I really wish the Herald-Times would actually research and think about what happens in local government before writing an editorial about it. Not only would that be more informative to the H-T readership but it would also be more fair to local government officials. Such is the case with the editorial board's uninformed statement about compensatory time off in the September 22 editorial.
In addition to accrued Paid Time Off that was paid when he left the agency, the executive director of the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District had accumulated 54.75 hours of comp time for hours worked above 40 hours in a week. The Herald-Times wrote "So many problems accompany 'comp time' that government should stay as far away from it as possible."
That is a simplistic overreaction. If managed properly, compensatory time (even at 1.5 hours per hour worked) is less expensive than overtime because it requires no extra money from the employer - just additional time off for the employee. In fact, that has been one of the concerns about comp time, because of worries that employees will not get the added money owed them for extra work and will be forced to take time off instead. The problem comes when someone is allowed to accumulate a lot of comp time, because that creates a liability for the MCSWMD - and the taxpayers.
For the MCSWMD, comp time was clearly a better deal than overtime in this case. (For the employer, if not the employee.) Had the former executive director been paid overtime instead of hour-for-hour comp time, he would have been paid 82.13 hours instead of 54.75 hours. For those who are mathematically challenged, 82.13 is bigger than 54.75 and will cost more.
The problem for MCSWMD is not that comp time was allowed. In fact, the 54 hours of comp time was a only 19% of the 290 hours of paid time off. While some PTO accrual is wise (especially in the event of something like an unexpected serious illness) the question should be how much PTO and comp time should be allowed to be accrued. If the payout of over $9,000 for accrued hours is a problem, then the problem is the implementation of the policy, not the policy itself. No policy is going to be perfect if it is not implemented well.
Let's not forget that Donald Trump used government as a Mafia enforcer to muscle people of of their property. He is a thief and a thug. We don't need someone like him in the White House. We might as well elect Barack Obama to a third term. I will believe Trump is sincere when he gives back everything he stole - with interest.
Note: I submitted this to the New York Times last week.
Gov. Peter Shumlin's editorial is typical of the hysteria that has fueled the War on Drugs for two generations - the same hysteria that leads to aggressive paramilitary police tactics such as dropping a flash bang grenade into an 18 month old baby's crib and maiming him for life.
First, Gov. Shumlin claims are false, and therefore should have not been printed by the New York Times. Pediatricians already have the authority to prescribe OxyContin to children in severe pain. The FDA decision did not "legalize" the practice. What the FDA actually did was provide guidelines for the use of the drug. Whether Gov. Shumlin was uninformed or dishonest, he has proven himself to be unfit for office by spreading falsehoods.
Furthermore, describing opioid painkillers as "poison" is unnecessary hyperbole that is unworthy of the nation's newspaper of record, much less one of the nation's 50 governors. Opioid painkillers are not poison. Someone can poison himself by abusing them, but the drug itself can be invaluable to people suffering severe pain.
I know if (God forbid) my young sons were in severe pain, I would want all options on the table, while carefully considering the benefits and risks of those options. As a father, I should have that choice.
Instead of listening to the fearmongering of bloviating politicians like Gov. Shumlin, Americans should trust the pediatricians who are treating children that may need powerful pain relief. Let the doctors practice medicine, and the meddling politicians need to mind their own business.
Social media has lit up with discussion of a 14 year old Arab teenager arrested after bringing a homemade digital clock to school to show off his skills to his teachers. He was arrested and accused of making a bomb threat. So this is obviously racism and persecution of Arabs, right? If this young man had blond hair and blue eyes and his name was John Smith, nothing would have happened to him. But because he is an Arab named Ahmed Mohamed (and his family is Muslim!) he is the target of racist, bigoted cops and school officials.
Not so fast. This story is a lot more nuanced than that.
First of all, go do a Google image search take a look at the clock online. It does look like a number of suitcase bombs we have all seen in movies and video games. It was not a bomb, nor was it presented as such. But in the post-Columbine era, schools do need to take reasonable precautions when a teenage boy brings something like that to school. Just to be on the safe side, the school did need to intervene and raise questions.
