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Saturday, March 28, 2015

A quick note

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The idea that there is a new "heroin epidemic" is a hoax.

It is pure fear-mongering. Do not believe it.

0 Comments

Friday, March 27, 2015

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM

Here are my thoughts on the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

0 Comments

No, Bloomington cannot decriminalize marijuana

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Democratic candidate for mayor John Linnemeier made headlines earlier this week when he proposed that the city decriminalize marijuana. The problem with this is that city government has no authority to decriminalize marijuana or any other illegal drug. That is a state law, not a local law.

While I agree with Linnemeier on the issue itself, he did himself no favors with this proposal, which made him look like he does not understand the powers and responsibilities of local and state government in Indiana. If you want to be Mayor,you need to demonstrate that you know what city government does and does not have the authority to do. Proposing that the city do something the city cannot do indicates that you are "not ready for prime time."

What the city does have the authority to do is change the enforcement priorities for the police department. The Republican candidate for mayor in 2003 expressed concern over police "harassing" students when they are walking home from a bar. (Which is what we want them to do, instead of driving.) Linnemeier could use his authority as mayor to instruct police to place less emphasis on marijuana infractions. State police, of course, can continue to enforce the law. The Indiana University Police Department can do the same.

I mocked the Libertarian Party for being "the party of dope" a few years ago, and I also have to question the priorities of a candidate for Mayor who makes marijuana decriminalization a top issue - especially when he does not have the authority to decriminalize anything. If Linnemeier wants to change marijuana policy in the state, he should run for state legislator or governor. Perhaps Linnemeier and Brent Steele can join forces to make this a bipartisan effort.

0 Comments

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Littering

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

So I am driving on the west side the other day, in the left lane on West Third Street. The passenger in the car ahead of me chunks a Polar Pop cup out the window into the street, in traffic.

Really?

You can't find a trash can?

Seriously?

Come on, people. There is no reason to behave like that. Even if your parents didn't teach you basic manners, you are old enough to know better. Grow up.

0 Comments

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Free speech in the U.S. Senate

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

For all of the sound and fury about Republicans in the U.S. Senate allegedly sending a letter to the leadership of Iran, there is something that has been missed, and that is a critical fact. Those Republicans in the U.S. Senate never sent a letter to Iran. Yes. That is right. The Republicans never sent a letter to Iran. This is a rather important detail.

What the Republicans actually did is compose an "open letter" to be posted online and published in newspapers. In essence, they were exercising their free speech rights under the First Amendment. They wrote an editorial. If what the Republican senators did was "treasonous" then all of the editorials, speeches and statements by Democrats in opposition to President Bush's policy in Iraq and Afghanistan were and are also treasonous. All of those things could be seen by hostile regimes or terrorist groups, after all.

Now, politically, what the Republicans did was not very bright. By writing their editorial in the second person and calling it an open letter, they managed to draw more attention to their argument but also gave Democrats the opportunity to completely ignore the content of the editorial and toss out accusations, red herrings and straw men. They did not think this through. Someone should have raised a red flag about how this could be spun. Between all of the Senators and their staffs, someone should have thought about this. Perhaps someone did, and was ignored.

But the fact is that the Republicans did not do anything abnormal, or anything that Senators of both parties have not done for centuries. For all of the discussion about politics stopping at the water's edge, there has always been public debate about our foreign policy, and what that policy should and should not be. This debate has been carried on in editorial pages, floor speeches, press releases and letters to the editor, all the way down to water cooler discussions. Democrats, who once claimed that dissent is patriotic, are playing a very dangerous game that could easily turn against them.

2 Comments

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another outrage from the ABC

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Re-posting from Facebook:

Massive budget cuts are needed. That is the best way to terrorize these thugs.

1 Comments

Monday, March 23, 2015

A bigger question and a more serious problem

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The theft of $430,000 by an employee of the parks department in the city of Bloomington is certainly troubling, and it is important that this person should be punished to the fullest extent of the law if she is convicted by a jury of her peers. But that is not the real scandal here.

