- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The (Munster) Times. September 15, 2017

Region emissions tests are legal extortion

It’s just one of many examples of how the federal government sends the wrong message based on regulation for the sake of control rather than actually improving our lives.

State lawmakers, including Northwest Indiana delegates to the Indiana General Assembly, have been studying ways for Lake and Porter counties to shed federal requirements for vehicle emissions tests.

And why not?

Northwest Indiana meets both the 2008 as well as the more stringent 2015 federal standards for ozone, a pollutant produced by vehicle emissions - and other sources - that can cause breathing difficulties in some members of the population.

Despite our great strides in cleaning up the problem, Lake and Porter counties are lumped into a “nonattainment area” with northeastern Illinois, including Chicago, and southeastern Wisconsin.

Because of that grouping, Lake and Porter counties are subjected to vehicle emission test requirements that don’t apply to the rest of our state.

That means residents of two of our Region’s core counties must submit to BMV-administered vehicle emissions tests every other year for passenger vehicles that are four years old or older.

Because our Region ozone levels are within compliance of the levels, Indiana lawmakers rightly would like to shed the emissions requirement.

Some state leaders also have considered scrapping the testing even though the unfair federal mandate stands.

But the feds hold too big of a stick, and Indiana’s congressional delegates should work to change that.

Failure of Lake and Porter counties to comply with the testing mandate would allow the federal government to withhold crucial transportation funding for roads and mass transit projects and usurp authority of the state’s anti-pollution programs.

Given that our Region’s ozone levels have improved and are in compliance, the inability to ever conceivably break free of the emissions testing without facing financial repercussions constitutes legalized extortion.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said such mandates are one reason Americans are fed up with the federal government.

“The federal government should not make us the whipping boy for Chicago,” Soliday said.

More importantly, federal regulators should remember that such mandates are about making life better for residents, not continuing to punish localities that have succeeded in attaining the initial purpose.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. September 14, 2017

Shot in the foot; Unlicensed gun-carrying arguments debunked

Many sensible arguments have been mustered against licenseless firearms carry, a reckless proposal a legislative interim committee is studying this summer.

At a hearing last week, the Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy heard the dollars-and-cents case against gutting Indiana’s permit system. The Indiana State Police would lose an estimated $5.2 million in licensing fees next year alone - money the department uses for firearms training and ammunition.

Money, and supposedly wasted time, are the crux of the argument against the license-to-carry system, as well. Proponents of unlicensed carry say it’s unfair to make applicants pay a fee and visit the sheriff’s department to be fingerprinted in order to exercise the right to bear arms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Though it would seem to undercut their constitutional-absolutes argument, advocates say licenseless carry doesn’t mean people with criminal records or serious mental health issues can’t still be prohibited from carrying handguns in public.

But as law-enforcement officers pointed out at an earlier committee hearing, how would an officer quickly be able to ascertain whether you’re legally entitled to carry a weapon? That could add another element of uncertainty to a potentially life-or-death situation.

Police safety concerns and serious monetary issues? Defeating this proposal seems like slam-dunk. But several states already have such laws.

Perhaps responsible gun advocates could propose a better alternative.

Why not amend the gun-license law to require applicants to complete a basic course in firearms use and safety before they are given the right to carry guns in public?

The International Association of Chiefs of Police thinks that is a good idea. So does Former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, who headed The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence for five years. The public would be safer “if we had a permitting system that required instruction on the rules, regulations and safety,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

Michigan, a state where devotion to gun rights runs just as strong as it does in Indiana, has such a system. Unlike Indiana, Michigan allows citizens to carry handguns openly without a permit. But applicants for a concealed-handgun permit must have eight hours of training that includes safe handling of weapons, firearms and liability laws, and firing-range practice. Michigan also has a somewhat lower rate of firearms deaths per 100,000 people - 11.7, vs. 12.7 in Indiana, according to 2015 statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Making sure gun owners are clear on how to use their weapons safely before they take them out in public is just common sense. “Every Fourth of July,” Helmke points out, “there’s someone who shoots their gun up in the air - and the bullets land somewhere,” potentially striking and wounding or killing someone. Weapons and ammunition have changed over the years, creating unexpected hazards for the untrained. The range of some handguns and bullets has increased; “if you’re not aware of that, there’s going to be problems somewhere down the road,” Helmke said.

Another example: There can be problems when someone who is used to a revolver switches to a semi-automatic handgun. “Somebody pulls the magazine out, they think the gun is empty,” Helmke said. But there’s still a round in the chamber, which can easily lead to an accidental shooting.

