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This Week

Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 12:01 am

Waste of an opportunity

Give Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd District, credit for both bold thinking and persistence in getting his idea accepted. When he proposed splitting the food stamp program off from the farm bill, it seemed so farfetched that “pipe dream” would have been a good way to describe it. He was suggesting the uncoupling of two programs that had been paired legislatively for 40 years.

But his idea got picked up by House Republican leaders, and now the House has voted narrowly to pass a farm bill stripped of the food stamp program that had accounted for about 80 percent of the total cost of the bill. Food stamp spending exploded from $38 billion in fiscal 2008 to $78 billion in 2012, and only $2 billion a year was proposed to be cut.

A note of caution for those hoping for a sign of a new era of fiscal responsibility in Washington. This is not that sign.


Committing to Randallia Drive

Cheers for Parkview Hospital, which has announced a $3.2 million renovation project for its Randallia Drive campus near downtown Fort Wayne that will include a new entrance, park, courtyard and signs.

There have been concerns about Parkview’s commitment to the facility ever since the hospital announced it would move the center of its operations to a new regional medical center north on Dupont Road, and the feelings intensified when that complex opened. The worries were so great that City Councilman Tom Smith convened a series of meetings between neighborhood residents and businesses and hospital officials. Parkview has always said it would maintain a presence at Randallia, but people had doubts.

Now we know. An institution willing to spend $3.2 million on something is not leaving anytime soon.


Phony concern over gun law

Now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, must we endure a lot of insincere hand-wringing and pointless debate over Indiana’s Stand Your Ground law that is similar to Florida’s?

Apparently so. “The Zimmerman case has state lawmakers like Jean Breaux calling for a review,” says an “analysis” by an Indianapolis TV station. “‘Now that we have seen the real-life implication of how these self-defense laws function, we have an obligation as legislators to our citizens to make sure those laws do everything they can to prevent an act of violence …,’ said Breaux. A review of Indiana’s self-defense laws, including the Stand Your Ground law, could be presented at the next legislative session.”

There is one problem: The case had nothing to do with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.


Pressure from the governor

Emails from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels recently unearthed by The Associated Press could spark an interesting debate in Indiana about censorship and academic freedom. As Purdue University president, Daniels has taken a strong position in opposition to suppression of speech at universities. But as governor, he actively sought to do a little suppression of his own.

In one set of email exchanges, the governor sought assurances that no Indiana school was using “A People’s History of The United States,” a book by historian Howard Zinn that Daniels described as “an “execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.” In another, he called for an audit and possible funding cut for a program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis run by Charles Little, a critic of the governor’s education policies.


Contempt for law is coming

In 2011 the state enacted a law that pre-empted all local gun regulations. That voided all local gun ordinances in Indiana, including the one in Hammond that prohibited guns in parks and public buildings. Hammond decided to keep its ordinance on the books even though it was unenforceable. The city was sued by Samuel Dykstra, who lives in Highland but attends college in Hammond, and Michelle Bahus of Hammond.

In March the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled against them, saying the city was under no obligation to delete its superseded ordinances as long as it did not try to enforce them.

That was a stupid ruling, and now the Indiana Supreme Court has extended and underlined the stupidity. And since it didn’t actually hear the case, merely voted 5-0 not to take it up, we don’t even know the court’s reasoning.