- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The (Bloomington) Herald-Times. November 2, 2016

Political ads deserve voter scrutiny.

A vast majority of campaign advertising for the highest offices in the land leaves voters with one overarching impression:

No one running has any business overseeing the business of the people. They’re all self-serving or inept or cheaters or worse.

It’s just not true. OK, there may be some truth to be found in the campaign ads. But the savvy voter would be well advised to look deeply at the claims being made and judge the candidates on what happened rather than what campaigns package up and try to pass off as the whole story.

A report by Megan Banta in the Sunday H-T took a look at attacks on two Monroe County residents, Todd Young, who is running for U.S. Senate, and Shelli Yoder, who is running for Young’s 9th District seat in the House of Representatives.

On Young: Ads pound him for failing to pay his property taxes and violating state law.

Young did have to pay $5,300 in back taxes and penalties after he wrongly claimed a homestead credit for a house he owned but was not using as his primary residence. The Monroe County auditor at the time, a Democrat, said it was an honest mistake. He’s not the first person to make a mistake like that and won’t be the last. It doesn’t look good; it’s a legitimate issue to bring up; but there’s more to the story than a line or two in a campaign attack ad.

And then there’s Yoder. Ads supporting her opponent, Republican Trey Hollingsworth, paint her as a person who has raised “at least 25 tax rates in just three years” as a member of the Monroe County Council.

The implication is clear: Yoder has raised taxes 25 times.

She has not. And even if she had, she’s only one of seven members of the county council.

Tax rates on their own are meaningless. The rates are recalculated every year and voted on by local officials based on the total revenue the tax authority is allowed to collect. Preliminarily approved numbers are revised significantly to come up with a final tax figure, which is the rates multiplied by the total tax base, which is essentially the assessed value of property. The number arrived at is the amount the county is allowed by the state to collect.

In addition, for individual taxpayers, deductions are involved. Simply put, this complicated process is not served accurately by a sound bite.


The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. November 3, 2016

Mayor, council set a standard for cooperation.

On the same day some Republican members of the U.S. Senate were vowing to block any candidate a President Hillary Clinton might nominate to the Supreme Court, Fort Wayne’s Republican-controlled City Council and Democratic administration agreed to a fiscally sound compromise on parks and recreation spending.

Congress: This is the way it should be done.

Mayor Tom Henry’s administration in September proposed a 2017 budget that included a $10 million bond to supplement $2.7 million in property tax spending on maintenance and enhancement projects at parks over two years. But Council President Russ Jehl, R-2nd, objected. In a presentation last month, he proposed raising $5 million in parks spending not from bonding, but from CEDIT revenue and cuts to departmental budgets.

The disagreement came down to how to pay for improvements, not whether the money should be spent.

The compromise, which won unanimous approval in an initial vote Tuesday, was to issue a $5 million bond to pay for about 70 percent of the parks department’s planned projects.

“I want to thank (Parks Director Al Moll) for your hard work,” Jehl said. “I want to thank the controller, as well. I want to thank the mayor. When you think that we are a week out from a really divisive national election, I think this is really a breath of fresh air. For local government, this is going to give a wonderful exclamation point to our budget process.”

The council president noted that all of the major budget objectives are achieved - 28 new police officers, $24 million for neighborhood streets and sidewalks, park improvements and even an increase in the city’s cash reserve.

“We’ve been able to do that but with a minimal bond,” he said. “The message is very clear to the public that when bonding is used, it will be used appropriately. That it will not be the first resort.

“I think this is a really good balance, and I appreciate the compromise made by the administration,” Jehl said.

Parks projects now on tap include money for the new Franklin School Park, McMillen Park Community Center, Foellinger Theatre, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and an expansion of the Salomon Park Learning Center. Park roadways and playground resurfacing are in line for more than $1.8 million.

The compromise makes everyone a winner - the administration for achieving most of its proposed objectives, a council intent on operating in a fiscally conservative fashion, and residents and taxpayers who will benefit from park improvements at less cost.

Now, if only Congress would follow suit …


(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. November 4, 2016

Shocked, angry and embarrassed.

FBI allegations are

serious, substantial

It is understandable if the people of Vigo County are still walking around in a mental fog today. And it has nothing to do with lingering, sleepy-eyed effects of the Cubs’ late-night/early-morning victory in Wednesday night’s seventh game of the World Series.

Rather, their stupor has everything to do with Wednesday’s stunning developments in the ongoing FBI investigation into contracting practices of the Vigo County School Corp., one of the community’s most consequential public institutions.

