Alaska connection

vital to Hoosiers

who love wildlife

We Hoosiers don’t often think about having a direct connection between Indiana and Alaska, but right now there is an opportunity for us to speak for wildlife that rely on both Indiana and Alaska for their migratory way of life.  

We can make a difference for wildfowl species that migrate through Indiana by commenting on Bureau of Land Management options to manage the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska as it is opened for gas and oil drilling.  

The reserve, totaling more than 22 million acres (about the size of Indiana) is known as “Alaska’s Duck Factory” because tens of thousands of ducks and geese, as well as millions of shorebirds and songbirds, nest there before migrating through the lower 48 states and down the Mississippi Flyway each fall.

These migratory species use the wetlands of Indiana, including Grand Kankakee Marsh, Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area and the Wabash River as resting stops on their way south.

Hoosiers are connected to the reserve through those migrating wildfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. Indiana’s waterfowl hunters and birders especially own a stake in the decisions made about the reserve because so many of the kinds of birds they seek nest there.

Input from Hoosiers is needed to ensure the best management plan is put in place.

I urge Hoosiers to voice their opinions on how the reserve should be managed. Tell the Bureau of Land Management to adopt Alternative B as the best management plan for the reserve. Alternative B will protect the especially productive wildlife areas from oil and gas leasing while also allowing for responsible future oil and gas development.  

You may make your opinion known online through the Indiana Wildlife Federation’s website:  www.indianawildlife.org/IN_AKconnection.htm. The deadline to comment is June 1.

— Barbara Simpson

Executive Director

Indiana Wildlife Federation

Commissioners

sell out Woodgate

I teach American History at Indiana State University, but I want to thank the three Vigo County Commissioners (Judy Anderson, Mike Cioli and Paul Mason) for giving me a lesson in real American politics — in how politics as usual works in Vigo County.

As a concerned homeowner in Woodgate Subdivision, I recently attended a Vigo County Commissioners meeting along with 50-plus neighbors (300 others signed our petition) to voice our outrage over the new building phases of Cobblestone Crossing, owned by Southern Indiana Investments and developed by Thompson-Thrift. Originally we in Woodgate and related subdivisions were lulled into complacency by the promises of the developer that apartments would only appear up closer to U.S. 41, while along the developed subdivisions (all zoned R1 at that time) only single-story condos and single-family homes would be built — homes that we would be proud to own, we were told. Between 2004 and 2008, the Vigo County Commissioners approved zoning changes to R2M, allowing for two-story apartments. This was done while the developer continued to feed residents the old line about condos and single-family, “high-end” homes.

I live on the property line, and like many of my neighbors will have two-story apartments overlooking my backyard only 25 feet from my easement. If you drive through the subdivision you will see how absolutely ridiculous this is. Did the commissioners know what they were doing to one of the most well-respected neighborhoods in Terre Haute? Here is the key point, I think they knew full well what they were doing, and they knew that by the time the residents grew concerned that legally it would be too late to do anything.

The central issue that concerns all Vigo County residents is that according to Vigo County’s interpretation of Indiana law, all the notification of a requested zoning change that area planning need do boils down to a sign on the property and a 1-inch ad in the paper run for one day. ONE DAY. Most counties in Indiana require certified letters sent to impacted home owners, often two or three plots back from the requested rezoning. In Vigo County we get zip. No letters at all — nothing.

Even if citizens wanted to stay vigilant to defend the integrity of their property values and their neighborhood, the system is rigged against them. The rezoning sailed through because nobody knew. And when we finally learned the truth and voiced our extreme displeasure, all we got from Mr. Wright, the commissioners’ legal counsel, was a curt statement that the commissioners’ hands were tied. In effect — get a lawyer and fight it. So the commissioners we counted on, who are sworn to protect our property values, could legally just say, sorry, nothing we can do; and we did not even get that level of sympathy at the meeting.

The system is rigged so affected citizens will be blindsided, so that no protests could be mounted until it is too late. The system is fixed so that the developers and monied interests get their way. They can deceive affected homeowners. It is way past time for Vigo County Commissioners to stop doing the absolute minimum in following the law, and start doing the ethical and proper thing (to, in effect, do their duty) and to decently notify affected property holders regarding zoning changes that may impact their property value. The county commissioners failed to do their duty and they have jimmied the system so that it will continue to favor the developers and the fat-cats of Terre Haute who back them.

Well, congratulations, commissioners, you have not only succeeded in taking a professor to school on the old-boy politics of Vigo County — how the system really works, but you have succeeded in accelerating the decline of one of the nicest subdivisions in Vigo County. Once would-be homebuyers view those apartment monstrosities (even from across the street), property won’t move, and values will decline. You have succeeded in hastening the decay of a jewel in south Terre Haute. You have also succeeded in waking up a lot of citizens.

Let me end by encouraging Republican candidates for county commissioners out there. Yes, this liberal, Birkenstock-wearing, Democratic professor will campaign hard for a Republican who can pledge to right the ship in Vigo County and begin to change the system toward protecting property rights of the average home owner and not just the money of the top 1 percent. Do the commissioners care about the millions in lost property value in Woodgate and Viscaya subdivisions? No, the millions they care about are those loans to the developers of Cobblestone. The commissioners and their policy do not serve the common citizen, and if you believe it does, then I have some property I would like to sell you. It will have a wonderful view of two-story apartments in a once-grand subdivision. Wake up, Vigo County, because your subdivision may be next and you will not know it before the bulldozers start moving.

— Dan Clark

Terre Haute

Same-sex marriage

equalizes for all

With our president’s and the NAACP’s recent announcements of support for same-sex marriage equality, many “compassionate conservatives” have chimed in with their dissenting views. Those dissenting views seem to be in the minority now that over half of Americans now support marriage equality.

