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Civics Conversations


The League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County would like to thank WFHB Community Radio for broadcasting these podcasts. In addition to the audio files below, you can access all of these broadcasts at https://wfhb.org/category/civic-conversations. The WFHB news director is Kade Young. The current producer for the podcasts is Becky Hill (news@lwv-bmc.org), LWV-BMC. There are links to categorized podcasts below followed by the podcasts presented in reverse chronological order.

Gerrymandering, Voter Suppression

Perspectives on Gerrymandering, Ranjan Rohatgi, 4/17/22, 17 min. Link

Redistricting and Civic Engagement, Simone Smith and Shari Frank, 10/8/21, 10 min. Link 

Recent Redistricting Developments, Julia Vaughn and Sonia Leerkamp, 8/24/21, 16 min. Link 
2020 Election Review, Julia Vaughn, 12/2/20, 15 min. 
Link

Gerrymandering, George Hegeman, 9/18/20, 11 min. Link 

Conversation about Redistricting, Elaine Gaul, Chaz Mottinger, Vicki Polansky, and Jim Allison,  4/11/19, 20 min. Link 

Gerry’s Regret, a play by Jim Allison, acted by Becky Stapf and Betty Greenwell, 2/27/19, 19 min. Link 

 

Voting, Elections, Democracy

A Student's Perspective of Voting, Annika Evenson, 8/24/22, 13 min. Link

Examining Indiana's Civic Health, Lisa-Mari Napoli, 3/10/22, 13 min. Link
Election Security and Surrounding Disinformation, Abby Stemler and Scott Shackelford, 12/14/21, 21 min. Link
Democracy: An Ongoing Process, Lee Hamilton, 11/16/21, 21 min. 
Link
Disinformation, Betsy Grabe, 1/19/21, 16 min. Link
Supreme Court, Sheila Kennedy, 12/31/20, 19 min. Link
Election Process, Karen Wheeler, 10/14/20, 10 min. 
Link
Big Ten Voting Challenge, Josephine McCormick, 8/20/20, 10 min. Link

Community

Loss of Local News, Steve Hinnefeld, 11/21/2022, 18 min. Link
Lake Monroe's Impact on Bloomington, Maggie Sullivan and Michelle Cohen, 10/20/2022, 13 min. 
Link
Immigration: Policies and Societal Attitudes, Shruti Rana,  9/20/2022, 20 min. Link 
Refugees in Bloomington, Diane Legomsky, 7/14/22, 17 min. 
Link
Community Voices for Health, Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler, 2/15/22, 19 min. Link 
 

Indiana Coalition for Public Education, Keri Miksva, 9/10/21, 13 min.  Link


Environment, Climate Change

Indiana Climate Change Assessment, Melissa Widhalm, 6/15/21, 15 min. Link 
Diving into Lake Monroe, Dave Simcox, 3/5/19, 14 min. 
Link

 

Gun Safety

Moms Demand Action Advocates for Gun Safety Measures, Jennifer Haan, 7/13/21, 15 min. Link 

 

Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Status of Abortion Rights in the U.S., Jody Madeira, 6/21/2022, 19 min. Link 

The Story Behind the Graphic Novel Forgiveness, Joe Lee, 5/17/2022, 16 min. Link

Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland, James Madison, 5/12/21, 13 min. Link

Tribalism, Marjorie Hershey, 4/13/21, 13 min. Link
Women in Politics, Nicole Browne, 3/18/21, 10 min. 
Link

Gender Equality, Susan Williams, 2/22/21, 14 min. Link


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Loss of Local News

Guest: Steve Hinnefeld

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

November 21, 2022

 

This month, LWV-BMC Civics Conversation podcast host, Jim Allison, talked to Steve Hinnefeld about the impact on a community when local news sources die out. Mr. Hinnefeld has worked for over thirty years as a reporter and is a former reporter for the Herald Times. Approximately 2500 local, state, and national news sources have been lost. According to Mr. Hinnefeld, the loss of local news sources can lead to increased polarization, increased government taxes, decreased voter interactions, and many other situations. He also shared information about the growing influence of nonprofit news sources.  