Early Wednesday, FBI agents took two school corporation employees into custody and charged them with theft and/or bribery in a long-running kickback scheme involving at least one local company which does business with the district.

One of those arrested was VCSC administrator Franklin Fennell, who served as facilities support and transportation director. The other was Frank Shahadey, VCSC’s part-time school safety and security liaison officer whose full-time job is as a deputy with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.

The arrests and the allegations leveled against the school employees are extraordinary in their own right. Patrons and taxpayers of the school district have been anxiously awaiting new information and developments related to the FBI probe ever since the agency carried out a dramatic raid of the school corporation’s administrative offices in downtown Terre Haute and two other local district facilities on June 8. No arrests were made that day, and very little information has been released by investigators since then.

This week’s arrests at least begin to shed light on the activity going on inside the school administration that first caught the attention of the State Board of Accounts early this year. The state did an initial investigation, then quickly turned the case over to the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI. While the allegations against Fennell and Shahadey are serious and substantial, the feds give no indication that they’re done.

What’s more, one of the major underlying concerns that should be troubling for the public is that much of the alleged corruption that occurred in this case took place after the June 8 raid.

Keeping in mind that Shahadey and Fennell are innocent until proven guilty, it is still appropriate to ponder how two highly placed and well-paid individuals on the public payroll could be so arrogant as to continue pursuing a bribery and kickback scheme even when they knew a federal criminal investigation was under way concerning potential contract fraud in the school corporation.

It is also worth pondering the question of how oversight of contract and purchasing could be so lacking in the top levels of the administration and School Board that the sort of activity being alleged could be overlooked given the pressures put on the corporation by the FBI in recent months.

To the School Board’s credit, it acted quickly on Wednesday after it received word of the arrests and charges by meeting privately with its attorneys for three hours. Following the meeting, it announced that Deputy Superintendent Mick Newport had fired Fennell and Shahadey, and that a public meeting was set for 5 p.m. today to affirm that action.

A troublesome aspect of Wednesday’s board activity was that Superintendent Dan Tanoos was not present for the meeting and was not available for any public comment, although he did answer media questions on Thursday. Board president Paul Lockhart said the board had been in contact with Tanoos on Wednesday, but that the superintendent was “in meetings” and did not attend.

It is concerning that Tanoos was not required, even if for appearances only, to attend the emergency board meeting dealing with perhaps the most serious crisis the school corporation has ever faced. It is puzzling how the board could allow its top administrator to be absent at such a critical time.

When Tanoos did comment about the arrests on Thursday, he told the Tribune-Star he felt “upset,” ”disappointed” and “betrayed” by what his employees are alleged to have done.

We suspect the people of Vigo County would readily add that they are “shocked, angry and embarrassed” about what is happening in their school corporation.


(Logansport) Pharos-Tribune. November 4, 2016

DST should go away.

It’s been a decade since the Indiana legislators passed a law implementing Daylight Saving Time statewide. So here we go again. At 2 a.m. on Sunday, we will once again turn our clocks back an hour, and many of us will be cursing while doing so.

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with coming up with the concept of DST - but his comments were meant as satire. In an essay he wrote to the editor of The Journal of Paris in 1784, he quipped that Parisians could save candles by getting up earlier and making use of morning light. It was clearly meant as a humorous commentary on the Paris citizens’ penchant for sleeping in.

But for most folks living under DST today, this is hardly a joke.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “the twice-annual change to our collective clocks could also be striking a blow to the U.S. economy.” According to a report by the JPMorgan Chase Institute, the time changes have a negative effect on consumer spending.

In 2013, the Atlantic magazine called DST “the greatest continuing fraud ever perpetuated on American people.”

And our (very unscientific) poll last week revealed that 82.9 percent of our readers want to get rid of DST. There are a lot of good reasons for the practice to be put to bed.

Our internal clock: Many doctors have suggested that messing with our sleeping patterns can result in insomnia and extra stress. For those with seasonal affective disorder, the change can be even worse. Studies have also concluded that the time changes are linked to increased heart attacks, car accidents and electronic malfunctions - including medical equipment.

Lost productivity: Some studies put the cost of DST at over $400 million annually.

Energy: The theory is that DST helps with energy costs. However, a National Bureau of Economic Research study showed Hoosiers electric bills are actually higher now than before DST - sure, lights are turned on later, but the air conditioner comes on earlier.

Some politicians say they want to get rid of DST, but we shouldn’t hold our breath - it’s far more likely that Hoosiers will be able to buy carry-out alcohol on Sundays than shake off the archane tradition of Daylight Saving Time.


The usefulness of Daylight Saving Time.


The cons far outweigh the pros - DST should go away.


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