- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The (Munster) Times. August 24, 2017

Need for Region event center proven

Our Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra deserves a home venue to anchor its incredible quality-of-life offerings to our Region.

Countless Region high school graduates deserve an adequate stage and auditorium in which to celebrate one of the most important days in the lives of students and their parents.

Before we know it, we’ll be losing one of the chief venues for these important Northwest Indiana entertainment assets and rites of passage.

By now, most of us know the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville is slated to close and be demolished sometime after the final holiday concert series.

It’s all part of a changing business model and new direction for the former hotel and theater site owned and operated by the White family’s lodging business.

Evolution to remain relevant is necessary in both life and commerce.

We also know the theater has filled a proven need throughout the years, hosting graduation ceremonies for scores of high school students and serving as home base to the symphony.

Region community and tourism leaders - both private and public sector - should be planning in earnest for life after the Star Plaza meets the wrecking ball.

There is no better time than now to be discussing the prospects of a future Northwest Indiana event center.

Our symphony is enjoyed by folks from within and outside of our Region every year.

Though the school year just began, the parents among us will be able to attest to just how fleeting time is between now and our children moving on to the next chapter of their educations.

We know schools can and will use an event center as the staging grounds for graduation ceremonies for hundreds, even thousands, of Region students.

Much needs to be clarified on how big the facility should be, its specific features and where it should be optimally located.

But the overall need and utility already is proven. It’s time to put the concept on the pathway to reality.

___

The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. August 25, 2017

Reasonable restriction

Those who would allow Hoosiers to carry a loaded handgun without a permit argue that the Indiana Constitution requires it.

Indeed, the wording of Section 32 of the Indiana Bill of Rights is even more clear than the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“The people,” the state document reads, “shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.”

Hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers have chosen to exercise that right by obtaining a license to carry a handgun from the Indiana State Police. The process involves filling out a form online, paying a fee and being fingerprinted by local law enforcement to facilitate a background check. The overwhelming majority of applications are approved - 134,290 during 2016, the Associated Press reported. Authorities rejected 4,802 applications because applicants had serious criminal histories or mental health issues.

State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, believes the current process - indeed, any process - interferes with gun owners attempting to exercise their constitutional rights. Lucas is pushing the legislature to adopt a bill that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry guns without a permit.

On Wednesday, at the first of three interim study committee meetings to consider the “constitutional carry” concept, Lucas’ proposal ran into a buzz saw of opposition from police officials and organizations.

One of those who testified against Lucas’ proposal was Kendallville Police Chief Rob Wiley, immediate past president of the Indiana Association of Police Chiefs. Wiley said the current law “is a very Second Amendment-friendly law, quite frankly, while still allowing law enforcement to do what it needs to do, which is protect the general public,” the AP reported. Another opponent was State Police Maj. Mike White, who said eliminating background checks could increase the dangers to police officers.

As Fort Wayne and other parts of Indiana struggle with a continuing plague of gun violence, the permitting system allows police in potentially perilous situations to determine quickly whether an armed person is a law-abiding citizen. That, it could be argued, actually protects those who are exercising their gun rights, along with enhancing public safety.

The right to bear arms is indeed a basic constitutional right. But like the national Constitution, the state document also begins with the recognition that all citizens have the inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Does that mean one citizen has the right to pursue “happiness” by driving an automobile without a license? By eating at a restaurant without paying for the meal? Of course not.

In a free society, government still has the obligation to protect other drivers from an unsafe driver, to prevent customers from ripping off restaurant operators and to prevent criminals and those with mental illness from carrying handguns.

___

South Bend Tribune. August 24, 2017

Find a way to pay for lead problem

At a forum last week focused on South Bend’s lead paint problem, the issue of resources - specifically how to find the money necessary to combat the problem - was a major discussion point.

And with good reason. Federal grant money - used to repair lead hazards in homes in the county - ran out last year. And earlier this year, an application for more federal money ($2.9 million) was rejected. Meanwhile, the St. Joseph County Health Department needs more employees to provide needed services for children who are lead-poisoned.

A University of Notre Dame research team also found that lead poisoning in several South Bend neighborhoods appears to be even worse than originally reported by the state.

So it’s no wonder that there’s a sense of urgency to find the money to combat this longstanding problem stemming from lead-based paint in homes.

At least, that’s the feeling among the advocates who attended the Aug. 15 forum at Community Wellness Partners in South Bend. One of them, Linda Wolfson, a member of the Community Forum for Economic Justice, called for elected officials to become more engaged. While many county and city officials had been invited to the meeting, only a few attended.

Regina Williams-Preston, a Common Council member who was among the panelists leading the discussion, said it’s a “false narrative” that the community lacks the resources to combat the problem. “This community can find the money to do what we need to do … Kids aren’t being tested because we haven’t treated this as a public health crisis.”

In fact, city and county leaders have been creative in funding projects deemed critical to this community’s future - from infrastructure to vacant housing. We applaud their creativity. Now it’s time to direct that energy and effort toward the poisoning of children in a number of South Bend neighborhoods.

There’s no shortage of concerned citizens, advocates and organizations who are expending time and energy, cooperatively focused on this issue, getting the word out and raising awareness. But without adequate funding, this problem simply cannot be fully addressed.

For the city’s 2018 budget, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has earmarked an extra $100,000 in city money to address lead issues in homes. The money would be directed to the city’s Home Improvement Program, which is funded at $200,000 with federal support. The program itself is not entirely dedicated to repairs related to lead-based paint, but prioritizes them. In addition, the city is funding a $180,000 pilot program that will allow Department of Code Enforcement inspectors to assess rental units for a variety of standards, including lead.

It’s obviously going to take a lot more money to attack the problem. And it’s going to take the engagement of county and city leaders. They’ve been here before, in lean times, facing budget constraints. Somehow, they’ve managed to identify ways to pay for projects they considered necessary, if not vital, to the people of this community. Time to do it again.

___

Kokomo Tribune. August 25, 2017

Handgun permits are needed

Remember the great social media outrage ginned up against Indiana in 2015 when the state passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act? That action was The Law enforcement in our state is tasked with keeping Hoosiers as safe as possible. So, it makes sense that a move to strip the state’s handgun permit laws elicited a strong rebuke from officers.

Of course, there’s the financial cost of getting rid of such permits. The state cleared over $9 million in fees last year alone. More than 800,000 Hoosiers have permits, with a new lifetime personal protection permit costing $75, according to CNHI Statehouse reporter Scott L. Miley.

But, that’s not reason enough to keep the current permitting system. There’s also accountability and security to consider. Permit-holders must register online with the state and turn in their fingerprints.

“Police organizations want Indiana to keep its handgun licensing system, officials told a legislative study committee on Tuesday,” reported Miley on Wednesday. “A joint Senate and House Judiciary and Public Policy Committee is looking at repealing Indiana’s handgun permit law. The committee is addressing whether Hoosiers should be able to carry a handgun, either concealed or openly, without a license. Such an allowance, known as constitutional carry or freedom to carry, is in 12 states, although each has separate requirements concerning identification.”

Second Amendment absolutists will argue any restrictions on a constitutional right are wrong, but support of sensible gun safety measures shouldn’t be a partisan issue. (Unsurprisingly, National Rifle Association state representative Chris Kopacki spoke in favor of the repeal.) When it comes to tearing down such prohibitions, these hard-liners don’t ask they were instituted in the first place, but why we should keep them at all.

No one is saying Hoosiers can’t have handguns. And, in this case, no one is even proposing more restrictions than are currently in place. All that’s being asked by law enforcement personnel is to keep what we have. That’s all.

___


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide