- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The (Munster) Times. October 19, 2017

Let’s turn our backs on extremists

Like many people in the Region, Eric Krieg, of Munster, was active on social media.

Krieg frequented online message boards and groups, including on Facebook, that regularly spew incivility and venom.

Krieg now is charged with federal felony explosives counts for allegedly mailing a pipe bomb to an attorney with whom he’d reportedly had both legal and political differences. He is being held in federal custody pending trial.

Krieg also is accused of mailing a bullet and threatening note to a Hammond municipal employee with whom he’d had arguments in online message boards.

Obviously not everyone who associated with Krieg online deserves to be branded as suspect. He also has a right to defend himself in court and is innocent, under our system, unless proven guilty.

However, his case can serve as a stark reminder for society to resist individuals and websites that engage in extreme rhetoric or uncivil behavior.

In one online social media group in which Krieg was known to participate, one group member posted that other members should begin a Go Fund Me fundraising account for Krieg’s legal fees.

Others in the group took Times columnist Marc Chase to task for referring to the allegations surrounding Krieg as domestic terrorism.

That group member told Chase that the real examples of “domestic terror” are taxpayer-supported economic development projects often advocated on our editorial page.

It’s the height of diluted logic to liken a pipe bomb, which injured an innocent postal worker, to the support of economic development initiatives aimed at growing Region prosperity.

And it’s a clear example of how society should be turning its back on the extremists among us.

If you belong to one of these social media groups, consider leaving it - especially if your only reason for joining was spectator value.

There should be nothing entertaining about the environments in which such rhetoric is fostered. In fact, it can be quite destructive.

Some segments of our society are so off point and extreme that the reasonable majority must work together, regardless of idealistic or political differences, to pull our nation back to center.

A good place to start is a cleaning of social media friends lists and dropping of online groups that further nothing but vitriol and divisiveness.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. October 17, 2017

Costly judgments: Legal fees pile up over unconstitutional laws

“Indiana Constitutional Law” is the topic of a continuing legal education course scheduled for Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse. Registration is free for members of the Indiana General Assembly, but the $75 fee for other participants would be worth it if it made even one lawmaker think twice about filing unconstitutional legislation. Since 2011, taxpayers have been saddled with more than $2.8 million in legal fees for laws the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has successfully sought to overturn.

The bill doesn’t include costs related to the ACLU’s latest win, a ruling on a 2016 law restricting abortion rights. A federal judge last month struck down portions of House Enrolled Act 1337, which would have prohibited abortions sought solely because the fetus was diagnosed with a potential disability such as Down syndrome. Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said he will appeal the judge’s permanent injunction against the law, which means the legal tab could grow if the ACLU, which filed the suit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, prevails.

The Times Media Co. reviewed state auditor records of legal fees paid to the ACLU in recent years. As an incentive to challenge potentially unconstitutional statutes - and as a deterrent to frivolous lawsuits - federal law authorizes judges to order a plaintiff’s legal fees covered. That has allowed the ACLU to recoup legal costs challenging recent abortion laws and the ban on Syrian refugees sought by then-Gov. Mike Pence.

“The legislature is free to do what the legislature does. But legislators took an oath, like I did, to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Indiana ACLU legal director Ken Falk told the Times’ Dan Carden.

“I would hope that they try and figure out what the Constitution says in this regard.”

The attorney general defended his decision to appeal the ruling.

“The law reflects the collective will of the people, and as a representative of the people, I have a duty to protect the law from anyone who would seek to undermine the will of the people,” he said, adding his office works with the General Assembly to “enact strong, constitutionally sound laws from their very inception.”

But there were concerns about the bill, authored by then-Rep. Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne, before it became law. Several female Republican lawmakers who generally support pro-life legislation objected to the bill or the manner in which it was advanced - without a review of its final language by a House committee and without public testimony. Of 22 women in the House, 17 voted against HB 1337. Pence signed the bill and it was immediately challenged.

