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Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers

November 27, 2018

The (Munster) Times. November 20, 2018

Student shows rare selfless solidarity with bullied classmate

Our nation’s top federal health agency recommends a plethora of actions school personnel and others can take in identifying and addressing the effects of bullying on our youth.

A Hammond fifth-grader just added his own recommendation, and parents, educators and students everywhere should take note.

For Sean Greenleaf, 11, of Hammond’s Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, it all came down to solidarity.

Earlier in the school year, Sean noticed another student, Kayleb DeLeon, being bullied at recess because of Kayleb’s buzz-cut hairstyle.

Later that night, Sean discussed what he saw with his mother, asking if he could take a meaningful stand to support his bullied classmate.

Lisa Greenleaf said she acquiesced to her son’s request.

Out came the trimming shears, and Sean’s hair was reduced to short stubble.

“I wasn’t just going to watch my friend get called ‘Caillou,’” Sean told Times reporter Anna Ortiz, referring to a bald cartoon character on a popular children’s show.

The next day, the two friends stood in solidarity in the lunchroom.

Gabriela Mata, Kayleb’s mother, noted the impact it had on her son — the priceless knowledge that a fellow student cared enough to shave his head in a show of anti-bullying support.

“At first he said he felt bad in case Sean gets bullied too,” Mata said of her son Kayleb. “But then he said he was glad Sean had his back.”

A pamphlet produced by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention uses shaded blue boxes to describe action steps schools and others can take to mitigate potentially adverse effects of bullying on children.

One of the boxes notes, “A strong sense of connectedness to caring, responsible adults at school can provide invaluable support to youth who may be struggling socially and/or emotionally.”

But it seems Sean Greenleaf’s selfless act strikes an even more relevant note worthy of being added to the blue boxes in the CDC pamphlet.

Most adults who’ve dealt at all with children know the power of peer-to-peer connections, for good and bad, in the lives of youths.

Sean deserves our praise for grasping this importance at a young age and channeling peer solidarity into a healing moment for a classmate.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. November 20, 2018

An easy call

Whom do we know in Utah? Or Pennsylvania? Or northwestern Indiana?

Nobody, maybe. But someone’s calling, during a business meeting, or while you’re feeding the baby, or walking the dog, or trying to take a nap.

Often you take one look and end the call. Sometimes it’s a tough choice - robocalls from another city, state or country can be masked to look like local ones.

According to YouMail.com, which monitors the problem and offers anti-scamming apps, more than 5.1 billion robocalls were sent out just last month. That’s 2,000 calls per second, though, to some, that estimate may seem low.

Robocalls are more than an extreme annoyance. They make it more difficult for legitimate callers to get through. What if your agent really has been “trying to reach you about an insurance problem?” Worse problems await the as-yet-uncynicized who answer these calls, which are designed to trick you into giving up private information or sending money. Unfortunately, the ploys sometimes work, and people are cheated.

As The Journal Gazette’s Niki Kelly reported Sunday, the Indiana attorney general’s office continues to go after illicit telemarketers. But the state’s “Do Not Call” list, enacted in 2002, hasn’t kept pace with the ever-evolving technology of telephone scams.

Friday, two members of the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee announced a bill that would block and fine such fraudsters at the federal level.

South Dakota Republican and committee Chairman John Thune, who introduced the bill with Democrat Ed Markey of Massachusetts, noted that traditional enforcement focused on mistakes by telemarketers, not intentional fraud by robocallers.

“This enforcement regime is totally inadequate for scam artists,” Thune said in a release.

As Kelly reported, there’s a growing sense the Indiana legislature also will have to decide whether to try to catch up to the crooks technologically.

As the January session looms - today is Organization Day in Indianapolis - lawmakers need to add fine-tuning the state’s Do Not Call law to a long list of must-do’s.

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South Bend Tribune. November 20, 2018

Winter requires early planning for homeless

November snows have once again raised the question of how the city is preparing to address the issue of homelessness near downtown.

Hope Ministries and the city last year offered a weather amnesty program that began Dec. 1 when the homeless were given shelter from winter weather in the former Kraz Construction building at 211 W. Monroe St.

The Common Council this year approved a zoning change for a different location, a former industrial building at 121 E. Tutt St. But the program has been delayed while the state reviews the application.

An apparent miscommunication between city officials and Alliance Architects, the architect for the project, resulted in the delay.

Mark Bode, a spokesman for the city administration, said he believed the application for the project was going to be submitted to the state Nov. 9. But Bill Lamie, a principal with Alliance Architects, said he needed more time to learn about the building’s construction and layout before proceeding with the filing.

A state official said “we’re going to do what we can to make sure this is moving through the process as best we can.”

For now, many of the homeless are living in tents in a wooded area near downtown. Last year, many pitched their tents under the Main Street viaduct until complaints from downtown businesses forced them to move.

The city wants to address the problem through the creation of a homeless gateway center. Ivy Tech Community College even donated portable classrooms for use that could be transformed into living quarters. But neighbors on the southeast side where the center was to be located objected.

There should have been better communication between the city and Alliance over the most recent issue. Bode’s comment about the application being filed with state only muddied the waters when it turned out not to be the case. The homeless issue is one the city has had to deal with over the past few years. The timing of the weather amnesty shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.