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Lake Monroe's Impact on Bloomington

Guests: Maggie Sullivan, Friends of Lake Monroe, and Michelle Cohen,  Lake Monroe Water Fund

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

October 20, 2022

 

For October 2022, Civic Conversations welcomed Maggie Sullivan of the Friends of Lake Monroe and Michelle Cohen of the Lake Monroe Water Fund.  Maggie and Michelle shared information about Lake Monroe, water quality, and the impact on the Bloomington economy. Did you know that Lake Monroe produces Bloomington's 15 million gallons per day of drinking water? Or that 1.5 million visitors use Lake Monroe for recreation, fishing, and boating each year?  They talked about how their organizations monitor Lake Monroe and work with other stakeholders. 


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Immigration: Policies and Societal Attitudes

Guest: Shruti Rana, professor at Indiana University's Department of International Studies 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

September 20, 2022

 

In the September 2022 Civic Conversations podcast, we welcome Professor Shruti Rana, a professor at Indiana University's Department of International Studies specializing in international law. She holds a degree from Columbia Law School, the London School of Economics and Politics, and UC Berkley. Professor Rana discusses the issues facing our immigration systems today. She responds to the recent shipping of immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, Washington DC, Chicago, and New York City by Texas, Arizona, and Florida governors. She shares how the constant changing of laws and policy impacts the backlog of separation and asylum cases and addresses the issue of how we as a society treat immigrants and how it ultimately reflects upon our community.  


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A Student's Perspective of Voting

Guest: Annika Evenson, winner of Brown County student essay contest.

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

August 24, 2022

 

In this podcast, we welcome Annika Evenson of Brown County. Annika is the winner of the League of Women Voters Brown County 2022 voter turnout essay contest. Annika placed first in the high school category of the contest. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Brown County High School. She is currently enrolled at the University of Evansville in exercise science with direct admission to their physical therapy program. In the podcast, she talks about the biggest roadblocks to voting, how to encourage more people to vote, and why voters are disconnected from the voting process.  Click here to read Annika's essay.  


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Refugees in Bloomington

Guest: Diane Legomsky, founder of the Bloomington Refugee Support Network

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

July 14, 2022

 

Diane Legomsky, founder of the Bloomington Refugee Support Network and a member of LWV-BMC, joins Civic Conversations to discuss the issue of refugee support in Bloomington and nationally. In the podcast, we talk to Diane about the mission of Bloomington Refugee Support Network and how it interacts with other refugee resettlement organizations like Exodus Refugee Immigration. Diane breaks down for our audience the differences between being a refugee and asylum seeker as well as a humanitarian parolee. According to Diane, most Afghans settling in Indianapolis are refugees, but those resettled in Bloomington are mostly humanitarian parolees.  


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Status of Abortion Rights in the U.S.

Guest: Jody Madeira, Professor of Law, IU Mauer School of Law, and Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow, Co-Director for the Center for Law, Society & Culture

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

June 21, 2022

 

In the June 2022 Civics Conversation podcast, our host, Jim Allison, talks to Jody Madeira. She is a professor of law with the IU Mauer School of Law and is a Louis F. Niezer faculty fellow as well as co-director for the Center for Law, Society, and Culture. Jody discusses the current status of abortion rights in the United States, especially in light of the recent leak of Justice Alito's draft on the Dodd v. Jackson Supreme Court case overturning Roe V. Wade, an almost fifty-year precedent on abortion rights in the U.S. Jody shares what she expects will happen if Roe is nullified and what those immediate effects on women's rights will be. She further discusses the controversial aspects of the initial Roe ruling and Alito's interpretation under Dodd and the expected impact of overruling Roe on gay rights, interracial marriage rights, and birth control.  

 

Note: On June 24, 2022, three days after this podcast, Roe v Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Click here to read the League of Women Voters statement on this decision.


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The Story Behind the Graphic Novel Forgiveness

Guest: Joe Lee, graphic novelist and political cartoonist 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

May 17, 2022

 

Joe Lee is the author of the graphic novel, Forgiveness: The Story of Eva Kor, Survivor of the Auschwitz Twin Experiments. Joe talks about creating his graphic novel and working with Eva Kor. He shares what it was like to visit Auschwitz II-Birkenau and how those visits informed his novel. He also shares how his father's experiences in World War II and the liberation of the Nordhausen work camp influenced his decision to create the novel.  


