INdiana Systemic Thinking

October 2, 2008

State Sen. Marvin Riegsecker Loses Cancer Battle

From the AP, via the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

State Sen. Marvin Riegsecker, a Goshen Republican who helped push statewide adoption of daylight saving time during his two decades in the Indiana General Assembly, died Tuesday at age 71.

Riegsecker died of cancer at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, where he was surrounded by his wife, Norma, and immediate family members, according to the Senate Republican caucus. Riegsecker was diagnosed this year with lymphoma and decided not to seek re-election.

Riegsecker, a retired pharmacist who was first elected to the Senate in 1988, was a longtime supporter of statewide daylight saving time and helped usher the contentious proposal through the legislature in 2005.

“I just want to get this over with,” Riegsecker said on the day when the daylight time bill won final approval. “I guarantee if it’s not over with, it will come back to haunt us again.”

Riegsecker represented Senate District 12, which covers most of Elkhart County in northern Indiana. He worked to protect consumers from counterfeit prescription drugs and championed causes such as providing services to those with developmental disabilities.

“In my four years in state government, I never met a kinder or more decent person than Marvin Riegsecker,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said. “Plus, he was brave in helping us tackle tough issues, always caring more about Indiana’s future than his own political future.”

Riegsecker was hospitalized for parts of the last legislative session.

“Legislative colleagues will always remember Sen. Riegsecker’s intelligence, passion and commitment,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. “We will all miss Marvin greatly.”

The Blogmeister wishes Sen. Reigsecker’s family well in their time of sorrow.

March 16, 2008

DOC Makes Improvements At Girls School

Remember back in December when I posted this about St. Joseph County Judge Peter Nemeth? The story then was he refused to send female juveniles to the Indiana Girls School for a variety of complaints.

Well, today’s South Bend Tribune is reporting the Department of Corrections is making some staffing changes that are encouraging to Nemeth. Specifically;

The DOC has announced it will end a two-year-old arrangement to house boys and girls at the same Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility by moving the boys to a recently renovated section of the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Nemeth said he was encouraged by the DOC’s announcement that a “staffing plan for the facility is being developed to ensure the appropriate deployment of staff.”

“If they are actually doing a staffing plan … if it means more than just words, I think that is real progress,” the judge said. “I applaud them for that.

Girls will be moved into the unit being vacated by the boys. The unit will house girls in single rooms that lock from a central control location, along with a special management unit specifically programmed for girls struggling with mental health issues.

“It looks like they are going to do what we want them to do,” said Bill Bruinsma, executive director of the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center. “We’ll have to see what staffing they’re going to add in and what kind of programming they’re going to put into it … It’s a step in the right direction.”

However, Nemeth doesn’t appear completely sold on the changes…

Nemeth said he still will avoid sending girls to the Indianapolis facility until he knows more details about the changes, especially whether staff-to-child ratios improve. Instead, he said he is sending girls who are the most difficult to rehabilitate to a private juvenile detention facility in Vincennes, at a daily cost to the county of $138, compared to $60 a day at the Indianapolis DOC girls school.

February 23, 2008

Amy Davis Eliminated (with video)

Filed under: Indiana,Local (NW IN) News,Misc — kurtglmft @ 4:48 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well, we are down to two… two contestants on American Idol from Indiana. Following up on my past posts, I’m sad to report Amy Davis was voted off the show on Thursday night. I can’t say it wasn’t expected. Up until Monday, when she performed for the voting announced on Thursday, Amy gave great performances. Monday’s was disappointing. I don’t know if it was the nerves of the first live performance of the season or what, but the performance was not on the same level as past performances. Really, I thought she had a shot. She has the look and the voice, but it was just not meant to be. Hopefully, she will still get a recording contract or become successful through some other venue.

Here is how the Northwest Indiana Times treated the story, and the Indy Star’s take on it is here.

Below is the performance from Monday.

Here is the elimination video (btw, I thought she did a much better job this time than on Monday):

Whatever life has in store for Ms. Davis, we here at IST wish her well and hope to see her sing live at some point.

