Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers

The (Munster) Times. July 13, 2018

Groping scandal will stain state government as long as Hill holds office

Anyone claiming a partisan witch hunt against Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill will have to rethink an inconvenient part of that proposed storyline.

Yet another accuser came forth publicly Thursday, this time a member of Hill’s own political party, detailing allegations of sexual groping by the state’s elected top officer of the court.

Niki DaSilva is a Republican Indiana Senate legislative assistant.

She now is the third woman to make public her identity in accusing Hill of inappropriate groping during a late-night Indianapolis bar party celebrating the end of the legislative session in March.

Other Hill accusers, allegedly groped at the same party, include Indiana Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and Gabrielle McLemore, communications director for Indiana Senate Democrats. A fourth accuser has not been identified.

The growing chorus of accusations illustrates why Hill should step down from public office to keep the stain and distraction of scandal off of this high public office.

A separate notable chorus — one specifically calling for Hill to step down — is being led by top members of Hill’s own political party.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long all have asked for Hill to resign.

Hill has refused, and that is his right, pending a criminal probe into the matter.

But it’s difficult to imagine an effective way forward for Hill, given the severity of the accusations, which are specific and disturbing.

The latest accuser to become public, DaSilva, noted Thursday that Hill told her and other women at the bar that night, “You’ve got to show a little skin” in order to get drink service.

A few minutes later, DaSilva contends, she attempted to push away Hill’s groping hand from her lower back when “he grabbed my hand and moved both of our hands over my butt, lingering there before releasing me.”

Hill would respond later Thursday that his office received an email somehow indicating DaSilva was coached into the account.

That’s for the criminal probe to sort out, which is to be carried out by a soon-to-be-named special prosecutor.

That special prosecutor also will have to review an account from Candelaria Reardon, of Munster, who claims Hill forced his hand, uninvited, onto her back and buttocks that night as well.

“The inappropriate and inexcusable behaviors exhibited by Attorney General Hill were experienced by multiple women of both political parties, from both chambers and in varying positions within the Legislature,” DaSilva said.

It’s difficult to imagine Hill being able to effectively fulfill the sworn duties of his office under the weight and distraction of such accusations.

He should step down.

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South Bend Tribune. July 13, 2018

Avoiding irreparable harm to Hoosiers

It’s only a matter of time before Hoosier farmers and other industries start feeling the impact of tariffs.

China has imposed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, among other American products such as pork, in response to the Trump administration placing $34 billion worth of new taxation on imports from China.

Soybeans are the No. 1 agricultural export in the country, with sales of $27 billion last year. With Indiana producing about 5 percent of the nation’s soybeans, the 25 percent tariff on that commodity alone could end up costing Hoosier farmers about $150 million.

According to a Purdue University study, it’s projected that China’s soybean imports from the U.S. would fall by about 65 percent and total U.S. soy exports would drop by about 37 percent.

A USA Today story that named 15 counties most exposed to China’s tariffs listed Carroll County in Indiana as one of the most affected.

According to a Brookings Institution analysis, 1,835 jobs in that county’s animal processing industry could be influenced by tariffs. That represents more than a 35 percent share of local employment.

But agriculture isn’t the only Indiana industry that will be hit. The steel and aluminum industry could feel a significant jolt, too.

The RV industry in Elkhart County, which Brookings rates as one of the top five counties in the country when it comes to exports as a percentage of GDP, is vulnerable to retaliatory tariffs that will raise prices and cost jobs.

Industry officials are worried about the possibility of a trade war. U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who has voiced concern about the tariffs and the hit Hoosier jobs could take, recently arranged a meeting so that business representatives could express their concerns to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

One former Republican official put it best in Brian Howey’s July 8 column in The Tribune: “The consequences of this will be paid for by the American workers, the soybean farmers, because when those markets go, they’re gone.”

There are thousands of Hoosier workers who could feel the shock of these tariffs. Our local congressional representatives owe it to them to do all they can to make sure the tariffs don’t do irreparable harm to Indiana’s economy.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. July 13, 2018

Indianapolis unlikely landing spot for Amazon: CNBC

Seattle-based Amazon hasn’t shared any details since announcing the 20 finalists vying for HQ2, its second headquarters, but that hasn’t stopped efforts to guess which city will win the $5 billion investment and an estimated 50,000 high-paying jobs.

CNBC, which does its own ranking of top states in which to do business, used data from its own survey to assess 18 of the finalists (Toronto and Washington, D.C., aren’t located in states, of course). Indianapolis fares poorly on CNBC’s list, finishing 16th. The network’s assessment:

“Indiana has the stable, business-friendly environment going for it. State finances are solid, though the housing market is a bit sluggish compared to some parts of the country. And the state prides itself on a pro-business regulatory climate.

“No state has better roads, and commutes are a breeze, averaging just under 24 minutes. Air travel options could be better, however.

But where the state really falls short is its No. 40 Workforce ranking. Only about 24 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Underfunded public schools do not help.”

The last observation will surprise some legislators, who love to boast that Indiana devotes “over half of our General Fund to education and ranks No. 3 in the country for the percentage of our total budget that goes to education.”

Yes, those points are true. They also are disingenuous - schools in most states are largely supported with property taxes, as Indiana’s schools were before our sales-tax rate was increased by 17 percent in 2008 and most K-12 costs shifted from local taxpayers to a statewide tax base.

The most recent data available from the Census Bureau, based on 2016 figures, show Indiana spent $9,586 per pupil. That ranks 35th among the states - higher than last-place Utah, at $6,953 per pupil, but a long way from top-spending New York, at $22,366. All of our surrounding states spend more each year on students, according to the Census data.

CNBC didn’t mention quality of life in its assessment of Indianapolis’ chances in the Amazon bidding, but the mega-retailer has said that is a factor in its decision. In its “Top States for Business,” the network ranks Indiana 46th worst.

And the observation that no state has better roads? We’re guessing CNBC is referring to the highway infrastructure itself, not the condition of our roads and bridges.

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Kokomo Tribune. July 12, 2018

State aims at outbreaks

More than 200 Western School Corp. students were vaccinated for chickenpox after an outbreak in March 2012.

The virus was confirmed to have infected five fifth-graders, the Howard County Health Department reported. It acted quickly to prevent the infection’s spread and held a free vaccination clinic at Western Primary School.

Two hundred ninety Western students and staff were found in need of a booster shot. County health officials couldn’t accommodate such a large number. They had just 103 doses in stock at the time.

So state health officials solicited nearly 200 doses from other counties.

Not everyone participated in the clinic. As a result, 35 students missed the next three weeks of school because their parents declined immunization for their children.

That chickenpox outbreak at Western — and another three months earlier at Taylor Community School Corp. — spotlights the importance of immunizations to public health. And vaccination guidelines announced by the state health department in 2013 could help prevent another area outbreak.

The rules require two chickenpox vaccinations for every child in every grade, unless the student can prove he or she contracted the disease in the past.

Previously, some grade levels were required to have only one vaccination for the illness. And at Western, all five of the fifth-graders infected with chickenpox in 2012 had received the inoculation but weren’t scheduled for a booster until the following year.

If you have had chickenpox once, there’s a chance you could have it again. In one study reported by the United Kingdom’s National Health System, about 1 in 8 people suffering chickenpox reported they had had it once before.

Fortunately, the Howard County Health Department makes it easy for families to get vaccinations. It hosts weekly children’s immunization clinics, and free or low-cost vaccinations are available to all resident families without immunization coverage or health insurance.

A new school year begins in just four weeks for some Kokomo area schools. For the health of your child and the safety of their classmates and community, don’t ignore their immunizations.

 




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