It can be a good problem to have
You know how to tell when a city’s downtown is on the mend? Calls go out to do something about all the panhandlers who pester the good folks wanting to enjoy the downtown’s revitalized amenities.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has become the latest urban leader to propose a ban on begging. He wants the City-County Council to create a “No Solicitation Zone” encompassing a mile-square area in the heart of the city. His proposal would ban oral requests for money downtown and “passive solicitations” in other parts of the city.
Such restrictions have been challenged in other jurisdictions on obvious First Amendment grounds. Asking for money is a form of free speech, and the city would be banning communication between two private individuals.
A love-hate relationship
Two things happened in Indiana budget news on the same day last week. State budget director Chris Atkins said Indiana would be able to “tough out” the automatic budget cuts required by the sequester. And Lt. Gov. Sue Ellsperman announced the creation of a new office that will lobby for more federal defense spending in the state.
That dichotomy – saying the federal government is spending too much money while looking to get as much of that money as possible – is noted in a new Associated Press analysis of Indiana’s love-hate relationship with Washington and federal money. As the AP notes, this is nothing new; former Gov. Mitch Daniels wrote a book in which he called unchecked federal spending “the next red menace” – right after he accepted billions in federal aid.
Want the same government?
A couple of questions for you: 1) Are you happy with the level of services provided by city government? 2. Would you be willing to contribute $120 or so more a year to maintain that level?
That’s the basic choice that will apparently be offered to the “typical” Fort Wayne taxpayer when work is completed on a new city budget later this year.
“We continue to be tasked with finding alternative revenue sources to maintain the services our citizens expect,” said Democratic Mayor Tom Henry. “We’re not necessarily talking about huge increases in what we’re doing,” said Republican John Crawford, a conservative members of City Council. “We’re talking about not cutting what we’re already doing. If we want to keep things the same, we’ve got to consider possible revenue increases.”
Want to be a lottery sucker?
Ah, they’re trying to sell us dreams again, or, to be more accurate, pipe dreams.
What would you dream of doing if you had a sudden big money payout? That’s the question asked in a series of ads being run by GTECH Corp. A Fort Wayne man says he’d fund an expedition to find Bigfoot. A Granger woman said she would have a baby because she could afford in vitro fertilization.
GTECH isn’t just any company; it’s the firm chosen by the state to run its Hoosier Lottery. Usually, privatization of a state enterprise is sought as a way to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. In this case, all the state wants is more money. And the private firm has to make a profit. What that means is getting more paying customers – i.e., more suckers to fleece.
A new pope to keep the faith
It looks stunning when all the firsts about Pope Francis are listed. The first pontiff ever named that. The first non-European pope in 1,000 years. The first pope from the western hemisphere. The first pope from Latin America. The first Jesuit pope.
But none of that really matters. Whatever inputs we can identify about any new pope, the output will be essentially the same – the keeping of the faith and the spreading of the faith. Popes vow to uphold Catholic doctrine in much the way U.S. presidents vow to defend the Constitution – and are usually more faithful in keeping the vows.
So don’t expect any profound changes to come in the church. The pope’s flock of 1.2 billion can expect the same message tomorrow they would have heard 1,000 years ago.