INdiana Systemic Thinking

January 20, 2008

State Rep. Cleo Duncan to Run for 8th Term

From the Columbus Republic comes this story about State Representative Cleo Duncan:

State Rep. Cleo Duncan, R-Greensburg, announced Friday that she will seek an eighth term as the District 67 representative.Duncan, 66, said she is motivated by the chance to contribute to several local and statewide projects she considers important.

“I’m very excited about the prospect of working on permanent, meaningful property tax reform,” she said.

Shifting school operating and transportation costs, and child welfare costs from local governments to the state will create significant change.

“In the past we talked about reducing property taxes by cutting a percentage, but that has been a Band-Aid approach,” Duncan said.

She also wants to make sure that a new three-region water district among Decatur, Jennings and Ripley counties gets established solidly so that it is lasting.

With the Honda manufacturing pant set to open later this year, Duncan is concerned about rail safety.

Of the 200,000 Civic sedans that will be produced annually, 80 percent will be shipped by Rail America to Cincinnati.

Duncan wants to work with Indiana Department of Transportation and Rail America to know where all crossings are and to raise awareness and develop a safety program.

“We are not used to trains. I want to have an ongoing rail safety program in schools and the community to get people’s mindset, and to allow extra time,” Duncan said.

She also is concerned about education, and wants to make post-high school education affordable and accessible. The goal is to have a better educated work force that can compete for jobs.

Duncan was first elected in 1994. She represents Decatur, Franklin, Ripley and Rush counties.

January 14, 2008

Roob Continues to Balk, Won’t Pay Up

Back on November 25, 2007 I posted on the Family and Social Services Administration not following legislative directives by withholding payment to  seven centers around the state.  According to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Mitch Roob continues to balk at paying up.  Despite “some movement”, Roob continues to want the centers to contractually agree to goals and objectives and continues the mantra “that a higher level of review [is] attached to the new money”.  Now, this softening is not because Roob felt like being a nice guy.  Apparently, a few legislators are ticked and this has caused Roob to soften somewhat.  However, at least one of the Directors of these centers is talking, and he says Roob is funding the increase, not with money allocated by the legislature, but by funds already available to FSSA.  Those funds, the Blogmeister would guess, probably require the accountability Roob wants from the centers.   Legislators have told the Centers not to sign the contract because if the money the legislature allocated to them is not used, it will revert back to the general fund and will take additional legislation to allocate more.  Therefore, it will not be available in the future.  So, if the centers sign they will get their money, from other sources, this year, but there is no guarantee of future funding. 

The big question here is:  Why won’t Roob fund the centers with the money allocated by the legislature?  My guess is he has access to some big federal dollars he has to use, which require the accountability.  He may not be able to come up with a single program, but by combining a bunch of programs he can get the money.  He can then look like a great guy because he saved the state a bunch of cash.  However, it doesn’t appear, if my guess is correct, that the pile of scratch he can get his hands on is a sure thing in the years to come.  Anyone have any better ideas?

December 21, 2007

IN Girls School Blasted by Judge

Most of the media outlets are carrying stories about St. Joseph Co. Circuit Court Judge Peter Nemeth blasting state officials about the Girls School facility in Indianapolis.  The facility, which houses and “treats” juvenile female offenders from throughout the state, is being criticized by the Judge for:

Girls are not receiving an adequate education, apparently are being allowed to have frequent sex with each other, are not being prepared to re-enter the community and are not receiving needed psychiatric care, Judge Peter Nemeth says his staff has discovered.

Nemeth said his staff has learned through interviews with St. Joseph County girls at the facility that many are having frequent sex with each other there because staff levels are too low for adequate supervision. Some staff know it’s happening but still leave the girls’ doors unlocked at night, giving tacit approval to the sex, some girls have told Nemeth’s personnel.

The girls also complained that male staff members, men they identify by name, often make sexual advances toward them, speaking to and touching them inappropriately.

Speaking with The [South Bend] Tribune, Nemeth called homosexual sex “aberrant” and “not normal,” but said heterosexual sex also has no place in a juvenile rehabilitative setting, where the juvenile needs to instead focus on changing thinking and behavior.

The spread of sexually transmitted diseases also is a risk.

In a pointed letter he sent this week to Gov. Mitch Daniels, Nemeth said the girls school, formally called the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility, along with the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility for boys, must stop treating children as “adult prisoners” and focus more on rehabilitating them.

“There’s no requirement that anybody achieve anything,” Nemeth told The Tribune. “It’s like how they warehouse them in the adult system. You do your time and you’re gone.”

Current Bills and Resolutions, Updated

Here are the current bills and resolutions filed in the statehouse this week.  The master list has been updated and is here.