Try to think of an area of public behavior that potentially affects others that society doesn’t regulate to some degree. Freedom of speech? You can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Driving a car? “We don’t just say you automatically get your driver’s license when you’re 16,” Helmke said.

Even the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the great champions of gun rights, was not an absolutist. Writing for the court in its often-quoted Heller decision, Scalia asserted that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

Handgun-carry licensing doesn’t endanger that right. But it keeps us all safer, as would sensible safety training. Unlicensed carry does not.

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The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. September 14, 2017

Bike lanes important, but safety paramount

The idea of adding bike lanes on city streets is a great way to encourage exercise, help the environment, promote better health and add a quality-of-life amenity to the community.

But the concept can sometimes reach loggerheads with other concerns, such as:

. How many people will actually use the bike lanes, and will it be worth the expense?

. Will there be enough space in the street for smooth automobile traffic flow with bicycle lanes added?

. Will it be safe to use the bicycle lanes?

. Can auto traffic, parking spaces and bicyclists coexist on the same street?

This last concern has generated an ongoing discussion in Anderson, where the city plans to add a bicycle lane along Eighth Street, from Scatterfield Road to Raible Avenue.

For a stretch - from Nursery Road to the Eisenhower Bridge, and from Brown-Delaware to Raible - the bike lane would share space, or be “commingled,” with parking areas.

Understandably, that has some folks concerned about safety.

“People parking will pull over to the curb, requiring riders to swerve into the traffic lanes,” said Ben Orcutt, owner of Buckskin Bikes and chairman of the White River Bicycle Coalition.

In some cases, cyclists encountering parked cars could choose to ride along the curb or turn onto a sidewalk. But there might not be much space on the curb, access to the sidewalk might be rough and pedestrians could be encountered.

Ryan Phelps, senior transportation planner for the Madison County Council of Governments, noted that the city’s plan is an “incremental step in the provision and expansion of vital bicycle-friendly infrastructure.” In other words, maybe it could be changed later so that bicyclists and parked cars don’t have to share the same space.

While acknowledging that commingled bike lanes and parking isn’t ideal, officials in Midland, Michigan, and Muncie say they’ve not had related safety issues.

How well would it work in Anderson? Our guess is that a low volume of bicyclists who are familiar with riding in the commingled areas would have few problems. But riders who are unfamiliar with the bike lane, particularly if lots of bicyclists start using the lane, could run into problems.

It’s the city’s job to listen to the concerns of Orcutt and others and come up with the best solution to serving simultaneously the needs of bicyclists, motorists and residents and others who need parking spots.

And don’t forget about the original intent of the project: To make Eighth Street attractive to bicyclists, thereby encouraging exercise and good health, while adding an important quality-of-life attraction to the city.

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The (Bloomington) Herald-Times. September 14, 2017

Wentworth led many valuable initiatives for business school

The Indiana Kelley School of Business and the Bloomington community lost a legacy leader Monday with the death of Jack Wentworth at the age of 89.

Wentworth was a faculty member of the business school for nearly 40 years and served as dean from March 1984 through June 1993, before it became the Kelley School. The school went through many changes and enhanced its national prominence under his leadership.

Before becoming dean he was a marketing professor who for 10 years directed what would become the Indiana Business Research Center. For five years he led the MBA program.

His time as dean was a boom time for business schools, with enrollment demands rising rapidly. He paired that enhanced interest in business with a major community service initiative for IU business students. He wanted to offset the stereotype that business students were only interested in chasing large salaries.

He also was a pioneer in fighting for diversity in business graduate schools and as dean led the creation of a number of centers that expanded the school’s reach in specific disciplines and around the world. He hosted a television show about business that aired on public television stations across the state. For seven years he served as IU’s faculty representative to the Big Ten conference and the NCAA.

He wasn’t the kind of person to boast about his many accomplishments, and told the H-T when he stepped down from the dean’s position: “I happened to be here during the technological boom. You are affected by your times. Anyone in a leadership position must recognize what they have and let it happen. I hope I have allowed an open atmosphere that permitted positive things to happen here.”

But he also didn’t shy away from candor. He said in that same interview: “The people of Indiana get a heckuva deal … our salaries are dead last versus the schools we compete against. Even in the Big Ten we’re near the bottom, yet clearly we are ranked in the top three. For the amount of state dollars we get and the amount of prestige we bring to the state … it’s a heckuva deal.”

Wentworth also was active in his community, leading the university’s United Way drive while on the faculty, as a longtime member of the Bloomington Rotary Club and in other capacities.

He served his community and Indiana University with wisdom and wit and will be missed.

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