There was absolutely non legitimate justification for the police to arrest Mohamed, though. The digital clock may have reminded school officials of a suitcase bomb, but it was not a bomb and was never presented as a bomb. It was a homemade digital clock. The intelligent thing to do would be to confiscate it, give it to the boy's parents at the end of the school day, and tell Mohamed not to bring it back to school. Arresting him was an absurd overreaction that should result in strict scrutiny of the police officers and possible disciplinary action.
Mohamed did nothing wrong, but what he did was unwise. That said, how many of us have NOT done things that were unwise when we were 14 years old?
A bigger culprit here is not racism or bigotry, but absurd "zero tolerance" policies that are better described as "zero intelligence" policies. Far too many young people (as young as elementary school students) have been caught by these "zero intelligence" policies that ban discernment in favor of a strict enforcement of rules even when it does not make sense. Hopefully Mohamed's case will be the spark we need to eliminate this foolishness once and for all.
The Kim Davis case has been made out to be very simplistic by both sides of the same-sex marriage debate, but it is actually much more complicated and deserves to be thought about much more carefully than a #DoYourJob hashtag in a 140 character Twitter post.
Last week, a letter to the editor attacked a Democratic county clerk in Kentucky for refusing to approve marriage licenses for same sex couples.The author closed his letter with the statement "Religion is important. But it does not trump the law." In my comment, I asked: Does that mean you would condemn Corrie Ten Boom?
Predictably, Leftists became outraged by my question. But the Leftists who are outraged miss the entire point. What I was doing was testing the principle that "religion does not trump the law." So if that is the principle, does the author believe Corrie Ten Boom was wrong to hide Jews from the Nazis? Remember, I am not the one who laid out that principle. The LTTE author did. I am testing to see if he really believes it.
Here's the problem with the argument the author makes: It is way too simplistic. Religion does not trump the law, and religion does trump the law. That is the point of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by Bill Clinton in the 1990's. To require someone to violate their religious convictions, the government has to show a compelling state interest that cannot be accomplished by other means. This does not mean that the government may never pass or enforce a law that violates religious principles, only that it faces strict scrutiny when doing so.
In some cases, people have been prosecuted and executed for "obeying the law," such as when soldiers commit war crimes. Saying they were "just following lawful orders" does not mean they did not commit a crime.
No, I am not saying Kim Davis is the moral equivalent of Corrie Ten Boom. And yes, I admit that I used an extreme example. But I used an extreme example to make a point: That there is a line where someone can use his religion to justify disobeying the law. Once we establish that there is a line, we then begin the hard work of determining where to draw that line - sometimes on a case-by-case basis. That is not the easy way out, so it is understandable why people would prefer Twitter hashtags to difficult philosophical questions.
When religion can be a legitimate reason to disobey the law (legally or philosophically) and when it cannot be used as a reason to disobey the law requires a much more complex and sophisticated thought process than simply making the state into a deity in and of itself. Because when you say "obey the law" above and beyond anything else, then you place the civil magistrate above God, and make the government into a god.
Note: I sent this letter to the Indianapolis Star last week.
When Donald Trump was asked about partial-birth abortion in 1999, the very first words that came out of his mouth were "I am very pro-choice." It has been a while since partial-birth abortion has been discussed nationally, so many may not know what the procedure involves. Here is a refresher: The baby (in the second or third trimester of pregnancy" is delivered feet-first until only the head remains in the birth canal. The abortionist stabs the baby in the head, sucks out the brain and crushes the skull.
Trump has recently claimed to have converted to a pro-life viewpoint, just in time to run for President as a Republican. Does anyone actually believe that his "conversion" is genuine?
Trump supported the abominable Kelo vs. City of New London decision in 2005, in which the Supreme Court literally rewrote the Constitution's protections of our private property rights. Thanks to SCOTUS (supported by Trump) the government can now forcibly confiscate your home and give it to a private developer. Trump, of course, has used government to take people's property so he can build on the ground where his victims' homes used to be. No wonder he opposes private property rights.
Trump is not a conservative. And given the thousands upon thousands of dollars he has donated to Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, Trump cannot make a credible claim to being a Republican either. Republicans need to wake up. Do not nominate this man to lead our party in 2016.