  • HB 1042 — Intent to sell sexually explicit products.
  • HB 1043 — Regulation of firearms during an emergency.
  • HB 1044 — Livestock waste anaerobic digestion systems.
  • HB 1045 — Courthouse preservation advisory commission.
  • HB 1047 — Local time zone public question.
  • HB 1048– TRF pension credit for out-of-state service.
  • HB 1049 — Time limit for use of higher education grants.
  • HB 1050 — Income tax credit for textbook fees.
  • HB 1051 — School corporation donations to foundations.
  • HB 1052 — Motorist duties at accident scenes.
  • HB 1054 — Coverage for individuals less than 24 years of age.
  • HB 1055 — Assignment of benefits.
  • HB 1056 — Smoking in passenger vehicles.
  • HB 1057 — Smoking ban in certain public places.
  • HB 1058 — Sex offender procedures.
  • HB 1059 — Commercial fertilizer law.
  • New Research Reported at MSNBC

    There are some good articles over on the MSNBC site concerning some research on children and parenting.

    The first appears to show no difference between parenting styles of divorced and intact parents.

    “It does parents a disservice to automatically assume that they will have problems after divorce,” Strohschein said. “That education and to a lesser extent income predict parenting behavior says much more about what makes a difference to parenting behavior.”

    The second is about promising mice research in the treatment of autism.

    “We believe that drugs which block mGluR5 have enormous potential for the treatment of fragile X and related developmental disorders, including many cases of autism,” said Katie Clapp, president and executive director of FRAXA.

    The third found formal sex education delayed the loss of virginity in teens.

    The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health, did not determine if the type of program matters — that is, abstinence-only versus more-comprehensive programs.

    However, the findings do suggest that having some form of sex education helps delay teen sex, according to the researchers, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

    The fourth, conducted in Romania, found I.Q.’s were lower for children in orphanages, than children who were raised in foster care.

    “The longer they stay in the institution, the worse their IQ,” said Dr. Charles Nelson III of Harvard Medical School, who led the study being published Friday in the journal Science.

    “What we’re really talking about is the importance of getting kids out of bad environments and put into good environments,” Nelson said.

    Fifth, there appears to be a resurgence of Syphilis in the U.S. and Europe.

    In 2000, syphilis infection rates were so low that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention embarked on a plan to eliminate the disease. But about 9,800 cases were reported in 2006.

    Finally, researchers think children with tantrums may be at higher risk for depression.

    “If it gets to the point where the parent is uncomfortable leaving the house because they are so fearful their child will have tantrum, that should be a sign to the parent (to seek help)” he said.

    (Blogmeister note on that last one…  Ya Think?)

    December 20, 2007

    South Bend RISE Program Gets Funding

    Cheers to the South Bend Community Schools Corporation for funding the Reducing Incidences of Student Exit (RISE) program.  The program will work with students who are, for whatever reason, unable to function in a typical classroom.  Using a combination of innovative educational methods and counseling, the program hopes to reduce the dropout rate.  The whole article is here.

    November 27, 2007

    Pay up FSSA (part deux)

    Hat tip to TakingDownWords for scooping the Blogmeister on this.  Those darn editorials…   Check it out Here

     You can read my orignal post here.

    November 25, 2007

    Pay up FSSA

    In a story from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette it is reported the Family and Social Services Administration has not paid the seven independent living centers around the state. 

    “The centers help people with severe disabilities in about 50 counties to remain participating members in their communities through peer support, service referrals, independent living skills training, mobility assistance and public education.”

    “The state’s seven centers for independent living thought they won a victory in April when legislators included a monstrous increase in state funding for them in the biennial budget.”

    “But more than six months later, the groups are still fighting to receive the money.”

    Apparently, the state keeps asking them to submit more and more documentation and still isn’t paying up.

    “…if FSSA does not release the money by the end of the year, three centers will shut down and other centers will begin laying off staff.”

    Mitch Roob, Secretary of FSSA states in the same story, “the new funding level triggers a higher level of review that the centers aren’t used to.”

    “If we are going to increase funding we want to get it off on good footing rather than giving it to them with no strings attached; with a shared set of goals and objectives,”

    “These folks have attempted to make us out to be ogres. We’re not really ogres. But we have a responsibility to at least attempt to ensure the public that the dollars are used prudently.”

    “When they have given us a plan which indicates that they have a model that will help them accomplish goals and objectives that they set forward, then we’ll release the dollars.”

    “He also said that much progress has been made in the past 10 days, and he hopes the have the matter settled in the coming weeks.”

    Okay, whatever.  So basically what your saying Mr. Secretary is that until these agencies, provide paperwork about something your agency is not able to tell them what to provide, they will not be paid.  Maybe you don’t know this, but if the agencies are not paid, they cannot provide the services you requested.  In addition, they will have to lay off their employees, which is never good.  The story states the agencies haven’t been paid for 6 months.  How is anyone to function this way, let alone provide services for others.  The Blogmeister wonders if Secretary Roob and/or many who work in his agency would still be there if they hadn’t been paid for 6 months.  If FSSA wants to assure the public the funds are being well spent, isn’t that the FSSA’s problem?  Perhaps they should do their homework PRIOR to contracting with these centers instead of asking them to provide the services then justify why they should be paid.

    The full story is here

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