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Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 12:01 am

There's a price for being honest

Today’s sound-bite culture and glib political chatter do not create an arena suitable for the exploration of deep moral and theological questions. Indiana Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock discovered that unfortunate reality when, during his debate with Democrat opponent Joe Donnelly last week, he made the serious mistake of honestly saying what he deeply felt.

When asked whether abortions should be opposed even in cases of rape, he answered, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.” If he had stopped with “gift from God,” nothing would have come of it. But he added six fateful words – “something that God intended to happen” – that changed everything.


That spreading Libya scandal

The more we learn about the events surrounding the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, the more disturbing the scandal becomes.

It was bad enough when all we knew was that the Obama administration was trying to sell a lie for weeks, that the deaths were the result of a “spontaneous” riot sparked by an Islam-mocking video. The truth that the attack was a well-planned and -executed terrorist attack to mark the anniversary of 9/11 would have undermined the administration’s narrative that the killing of Osama bin Laden had put al-Qaida on the run. Such duplicity is, alas, politics as usual these days.

Now we learn the even more shocking fact that military personnel asked several times to be able to go to the aid of their comrades and were told to stand down every time.


A referendum on education reform

The contest over who should be the Indiana superintendent of public instruction is usually one of those ballot entries voters barely pay attention to. Most of them instinctively know the position should be appointive rather than elective in the first place, the better for governor and superintendent to coordinate education policy. Why waste a lot of intellectual interest in such a race?

It’s different this year. The Department of Public Instruction under Superintendent Tony Bennett has pushed through the most aggressive, far-reaching school reform package in the nation. So those invested in the status quo ante are more upset here than anywhere else. That means the whole nation will be watching the faceoff between Bennett and Democratic challenger Glenda Ritz to see what voters think of the reforms.


Let's tiptoe to the river

Because the mayor made the effort to get strong public input every step of the way, he has arrived at a “Legacy” fund plan likely to win widespread approval. Setting $30 million of the $75 million aside and spending about $7 million in the next two years seems like a good mix, and focusing on projects for the long term – such as downtown, riverfront and youth development – is appropriate.

Most of the excitement will undoubtedly be generated by a single project – at $500,000 the relatively modest riverfront development study. As John Urbahns, the mayor’s director of community development, says, we’ve talked a lot about the riverfront in recent years, but, “One of the things we’ve never done is a full and complete study of the rivers.”

A word of caution is in order here, because there’s also a chance for a big misstep.


Poor judgment was shown here

Let’s assume County Councilman Paul Moss and Sheriff Ken Fries did nothing unethical in the now-infamous incident occupying so much of the Allen County Ethics Commission’s attention. They have both behaved honorably as public servants throughout their careers, and there is no reason to suppose they did anything less this time.

But it also must be said that they both exercised very poor judgment.

When county officers stopped his car and began an inquiry based on the smell of alcohol in his car, he should not have called Fries, even if it was just to ask him to “expedite” a blood-alcohol test, not help him get out of it.

When a public official calls the chief law enforcement officer from a traffic stop, that creates the impression is seeking something not available to the ordinary citizen.