The streets of Bloomington are city property, maintained by taxpayers. That means those streets belong to all of us, not just a favored few. It is too bad that five of nine city council members did not agree with that when they voted to install additional "traffic calming" devices on West Third Street - a street already covered by bump-outs that severely restrict traffic flow on a public street. The bump-outs would be more accurately called traffic impeding devices. I took pictures of the "traffic calming" devices in 2012 and posted them online. I re-posted them on Facebook on September 13.
It is understandable why people who live in the neighborhood would want the bump-outs installed, and why they would want to re-direct traffic to other streets. They have a First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances, and the city council should take them seriously. But the councilors are to look out for the interests of the entire city, not the narrow interests of one politically favored neighborhood.
The West Third traffic impeding devices are a microcosm of a backwards attitude in city government when it comes to public infrastructure and moving traffic. The goal of street design should be to move traffic in an efficient and safe manner. The goal should not be to funnel traffic onto other streets to give a political favor to a specific group of people. The traffic impeding devices on South Lincoln Street are another example of this backwards mentality.
This was a bad decision by the city council and should be reversed. If you have a subscription to Herald-Times Online, you can see more on this issue here and here and here and here and here and here.
One of the tragic things about the War on Drugs is how drug warriors are increasingly intimidating doctors who are trying to relieve their patients as they suffer in agonizing pain. (See here and here and here for more.) It should be pointed out, of course, that the doctors treating severe pain know a lot more about medicine, the specific needs of their patients and the real risks of opioid painkillers than the politicians do.
We should be skeptical of grandstanding politicians like Joe Manchin (a Democratic U.S. Senator from West Virginia) as he loudly denounces the Food and Drug Administration for providing guidelines for OxyContin prescriptions that doctors all over the country already have the legal authority to provide to pediatric patients
Opioid painkiller abuse is a serious problem. But whatever problems one may have with the manufacturer of OxyContin or other opioids, the decision for a prescription is ultimately made by the doctor caring for the child and that child's family - not the pharmaceutical company. As long as the doctor is competent and ethical, we should leave the choice of medical care up to him without being micromanaged by the federal government or bullied by law enforcement. If one of my sons was suffering from horrible pain, I would want every option on the table to provide relief while responsibly managing the risks the painkillers carry.
Bloviating politicians aside, this was a medically sound and compassionate decision by the FDA. While Congress is wise to conduct oversight, the self-aggrandizing pronouncements of career politicians like Joe Manchin do little to address real drug abuse while potentially doing serious harm to children suffering from pain. I trust the doctors all across this land as to what medicine is appropriate far more than I trust the U.S. Senate.
The Roman Catholic Church's recent decision on forgiveness for women who have aborted their babies has drawn a lot of attention, but New York Times columnist Jill Filipovic shows she does not understand the purpose of a church. A church is to worship and honor God, not to advance a political agenda or run a public relations battle.
Filipovic complains that the Roman Catholic Church's offer of forgiveness "is a softer version of the same judgment: that the millions of women around the world who have abortions every year are sinners." This is another point where secular pundits fail to understand Christian doctrine generally, for both Protestants and Roman Catholics. If Scripture declares something to be a sin, it is a sin - no matter how many people have committed the sin. Abortion, because an innocent life is terminated, is an especially heinous sin.
It is the role of the church - whether it is a Protestant denomination or the Roman Catholic Church - to shame sinners for their sins. Shame is an essential part of the gospel. We realize how wicked we have been and how much we need the blood of Jesus Christ to cover our sins. We then repent, ask Jesus to forgive us, and we are eternally clothed in His righteousness. A Christian who has committed a sin that is also a crime, of course, should willingly submit to the judgment of the civil magistrate. Repentance and forgiveness do not negate the need for earthly consequences.
That said, the Roman Catholic Church is wrong to automatically excommunicate women who have had abortions, and allowing all priests "to forgive women who have had abortions" is a compounding of that error. Obviously Christians fall into sin, including murder, adultery and other heinous things. Being Christians does not make us immune to sin, although we should become more holy over time as we are sanctified. It is not the act itself that should bring excommunication. It is the sin and a refusal to repent, and especially when one stubbornly continues committing the same sin.
Like it or not, abortion is still easy to obtain in many parts of the country. A woman and her family may decide on abortion in a moment of weakness and then regret it soon after. That person needs the guidance of God and His church at that point more than ever, and automatic excommunication cuts that person off from the very means of grace the church exists to provide. This is itself sin and the Roman Catholic Church should repent of it.
