Aldermen OK Brick Streets Plan; Activists Push For Immigration Ordinance | WGLT

Aldermen OK Brick Streets Plan; Activists Push For Immigration Ordinance

Nov 28, 2017

The advocacy group Illinois People’s Action again lobbied the Bloomington City Council on Monday for a so-called Welcoming Cities ordinance to protect immigrants.

Supporters of the measure crowded the Bloomington City Council chamber, holding signs and paper butterflies in support of non-criminal, undocumented people living peacefully without fear of deportation in Bloomington.

Charlotte Alvarez works with the Immigration Project and told the council such a measure would increase public safety.

"We need a clear, bright-lined rule separating our police from immigration officials."

"We know individuals are much less likely to report crimes if there's any chance it will put them or their relatives in danger of deportation," said Alvarez. "We need to get rid of that fear. We need a clear, bright-lined rule separating our police from immigration officials."

The proposal would prevent city police from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in efforts to seek out undocumented immigrants.

The Bloomington City Council has had a proposal before it for eight months. A similar demonstration was held at City Hall in May.

Mayor Tari Renner said he supports adoption. The council will return to discussing the ordinance next month.

Brick Streets

Meanwhile, Bloomington aldermen on Monday also committed to a long-term plan to maintain the city's brick streets.

Aldermen voted 6-3 to approve the new brick streets master plan. But they removed a section that broke down the estimated $7.3 million cost for reconstruction and patching over 10 years.

Even though Alderman Scott Black said he is a staunch supporter of maintaining the city's historic core and fixing brick roads, he voted against the plan. He said it didn't include projected costs and spending.

"Without that spending mechanism as part of the plan, we would not be able to be accountable for our actions come the budget cycle. So there's not a clear line of sight between the philosophy, ideas and actual dollar amount that may actually go into the budget,” Black said.

Alderman Kim Bray said the plan was premature. Alderman Diana Hauman joined Bray and Black in voting against approval of the plan.

Alderman Mboka Mwilambwe voted for the plan but also had concerns about expectation-setting and costs. Mwilambwe said he had fond memories of brick streets because he lived on one as a child in the early 1970s, growing up in Congo.

Public Works Director Jim Karch offered to withdraw the proposal for more explanation later. But Alderman Karen Schmidt said it was time to “git ’er done.”

The city, which once had 45 miles of brick streets, now has only 3.5 miles remaining.

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