News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 22, 2013

READERS' FORUM: Sept. 22, 2013


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Extra efforts appreciated by ‘BluesFest’

To the employees of the administration building of the Vigo County School Corp.:

On Friday, Sept. 13, you were all asked to park in the parking garage instead of your usual parking lot. We would like to thank you, both personally and on behalf of the Blues at the Crossroads organization. We know this was an inconvenience for all of you.

Blues at the Crossroads is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization and every year we give the profits from the festival to a needy organization. Last year we were able to give our local chapter of the Red Cross, $5,000. This year we worked to help the Boys/Girls Club of Terre Haute. Many of the kids from the Boys/Girls Club submitted essays telling us what music means to them. The kids who wrote the best essays received a musical instrument and an entire year of lessons, all at no cost. We all know how important it is to get kids involved in something, anything that can keep them happy and out of trouble.  

So, again, thank you all for doing what you do and for your help by parking across the street. You are all part of a huge team that is helping these kids. Who knows, together, we may have saved a child’s life. Please know that you are appreciated.

— Cheryl Maners

— Connie Wrin

And the rest of the board Blues at the Crossroads

Terre Haute

Active help for a worthy cause

Cannon Inn and I would like to thank the Tribune-Star’s Susan Duncan, Sue Loughlin, Dianne Powell and Jim Avelis for the recent coverage of activities during National Assisted Living Week at Cannon Inn.

Our Operation Christmas Box project has partnered the tenants and staff in buying and making items for boxes. Genny Wilson has been a real blessing in helping us to actively reach out and help others.

If anyone would wish to donate toward this worthy cause, they can call Cannon Inn and ask for me. The phone number for Cannon Inn is 812-466-3102.

— Sharon Hathaway

Activity Director Cannon Inn

Terre Haute


 

New plant regulations will harm our state

While we Hoosiers have gone about our lives this summer, with most of us enjoying affordable electricity to run our air conditioners, watch televisions and heat our water, few of us have been aware of the storm that’s approaching. Winds of change are about to sweep across the United States, and Indiana will be hit hard across the board. But the low-income families in our communities will be the hardest hit of all.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of setting new emissions rules for electric power plants. Congress has not authorized these rules, but the EPA is moving ahead to impose them without legislative authority.

These new EPA rules regulating greenhouse gases require use of a coal technology that doesn’t exist yet. For electric power companies to meet these new standards and continue to provide Hoosiers with electricity to power homes, businesses, local governments, hospitals and schools, they will need to turn away from coal and use natural gas.

And while this may seem like a green dream, the factual reality will wake us all up eventually.

Fact: Indiana annually produces only enough natural gas and oil to fuel the state’s entire energy needs for one day. And there are not enough pipelines across the state to move what little natural gas we do have to power electric-generating plants. Additionally, natural gas prices have historically been the most volatile of all fossil fuels. In a letter to President Obama in June, Gov. Pence made it explicitly clear that these new rules will “decimate coal” as an energy option for Indiana, and “put natural gas in a precarious position.”

Fact: The cost to implement the full gamut of the EPA’s regulations will be paid for by all of us. According to energy economist experts, we can anticipate at least a 40-percent rise in our energy bills.

Fact: More than half of Indiana’s households already spend 21 percent of their after-tax income on energy bills. The situation is worse for the poorest among us, those with households earning less than $10,000 per year. They spend 73 percent of their income on energy bills.

Fact: The next tier of hardship will be on all taxpayers. Local governments are already reporting budget shortfalls, and increasing energy costs by 40 percent to run those governments, in addition to finding more money in the budget to assist the poor with their energy bills, creates a very real possibility of local tax increases.

These facts add up to a poor prediction. And as the EPA reported in its April 2012 Federal Register notice, the agency “does not anticipate that this proposed rule will result in notable carbon-dioxide emission changes.”

As Hoosiers, we should be asking ourselves: Is a manufactured energy crisis the path for Indiana? If the answer is no, I urge you to tell your elected officials, and oppose these unnecessary regulations that are detrimental to our Hoosier way of life.

— Jon Ford, president

All State Mfg.

Terre Haute

Lessons from the annexation battle

We are now a few days removed from the Sullivan annexation remonstrance hearing.

What did we learn? We learned beyond a shadow of any doubt that Sullivan taxpayers are subsidizing unincorporated Hamilton Township and the annexation territory. Is there a tax increase from annexation? Unquestionably, yes. But let’s look at what makes up nearly all of that increase.

