TERRE HAUTE —
Steady stewardship of any public entity in Indiana proved crucial in the past four years.
A perfect storm of difficulties for city governments struck in 2007. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels began his push for property tax caps that year, and their eventual implementation substantially diminished funds for municipalities such as Terre Haute. Of course, the fiercest economic downturn since the Great Recession hit in December 2007. Six months later, Terre Haute suffered through its worst flood in decades. The impact of all three lingered for years.
Duke Bennett’s first term as mayor began in January 2008. Less than three years later, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce declared Terre Haute the state’s Community of the Year. To be sure, a healthy measure of that honor reflects the bold work of Bennett’s predecessor, Kevin Burke, loyal businesses, the local colleges, risk-taking industry leaders, and many others. But that distinction also was a testament to Bennett’s careful management through tight financial times, allowing the city to meet its daily demands and follow through on projects long in the making.
That performance hasn’t been “flashy,” as Bennett puts it. Yet, his steady attention to tedious, day-to-day details was valuable during rocky times.
As a result, he deserves a second term and the opportunity to more aggressively lead Terre Haute during what could be a more vibrant era.
In past mayoral elections, when the incumbent had done a good job, we consistently endorsed the re-election of those mayors. That record included the 2007 race in which Bennett became the first Republican in 40 years to win. Burke, a progressive leader but not a seasoned politician, did not deserve to lose, especially in such divisive fashion. But it happened, Bennett took office and has represented Terre Haute well. Now, it is Bennett who has earned another four years.
Voters have the ultimate decision, though, on Nov. 8. The good news is, they can’t go wrong.
The challenger, Fred Nation, would be an excellent mayor. Nation exhibits genuine passion for the community and the energy to pursue consequential, transformative projects. Democrats could not have chosen a better candidate, and with Nation’s unifying nature, the party has its best foot forward. Our endorsement of Bennett in no way diminishes what Nation has done or could do as mayor. In other situations, we could resoundingly endorse Nation.
It does not seem fair, though, to deny Bennett a second term. He has worked hard, acted ethically and been accessible. Using a collaborative approach, he’s kept the city moving forward through uncertainties.
That said, it would be wise of Bennett to make peace with the progressive initiatives that occurred during the Burke administration. Bennett did not inherit a budgetary mess. Despite some mistakes in style, the previous mayor made moves desperately needed to revive the heart of the town. Such broad measures became impossible in Bennett’s tenure because the recession and state cutbacks dried up revenue.
The term “visionary” has become central in the current campaign. Nation promises to operate with visionary style and insists that Bennett is primarily a proficient manager. Both candidates discussed those labels in separate meetings with the Tribune-Star Editorial Board.
Bennett stuck by his preference to function as a team-builder, rather than as the point man for economic development (the role Nation favors). As evidence of his strategy’s success, Bennett pointed to the forward momentum of several projects. Those include railroad improvement plans, a master trails plan for the city and county, and an airport strategic plan, and all are primed to show results, Bennett said. He also expressed support for the exceptional Riverscape project, even though he and the Wabash River Development and Beautification Inc. organization — of which Nation is a member — have been at odds over Bennett’s decision to locate a combined sewer overflow pond on the old International Paper site beside the Wabash.
Big-picture ideas such as Riverscape merit a mayor’s commitment and faith that they can and will happen. Terre Haute should never again be content to merely tread water or to preserve the status quo. We’ve tasted progress in the past decade, and we should always be cooking up more. To his credit, Bennett said he is ready to follow through with significant proposals in a second term.
“Planning is one thing, doing is another,” he told our Editorial Board. “Now we’ve got plans. We’re wrapping them up. Now it’s time to begin to implement those.” We’re eager to see Bennett and his team deliver.
Does Bennett deserve second term or does Nation get chance for his ideas?
TERRE HAUTE —
Steady stewardship of any public entity in Indiana proved crucial in the past four years.
EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in
Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.
EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy
It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.
Editorial: Continuing the standard
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett has raised the profile of his federally appointed position more than any individual to hold the job in decades. From the start, he was a man on a mission, and often that mission was focused on rooting out corruption, maintaining integrity in government and pursuing those who violated the public trust.
EDITORIAL: Legal marriages should be honored
An eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.
EDITORIAL: Dysfunctional relationship with schools chief doesn’t bode well for potential Pence presidency
A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.
Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’
It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
In essence, this was the old “mistakes were made” acknowledgment of wrongdoing. And the real mistake to which Bennett admits was apparently not changing the rules before he violated them. This is a truly Nixonian moment.
EDITORIAL: A green idea worth pursuing
It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.
EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible
The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.
Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion
Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.
EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.
Editorial: Texting law serves safety
July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.