Most surprising to me is the amount of passion they feel for this particular issue that they consider “sinful.” It seems many of them have devoted their existance to the prevention of marriage equality. The massive amounts of money being donated to these anti-gay marriage campaigns is staggering.

But why gay marriage? It certainly isn’t the only “sin” their religion allegedly condemns. But it is the one they have laser-point focus on. The Bible is even clearer on issues like divorce, infidelity and adultery. Over half of marriages end in divorce. Isn’t that a major threat to the institution?

Perhaps many of these marriages would have lasted had they focused more on their own marriages and not someone else’s. Yet to my knowledge, not one group is dedicating money or resources to any state to constitutionally ban divorce. Many states have no-fault divorce laws, and people like Britney Spears can get legally married and legally divorced in only 55 hours with little outcry from religious leaders. Some states allow first cousins to legally marry.

Rush Limbaugh stated that President Obama has now waged war on traditional marriage with his endorsement of same-sex marriages. He failed to mention that he has been married a whopping four times. I think if anyone is showing disrespect for a sacred religious institution, it would be him.

And of course the ever-so-righteous Bristol Palin weighed in to give her opinion. Doesn’t the Bible prohibit out-of-wedlock sex? Perhaps we should outlaw her behavior with a constitutional amendment. Seems logical if they are going to ban marriage equality for gays and lesbians based on Christian principles.

Newt Gingrich famously went after President Clinton for his relationship with an intern, while secretly having an affair at the same time, eventually divorcing his then wife and marrying his mistress. How is it that these people have become the champions of traditional marriage? And why is the Republican Party, of “limited government intrusion” and “personal freedom,” saying that the government should decide who can and cannot marry?

The hypocrisy, inconsistency and selective preaching is absurd.

Until they show the same passion for outlawing the many other “sins” their religion condemns, I will chalk up their intense opposition to same-sex marriage as simple bigotry and homophobia. Why is equality such a hard concept for so many to understand?

— Ryan Foote

Terre Haute

Mourdock can’t

compromise on taxes

After the primary defeat of Republican Richard Lugar, for whom I wrote several letters of support, I understand that there are a great many people who are excited at the prospect of Richard Mourdock bringing his brand of “no compromise” politics to Washington, D.C.

I recall that Richard Mourdock wants to eliminate the tax on capital gains, dividends and inheritance. No compromises on this campaign promise!

I understand that a few days ago many billionaires were made in one day when Facebook went public on Nasdaq. Most if not all of these billionaires will pay only the 15 percent federal income tax rates on capital gains. But there is one who WILL NOT PAY ANY TAXES.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has decided to renounce his citizenship in America and to make Singapore his home to keep from paying these outrageous taxes that Richard Mourdock wants to eliminate on his billions of worth that he made in one day from the public offering of Facebook stock.

Isn’t that special?

Of course, the top tax rate for those who are lucky enough to still have a job and to still work for a living and receive wages in America is around 36 to 38 percent. Heaven forbid that somebody should start a class war and demand that these “fair weather citizens” like Eduardo Saverin should have to pay taxes in the same percentages as the Americans who use Facebook and who made him a billionaire.

Class wars are terrible things. Luckily, Eduardo Saverin is safe in Singapore and there IS no class war there. Apparently, in Singapore, the rich have already won.  

— John Garner

Terre Haute

Sweet lessons on

‘Lemonade Day’

Our 14-year-old son participated in “Lemonade Day” on May 19 and was awarded the opportunity to set up his stand at Baesler’s Market in Terre Haute. He, like all young participants, worked hard in preparation for this big day and learned a number of valuable lessons about turning an entrepreneurial dream into a small-business reality.

As the “caring adults” and investors standing behind him, we are grateful for the time and efforts of everyone who supported this unique and worthwhile project. We are especially grateful for the generous support and encouragement shown our son by Bob Baesler and his family, the Baesler employees and patrons. They all demonstrated the very essence of community and made us proud to call ourselves Terre Hauteans.

We also want to thank Ms. Courtney Richey for her enthusiasm and willingness to answer our son’s questions in the weeks leading up to Lemonade Day. She showed the same exuberance about this communitywide event as the three-hundred-and-some children and youth who put a new spin on this age-old tradition.  We are certain there are many others whose names we do not know and without whom this day would not have been made possible.  We hope Lemonade Day becomes a yearly celebration of youth and ingenuity in and around Terre Haute.

— John and Libby Ray

Terre Haute

African Americans,

slavery and Islam

Many African Americans in the United States have renounced Christianity and embraced Islam, in protest against the enslavement of their ancestors by white Christians in America when slavery was legal in America. This is ironic because Islam supports slavery. The enslavement of Africans under Islam is not only a historical fact, but is something that continues today, in some parts of Africa, and some Islamic countries, since Sharia (Islamic Law) supports slavery.

Historically, Islam has enslaved members of all races.

• The enslavement of Black Africans by Islam is described in the book “Islam's Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora” by Ronald Segal

• The enslavement of white Christians from Europe by Islam is described in the book “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1550-1800” by Robert C. Davis

• The enslavement of Hindus by Islam is described in the book “Muslim slave system in Medieval India” by K.S.Lal

The enslavement of Jews in Islam started from the time of the Prophet of Islam. All unarmed adult male members (about 800 in number) of the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza, who had surrendered, were beheaded and their women and children were sold into slavery in Medina by Muslims in 627 A.D., in the presence of the Prophet of Islam. The Prophet of Islam made no attempt to stop these killings of unarmed Jewish men and the enslavement of the women and children of the Jews.

In fact, Islam has sustained slavery for 1,400 years, since Sharia (Islamic Law) supports slavery.

— Ramachandra B. Abhyankar

Terre Haute

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