February 20, 2008

Ashcroft Investigated Regarding Zimmer Appointment

Here is a little something from the South Bend Tribune’s Business Section.  Apparently after Warsaw based Zimmer Holdings, an orthopedic manufacturer, negotiated itself out of trouble last year, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie appointed former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s firm to “monitor” the company.  Specifically:

Under the contract, Ashcroft’s firm will monitor Warsaw-based orthopedics manufacturer Zimmer Holdings as part of an agreement the corporation entered into to settle a fraud investigation by Christie’s office.

The problem with this appointment?  Well, no one knows what this monitoring is to include and how Ashcroft’s firm was selected.  So what does the firm receive for this non-specific monitoring?  Answer: “The deal is worth between $27 million and $52 million over 18 months”.

U.S. Rep Linda Sanchez (D-Calf.) is looking into the deal and “U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., has also introduced a bill that would increase oversight and establish specific rules for such appointments”.  A hearing before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for next Tuesday, according to the story.

This story has the potential to get real interesting real quick as we get more details into this seemingly sweetheart deal.

February 2, 2008

Andrew Card Speaks at Purdue

Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card spoke at Purdue University today.  From WTHR:

The University held it’s annual Agricultural Alumni Fish Fry, featuring former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card serving as keynote speaker.

Card also served during the first Bush administration and held several positions under President Ronald Reagan. He was the man who delivered the news of the September 11 terrorist attacks to President Bush as he read to elementary school children in Florida.

“I went up to the president and whispered into his right ear, ‘A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack’,” Card said Saturday.

He says it was that moment that showed how a president should handle crisis. His speech Saturday at Purdue was titled, “Managing Amidst Crisis.”

Yeah, don’t know if that was the best anecdote Mr. Card:


Child Porn @ Work Not Illegal

According to the St. Joe County Prosecutors Office, if your surfing the net for porn at work and child porn pop-ups, or pop-unders, appear, you are not guilty of a crime.  Good to know.  Can we please just make a law against stupid people and get it over with?  I mean I get the point, the guy wasn’t intentionally looking for child porn, but he was being stupid by looking for porn at work.  I just don’t get it.  I mean if you want to look at porn at home, more power to you, but why bring it into the workplace?  From the South Bend Tribune:

A former YWCA employee has been cleared of charges of possession of child pornography after prosecutors determined the images appeared on his computer without his consent.

Catherine Wilson, a spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County Prosecutor, said investigators determined that John B. Penney, 55, was not looking for child pornography when the images appeared on his computer.

Wilson said the images of child pornography found on Penney’s work computer “almost certainly were the result of ‘pop-up’ or ‘pop-under’ windows generated during other online searches” for adult pornography.

Penny was a legal advocate for the YWCA who lost his job after the images allegedly surfaced on his work computer.

Deputy Prosecutor Eric Tamashasky said on Thursday that Internet users should be cautious when surfing the Internet to avoid coming across illegal material, such as child pornography. He said users of adult pornography run a higher risk of accidental exposure to illegal material.

No, really?  Sheesh.

January 29, 2008

Pay to Play: $25 for Jail, Guilty or Not

All things considered, paying $25 when jailed is about the least of your worries, but should one still pay, even if innocent?  Apparently if your arrested in Porter County the answer is a definite “yes”, even though the State Board of Accounts found the fee to be um, well, illegal.  However;

Tammy White, a State Board of Accounts supervisor, said her agency’s reports serve to audit compliance with state laws and regulations but are not legally binding. The Board of provides information regarding laws in the hope that officials will consult legal counsel and review the appropriateness of findings.

The commissioners who passed the ordinance justify it by explaining;

“The entire fund is used for the benefit of the jail, and most directly the inmates themselves,” Lain said. “That’s how we pay for the Chemical Addiction and Dependency Program.”

Lain said the drug program has a large effect on the number of inmates who return to jail after being released. According to Lain, graduates of the 100-hour class have a recidivism rate of between 40 percent and 45 percent, compared to the typical recidivism rate at the jail of 65 percent to 70 percent.

“The biggest issue we have is how do we keep people from coming back,” Lain said. “This has shown to be the single most powerful avenue toward reducing that.

Sounds like someone is massaging their numbers a bit.  Any Chemical Addiction program that reduces recidivism to 45% is worthy not only of national acclaim, but patenting and copyrighting.  Sell it an make your money that way.  Something tells the Blogmeister that won’t happen soon.  Second, the reasoning sounds a little circular here.  They charge people who come to the jail, guilty or not, for a program that supposedly seeks to stop people from coming to the jail?  Maybe it is just my math, but if successful, won’t Porter County run out of money for the program? 