Tax revenue reported Friday finds the state falling even further behind estimates at the end of the fiscal year’s first quarter. Total tax collections are off by $107 million, with sales, corporate and individual income taxes all falling short in September. Corporate taxes alone are nearly $89 million below estimate. But continuing court battles show state officials unconcerned by growing legal costs.

As lawmakers prepare for the coming session, taxpayers should hope they heed a previous governor’s call for “a truce on so-called social issues” and instead focus on constitutionally sound measures focused on Indiana’s economic health.

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South Bend Tribune. October 19, 2017

A clarion call for more Hoosier teachers

You can’t fault Indiana for trying when it comes to providing incentives to attracting and retaining teachers.

When a report ranked Indiana as one of the country’s worst five states for recruiting and keeping teachers, state education leaders and lawmakers sought to change that status.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick created a new position - chief talent officer - to try and attract teachers statewide.

And the General Assembly created the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship, providing as many as 200 graduating high school students up to $30,000 over four years to attend accredited colleges and universities in Indiana and committing to teach at least five years in a Hoosier public or private classroom.

Despite the efforts the state continues to struggle in its recruitment efforts, especially among men and minorities.

According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 95 percent of the first round of Next Generation scholarships went to white students. The Indianapolis Star reported that just 11 of the 200 recipients were under-represented minorities and 31 were men.

Though the Next Generation scholarship has been around only a short time, the William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship has been around for 25 years. This year, more than 300 students applied for the scholarship, according to the Star report.

Because the Next Generation scholarship program began just about a year ago, it could be many would-be teacher candidates aren’t aware of the scholarship.

Would better promotion by the state and public schools boost the number of applicants? Should the state consider changing the requirements for the scholarships? Was there confusion among applicants as to which scholarship to apply for, even though students could be eligible for both?

Applicants for the Next Generation scholarship undergo a rigorous process. That’s as it should be. Hoosiers should want the best possible candidates who are committed to education.

But teachers should also be a reflection of the communities they serve, and the number of minorities applying for teacher scholarships is inadequate.

Education experts have identified many reasons for the shortage, including low pay and loss of autonomy in the classroom.

There are lots of challenges facing those who want to be teachers. But the state and local schools must be persistent and creative if they’re going to meet their goals of growing teacher ranks. Taking a hard look at the Next Generation program, and finding ways to retool it, is a good start.

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The (Bloomington) Herald-Times. October 18, 2017

Lessons can be learned from Lucid’s move to Indy

An example of why careful development of the Trades District is important was in evidence last week when Lucid Services Group announced it would grow its operation in Indianapolis instead of in Bloomington, where it was founded in 2016 and is now based.

The company’s chief operating officer, John Galligan, told the H-T that Indy has more of what the company needs in the way of space to grow, housing suited for the company’s workforce and employable talent.

The technology consulting firm for engineering, IT and life sciences companies will move into the Stutz Business and Arts Center on the near north side of downtown Indianapolis. The building was founded as a factory home of the Stutz Motorcar Co. (which included the historic Stutz Bearcat) and is now being marketed as a “vanilla box” that allows business owners to rent the space they need and design an office that fits their business - from a couple hundred square feet to several thousand square feet.

Lucid plans to expand from 15 employees to more than 90 in the next four years, and doesn’t see the infrastructure to do so in Bloomington. Space here is not as readily available and space here costs more than it does in Indianapolis, Galligan said. In addition, more housing options at affordable prices are available within walking distance to the Stutz than there are in downtown Bloomington.

Lucid is one example of the kind of tech-sector startups that Bloomington’s economic development and governmental leaders would like to attract and retain. Tech jobs pay well above the state’s average wages, and the number of such jobs is growing. Finding people to fill them is an issue, and finding places for the employees to work and live is also a challenge.

Bloomington is among a big group of communities trying to lure such jobs. Our community has numerous advantages, starting with Indiana University, a thriving life-sciences sector, an attractive culture for the demographic that gravitates toward the tech sector and a small but growing number of start-up companies.

That Lucid will maintain an office in Bloomington is a victory; that it will look to expand elsewhere is a loss, and a case study for those focused on growing this sector of the local economy.

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