News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 29, 2012

EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news

The Tribune-Star

---- — A party in need of a leader

The Indiana Democratic Party is not a political entity which deserves any great respect. Nor is it a force to be reckoned with in the Legislature.

With the exception of Rep. Joe Donnelly’s robust victory over Republican Richard Mourdock in the U.S. Senate race, not much good happened for Hoosier Democrats in the last election. Keep in mind that Glenda Ritz, who defeated incumbent Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, was a Republican who changed parties to seek the office of schools chief.

The end result is a state government controlled almost entirely by Republicans, who now have super majorities in both houses of the General Assembly.

The Democrats have no particular individuals around which to rally, which will make it tough to rebuild a vibrant and relevant state party. But we are impressed with new Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, a 60-year-old Anderson attorney, whose job it will be to lead the loyal opposition and ensure that all Hoosier voices are being heard on issues big and small.

Lanane, who was featured recently in a story by CNHI Statehouse reporter Maureen Hayden, seems to be taking a constructive approach. He’s not primed for daily combat, but is willing to stand his ground. His advice to his Democrat colleagues: “Keep your chin up and stay in the fight.”

While his role is certainly limited under current state Senate configuration, it is an important role nonetheless. We urge him to follow his own advice.

Halt! Police! Drop that camera!

It was an appropriate end to an incredibly stupid law.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week upheld a lower court ruling that found Illinois’ anti-eavesdropping law violates free speech rights when used against people who tape law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

As the law was being practiced, prosecutors could file charges and seek convictions against people recording police activity. The law even set a maximum prison term of 15 years! Ridiculous.

Also worth noting is that the public has the ACLU to thank for challenging and eventually defeating this usage of the law.

The ACLU argued that the right to record police is vital to guard against abuse. Of course it is. The people of Illinois, and elsewhere, are fortunate that the courts agreed.

Cheers, jeers and tears

• Cheers to Terre Haute’s Noon Optimist Club for its continued efforts to clothe needy kids. The Clothe-A-Child program is in its 78th year and seeks to raise $45,000 in its current fund drive.

• Cheers to Keirra Porter, the 15-year-old Terre Haute sophomore hurdler, for her invitation to compete next summer in the Down Under International games in Australia. She’s now attempting to raise money for the trip, and we wish her well.

• Jeers to Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham for their relentless efforts to besmirch U.N Ambassador Susan Rice for her early briefings to Sunday talk shows on the attacks on our Embassy in Libya. If they would spend their time and effort on more important issues, perhaps Congress could someday resolve real problems.

• Tears for Cecil Tilford, the colorful storeowner whose strong support of a local neighborhood led to him being referred to as the unofficial “mayor of Twelve Points.” Tilford, who operated a variety store on Lafayette Avenue for decades, died last week at age 87.

Reader poll results

Recently, the Reader Poll at asked:

How do you expect your spending to measure up to last year’s Christmas shopping season?

Results: 237 votes were cast.

• Will spend more — 23 votes, 9.7 percent

• Will spend less — 138 votes, 58.23 percent

• Will spend about the same —  76 votes, 32.07 percent

New online reader poll

What is the best way for Congress to avoid sending the federal government off the  “Fiscal Cliff'”?

To vote, visit