A Sullivan taxpayer pays a tax rate for fire protection services in excess of 70 cents per $100 in net assessed value of their property. A township taxpayer pays a rate for identical fire service from the identical fire department of approximately 5 cents per $100 in net assessed value. The Sullivan taxpayer pays approximately 13.5 times more for the same fire protection as the township taxpayer.

On top of that, the Sullivan Police Department is dispatched by the annexation territory approximately once every other day to the annexation territory — that is roughly 10 percent of all of our police runs. The township taxpayer pays nothing for that service.

Our tax policy actually encourages businesses to locate outside our borders and encourages existing businesses to relocate outside the border. Is it any wonder that we have seen our commercial corridor disappear? And every time someone relocates outside of town because of these subsidies, it leaves a smaller group of Sullivan taxpayers to shoulder an even greater load. It is a death spiral for our community that must be stopped.

What are our options? Legally, we could terminate the fire contract and stop responding to police calls, but that isn’t a practical solution. Our children go to school in the annexation territory, our friends and family live in the annexation territory and our hospital is located in the annexation territory. We could demand more money from the township, but the township doesn’t have any more money available.

The only permanent solution to this problem is to annex the area where the subsidy presents the biggest problem — the commercial corridor. That will stop the disincentive to own and operate a business in Sullivan. What remains of the township would then be largely non-commercial property and tackling any remaining subsidy becomes a much smaller and manageable problem.

So when you hear that annexation costs jobs, you are not being told the truth. There isn’t a single business in the annexation territory that will see a tax increase even remotely close to the salary and wages for a single full-time employee. The business seeing the largest increase didn’t even sign the remonstrance petition. For the most part, we are talking about tax increases of less than $5,000 per year. For residential properties, almost everyone is less than $500 per year.

Those of us who have remained behind in Sullivan to shoulder the load are already paying those higher taxes, and people in the annexation territory will be able to do so as well. When they threaten jobs, what they really mean is that they enjoy being subsidized by Sullivan taxpayers, and they are willing to scare you in order to keep it.

— Clint Lamb, Mayor

City of Sullivan

Disappointment with coverage

Last weekend the U.S. Tennis Open tournament closed with nail-biting championship matches between the women, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka on Saturday night, and Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on Sunday night.

I eagerly searched the sports section Sunday morning for a summary of the women’s match — and when I didn’t find it mentioned, assumed it had been too late for posting.

So I looked on Monday. There I found a quarter-page article on the men’s match — but still nothing on the women’s. There was only a minuscule one-line summary on page 2 under the tennis header. This year Serena Williams won her 17th Grand Slam title for the U.S. in an amazing match, but if you missed it and wanted a summary in the paper (rather than going online), you were out of luck.  

The sports editor and the paper should be ashamed of themselves. Forty years ago, in 1973, men and women gained equality of prize-money at the U.S. Open (over $1 million this year), arguably the most important tennis tournament in the U.S. Title IX, removing gender discrimination in sports in academic institutions, was passed in 1972. But such discrimination surely continues if only the men’s game is considered of adequate stature to receive newspaper coverage — and even when the woman winning is an American.

Furthermore, tennis is one of several sports that is of comparable interest and access to women as to men — and one of the few that we can continue to play from childhood through even old age. As a longtime subscriber to the paper, I have to skip through most of the sport section, most days, to find anything of much personal interest.

I hope more of a balance in coverage can be offered in the future, both in regard to the sports covered, but particularly in regard to a gender balance, expected in the sports themselves — but seriously lacking in this particular instance.

— Jean L. Kristeller, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Department of Psychology

Indiana State University

Ron Paul weak on two points

When Ron Paul recently spoke at DePauw University in Greencastle, I agreed with much he had to say. But I believe he is continually weak in two areas.

First, Mr. Paul blames 9/11 on Arabs upset because the U.S. was in Saudi Arabia and in Iraq killing its people for years. True, many Arabs were upset with U.S. behavior, but they simply did not have the means to accomplish 9/11.

I see 9/11 as similar to the BP oil spill. Did you notice that the CEO of BP, Tony “little people” Hayward, sold much of his BP stock two months before the spill? Two months before 9/11, someone insured the World Trade Center against terrorism for $4 billion. Halliburton bought an oil spillage company about two months before the spill. One security company allowed all the Arabs to board.  