Did the MCCSC School Board really need to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the school system's anti-bullying policy? First, let's look at the following quote from the MCCSC anti-bullying policy, courtesy of the Herald-Times and the H-TPassing Notes blog:
Bullying behavior toward a student, whether by other students, staff, or third parties is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. This prohibition includes physical, verbal, and psychological abuse as provided herein.
Simply put, there was no need for special protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The anti-bullying policy was already universal and applied to all students. Instead of changing the policy, MCCSC should enforce the policy that already exists. If there are teachers or administrators who refuse to enforce the anti-bullying policy, whether through malice, negligence, cowardice, laziness or incompetence, fire them. Then the bullied student's family should be exempted from paying taxes to the school system.
There are two kinds of people who disagree with me. The first kind will flagrantly lie about me and make things up out of whole cloth in order to smear me, accusing me of supporting bullying against homosexual students, even after I explicitly said bullying should not be tolerated. These people are liars. You will never find a single time I have supported bullying in any context, because I have never done that. People who falsely accuse me of supporting bullying do not deserve to be treated with respect and should be exposed and condemned as liars.
The second kind of person will make an argument that a population that has been targeted by bullies or is more vulnerable to bullying should get more protection. This kind of person I can at least respect, even though I disagree with their conclusion regarding the best policy. If you can make a reasonable argument based on facts and logic in an honest and civil manner, I can engage you in a productive conversation.
The problem is that if you need to craft a new policy to protect students who are not currently being properly protected under an anti-bullying policy that already protects all students, the challenge is implementation rather than policy. That will not change unless you replace or re-train the personnel you have, and changing the policy will not be effective if the implementation continues to be defective. Again, if teachers or administrators are not properly enforcing the anti-bullying policy they should be terminated from their employment.
Putting rules on top of already existing rules to show "we really, really, really mean it this time" is not the way to solve the issue of bullying. It is actually very simple: Students are to treat other students with respect, and threats, intimidation, harassment and so forth will not be tolerated. Once that policy is in place, enforce it. That is how you show you are committed to protecting students from bullying.
Six years ago yesterday, fewer than two dozen men managed to change the world. I'm not going to bore you with another retrospective on September 11 like the ones on every other news web site and blog out there. Anyway, I've already done one of those. What I find interesting, six years later, is the movement for 9/11 "truth." There was a presentation downtown on Monday where speakers peddled conspiracy theories about what really happened on September 11. (See reports from the Herald-Times and the Indiana Daily Student.)
Some of this is the result of what some conservative commentators have called Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), an intense and irrational hatred of President Bush leading people to believe anything that casts the President in a negative light. BDS is closely related to Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which brought forth "theories" about how the federal government was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.
Without getting into a discussion of the evidence and documentation presented by the "9/11 Truth" crowd, let's examine for a moment the basic premise of the movement. The President of the United States (or someone at a high level in the administration) intentionally murdered 3,000 people, destroyed the World Trade Center, severely damaged the Pentagon, and crashed four commercial airlines in order to start two wars with Iraq and Afghanistan.
I understand that any President will have critics and those who will vehemently oppose him. I understand that any President will have people who believe his motives are less than honorable in the policies he advocates and positions he takes. I was very critical of the previous President and I believe his tenure was very destructive for our country. I have often referred to the former occupant of the White House as "disgraced ex-President Clinton." As immoral as I think Clinton was, though, I do not believe that he was part of a conspiracy to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City.
Do the people who believe these 9/11 conspiracy theories truly believe that the President of the United States is so evil that he would be part of the worst terrorist attack ever committed on American soil? In order to believe that President Bush was involved in taking down the towers, you have to believe one of two things: that the President planned the terrorist attacks with Osama bin Laden, or that the President knew about the attacks in advance and planned to opportunistically destroy the WTC when Al Qaeda struck on September 11.
In order to believe that the President was involved in September 11, you further have to believe that the administration has somehow managed to hold together a large conspiracy theory for the past six years, with no one accidentally spilling the beans or blowing the whistle. Could a conspiracy as large and complicated as would be required to pull off a planned demolition of the World Trade Center manage to hold together without leaks for this long? Could a federal government that could not competently get aid to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (to say nothing of other examples of federal incompetence) somehow hold it together in this case?
