- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

South Bend Tribune. Feb. 10, 2015.

High cost of neglecting Hoosier history

Among the budget items being discussed by this year’s General Assembly is one that probably escaped the notice of most people when looking at spending for education, public safety and health care.

It’s the Indiana State Library budget, and Gov. Mike Pence is proposing legislators cut it by 24 percent - about $2 million - and eliminate the genealogy department that houses more than 100,000 items documenting Hoosier history.

Library officials told The Associated Press the department is the “genealogy destination” for many researching heritage and local history, since the Indianapolis Public Library doesn’t keep its own genealogy collection.

The cuts are being proposed at a time when the state is getting ready to celebrate its bicentennial, which would seem to define the very essence of history and the need to preserve it.

According to its website, the library was established in 1825 to provide services to Indiana’s state governmental officials and employees. Since that time, the responsibilities of the state library have expanded to provide services to all residents of Indiana. The library’s online tool, called INSPIRE, which gives all Indiana citizens access to licensed databases of historical and scientific journals, also would be eliminated.

In the meantime, $55 million has been set aside to pay for the state’s bicentennial celebration, which will be paid for through the lease of underused cell towers.

One member of the governor’s appointed Indiana Library and Historical Board has said the library’s budget has been cut each year for the last decade. It’s important that the public be able to access the historical documents that trace Indiana’s long, rich history. It’s fair to question how important maintaining that history is to the state when the budget of the organization tasked to protect that history is constantly whittled away.


Journal & Courier. Feb. 6, 2015.

The price of Purdue’s secret report

There’s really only one conclusion to draw from the fact that Purdue University is walking away with a settlement with Michael Wartell without ever releasing a report that laid out why the former Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne chancellor was forced to retire.

Purdue and former President France Cordova must come off as bumbling, as total heels or both.

Why else would Purdue have spent a whopping $153,241 in legal expenses to fight to keep an investigator’s look into the situation a secret?

If it’s otherwise, Purdue should prove it and do what courts have agreed it should do: Make the investigation report into Wartell’s dismissal public.

Purdue is standing behind attorney-client privilege when it comes to hiding the details of the case, which started when Wartell and others at IPFW protested in 2011 when the university did not waive its mandatory retirement age for him as it had done for other longtime, high-level administrators. Besides age discrimination, Wartell also claimed gender bias, saying Cordova, in a push to hire more women, pointed to his picture and said, “I am going to replace this one with a woman.”

Trimble was hired by a Purdue Board of Trustees committee to investigate and interview all the players involved. Based on his report, the trustees concluded there was no discrimination involved.

But the trustees, contending Trimble was hired as an attorney instead of an investigator, did not share the report with Wartell or the public. That was despite rulings in Tippecanoe Circuit Court and the Indiana Court of Appeals that the report should be public. The Indiana Supreme Court wouldn’t come to Purdue’s aid, either, sending the university into stall mode until a settlement was reached.

The confidential settlement came last week.

So how did Purdue handle itself? Was Wartell the victim of age or gender bias? How did it speak to other personnel moves made during the Cordova years? What skeletons are hiding in the report?

Who knows? It’s a big secret. One Purdue was willing to spend a lot of money to keep that way.

We can only assume Purdue and Cordova come out looking terrible.


The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne. Feb. 3, 2015.

A taste of change

The General Assembly should approve a bill lifting the ban on carryout liquor sales on Sundays. Allowing Hoosiers to drink at bars, restaurants and sporting events while barring sales at groceries, pharmacies and liquor stores makes no sense and is poor public policy.

House Bill 1624 authorizes Sunday sales for all retail stores with appropriate permits. It also allows package liquor stores to sell food and other items they’ve been prohibited from selling. The legislation begins to untangle the baffling mix of alcohol regulations confounding consumers and puts all retailers on a more equal footing.

Support for expanding alcohol sales comes with some uneasiness, of course. We sympathize with opponents - including volunteers for Mothers Against Drunk Driving - who argue that repeal will increase the likelihood of deadly accidents. But the state’s decision to allow Sunday sales at eating and drinking establishments effectively negated any claim that public safety is the top priority. While 12 states prohibit Sunday carryout sales, Indiana is the only state among them allowing consumers to drink at a bar or restaurant on a Sunday and then drive home.

We’re also sympathetic to the package store owners who face the prospect of staffing their businesses seven days a week instead of six. The legislation limits Sunday sales to the hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., but it clearly constitutes a burden on some small businesses. However, they are not required to open on Sunday.

Package store owners decry the pressure of big-box retailers based outside Indiana, but the liquor store lobby itself has wielded all of the power in blocking Sunday sales. Sixteen other states have repealed the ban over the past 12 years. Hoosiers for Sunday Sales, the coalition supporting repeal, includes giant retailers but also Indiana-based businesses and sole proprietorships. …

The bill doesn’t address all of Indiana’s odd alcohol sales regulations. The issue of cold beer sales remains unsettled, with a lawsuit filed by the convenience store operators pending. The U.S. District Court declined to overturn the law banning convenience stores, groceries and pharmacies from selling cold beer. U.S. District Judge Richard Young wrote that expanding cold beer sales beyond liquor stores, taverns and restaurants would give underage drinkers more outlets where they could buy cold beer.

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association has appealed the decision to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The courts will have to sort out that issue, but HB 1624 can begin to address the crazy-quilt quality of some other alcohol sales laws.

All of Indiana’s neighboring states allow Sunday sales; it’s time to allow Hoosiers to make a Sunday beer run that doesn’t require a trip across state lines.


The Elkhart Truth. Jan. 28, 2015.

Indiana lawmakers need to pass a civics test of their own

Rep. Tim Wesco, an Osceola Republican, believes all students should be required to pass a civics test before they can graduate high school.

Wesco argues that a basic understanding of government is essential to our success as a nation, Chalkbeat Indiana reported.

“This bill is a signal of what’s important to us,” Wesco told the House Education Committee, testifying in favor of his bill, HB 1296.

He’s right. We should expect every Hoosier to understand the fundamentals of American government.

Starting with the Indiana General Assembly.

Senators Jeff Raatz and Dennis Kruse introduced SB 562, offering legal protection to teachers who explore creationism - or other subjects Raatz describes as “open to debate” - as part of public school science classes.

Raatz, a Centerville Republican, contends that he and Kruse only want to encourage critical thinking. And if that gets creationism into public school science classes, Raatz told a reporter for the Lafayette Journal & Courier, so be it.

That’s the whole point.

Kruse, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, promoted a 2012 bill giving local school boards the option to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science.”

When it failed, the Auburn Republican turned to Seattle’s Discovery Institute - a think tank promoting the teaching of intelligent design - for help developing a new bill. The result was SB 562.

Even though it tries a different approach, it promotes the same goal - allowing public schools to teach creationism.

And it’s illegal.

Louisiana passed a law in the early 1980s that said if public schools taught evolution, they also needed to teach creationism. Just like Raatz, supporters claimed they only sought to promote academic freedom.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals saw through the ruse, concluding that the law existed to promote a religious doctrine - “creation science.”

In Edwards vs. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. Louisiana, the justices concluded, violated the Establishment Clause by “advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created mankind.”

Teaching creationism or any form of religion as science, even to promote discussion of what Raatz calls “competing theories,” violates U.S. law. Raatz and Kruse cannot overturn Edwards vs. Aguillard with SB 562.

Which they know. Or should, anyway.

Maybe they ought to be required to pass a civics test before they’re allowed to write laws in the Indiana General Assembly.

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