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Perspectives on Gerrymandering

Guest: Professor Ranjan Rohatgi, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, St. Mary's College 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

April 17, 2022

 

Professor Rohatgi was a member of the Indiana Citizen's Redistricting Commission. In this podcast, he discusses how gerrymandering works in Indiana, our past and present political culture, and his experience with the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission. He shares that gerrymandering has two adverse outcomes: (1) voters becoming disengaged from the voting process and being less inclined to vote and (2) polarization. He also shares how he would draw maps and how he teaches his math and computer science students about redistricting and fair maps.   


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Examining Indiana's Civic Health

Guests: Lisa-Marie Napoli, Director and Senior Lecturer of IU PACE (Political and Civic Engagement) 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

March 10, 2022

 

Lisa-Marie Napoli talks to our host about the most recent release of the fifth edition of the Indiana Civic Health Index. She shares why it is critical, in a state that rates so low on voting turnout, that citizens need to be more involved in the voting process. Napoli talks about the increases in college student voting for the last election and explains some of the recommendations provided in the Index for school civics education improvements.  


Community Voices for Health

Guests: Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler, Community Voices for Health 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

February 15, 2022

 

In this podcast, Jim Allison talked to Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler. Liz is the Executive Director of the Community Justice and Mediation Center and Project Lead for Community Voices for Health. Terry Amsler is the Program Director Emeritus of the Institute for Local Government’s Public Engagement Program and adjunct professor at IU's O'Neill School. Both Liz and Terry serve on the steering committee with the Community Voices for Health, a three-year grant-funded project that addresses the inequities in community decision-making about issues that affect health. The project is funded by the Robert Wood Foundation, and Bloomington was one of six sites selected. In the podcast, Liz and Terry talk about how Community Voices for Health has been progressing in our community by gathering feedback from a diverse selection of people and where that information will be used in the future.  


Election Security and the Surrounding Disinformation

Guests: Professors Abbey Stemler and Scott Shackelford, IU Kelly School of Business, Business Law, and Ethics 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

December 14, 2021

 

Election security has been on everyone's mind since the 2020 election. In fact, according to Professor Abbey Stemler, two-thirds of Republicans believe that it was not a fair election. In this podcast on election security, Professors Stemler and Shackelford discuss the actions that we need to take to fight disinformation in our electoral politics and the impact it is having on our confidence in our election systems. Professor Shackelford talks about the actions that Monroe County has taken to secure votes via paper ballots, and he advocates adding risk-limiting audits to further secure the vote.  


Democracy: An Ongoing Process

Guest: Congressman Lee Hamilton, U.S. House of Representatives 1965-1999 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

November 16, 2021

 

Congressman Lee Hamilton served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Indiana from 1965 through 1999. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. He is the founder of the Center on Representative Government at Indiana University-Bloomington and served as its director until 2015. In this podcast, Congressman Hamilton reaffirms his faith in our American democracy, saying that we must protect the right to vote while also keeping a fundamental sense of optimism. "Democracy is an ongoing process," he says. "We have the right formula and just need to make it work."  


Redistricting and Civic Engagement: A High School Student's View

Guests: Simone Smith, high school junior, Brown County; Shari Frank, president, LWV Brown County 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

October 8, 2021

 

In this podcast, we talk with Simone Smith, the winning contestant in the essay contest on redistricting sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Brown County, with an introduction by Shari Frank, president of LWV-BC. Simone won the contest for the Grade 9-12 category. Click here to read her essay. Essays were judged anonymously by members of the Brown County Retired Teachers Association. The contest was developed in conjunction with the 7/8 grade "We the People" teacher and a high school AP history teacher, who just won History Teacher of the Year in Indiana and is going on to national competition. 


Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Guest: Keri Miksza, chair, Indiana Coalition for Public Education 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

September 10, 2021

 

Joining us in our September 2021 podcast on public education is Keri Miksza, chair of the Bloomington chapter of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. In our podcast, Keri and our host, Jim Allison, discuss why public schools and their school boards are so stressed in today's divisive climate. She talks about the issue of teacher pay and teachers leaving the profession as well as the state of charter schools and public education funding. Keri has two children in Monroe County Community Schools and has been involved with ICPE since 2014.


