Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers
The (Munster) Times. June 6, 2019
Dems should shun Seaton, scandals from County Council race
The Times Editorial Board Jun 5, 2019 Updated Jun 6, 2019
When magnets for scandal refuse to go quietly into the night, others must usher them out the door.
Such is the case with at least one candidate who has declared her candidacy to replace Lake County Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, who died last month.
A caucus of Democratic precinct committee members is scheduled to vote June 10 on a replacement for Franklin.
When they convene for the vote at the Calumet Township trustee’s multipurpose center in Gary, they should be ready to turn their backs on one of the candidates.
Party insider Carol Ann Seaton, the Democratic precinct captain in Gary’s 5th District, has thrown her hat into the ring.
Seaton is best known for a scandal that should have the other precinct members running in any direction but hers.
A 2010 scandal over her residency status and illegitimate property tax exemptions plagued her run for Lake County assessor that year. The scandal led to her status as the first Democrat to lose a countywide election in a half-century.
In a recent letter to precinct committee members, Seaton touted her “proven track record of service to the community, the Democratic Party and to the precinct organization.”
She left out her election-costing scandals that should give all taxpayers pause.
The good news is precinct members have two other solid candidates from which to choose.
The Times Editorial Board doesn’t normally endorse for caucus elections, but Darren Washington holds the most promise for taxpayers.
Currently the Calumet Township Board president, Washington has sparred with the wasteful practices of elected Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson and has tried to extend an olive branch to Griffith, which seeks to secede from the waste and corruption that Washington has tried to put in check.
Another candidate is Jeremy Yancey, who lost to incumbent Franklin in the Democratic primary last year.
We endorsed Yancey in that race as a fresh perspective and welcome change to Franklin’s frequent absenteeism as a councilwoman — because of health issues — in recent years.
Yancey still holds promise, but Washington is the stronger candidate.
Two viable choices in the caucus should help the precinct members usher Seaton from the race.
The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. June 9, 2019
United effort to better life for black men
Though there seems to have been a lot of high-profile crime news lately, the number of homicides, year over year, has dropped. At this point in 2018, 19 homicides had occurred; as of Friday, there had been 11 in 2019.
Most of these tragedies involved guns, and year after year, the victims of homicide are most often black males. While that tends to be true across the nation, the disparity between the size of the African American population and the number of homicide victims within that group is especially wide in Indiana.
Analysis of 2016 FBI statistics by the Violence Policy Center found the state has the fifth-highest rate of black homicide victimization in the nation. The 31.93 per 100,000 rate, the center reported, is “more than one and a half times the national black homicide victimization rate and six times the overall homicide rate nationwide.” This is not a fluke: The relative number of black homicide victims has placed Indiana within the top 10 states every year since the center began analyzing homicide data in 2007.
“These deaths devastate families, traumatize communities and should provoke an outcry for change,” said a statement by the violence center’s executive director, Josh Sugarmann.
Why the victimization rate is higher in Indiana doesn’t seem clear. But Iric Headley, whose Fort Wayne United focuses on preventing young black males from becoming perpetrators or victims, knows the national toll is far too high. “We should not be 7% of the population and 75 to 80% of the homicides,” Headley said Thursday.
“When as a society we get comfortable with individuals being shot and their lives being snuffed out because of conflict, because of gangs, because of drugs, because of the clothes that they have on, it really shows a societal problem,” he said. The questions become not only what kind of problems and pressures are causing the violence, but how those not so directly affected respond.
“I’m encouraged today that we have a community at large that says, this issue means something to us,” Headley said. Started by the city four years ago, Fort Wayne United employs a range of violence-prevention strategies, including training sessions, mentoring with at-risk youths and open basketball nights to connect and build trust with such youths. Last fall, specially trained workers with United’s Ten Point Coalition began walking each night through the streets of southeast Fort Wayne’s Oxford neighborhood, which has had particularly acute problems with violent crime.
The organization is part of a growing local anti-violence coalition that includes the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, the YMCA, the Euell A. Wilson Center and 21 urban and suburban churches.
“We’re working together,” Headley said. “We’re focused on the same things and even have the same goals” as they reach out to young black males and other at-risk young people. “It’s about relationships, and resources: training, jobs, mental health services.”
Fewer homicides this year and early indications the Ten Point Coalition is having an impact offer rays of hope. Continuing improvements such as the expanded resources of the new Boys & Girls Club headquarters will help as well.
The violence center’s report suggests Indiana cities must work especially hard to break the patterns that create special risks for black men, but it could also mean the payoff will be safer communities for all of us.
Statistics are not destiny. At least, they don’t have to be.
Terre Haute Tribune Star. June 9, 2019
New police station rises up again on city agenda
Men and women serving city residents as law enforcement officers should work in a clean, properly equipped and efficient building.
Citizens visiting the police station to file a report also deserve it to be well kept.
The Terre Haute Police Department needs an improved, modern facility as its base of operations. Debate and promises have gone on for years on that topic. Now, this November’s municipal election campaign appears to be moving the police station’s future onto the front burner among city priorities.
An election is no guarantee the situation will change. The police station’s deteriorating state became a campaign issue in previous city elections. Unlike other recent mayoral races, though, this year’s features three viable candidates. That gives the public an extra plan for the police station, and an extra layer of scrutiny for the proposals of the other two candidates.
And, all three have plenty of time before November to develop and explain their ideas for a better Terre Haute police station.
The need seems to be one point of agreement among the candidates — three-term Republican incumbent Mayor Duke Bennett, Democrat City Councilman Karrum Nasser and independent businessman and former city engineer Pat Goodwin. Flaws in the station are numerous.
A 2017 inspection by the Terre Haute Fire Department resulted in several fire code violations, including leaking fuel oil in the basement from a furnace no longer used and missing ceiling tiles caused by a leaky roof. Reports of black mold in the station came up in 2015. The station at the 1200 block of Wabash Avenue actually consists of three buildings wrapped together by a roof facade, and its six different roof lines have a history of leaking.
Police operations moved from City Hall to that former bank building in 2004 to gain space. That shift was intended to be temporary. A plan to create a new station arose in 2015, an election year, when a design was commissioned and the City Council and Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission approved financing. But the city’s budget crisis, with a multi-million-dollar general fund deficit looming, forced a stop to the plan.
In 2019, the city’s finances are generally improved, following a local income tax increase, adoption of a trash collection fee and close oversight of budget practices by the City Council. Still, the timing and extent of a police station upgrade properly remains debatable.
Last week, the mayor announced financing plans for a station after election opponents Goodwin and Nasser questioned whether the city is able to afford the project. Bennett said a 30,000-square-foot facility could be built at the site of the current station for an estimated $10 million. Funds from the downtown tax increment financing district (or TIF) would cover the cost, with revenue from the new public safety income tax enacted last year by the Vigo County Council as backup financing. Bennett said construction could begin later this year.
Goodwin suggested a move into a short-term location until city finances stabilize. Nasser, like Goodwin, emphasized the current station is inadequate. Both also said they support splitting some costs with the county by housing city police in the new sheriff’s office to be located within the new county jail near Honey Creek Mall on the city’s south end. Neither challenger proposes combining city and county law enforcement operations, though. City police chief Shawn Keen said, “The last thing you do is move the police department to the outskirts of the city.”
The three-pronged campaign competition should draw out more specific proposals from the candidates, and voters should be able to weigh in at the ballot box. A resolution to the problem — whether that happens in the short term or long term — is needed.