
Indiana Daily Student