Excerpts of editorials published recently in Indiana newspapers

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The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne. Aug. 30, 2014

Long-term forecast gets cold shoulder

"We're using a very strong four-letter word to describe this winter, which is C-O-L-D. It's going to be very cold," Farmers' Almanac Managing Editor Sandi Duncan told the Associated Press.

"The Almanac," AP reported, "is also describing the coming winter as 'piercing cold' and 'biting cold.'?"

Just a guess, you say. They could be completely off-base.

Except . that story was written last August, about the Almanac's predictions for last winter.

So it might be worth paying attention to the predictions for the coming winter that the Farmers' Almanac released this week. Using its secret recipe for long-range forecasts, the 198-year-old Almanac warns that things will be colder and wetter than normal this winter.

"Shivery and shovelry are back," Duncan told the Associated Press. That sentence is not only ominous but hard to say.

A Ball State geography professor, Petra Zimmermann, noted that the Farmers' Almanac was also way wrong a couple of years ago and recommended that such predictions be viewed solely as entertainment.

Still .


South Bend Tribune. Aug. 29, 2014

Contradictions on gay marriage ill-serve Hoosiers

As a representative serving in Congress, Mike Pence was a strong advocate for a constitutional same-sex marriage ban.

Earlier this year, as governor of Indiana, Pence repeated his support for "traditional marriage" and urged legislators to act on a state ban on gay marriage.

But in recent months, as gay marriage has become a rapidly developing issue in the Hoosier state, Pence, mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, seems to want to have it both ways.

Never was that more clear than when Pence requested to be removed as a party in a gay marriage lawsuit. His reasoning? He could not enforce the state's ban.

But after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Judge Richard Young's order striking down Indiana's same-sex marriage ban, Pence issued memos directing executive branch agencies to disregard Young's ruling.

In other words, he did what he previously insisted he could not.

That contradiction recently drew a rebuke from Young, who had granted in favor of Pence in that earlier decision. In his ruling on the last remaining same-sex case in Indiana, Bowling v. Pence, Young took Pence to task for his reversal: "The court, after witnessing the Governor do what he claimed he could not do, reverses course and finds him to be a proper party to such lawsuits. The court wishes to reiterate that it finds the Governor's prior representations contradicting such authority to be, at a minimum, troubling."

What's troubling about the governor's recent moves regarding gay marriage has nothing to do with his actual position on the issue. It's the contradictions, which seem motivated by political consideration rather than real conviction.

A recent Associated Press article noting Pence's careful dancing around the issue is a contrast to the man who earned a reputation as a conservative firebrand.

For Hoosiers, the issue of same-sex marriage evokes a deep sense -- on both sides -- of what's right. They deserve a governor who is driven by nothing less than that.


Journal & Courier, Lafayette. Aug. 27, 2014.

Lafayette's public art cover-up

Public art in Greater Lafayette has tended to be on the safe side. That's probably the case everywhere, but it's worth noting just the same.

Sure, both cities started freeing up control of public art in small steps, including blackboard projects that provided a canvas, handed out chalk and allowed anyone to jot down their greatest fear or offer a bucket list item of the opening line, "Before I die ."

But this summer, Lafayette let go of the reins in a way that had some skeptics predicting potential controversy. And this week finally delivered it.

The pop-up "small spaces: Lafayette" project has been putting graffiti-styled pieces on the walls of downtown buildings for the past month or so. While paid for and sponsored by the city, the subjects and placement of "small spaces: Lafayette" installments has been random, based on the direction of curator Zach Medler (and based on permission from building owners to use the walls).

The idea here was to let artists really take control without micromanaging of fussy, bureaucratic pre-approval. It's part of the loosening up recommended by Greater Lafayette's Community of Choice report from 2012.

That effort at edginess didn't make a new piece installed on the side of a restaurant and facing the Lafayette Police Department's parking lot go down well with police. The work, depicting the face of a police officer in riot gear, was apparently inspired by recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. That sort of statement, particularly its placement, was understandably taken as a pointed jab at police work in general.

By Tuesday, the city had asked artists to cover it, which they did in a gauzy red spray paint — an effect that made the piece more menacing, perhaps closer to the artist's intent. The new paint job came with an artist's promise for a new piece that might be just as pointed.

Could the city and police have held their tongues and allowed this edgier frontier, as critical as it might be, play out? Probably so. Could artists have been more judicious about where that particular piece went up? Again, probably so. To that point, it would have been interesting to see how long pieces might have lasted if they had depicted ambulance chasers across from a law firm, a clogged artery across from a pub food restaurant or a mockery of the cross across from a downtown church.

But city officials, even the ones a bit squeamish going into this project, acknowledged there might be some bumps in this new public art road. Having hit one, here's hoping the city doesn't retreat into the realm of only the absolutely safe


Kokomo Tribune. Aug. 26, 2014.

Truly 'ban' smoking

In January 2012, anti-smoking advocates were touting the results of a just-completed poll — and hoping the Indiana General Assembly would pass a statewide workplace smoking ban.

According to that poll of 500 Hoosiers, 70 percent of Indiana voters supported a law that would prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces and public facilities, including restaurants and bars.

"Voters know that secondhand smoke is a health hazard, and this poll shows that they want a strong law," said Danielle Patterson, the co-chairman of the Indiana Campaign for Smokefree Air. "The Legislature should listen to the people of Indiana."

Lawmakers did — and didn't. Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill restricting smoking, a first for the state. But the law exempted bars, casinos, retail tobacco shops and private clubs, such as veterans and fraternal organizations. A smoking ban, it was not.

The Kokomo Common Council Monday moved to correct that legislative mistake and passed to second read an amendment to its own smoking "ban" of 2006. The amendment would include all bars, taverns and social clubs under the existing ordinance that prohibits smoking in public buildings — and ban the use of e-cigarettes in such facilities.

The amendment passed by the slimmest of margins — 5 to 4. If it passes again during the Sept. 8 council meeting, Kokomo truly will become smoke-free.

We again urge council members not to bow to the claims of businesses arguing such a ban would hurt them financially, just as state lawmakers did in 2012 and city councilmen did in 2006. Last year's results from Gallup's annual Consumption Habits Poll found 55 percent of respondents favored making smoking in all public places totally illegal. What's more, 22 percent of those polled wanted to ban smoking outright, including 19 percent of Republicans.

It's time for a citywide smoking ban and one in Howard County — no exceptions.

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