Recent Redistricting Developments

Guest: Julia Vaughn, Common Cause, and Sonia Leerkamp, Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

August 24, 2021

 

Redistricting is much in the news these days with U.S. census data being recently released. In this Civics Conversation, we talk to Julia Vaughn of Common Cause and Sonia Leerkamp of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission. They discuss developments with public hearings, legislative forums on redistricting, map drawing projects, and the recent study released by Women 4 Change that shows Indiana as one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation.  


Moms Demand Action: Advocates for Gun Safety Measures

Guest: Jennifer Haan, Lead Volunteer, Indiana Chapter of Moms Demand Action

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

July 13, 2021

 

Our guest for this podcast is Jennifer Haan of the Indiana Chapter of Moms Demand Action. Jennifer is their lead volunteer for Indiana. Moms Demand Action is a nonpartisan movement of Americans demanding reasonable solutions to address our nation's gun culture. It was founded by Shannon Watts after the Sandy Hooks Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people including 20 elementary school children. Since its founding in 2012, the national group has signed up over 6 million volunteers to encourage state and national governments to enact reasonable gun safety measures. In the podcast, we cover the advocacy undertaken by Moms Demand Action in areas like permitless carry and the red flag laws, and what governments can do to reduce the amount of gun violence.   


Indiana Climate Change Assessment

Guest: Melissa Widhalm, Operations Manager at the Purdue University Climate Change Research Center

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

June 15, 2021

 

In this podcast, Melissa Widhalm, Operations Manager at the Purdue University Climate Change Research Center, talks about the Indiana Climate Change Assessment Report and what Indiana can expect in terms of impact on agriculture, our cities, and water resources. In the podcast, Melissa shares a recent invention by Purdue engineers of ultra-white paint that reflects 98% sunlight and can be painted on building tops. This ultra-white paint helps reduce the "urban heat island" effect. She also indicated that Indiana can expect an approximately 15% reduction in corn yields due to climate change. Melissa is a frequent speaker on behalf of the Center, often speaking to groups around the state about these issues.  


Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland

Guest: James Madison, Professor Emeritus of History, Indiana University

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

May 12, 2021

 

James Madison, author of The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland, talks about his new book. Madison is the Thomas and Kathryn Miller Professor Emeritus of History at Indiana University. An award-winning teacher, Jim is the author of several books, including Eli Lilly: A Life; Slinging Doughnuts for the Boys: An American Woman in World War II; Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana and a New History of Indiana; and A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in the Heartland.


Tribalism

Guest: Marjorie Hershey, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Indiana University

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

April 13, 2021

 

Professor Marjorie Hershey describes the challenges of tribalism and identity politics and how both are affecting our democratic system. According to Professor Hershey, U.S. demographics have changed more in the last three decades than in the last century. Although the U.S. has always been a nation of immigrants, the speed of the recent demographics change poses a specific threat to those who have held power for many years.


Women in Politics

Guest: Nicole Browne, Monroe County Clerk

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

March 18, 2021

 

Nicole Brown talks about the experiences that led to her running for public office and what she believes should be the criteria for public office. She also talks about the challenges for women in politics and how women are increasingly overcoming them. She describes the potential advantages of voting centers and other voting issues.


Gender Equality

Guest: Susan Williams, Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law at the IU Mauer School of Law and Director for Center for Constitutional Democracy

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

February 22, 2021

 

What is gender equality? Professor Susan Williams gives Nancy Frasier's three-part criteria: redistribution of resources, respect, and representation in decision-making positions. According to Professor Williams, women are disadvantaged in all three, and she goes on to describe the current status of women by these criteria and the effects women are experiencing from COVID-19.


Disinformation

Guest: Betsi Grabe, Professor, IU Media School

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

January 19, 2021

 

According to Professor Grabe, disinformation is often used as an umbrella term for false information, but it has a distinction regarding intent. A false statement resulting from an honest mistake is actually categorized as misinformation. Disinformation involves constructing a lie and misleading the public. In addition, Grabe remarks that local news is undergoing a crisis, leading to the formation of “news deserts,” small communities with little to no news coverage. She goes on to stress the need for policy reform and education.