Why were there not sufficient financial controls in place to prevent the theft of several hundred thousand dollars? That is the real question here, and that's the real scandal. Why were there not several sets of eyes on the parks department finances to ensure that all of the money is accounted for and is going to the right place? How was this person able to get away with stealing for four years before she was caught?

We know from Romans 3:10-18 that human beings are inherently corrupt, so the fact that people will steal money or property is not a surprise. No matter how exemplary someone's history or character might be, there will always be temptation to steal, especially when one is responsible for large sums of money. That is why any organization should have procedures in place to verify where money is and how it is spent.

Even worse, this story follows the arrest and criminal prosecution of another Bloomington city government employee in another department who stole over $800,000 from the city over several years. With over $1,200,000 in taxpayers' money stolen by just two city employees, the people of Bloomington should be very worried over what are obviously very sloppy accounting practices in city government.

This year is an election year, with four candidates (three Democrats and a Republican) seeking their respective parties' nomination for Mayor. All four of them should commit to full and complete financial transparency, instead of the shamefully secretive nature of the Kruzan administration following the first scandal. All four should commit to a top-to-bottom review of the city's financial procedures to ensure that crimes like this do not happen again. The taxpayers deserve no less.

0 Comments

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pit Bulls

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

1 Comments

Saturday, March 21, 2015

18 years ago today...

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer 18 years ago today. Here is a link to a guest column I had published several years ago about the warning signs of TC.

0 Comments

Friday, March 20, 2015

Using private e-mail for Monroe County government business

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

We have heard a lot about Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail account for official government business and the debate over that practice. But we should also be aware of what local government is doing. At least two elected officials in local government - Monroe County Commissioners Pat Stoffers and Julie Thomas - openly use private e-mail accounts for official business. I posted a screenshot on Facebook last week of the commissioners' contact information, with the e-mail addresses they use.

To be fair, this is not a perfect analogy to the Clinton e-mail controversy, because both commissioners are open and public about using private e-mail for official government business. It is also not a secret that at least two members of the Monroe County Council have their county e-mail forwarded to their private e-mail accounts as well, though those addresses are not on the county council's website.

It is not uncommon for government officials to have personal e-mail accounts, obviously. It is not uncommon for a personal e-mail address to be occasionally used for official business, in government or any line of work. This is not a problem, provided the official e-mail account is copied on that correspondence so an official record is kept. The concern comes in when a private e-mail account are the primary means of communication for two of the three county commissioners and at least two members of the county council. This raises transparency and oversight issues, because these e-mail addresses are not controlled by county technical services.

This policy should be reversed, at both the county and state level. First, county government should reverse the policy of allowing elected officials to use private e-mail accounts, and have all county e-mails stored on county servers. Second, the state legislature should act to prohibit any local elected official from using a personal e-mail account for official government business if an official government e-mail address is available. The taxpayers of Indiana deserve to know that all official business is recorded for the public to see.

No matter how trustworthy or committed to transparency government officials may be, "trust us" should never be the policy for retaining official government records.

2 Comments

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Historical Fact

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

The Biblical flood described in Genesis 7-8, a supernatural worldwide disaster that obliterated all life on the planet, is not just a story or a parable. It is a historical fact.

2 Comments

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Republican state legislature's giveaway to doctors

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

Pseudoephedrine is a safe and effective over-the-counter drug, approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help sick people manage their symptoms in order to be more productive and less miserable. Some in the Indiana state legislature are determined to make this drug prescription-only, and this session saw a move in that direction with legislation to mandate drug felons get a prescription for pseudoephedrine while leaving the rest of us alone.

The problem is, people who have committed drug crimes get sick too. Even after they have served their time and even if they are now productive members of society, these people will now be forced to go to the doctor to get a prescription for a nasal decongestant. They will be forced to take time off work, assuming someone with a felony conviction will be able to find a job in the first place. They will have to pay extra out-of-pocket costs to a general practitioner or urgent care clinic, and will place more cost on insurance companies. If they are on Medicaid, we will all be paying for this.