Those issues aside, doesn’t the whole innocent until proven guilty thing come into play?  Doesn’t that mean you treat, as well as think of a person, as not having done anything until proven otherwise?  Now the Blogmeister isn’t a lawyer, but who would dream of charging someone a fee who hasn’t done anything?  Oh, forgot, these are commissioners who levy taxes.  Nevermind, I get it now. 

January 28, 2008

Donnelly to Have a Challenger

From the South Bend Tribune:

Luke Puckett now appears almost certain to be the Republican challenger opposing Congressman Joe Donnelly, D-Granger, in Indiana’s 2nd District this fall.

Puckett starts short on money and with long odds against him; with low name recognition but high hopes.

“I think it’s a winnable race or I wouldn’t be getting into it,” says Puckett.

Lets see…Donnelly has a pile of cash, name recognition, and he’s an incumbent.  Yeah, that’s a winnable race.  Got to give the guy credit though, at least he has the guts to jump in when all other republicans ran the other way, for exactly those reasons.  Good Luck Luke, your gonna need it.

January 26, 2008

IN U.S. Rep. News

In the third district, U.S. Rep Mark Souder announced he is cosponsoring the Economic Growth Act of 2008.  This act would allow businesses to fully expense assets at the time of purchase, reduce the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, end capital gains on inflation, and simplify the capital gains rate structure.  You can read more here.

Additionally, H/T to Blue Indiana and Fort Wayne Observed for picking up the news of Michael Montagano’s scheduled announcement that he will seek the democratic nomination for the congressional seat currently held by Souder.

In the fifth district, (stay with me here)  Andre Carson, grandson of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, will seek the democratic party’s nomination for the U.S. House in May.  This will follow a special election in March, where he is seeking the same seat.  In the March race, he will oppose Indiana State Rep. John Elrod.  Because of the special election, it is entirely possible the two will oppose each other in elections in both March and November.  Carson’s announcement is here.

 In the ninth district, Mike Sodrel has filed to seek the republican nomination for the U.S. district representative seat.  If successful, it will be the fourth time he and current incumbent Baron Hill have faced off.  Sodrel lost the seat two years ago to Hill.  You can read more here

January 25, 2008

IN Tax Reforms Move to Senate: Fry Only Dissenter

Here is a good story from the Indianapolis Star detailing the Property Tax Reforms the Governor ask for, and what made it through the House.  It is now on it’s way to Senate, where they will have until February 27, to vote on the bill.  I’m not going to quote anything here because the article does a good job of summarizing the changes and describing the process.

However, The South Bend Tribune quotes the only “nay” vote for the bill.  Here is what he/they had to say:

Rep. Craig Fry, D-Mishawaka, stood alone in his opposition to the bill, calling it “a fraud” and the biggest tax increase in the state’s history. Fry said the circuit breakers in the bill — which cap residential property taxes at 1 percent of a home’s assessed value, 2 percent for rentals, and 3 percent for businesses — are unconstitutional, and he expects court challenges from businesses. He said that 41 percent of homeowners currently pay less than 1 percent and that now all Hoosiers will be burdened with an increased sales tax.

“I think sales tax is very regressive and unfair to people of middle to lower incomes,” he said.

After the assessment system was restructured to a market value system under former Gov. Joe Kernan in 2002, Fry said people were promised tax reductions. Instead in St. Joseph County, property taxes doubled and in some cases quadrupled. He also blamed the repeal of the inventory tax for contributing to the problem, which hit Elkhart County hard because it shifted the property tax burden from businesses to homeowners.

Ryan Kitchell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Fry’s statements about the cap are incorrect and that the bill clearly offers tax cuts. He said for every dollar raised by the sales tax, at least two will be cut from property taxes. The 1 percent cap means only that homeowners won’t pay more than that, Kitchell said, and those paying less than 1 percent won’t start paying up to that amount. Kitchell said a study from the Legislative Services Agency shows that property taxes in St. Joseph County will decrease by an average of 39 percent in 2009. The inventory tax repeal was a ballot question in 2004, he said, and was something a majority of residents voted to repeal.

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