And for what purpose would the President engage in such a monstrous act? A woman at the Buskirk-Chumley presentation told the H-T that "Somebody is getting rich off this war at the expense of many lives". Does she truly believe that the President of the United States would participate in mass murder in order to help supporters, campaign contributors or friends "get rich"? Even if we accept the premise that the President wanted a pretext for war, isn't there a much less complicated and less risky way to do it? Why not simply allow the terrorists to strike, instead of actively aiding them with a "controlled demolition"?
Any major event like September 11 will be a source of controversy. The fact that we allowed 19 men with box cutters to use our transportation infrastructure to commit this atrocity strikes deep into our sense of security and, to some extent, our national pride. There certainly could have been more done to prevent the attacks in the years leading up to it. But it was not a wild conspiracy, it was an act of terrorism that showed how dangerous Muslim fanatics can be.
I am thankful for the presentation on Monday night, because it showed how great this country is. We had people suggesting that the President of the United States committed mass murder of American civilians and aided a sworn enemy's attack on us. We had people suggesting that the President of the United States committed treason both in levying war against our country and providing aid and comfort to our enemies. Would citizens of many other countries have this freedom?
If there is a "war on cops," it is one of the most ineffective wars we have ever seen. As The Guardian points out, police officers are safer today in raw numbers than they have been in 25 years:
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), which keeps data on officer deaths going back over 100 years, 24 officers have been shot and killed by suspects this year. This puts the US on pace for 36 non-accidental, firearm-related police fatalities in 2015. Each one of such deaths is a tragedy for the officers killed, their families and the communities they serve, but this would be the lowest total in 25 years, aside from 2013 which saw 31 such deaths.
But those numbers look even better when you consider that there are many more cops on the street today than there were in 1990 and that the population is much bigger than it was then. Not only are police fatalities smaller in raw numbers today than 25 years ago, the fatality rate is down quite a bit too. According to the Justice Department, "There are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States." This means 36 police officers murdered in 2015 amounts to 0.004% of all police officers in the country.
Why point this out? First of all, truth is good unto itself. If you have a false narrative that a lot of people believe, it is good to dispel the myths and correct the record.
But there are public policy ramifications too. If we're misleading police officers - intentionally or not - they will be more nervous and more likely to use force if they feel threatened. This is especially true when many of the folks that police are dealing with are already unsavory individuals. This is not a criticism of police. It is an observation about human nature and the natural self-preservation instinct. Now matter how professional or well trained someone is, if that person has been fed false propaganda about how they are being targeted they will be extra careful.
Also, bad information leads to bad policy. Our policy makers need to know that there is no war on police, so they do not overreact with policies designed to fight against a war that is not actually happening. A crisis is a perfect opportunity for politicians to expand their power and restrict our liberty, so when there is actually not a crisis we need to point that out, loudly, clearly and (if necessary) repeatedly.
No one denies that one police officer killed in the line of duty is too many, just as any murder is one too many. But we must base our arguments (and especially our public policy) on reality, not on myths, paranoia and false memes.
Here is the local school system's anti-bullying policy.
Book MCCSC Policy Manual
Section 5000 - STUDENTS GUIDELINES
Adopted September 17, 2013
Bullying committed by students toward other students is strictly prohibited. Engaging in bullying conduct described in this rule by use of data or computer software that is accessed through any computer, any computer system, or any computer network is also prohibited.
For purposes of this rule, bullying is defined as overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or written communications or images transmitted in any manner including electronically or digitally, physical acts committed, aggression, or any other similar behaviors that are committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the targeted student and create for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment that:
places the targeted student in reasonable fear of harm to the targeted student’s person or property;
has a substantially detrimental effect on the targeted student’s physical or mental health;
has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s academic performance; or
has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, and privileges provided by the school.
This rule may be applied regardless of the physical location of the bullying behavior when a student committing bullying behavior and the targeted student attend a school within the school corporation and disciplinary action is reasonably necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or prevent an unreasonable threat to the rights of other students to a safe and peaceful learning environment.