EDITORIAL: For kids, an immediate need
If you agree that not much is sadder — and potentially more unsettling to our society — than a child torn from his or her home, here is a way you can make a difference, one kid at a time.
Editorial: A center for the future
The Monday morning “groundbreaking” at the site of the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center in Voorhees Park was largely ceremonial. It will still be a few weeks before work on the $9.8 million facility actually begins. But that didn’t stop the highly anticipated event from taking place, and it was clear from remarks made by a host of VIPs who took turns at the podium that this project is destined to produce great things.
EDITORIAL: A proud moment for Vigo County
Most people, regardless of their personal opinions or beliefs on the matter, will admit that they knew the day was coming when Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages would be overturned by a federal judge. It has happened in other states that have encountered the issue.
EDITORIAL: Getting smart about fighting crime
When those “CSI” TV shows began to burst on the scene in 2000, viewers were mesmerized by the flashy scientific and technological methods police labs were using to build cases against criminals.
EDITORIAL: Forging ahead
Life in the digital world has changed drastically for many community institutions. But the Vigo County Public Library, which has navigated various minefields of change in recent years, has shown it can adapt, even improve.
EDITORIAL: More needed from Speaker
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma did what most people expected he would do in the wake of Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner’s ethics probe.
EDITORIAL: A woman in the House
The twists and turns of politics can produce unpredictable results. Just ask Bionca Gambill.
EDITORIAL: Enticing more students back to campus a worthwhile initiative
Of all of the educational initiatives paraded before Indiana residents in recent years — some ideas worthy, others flops — none seems more timely or more on point than one approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week.
EDITORIAL: Celebrating local success
It’s always an uplifting occasion when good things happen to good people. And so we join in the celebration of three people who this week achieved a new level of success and recognition for their professional and personal contributions to life in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.
EDITORIAL: Shoring up the VA
How America cares for its veterans is indicative of its values as a nation. We’re confident the vast majority of citizens agree that health care for military vets through the country’s network of VA hospitals should meet or exceed common-sense expectations.
Editorial: Playing the Nazi card
There was good news to report from the Indiana Republican Party Convention conducted last weekend in Fort Wayne. The GOP nominated three women to top its general election ballot in November. There isn’t much gender equity in Hoosier politics, so seeing these three rise to the top of the Republican ballot this year is refreshing. But perhaps the best news is that Richard Mourdock, two-term state treasurer and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, will no longer hold public office at the end of this year.
EDITORIAL: Cleaner environment will help boost city’s image
In Terre Haute, the difference is becoming apparent between responsible stewardship of the environment and a look-the-other-way attitude about dumping harmful materials.
EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle’s words told a personal story
Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day when Allied Forces led by the United States military invaded France on the beaches at Normandy. It was the crucial turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany. To observe this somber anniversary, we have given this page’s editorial space the past three days to the columns written by Ernie Pyle in the invasion’s aftermath. Pyle filed three columns about D-Day that were circulated widely in American newspapers beginning June 12, 1944. The first appeared Wednesday. The second appeared Thursday. This is the final column.
EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle walked the beaches of Normandy
NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 — I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.
EDITORIAL: Remembering D-Day — in the words of Ernie Pyle
NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 12, 1944 — Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore. By the time we got here the beaches had been taken and the fighting had moved a couple of miles inland. All that remained on the beach was some sniping and artillery fire, and the occasional startling blast of a mine geysering brown sand into the air. That plus a gigantic and pitiful litter of wreckage along miles of shoreline.
EDITORIAL: Rape, sexual assault demand greater attention
When the facts, figures, commentary and analysis about the devastating impact of rape in our society have been consumed, the daunting, even haunting, question is: What can we do to stop it?
Editorial: GOP takes up marriage battle — again
All eyes will focus on Indiana’s dominant political party next week as it meets to nominate candidates to statewide office for the fall election. But nominating candidates won’t be the item on the Indiana GOP convention’s agenda that garners the most attention. Rather, the public will be watching how delegates handle a proposal to reintroduce the concept of supporting the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was deleted from the party’s platform during a previous convention.
Editorial: Sycamores march on into NCAA baseball tourney
The traditional academic year at Indiana State University ended earlier this month, so a quieter time has fallen over the Terre Haute campus. But Sycamore pride is swelling this week nonetheless. ISU’s baseball team was selected on Monday to the field of 64 for the 2014 NCAA Baseball Tournament.
Liz Ciancone: Jail? He’ll cross that bridge when he gets to it
Sometimes when I’m feeling as if I’m running on empty, someone will toss me an offbeat idea I would never have been able to dream up on my own. And so it was when a friend brought me a clipping from her hometown newspaper over in Illinois.
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