The Supreme Court

Guest: Sheila Kennedy, Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

December 31, 2020

 

Sheila Kennedy is a professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI and former executive director of the Indiana chapter of ACLU. This conversation covers a variety of issues within the Supreme Court, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s interpretation of originalism. Kennedy calls for greater civics education in schools. She says, “we need to prepare students to live in a multicultural, democratic society.” Other topics include voter suppression, religious freedom, and marriage equality.


2020 Election Review

Guest: Julia Vaughn, Policy Director for Common Cause Indiana

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

December 2, 2020

 

In this conversation, Julia Vaughn, Policy Director for Common Cause Indiana, focuses on a review of the 2020 election, partisan redistricting, and the need for an independent commission to redraw legislative maps. According to Ms. Vaughn, the admittedly "wild ride" of this election has been characterized by amazing participation from voters juxtaposed with voter suppression. Gerrymandering played a significant role in that voter suppression, and much damage to our electoral system has resulted that will need to be repaired.


Election Process

Guest: Karen Wheeler, Election Supervisor, Monroe County

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

October 14, 2020

 

Voting security was a hot topic in the days leading up to the 2020 election. Karen Wheeler, Monroe County Election Supervisor, describes the county's efforts to not only ensure that every vote counts but also to comply with safety measures regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. She notes that by mid-October 2020, Election Central had sent out 13,000 requested mailing ballots compared to 1300 sent out for the 2018 election. According to Ms. Wheeler, Indiana is on top of voter security but they are always keeping their eye out for irregularities.


Gerrymandering

Guest: George Hegeman, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

September 18, 2020

 

The term "gerrymandering" was coined in the early 19th century after Elbridge Gerry's controversial attempt as governor to draw congressional districts in Massachusetts to the advantage of his party. And the practice has borne his name every since. George Hegeman traces some of the lineage of this political practice, which is both used and decried after each census, when political districts are redrawn. Mr. Hegeman also looks at redistricting from an Indiana perspective.


Big Ten Voting Challenge

Guest: Josephine McCormick, IU Political and Civic Engagement Program

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

August 20, 2020

 

Josephine McCormick, student ambassador for IU's PACE program and liaison for the Big Ten Voting Challenge, talks about engaging young people in the voting process. The midterm elections in 2018 showed young people voting in higher numbers than ever before, but still far below the potential. According to Ms. McCormick, there is still a disconnect between voter engagement and education of young people and actual voter turnout. Many young voters feel that their vote doesn't matter and part of the challenge of programs like the Big Ten Voting Challenge is to change that perception.


A Conversation about Redistricting

Guests: Elaine Gaul, Chaz Mottinger, Vicki Polansky; LWV-BMC

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

April 11, 2019

 

Redistricting, left to state legislators, opens us to partisan “gerrymandering,” whereby the dominant party draws the new district maps to its political advantage by packing opposition voters into a few districts while spreading its own among more districts. That way the opposition scores big wins in its handful of districts, while the dominant party scores smaller wins in many more. This podcast conversation revolves around the problems of redistricting in Indiana.  


Diving into Lake Monroe

Guests: Dave Simcox, Natural Resources Committee, LWV-BMC

Host: Elaine Gaul, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

March 5, 2019

 

Join Elaine Gaul's discussion with Dave Simcox about Lake Monroe. Learn about its history, its value to so many, and the threats to its well-being. Hear about the types and sources of contamination. Become aware of the many ways we can all pitch in to help. Above all, let's recognize the need to be cautious and vigilant in protecting this great resource. To learn more and find volunteer opportunities, go to the Friends of Lake Monroe website.


Gerry's Regret

Actors: Becky Stapf (Mrs. Ann Thompson Gerry) and Betty Greenwell (Ms. Mary McCoy, a fictitious friend)

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

February 27, 2019

 

This imagined conversation between Mrs. Ann Thompson Gerry and friend Mary McCoy rolls deliciously through the good deeds and misdeeds of Ann’s husband, Elbridge. (In 1812, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill that redistricted the state, giving his party an electoral advantage. The resulting district map was said to resemble a monstrous salamander, and the term “gerrymandering” was coined.) Listen as these friends share a cup of tea, a little gossip, and many historical tidbits of their day.


Photos of guests are used with permission; image of Ann Gerry portrait is from Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

All photos and images on the website are used with permission or do not require permission.