Any student or parent who has knowledge of conduct in violation of this rule or any student who feels he/she has been bullied in violation of this rule should immediately report the conduct to the [school administrator] who has responsibility for all investigations of student misconduct including bullying. A student or parent may also report the conduct to a teacher or counselor who will be responsible for notifying the [school administrator]. This report may be made anonymously.
The [school administrator] shall investigate immediately all reports of bullying made pursuant to the provisions of this rule. Such investigation must include any action or appropriate responses that may be taken immediately to address the bullying conduct wherever it takes place. The parents of the bully and the targeted student(s) shall be notified on a regular, periodic basis of the progress and the findings of the investigation and of any remedial action that has been taken.
If the investigation finds an instance of bullying behavior has occurred, it will result in prompt and appropriate disciplinary action. This may include up to expulsion for students, up to discharge for employees, exclusion for parents, guests, volunteers, and contractors, and removal from any official position and/or a request to resign for Board members. Individuals may also be referred to law enforcement officials.
The [school administrator] will be responsible for working with the school counselors and other community resources to provide information and/or follow-up services to support the targeted student and to educate the student engaging in bullying behavior on the effects of bullying and the prevention of bullying. In addition, the school administrator and school counselors will be responsible for determining if the bullying behavior is a violation of law required to be reported to law enforcement under Indiana law based upon their reasonable belief. Such determination should be made as soon as possible and once this determination is made, the report should be made immediately to law enforcement.
False reporting of bullying conduct as defined in this rule by a student shall be considered a violation of this rule and will result in any appropriate disciplinary action or sanctions if the investigation of the report finds it to be false.
Retaliation against any person who reports, is thought to have reported, files a complaint, or otherwise participates in an investigation or inquiry concerning allegations of bullying is prohibited and will not be tolerated. Such retaliation shall be considered a serious violation of Board policy and independent of whether a complaint is substantiated. Suspected retaliation should be reported in the same manner as bullying.
Failure by a school employee who has a responsibility to report bullying or investigate bullying or any other duty under this rule to carry out such responsibility or duty will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment with the school corporation.
Counseling, corrective discipline, and/or referral to law enforcement will be used to change the behavior of the perpetrator. This includes appropriate intervention(s), restoration of a positive climate, and support for victims and others impacted by the bullying.
Educational outreach and training will be provided to school personnel, parents, and students concerning the identification, prevention, and intervention in bullying.
All schools in the corporation are encouraged to engage students, staff and parents in meaningful discussions about the negative aspects of bullying. The parent involvement may be through parent organizations already in place in each school.
The superintendent or designee will be responsible for developing detailed administrative procedures consistent with the Indiana Department of Education guidelines for the implementation of the provisions of this rule.
I always wondered why Coleco was allowed to make an add-on for the ColecoVision that played Atari 2600 games. Turns out the 2600 had no custom hardware. Every game console since has avoided that error.
We're at the end of the third week of classes at Indiana University, and here is an article every student should read. Ben Yeager's story is admittedly extreme, but it illustrates how dangerous binge drinking can be. A little closer to home, there is the tragic story of Rachael Fiege, who died after a fatal head injury at a party in 2013.
In college, I was a teetotaler. I held the belief that drinking was sinful. (I was wrong.) Even today, I am effectively a teetotaler because I never developed a taste for alcohol and I cannot stand the taste of it. I avoid alcohol today for the same reason I avoid grapefruit. I do not feel I missed anything by not drinking, though. And the stories of Yeager and Fiege are a reminder of just how dangerous abusing alcohol can be.
Yeager was incredibly lucky. Fiege was not. Yeager could have died, been crippled, or killed someone else many times over. He recognizes his problem and I applaud his courage in speaking out on a national platform to educate others. I only hope his story will wake up students in a similar situation or wake up those students' friends as to why they need to intervene if they truly care for those friends. Addicts rarely recognize their problem. They need loving friends, and will more likely listen to their friends than family or authority figures.
This is serious business. It is better to lose a friendship because you tried to help than to lose a friend to the grave.
What is the best way for business needs to be considered when the city council considers ordinances that could negatively impact local business? That is one of the questions I got from the Chamber of Commerce for their candidate survey. It is a good question and unfortunately I do not believe the city council adequately considers how the legislation and regulations they pass will impact local business.