“Mistakes” were made concerning BP’s blowout valve. “Mistakes” were made in the computer program that would fly planes in case they were hijacked. A thorough examination can be found at www.911missinglinks.com.

Second, Mr. Paul is still uncompromising. Where libertarian Charles Murray speaks of a grand bargain where libertarians get some freedom and liberals get big government, Paul is quiet. This is a bargain that must be made or the U.S. (and the world) is doomed to be ruled by the wealthy and greedy. Concerned Citizens should be speaking out.

— Ed Gluck

Terre Haute

Getting played by Obama, for sure

In response to last week’s letter from Carly Schmitt, we are getting played all right, but she didn’t go far enough.

The whole Syria deal is to get our minds off Benghazi and defunding Obamacare.

If they shut the government down, which do you think will suffer first — Social Security, Medicare and defense, or the billion-plus for Obama’s vacations, etc., (will new dog Sunny have her private plane like Bo?) and the billions we are still giving to our enemies?

— Marjorie Ralston

Terre Haute

Solving Indiana’s cat overpopulation

We need an effective negative feedback policy to control the cat overpopulation.

Currently, we have only a local policy and that just penalizes the empathetic middle class and the poor with fees for taking in homeless animals they find starving in their neighborhoods. Not the lawmakers’ intent, it was just the only option they had.

A more direct policy could only be done on the state level. That would be to siphon the already existing pet food sales taxes into neutering programs. The more cats there are, the more cat food bought, the more tax revenue to spay cats is available.

As a rough estimate, Indiana has a population of about 6.15 million people. If for every four people there is one cat, then that makes for 1.54 million cats. If $20/month is spent on cat food that makes for $16.80/year in taxes the state gets for each cat, or around $26 million dollars/year the state gets from cat food sales. If it cost $100 to spay a cat, then that would be 260,000 cats spayed per year or only 3,095 cats per county.

But if each cat spayed was a female, and the female would have generated four kittens the next year, that would cut down on 12,380 extra cats per county. Newspaper publishers may not realize it, but the cat overpopulation is hurting the newspaper industry. Consumers who would like to buy a daily newspaper are opting for buying a can of cat food instead, because the cat(s) won’t complain about not having a current newspaper but will complain about the lack of cat food.

A possible drawback to this plan is the Medicare Law of Supply and Demand, which is whenever a load of cash is collected from the taxpayers for medical services the prices shift higher.

Instead of having this fund administered by a few $100k/year administrators, it probably would be better to have the Indiana IRS computer just randomly send vouchers to anyone who files taxes. The vouchers would have an expiration date and could only be used to fix female cats. If the taxpayer does not run across a female cat that needed to be fixed then they could turn it over to the local public library. Anyone with a library card can then check out the extra voucher.

When the cat is fixed and recuperated from the surgery, it needs to be put back where it was found, if it already did not have a home. Many people don’t realize that the homeless cat that they found had already adjusted to a very small niche.

The cat knows their immediate territory and already has relationships with humans and other cats. It is cruel to let them languish cooped up in a shelter. They should not be put down because of the situation of being cooped up. That is an avoidable tragedy.

— Richard Blythe

Terre Haute

Police did well at diesel event

I would like to comment on the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza that took place Aug. 23-25.

First of all, the county, city and state police did their job very well. Not one accident, no one went to the hospital and no one died. Lots of them put in extra hours, which was needed on U.S. 41 south. Next, Scheid Diesel people who worked were kind, considerate and very accommodating. They also worked long hours. Last but not least, Graham Security (out of Bloomington) did all the security there with very few problems, but some of them worked 16 or more hours per day.

There were 20,000 or more people who attended this event. I was there three days and I know how hard they all worked — police, Scheid and Graham Security. I also talked with lots of businesses and they all said they were very busy. I am sure Terre Haute made lots of money on this event. I hope they come back every year. They are good for our community.

Thank you to all who did their jobs.

The Tribune-Star, WTHI, WAWV and WTWO only reported the bad that happened that weekend. We should have remembered that Terre Haute made lots of money that weekend and reported that. There are not a lot of things to do in our town for young people, so let them have their day.

By the way, I don’t think they should trash parking lots, but we should find something else for them to do. The county, city, state police, Scheid Diesel and Graham Security need lots of thanks.

— Rita Hawkins

Terre Haute