This is a giveaway to the medical industry. The Republican supermajority in the state legislature has just mandated more business for the state's doctors and urgent care clinics, business that the people who simply need an over-the-counter remedy for cold symptoms would not otherwise give to those doctors. This unnecessary legislation is corporate welfare that will not do anything to eliminate the problem of methamphetamine use in the state of Indiana.

It is also easy to do an end run around the Republican mandate. Here is the obvious solution for drug felons who are sick and need relief: Hand some cash to a friend and send him to the pharmacy to buy the medicine over the counter, avoiding the roadblock the Republican legislature has placed between you and your cold medicine. It is also worth pointing out that even if we magically eliminated every home meth lab in the state, we would only reduce meth use by twenty percent. This is because (as I have pointed out before) eighty percent of the methamphetamine in Indiana comes from Mexico.

Make no mistake about it: This is a classic example of the "slippery slope." Legislators who love the nanny state but know it is not politically feasible to mandate a prescription for everyone in the state have passed this as a step in that direction. We know they will not give up that cause because they have tried it before. When this initiative inevitably fails (and it will fail) nanny state apologists will say that we did not go far enough and we now need to do more to fight meth use. A better option would be for the Republican supermajority to stop meddling in the health care decisions of people who simple want some relief during cold and flu season.

1 Comments

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mindless savages

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

What prompts teenage girls to become mindless savages?

This was a horrific assault - an ambush of a girl expecting a one-on-one fight.

These young women should never see the outside of a prison ever again.

0 Comments

Monday, March 16, 2015

Justice denied by technicalities

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM

It is a common meme in pop culture (especially movies and TV shows) that an obviously guilty criminal is freed because of "technicalities" that prevent him from going to jail. It is becoming increasingly apparent what actually happens is the innocent are kept behind bars because of technicalities, as judges deny the opportunity to review evidence that could prove that the person behind bars did not commit the crime.

For example, see this horrifying blog post by Radley Balko:

To win a new trial after conviction, an inmate must show that he or she has discovered new evidence, that the new evidence was not discoverable at the time of trial and that if the evidence had been available, the jury would probably have acquitted. The inmate must also file his or her petition within a year of when the new evidence was discovered or should have been discovered.

Kunco's petition hinged on the NAS report and its findings on bite mark evidence. In denying Kunco's petition for a new trial, Judge Rita Donovan Hathaway acknowledged that there are problems with bite mark analysis, but she found that the NAS report wasn't new evidence. Rather, it was based on older research for which Kunco had already missed his deadline to file.

If flawed science put an innocent man behind bars, and a so-called "judge" more interested in technicalities than justice kept him there, this is a quadruple injustice. It is unjust for the innocent person kept behind bars, it is unjust for the victim who will not see the real criminal punished, it is unjust for society that will not be protected from the real criminal, and it is unjust for the real criminal who will get away with his crime.

I sent an email to the legislators representing Monroe County urging them to consider limiting the use of bite mark "evidence" in criminal trials, but that is not enough. Preventing future injustices is important, but that is only a small part of ensuring the innocent are protected and the guilty are punished. The rules regarding examination of evidence need to be changed so that inmates have an opportunity to challenge flawed evidence or discredited forensic techniques, without a time limit.

Some states ahve already done this, and Indiana should follow in that path.

0 Comments

Sunday, March 15, 2015

When innocence is not enough to get you out of prison

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:30 AM

This is horrifying:

If you are a wrongfully convicted man or woman in this country, it is extremely difficult—if not outright impossible—to win your case by advancing the simple argument that you are innocent. Sounds crazy, right? But it's true. The Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to hold that the federal Constitution allows for so-called freestanding claims of innocence, that is, the right to be let out of prison simply because you didn't do it, without any other "technical" violation to back up your argument. In the United States, the inmate who raises a compelling case of innocence after a constitutionally proper trial may well be doomed.

Source: Slate.com, March 11, 2015.

1 Comments