Fifteen years ago, the Monroe County Taxpayers Association proposed that the city council produce an economic impact statement for ordinances, such as the temporary sign ordinance. (I was the MCTA executive director at the time.) This was a good idea then and remains a good idea today. But it was not too difficult to understand that restricting the ability of a business to advertise itself would be harmful, which is why I opposed and spoke against it back then.
After the temporary sign ordinance passed and enforcement started, I requested and got copies of over 100 citations back in 2000 to study the negative impact of the ordinance. There was grumbling in the community that it was too aggressively enforced, including by some who supported it. I am not sure what some of these folks thought was going to happen. Obviously regulations restricting signage will be enforced, especially with the possibility of fines as punishment for noncompliance. It would have been helpful to have those people on board opposing it before it passed.
There is also the issue of how regulations impact local business as opposed to national chains. With many chains, their building is their sign. A national chain's brand gives it a built in advantage over a local business. A national chain, of course, also has a much larger budget (along with attorneys) to deal with government actions in a way that a small Bloomington-based business does not.
What the city council needs to do is carefully consider how their proposed regulations would harm business, and place the economic impact of these ordinances above implementing a personal agenda. The proposed ban on plastic bags would be a good place to start with this perspective, and it could be applied to past ordinances as well. Perhaps that would be a reason to see some of them repealed.
Being a professional politician is not in and of itself a bad thing and can be a reason to support a candidate. Too many candidates for office run on the basis of not being a "professional politician," a statement calculated to win voters with an emotional appeal rather than a substantive argument. We're seeing this pop up again this year, as we do every year.
Now, we have all heard the yarn about the politician who has been in office too long and is only interested in protecting his career or personal interests instead of the principles he was elected to implement in the first place. This is why voters need to continually pressure elected officials to make sure they are holding the line. But that is a function of a person who is not sufficiently devoted to his principles, not someone who has been in office too long.
In a legislative position, with all other things being equal is it better to have someone who understands the legislative process, has a powerful committee assignment due to seniority, and has relationships with other legislators that will allow him to advance legislation? Or is it better to have someone who has none of that? He may vote the right way, but will not be able to accomplish as much as the dreaded professional politician.
Again with all other things being equal, is it better in an administrative office (such as a state treasurer, county sheriff or city clerk) to have someone with managerial experience and extensive institutional knowledge of the operation of county, state or city government in addition to qualifications for the job itself? Or is it better to elect someone who is "not a professional politician" and will have a learning curve upon taking office?
(As for the President, I do not buy the argument that he needs executive experience. The President is not an administrator. If the President ever actually had that role, it expired a very long time ago.)
There are many things to consider when we are voting in a primary or general election. Years of experience in elective office is one of those considerations, and experience should be seen as a positive. In no other field do we consider experience to be a bad thing - as anyone just into the job market looking for their first job will tell you. We have it backwards when electing candidates for office.
Putting her in jail is an absurd overreach and will backfire.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that she's wrong and should follow the SCOTUS decision and issue the licenses. She's refusing to "do her job."
Most people know instinctively that if you refuse to do your job, you get fired for insubordination. You don't go to jail.
It's one thing to remove her form her position. It is quite another to put her in jail. This is one more example of over-criminalizing everything. It's scary far beyond the issue of same-sex "marriage."
The city council made the right decision at the June 26 meeting in support of a syringe exchange program operated through the county Health Department. It was a wise, prudent and compassionate decision that should be commended.
Let's be honest: The "War on Drugs" has failed. Increasingly, that war is being fought around the country as a literal war, complete with military equipment directly from the Pentagon.
We have seen the results of this "war" mentality in countless no-knock SWAT raids around the country, including a horrific incident in Georgia last year when a SWAT team inadvertently threw a flash bang grenade into a baby's crib. The baby suffered severe burns when the grenade exploded in his face. The sad thing is that the raid was completely unnecessary. The suspect they were searching for did not live in the home and was arrested without incident the next day at a different location.
Drug abuse is a problem that has serious repercussions for society in addition for the addicts themselves and their families. But instead of fighting drug abuse as an increasingly literal war, it should be treated as a public health issue. When you consider how much of our local jail population is impacted by substance abuse issues, attacking this through the criminal justice system is clearly not working. Only through helping people overcome their addictions can we truly make an impact on drug abuse. This is one of those areas where a broad nonpartisan consensus is emerging.