Looking forward, two council representatives have offered ideas to help, including a multi-government cooperative effort to deal with homelessness in the South Bend area.

We’ve encouraged open lines of communication between the city and advocates for the homeless in earlier comments. This latest problem shows why that’s so important. It also shows why it’s never too early to start planning for what can be a life-or-death situation for those on the streets.

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The Indianapolis Star. November 19, 2018

Why the leader of top-ranked Indianapolis International Airport isn’t satisfied

Mario Rodriquez, as passengers bustle past him on a manic Monday in the center of Indianapolis’ gateway to the world, talks about the deep frustrations so many travelers encounter at America’s airports.

“One of the things we’ve been studying is how messes happen,” Rodriguez, executive director of Indianapolis International Airport, says. “Nobody sets out purposefully to mess up your travel experience.”

It’s a curious topic for Rodriguez to address. He, after all, manages an airport that’s been ranked as North America’s best for six years in a row.

Weir Cook Terminal, which opened 10 years ago this month, still appears new even after shuttling tens of millions of passengers into and out of the city, including nearly 9 million people last year. The Indy airport experience, unlike in so many other cities, is normally swift and pleasant, in part because the terminal was built for growth well into the future but also because of the high level of service Rodriguez’s team provides.

But satisfaction with the status quo is an enemy of excellence. So Rodriguez, a 30-year veteran of airport management, presses for more.

“Why should an airport look like an airport?” he says. “Why should you be made to feel uncomfortable? Why shouldn’t we look and feel like a resort hotel?”

The quest to always do better helps explains why a refresh of the terminal is under way. Padded lounge chairs, with electrical outlets, are replacing hard back seats at gates and other key spots inside Weir Cook. New carpet is going down in the concourses. Children’s play areas have been added for families awaiting flights.

And the biggest change is set to take off next year. Rodriguez says locally owned retail shops and restaurants will begin to replace many of the national chains that now operate in the terminal.

Local favorite Cafe Patachou is expected to stay. Indy-based Harry & Izzy’s may expand. They’ll be joined, Rodriguez says, in a three-year cycle of closings, renovations and openings that will bring other Indiana and Indianapolis brands into the terminal for the first time.

The goal is to provide travelers with a memorable sample of made in Indiana cuisine and products soon after they arrive and just before they depart.

“People expect a local flavor. They want to buy local products and to taste local food,” Rodriguez says. “We believe we’re moving the needle on providing a sense of flavor for Indianapolis and Indiana.”

Much of the buzz around the airport this year has centered on its expanded international reach. The first Indy to Paris flights took off in May, with the financial support of Indiana taxpayers. And Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration recently designated additional money to attract more direct flights to international destinations.

The next leg of that expansion likely will be flights to and from Mexico City. Rodriguez says demand from business travelers warrants the investment.

Additional flights to Europe and the first to Asia may be added eventually if international investment increases here and Indiana businesses continue to grow abroad.

Rodriguez says the state subsidy was essential for Delta Air Lines to take a chance on the Indy-to-Paris connection, but he cautions that airlines won’t risk adding flights unless there’s evidence for sustained demand. So far, he says, Delta executives are pleased with the number of passengers boarding flights to and from Paris.

A reader asked me recently why taxpayers should be forced to subsidize his European vacation. It’s a fair point. Well-to-do leisure travelers do benefit from the lower cost and convenience of direct flights.

But the goal of the state subsidy is to attract more business investment here. We live and compete in an increasingly connected global economy. You have to be able to get there from here and do it with reasonable efficiency to do business in 2018 and beyond.

That’s why the growth from 33 direct flights out of Indy four years ago to 51 now is important for the region’s economic future. And it’s why the state subsidy is reasonable as long as it’s treated as temporary seed money and not a long-term commitment.

Yet, the airport’s role in economic development goes well beyond passenger flights. Two major developments launched this year help to prove the point.

The Airport Authority controls hundreds of acres of prime real estate, including the old terminal site that sat unused for almost a decade. After the airport suffered through a string of misadventures in redevelopment of the land, Infosys announced plans this year to spend $245 million in building a 141-acre campus where the old terminal stood. Company executives said they hope to create 3,000 jobs in the next five years.

The second major economic prize involves FedEx, the airport’s largest tenant, which announced plans to invest $1.5 billion to grow its operations here. The company, which now employs more than 3,500 workers, expects to add about 800 jobs.

Memphis International, where FedEx is based, was the second largest air cargo hub in the world last year, behind Hong Kong. Rodriguez says Indianapolis’ airport has a chance to supplant Memphis as the nation’s busiest air cargo hub in 10 to 15 years as FedEx continues to grow here.

As the e-commerce revolution continues to dramatically change Americans’ shopping habits, Central Indiana has captured a nice portion of the fast-growing logistics sector.

It’s not just FexEx. Massive warehouses that serve a variety of retail operations continue to sprout like corn stalks in fields near the airport. Thousands of people have found decent, stable employment in those distribution centers.

Still, most of the logistics jobs created here so far are lower-paying positions at risk of being lost to automation in the future. Complacency now could carry high costs later.

“It’s all about not letting the status quo hold you back,” Rodriguez says.

He was talking about his own operation. He could have been describing how state and local leaders need to think about Indiana’s future.

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