Kudos to the city council for making the right decision.
Matt Walsh made an excellent observation on Facebook about Donald Trump's ongoing "feud" with Megyn Kelly. More than anything, this disproves the myth that Trump is "courageous" and that he is speaking his mind without fear. First, let's review what Kelly actually asked Trump at the first Republican debate:
"You've called women you don't like, 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs,' and 'disgusting animals... Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a contestant on 'Celebrity Apprentice' it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?"
This was a completely fair question on his record, and Trump blew a gasket. He whined and complained that it was a "nasty" question and that Kelly was treating him unfairly. Let me play Devil's Advocate for a minute. I understand that sometimes people lose their cool and say things in the heat of the moment. His behavior was unacceptable, sure, but one could almost overlook it. Running for President is an incredibly stressful experience and he let off some steam. He was angry at a fair question, popped off and moved on. Had it been over at that point, we could move past it.
But he did not drop it, and we cannot move past it. This shows who and what Donald Trump truly is. Three weeks later - THREE WEEKS LATER - Trump blows another gasket because he is still holding a grudge and viciously personally attacks and insults Ms. Kelly. He calls her a "bimbo" because of a fair question three weeks earlier.
Folks, this is not he behavior of a "fighter" who "speaks his mind." That is complete nonsense and I have no patience for it. This is the behavior of a thin-skinned, petulant, cowardly bully and wimp who cannot take even the tiniest bit of criticism. Donald Trump is not a fighter who speaks his mind. He is a weak, pathetic crybaby. The man has no class, no honor, and no integrity. He deserves no respect. The last thing we need is to have this tantrum throwing spoiled child anywhere near the presidency. He is the epitome of political correctness - shouting down anyone who offends him.
It continually amazes me that so many people have been fooled by his charade.
Look, I get it. People are fed up with wimpy, spineless politicians who will not stand up for what is right or collapse immediately when they do. In Donald Trump's bluff and bluster, people see someone who is not afraid and who is not worried about what people think of him. What other Presidential candidate would appear at Wrestlemania and hit someone with a clothesline, for example?
But one you tear away all of the bragging, the chest-pounding and the loud rhetoric, you see what Donald Trump really is: He is a frightened little boy who cries like a baby every time he gets even the mildest criticism. He is a bully who can dish it out but runs to the corner to cry like a little girl when someone dares give back one tenth of one percent of what he dishes out. This man is not fit to be President.
Stop it. The fact that so many people are so dim-witted that they cannot see what Donald Trump is really all about worries me. We need serious leaders with real courage and real solutions, not a reality TV star who occasionally shows up to tackle someone at Wrestlemania. Believe me, I smell what The Donald is cooking and it stinks to high heaven.
There are a great many important brick-and-mortar issues to face in city and county government, yet the front pages of the Herald-Times and Indiana Daily Student were dominated by culture war issues on August 26 after the county council's work session the night before. Some people may ask, why are these Christians fighting a culture war? The answer: We are not. The culture war is being waged against us.
I would have preferred to not be bothered to attend a county council work session last Tuesday. I would have rather gone home to be with my two sons. But I knew it was important to be there and speak in opposition to what they were doing - both the Planned Parenthood funding and the dishonest, cowardly, underhanded and dishonorable attempt to fast track the vote to sneak it through before the public could get mobilized. That failed of course, as dozens of people turned out to rebuke the council.
This controversy and rancor could have been avoided had the county council (or the city council, two months before that) stayed out of the culture wars. They knew how much opposition there is to funding Planned Parenthood. The councilors could have easily decided that the Futures Family Planning Clinic can provide contraception instead. They could have taken a neutral position - neither supporting nor attacking Planned Parenthood. By staying out of the abortion debate, the council could have moved on with the work of supporting social service agencies in helping the poor. They could not do that. The Democrats had to charge into the culture war.
This farce needs to end. The Democrats have turned what should be a simple matter of helping social service agencies help the poor into a divisive political fight twice a year. The Democrats' alleged "concern" for helping the poor is overshadowed by the desire to make a pro-abortion political statement. The fact that the Democrats on the county council completely ignored all citizen opposition makes it even more obscene. This nonsense needs to stop.